375 Comments

Matt, you’re really not gonna share your 10??

Expand full comment

1) Housing

2) Also housing

10) Housing

Expand full comment

Surely the point is to have items on the list that there of quite a bit of support for. Abolishing suburbs is not going to make it, however well it Plays in the Bay Area.

Expand full comment

Don't forget abolishing mandatory parking minimums.

Expand full comment

Not exactly a ”narrow target,” is it? Maybe obscure? Anyway, hard to imagine it being an important campaign move.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Putting housing on top of housing sounds like a great way to densify and reduce the cost of living space!

Expand full comment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City. <== housing on top of housing

Expand full comment

How does Milan even know who Xzibit is? He wasn’t even alive when Pimp My Ride was a thing.

Expand full comment

Meme immortality

Expand full comment
founding

I think he should make it a list of 7, just to piss the maximalists off.

Expand full comment

Now I know what I'm going to ask him for this week's mailbag!

Expand full comment

Milan's list too!

Expand full comment

Given how often Matt calls for a strategy for political success, which then gets derailed as "you're just saying that because you really don't believe in X", I think it is wise for him to not put out a list immediately.

I want to see if Matt can get more anti-popularists to agree there should be a list.

Expand full comment

That would totally defeat the purpose of this article!

Expand full comment

@matt, if you do, I'd be curious in how you'd handle this if you were Pelosi / Schumer's chief-of-staff, not just as a journalist / pundit (i.e. consider the possibility of actually getting most of the party power centers on board with the plan).

Expand full comment

Any platform that offers no material benefits to working stiffs but promises the moon to climate activists is not populist. Rather than promising net carbon neutrality, it should promise to build cool shit, like nuclear power plants, solar and wind generation and EV factories. At a minimum, it should do something to reduce the cost of health care.

Expand full comment

I will say it's pretty much exactly the sort of list I'd expect from its author.

Expand full comment

This. Where is the minimum wage? Where is the public option?

Expand full comment

the key is to reduce costs. open borders for non-felon english and spanish speaking doctors would be great. letting foreign radiologists read scans would also rock.

Expand full comment

Wouldn’t do much. Providers are 8% of health costs. You could cut provider costs 50% and you would reduce overall prices 4%.

Expand full comment

I think the idea was to be popular.

Expand full comment

I think the public option in the sense of "there's a government plan you can buy into on ACA exchanges" is popular. The problem is that progressives take "public option is popular" to mean "people want to rip apart the insurance-based healthcare system and replace with an American version of NHS" and...that's not popular.

Expand full comment

Or put a little differently, "status quo plus public option as the end goal" appeals to a different demographic than "public option as step one towards monolithic YankNHS".

Sign me up for the former; I have no interest in the latter.

Expand full comment

I think the carbon-neutrality plank is very much a "devil is in the details" kind of thing. It can be popular - or at least not so unpopular as to become a liability - but it depends on what's under the hood and how you brand it.

Expand full comment

Getting to net zero by 2050 demands building lots of things. Perry Bacon should rephrase it, but that's the only viable path forward.

Expand full comment

I’ll take a stab.

1. National education reform. First two years of college or technical training free. Existing debt made eligible for bankruptcy discharge. Reform of future student loan system that gives schools skin in the game.

2. Increased national investment in research. Making the US technological leader.

3. National minimum wage raised to $14 and tied to CPI.

4. Program for energy independence. Massive spending on improving transmission lines, investment in solar and other new technologies. Investment in pipelines and refineries.

5. workplace reform. Lower standard work week to 36 hours. Toughen overtime rules so that time and a half required for all more people. Require schedules to be posted for two weeks. Require two weeks of paid vacation for any business with more than 10 employees.

6. Property freedom bill. Restrict the zoning requirements that states and cities can put on peoples property.

7. Increase federal taxes on a second homes.

8. Bring back monthly child allowance. Commit to childcare spending.

9. Increased background checks for guns. Toughen gun laws for people who commit crimes with guns. Raise firearm purchase age to 21. Increase spending on police and social services in areas suffering from gun violence.

10. Raise income and capital gains tax for all people earning more that one million a year.

Expand full comment

"Require schedules to be posted for two weeks."

Yes! My friend at Chipotle keeps getting his schedules super last minute. Like his manager will text at 4:30 saying he's got a shift from 4 to 9 that day. Incredibly annoying for him, would love to have that fixed.

Expand full comment

This is a huge deal for single parents who have to plan day care.

Expand full comment

Something that you'd have to add to this law to get it closer to ironclad is to explicitly allow class action suits. Otherwise, this SCOTUS will find a way to ensure that these disputes get kicked into private arbitration.

Expand full comment

AT&T v. Concepcion is one of those cases that makes my blood boil. It's a great example of a failure mode of textualism. The recent situation where a few entrepreneurial lawyers have started filing kajillions of individual arbitrations is a source of grim satisfaction.

Expand full comment

I agree wholeheartedly. My son has started working at a local pizzeria and I sure wish I had something better to say than “this is why you don’t want to work at a pizza place for the rest of your life.“

Expand full comment

I felt so damn lucky that the only time that would happen to me was for coverage. Even when the schedule didn't change we knew a full week in advance

Expand full comment

Can I ask, what's the constitutional basis for the federal government controlling how a state chooses to zone its own land?

Probably the most the federal government can do is provide financial incentives for states to adopt more housing-friendly zoning.

Expand full comment

None. I just sort of put in a wish list for things I care about.

Expand full comment

If you're a left winger, the answer would be pretty bog standard Commerce Clause stuff.

However, since this SCOTUS is pretty right wing, I agree that they would probably strike it down.

Now, if you can convince Thomas and Gorsuch to form some horseshoe alliance that involves declaring zoning to be a taking under the Takings Clause...

Expand full comment

IIRC John Paul Stevens's concurrence in Moore v City of East Cleveland implies that at a certain level, zoning rises to the level of a taking, so there is a tradition of this kind of thinking on the left side of the Court. A strategy based on that could work on this Court, though it's a long shot.

Expand full comment

Yeah, you'd want to find a universally sympathetic plaintiff like Inez Moore was in that case, but those are of course difficult to find. The left wing would also more likely to want cite some other part of the Constitution, like the Equal Protection Clause, only leaving a plurality while Thomas and Gorsuch concur in the judgment.

Expand full comment

That's probably true.

Expand full comment

This looks pretty good, I like it. 5 and 6 are tricky, I think, to implement, but that can be worked out.

Expand full comment

I think 5 is easy. Covered under Fair Labor Standards.

6 is difficult, but its still zoning reform.

Expand full comment

Ok, this was fun... here's my quick pass, cribbing off yours but obviously with my own pet topics:

1. Inflation Bill: Do something

2. Women and Pregnancy Rights Bill: Federal protection for the rights of women to continue or end a pregnancy during the first trimester (14 weeks); federal protection for the right to life for the unborn post-viability (22 weeks) with exceptions for the physical health of the mother (or in the case of rape/incest, mental health of mother), fetal abnormalities incompatible with life; protection for religious beliefs of health practitioners but requirement to provide timely referrals; investment in reducing maternal mortality, maternal and infant healthcare; increased funding to support foster care and adoption programs

3. Romney's Child allowance bill

4. Voting Rights and Representation Bill: All representative districts must be drawn by non-partisan commissions; No-cause absentee voting and 2 weeks of early in-person voting nationwide; election day is a national holiday

5. Worker's Rights Bill: National minimum wage boosted to $14/hr and raised annually to track with CPI; schedules posted 2 weeks in advance with guaranteed minimum and maximum weekly hours; Mandatory paid overtime beyond 40 hours/wk for all workers; Caps on CEO pay to be no more than 100(?)x median worker pay in HQ country; publicly traded companies have an elected employee representative on the board

6. National education reform. Each state must have at least one state university and one technical college per 500,000(?) residents between the ages of 18 and 25 that any state resident can attend for free for up to 4 years. Existing debt made eligible for bankruptcy discharge. Reform student loan system that gives schools skin in the game.

7. Program for energy independence. Massive spending on improving transmission lines, investment in solar and other new technologies. Investment in pipelines and refineries.

8. Increased background checks for guns. Toughen gun laws for people who commit crimes with guns. Raise firearm purchase age to 21. Increase spending on police and social services in areas suffering from gun violence. Funding for state-level Red Flag laws. Funding for enforcing state & local gun laws. Funding/legalizing CDC research on gun violence.

9. Health care: Medicare for anyone who wants it

10. Income tax reform: Raise capital gains taxes to match income tax; increase federal income tax for households with over $500k annual income; bring back SALT deduction (for Bob)

**None of the above are allowed to be marketed as being primarily aimed at achieving racial justice.

Listing it all out though, I'll admit this might be asking for too much.

Below the line, but I'd be open to a swap:

-Parent's Rights Bill- Parents get access to detailed school curriculum, method to file a complaint (but not sue) local school boards; 10% of seats in a public school must be open to students in neighboring school districts by lottery; legal protection for parents who support hormonal intervention or open-ended exploratory therapy for minors who identify as trans (neither would justify removal from home)

-Something something housing/YIMBY

-Covid response, investment in pandemic readiness...

-Immigration?

Expand full comment

I like it. For inflation I would concentrate on tariffs, and shipping regulations.

I would probably stay out of the abortion thing, because I am personally pro life, but in a let’s leave it up to the state way. But I would be OK with the first trimester thing.

I disagree with the free for four years thing. The majority of people don’t get four year degree’s. But not something that is too terrible.

I like you more specifics for taxes.

Expand full comment

I’d be willing to go down to two years; I just want to push states to re-work public colleges and universities to serve a function more like K-12, addressing the needs of their populations.

Expand full comment

I’d refine the inflation point with something on key infrastructure & I’d add a point about national defense that links military strength with diplomacy

Expand full comment

I think this is impressive for something you dashed off in the morning, and it just makes me wonder why you would ever consider voting for Republicans when they are often the opponents of many of these issues. I think the work week thing is very popular and intriguing -- as someone who has worked a 4 day week since having kids, you can get a lot done in 32 hours if you want to and it is a huge quality of life change to have three days off a week.

Expand full comment

The reason I would vote Republican… Which is selective. Think of me as a Mitt Romney type guy. Is to vote against democratic ideas that I don’t like. I’m a pretty dedicated moderate. For instance the student loan forgiveness thing without future reform will earn the Democrats a protest vote barring any other significant issue. I will wait and see what I didn’t comes up with, but this is one of those issues that Dems do that alienates the working class middle who don’t benefit.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

Re things the Dems do that alienate voters -- I would hope Republican attempts to overturn the last presidential election, by violence if necessary, would be alienating to *all* voters. After all, why would you vote for someone who won't accept the outcome of your vote?

Expand full comment

Which is exactly why I absolutely will not vote for Trump. I hold the individual candidates responsible.

Expand full comment

I like it! Why tax second homes but not yachts, private jets, expensive horses or six figure jewelry. I’m perfectly ok with taxing luxuries, but a cabin in the woods seems more middle class than a yacht.

If your purpose is raising revenue, then stocks, bonds and bank deposits above a certain limit should be taxed

Expand full comment

I wasn’t concerned about the luxury aspect of it. More for the housing availability aspect.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I think the idea of taxing second homes is because, unlike yachts, horses and jewelry, everyone needs a place to live. And given a housing shortage, we can disincentive people from having a second one (that is presumably unoccupied for most of the year). We can have those who do have a second home to subsidize those in need of housing. Not sure this makes sense for the federal level rather than state level, but that would be the answer of why taxing second homes rather than yachts

Expand full comment

One relatively clever way to politically secure a second home tax and make it hard to repeal would be to grant an exemption equal to the amount paid in state/local property tax on the second home that is additional to the amount paid on a normal property.

States and local governments would then be strongly incentivised to bring in their own second home taxes (in effect taking money from the federal government rather than second home owners). But then a future federal government that repeals the second home tax doesn't remove the state/local versions - meaning that there is less lobbying effort from second home owners to remove it.

Expand full comment

Hey you have a point. And I have a cabin in the woods, so this proposal of mine actually works against my own personal interest.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

Add to 9: Actually prosecute people for illegal firearm possession and purchases.

Also, how does the federal government tax homes to begin with? There is no federal property tax. And what is a second home? Does a timeshare count? Do rental houses count?

Expand full comment

Yeah, this would need some clarification (I own one lot that has two houses on it, so I rent out the smaller one), but I read Rory as mainly aiming at the many houses the super rich own (he can correct me if I'm wrong).

Expand full comment

If you rent out a house long-term that it wouldn’t count against you.

I was addressing vacation properties or unused properties.

I thought about adding in something addressing Air BnBs, but I think that’s best addressed locally.

Also, I should mention that I own a second vacation home. So this actually hurts me.

Expand full comment

There's a legal distinction of what is your "primary residences." All other owned properties would count as "second homes"... I don;t think a timeshare is an owned property though. Rental houses would be. Can throw a bone to the Left NIMBYs who hate airbnb.

Expand full comment

I was trying to target vacation homes. If people wanna own rental homes that’s just the free market.

Expand full comment

Most (all?) timeshares have deeds.

Expand full comment

Agreed. It's unspoken.

Expand full comment

These are all good things to put in the party platform, which no one reads and you never talk about on the trail but then once you win the election you can claim a mandate for.

(And I like all these things! It's just that people will say, "where's health care? where's x, y, z?" and other voters will say "I hate #8". )

Expand full comment

I should’ve added healthcare. But I didn’t really have anything sort of obvious.

Expand full comment

Is healthcare not a top 10 issue? Polls show Americans viewing it as the second most important problem they are facing, after inflation.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/05/12/by-a-wide-margin-americans-view-inflation-as-the-top-problem-facing-the-country-today/

Expand full comment

Oh yeah. I forget about healthcare because mine is so awesome. (retired military).

Throw something in there about a public option.

Expand full comment

You can combine 7 with 10 to make room :)

Expand full comment

Yeah. Some of my list could probably be consolidated. Hi post first thing in the morning before my brain is fully awake though

Expand full comment

I’m surprised an article titled, “A Democratic ‘Contract With America’ for 2022” doesn’t offer anything to address voter’s number one concern: inflation. In fact there is only a single brief mention of this issue:

> I intentionally didn’t include a lot of economic policies on this list. … Inflation, which I realize is a huge problem, poses a different kind of challenge. There is little evidence Democrats know how to address it, and even less that voters trust them on the issue.

Great! We’re admitting defeat on the number one issue on voter’s minds. We might as well forgo spending time, money, and effort on the midterms and just save all of that for 2024; hoping that inflation is no longer an issue.

Any serious plan for the 2022 midterms needs put inflation front and center. I guess the Biden administration’s inadequate attention and lack of a serious plan for inflation is leading others away from this focus. But we cannot secede this territory to the Republicans. We can’t let Republicans continue to reinforce the false narrative that they offer better economic policy.

We need to embrace something like Skanda Amarnath’s plan to rapidly expand the supply of key commodities, chiefly energy. [1] We need to let Americans know that we Democrats have a serious plan to address our urgent inflation challenges and are well executing that plan.

[1] https://www.employamerica.org/researchreports/the-break-glass-moment/

Expand full comment

Any plan for inflation worthy of the name will involve crushing marginal demand - which means raising taxes for ordinary people, and increasing unemployment. That's why Biden isn't going near it.

Also, LOL at enacting sweeping legislation that effectively massively subsidises oil production at the same time as trying to enact a sweeping carbon reduction policy >and< at the same time as closing the few remaining nuclear plants. It's not so much 'Lord make me chaste but not yet' as 'Lord make me chaste and give me hookers and coke for life'.

Expand full comment

Really took the wind out of my sails here, I had written down hookers and coke as the first two things on my 10 point agenda.

Expand full comment
founding

Meanwhile, Germany is reopening coal-fired power plants. Becoming chaste isn't possible (yet).

Expand full comment

Germany is actually in danger of having insufficient energy to prevent people from freezing to death this winter.

Even with natural gas prices where they are, reactivating a coal-fired plant makes no sense in the US.

Short of just saying “fuck it, 5 degrees of warming is fine,” there’s no climate change policy that’s not going to push people out of investing in fossil fuels; there’s absolutely no way to square the circle.

Even if you said that, unlike you, the extraction firms have projections saying transportation fuel use is going to peak in the next five years and rapidly fall thereafter, so they *still* will be moving to extract all the value they can from existing capital and shifting to other business models.

Expand full comment

Perhaps Germany could have kept its nuclear power plants instead. Part of what is going on with coal plants is that coal miners are a powerful political constituency in Germany and they are pushing back. Germany is making the incorrect choice of eliminating nuclear while gently restricting coal. It's the wrong short and long term choice.

Expand full comment

That goes without saying.

Leaving already-built nuclear power plants to sit while you burn coal is, if not the dictionary definition of insanity, at least getting into the ballpark. The Greens are beyond imbecilic.

Expand full comment

Angela Merkel is the one who okayed closing nuclear power plants. You can blame the Greens (and I disagree with their stance on this), but they didn't make the final decisions on this. It's been the CDU and now the SPD.

Expand full comment

One thing I think Dems could do on energy is come out in favor of (well-regulated) fracking. Gas is cleaner than oil; a big part of why US emissions have flatlined in the past decade or so is switching from oil to gas for power generation. It would be a nice tack against the expected brand, but it's not as *totally* hypocritical (well, okay, it is a little) as embracing coal or even oil.

"All of the above" energy strategies generally poll pretty well, even if they kinda don't make sense from an ideological perspective. But I think you could put a green-ish tint on it, and say that you're gonna push things toward greener energy in the medium-to-long term, which is probably gonna happen anyway seeing as green energy has become cost-competitive.

Expand full comment

Yup, when you run the economy too hot for too long and get comprehensive inflation, there’s no pretty fix. Raising taxes or cutting spending or dropping tariffs have obvious constituencies against them.

Expand full comment

Anyone want to take a stab on what would be a campaign plank on inflation that's not only effective and popular, but also very easy for the voters to understand? I know my eyes glaze over most of the time this topic comes up.

Expand full comment

Raise taxes on anyone who can afford a vacation to Europe

Expand full comment

“In the short term, the U.S. government could enact measures often used in emergencies following hurricanes or other supply disruptions -- such as waivers of Jones Act provisions and some fuel specifications to increase supplies.”

Expand full comment

There is none. That’s why I didn’t address it. The only way to address inflation is to reduce money either via high interest rates or higher taxes or holding wages down.

Expand full comment

As a technical matter of economics that’s true. But most people do not differentiate between ‘prices are high because the money supply grew too fast’ and ‘prices are high due to supply-side constraints.’

Expand full comment

Yeah. Addressing tariffs and shipping and supply would probably be something I support. Honestly I just didn’t think of it. But it is a good idea.

Expand full comment

Congress could rescind requirements for renewable fuel credits or eliminate the program entirely. They won’t, though, because they put such a low priority on inflation.

Expand full comment

I wonder if it would be feasible (or even halfway true) for a senior politician to say “we’re going to do 5 things and knock out half our problems.”

Expand full comment

The simplest one is get rid of regulatory restraints on physical development, building things, and increasing the supply of goods. This won't get inflation back down to 2%, but it will help. I don't think Democrats would say this though, because it would mean that Republicans are sometimes correct about regulations.

Expand full comment

“We can’t let Republicans continue to reinforce the false narrative that they offer better economic policy”

Not a single Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan. You know, that massive and unnecessary spending bill that created inflation.

Expand full comment

Yeah, honestly this looks like a list from the AOC/Bernie/Warren wing of the party that is only dialed up to 5 instead of the usual 11.

Expand full comment

The Democrats' 2022 platform on fighting inflation should be to offer no policy solutions at all. Beyond the fact that none of these policies will have any effect on inflation numbers before November, they make the Democrats look feckless. Does anyone remember the dramatic release of oil from the SPR? I do. Does anyone remember how that led to a dramatic decrease in the price of gasoline? I don't.

Sometimes life is unfair and it's unfortunate that something so out of the Democrats' control is of such high visibility now. It sucks. But you do the best you can by saying, yes, we know Americans are suffering from inflation, but we will work day and night now and past November to help get control of it, while all Republicans do is complain gleefully about it while all they really care about is getting control over women's bodies and undermining our democracy.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I dunno...these 10 points don't really address the things that are difficult in Americans lives. I agree with MY that the Democratic party needs to prioritize, support popular positions and focus on being a big tent.

However, the one thing I could say about the 2020 campaign (and can say it more so than previous Democratic campaigns) was that the Democrats were actually talking about the issues that make Americans' lives difficult and unaffordable--that is healthcare, housing, and higher education costs--and proposing concrete policies to address them.

And any platform that doesn't include these three things I think is out of touch with most Americans. I know MY said these weren't his 10, but I think that any list that doesn't cover the issues that main Americans care about the most is worse than no list at all.

Expand full comment

I mean worse than that it doesn't address anything to do with 'the economy', apart from taxing billionaires. Which is a good idea and should be done, but it would obviously be very limited in its effects.

I like these and they're all basically good ideas (for someone with centre-left politics) and I like the idea of a clear plan of action, but having 5 of the 10 be about 'inside baseball' issues connected to politics and civil life (filibuster, democracy reform law, stock trading ban, civics classes, term limits) is definitely Not Good, because as far as I can tell voters mostly don't care too much about any of this stuff.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

Agreed. I'm not even sure the billionaire tax is even that good of an idea (billionaires don't make most of their money as income, and I'm not sure how much revenue such a policy would actually generate). It's impact will likely be very small, but it's popular I guess...

But there's no addressing any economic issues at all, like inflation, which is really central to people's concerns.

My other problem is that there's no clear message from these points, including the ones connected to the "inside baseball issues." In 2020, the message was that democracy was under attack and that the American system was becoming increasingly undemocratic and unrepresentative. This messaging allowed Democrats to center process-related issues like like voting rights, DC/Puerto Rico statehood, gerrymandering, and filibuster reform and people to be interested in such issues.

But what's the major message in these list of 10 points? I don't see a common thread or even a clear vision here.

Expand full comment

Well I think it's a bit of a muddle because about 50% of it seems to be about attracting voters while the other 50% of it appears to be about tying Dem legislators to institutional reforms that they've so far resisted. And it's understandable, because you might want to do both of these things. But it creates a list with as you say no clear theme and several topics that won't be of much interest to voters.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I think messaging consistency is probably overrated, though. What's the conceptual overlap between opposition to gun control and opposition to abortion? Messaging-wise, I would argue there's basically none other than that they're both planks of GOP politics and popular enough with GOP constituents. Sometimes orthogonal concerns just cluster because reasons.

EDIT: I do agree that the voters really don't care about the stuff like civics classes and even if they care about stock trading, it seems extremely unlikely that it's going to be a huge motivator on any axis. So even if I think message consistency is overrated, some of these list items seem like weak tea.

Expand full comment

Taxing billionaires is a perfectly fine plank. Billionaires pay much less than 20% now, and it is very popular. It would also generate needed funding. Almost everyone else pays that much or more, why not billionaires?

Expand full comment

“ was that the Democrats were actually talking about the issues that make Americans' lives difficult and unaffordable--that is healthcare, housing, and higher education costs”

Because, let’s be real, I think the electorate has figured out Democrats aren’t very good technocrats and they’re not actually going to be able to deal with this stuff effectively because they have enforced blind spots from either Democratic stakeholders or ideologues.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I mean, with respect to higher education, there's a reasonably compelling case that the best long-term solution is to just end Federal student loans because they act as a form of demand subsidy that just makes prices go up in a perpetual spiral. Unfortunately, demand subsidies are super popular (gas tax holiday!) and ending federal student loan support seems like it risks being tantamount to political suicide.

I guess you could try to replace this with some of the more equity-oriented plans that I understand have become popular in Australia of late (e.g. college is free but a funder gets 10% of your earnings for 10 years out of college), although to be honest I think there are some reasonably sound reasons to think that those are also kind of a raw deal[1], and furthermore to the extent that you could accurately characterize this as an equity interest in a human being I think there's an (admittedly rather farfetched but not totally vacuous) Thirteenth Amendment concern. Also it's not totally clear that shifting the third party who ends up footing the immediate bill for college solves the "demand subsidy" part of the problem, though it probably alleviates the "crippling student loan debt" part of it for those lower down the socioeconomic ladder (but also makes them much less attractive to fund).

[1] In general you would expect any kind of private funder to just pick the kids who were at low-risk of not finishing college and had high earning potential (which would probably be pretty easy to evaluate based on test scores, college admitted to and a few other metrics) and cherry pick those to fund, when those students would have been better off under the current system of loans + student aid. Conversely, the students who wouldn't be likely to net a profit also wouldn't get private funding but their concerns would remain politically salient and likely result in a demand that the government engage in a money-losing funding arrangement to cover them (and here we're back to demand subsidy, just in a revenue-negative way for the government). To the extent that we kept private funders out entirely, the best-informed kids with the highest potential would probably on net be better advised to opt out of equity funding entirely in favor of debt (creating an adverse selection problem), although interest rates and risk aversion would probably create a check on that.

Expand full comment

So part of MY's point is that we should focus on popular proposals rather than devisive ones.

Ending federal loans may help stabilize tuition prices, but would also make fewer people be able to access higher education because they won't have access to loans to pay for it. You solve the problem of prices but not accessibility. I think we want demand for higher education! Higher education is good, and should be widely available.

Expand full comment

Healthcare and housing obviously affect everyone, but with Google telling me that only 13% of Americans have student loan debt, I'm not sure how much juice higher education costs has.

Expand full comment

But are people with active student loan debt the only ones affected by high education costs? How about parents who are paying for their kids college? Parents with younger children who are saving and apprehensive about trying to figure out if they can pay. How about people who didn't go to college or dropped out because of high costs? How about people who want to go back to school but can't.

Expand full comment

Yep, they're all affected, but what's your guess on what percentage of the population that sums up to? This one is not easily Googleable, but my guess is that it still falls short of a majority.

Expand full comment

Comment deleted.

Expand full comment
deletedJun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I’m apologize for my comment. I’m sensitive to the student loan forgiveness thing. You have been extremely interesting to comment with. Accept my apology.

Expand full comment

I don't understand this. Either college is worth the cost or its not. If it is worth the cost, then we shouldn't be upset about people paying for it, because they are getting their money's worth!

If its not, then we should either

1) Build our economy in such a way as the vast majority of people don't need a degree

2) Lower costs by cutting expenses (including salaries!) of everyone involved until it becomes worth what people are paying for it.

*To be clear, I'm fine if people say its worth it and still want to try and lower the costs, but it doesn't make sense to me to say that its not worth people paying for...so the government should.

Expand full comment

I don’t think it’s an either or. For most people it’s probably worth the money, but for some it’s not. You may not know exactly how it’ll turn out for you. People of means can handle the variance, others can’t.

Expand full comment

My solution is to find a way to give colleges skin in the game.

Expand full comment

What does that mean?

Expand full comment

Then it seems like our aim should be to help people be more informed about whether they will benefit or not. Perhaps we could administer a test that could provide them evidence on whether they should attend or not?

Expand full comment

Absolutely agree. It’s a horrible list.

Expand full comment

I don't disagree in general with this assessment (though I might push back a little on higher education costs), but I think where the problem comes is identifying the "concrete policies".

Expand full comment

Do you prefer to prioritize childcare costs? Or eldercare costs?

Expand full comment

also its hard to prioritize either when no one's proposed a way of getting them under control.

Expand full comment

"Logan's Run" wasn't a particularly good movie, IMO, but perhaps more importantly I suspect it would poll very poorly.

Expand full comment

What do The Baileys care about?

Expand full comment

I'm guessing not individual stocks owned by Congressmen.

Expand full comment

Maybe your list of what Americans care about the most isn’t what Americans care about the most?

Expand full comment

I can pretty confidently say that Americans care way more about healthcare, housing, and higher education than they do about proportional representation, civics classes for 12th graders, and whether members of Congress buy individual stocks.

Expand full comment

Restricting/outlawing abortion is absolutely going to make American lives more difficult. Assuring abortion availability in the first trimester will have a substantial economic impact on people's lives.

Expand full comment

Well, term limits are an inherently terrible idea even if seemingly popular, so get that off the list pronto.

I would substitute that one for a ranked-choice primary system (at least among Dems), which was my biggest beef with the 2020 primary. The ridiculous race to the left wouldn't happen if you had people like Cory Booker positioning themselves to be the reasonable second choice for people who wanted to take a flyer on someone like Kamala Harris. Actually this would've made even more sense for Republicans in 2016 (Rubio would've been in the driver's seat for all of the anti-Trump and anti-Cruz types) but here we are...

Expand full comment

But everyone loves the idea of making sure their legislators have no institutional knowledge so they can be completely governed by unaccountable lobbyists, so it's gotta stay in.

Expand full comment

To be fair, the list proposes voluntarily signing up to the idea of term limits, but it seems to me voluntarily signing up to a retirement age (let's say 80) would be better and would go a long way to solving what I assume Bacon Jr is trying to solve with term limits.

Expand full comment

Agree, we need to avoid the Soviet Politburo dying in office problem.

Expand full comment

Term limits is one of the dumber things we do here in California. Legislators are always scrambling around to figure out what their next gig will be. No one learns how to legislate.

Expand full comment

This has improved a lot with the new 12-year limits, though. I personally think 18 years is somewhat reasonable although I would still oppose it, and definitely oppose anything under 18.

Expand full comment

Ranked choice isn't that popular — Question 3 lost by 10 here in MA while Biden was winning by 33. Personally I support it, but it seems clear that a lot of people aren't on board yet and more work needs to be done to persuade them that the reform is worth it. I don't know that making it into a high-salience polarized issue is the way to do that.

That said my ideal electoral reform is proper independent redistricting commissions like the one adopted in Michigan.

Expand full comment

I used to be a proponent of independent redistricting commissions, but 2020 has convinced me the idea is simply unworkable. Finding people who are truly independent is all but impossible. Balance out the Democrats and Republicans, whichever side controls the tiebreaker (be it the courts or the legislature) has all the leverage, and can simply impose its will over the objections of the other side.

Even worse, every state has its own hodge-podge of rules, so whichever state has the system closest to fair is simply giving up its influence. And, when the states that have fairer redistricting systems all lean to the left, the net effect becomes the Democratic party giving ups its influence and ceding long-term House control to Republicans in perpetuity.

I've thought about various schemes that could be used to make the system fairer, but they all have advantages and disadvantages. And even a truly "independent" system still naturally packs Democrats into a small number of urban districts. Ultimately, I think the least-bad option for Democrats is to just repeal the independent redistricting commissions in the blue states, make California and New York draw maps like Maryland and Illinois, and be done with it.

A truly fair, nationwide system would involve some form of proportional representation, similar to what many other countries have, but that's probably too big of change to be feasible.

Expand full comment

There is certainly a collective action problem with "unilateral disarmament" and such. Ideally we would have a federal bill mandating independent commissions everywhere, but in the meantime I think they're a good idea at the state level, especially for state legislatures. The Michigan commission did a really good job here with the state legislature maps, and this (somewhat long) YouTube video outlines a pretty interesting way to do fair redistricting algorithmically: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq-Y7crQo44

Even if the reform isn't perfect, it would still be a big improvement over the current system where politicians get to pick their voters.

Expand full comment

Combine ranked-choice with multi-member districts and the unfair districting mathematically ceases to be an issue. You can’t really gerrymander when each district elects 5 candidates.

Expand full comment

The unilateral disarmament problem is really bad here.

Expand full comment

How do other nations with geographic constituencies redistrict? I never seem to hear about this being a shitshow elsewhere, but it's quite likely that I'm just not paying proper attention.

Expand full comment

Canada uses an independent commission. The UK's Boundary Commission is by my understanding slightly less independent (they often use population variance to the advantage of whichever side is drawing the maps), but significantly more independent than the way most US states do it.

Unsure about Australia

Expand full comment
Jun 28, 2022·edited Jun 28, 2022

Canada's got a 3-member commission for each province (the territories only have one seat apiece, so they don't need redistricting). The chair is a judge appointed by the chief justice of the province (all of whom are federally appointed), while the other two members are typically political science professors or retired provincial civil servants, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons (who, unlike in the US, is expected to act in a reasonably non-partisan fashion while in office). See https://redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca/com/index_e.aspx for biographies.

Expand full comment

Australia uses an independent commission, which is generally regarded as doing a reasonably good job.

Expand full comment

From a purely consequentialist perspective, as someone who lives in a deep red state, I oppose term limits. The new GOP candidates down here are WAY worse than the old ones.

Expand full comment

I think there is a good balance when it comes to term limits. I like the idea of term limits, but only with long terms - like 20 years. You maintain political experience with sclerosis.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

Ageist nonsense.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

FYI many if not most states already impose a mandatory retirement age for judges, usually in this range (70-75).

But let’s compromise—you can’t run for office only if you both (a) are over 70 and (b) have previously served over 20 years in any elected office.

Expand full comment

I agree with you. You shouldn’t be able to discriminate against age

Expand full comment
RemovedJun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment

If you don't want this group of 70+ Dems, they can be voted out. That's democracy. If people aren't allowed to elect them, that's anti-democratic.

Expand full comment

That's unlikely. The reason the gerontocracy keeps getting reelected is that extremely senior politicians can bring home disproportionate benefits to their constituents. However people outside of that don't benefit nearly as much. It's a classic prisoner's dilemma, and some amount of suasion would be useful.

Expand full comment

So long-serving representatives are good at their job?

That's an interesting argument for term limits.

Expand full comment

Ok, so if their constituents want them, then they should serve as representatives. That's how democracy works. Your remedy is to vote others in.

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

The age limits on Congress, Senate, and the Presidency are higher than that. I believe President is 35. We're fine with age limits, we just only put them on young people.

Expand full comment

Yeah something like that. For electeds I think that should be an age limit on running (so if you win a Senate race at 69 you don’t have to retire next year but can serve out your term) but for judges that should be a hard cap.

Expand full comment

How do you think voters over the age of 70 will react to that? Or should we just remove their right to vote as well since they clearly aren't capable of voting correctly?

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I am rather shocked that the abortion point doesn’t list the mother’s health. The fact that SCOTUS on its ruling (including Kavanaugh in his apologetic pseudo-appeasing narcissistic concurrence) didn’t rule or clarify that mother’s health or very life would nevertheless remain protected was particularly vicious, and any Democratic agenda ought to address the point head on: the current ruling puts women’s lives and health at risk.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

100%!!! This could only be written by a man who doesn’t have the faintest idea of everything that can go wrong in pregnancy. I know women who had abortions for ectopic pregnancies, because they got cancer while pregnant, etc.

The other issue that never gets talked about is abortions because the fetus has a serious deformity incompatible with life (i.e., no lungs). Forcing a mother to bring that pregnancy to term, and watch the baby die within 11 seconds, is unfathomably cruel.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I agree. Let us recall, however, that this decision, though authored by a man, would never have passed without out the vote of a woman and a mother (ACB), who didn't even bother to write any kind of clarifying concurrence, so she is presumably totally happy with literally every word of the Alito opinion and moreover sees no need for further clarifications :(

Expand full comment

This is certainly true, and ACB is not alone. Many women are in her camp. What I meant to say is that Bacon doesn’t appear to understand the salience of the health issues specifically. In my experience, men are less likely to know about these things for obvious reasons. In fact, most women don’t get it either, until they and their friends start getting pregnant!

Expand full comment

100%! Probably the most important and least controversial point there.

Expand full comment

Which to reiterate, also has significant economic implications for Americans and their overall well-being.

Expand full comment
founding

I can see both sides of the question "Does the Constitution contain an implicit or unenumerated right to an abortion". And people of good will come down on either side.

Once Kavanaugh (and the other 5 justices) answers that question with a "No, it is up to the States", then ruling on specifics around life-or-health is moot. They decided it wasn't up to them, but up to the States.

Expand full comment

No, whether someone has a right to an aborition in general and whether she has a right to get an abortion to save her life are different questions.

Expand full comment

You could wrap this into a general self defense right.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

Hard disagree. They in fact did bother to add a "rational basis" qualification to the states' discretion, which, I heard some jurists suggest may well mean protection for the life of the mother. If so, this could come up in a future SCOTUS ruling. Why then not clarify that immediately in the opinion? Why wait till a mother's life is at risk? Surely it's not because of the narrow ruling principle, considering how blatantly they threw that out of the window (cf. Roberts concurrence). Also, note how Kavanaugh in his concurrence already decided to clarify some additional limitations and freedoms that the main opinion did not. But he likewise forgot about women's health... They had the power to do this, they just chose not to.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I am on board with Bacon's 10 as long as the civics course is 90% critical race theory and the homework is taking puberty blockers

Expand full comment

You joke, and I laughed, but this is genuinely how it will be construed and demagogued. I think it’s the worst of both worlds: it doesn’t accomplish anything concrete (most schools already have something like this) and is very easily mischaracterized. Honestly, leave curricular design to the states.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure that Perry Bacon would be happy with a Betsy DeVos-blessed national curriculum.

Expand full comment

Upvoted for the early morning chuckle.

Expand full comment

It's quite funny that Matt writes a column saying the important thing isn't what's on the list of priorities just that a list of priorities is written, and everyone responds by arguing what should be in the list of priorities. At some point you have to sympathise with political leaders lol

Expand full comment

Lol, true.

I can't help it though, to me it's a shockingly bad list. If this was the list the Dems put out I'd expect the Dems to be doomed next election.

But I do agree with the larger point: "prioritization is very good". Hopefully that's the takeaway for most readers

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I usually like MY's writing. But if you want to highlight that point that the important thing isn't what's on the list of priorities but that a list of priorities be made, you shouldn't spend half your article quoting and then commenting on the points of someone else's list of priorities, especially when that list is not very compelling. It's just not good writing, and it lends itself to us debating the list rather than the idea of prioritizing in general. It distracted from his main point, which I think is a good one.

Expand full comment

I think Democrats should adopt a similar emphasis on slimmed-down simplicity in actual legislating, given that they will need to make an end-run around the current Supreme Court.

In a lot of cases that would make the actual laws worse, but it renders them less subject to judicial oversight and less vulnerable to hyperbolic misrepresentation. Plus, under the current status quo, delegating complex decision-making to agencies is just a recipe for getting gutted eight different ways. It makes more sense in a sane world for technical experts to make decisions about the gritty details of regulatory questions, but we aren't currently in that world.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

This would require Congress to increase its own budget, and hire more staffers and experts, which it should do anyway and should be the number 1 priority on any list. Congress is a shell of its former self and should spend the resources to improve itself. It won't happen though, as most members would rather use Congress to make clips for Twitter than actually legislate. And Congress spending money on itself would unfortunately be seen as corruption by most of the country.

Expand full comment

I hope Democrats are wide eyed about the real possibility that if this SCOTUS gets too radical, they have to have the fortitude to say "John Roberts has made his decision, now let him enforce it.".

Expand full comment
founding

There are some decisions you can say that about and some that you can’t. To defy the court, you need to be engaged in a relatively specific action run by the executive branch, not something diffuse and done by small local agencies throughout the country.

Expand full comment

Agreed, if you're going to go full Andrew Jackson it needs to be on a discrete issue where SCOTUS is very, very clearly on the wrong end of popularity. But if this SCOTUS goes as radical as many fear, it could be the only viable option left on the table.

Expand full comment

I'm curious how much more radical you fear the court is going to be?

Expand full comment

Matt just laid it out here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/1541458767501565952

"All the coming (and past) rulings on non-delegation gutting the administrative state are 100% bullshit with zero textual basis."

I don't know how far they'll go, but they could do some serious damage.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure how you think this will work.

Congress delegates authority to an agency to rule on something. The court says that Congress may not delegate this to an agency. The agency ignores them and sets the rule up anyway. An individual/company violates the rule and the agency attempts to enforce it. The defendant sues in court to stop the agency. Is the agency going to ignore the court saying it can't enforce it and do you think this works out well for the administrative state?

How well does this play out when Trump or his successor comes along and starts ignoring the judiciary based on this "precedent?"

Expand full comment

That's a betrayal of the constitution, pure and simple. There are other ways. For one, even right now Dems could pack the court. I personally think it's a bad idea, but it would be constitutional. They can also create new states and then amend the constitution to protect the rights the court is curtailing. There are in fact a myriad of pretty radical hard ball tactics nobody had tried in the past century that do *not* entail breaking away from the constitutional order into authoritarian/civil war territory, which is precisely what you suggest.

Expand full comment

Once one side packs the Court, the other side will retaliate whenever they have the power, and it'll be an endless arms race. As for creating a bunch of new states to amend the Constitution, I see that as far more likely to trigger a civil war than reducing SCOTUS to advisory status would be. To be clear, I personally don't advocate it, and they'd only be able to do it if they have unquestioning popular power to do so. But it may come to a point where there's no other alternative to letting a right wing SCOTUS dismantle their accomplishments and goals for a generation.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

I am against packing the court for said reason. But ignoring the constitution isn’t an alternative nor would one want to live in a country without judicial review. A court that is only “advisory” is the same as saying that there is no constitution. It’s difficult for me to see what this court can do that will make such an alternative appealing. We are certainly very very very far from that.

Expand full comment

The UK has no judicial review, as far as I understand, nor does it have a written constitution. If the PM, the relevant ministers, and a clear majority of parliament choose to do a thing, no one has the legal authority to veto it. This includes changing the manner in which their constituencies are drawn, changing the powers and composition of the House of Lords, even suspending elections. It also includes passing laws that would criminalize certain forms of speech, etc.

And yet in practice, the UK is not a dictatorship, and is not clearly worse than the US in terms of civil liberties or quality of democracy. Some would rate it better, in fact. Written constitution or no, someone has the power to "say what the law is," and the rights of others depend on the forbearance of whoever holds this power. The UK has chosen to give supreme power to politicians, the US to judges. If the judges can be trusted to exercise great restraint, making exceptions only when public opinion is clearly on their side, the US system may be a safeguard to democracy.

But if the highest judges see their role as being activists for unpopular causes; if they can gain power with the support of a minority of the public, and are accountable to no one once they have it; and if any disagreement between these judges and the electorate or its representatives will be resolved in the judges' favor -- then I think judicial supremacy might do more to hinder the government of the people, by the people, for the people, than to protect it. Would you really trust Clarence Thomas to make the law, more than you trust representatives who need your vote to keep their job?

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

UK now has judicial review of sorts, as it has a Supreme Court. That’s a new development admittedly, but the uk was very much the exception that proves the rule and even it is now falling in line. Also, the us doesn’t give “the supreme power” to judges. That’s a complete misunderstanding of the system. Finally, you are very naive, esp in the post Jan 6th word - to trust in the mechanism of “need your vote to keep their job”. You ought to remember that the only reason that trump didn’t steal the election is because the independent judiciary stopped him and safeguarded democracy. Also, I wouldn’t trust my civil rights and liberties to the tolerance of the simple majority of my fellow citizens, no. No one who is a member of any minority group should. History shows how foolish such trust would be.

Expand full comment
Jun 28, 2022·edited Jun 28, 2022

The UK absolutely does have judicial review; see, for example, the prorogation cases in 2019 (https://www.supremecourt.uk/news/brexit-related-judicial-review-cases.html), which held, among other things, that the courts can review the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen and that the advice to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, void, and of no effect and therefore, notwithstanding the Queen's ability to prorogue Parliament, Parliament had not in fact been prorogued.

What the UK does not have is (functional) judicial supremacy: Parliament is at all times free to change the law as it sees fit, whereas Congress is limited by what SCOTUS decides the constitution to be.

Expand full comment

I take it you are strongly in support of Dobbs then?

Expand full comment

Strong Strom Thurmond vibes.

Expand full comment

While we can't let our fear of this paralyze any legislative action, I have no doubt that the Supreme Court would strike down a law forbidding restrictions on first-trimester abortions, saying that Congress does not have the authority under the Commerce Clause.

(Just as I'm sure the Court would uphold a Republican-passed national law forbidding all abortions, noting that it did have that authority under the Commerce Clause.)

Expand full comment

ok, but what if the Dems legislate first, and SCOTUS strikes it down? will it dare then uphold GOP federal law? I would bet not. Alito and Thomas might, but I would guess the new 3 would not. I may be wrong, but that's my guess. I depends however on Dems being first ot try it and setting the precedent that its' entirely a state matter.

Expand full comment
Jun 27, 2022·edited Jun 27, 2022

"Who does it? There’s no formal mechanism through which America’s loosely defined political parties can do priority setting."

The logical body to formally approve a list like this would be the party convention, since the convened delegates are the highest decisionmaking body in the party. And the logical document for setting forth the list would be the party platform itself, since that is supposed to be the document that tells voters what the party will do if it's elected to power.

And the way to enforce it would be to require any candidate who accepts the the party's nomination to pledge support for the narrow, core platform.

Expand full comment

This is the right theoretical answer, and my preferred answer, but in practice legislators hate being told what to do by activists whose 'real' job they perceive to be pounding the sidewalks. So when told what to do by activists/delegates they just ignore it or go rogue. This is not only a reality in the US (where parties are actually kind of refreshingly honest about how disinterested they are in this process, witness the GOP outright stating that their platform was whatever Trump wanted to do) but also in every democratic country (the UK Labour party's relationship between leadership and conference springs very much to mind).

Expand full comment

I don't think this model is right, broadly, but instead is a result of the extremely weak party system we see now.

These platforms need not be activists telling legislators what to do - in fact in a pre-2000 party environment they'd likely be crafted in a mix of top down and bottom up ways, through the parties.

Of course legislators hate getting yelled at by activists right now - it's not fun, can be mean, AND generally involves being told you must do some maximalist thing that is likely political suicide. I wouldn't listen either. However, a platform hashed out iteratively & internally, and not on a left (or right) swerving contest held live during primary debates would be much better.

Expand full comment

I especially wonder about this given the impact of social networks. It's not like you need the elected parts of the democratic coalition to get something to be dominating the discourse. In fact if they knew how to do that we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Expand full comment

I'm not sure whether an Australian-style small-target campaign really translates to the United States all that well.

The level of party discipline exerted by Australia's political parties is extraordinarily strong by world standards. It's mind-blowing compared to the shambles that is the Democrats. Nobody really cares what a random newbie candidate for one of the major parties thinks about an issue unless they say something outrageous, because they vote with their party every single time. Sure, party platforms are a process of negotiation between factions, but even that is done in a far more top-down fashion and is far more geared to winning over the median voter (who, remember, is required to vote under Australia's compulsory voting laws) than exciting party activists.

Also, it's worth pointing out that the rough equivalent of the socialist wing of the Democrats is in a completely different party here (which also had a terrific federal election, partly on the back of Labor's small-target strategy leaving space for a more activist green/left party).

Expand full comment

This is a situation where the smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear would be able to operate this kind of strategy, but small-d democratic primaries and the like simply can't and need to do something different

Expand full comment

Also worth noting that the point of the small-target strategy was to make the election primarily a referendum on the incumbent conservative federal government, which had won the past three elections, and had (by American standards) relatively few constraints on what it can legislate, and had a number of problems which they could be unambiguously held responsible for (vaccine procurement top of the list).

Combine that with a systemic issue within the conservative party with mishandling the abuse of women (the details of which would take too long to explain but were pretty awful), making the election all about the failings of your opponent makes perfect sense.

Taking a narrowly electoral perspective here, the Democrats have been gifted an opportunity to make the election much more about their opponents than it otherwise might have been, but Biden is still the President.

Finally, as far as the culture war stuff went, it seems to have been an own goal by the conservatives. It didn’t win them a significant religious vote in the districts they were targeting, and hurt them in very affluent but socially liberal districts in the inner cities.

Expand full comment

Arn't those mostly largely popular ideas? Other than proportional representation and the ambiguity of the climate plan these all seem like things that probably poll well.

What is the difference between this and popularism?

Expand full comment

The fact that Matt is not gloating about that shows he is a true pragmatist and a gentleman.

Expand full comment

Honestly, I think simply by writing an endorsement of the plan, Matt is doing a tiny bit of trolling. Mind you, I think it is excellent trolling and also he is being sincere in his praise, but there's probably no better way to make Perry Bacon's head explode than for Matt to praise his plan.

Expand full comment

The only difference is that no one's calling it popularism here so the left activists might actually read/think about this strategy without getting mad 😂

Expand full comment

Naming is important, but his very next words after the list are "What connects these ideas? First, many of them are already popular," so you'd have to be pretty oblivious not to see the connection to "popularism." Of course, I've seen plenty of times where the headline does not match the content of the article and some readers still take the headline to heart over the article.

I expect that having a trusted person like Perry Bacon write this is the most important factor in avoiding instant anger.

Expand full comment

Are they? I feel like I can make a claim to being closer to the median voter than most of the commentators here, and I think I only like 2 or 3 of these. The rest I'm basically indifferent to or I think they're really bad ideas.

It reads like a top 10 priority list of a liberal politics junkie, not the top 10 list of a normie voter.

Expand full comment

I could definitely be wrong but I believe legal weed, limited abortion rights, vote by mail, term limits, stock bans, background checks all poll pretty well.

Maybe not too priorities but in terms of non-acute issues I think this is a largely popular list.

Expand full comment

If you're going to campaign on a top 10 list I'd say they ought to be 10 issues that are really important. Very few people are going to be get excited about vote by mail or term limits or stock bans, even if they do poll well. "Do you support" is an entirely different question from "will you vote for someone because they support"

Expand full comment

My problem with popularism is this "polls pretty well" thing. I don't think we have any idea of what that means.

That is, I just don't trust polls on policy preferences. E.g., universal background checks. People say they want it with overwhelming numbers . . . and then vote against it (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/03/upshot/gun-control-polling-votes.html).

People have very thin beliefs on most things, especially ones they've barely thought about, and those opinions can change quite rapidly.

I'm not saying we should give up on finding out what people want and trying to satisfy them; I'm just saying to take opinion polls with a huge dollop of salt.

Expand full comment

Hell, I think you can get 80% of the benefit of "popularism" by simply refraining from personally insulting potential voters or their core values.

Expand full comment

Maybe it would be just as useful to know what especially repels some voters? Like, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think background checks is particularly triggering to many people whereas an assault weapons ban is.

Expand full comment

One way issue polling can be useful is to focus on rates rather than levels. A steady 60% result in favor of an assault weapons ban is not terribly informative. Seeing that 60% jump to 90% (following a you know what) and then keeping at that level month after month probably reflects some real change in feelings.

Contrariwise, if the jump to 90% lasted a few weeks and then it goes back down to 60% (or whatever) then that would tell me people really don't care that much (or indeed may be triggered by an outright ban).

Expand full comment

I blame the Why Not Both .gif kid for the entire discourse of the 2020 primary.

Expand full comment