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Some activists are more interested in displaying their righteousness for the benefit of their peers rather than winning.

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Being admired and getting laid are achievable goals. Big, institutional change in the face of an antiquated constitution is hard.

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"Being admired and getting laid are achievable goals."

Ha! Must be nice being you....

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"Big, institutional change in the face of an antiquated constitution is hard"

That's a feature not a bug.

Big changes should have large bi-partisan support. And if it's not constitutional, then it should require a constitutional amendment. Rule of law is always a good idea

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How's that working out for us? Does the United States seem like a particularly functional or governable polity? Is our public policy the envy of the world? Are other nations clamoring to copy our 60% approval threshold for major legislation, or our malapportioned upper chamber?

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It's difficult because there are clearly certain life situations where a moral calculus that sort of resembles this is the right one, so people's internal compasses get confused. For instance, if you're told that if you want to advance in your job you have to (1) stop associating with embarrassing friends or family members, (2) pretend not to hold political or religious views that you actually do hold, (3) praise and fawn over bosses whom you find distasteful, (4) publicly downplay some morally repugnant things your industry does, (5) etc. - then the right moral decision may in fact be to sacrifice your job and find another one, even if your family suffers economically. So a lot of people start to incorrectly intuit that "staying true to yourself" is the value you should always maximize to the exclusion of all others.

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Reflecting on this some more, I'm thinking there doesn't have to be a conflict between "staying true to yourself" and winning. The key is just understanding that politics is a team sport and embracing the underlying principles and logic of a democratic system of government. You don't have to deny that you want things that you want. You just need to make a conscious decision to defer, and say that you're deferring, to other members of the coalition when you collectively decide on a platform, because that's what it means to be part of a team.

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Some (many?) even believe that 'winning' is an ambiguously violent revolution which overthrows capitalism, and that any policy change is only really important insofar as it builds old-school Marxist style class consciousness to prep for the revolution.

I think people are really underrating to what extent the activist class has been captured by actual real life communists because we are so used to listening to Fox News complain about non-communists being communists.

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No.

The post to which you’re replying is spot-on, borne out by the demographics of the activist class, their positions, and reams of anecdotes in this Substack.

In contrast, there’s no evidence at all to support this contention.

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There are some people on Twitter who like to cosplay as anti-electoralists, but Twitter is not real life and in any event, even they are not sincere.

People with actual jobs on campaigns or activist organizations are not like this. They are just naive idealists who get blinded into thinking they have the votes.

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Here are three points I would make, then.

1) Any cursory trip through humanities academia and prominent journals will reveal that most professors at elite universities who teach humanities courses are, at the very least, in a primarily anti-capitalist and Marxist-inspired milieu. Whether they openly discuss revolution varies, but one wonders how exactly they anticipate the current order to be overthrown.

2) Most of the language that filters through the activist sanewashing machine starts with actual communists. Police abolition begins not as a typical progressive activist class position, but rather was a deeply radical position held by actual anarchists and communists many years ago. Because the social cachet of these people has become so prominent on the left, even non-communists end up adopting their ideas and language and simply changing the actual policies to be less insane. But those people are still there, and they are the ones pushing their fellow-activist friends to be crazier and crazier.

3) Random college activities that used to be the places where activists were born, such as debate clubs, have almost completely been overtaken by actual communists. Spending literally any time at CEDA or NDT today (major debate tournaments for college students) will have you running into dozens of sincere communists who will openly tell you they intend to start a violent revolution at the earliest opportunity. This is a radical change from even 10 years ago, where the communism was mostly strategic and tongue-in-cheek, not sincere.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I really think that this is an actual issue. I'm not claiming that 50%, or even 30%, of progressive activists are communists. But I think the real number is probably in the 10% range, which is a HUGE number of people.

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These are, I’ll note, assertions and not evidence, but I’ll take that last sentence at face value nonetheless: How many “progressive activists” do you think there are?

My guess is maybe 200,000 nationwide. 10% of that is 20,000, which is about the membership of the CPUSA in 1945.

The threat level hovers between “nonexistent” and “what are you smoking?”

Look, if the GOP fears an actual leftist revolution, it should be acting very differently, like the US did in the 1930’s. File the rough edges off of capitalism, restore faith in government by actually acting in the best interests of the electorate, and work to head off the foreseeable problems of the future.

Because the only way that revolution happens, let alone succeeds, is if life gets a lot worse for the great majority of the country.

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To add (sorry, just thought of this): remember the book "In Defense of Looting" that was a big deal on the left during the summer of 2020? It literally, explicitly makes the argument that the left must use violence to fight "racial capitalism", and actively denounces non-violent resistance. I do not know how you could get more obviously-communist than that without directly saying you want a vanguard party to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat.

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How many people actually read that book, given how low sales of books are? How many people who might do a surface reading of that argument would then agree that they want to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat (nearly none of them, I expect)?

How many republicans are actively trying to establish a one-party strong man government right now? How many old people on facebook are essentially getting their information from Russian and Chinese influence programs (which are pushing them to the hard right)? Hell, how many American Democratic senators are being driven by various disguised hard right forces?

I lived through 1980's and I remember knowing people who were actual communists at the time, strongly supportive of the Soviet Union (sometimes China), and the number of those people was pretty small and they vastly outnumbered the people who are actual tankies right now.

I am pretty sure the hard right (neo-nazi right) massively outnumbers any actual communists in the American population.

elm

why are you carrying water for the glenn becks of the world?

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Sure, it's not evidence, mostly because it's difficult to determine how many people are actual violent old-school communists and how many people are the "socialists" that actually just means social democracy. There's no real way to be objective about this even if I had the time to go digging for more concrete evidence.

But to be clear, I'm not a Republican, and I have no real concern for what the GOP thinks or doesn't think. I also don't fear a communist revolution.

What I do fear is that, if communists are the ones setting the agenda on the farthest-left parts of our party, and are deciding what issues the progressive left decides to champion (looting is Good, Actually; we should get rid of both prisons and police; violent riots are not that big of a deal if the cause is just, etc.) then we have a goal misalignment problem. For a communist, electoral victory for AOC-like politicians is almost counterproductive. For them, it is about generally undermining faith in the system that presently exists to create the conditions for revolution. They will almost certainly not succeed in actually causing a communist revolution, but they can certainly do damage and steer the progressive left away from its most popular ideas to extremely unpopular ones.

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>Any cursory trip through humanities academia and prominent journals will reveal that most professors at elite universities who teach humanities courses are

Awww I call bullshit. Why not redbait the social scientists or the STEM divisions instead of picking on the arts and literature folks? If you think that the humanists are going to overthrow *anything* with violent revolution you haven't been on campus at one of those elite universities that you speak so confidently about.

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You are being paranoid. I don't know what you mean by a 'Communist' other than someone who disagrees with you. I haven't met one in real life in the US despite living here 69 years. Must be cells of them all over if they're 10% of the population. How did I miss them???

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10% of the activist population, not the general population

i.e. on the order of tens of thousands, not millions (i mention in another comment I am less concerned about an actual revolution than I am about it making the activist class do bad politics)

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Why think the tweets are more revealing than the published work? I would think the tweets are a series of clever postures, while the published work represents the more considered view.

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My impression is that published work is how they act at work, and tweets are what they tell their friends they were doing at work.

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Activists simply don't have the same day to day incentives as, say, the chief of staff of a Senator or House member (or their campaign chair, or a high level staffer at the DCCC, or what have you). In most cases it's not "for the benefit of their peers" in the case of these activists (or digital media people, or Twitter influencers, or what have you) but their own careers or jobs. In most cases (assuming we're talking about people on the left) they're going to prefer that Democrats, rather than Republicans, win elections, of course, but it's not the *central focus of their jobs* the way it is for the people in the elections trenches. Which yes, can cause problems for Democrats, because "activists" influence what the media covers. And what the media covers matters. A lot.

(Republicans aren't immune from this dynamic, either, naturally; I have a feeling people like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCArthy aren't totally pumped for the specter of Texas abortion bounty hunters.)

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on the other hand, performative wokism only works in intra-progressive status competitions because a lot of progressives go for it. without the likes and retweets, without the demand for doctrinaire content, there would be much less supply.

at a minimum, a significant number of media consuming progressives enjoy wilke performances.

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I agree with most of this, but I think the problem is deeper in that, over the past 5 years, a substantial part of the progressive movement has increasingly not just failed to have the fact that the the median voter is a 50-something white person who didn’t go to college and lives in an unfashionable suburb in the front of their mind, but to actively seek to do things that aggravate someone fitting the profile of the median voter for very little practical gain. (See, e.g., anything involving pronouns -- even the vast majority of LGBTQ individuals use traditional pronouns, so you're talking about trying to get 99%+ of the population to rethink the manner in which they've been speaking on a daily basis for basically their entire lives for the sake of making a fraction of 1% of the population more comfortable.)

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It feels like "delete Twitter" covers 90% of the actionable problems here.

I remember, 1000 years ago, when WarrenSanders was abuzz all over the internet and then Joe Biden went and talked with regular-ass people and then crushed it! And almost nobody learned anything.

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If I were either a candidate or running a campaign, I’d have three post-it’s on my staffer’s desks.

1. Anyone who frames a bread-and-butter issue in “equity” terms will be fired.

2. More and better police, not none.

3. All press interactions must be delegated upward.

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I agree with point # 1 so much I just came here 2.5 years later to confirm that!

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Point 3 is a recipe for letting your opponent define your campaign before you can sit down to breakfast.

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The difference is you're basically in the manager's seat for democratic staffers -- you have stuff that you want them to accomplish that's more important to you than the stuff that you like about labor protections. At, say, a McDonalds, you don't really benefit from high team member performance, management control, or whatever, so it's easy for you to support the staff members themselves over their manager's goals.

I think this is why liberals carve out Police from "unions they want to protect", and Conservatives really only support unions for the police, even though those positions are mostly incoherent with regard to unionization itself. It's also why I generally support the existence of private unions, but not public unions - since the broader public has much more interest in "employees being accountable for doing a good job" in the latter.

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One excuse I have for being in favor of private sector unions and against public sector unions is that at least public sector employees still have a say in management through voting, whereas private sector employees don't typically have any say in their management unless they are shareholders or in a co-op.

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I think the other factor is private sector unions also face competitive market pressure - so there's a countervailing force to the negotiations that doesn't exist with the public sector (e.g., tenure based layoffs in a private sector downturn will actually further constrain operating margins leading to a downward spiral).

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I saw a quote yesterday -- maybe in an LGM comments thread? -- from someone in the military service during the Cold War, talking about the relatively autocratic and hierarchical nature of military authority, saying "we're here to defend Democracy, not to practice it."

I don't think that's incoherent. So, I don't think it's incoherent to ask people fighting for greater unionization to do without certain protections or to tolerate less than ideal working conditions

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Was reading a book on the Civil War, and one of the oddities of the Confederate army is that they did practice democracy, with officer elections. So did the Russian army for a little bit after 1917. So it's not totally impossible or unheard of.

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I see no incoherence here. These people are basically poorly paid volunteers; there’s always going to be a big difference between a career and a vocation.

Also, more prosaically, no worker protections will ever cover incompetence, except incidentally to other goals, so I have no moral trouble supporting easy hiring and firing for competence issues alongside a decent standard of evidence to prevent that from being a figleaf.

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Campaign staffers are a great example of why evidence requirements in competence-based firings are so messy. Let's say you manage campaign staffers. One tweets something from the campaign account that is (to your mind) obviously damaging to the candidate. But if you fire them, and end up in front of a jury or judge (in a blue city, in a purple state) that agrees with them, not only is the campaign liable, but as you as the manager can be *personally liable*. Is that really a risk you take?

While firing anyone for nonsense reasons is obviously abusive, having outsiders who don't understand the industry or the role try to quickly gauge what competence looks like puts companies and individual managers at great risk whenever they fire, even in very real cases of incompetence.

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I think the goal of any employment protections shouldn’t be to force an employer to prove incompetence, but to dictate a relatively low bar for an employee to show probable cause that the issue was not incompetence.

Keep the burden of proof where it is, but lower it, if you will.

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fair point and campaign workers do get treated like shit, mainly because a lot of idealistic young people want to do it (until they get burned out).

thing is, campaign workers are like 0.01% of the US workforce. I’m willing to tolerate bad conditions in campaigns to help the other 99.99% if they economy, and I don’t feel guilty about it. Soldiers in combat have much worse working conditions, even if their boss never grabs their ass.

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This is also the paradox of police unions. In theory, we should like unions, but when their main function is to protect the jobs of people who really need to be fired, they're rather toxic.

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Progressives are also in favor of economic redistribution, which helps working class whites

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Ridiculous assertion...

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Your previous statement was: for all values of (A) and (B) the country is worse off. I maintain that statement is ridiculous.

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FWIW, I think that our public health community would have done well to put up that Post-It Note(R) in the last twenty months or so. For example, a lot of smart highly educated people thought it was important to suspend the JNJ vaccine because there were six serious adverse events out of seven million injections. They (and a lot of academic physicians) thought that adhering to the "process" would boost the credibility of the vaccines. I think the median voter, a bit short on statistics training, heard instead that "six adverse events out of seven million is a good reason to suspend a vaccine." Vaccinations literally peaked the day of the suspension, and fell like a stone in the months thereafter, which clearly was the opposite of the reaction anticipated by the FDA. I think we would have had a better outcome if more people at the FDA and CDC had grown up spending their summers on the Gulf coast or the beaches of Lake Michigan rather than the Atlantic coast, or at least reminded themselves that the median American lives far outside their assumptions.

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I think this post makes some important points, and I think also probably underestimates the demographic disconnect. I'm a 50 something white guy but with loads of prestigious degrees. But college was essentially nondenominational back then, and I find I have much more in common with people my age regardless of college experience than I do with the woke-brainwashed ideologues that constitute the media elite. I also predict that Asians, Latinos and a non trivial percentage of Blacks would desert the progressives in a heartbeat if the Republicans could just turn down the racism. But that's a topic for another day. The overall message is that this country is not receptive to the progressive message, nor will it be for the foreseeable future.

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Being of a similar vintage and educational status, I agree. I have been hearing my whole adult life that progressives (or, back in the day, liberals) were one election cycle away from demographic domination. Not going to happen, especially if progressives continue to ignore and/or condescend to the majority of voters.

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I'm a brown guy in his 40s with a ton of degrees, and I've been told my whole life that conservatives will stop being racist if we would just be nicer to them. That turned out to be bullshit too.

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What have the racist conservatives done to you?

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Are you looking for an answer about conservative political policy or about my personal anecdotes of interactions with conservatives in everyday life?

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Policy would be a lot easier to verify.

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Fair enough. The most obvious one that I witness directly is seeing people get deported. I lived in Tucson during that Joe Arpaio era, and I coached a teenage boys soccer team made up of mostly Mexican kids. Today I teach at an open-access college in Georgia with a large immigrant population. I've watched several kids deal with their parents getting deported, and I see the lucky ones who don't get deported but do get stuck with an expensive and burdensome process for renewing their DACA every year.

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"I also predict that Asians, Latinos and a non trivial percentage of Blacks would desert the progressives in a heartbeat if the Republicans could just turn down the racism."

One of Matt's theses, which I agree with, is that it seems to be the other way -- the GOP's positions on OTHER issues is what drives non-white voters away. The Republicans would gain more of these voters by embracing the Medicaid expansion than changing up their racial views.

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Maybe I misread him, but I believe he's saying that only as it pertains to the "average" Republican, the 50 something non college educated white man. Some of them clearly would be gettable on issues like Medicaid expansion. I don't know the polling on this, but I can't imagine why Latinos and Asians would be attracted to this en masse, especially since they skew younger.

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An obvious dumb mistake in my previous post, Matt was describing the average voter, not the average Republican.

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On your point about nonwhite exit from the progressive movement if “Republicans could dial back the racism a bit.” I often wonder if this is possible even if they can’t “dial it back.”

Could the racism that’s present on the right become handled similarly to how “The Squad” is currently on the left? In that there’s this movement, that’s here, that can’t be banished but isn’t front and center in picking presidential candidates and policy decisions. Maybe this isn’t really possible, but if it is, I can still see this exit.

A healthy portion of the Black, Hispanic, and Asian population is younger. Many of them are part of the nation’s educated workforce with high technical skills. Like death and taxes, this means that they likely work for a progressive white person who is generally speaking not terribly impressive. This could translate to some like “F this person’s political party.” sentiment.

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They can’t. A substantial part of their base and primary electorate is now so enmeshed in an interlinked constellation of Christian Dominionism, replacement theory, grievance politics, and reaction on sex and gender issues that they suffer the same exact problem as this article outlines, just with regards to cultural issues.

They’ll continue to “break through” now and again with minority groups, then slide backward… wash, rinse, repeat.

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I agree with all that. The big issue obviously is Trump, who to most people personifies the racist Republican faction. But whereas the Squad is just a media curiosity off to the side, Trump is front, back and center with the Republicans, so I don't see it changing.

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It's crazy that the Republicans are still going with Trump. He lost the popular vote twice! He has some smart political insight but I don't see why you couldn't find a better candidate with similar politics who appeals to non-college voters

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Lost the popular vote twice and presided over a very bad midterm and lost the Senate shortly before his departure. I believe he's the first president since at least Hoover to both serve only one term AND lose both houses of Congress. MAGA normies aren't going to worry about such things, but can't Republican bigwigs come up with a way to SECRETLY stab him in the back and sabotage his comeback hopes?

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I think the reason this isn't an effective argument in the party is that many grassroots voters truly believe that big city liberals are rigging elections and so the popular vote count is a lie and they are the real majority. If you follow this train of thought it makes a lot of sense they are trying to make elections more political because they believe that it is up to Republicans to "correct" the corrupt election system (which they will then win because it's finally been made fair). The Big Lie would not be effective without the Big Belief in it. I see the same threads of distrust in current elections from my conservative friends in the deep south and in my fairly liberal purple district outside a major city.

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Essentially, election fraud allegations are their big excuse for not putting up their equivalent of the post-it Matt's talking about (theirs would just say, "Donald Trump is very unpopular"). Republican voters love voting for Trump, and the more involved they are in Republican politics the more they love it. They don't want to do the less-fun thing to help them win, but they also don't want to recognize that they're killing their party's chances, so they cover the cognitive dissonance with fraud claims and complaints about how stacked the cultural deck is.

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A Republican friend of mine said “Trumps just like a celebrity, like Obama”. He actually made the argument that Trump is bad but so was Obama and they were similar. That really floored me. It did make me think that there are probably other people out there who hold that opinion though.

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Obama was certainly more presidential than Trump. But they are saying Obama was bad because of his stupid (and often unconstitional) policies. See DACA, DAPA, etc. Not to mention having the IRS go after Tea Party groups

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Yeah, I did think it was weird that Trump supporters were like "Obama is doing all this executive overreach!" and then 100% supported all of Trumps executive overreach. I still don't understand how the idea of the strong unitary executive fits with the idea of limiting government power, seems like a huge contradiction in conservative thought.

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Do you mind if I ask where your friend is from?

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a north Mississippi suburb

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I mean, Trump got a giant swing of Hispanic voters in 2020, mostly women.

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What exactly is “the racism” you are describing. I know of zero elected Republicans who advocate de outearn segregation, the repeal of anti-lynching laws, or even literacy tests and grandfather clauses. “The racism” is either chimerical or means policies that disproportionately hurt minorities, eg low taxes and a thin safety net or voter ID laws. The Republicans could ditch voter ID laws with relatively little cost because they have a minuscule effect on elections. However, the core “racism” of the Republican party is its affection for laissez faire economics, which perpetuate a social and economic hierarchy that marginalizes black and brown voters. This hierarchy is sufficiently robust that it also marginalizes non white people in places like France and the UK, which Republicans would describe as socialist shitholes. How exactly would anything resembling the modern GOP dial back the (racist) hierarchy of wealth and power?

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Obama Birtherism, Charlottesville stuff, and Great Replacement theory are all big parts of Republican thought, AFAICT. There's also tolerance for more extreme bigotry like anti-semitic conspiracy theories.

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You’ve left out the thin blue line stuff.

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Why is that inherently racist?

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To the extent that it isn’t *entirely* about allowing the police to brutalize black folks with no reason or consequence, it’s only because the people who believe it also have little issue with the police brutalizing urban white folks too. They must be libs, after all.

The hardcore Back the Blue fuckheads and the replacement theory nutjobs are the right’s version of the phenomenon described in this article.

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I know a lot of people who feel like the police, nation wide, are getting attacked and unfairly treated by much less sympathetic forces, such as disingenuous politicians and ivy league NYTs reporters. For exactly none of them is the point "allowing police brutality".

A few of the people I know who are really into "back the blue"

* A white friend of mine who's adopted 2 black girls from foster care. He actually wants to join the police as a support volunteer for the same reasons he joined the military after 9/11 - which was that he felt some people were being asked to do dangerous jobs and he didn't want to sit on the sidelines while others took all the risks

* A friend from Tijuana who thinks police in thee US are 1000x better than in his hometown and thinks defund movements risk breaking something that isn't broken.

* a friend from Iraq who was utterly terrified of the looting post-Floyd and sees the police as the only thing protecting society from the conditions he fled

You can disagree with any of these perspectives; I probably disagree about 50%. But when I have people like this in mind your comment on police support reads as quite an ugly character assassination.

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Every single person I know who flies one of those fucking flags fantasizes about breaking Chauvin out of jail, or posted on Facebook about wanting to come to Philadelphia and shoot protesters, or Tweeted in support of 1/6.

The folks who share the attitudes you post here are routinely downvoted to hell on Fox News, /rConservative, and Breitbart comment sections.

I'm aware that the nutjobs aren't the whole of the movement, but the limited data available bears out that they are much or most of it, and definitely the most vocal part.

This is no comment on the police themselves, nor on people who hold moderate attitudes like those you describe. Having discussed this and read a lot of Graham's work, I'm of the opinion that the problems are less all-encompassing than the media would have me believe.

I think there are more problems than he believes, and as a moderate civil libertarian I'm not inclined to forgive or permit the dragnet approach that he believes is the only way to conduct police work, but I recognize that media portrayals of outright racism and excessive violence in policing are either ignorant or disingenuous.

But then, I also think the data bears out the notion that the position you've described is the mainstream Democratic position, too! We're just saddled with the "activists" that this and many other MY articles have discussed.

TL;DR: Don't assume that by "Back the Blue" fuckheads, I'm referring to the folks you describe, please. We both know better.

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The "why" is an interesting question in the abstract, but it sort of sidesteps the fact that right now it very clearly *is*.

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Well, that's how it strikes some people. I think the Blue Lives matter people feel that the police are a respected institution in society and that police officers mostly do a hard job and deserve respect, and they are angry that they are treated with disrespect by people who have strange values that they don't share. This is thoroughly human. It does not seem inherently racist to me. Supporting the BLM point of view on the police is not a litmus test.

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Is there a coherent "BLM point of view on the police"?

I think not...

My (mostly black) neighbors want better police who do their jobs instead of ripping lost moms from minivans, beating them, and tweeting photos of how they saved their "lost barefoot toddlers".

That involves burning the police unions to the fucking ground and enforcing the same accountability that exists in every other industry.

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You can agree with all that and still think that we need to improve policing in ways that involve fewer armed officers responding to nuisance complaints/mental health emergencies/routine traffic control and more time on solving crimes against person and property especially crimes against poor and minority victims.

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Violent and sexual crime disproportionately victimized minorities. Lots of block people want to lock up the bad guys.

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Along the same lines - if you told me police were going to start disproportionately stopping and monitoring white people in my county, I'd pretty much be (selfishly) overjoyed. It would mean they'd be arresting more of the drug dealers and petty thief junkies and my neighborhood. It would probably mean more shootings in other neighborhoods, though.

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So you don't know about Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms?

You don't know about Steven Miller, who was a top legislative aid to Jeff Sessions before getting promoted to the White House?

You don't know about the NC Republican party leaders who drew a redistricting map that was so obviously racist that even conservative SCOTUS members called it racist? And you don't know about how all of the people who did that are still extremely prominent members of the NC Republican party?

There is a shitload of obvious and explicit racism in the Republican party, and there has been for generations. A refusal to acknowledge this truth seems like a huge part of the problem to me.

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are strom thurmond and jesse helms elected republicans or are they dead white dudes?

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They were both elected and reelected by landslides in the 80s. You're alleging that the Republican party stopped being racist in the mid 80s (when Helms and Thurmond left he scene) and started again in 2016 but had completely stopped being racist in between?

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I never said Republicans aren’t racist. I questioned whether they are racist in a way that can be “dialed back.”. Laissez faire economics, as applied to the US, systematically give black and brown people worse outcomes. I don’t see how Republicans can get to better economic outcomes for black and brown people without abandoning their core commitments to business interests

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Laissez faire economics marginalizes a lot of white voters, too. To me, the race talk seems beside the point.

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Trump's rhetoric, certainly. Some of it might _just_ be xenophobia "... They're not sending us their best people..." but the Charlottesville stuff.

I have a friend whose dad seems to have voted for Trump partly for bigoted semi-racist reasons - hadn't voted in years and seems to have been excited to finally hear someone speak the truth.

I also know people who voted for him that I don't think are particularly racist (_everyone_ has unconscious in-group biases) and didn't like his rhetoric on that but didn't like the Democrats more.

I agree with you that while the overall policies aren't designed for equity they don't seem (to me) to be pro-racist.

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>“The racism” is either chimerical

Oh boy here we go again this is tedious

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I am just guessing but the racism that I see across the Republican governing party is this:

In order to win elections Republicans need every vote. Thus R. politicians turn a blind eye to racist dog whistles (overt and covert) in Right Wing media and among a few of their colleagues.

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maybe. yet a constituency that is satisfied with dog whistles has basically given up.

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I am not following. The small percent of voters at whom the dog whistles are directed have given up what? Seemingly the politicians humoring them do not believe they have given up voting.

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if you vote for a dog whistle, the chances you get actual legislation promoting your goal are slim. you’ve given up on actually having power

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"However, the core “racism” of the Republican party is its affection for laissez faire economics, which perpetuate a social and economic hierarchy that marginalizes black and brown voters."

And you've nailed the heart of the disagreement right there. You consider the free market to be racist.

The free market, and the liberal order has brought billions of people out of poverty of every skin color, religion and creed.

It's the American dream that says if you work hard you can get ahead. It's why millions of black and brown people want to immigrate here each year. Even if they have to risk their life via cartel to do so.

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"The free market, and the liberal order has brought billions of people out of poverty"

_Regulated_ markets have done this. It's a fiction to claim those results from unregulated markets.

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Free market doesn't mean unregulated market. Of course there has to be rules of the game enforced by government.

Moreover, certain actions cause externalities, that again need government action (pollution is a classic example)

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let me add, i support free markets, subject to progressive (not confiscatory) taxation. i support free markets even though they entrench the power of certain reactionary elements precisely because market's create really good incentives to invent and produce useful things. markets are probably the best tool we have in the struggle for subsistence. because markets encourage useful production, the struggle for subsistence is increasingly a cakewalk.

markets are more ambiguous, even dubious, in their distributive effect.

finally, combatting racism is not my lodestar or even my primary goal. my aim is human happiness. I don’t want anyone condemned to misery because of their race, but equalizing the distribution of happiness between races seems less urgent than increasing happiness generally.

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*de iure segregation. Autocorrect didn’t take Latin.

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Well, that depends on what "the" Progressive message IS. Police reform means that fewer white people will be shot by police officers and fewer white people mugged. Immigration reform means more people like Steve Job's dad. Voter ID is great as part of way to expand voting. Using the gender pronouns that a person wants removes an irritant that makes social life smoother and less contentious.

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>The overall message is that this country is not receptive to the progressive message, nor will it be for the foreseeable future.

Many of us "blacks" might desert the progressives for the Republican party. But what is the progressive message anyways? Surely it's not just about pronouns and climate change

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There is no reason that making cost effective investments to discourage CO2 emissions and mitigate the effect of past CO2 emissions should turn off the median voter.

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“…cost effective investments to discourage CO2 emissions…”

What does that mean?

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The best meaning (most cost effective investments) would be a tax on net CO2 emissions, but subsidies to zero carbon energy and CO2 capture technologies that have NPV.> 0 when the CO2 emission avoided/captured is costed at the appropriate price (which seems to be ~ $300/ton) would also go a long way.

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And what do you propose to do with the tax money?

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Some people think that a pro-rata rebate would be best. Others reducing other taxes such as the wage tax. Or investments in mitigation seawalls, etc.

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Solar panels and on-grid inverters? Most people who don't live in cities don't even need to put it on their roofs (meaning it's a lot easier and less expensive). They can practically just lay them on the ground.

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OK, but taking account of the intermittent energy flow, it's not hard to subsidize them more than the CO2 emissions avoided.

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I’d love to see the plan. Especially the realistic assumptions and rock-solid financial analysis.

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just curious - why "blacks" in quotes above? Usually that sort of quoting around a single words I interpret as a disagreement with the specific word. Was there a better way to phrase what he said or am I misunderstanding completely?

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No I always use quotation marks when essentializing my race

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“Surely it's not just about pronouns and climate change”

They also want to exert control over business firms. And vilify the wealthy. It’s not an intelligent or wise governing approach, but it’s all they seem to have.

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Is vilifying wealthy people worse than vilifying immigrants?

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No.

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>but it’s all they seem to have.

You seem to be poorly informed about progressives' political agenda

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Ever increasing role for the federal government isn’t all they’ve got? Do tell.

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"Do tell?" That's how Matty makes his living, go ask your blog host. I am just here to observe ratio

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I don't want to vilify wealthy people; I just want their money for investments, transfers, and deficit reduction.

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Yeah! we LOVE them wealthy people! We especially love their money😉😉😉

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I sort of agree here but I think it is important to note that many of the progressive policy proposals themselves individually poll well. People want the better life through cheaper prescriptions, better health care, more affordable housing and college, and so on. I think my position here is more that the approach is bad but the substance is largely good.

On top of that, I think if the GOP turns down the racism and related discrimination messaging then they have really nothing left. They have no real policy anymore.

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I would urge folks to be careful about “progressive policy proposals themselves individually poll well”. David Shor has pointed out that a lot of these polls are commissioned by the individual issue advocates and are so low quality as to be essentially propaganda. Even in the cases of high quality polling, you don’t get a sense of intensity which is far more important for enacting change. For example, by now i think most folks understand that while more gun restrictive gun laws poll well, the number of people who make gun restrictions their top policy priority is dwarfed by the number of people whose top priority is keeping the status quo or even fewer gun restrictions.

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Not "a lot." According to Shor *the vast bulk* of issue polling is paid for by clients who have a dog in the hunt one way or another. I don't take him to mean we have ZERO idea of what's popular and what isn't. But we should constantly question this stuff, look at poll quality, wording, etc. He also points out the existence of something called "polling acquiescence bias" (or something to that effect, I might have the wording off) that suggests there's a built-in bias in favor of answering "yes" to the questions posed by pollsters.

IIRC he cites Gallup as being something of an outlier in terms of reliability.

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I think if we were a well functioning democracy, so sometime in the very distant future, the Republicans would position themselves as the party of opportunity, meritocracy and patriotism, and the Democrats would be the party of equity and minority rights. That's essentially where they're headed, it's just all muddled until Trump leaves the scene. As for individual policies, freebies have always polled well but were relatively rarely enacted. hence the fairly paltry safety net in the US vs Europe. I understand why people support free healthcare, housing and college, especially nowadays when both parties are all in on unlimited deficits. But if you're asked would you favor reduced prescription drug prices at the cost of fewer longevity enhancing medical discoveries in the future, I think the consensus goes away.

Anyway, I'm coming off far more conservative than I really am here. There's plenty of anti Republican ammo that keeps me in the Democratic fold.

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Trump is going to leave the scene some day, and we'll see if conservatives turn out to be who you think they are.

I strongly suspect that they will turn out to be who I think they are, which has nothing to do with respect for meritocracy or patriotism. Waiting for conservatives to stop being horrible is a plan that is doomed to fail.

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"Waiting for conservatives to stop being horrible is a plan that is doomed to fail."

I've voted conservative plenty of times in the less recent past and I didn't and don't think they were horrible then(they weren't perfect either). If they can change and become horrible, why can't they change and stop?

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You didn't think Newt Gingrich was horrible?

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Hmm... trying to think back. I recall thinking the Contract for America was a reasonable idea - at least there was a promised agenda they worked on. I don't recall agreeing with all of it, but I thought the idea was solid. (And at least they tried to pass stuff instead of just being obstructionist)

He's certainly turned out to be pretty bad since then - but I'm not certain how much of that is "those who stayed in the party have found themselves being worse and worse".

I admit I was less invested in politics back then - I was thinking more of the presidential races, and Texas politics.

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You need to lose a few elections before you feel the need to change. In presidential elections I think the current Rule of Nature is losing three in a row.

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And do they think they're at 1 or 0?

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I feel like the class / education divide are the ones that are steadily widening, and most likely to be where things settle sometime in the next decade or two.

That would probably push most Asians further into the D part and many Hispanics into the R camp. Once enough of your coalition is one ethnicity or another it gets very hard to be, or to be seen as, racist against them. Whites might hold steady or slowly edge toward Ds, at least in younger age brackets.

Where Black voters go under this scenario is harder to say - but signals are emerging that point to a slow shift towards Rs. The main one I have in mind is that younger black males are much more R-voting than other Black genders / age combos. At some point, a critical mass is reached and there's a tipping point where voting R is normalized to some degree and from there identity politics gets really interesting.

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I think it's definitely a possible outcome, and it would make sense. I also think there are a number of other possible combinations. But the one where the Democrats keep all the non-whites, females, young people, and LGBTQIA+ is a pipe dream. But they seem intent on trying to make it happen.

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It's funny you mention "non-whites, females, young people" because those are all groups that moved against Dems between 2016 to 2020. I haven't seen polling on LGBTQIA+

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So I keep reading people saying things like what you said in your last sentence, and then they often follow that up with an insistence that most GOP voters aren't really racist.

I think it's important to be aware that the racism is not just an unfortunate byproduct of conservatives working toward what they really want. The racism is the thing that the conservative movement really wants, and the other stuff is the byproducts.

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That was probably aimed more at me than Dave. And I don't agree at all. Racism was anathema to the official Republican Party pre Trump, and regularly denounced. The difference is that racism up to five years ago meant being anti Black. But the definition changed so now if you want equality and color-blindness you're racist. And I agree that if you accept that racism means any differences between races, the traditional Republican agenda will be hard to accomplish.

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I don't think your answer reflects an awareness of the conservative movement or what it is like to be a brown US citizen in the South today.

I suspect that you won't be persuaded by me listing evidence here, but like I said above, there will come a day when we won't have to guess. Trump will indeed leave the scene, and then we will see what the conservative movement really cares about. If they suddenly start caring more about meritocracy than being cruel to black and brown people, then we'll see that.

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But that's just being silly, irrespective of our demographic differences. The public position of the Republican Party pre-Trump was anti-racist, and indistinguishable from the Democrats. Remember it was Clinton who instituted workfare instead of welfare, and the racial wealth gap widened under Obama and shrank under Trump. So all I'm saying is the Republicans need to return to 2016, not that big an ask. Now if you're redefining racist as "all white people" a la DiAngelo, or using Latino instead of Latinx, that's a much bigger ask and I agree it's not going to happen.

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I don't think this is correct. The Republican party decided to go for the Southern white vote, and that meant downplaying civil rights, voting rights, and that led to Trump.

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So, I gather that you have a sore point for allegations of racism that you feel are inaccurate, and you feel that such false allegations are super common, damaging to innocent people, and generally a big problem in the US. Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding something.

I'm not here to call you racist or suggest that all white people are racist. I've also literally never used the term Latinx, and I'm a 44-year-old liberal brown immigrant from South America who talks about this sort of thing all the time.

The case I would like to make to you on this point is that I can just as easily go cherry picking racist comments as you can find inaccurate allegations or inflations of racism. Why do you feel it should be easier for me to brush off the real racism than it is for you to brush off the inaccurate allegations of racism?

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But this clearly isn’t a uniform view, even amongst brown people in the south right? Because otherwise how did we get that big shift towards Trump amongst Latinos from 2016 - 2020? Catalist and Pew disagree on the exact size but both saw a substantial shift.

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Please correct me if you have numbers that contradict, but my short answer is racism among white Cubans and white Puerto Ricans in Florida.

It's worth remembering here that the shift people are talking about is from a massive blue advantage to a slightly less massive blue advantage among Hispanic voters. People who are familiar with the history of race, Cuba, and the South Florida Cuban community won't be surprised that racist appeals were effective on that group.

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>I suspect that you won't be persuaded by me listing evidence here

It's too exhausting to try to convince Matty's readers I just gave up and stopped coming to this blog when these topics come up. I guess I'm gone again😭

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I noticed that you haven't commented here for awhile and was happy to see that you were back and hadn't just given up on Slow Boring. I agree a lot with Ian Haney Lopez's view that Republicans do use racist dog whistles to thrum the zero sum fears of white people that any policy driven improvement in standards of living for Black people will come at their expense. He also says that most of those same people are supportive of racial justice and can be persuaded to support a multiracial coalition when its clear that it will raise all boats. I guess I am asking what you think the Democratic party should do about the fact that the Republican party gets a bunch of votes by saying that Democrats want to take things away from white people and give them to Black people. Because increasingly loud voices in the culture and some progressive electeds seem to be reinforcing this argument by hammering on white privilege and suggesting that white people just need to pipe down and listen. That may be morally justified, but it can't win elections when the electorate is still overwhelmingly white.

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The South is still the South. I'd be hesitant to generalize to the rest of America. At least without some model for how that happens.

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My new standard response to everything you post is going to be: Emigrate to the PRC.

You're not an American, you don't share our values, and you're wholly committed to destroying the country I love.

I can't believe you took the oath with a straight face.

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"if the Republicans could just turn down the racism"

Aside from some fringe elements (let's avoid the nut picking that each side can do). What racism are you referring to?

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I'm the same, three months shy of sixty, and entirely agree.

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I agree with Matt that it's pretty astounding how much Democrats message as if they don't know who the median voter is. If you listen to Dem candidates and read any mainstream (non-Fox) media, you'd think that for the Democratic establishment, the issues facing "people of color" in any country on earth are more important than the issues facing the median 50-year-old white voter in the U.S. That's just bad for winning elections.

I wonder about two things, though. First, how much of this is the incentives of Democratic political operatives rather than forgetting who the median voter is? I could imagine that if you're a staffer for a Democrat, you could be socially punished in some way for expressing too much concern for the median voter.

Second, how much of Republicans' success is due to negative (rather than positive) polarization? I don't think swing voters who went for Trump really thought Trump cared about them. However, he did rail against the New York Times, MSNBC, etc. (i.e., the people who constantly talk down to the median voter). If the problem is negative polarization, the Democrats might not solve the entire problem by acting like they care about the median voter. They'd need to speak out against coastal elites to a greater extent, which is probably impossible given funding constraints.

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The number of times a perfectly populist (and popular) stance on the issues has been ruined by unnecessary IDpol framing is… terrifying.

I’m much, much more political (and rather more partisan) than the average American, but I’m at pains to remember that every time I get caught up in a conversation about politics and try to tone it down lest my companion get, well, bored.

If everything I do is framed as a racial equity issue, everything I do will be unpopular even if it’s actually popular.

And the godforsaken news media is *not* helping.

I think the fundamental issue, or hole, in Matt’s thesis is that the median reporter is far, far more disconnected from the median voter than the median Democratic Party staffer.

Short of “First, we kill all the press”, I just don’t know how to solve that problem.

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And the overwhelming majority of those "people of color" do not refer to themselves as "people of color" so when you talk like that they immediately tune you out.

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I suspect that gerrymandering has something to do with this.The national median might be a 50-something voter but this is unlikely to be true in the average Democratic house district.

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I think there's a good number of the Trump voters that didn't vote for him because they liked him, but voted because they were scared of the Democrat agenda.

In 2016 I voted for Gary Johnson, because I couldn't stand Trump. In 2020, I held my nose and voted for Trump because of the huge leftward slide on the Dems side

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Yeah, I do wonder if Matt is not being a bit optimistic that the problem is that Democrats forget who the median voter is. It may be more likely they know who the median voter is, but for reasons of ideological preference choose to ignore it.

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Seriously Matt. Just call me.out by name.

I am that 51-year old white middle class non-college educated suburban voter?

What do you guys want to kmow?

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Also. I totality want to know about this anger management thing. But looking at some of Matts tweets, I can see it. I bet Matt can fight when pissed off.

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In my head, Matt needed CBT because he was relentlessly bullied by the cool kids in the Vox lunchroom for takes like today’s post. Probably far from the reality but it’s how I imagine things went down.

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I think that Matt owes us just one piece that’s written while he’s genuinely pissed off. Don’t stop and think, just type. He writes a piece every day, we can’t get just one written while his blood is up?? I hope it’s about housing.

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I've seen Matt in person and he's bigger than you might expect. You'd be dealing with an angry big guy, not an angry small one.

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I really want to get Matt in the gym lifting weights. He probably has good genetics.

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what is your most normie political opinion, and what is your most idiosyncratic political opinion?

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Cash payments agre good.

Police are good.

32 hours should be considered full-time. Anything over requires time and a half pay.

DC shoild be shrunk down to the capital and the white house. Everything else should be given back to Maryland or Virginia.

All Federal Agencies should be spread out across the country.

IRS employees should be banned from ever working in the private sector. And should be on commission when dealing with Rich people and Corporations.

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I'll add for Rory here too since we're pretty aligned ... his most normie opinion is "we should tax the fuck out of the rich." His definition of rich is quite normie too - anyone making more.

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This is true. Im touched you remember.

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What’s your favorite diner

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It was Rockies Diner in Boise. But they closed.

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Best places to eat in Boise, obviously.

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Bad Boy Burgers.

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$15 minimum wage?

Tax increases on $400k+?

Okay with leaving afghan?

Refundable CTC?

Infrastructure?

Stuff that’s not infrastructure that we call infrastructure?

Increase social security monthly check amount?

Lower Medicare eligibility age?

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Why 400k? I don't understand how that went from 250k under Obama to 400k under Biden. Both of those are way, way above the median and put you squarely in the very top 10% of wage earners. I'm not saying that taxes on the someone making 250k have to be the same as someone making 5 million, but why would we want to lower them?

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founding

My guess is that it's easy to find sympathetic-looking people at the $200k or $300k mark - for urban voters, it's the upper middle class family that just can't manage with daycare, decent housing, and a few vacations; for rural voters it's the farmer who is constantly worrying about going under; and for small town voters it's the main street business owner that can't find good and affordable labor. These images hold outsize sway.

I wish they didn't respond by promising that absolutely none of these people will see a single dollar of extra taxes - at most, they should promise that these people will see benefits that are at least equal to the amount of extra taxes they will pay.

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>>>I don't understand how that went from 250k under Obama to 400k under Biden>>>

You seriously don't understand this? I don't think it's complicated at all: many upper middle class people earn a lot more in 2021 than they did twelve year ago. Similarly, houses in blue metros are a lot pricier, as is college tuition, day care, and plenty of other stuff.

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I should have said that I understand, but it's a bit disengenous at best. You can't assert inflation has been low for the last decades and then say that costs have gone up so much that 400k is the new 250k. The real truth is your point that large numbers of the blue metros have seen their income rise dramatically, but don't want to pay additional taxes even though 400k still puts you well into the top 10% of income earners.

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$200 to $500k stay the same, they aren’t reduced.

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Right, but that means that Democrats are simply cementing Republican tax cuts for top earners and are only willing to raise taxes on the very, very highest levels. That top 1% has a lot of wealth, but not enough to fund the spending being proposed.

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Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. No opinion.

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And Manchin negotiated just a bit past 50 year old white guy from suburbia. He got some non-infrastructure spending into the deal.

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Haven't paid attention. Working in Argentina.

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You should be the person to decide whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

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It is not. Neither is a burger.

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Rory -- That is not the hot take I was prepared to deal with today.

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Get ready. My hottest take:

Tacos can only be made with corn tortillas. Otherwise its just a poorly wrapped burrito.

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Ok ok. Again. Not ready for this but ... only soft shell? Or are both hard and soft acceptable?

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Hard shell should be banned for badly done cultural appropriation. But... my kids love Spaghetti tacos. So I will.let it slide as long as not sold in restaurants. Only used at home.

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What new welfare program do you want the “progressives” to put you on?

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By put on me, do you mean I pay for? Or I receive?

Pay for: child tax credit even more generous.

I receive: hmmmmm. I would.like to qualify for Unemployment Insurance. I dont because I get a military pension. However rich people do qualify if they lose jobs as long as no pension or income.

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I meant what free lunch do you want your rich Uncle Sam to provide? He has a sky-high credit line and can also tax the rich to pay for anything imaginable.

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Anything? 6 weeks paid vacation for everyone. Like Europe.

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I don’t think the government provides vacation pay in Europe.

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Well we should, and then shame them. Though my ex-wife is on the dole in the UK... long story, I've led an adventurous life, but the government did give her a stipend to go on Holiday. I would think the US could subsidize it somehow via tax credits or something. At the very least, make paid vacation a requirement.

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I Already have free Healthcare. So.... more generous social security.

Or more child tax credits

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My structural take is that American political parties are super-weak (the weakest of any party in the developed world!), and activist groups are really strong, and there's a societal tradeoff between how strong your parties are and how strong your activist groups are. And the activists- many of them single-issue groups- frequently can't think about or just don't care about what will ultimately help Democrats win elections more. They're frequently fanatics- they're frequently foaming at the mouth. Everything is black & white, good & evil with them. So they can't parse Matt's advice here, even if (ironically) it would actually help their causes in the long run.

I think we should have weaker activists & stronger parties. Which to varying degrees would mean rolling back Citizen's United (so that they stop funding candidates outside of the party structure), giving the parties more money to distribute to candidates *if they're good*, and making the primaries more controlled by the party so that any random yahoo can't run & win. But all of the activist groups will fight this- and worse, we're in the middle of a big populist supercycle, so 'making the Democratic (or Republican) party stronger' is uh not exactly a popular idea. Putting our primaries more under the control of the parties *like every other democracy on planet Earth* is not going to go over real well. So I throw up my hands and accept failure, for now anyways

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This is a really important point. Additionally, strong parties make it a lot easier to get inter-party factions to play nice which would be really helpful if your party needs every vote in Congress to pass legislation.

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Yeah. I mean, to make it realistic/specific for the American system, I doubt that the parties could just eject a backbencher..... but they could control the funds needed for campaigning & re-elections. And they could simply back a primary challenger with those funds while withholding them from the incumbent, if they don't play ball. I'm looking at all the 'moderate' drug pricing negotiation holdouts here

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We have examples from history - the Democratic party dominated Congress for many decades because it had a strong central party system that was able to manage a very diverse set of coalitions and factions. Today's parties have none of that, they are more like brands.

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Why? Multiparty presidential systems don't work. They've been tried in Latin America for 70+ years, this is like the consensus view of political scientists. They're a fractious mess, and it'd be even worse in the US because:

Our midterms elections & the staggered Senate schedule mean that the President would virtually never have their party in power. How effective would you say divided government is in the US now? You want to make it permanent?

And, the new parties that would form in the US would be explicitly ideological. The people that broke off from the Republican or Democratic parties would be the real nutsos. 'Parties' in other countries can be regional, but in the US it'd just be the true believers.

Imagine we need the swing votes of the America First party, headed by Marjorie Taylor Greene, to raise the debt ceiling. 'Sure, we can pass that..... after we deport every illegal immigrant in America!' Or say you need the swing votes of the AOC-lead Justice Dems to pass the annual defense bill- the one thing modern Congress doesn't screw up. 'Sure, we can pass that..... after we nationalize every oil company in America!'

If you multiple parties, go full parliamentary & PR. Can't do with a separately elected President

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Wait, how do modern American political parties 'strictly enforce voting discipline', what is going on :) The headlines for the last month are all, Biden desperately trying to get various Democrats to vote for his bills, and various Democrats refusing to. Trump couldn't get Obamacare or Section 230 repealed, etc.

If we had strict voting discipline, Manchin/Sinema would be voting for Biden's bills- because they're not, we don't. If we had strict voting discipline, various House 'moderates' wouldn't be refusing to sign on to prescription drug negotiation, or parts of the infrastructure bill, or funding the IRS, or getting rid of the stepped-up basis, or..... I mean it goes on and on. The fact that they're openly defying the party leader is what makes the parties not disciplined man :) That's the definition.

'Multiple parties creates issues where cross-pressured lawmakers can break with their typical coalition, and can be bargained with individually'

My assertion is- the new parties that form would be more politically extreme, so no, you're not going to get Marjorie Taylor Green or another MTG acolyte to break from the America First party. Or, get Ilhan Omar or her clone to break from the Green Party- no. They would probably get voted out of office for compromising!

I am interested by your Electoral College idea below, but that's basically parliamentarism- which is great! :) But it's essentially a parliamentary system, might as well do PR too at that point. I will grudgingly say it's *possible* that a multiparty US could work, but probably by a Germany-style 'the center left and center right parties always compromise to get stuff done, and the extremists always get ignored' type of government. So- maybe!

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I would like that as well, but the structure of our system strongly favors only two non-fringe parties. Even if we nuke both parties tomorrow, two more would rise up and take their place and we’d be back to the binary.

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I think you'd have to eliminate winner-take-all electoral votes too, something Madison came to endorse later in life.

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Sure, but takes rewriting State constitutions as well as the US Constitution to bring that about. IOW, it's never going to happen.

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When do you think that Maine amended their constitution? They didn't. If you're thinking of ranked choice voting- it was struck down by the courts for violating the state constitution, so they can only use RCV for federal elections

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It's certainly much easier for state-level positions. I don't see how it happens for Congress at the Federal level though. And then there is the Senate.

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