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A Whiter Shade of Candidate

Vox says that Donald Trump practices the “politics of white insecurity”. US News says that Trump shows “the rising power of the white vote”. Salon wants to tell you “eight reasons why white America falls for demagogues like Donald Trump”. The Week says Donald Trump represents “the rise of white identity politics”. The National Journal says Trump is creating problems by “preaching to a shrinking white electorate”.

Read enough of these articles, and you might start to get the feeling that Donald Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white. You would be wrong.

Well, probably. Data are sketchy. There aren’t a lot of polls that sort their questions by race, and when they do there are sufficiently few non-white Republicans that they have trouble getting a good sample size. Nevertheless, the ones we have suggest that Donald Trump’s supporters are about as diverse as any other Republican’s and maybe moreso.

An August YouGov poll with a sample of 30 Hispanic Republicans finds Trump in the lead with that demographic, getting 28% of the vote to runner-up Ben Carson’s 19%. A Gravis poll with about 40 Hispanic Republicans finds Trump with 37% of their vote to runner-up Marco Rubio’s 20%. A Nevada poll also finds Trump leading among Hispanics in that state, though I don’t know their Hispanic Republican sample size. And finally, head-to-head matchups of Trump vs. Clinton show Trump outperforming some past Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney and George Bush, in the share of Hispanic votes he would likely receive.

This picture is confused by articles asserting either that Trump has the highest favorability ratings among Hispanics, or that Trump has the lowest favorability ratings among Hispanics. In fact, both are true! Favorability ratings allow you to rate someone favorable, unfavorable, neutral, or never-heard-of-em. Everybody has heard of Trump, and nobody is neutral about him, allowing both his favorability and his unfavorability to be sky-high (with news sources reporting whichever one of those two facts suits their narrative). Some people have done a little better work and reported his “net favorability”, or favorability-minus-unfavorability, which is very low and indeed negative. But this isn’t what matters in a real election. What matters in a real election is who people vote for. If 40% of Hispanics view him favorably, but they all vote for him, and 60% of Hispanics view him unfavorably, but split their votes among the other ten candidates, Trump has won the Hispanic vote.

As hard as it is to find good data about Hispanics, it’s even harder to investigate black Republicans. The YouGov poll that had thirty Hispanics has only five blacks; it looks like three vote for Carson, one for Rubio, and one for Trump.

Probably more useful are the head-to-head Trump vs. Hillary polls, which survey all blacks (not just Republicans). One finds Trump doing shockingly well and tripling Romney’s (admittedly miniscule, admittedly decreased by opposing Obama) level of support among black voters, but the Washington Post is skeptical and cites others with less extreme results – although even most of those show Trump doing at least as well as Romney and other historical Republicans. In terms of boots on the ground, African-American Daily Beast correspondent Barrett Pitner agrees that “Donald Trump has black supporters – really”, explaining that Trump’s “fear mongering and us-vs.-them tactics have not only created a large supporter base among conservative white Americans, but also black Americans who have been disproportionately hit by the economic downturn.”

There are too few data to say anything for sure. But all of the data that exist suggest that if the Republican primary were held today and restricted to non-whites, Trump would still win. And if Trump were the Republican nominee, he could probably count on equal or greater support from minorities as Romney or McCain before him.

In other words, the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is unsupported by any polling data.

On the other hand, there is a candidate whom the media narrative fits like a glove. A candidate who may win primary among whites, but loses in a landslide among minorities. A candidate whose black support is almost an entire order of magnitude lower than his white support.

That candidate is Bernie Sanders.

According to the same YouGov poll mentioned above, 38% of whites support Bernie Sanders for President, compared to 37% of whites who support Hillary for President. However, only 13% of Hispanics support Sanders, compared to 63% for Hillary. And only 4% of blacks support Sanders, compared to 64% for Hillary!

A South Carolina poll from this month broadly agrees. CNN finds that the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat among whites (48-47) but that Hillary has an overwhelming advantage among blacks (84-7).

Other polls are slightly less extreme but tell the same picture. Gravis (early August) found Hillary leading comfortably among all races, but Sanders’ support among whites was still twice as high as among blacks. The Washington Post also found Sanders doing abysmally overall, but his support among blacks was super-abysmal – only 5 percent!

Suppose we measure a candidate’s “whiteness” by the ratio of their level of white support to their level of nonwhite support within their party. Donald Trump seems to be somewhere around 1.3 – 1.5. Bernie Sanders is somewhere from 3 – 10. It isn’t even close. If any candidate is “playing to the politics of white insecurity” or “preaching to the white electorate” or “harnessing the white vote”, it is he.

(though I should clarify that in a general election, Sanders would no doubt garner much higher nonwhite support than Trump just because of the D after his name. We’re only talking about relative to other people in their own party here)

This explains a couple of otherwise mysterious things. How is Sanders on track to win in Iowa and New Hampshire when he is losing so badly nationally? Well, because Iowa and New Hampshire are two of the whitest states in the country. And how come I keep hearing people say “I’m sure Sanders will win, because even though the media and Big Business support Hillary, everybody I know supports Sanders”? Well, are those people white? Is their entire friend group white? Do they live in very strongly white areas? Then Sanders probably has much higher support among their friends and neighbors than he does nationally.

This might just be a transitory matter of two candidates with different styles and no relevance beyond this particular primary. Or it could represent the first cracks in the alliance that makes up the Democratic Party.

Racially, the Democrats are more diverse than the nation as a whole; since few nonwhites are Republicans, the Democrats are 60-40 white/minority. Socially, the Democrats combine enlightened college-educated creative professionals who want to help the poor, with poor people who want to be helped. And ideologically, the Democrats combine old-school quasi-socialists very concerned about Big Business and income inequality, with social justice activists who think the real issues are race and gender. So far these have been very benign splits. Everyone’s interests basically line up the same and nobody has a lot of reason to fight with anyone else – unlike the Republicans, who are already in civil war.

But the current election brings all three splits into near-alignment. The quasi-socialists, whites, and enlightened professionals generally support Sanders. The social justice activists, nonwhites, and poor people generally support Clinton – this bizarre situation of the guy most vocal about helping the least fortunate getting support from everyone except the least fortunate themselves. While I don’t really expect any fireworks to fly, it’s a risky situation and makes this an interesting time to be watching politics.

But mostly I bring this up not because the presidential primary is interesting in itself, but because it really drives home two important points that I’ve tried to make before.

First, in this post, I suggest that when talking politics “white” sometimes literally means people of European descent, but other times means what I dubbed the “Red Tribe”, very loosely corresponding to Republican voters, but also with connotations of southern, poor, uneducated, religious, and exaggeratedly patriotic. This seems to be one of those second times. Even if Donald Trump had 100% support from all minorities, he would still be “the white people candidate”, or even, as some people have called him, “the white power candidate”. Likewise, even if 100% of Sanders’ supporters were white and no black or Hispanic person had ever had the tiniest positive thought about him, we would never get the same kind of “is Bernie Sanders a demagogue harnessing white voters?” story that Trump inspires every day. Sanders supporters aren’t white! They have degrees from Ivy League colleges! They’re the good guys!

Second, in this post, I argue against the theory that groups with few black members are necessarily racist or exclusive (frequently seen as “Silicon Valley is problematic because of how few black techies there are”). I note that black people are severely underrepresented in groups as diverse as runners, BDSM participants, atheists, fanfiction readers, Unitarian Universalists, furries, and bird watchers. They’re also underrepresented in movements with apparently impeccable leftist and anti-racist credentials, like Occupy Wall Street and the US Communist Party. Given the frequency with which the “your group has few minorities, that means you’re racist and need to become more explicitly leftist in order to shrieve yourself” argument gets used to punch down at nonconformist or “weird” groups, there can never be too many counterexamples. And Bernie Sanders’ campaign is such a counterexample. It fits poorly with the “low nonwhite representation is caused by insufficiently strong social justice orientation” theory, but very well with the counter-theory I propose in that post: nonwhites are just generally less eager to join weird intellectual signaling-laden countercultural movements.

I take immense schadenfreude in imagining the people who like to write thinkpieces that “call out” polyamory or atheism for their insufficient minority representation, fidgeting and sweating and trying to justify their support for Sanders. I deeply enjoy the thought of them reading the article on ‘Berniebros’ (warning: possibly literally the worst article ever written, I am not kidding) and maybe realizing that wait, this is what they’ve been doing to other people all along, and it’s kind of unfair and hurtful. I mean, this will never happen. But it makes me happy to think about.

Bernie hasn’t done much specific to upset minorities; I doubt those stunts by the Black Lives Matter protesters mattered much one way or the other. And I would naively have expected his message of income equality and helping the least fortunate to go over better with people who are pretty unequal and unfortunate. And although Bill Clinton was pretty popular among nonwhites, I don’t see anything super-special about Hillary that would make her attractive to them.

So I think the explanation here might just be the same explanation as with the atheism and BDSM: Hillary has better name recognition and is more mainstream and less weird, in the same way not-BDSM and not-atheism are more mainstream and less weird. This is also my explanation for Trump’s relative success with minorities: he’s a household name in a way that Marco Rubio and Scott Walker aren’t, and he has vague good associations of strong leadership and economic savvy among the TV-viewing public.

And if Sanders supporters accept that in their own case, maybe they’ll be more understanding when other people plead the same.

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682 Responses to A Whiter Shade of Candidate

  1. Graeme Sutton says:

    Comparing Trumps share of the black vote against Clinton directly to Romney may be deceiving since Romney was running against the first black president.

    Edit: We can only hope that the Economic Justice and Social Justice Warrior wings of the Democrats hold together long enough for the Republicans to split up into their corporatist/plutocrat/libertarian wing and their Religious Fanatic/bring on the apocalypse wing.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      Thanks, added.

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    • Re: GOP and Dem coalitions, I suggested a while ago that US politics is undergoing a realignment. The current GOP coalition is “Capitalists and Christians”, while the current Democratic coalition is “Marxists and Minorities” (painting with a very broad brush, exaggerated, etc). Within the GOP, the Capitalists and the Christians are already at war, with Trump somehow leading the Christian insurgency (ironically, since Trump is the least Christian-signalling of the candidates), while the Sanders campaign represents the confict between the Marxists and the Minorities.

      But I suspect that we’re going to see a serious realignment into two new camps: the Populists and the Technocrats. The Populists will support the welfare state, nationalism, economic redistribution, and traditional morality and religion, while the Technocrats support free markets, racial egalitarianism, and innovative moralities and sexualities. The GOP will most likely become the Populists and its coalition will become the current Christians and Minorities, while the Dems will become the Technocrats and combine the current Capitalists and Marxists, somehow.

      In this scenario, it will be even more obvious that the Technocrats actually run the country. My fondest long-term hope is that the technocratic elite ossifies into an actual aristocracy, and so learns something about noblesse oblige, but I’m not holding my breath.

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      • Saul Degraw says:

        Belief in a welfare state or a safety net does not equal Marxism.

        The number of actual Marxists in the United States is rather small and most of them have nothing but contempt for the Democratic Party. The far right made their home in the GOP. The far left has always disliked to absolutely hated the Democratic Party and this has been true since Eugene Victor Debs was a known name in American politics.

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        • Jiro says:

          It is plausible that even though the far left hates the Democrats, they still defacto act like part of a coalition because just by operating at all, the far left moves the Overton Window away from the Republicans and towards the Democrats. (The parallel is true for the far right as well, of course.)

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        • “Marxist” was intended as a synecdoche for people who support redistributive economic policies, much like “Christian” was a synecdoche for the vaguely-socially-conservative middle class.

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          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            …which is ironic, because various Christian tendencies, such as social gospel, have been far more important in the process of redistributive economic policies being enacted in the United States than Marxism.

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          • Anonymous says:

            …which is ironic, because various Christian tendencies, such as social gospel, have been far more important in the process of redistributive economic policies being enacted in the United States than Marxism.

            Where do you think Marxism originally comes from? Do you think Marx came up with the brotherhood of man and so forth from first principles?

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          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            Exactly!

            Marxism is just a Christian heresy. You take out the “God” part (which is quite significant, of course), but you leave the basic altruistic moral framework and the idea of a Divine Plan inexorably guiding history to its final climax, at which good gains the eternal triumph over evil.

            I’m certainly not claiming the relation between Marxism and Christianity is an original idea. Nietzsche illustrates it by showing how Judeo-Christianity led to the rise of the slave morality. And it was one of Ayn Rand’s biggest socio-political points: that communism and Christianity properly belong together, and that laissez-faire capitalism will never truly be secure until Christianity and its altruistic morality are rejected.

            (This was why Rand said that National Review was the most dangerous magazine in America: because Buckley was one of the leading intellectuals trying to keep Christianity and capitalism tied together in opposition to atheistic Marxism. Which, as she put it, amounted to claiming that concentration camps and central planning were scientific and rational, while a free society could only be defended by an appeal to faith.)

            The fundamental source of the tension is that capitalism is based on selfish, worldly profit-seeking. A Christian who supports capitalism then has three choices: a) he can deny this and say that capitalism is actually unselfish, b) he can resign himself to the view that God will not let mankind live in a moral social system—which will never inspire political idealism, or c) he can reject either Christianity or capitalism.

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          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            Well, referring to the specific Social Gospel movement, it came to being after Marx had started writing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Gospel

            Marxism itself has always had secular roots and has more to do with the liberal/radical milieu that Marx came out of and his own analysis and critique of it.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Marxism itself has always had secular roots and has more to do with the liberal/radical milieu that Marx came out of and his own analysis and critique of it.

            Marxism did not appear fully formed out of the sea foam. Neither was it accidental that it appeared where and when it did. The post-Protestant radical liberal culture that spawned it was necessary for its formation, and said culture itself mutated out of Christian thought.

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          • Mary says:

            A Christian who supports capitalism then has three choices: a) he can deny this and say that capitalism is actually unselfish,

            Compared to what alternative? There are no unselfish systems consisting of fallen men, only degrees to which systems enable some people’s selfishness to trample other people.

            In short, capitalism is not selfish. People are.

            Which is not “God will not let mankind live in a moral social system”, which makes it look divine caprice, but the obvious fact that out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.

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          • Caring capitalism plus sustaiunable social redistrubition is just the european social democratic model, which clearly gels together…in a way that “marxist capitalism” doesn’t sound like it should.

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          • Mary says:

            “sustaiunable social redistrubition:

            Does such a beast exist? The redistribution is looking less sustainable by the year.

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          • “capitalism is based on selfish, worldly profit-seeking”

            I don’t think that is true. Capitalism allows each individual to pursue his own ends, while providing a mechanism, trade, to coordinate the pursuit of different ends. Nothing in its logic requires the ends to be selfish or worldly.

            A market society in which many people chose to work hard, earn money, and donate most of it to what they considered worthy causes would still be capitalist, at least as libertarians and economists would use the label. So would one in which many people chose to work just enough to support themselves and spend most of their time praying, or studying Talmud, or contemplating the wonders of God.

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          • LeeEsq says:

            Marxism is a Jewish heresy. Like the Rabbis with the World to Come and the Coming of the Messiah, Marx thought that socialism was inevitable but people had to weight until the conditions were right. You couldn’t jump start things. His followers were the Christian heretics because they were always trying to make the Revolution happen before the conditions were right just like Christians are trying to live like Christ has actually returned rather than patiently waiting for the Second Coming.

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          • Protagoras says:

            The diggers and levelers in the English Civil War had ideas about equal distribution of resources two centuries before Marx, which is why you get Hume writing about why communism (not by that name, of course) can’t work a century before Marx. Those early proto-communists often cited scriptural inspirations for their doctrines.

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          • @Protagoras: “The diggers and levelers in the English Civil War had ideas about equal distribution of resources two centuries before Marx”

            That may be an accurate description of the diggers who arguably were proto-communists. However, that is not accurate with respect to the much misunderstood levelers who–contrary to the impression a modern would have–intended only to level *political* distinctions, not economic ones. Many of their views on economic policy are much closer to those of modern libertarians than modern marxists. They even held as self-evident the proposition–today endorsed only by the crustiest of reactionaries–that those who receive welfare must surrender the franchise.

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          • ChristianKl says:

            If you ask those socially-converative people whether they are Christian most of them will say “Yes”.
            On the other hand the same is not true of “Marxist”. Few people in the US are self-professed Marxists.

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        • “The far right made their home in the GOP. The far left has always disliked to absolutely hated the Democratic Party and this has been true since Eugene Victor Debs was a known name in American politics.”

          Yes, one could easily think so. But if you look at the actual polling data, it turns out the opposite is the case. For example, one often hears pollsters pointing out that the Republican party is generally viewed less favorably than the Democratic party. That is true.

          What is a mistake is the common conclusion that this means that this means that Republicans need to move left as can be seen when one looks at the ratings given to the parties by the various ideological groupings.

          Middle-of-the-roaders hold both parties in fairly low esteem. Partisans for either party despise the other party. Where the symmetry breaks down is how the most partisan groups feel about their own party: The very conservative feel at best lukewarm about the GOP. The very progressive profess to adore the Democratic party in overwhelming numbers.

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          • Nornagest says:

            The very progressive profess to adore the Democratic party in overwhelming numbers.

            Have you spent a lot of time hanging out with the very progressive? There’s very much a lesser-of-two-evils mentality going on among e.g. Bay Area anarchists.

            They do get caught up in election-year hagiography, but that just means they’re more disappointed later.

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          • @Nornagest: Surely you are right that there are some people so committed to the hard left that they hold the Democratic party in as low esteem as the most conservative hold the Republican party. But they are a remarkably small number. If you expand your view even slightly beyond the most extreme elements to the merely highly partisan, this just does not hold.

            Ever since I first noticed this asymmetry in party favorability ratings, I’ve been checking polls with suitable cross-tabs. In every case, the 10% furthest to the Right have only lukewarm approval for the GOP (typically 10% or so net-favorability), while the 10% furthest to the Left have enormously high approval for the Dems (typically 60% or so net favorability).

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            This is probably becaue it’s easier to like a winner who’s too soft on your preferred issues than a loser who’s too soft on your preferred issues.

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      • Outis says:

        But, according to the theory, minorities are less likely to break from the mainstream. Since the Democrats are the only mainstream party in minority communities, it seems highly unlikely that they would begin a transition to the GOP.

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        • Alsadius says:

          It happened quite successfully in Canada. The Conservatives actually won the minority vote quite handily in 2011, for example, and while I haven’t seen breakdowns for this week’s election, anecdoatally they still did fine. Of course, Canadian minorities look very different than American(ours are vastly more successful and varied) – we have twice as many of Asian descent and a quarter as many of African, for example – and there’s not the same history of racial tension, but it can be done.

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        • Chris H says:

          That was true for Republicans and minorities until the Great Depression (most strongly for blacks of course but other minorities weren’t large enough for voting influence back then…unless you decide to count immigrant whites who did vote democratic but that’s a bit different of a story). As a matter of fact the transition started while large portions of the Democratic party were still in favor of Jim Crow laws even though Republicans were pretty much universally against them! It was Southern Democrats, not Republicans, who attempted to stop the various Civil and Voting rights bills of the 50s and 60s. Republicans only began to court Southern whites in the mid-to-late 60s after the big gains of the Civil Rights movement had been secured and did not support significant roll backs of those gains. So not only has the minority vote undergone huge shifts in the past, it’s happened even when a large part of the party being switched to was explicitly racist and while the party being switched from still had impeccable anti-racist credentials.

          The key point in the switch seems to have been that after getting rid of the legal restrictions to black voting and economic activity, Republicans balked at more redistribution based efforts for racial equality while a majority of Democrats (the non-Southern ones) would back that. Also post-Civil Rights Acts, Republicans saw the chance to steal away the “Solid South” without risking their ties to anti-Jim Crow businesses.

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          • Outis says:

            Interesting. What about intellectuals?

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          • Andrew_FL says:

            Worth noting the cascading event was not the Depression itself, but Hoover’s handling of racial discrimination in the refugee camps for the Great Mississippi flood of 1927 when he was Secretary of Commerce. Sort of Hoover’s Katrina, except with much longer lasting political fallout.

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      • Nathan says:

        The Evangelical vote is lining up behind Carson, from my understanding of the polling.

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      • Nornagest says:

        If we realign into populists and technocrats, the technocrats are fucked.

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      • Deiseach says:

        I think you (this is general “you”, not “you specific” to anyone) need to re-examine the idea of Christians and the GOP.

        The old-guard Moral Majority is on the way out. Even the Southern Baptists are having a small but definite internal shake-up. The idea that Trump resonates with serious Christians is laughable; there have been posts on religious-news sites pointing out, for instance, his inability to name a favourite Bible verse even when he’s done the usual “I find the Bible inspirational” blah expected, or his comments about lacking a sense of sin, etc.

        Trump is appealing to Christians the same way Hillary Clinton, when dropping in the mention that she’s a Methodist, is appealing to Christians: it’s as Scott says, signalling “non-weird” rather than any specific denominational or dogmatic adherence. Hillary’s campaign may like to mention that she’s a church-attending Methodist, but is Planned Parenthood really anxious she is going to defund them? No, and that tells you what the signalling is all about: “I have recognisable but vague Positive Values in common with you”.

        Actually, it’s probably more the Democratic posturing about “bitter clingers/God, guns and gays” that is driving moderate but genuine believers towards the Republicans; if I were American, I’d much prefer to vote Democrat (the traditional blue-collar Irish Catholic vote), but since the push against (say) the pro-life Democrats in order to nail down the vote of “white/single/middle class/younger women” by “Yep, we’re pro-reproductive rights!”, I think a lot of those not wedded to the cause of “abortion at any time for any reason” have drifted to local Republican candidates instead, as I would (were I to have a vote in American elections).

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        • Anonymous says:

          > you (this is general “you”, not “you specific” to anyone)

          Y’all.

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        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          @ Deiseach:

          That’s how it was when I was at Georgetown (a very secular Catholic university). I didn’t have all that much interaction with them, but the Jesuits are all very left-wing economically. There was a non-stop stream of messages about “social justice” (Catholic Social Justice, not the SJW type, though there was some of that too). Yet they were at least officially very socially conservative: against gay marriage, abortion, and even contraception. However, they downplayed this heavily.

          The lay Catholics in the administration and in the student body did not even pretend to be socially conservative. Their agenda was essentially the same as the Democratic Party platform (including abortion rights).

          There was a very small faction of “conservative” Catholic professors. But they were true traditionalist types, not really American conservatives (who, in a general sense, want to conserve America’s legacy of classical liberalism). One of them left in something of a scene to head the political philosophy program at Notre Dame because Georgetown was too theologically and politically liberal (Notre Dame is known for being fairly conservative). These professors made a lot of noise about Georgetown not taking Catholic teaching on gays, abortion, etc. seriously. But they also weren’t all that pro-market. They favored some kind of vague “localism” and had a general antipathy to capitalism and economics in general (and I don’t mean that as a snide comment), but also to centralized government.

          Of course, a lot of the professors are not Catholic at all. For instance, Jason Brennan is a libertarian political philosopher, one of the guys behind the Bleeding Heart Libertarianism blog (which Scott has linked to criticize in the past at least once). Brennan is in an odd position: not actually in the College’s Philosophy Department, but in the Business School’s Business Ethics program.

          In my case, as an Objectivist, I sympathized in an odd way with the conservative Catholic professors and attended the discussion club they ran sometimes. It was a matter of: we’re both sort of on the political right, but we both think that Christianity is not compatible with globalized, laissez-faire capitalism. We just disagreed on which one of the two we chose! In terms of basic philosophic convictions, I was probably more opposed to them than to any mainstream leftist. But they were interesting to talk to: a sort of toned-down version of neoreactionaries (a group I didn’t know about at the time), very skeptical of democracy and equality. (However, unlike the neoreactionaries, they did not think that it was possible to bring back aristocracy.)

          The Jesuits, on the other hand, did not run a philosophical discussion club, so I didn’t talk to them much.

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          • This description sounds very similar to the Benedictine college I went to.

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          • I teach at a Jesuit school (Santa Clara University). I find it a pretty tolerant place, considering that I share neither of the dominant ideologies (Catholicism and soft leftism).

            A few years back they had a week devoted to sustainability and asked professors if they wanted to give a talk on the subject. I asked if I could give a talk against sustainability, and they had no objection.

            Also, they seem to do a pretty good job of running a university.

            If they have any views on abortion, divorce, or non-marital sex they are not obvious. They have, however, banned smoking on campus, even outdoors.

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      • stillnotking says:

        The Populists will support the welfare state, nationalism, economic redistribution, and traditional morality and religion

        What you’re describing is the politics of William Jennings Bryan. All those things really are quite natural fits under the broad heading of “populism”, and it’s interesting to me that our politics evolved in such a different direction. I assume the main culprit is Marxism (which seems almost designed to drive a wedge between the economic-redistributionists and traditional-moralists); perhaps, as its star continues to fall, old-school populism will come back into vogue.

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        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          “I assume the main culprit is Marxism (which seems almost designed to drive a wedge between the economic-redistributionists and traditional-moralists); perhaps, as its star continues to fall, old-school populism will come back into vogue.”

          And in this hypothetical populist-technocrat split, the university professors will be with the latter, teaching future journalists and screenwriters that populism is fascism.

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          • stillnotking says:

            Oh, no question the university professors will come down on the technocrat side. Just witness their reaction to neopopulist figures like Trump. They know which side of their bread is buttered.

            It also implies the Republicans will become the populist party, which I think was happening even before Trump. Michael Moore-style leftist populism has exuded a whiff of the grave for some time.

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        • The original Mr. X says:

          Another possible factor might be that people who think they know best how to distribute wealth also think they know best how to run society. So somebody in favour of wealth distribution might also be in favour of social experiments like no-fault divorce, gay marriage and the like.

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      • Vaniver says:

        My impression is most of these “a realignment is underway!” predictions are about what the predictor wants to be true / what issue they consider most important, not what they actually expect to happen. That is, they’re aspirational, not descriptive.

        For example, consider The Future and Its Enemies by Virginia Postrel, which identified the odd alignments between pro-stasis forces on the right and left and pro-dynamism forces on the right and left. In Postrel’s view, the more important alignment is dynamism vs. stasis, and so everyone would be better off if they adjusted their alliances accordingly. This lines up pretty closely to your “Populists and Technocrats,” but I think you might be mislabeling ‘technocrats.’

        In this scenario, it will be even more obvious that the Technocrats actually run the country. My fondest long-term hope is that the technocratic elite ossifies into an actual aristocracy, and so learns something about noblesse oblige, but I’m not holding my breath.

        I think this is why it is not reasonable to expect this sort of thing to happen. If one views politics not as “how will the people decide which way the country goes?” but “how will the people be convinced they have control over which way the country goes?” the dominant strategy is to split the powerful and the powerless along irrelevant boundaries, such that the powerless can be content that their team sometimes wins while the powerful cannot be deposed by the fickleness of the public with regards to the irrelevant boundaries.

        That is, why would the technocrats ever agree to a deal where they might actually be voted out of power?

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      • Max says:

        The Populists will support the welfare state, nationalism, economic redistribution, and traditional morality and religion, while the Technocrats support free markets, racial egalitarianism, and innovative moralities and sexualities.

        So its a Scylla and Charybdis type situation again? I prefer apocalypse and neofeodalism afterwards then! Enough is enough

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      • Patri Friedman says:

        It’s a democracy. How can Populism ever lose?

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          It depends on what it is you think is the determining factor of Populism.

          There are many things which have the force of law in America which the majority of the population disagrees with to a greater or lesser extent. If we were to have a referendum on abortion, for instance, the resulting law would be, if not an absolute ban, quite a bit stricter than the current level of control.

          On the other hand, a majority of people in America seem to be okay with the Supreme Court making decisions that they disagree with, including our current level of controls on abortions.

          So you tell me: Is Populism winning or losing?

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        • CCR says:

          The U.S. is a democracy in name only. Most decisions are made by courts, bureaucrats, and extra-national organizations.

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  2. PSJ says:

    I hope this isn’t too off topic, but I think this might be one of the few places where there is a critical mass of smart right-wing people to give a good answer.

    Is there any way to defend Donald Trump as a candidate on economic or foreign policy grounds compared to the rest of of the Republican field? The current administration? (not social because that would probably lead to a less productive conversation)

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    • Case says:

      I don’t think he’s terribly defensible, at least from my viewpoint as an idiosyncratic libertarian, but I also don’t think the point of Trump has much to do with his positions, he’s more of a living middle finger to the political establishment, at which purpose he succeeds brilliantly. I have to admit, I find his rise sort of horrifying, but I do enjoy the steadily growing scent of fear wafting from the pundit class as their predictions of his impending political demise keep failing to pan out.

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      • +1 to “living middle finger to the political establishment”. I “support” Trump in the way that I “support” wildfires and hurricanes. They’re terribly destructive and bad for the people they actually affect, but they sure are fun to watch. Obligatory XKCD.

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        • Case says:

          I think of him more like political chemotherapy; he’ll make everyone sick, but hopefully do more damage to establishment politics than to the country as a whole. Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but I like to think that even partisan hacks might start to question a system that elected a Trump.

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          • Deiseach says:

            I think Trump is establishment politics, in a terrible reductio ab absurdum way; he’s got the money to spend to fund his campaign, and that (not policies) is what wins elections nowadays. Slick ad campaigns, soundbites, PR set-ups and attack campaigns about your rivals without any substantive promises you can later be pinned down on, plus a catchy but meaningless slogan (Things Can Only Get Better! Hopey Changey! Make Murica Great!)

            Nice but poor Trump wouldn’t even be at the races. You need the dough-re-mi to get your message out, and flying around the country going “Imma make America great again!” takes cash.

            Trump is very much appealing to the idea that he’s an outsider and that support for him is sticking it to the establishment of both parties, but he’s not at all proposing to burn the system to the ground and start from scratch. He’s fine with spending money to buy votes under the present system.

            And it’s not beyond the bounds of belief that if he really does look like somehow being a serious contender (when this amusing but preliminary stage-before-the-stage-before-the-campaign period is over), and that he survives to still mount a challenge to whoever gets picked as the Republican nomination, that some kind of a deal could be done.

            Even with the Democrats. Sanders is not electable. Hillary may be perceived as the lesser of two evils within the party, but I could even see the “anyone but Hillary” side happy to accept Trump in as President, in a way that would let them present him as the bold, shocking alternative to the Republicans particularly if anyone thinks potential voters really are worried about Christians at the polls; Trump’s Christianity is of the “my parents took me to church a couple of times when I was a kid” type and is nothing to frighten the horses. Serious believers won’t vote for him whatever party he runs for, and it’s the usual lip service that all politicians (even Obama, which got him in trouble re: the Reverend Wright) pay to the rubes. (Think Bill Clinton appearing at black churches to stump for votes).

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          • Alsadius says:

            Deiseach: The idea that money wins elections is just wrong. It makes no sense, has no empirical backing, and is completely at odds with all we know of politics. Votes win elections, and you can’t buy those. For instance, the Liberals won a shattering majority here in Canada this week, despite being consistently the poorest and worst at fundraising of the three major parties.

            Any candidate or party popular enough to have a hope in hell is popular enough to raise the money needed for a basic campaign. Throwing a hundred million extra dollars at it does very little beyond what a basic campaign does – you really just spend it annoying voters with ads that don’t do much. Remember, the most successful ad in political history(and frankly, one of the few that’s worth remembering) ran exactly once.

            If you want to see what money without popularity gets you, look at self-funded campaigns. Meg Whitman is the ultimate example of this – she ran as a Republican in the most pro-Republican year nationwide in almost a century, replacing a fairly popular Republican incumbent, and she spent more on postage than Jerry Brown spent on his whole campaign. And she got trounced.

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          • Jiro says:

            Alsadius: It may be that, just like there is a minimum level of financial support that candidates need, there is also a minimum level of base popularity that candidates need. Money won’t help someone who’s under that base popularity. It could still be that someone who is *over* that base popularity is helped by a hundred million extra dollars, even though someone who is under it like your Meg Whitman example is not helped.

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          • Alsadius says:

            Jiro: Whitman won over 40% of the vote – that’s well above any conceivable popularity base for that effect. She led the race into September.

            I’d actually argue it the other way, to some extent. If nobody’s ever heard of you, dropping ten mil on ads will at lest get you taken seriously. (And especially in something like a Presidential primary, getting taken seriously is half the battle – look at Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul last time, or Romney vs Huntsman. Very similar candidates, but one did 10x as well as the other by virtue of being taken more seriously among the voter base in question). If everyone already has a strongly formed opinion on you, like Trump, money is virtually irrelevant except for hiring some staff and running a GOTV operation.

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          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Alsadius:
            Money is necessary but it sufficient. Campaigns actually really, really, really do need cash to function. The GOP members who have dropped out this election cycle have done so because they lacked the cash to continue.

            Your claim is a little like “you don’t need fuel to make car go, you need oxygen.”

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          • Alsadius says:

            Heel: Look at the polling levels of the ones who dropped out. In the last poll on RCP before they quit, Perry was at 1% and Walker was at 0%. Do you really think money was the issue? Lack of money prevented them from sleepwalking into Iowa and hoping for a miracle, but it wasn’t their core problem. If they had support, they’d have donors, and thus they’d have money.

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          • Luke Somers says:

            Deiseach> I could even see the “anyone but Hillary” side happy to accept Trump in as President

            Really? It seems to me like the people who support Sanders are sort of the antithesis of Trump supporters. If you add them to Clinton supporters, you get basically 90%, so there’s not really much room for a substantial ‘anyone but Clinton’ camp to go to Trump.

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        • Berlusconi effect. Many Italians long ago realized they cannot expect anything good from the political establishment, so they decided to simply vote for an entertaining clown who is good at trolling them, and trolling in general. Trump looks a lot like him.

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          • Tibor says:

            Are you sure this is what is going on in Italy? It strikes me as an oversimplification at best. I don’t know much about Italian politics. However, I think that the part of Berlusconi’s success story is that he owns a lot of media outlets and that he can conjure up the “self-made man” picture of himself pretty well. I am not sure about his sexual and other escapades. In most other countries in Europe (and probably doubly so in the more puritan US) those alone would force him to leave the prime minister chair for good. But in Italy the response seems to be a mix of contempt and slightly amused admiration…At least some Italians seem to like him for being macho. But to reiterate – I know very little about Italian politics, so these are just mostly wild speculations.

            Also note that while Trump is a protest voter candidate if there’s ever been one, whereas Berlusconi is (now at least) about as mainstream in Italy as the Clintons or Bushes are in the US.

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          • The I am not sure either part:

            IMHO Berlusconi should be seen through the angles of his voters cannot possibly taking him seriously. Self-made man thingie doesn’t even matter very much in countries with strong aristocratic traditions, the kind of people who are okay with self-made rich would also be okay with the born rich. The media stuff is IMHO more about attacking his opponents and hiding his lawsuits. I just don’t think they could really believably make him look like a self-made man and anyone would care more about that than about enjoying his trolling. The closest thing to the self-made man thing is being a rich guy who talks as blunt as a working class man and this is not a media thing, this is actually what both do.

            The I am more sure part:

            I absolutely think both can be protest votes. I mean you have to consider protest against what? For example, protest against PC works for both. Protest against at the very least some elements of the establishment works too, just how many professors and intellectuals and other “opinion leaders” like Berlusconi? Obviously they hate each other. Both guys are mainstream only in the capitalistic sense, owning businesses, but both are opposed by the “Cathedral”, by intellectuals, professors, those kinds of elites.

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          • Tibor says:

            Well, Berlusconi is mainstream in the sense of having been the prime minister of Italy four times. He practically IS the establishment. I suppose he is not very much liked by the “intellectual elites” in Italy but that is really just a guess (although I would be very surprised if it were otherwise).

            I am not sure how aristocratic Italy is in this sense. In any case, I think there is always an appeal to “he has shown that he can do something other than politics successfully” (and to a certain degree that is a reasonable argument), which is what I mostly mean by self-made man. I dunno about the US, there you cannot run for the presidential office without having a lot of money first. In Europe, this is different and most high-ranking politicians are people who studied law, entered a party during their studies, got elected on some local level and climbed their way up the party hierarchy without ever doing anything other than politics (this does not seem to work in Switzerland for example where, if I am not mistaken, MPs are not paid and therefore have to work while doing politics, but probably all other European countries work that way). This is chiefly what I meant by “self-made man”.

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    • Nathan says:

      I’m pretty strongly right wing and am baffled at the existence of people who support Trump. Although I’m also Australian so maybe there’s a cultural gap I’m not appreciating.

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      • Tibor says:

        Well, you know, Trump is upside down 🙂

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      • Chris H says:

        The sense I’ve gotten is that Trump supporters are those who hate the Republican “establishment,” aka the college educated, business-oriented, “hey let’s not shut down the entire federal government over planned parenthood funding” politicians. The fact that Trump is college-educated, bussiness-oriented, and has even made statements that are pro-abortion in the past you’d think that’d make him anathema to this group, but it’s worth remembering that people who had grown to hate rich people were vital in the election of the very rich FDR in the 30s. Trump isn’t a politician and his statements clearly piss off the establishment. Support for him is more a big “screw you” to the current Republican establishment than anything else. The more controversial and elite annoying statements he makes the more this protest section of the party likes him. But it’s worth noting this is a minority of the party. Other protest sections of the party go with more ideologically pure candidates like Ben Carson or Carly Fiorna, while the establishment may yet still have a (slim) majority of republican votes who just have no idea who to rally behind (Bush? Rubio? Kaisich? Hell even Cruz sorta counts).

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        • Gbdub says:

          Actually the major “establishment” Republican policy that Trump openly repudiates is amnesty for illegal immigrants.

          And while the Tea Party types etc often get labeled hard-core social conservative, the main thing they broke with the “establishment” over was a lack of fiscal conservatism – pork barrel stuff, logrolling, not addressing entitlement growth, constantly increasing debt, etc. “TEA” was acronymed/backronymed “taxed enough already” after all.

          Which isn’t to say Trump is a Tea Party candidate – he’s not, at all. But the disgruntlement with the Republican establishment has more to do with immigration and economic issues (and really in the mind of a lot of disgruntled Rs, immigration IS a primarily economic issue) than with traditional social issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc.

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      • Tom says:

        We had our own example with Clive Palmer. Sure, he couldn’t run for ‘president’, because that’s not how our system works, but he was ridiculously successful. The people also elected Abbot, so there is that.

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      • jackmcg says:

        You live in a land of strict immigration and can’t understand support for Donald Trump? We want that in America. That’s the reason.

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    • Echo says:

      People are tired of being called terrorists for disagreeing with democrats. (“They don’t even call terrorists terrorists!”)
      People are tired of the media being so bigoted and biased that candidates who literally save children’s lives with brain surgery are called ignorant monsters (or just “Uncle Tom” if the clickbait crew is feeling lazy) simply because they have an R after their name.

      People liked it when Trump had a heckling Univision “reporter” escorted out of the room. But what people really want him to do is to have the whole lot of them dragged out and shot.
      There’s a lot of built-up anger in this country. The political elites, cultural elites, and academics are finally waking up to it, and their fear is amusing to the powerless people they’ve spent so many decades spitting on.

      It won’t do any good, of course. But since the Sweet Meteor of Death isn’t running, Trump’s an acceptable substitute.
      On economic or foreign policy grounds? No. But his supporters know the economy will never be allowed to benefit them anyway, and the nation’s foreign policy will never serve their interests.

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    • Alsadius says:

      I’ve never gotten the impression that Donald Trump believes in anything besides Donald Trump. A few years ago he was a colossally narcissistic Bernie Sanders, now he’s a colossally narcissistic Ted Cruz. I know which of those I trust him to follow through on.

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      • jackmcg says:

        This is a common misconception. The two issues voters love him the most on – immigration and trade- are issues he has been talking about for a long, long time. He was speaking out on trade imbalance since the 1980s, and he has been strongly anti-immigration since at least 1999.

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    • drethelin says:

      Trump has absurd rhetoric, but has a proven track-record at increasing the wealth and size of a massive multi-national organization, as well as navigating deals with other parties. I think he very obviously has better qualifications than most of the field as a manager and negotiator. Whatever his personal failings and public persona, he’s competing for a job as a boss.

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      • Deiseach says:

        Yes, but how do you measure what is making America great?

        Political domination abroad – the world’s policeman?

        Political isolationism?

        Employment and profit – the business of America is business?

        Trade with other nations?

        Some of these conflict with others – if a plentiful workforce of cheap labour is good for business and what is good for business is good for America, then you have to let immigrants in (e.g. the reliance on stoop labour for harvesting agricultural crops). This runs smack-bang into your “No more immigrants taking our jobs!” platform.

        If markets are now global and outsourcing to cheaper countries is the way for business to survive, then the glory days of well-paying blue-collar jobs and work for whoever wanted it are gone. If the economy is going to be driven by the knowledge economy, then the future belongs to college-educated or those with the skills to be programmers, involved in IT, and entrepreneurs. Whatever way you slice it, Joe with the 9-5 job at the auto plant is not going to be the breadwinner anymore, and pretty much is rendered unemployable if he’s in his 40s-50s.

        So the fact remains: suppose Trump is willing to take advice about “the most tangible improvements” – what are those tangible improvements? It’s perfectly possible to have a growing economy and still have a great proportion of your citizens not doing well anymore.

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        • Randy M says:

          Being vague and allowing the populace to project their desires onto your platitdues may be disingenuous and undemocratic, but it has a proven track record of late.

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      • Steve J says:

        Trump has pretty much matched the market in terms of his investment performance. I don’t think we are talking about Warren Buffett here. He doesn’t seem to have innovative political ideas. Maybe I am missing something.

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        • brad says:

          You aren’t talking about the whole “if Donald Trump had taken his inheritance and invested it in the S&P 500” thing I hope? As someone who loathes Trump, it isn’t a good talking point. First, because it doesn’t taken into account any spending since then. Second, because no one with that much money takes it all and puts it into the S&P 500. Third, because it relies on the happenstance that when his father died was a fantastic time to invest in the S&P 500.

          For better or worse the dude has a knack for making money.

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          • Oscar_Cunningham says:

            “Second, because no one with that much money takes it all and puts it into the S&P 500.”

            Why not?

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          • brad says:

            Because if you are a big believer in the value of diversifying, passive investing, and MPT in general you go with many more asset classes (a la Swanson), and if you aren’t then you have a much more idiosyncratic set of investments than the S&P 500.

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          • Oscar_Cunningham says:

            Sure, but then you would expect to do better than the S&P, not worse. Trump is very rich and so should have been very risk neutral. Since the market has in fact been good over the time period considered he should have exceeded it. So if he didn’t it’s either poor investing or spending or some combination thereof.

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          • brad says:

            Not necessarily. A portfolio along the efficient frontier should give you a better return than the S&P 500 for the same level of risk (and in the long term, not over any given particular period). But it has nothing to say about the level of risk sought by the investor (i.e. where along the efficient frontier to invest). I’m not sure what you mean by risk neutral or why you think being rich implies that you ought to be.

            Also I don’t think spending is a problem. If you inherit hundreds of millions of dollars some spending that looks extravagant to the rest of us is quite expected.

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          • jackmcg says:

            The people who make this argument are often anti-Wall St crooks as well, which is odd.

            Here is a guy who bypassed Wall St. to build assets and own land, and people are saying “well why didn’t you just give your money to that trustworthy Wall St.?”

            I’ll stop short of saying its hypocritical, but it smacks of short-sighted bias.

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      • Saul Degraw says:

        The problem is that Congress can’t exactly be fired like someone on the Apprentice. Neither can the Independent governments of foreign countries.

        But yeah, I think people like his Reality TV persona and imagine a President that can get things in line that way.

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        • Anonymous says:

          “The problem is that Congress can’t exactly be fired like someone on the Apprentice.”

          Despite not being one myself, I cannot resist making what would surely be the neoreactionary response: “Perhaps that’s the problem.”

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          • Cet3 says:

            Am I the only one who finds it bizarre to see “neo-reactionary” conflated with “anti-establishment” like this? Neo-reactionaries were neither the first nor the only people to make that complaint. I guess this a result of a kind of sub-cultural myopia?

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Cet3

            That’s not what I meant, I was alluding to Moldbug’s preferred model of government in which the state is run as a corporation, with the head of state as its CEO.

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    • Anonymous says:

      One possible argument in defence of Trump: since it seems to a considerable extent that he doesn’t believe in anything other than himself, he might be more willing to take advice from others on what changes will bring about the most tangible improvements than he would if he had a more specific platform.

      When you’ve promised nothing more than ‘greatness’ it leaves you open to policies that you might otherwise be politically unable to pursue. If you tilt your head and squint it almost looks like the “vote on values, bet on beliefs” description of futarchy (at least the first half of it). No tying oneself to confident statements on what changes will cause what, just a goal – make America great again! – and a demagogue who don’t take no nonsense from anyone who will make it so, using whatever means happen to work best.

      Maybe.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I doubt he’ll actually achieve anything of note, because compared to being CEO, the position of POTUS is extremely limited in terms of what you actually can do in the capacity.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I usually say that we simultaneously greatly overestimate the power of the President and greatly underestimate the power of the President. POTUS has an incredible array of knobs to turn on his vast bureaucracy.

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          • Echo says:

            But most of them can only be turned if the bureaucracy is friendly to the president’s party. George Bush couldn’t reform the EPA, or Obama the DEA.

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          • Robert says:

            @Echo:

            The rescheduling of drugs requires only an “administrative action” by the US Attorney General. Obama can tell the USAG to do this. The fact that he hasn’t is an indication that he doesn’t want to (for whatever reason – maybe including the cost of the political capital involved), not that he can’t.

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          • Anonymous says:

            A lot depends on what you mean by “reform”. I’m betting it’s likely that you’re dragging in pretty wide-ranging reforms, which oftentimes do require congressional action. Nevertheless, I was speaking about the little knobs. The President has a ton of them, and they can have significant effect downstream.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            Not least of which is that every single person sitting in a Federal prison is sitting there at the pleasure of the President.

            I am, frankly, amazed that this doesn’t get more attention. If somebody REALLY wanted to cater to the NRA, for instance, they could just promise to pardon every otherwise non-violent offender who’s been convicted of a technical violation of the firearms laws. (There aren’t that many, but there are more than you might think.)

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          Yes and no.

          A President with the cojones (or juevos, if you prefer Hillary) to issue the appropriate Executive Orders and enough backing from either the electorate or key elements in Congress to keep them from being reversed by legislative act would have, in practical terms, almost unlimited power. They’d have to be so overbearing as to get the majority of law enforcement and/or the military to refuse to comply with their orders to be stopped.

          This would be much more difficult for a Republican president (the majority of the permanent civil service is solidly Progressive, and they are probably the most problematic actual obstacle to this sort of activity.) But either kind could do it.

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          • Doctor Mist says:

            I don’t think it was an SSC commenter who pointed me to the movie Gabriel Over the White House, made in 1933, about a lackluster President who is somehow touched by the archangel Gabriel and turned into a strong leader. And by “strong leader” I mean someone who disbands Congress when they try to impeach him and who brings peace (and repayment of the money America loaned out during WWI) by blackmailing the world with a secret super-weapon.

            Just a fantasy, of course, made before the A-bomb and before we knew how awful Fascism was. It’s not a great movie, but to a modern viewer it is quite a ride.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            The libertarian alternate-history novel Hope has a vaguely Bill-Gatesian, only cool and an excellent shot, Libertarian candidate become president after both major party candidates are taken out of the running shortly before the election. (One is caught up in a child porn scandal and the other is killed in an auto accident.)

            This being a libertarian novel, the new president starts slinging Executive Orders like a fry-cook slinging hash in a crowded all-night diner. This being a libertarian novel, the Powers That Be not only oppose him, they have long back-room expository conversations about while they’re horrified about the content of his orders, they’ve spent way too much time getting the system set up to allow them to use EO to get around Congress and the Constitution to admit that EO aren’t supposed to be used that way. And, of course, this being a libertarian novel, the content of their conversations refers to actual historical events/legal precedents that pretty much dare the reader to argue with the author.

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    • brungl says:

      it’s hard to answer this question because trump doesn’t give a lot of specific policy proposals, but what he’s said about economic policy probably puts him to the left of the GOP establishment. and that might actually be part of his appeal!

      establishment GOP candidates rely on wealthy donors to fund their campaigns, and they usually propose economic policies that align with those donors’ preferences. trump is wealthy enough that he can fund his campaign independently, so he doesn’t have to keep any donors happy. thus he’s free to propose policies that are more in line with the preferences of average republican voters (less supportive of free trade, more supportive of large entitlement programs, etc.).

      that’s not really a “defense” of trump as a candidate, but it’s a partial explanation, at least.

      for more:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/18/upshot/donald-trump-moderate-republican.html
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/upshot/is-trump-the-candidate-reform-conservatives-are-seeking.html

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    • Sastan says:

      Schadenfreud. Trump infuriates people we hate (mostly the media). If you’ve spent thirty years on the short end of the media stick, watching them trip over themselves and be backhanded so casually is better than sex.

      Trump isn’t conservative, he doesn’t have much in the way of policy chops, and he’s a national joke. But he’s trolling the people we love to see trolled. And moreso, the people the establishment political party has been rolling over to forever.

      Serious conservatives don’t support Trump, because he’s got no ideological base. Political junkies don’t support him, because there’s no policy there. The religious don’t support him, because he’s famously immoral. But all the people who aren’t any of these things do, because that doesn’t matter (at least at this stage).

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      • LCL says:

        Disagree strongly on Trump infuriating the media. Trump is the best thing to happen to the political media in years. Thinking the media wants someone to be nice to them is misunderstanding the situation. What the media wants is a story.

        Actually I’d credit the media’s infatuation with the Trump sideshow as the #1 factor in his rise.

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          Agreed. If they really were worried about him, they’d just ignore him. Since they know he can’t really hurt them (or at least they think they do) and he brings in the clicks, they are obsessed with him.

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          • Moebius Street says:

            Does the way the media blatantly blacked out news of Ron Paul four years ago, and seems to be starting to do for Rand, suggest that they’re afraid of these candidates?

            And on the other side of the coin, it seems to me like a President Paul would lead to plenty of stories – there’d be many gallons of ink spilled over how they were destroying/restoring America.

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    • PGD says:

      I am not right wing, but I think he’s defensible on policy grounds. Basically, he has consistently signaled that he is willing to rely on his own common sense as opposed to the ideological party positions. E.g. the public loves Social Security and Medicare, he’s willing to say clearly that he will defend and preserve them. He stood up to the stupidity on how we have to somehow fight Putin over Syria and was willing to say our Middle East policy basically makes no sense and is creating much greater instability, something that e.g. Hilary Clinton can’t say.

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    • onyomi says:

      Ironically, I think a Donald Trump victory would be a better case of democracy in action than much of anything that’s happened in the US during my lifetime: basically “the people” just, yes, “giving the middle finger” to the whole establishment and their pre-approved candidates. His cult of personality, anti-immigrant stance, and lack of policy detail reminds me uncomfortably of a fascist dictator, and I hate the way he’s sucked up the anti-establishment air that might have coalesced around a more serious candidate like Rand Paul, but I do have to admit to enjoying seeing him piss off the people he pisses off.

      And he also sometimes says things which I think should be obvious, but which no other politician has the fortitude and/or outside-beltway awareness to say: like, when Bush was defending his brother by saying “say what you will; he kept us safe,” who but Donald Trump would get up there and say “uhh, the biggest terrorist attack in our history occurred on his watch.” Also, no one but Trump has said anything about Yellen’s fed propping up Obama’s economy with continued low interest rates.

      As to whether “the people” getting what they want being a good thing, I’m much more skeptical.

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      • Scott Alexander says:

        What’s the difference between “propping up an economy” and “causing the economy to be good, which is a thing we want”?

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        • Nornagest says:

          Sustainability?

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          • Gamer Imp says:

            Quite a few professional economists hold that the low interest rates are a good, necessary state given current economic conditions. Taking action to raise them would be NOT sustainable, in that such action could lead to crashes that destroy GDP and slow growth.

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          • Nornagest says:

            You may well be right, but I was trying to answer Scott’s question, not defend the policy claims.

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        • Brian Donohue says:

          The first view, which covers about 99% of people, reflects little to no understanding of monetary economics.

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          • onyomi says:

            99% of people have no view on monetary economics whatsoever. Mine is just more of a non-mainstream Austrian view.

            Regarding the advisability of “open market operations” and “quantitative easing,” I’m not an economist, and I’m not sure I want to get into a long debate about it, but given that price controls don’t work without nasty unintended consequences for anything else, why should they work when it comes to money?

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @onyomi,

            I don’t think price controls are the right analogy here. Under a fiat currency regime, the central bank controls the value of the currency, whatever they do, OMO, QE, or not.

            Which may explain why at least some Austrians are against fiat currency in principle.

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          • onyomi says:

            I think price controls are a useful analogy because money is also a good–one half of almost every transaction. It’s a weird good under a fiat regime in that one actor can unilaterally change its supply, but it’s still a good. Setting a low interest rate is, in effect, creating a price ceiling for credit.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @onyomi,

            OK. Sounds like you’re an “against fiat money in principle” guy. A “hard money” guy. A “gold standard” guy. Do I have that right?

            If so, that’s a whole other conversation. I happen to think a gold standard is an arbitrary and unstable approach to monetary policy.

            Or perhaps you’re more of a “private currency” Austrian, like George Selgin, in which case, I think ultimately, you can find something close to common ground with monetarists. Maybe. Those guys strike me as less strident and knee-jerk than goldbugs.

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          • onyomi says:

            I’m an anarchocapitalist, so private currency. Though I do expect private currency would tend to be backed by something tangible: if not precious metals, then some other basket of goods. Though I also have no objection in principle to something like bitcoin, or to notes issued by private banks with less than 100% reserve requirements, assuming people know what they’re getting into, and/or to multiple competing currencies in one society. Whatever private individuals gravitate toward using to facilitate exchange is what they should use, basically.

            But even if, realistically, we can’t abolish or phase out the government anytime soon, I think it would be great to undermine peoples’ sense that government and issuance of a national currency must always go hand-in-hand. But so long as questioning the fed is treated as some sort of sacrilege, that will never happen.

            And I assume it must be possible, on some level, to reconcile a more monetarist stance with a private currency regime, since David Friedman is simultaneously a prominent proponent of both (insofar as it seems you must favor private currency if you favor anarchocapitalism, though it may just be that he views the other drawbacks of having a government as outweighing the benefits and/or likelihood of that government being able to set a good monetary policy), though I am very interested in hearing more about his view on the matter if he would like to chime in.

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          • @Onyomi:

            Not only am I in favor of private competing fractional reserve currencies, I’ve argued that the market equilibrium of that system produces the result recommended by my father’s article on the optimal supply of money.

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          • onyomi says:

            Do you simply predict fractional reserve currencies will outcompete others due to the ability to offer interest? Or maybe there will be some 100% reserve currencies for those with low risk tolerance, and others for those with higher?

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @onyomi, David Friedman,

            Here’s a timely and, I think, useful take on the exciting topic of monetary economics from Brad DeLong, cleaving the world into Keynesians/Monetarists vs. Austrians.

            http://equitablegrowth.org/central-banks-are-not-agricultural-marketing-boards-depression-economics-inflation-economics-and-the-unsustainability-of-friedmanism/

            Personally, I have more faith in the intellectual and political stability and sustainability of the Friedmanite view than Krugman does.

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        • onyomi says:

          Yes, sustainability (delaying an inevitable day of reckoning by making it worse when it finally comes is not the same as just preventing bad things from happening–the Austrian view is that what the fed is currently doing creates the temporary appearance of a healthy economy while actually making things much worse in the long run).

          That said, I understand most professional economists don’t agree with the Austrian view of monetary policy. But whether or not keeping interest rates low at this point is or is not the right thing to do, I’m just glad someone other than Ron Paul is attempting to at least interject the question into mainstream discourse: both the questions of whether the fed is a net help or a net harm, and the question of whether its actions may or may not be, at times, political in nature: I’m not claiming that the fed has recently, or ever, necessarily used its power to sway any particular election, but I think we have to at least consider how much power they have over such things when they have it in their power to make the economy appear much better or worse in the short run.

          Right now, the general public’s opinion about fed policy: whether it’s good and whether or not it may be politicized is not uninformed; it’s nonexistent, which I think is a very bad thing.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            Between (1) Austrians’ ever-vigilant suspicion of monetary debasement (evidence, please), (2) Keynesians’ ever-unmet appetite for more government spending (expressed as hand-wringing over “impotent monetary policy”), and (3) their common ground view of Fed accommodation amounting to Wall Street sticking it to Main Street somehow, it’s a wonder we get as good a monetary policy as we do.

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          • onyomi says:

            So what, in your view, is a good monetary policy?

            Re. the Austrian’s suspicion of currency debasement, I could point to various historical examples and personal anecdotes, but shouldn’t the burden be on those arguing that what doesn’t work with anything else does work in this case?

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @onyomi,

            Monetarism. Milton Friedman and his heirs. Guys like Scott Sumner and Lars Christensen.

            Yeah, currency debasement is a thing. I mean, Zimbabwe, anyone? But Austrians are wired to see it all the time.

            To me, a little debasement (say, 2% per year) is actually a good thing for a macro-economy.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            Debasement of the currency is a way to redistribute increases in productivity away from those who increased their productivity. Call it a hidden tax, call it the banker’s vig, call it whatever you want. That’s what it does.

            Anyone who argues that debasement of the currency is a good thing must convince me that such redistribution is a good thing, and to do that they must identify which parties are receiving the redistribution and why they are entitled to it. Thus far, I’ve found few people who were even able to make even a coherent argument to the former (I suspect this will not be the case here: that’s not the hard part.) and none who were able to convince me that there was a sound argument to the latter.

            I am willing to be convinced, though, if someone would like to try.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @Mark Whipple,

            Ok, I’ll call it a hidden tax. All taxes produce distortions. I agree with Friedman that a wealth tax is the best tax, only it’s devilishly hard to apply, except for real estate (which is taxed) and via inflation.

            Inflation makes the wealthy sweat a bit to preserve their wealth. At 2% per year, you don’t have to sweat too hard to stay ahead, though.

            Also, money illusion / sticky wages tells me modest inflation allows real wages to adjust downward where appropriate, increasing employment compared to stable prices or deflation.

            Deflation is awful for another reason- it allows the rich to get richer just by sleeping on a mattress full of money.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            Your first argument is sound, but not convincing.

            Your second is not really an argument as far as I’m concerned. At some point, somebody did something to accumulate that money. Inflating it away is taking it from them without having the decency to come right out and tax it away, while simultaneously harming everybody else in the system with a positive net cash balance. I find that I can live with a few undeserving heirs benefitting from current productivity increases much more calmly than I can with stealing from everybody to make sure said heirs don’t rest easy on their cash-filled pallets. If you don’t want them to keep it without working to maintain it, tax them.

            I don’t like that either, but at least it’s a) honest and b) directed at the actual problem you claim to be worried about.

            As far as sticky wages, yes, I suppose it does overcome that issue, much the same way that a flamethrower would overcome those pesky weeds that keep growing around my mailbox. This does not mean that the application of pressurized napalm is the optimal solution.

            Not to mention the fact that while it might benefit employers in moribund industries in some circumstances, it also hurts everybody whose wages don’t increase at the pace of inflation. Which is nearly everybody, even those in otherwise productive industries.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @Mark,

            Understand that currency debasement only devalues financial assets (money, bonds). People can and do insulate themselves against currency debasement by holding real assets.

            Inflation has averaged over 2% per year in this country for the past sixty years, which explains the napalm-devastated landscape I see outside my window.

            If, because of inflation, you find yourself paying a productive employee less than she is worth, you may not have that employee for too long.

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          • onyomi says:

            “Deflation is awful for another reason- it allows the rich to get richer just by sleeping on a mattress full of money.”

            I don’t see a problem with this. People always worry about “hoarding”–that people will make money and not spend it. Actually, making money and not spending it is practically the nicest thing you can do for your fellow man.

            What if Bill Gates took out a billion dollars in cash and set it on fire. Keynesians and probably most monetarists would have a heart attack, it seems: look at all that money that could have been reinvested, going to waste! Now while it would not be as good as making smart investments (which is hard), burning a billion dollars essentially relinquishes the claim on the portion of the national wealth which Gates has accumulated by running Microsoft. So, in essence, he has retrospectively run Microsoft for free for however long it took him to earn a billion dollars. So society is getting whatever benefits they got out of him during that period for nothing! Put another way, when Gates burns his money, the value of everyone else’s money goes up.

            But the wealthy aren’t burning their money; they’re just waiting to use it, you say. Okay, but everyone knows that consumption now is valued more highly than an equal amount of consumption later. The longer they wait, the more consumption they get in the future, but also the longer society gets to keep enjoying whatever these rich people did to make the money without having to pay for it.

            Imagine you have some Steve Jobs type guy who innovates and works his fingers to the bone for his whole life but lives super frugally and hardly spends an extra penny on himself. The Keynesians would view this guy as a villain, but I think he’s a hero (if a bit skrewed up in his personal priorities). He’s basically produced a tremendous amount for society in exchange for a mere promise that his heirs may cash in on later, or which he may well donate to a charity or something.

            Not spending money you have earned is a de facto investment in the economy which uses that currency as a whole. This may be inferior to a targeted investment in a specific, successful venture, but it is also superior to a bad investment or to using it on frivolous consumption. But the yacht makers and the jewelers make money and then they get to spend it on stuff, etc. you say. Yeah, that makes our economy slightly better at producing yachts and jewelry, which only rich people enjoy. Better to let the value of everyone else’s money go up that little bit.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            Mostly what I “understand” is that pointing out the flaw in your argument to try to make me look ignorant would be insulting if a) I were capable of being insulted and b) it weren’t so tragically hilarious.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            @onyomi,

            I have no problem with the rich getting richer, just not solely by virtue of their being rich. In order to get richer, they must DO Something (lend, invest) other than just sitting on their money.

            And I’m OK with people sitting on their money, but, your intertemporal argument aside, there is no RIGHT to increased purchasing power simply by sitting on money. It’s not at all obvious in ANY forward market (including the money market) that demand will outstrip supply and produce a positive real rate of return (although even today, if you are willing to lend your money out for a few year’s time, you can earn a positive real return.)

            Everyone thinks the FED is ‘manipulating’ interest rates, but the reality is that they are responding to a situation since 2008 where millions of people are very risk-averse and willing to hold trillions of dollars in cash, despite 0% short-term interest rates. Huge baby boomer cohorts in developed countries and a rapidly aging China saving like mad are the reason for today’s interest rate environment.

            If a wealthy person wants to convert his wealth to currency and burn it, I’m ok with that. As you point out, this person is redistributing his wealth back to everyone else who holds financial assets. Probably better than building a monument to himself, maybe not as good as building a hospital, but it’s his money.

            Double-digit inflation is awful, but the US has seen CPI increase by 3.7% per year over the past 77 years (since 1937)! The wealthy have all sorts of ways of protecting against the erosion of wealth, even in such an environment. I weep not for them.

            @Mark Whipple,

            My apologies if my comment came across as condescending or dickish or whatever. I’m really trying here.

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    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Libertarian rather than right wing, but yes: Trump is an incredibly skilled populist. He’s not going to push policies the general public doesn’t like on the public; he’s concerned about his brand leaving the presidency. Unlike… pretty much everybody else who has gone into the presidency since, well, probably Coolidge, he doesn’t appear to have an actual agenda in mind, meaning he’s probably about exactly what the country needs right now; somebody who is setting out to fix what’s there rather than plaster another layer on top.

      Granted, that he doesn’t appear to have an actual agenda in mind is not the same as not having an agenda in mind, so he could be preparing a batch of guacamole to add to this country’s eighty-layer-dip of policy, on top of Obama’s kale and quinoa salad and Bush’s cole slaw.

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      • onyomi says:

        “preparing a batch of guacamole to add to this country’s eighty-layer-dip of policy, on top of Obama’s kale and quinoa salad and Bush’s cole slaw.”

        I love this metaphor.

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      • hlynkacg says:

        This is an excellent point and I love your imagery.

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      • Tibor says:

        Maybe a stupid question, but – is the US president actually as important as it looks? I mean, it probably makes a difference which party wins the seat. But other than that – the US president is not a dictator elected for 5 years, there are a lot of people you surround yourself in that position, probably most of them come from your party (I assume that the secretaries, which I gather are something like ministers in Europe, are all always either Republican or Democrat, depending on the president) and there is probably a lot of intra-party politics that goes into who gets to get those seats (so the president in practice cannot choose the secretaries freely, at least not if he wants to continue his political career beyond the presidency), so at the end of the day, is it really that important which republican or which democrat gets elected as opposed to just whether the president is red or blue?

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        • Nornagest says:

          The President’s biggest formal power is the veto, which doesn’t give you much positive authority but grants very strong powers to put the brakes on legislation you don’t like; but you also get the ability to replace retiring judges and directly appoint officials to fill the upper-to-middle echelons of the federal bureaucracy, including cabinet secretaries. (There’s no requirement that all your appointments come from your party, but most usually do.) That’s not far behind; again it doesn’t set domestic policy, but it shapes its implementation quite a bit. And in the case of judges, “implementation” paints with quite a broad brush; every time a Republican’s elected to the White House there’s a lot of Democratic hand-wringing about how their Supreme Court appointments could mean the end of Roe v. Wade, the court precedent that effectively legalized abortion in the US.

          Informal power is maybe more important, though; as President you have the ability to turn pretty much anything you want into a serious proposal, though if you need money for it it’ll only get passed with a friendly Congress and probably some horse-trading. And you have a great deal of foreign policy latitude. This is where charisma, electoral promises, and personal political skill really become important.

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          • Careless says:

            every time a Republican’s elected to the White House there’s a lot of Democratic hand-wringing about how their Supreme Court appointments could mean the end of Roe v. Wade

            Which is funny, as Republican-appointed/right-leaning justices have been a majority on the Court for the past 40some years

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          • Walter says:

            As Republicans we chase a lot of cars we don’t actually want to catch. It is profitable to fight Obamacare, it would be catastrophic to win that fight. It is profitable to be pro-life and continually restrict access to abortion. It would be political annihilation to ban abortion outright at this time.

            Dems and gun control, if you want an example from the other side.

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        • onyomi says:

          While I don’t disagree with any of what Nornagest said, there is an argument to be made that holding the presidency tends to make you lose seats at the state and local levels to the point that having your guy in the white house may even be a net negative for the party in question.

          That said, US politics is much like a game of football; when your guy is in the White House, you have possession of the ball. It’s your chance to score while it’s the other team’s job largely to just try to stymie you as much as possible. The president is sort of the QB, who throws balls out to his teammates in hopes of moving closer to his goalposts, but if he throws too wild a pass (i. e. overreaches), the other team may intercept it and turn the tables… this metaphor disturbingly works a little better than I was expecting.

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        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Not in the past, no — many times we’ve seen Presidents tied down by a hostile Congress or media, who had to make a great effort to insist they were still relevant to the national debate. However, the President does have access to an enormous amount of power by directing the executive branch bureaucracy, if he’s sufficiently shameless about it and doesn’t have to worry about public opposition thanks to a compliant media and a Congress that’s unwilling or unable to formally block him.

          Examples of this happening recently are left as an exercise for the reader.

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        • Moebius Street says:

          I’m just getting near the end of David McCullough’s biography of Truman, and the picture he paints is very much along the lines of what you’re saying – that a great deal of those in power around him he doesn’t have direct control over. This was most obvious with Macarthur as a loose cannon in Korea, but the theme seems to come up many times throughout his administration.

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    • Troy says:

      Is there any way to defend Donald Trump as a candidate on economic or foreign policy grounds compared to the rest of of the Republican field? The current administration? (not social because that would probably lead to a less productive conversation)

      Well, on foreign policy he opposed the Iraq War, and he’s in favor of “talking” to other world leaders (and not tearing up the Iran deal). I’m not a fan of his economic protectionism, but I’d rather have an isolationist candidate who won’t drag us into a war than a free trade candidate who gets us into a war with yet another Middle Eastern country. The only other Republican candidate who I think is better on foreign policy is Rand Paul (and maybe Ben Carson, I’m not clear enough on his foreign policy).

      Economically, his tax plan makes sense: no tax on less than $25,000 ($50,000 if married filing jointly), and 10%/20%/25% for everyone else. It’s simple, and moderately progressive without being unduly burdensome to wealthier Americans.

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      • JBeshir says:

        How does it work out revenue-wise compared to expenses?

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        • Troy says:

          I’m not sure; I haven’t seen someone try to calculate it. I think on his website Trump says he’ll gain revenue through closing loopholes for higher earners. I think that would be a good thing if it happened, although we’ve had candidates promise it before and it usually doesn’t happen. I am (perhaps irrationally) more confident that Trump could actually do it, though, because he doesn’t have the usual political debts to millionaires that elected officials have.

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      • Bruce Beegle says:

        I consider war as the most important issue in choosing a president. WWLD? suggests that Donald Trump is better on foreign policy than Rand Paul.

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    • Brian Donohue says:

      1. In general, 7+ years under a complete tyro like Obama* shows that the system is robust.

      * I voted for Obama in 2008. Not a hater.

      2. Trump is not an ideologue, he’s a deal-maker. Business skills often don’t translate well to government, but Trump’s skill set might be a good fit in horse-trading Washington.

      3. He’s not a bad communicator.

      4. Let’s say the Republicans hold Congress. Trump scares me less than any other Republican in this quite possible scenario.

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      • PGD says:

        Point 4 is a very good one. None of the other R candidates will be a filter on Congressional craziness.

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        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          This “craziness” you refer to is often postulated but rarely detailed. What are you actually afraid would happen if the current Republican congress were able to pass bills and have them signed, and how does it compare in “crazy” to past actions of the US government?

          For example, if you’re afraid of government shutdowns or a failure to raise the debt limit, keep in mind that the reason we’ve had problems with that is disagreement between Congress and the President on policy details, something that would presumably not be an issue with a single party controlling both. Even if it was, we have had plenty of shutdowns, at least, in the recent past and there were no long-term or really even short-term consequences worth mentioning because of it.

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          • onyomi says:

            What I want to know about government “shutdowns”: when they “shut down” they government, they actually only shut down “non-essential” services. Why is the government, which is funded by coercive taxation and threat of force, doing “non-essential” things in the first place?

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            “Essential” does not mean the same thing to a government lawyer that it does to a normal person.

            For instance, even most libertarians/minarchists would probably agree that the government should have some permanent buildings to conduct business in: they are “essential.” They have to be heated, cooled, the toilets have to work, they must be guarded from enemies foreign and domestic, etc. These services are likewise “essential.*”

            However, while from a civil society point of view it seems “essential” to allow the citizenry access to the centers of government, having public tours isn’t “essential” to the day-to-day continuity of governing. So when there’s no budget, the public tours stop.

            If you accept this approach to differentiating “essential” services, after that it’s all a matter of degree.

            *Although it would be hilarious if we tried the same thing on a gridlocked Congress that Gregory X tried on the Conclave of Cardinals.

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          • Careless says:

            Because people want it to. Maybe not you or me, but tens of millions of others.

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    • James Vonder Haar says:

      I’m pretty lefty, but I actually have some hope for a Trump presidency. This is the guy who at least once supported socialized medicine and proposed the largest tax hike in world history, and somehow he’s still the frontrunner. Pro-choice and more dovish than your average Republican, to boot. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but Trump has a chance to actually sell an expansion of the welfare state to Republicans.

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    • hlynkacg says:

      As others have already noted, Trump does have a proven track record as both negotiator and manager for a large organization. I don’t think he would be any worse at the actual job of POTUS than anyone else currently running, in fact he’d probably better than most. There is also a certain appeal to a man who can’t reasonably be bought. What Scott Called “an unincentivized incentivizer”. As a result I have no firm objections to the idea of Trump becoming president. He is not my first (or even second choice) but I’ll most likely vote for him should he become the GOP nominee.

      …And once make your peace the idea of Trump winning, fact that he absolutely befuddles and horrifies the talking heads becomes a major selling point.

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      • John Schilling says:

        There is a rather large difference between making a small number of deals where walking away from any deal is an option, and making a whole lot of deals pretty much all of which have to be made one way or another. There’s an even bigger difference between managing an organization where you are allowed to fire your subordinates, and managing one where you mostly cannot.

        Given Trump’s particular fondness for those two strategies, I am not optimistic about his ability to successfully manage the executive branch of the United States Government.

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        • hlynkacg says:

          I think that you are being unnecessarily harsh. “Walking away” is almost always an option, even at the international level and while a president may not be able to fire a an opposing senator they can most certainly fire a subordinate.

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          • John Schilling says:

            The President can only fire his immediate subordinates, cabinet secretaries and the like. Mid-level bureaucrats in the executive branch, these the president can not fire. Neither can his immediate subordinates. For most practical purposes, nobody can fire these people.

            But these are the people whom any president will need to actually carry out his agenda. If there’s a mid-level bureaucrat in the EPA who has spent the past two years not quite getting around to approving the environmental assessment on the Mexican Wall, the hypothetical President Trump cannot say, “you’re fired!”. The things a president can do in such a situation, we’ve got no way of knowing how good Trump is at them except to note that in his private business, with a choice of techniques to work with, he seems to really favor the “you’re fired!” approach.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            The President can pull a Saturday Night Massacre and have the head of the EPA move the file to another official – or hire another official to manage it, with orders to clear it immediately.

            I’m not saying your argument isn’t sound in current circumstances: I’m saying that if a President started actually using their executive power, and the high-level bureaucrats didn’t oppose it, they could work around the civil service types. It wouldn’t be easy but it could be done.

            Heck, the President could, with a sympathetic DOJ, start having bureaucrats investigated for malfeasance of some kind if they refused to obey lawful directives and exercise their authority in a timely manner.

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          • John Schilling says:

            Absolutely. There are ways to deal with obstructionist bureaucrats, and some of them maybe ought to be used more often. They just aren’t ways Donald Trump has any real experience with, and some of them (e.g. lateral promotions) would likely be anathema to him.

            And then there’s foreign diplomats and the governments they serve…

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          In my opinion, a small but significant part of our current governmental mess is the idea that there are all these deals that “have” to be made. As soon as somebody takes it into their head that something needs to be done, the basic assumption is that we must now work toward at least some sort of compromise on the matter.

          NO WE DO NOT.

          Does the Federal government need to be kept running? Yes, yes it does. Government shutdowns are idiotic, continuing resolutions not much less so. (I can’t even enjoy the spectacle anymore since my friend who works for the DOE told me what a hash they make of his projects.)

          But by and large, our government is WAY too active already, and does not need to continually enlarge its scope and activities, either internally or externally. Stop making political deals, for the love of God, and start working on enforcing the ones we already have.

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      • Careless says:

        What’s the Dave Barry quote? “”Hey, The Government Is Beyond Human Control, So Let’s at Least Have Some Fun with It.””?

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    • Cereal Crepist says:

      I am a registered Republican considering voting for Trump in my state’s primary. As I live in a solid blue state, this is probably the only vote I have that matters in this election, so I am taking it seriously.

      If you exclude immigration as an economic policy, there is very little variation among the Republican candidates and few of them have proposed any solid plans, but it sounds like Trump is proposing a more “progressive” tax system than any other candidate. For example, he was the first Republican candidate to denounce the carried interest loophole. He’s probably closest to my ideal level of taxation and I think he could credibly close loopholes and slightly raise rates on the rich without worrying anyone that we are drifting towards European marginal tax rates.

      On foreign policy, he is pretty much the only candidate other than Rand Paul who is not a full-fledged neo-conservative. I have some serious concerns about his ability to be diplomatic, but I think he is unlikely to invade or overthrow the governments of random countries. His comments on Russian involvement in Syria make me hopeful he could be more pragmatic than the current administration. I also think he would get along well with Putin, since he’s basically an American Berlusconi.

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    • Tom Scharf says:

      Not quite an answer to your question, but there is nothing more amusing to me than having an emotionally entangled leftist explain why a Republican supports anything or anybody. This is a two way street of course. The answer always can be translated into “they aren’t smart enough to understand the deceptive propaganda that is being fed to them”.

      I find Trump amusing in the same way I found Linbaugh or Palin amusing, they just really got under the skin of left wing pundits.

      I’d never vote for Trump, but seriously wonder if he would be any better or worse than anybody else we have had recently. Don’t vote for Trump because he would really mess up the Middle East? My guess is the last person who really wants Trump to be President is Donald Trump. It’s all fun and games until you win, and then it is 100% misery for 4 straight years.

      A positive for Trump is that you don’t have to read between the lines to understand what he is thinking. I think people have grown weary of manufactured focus group tested political automatons and the rise of Trump is a response to that. The electorate is signalling you do not have to be perfect as long as you are authentic and we can trust you will make an honest effort to do the right thing.

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    • Mister Jim says:

      A few posts up someone wrote:

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    • Mister Jim says:

      A few post up someone wrote:

      “If one views politics not as “how will the people decide which way the country goes?” but “how will the people be convinced they have control over which way the country goes?” the dominant strategy is to split the powerful and the powerless along irrelevant boundaries, such that the powerless can be content that their team sometimes wins while the powerful cannot be deposed by the fickleness of the public with regards to the irrelevant boundaries.

      That is, why would the technocrats ever agree to a deal where they might actually be voted out of power?”

      Voting for Trump is the closest thing possible to trying to depose the technocrats.

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  3. Will_BC says:

    When I saw the point that Trump might actually win the Hispanic vote, despite his inflammatory remarks against them, and the fact that a minority support him, my first thought was that this was an example of the failure of first past the post voting.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

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    • Graeme Sutton says:

      I have no statistical backing for this but I suspect that many if not most “Hispanic Republicans” are rich white cubans, who tend to have rather different policy views than most people considered hispanic in America, I suspect that Trump is genuinely popular with this particular subset of hispanics but Trump’s level of support among this demographic may not be indicative of his support with the general hispanic population.

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      • Scott Alexander says:

        Possible counterexample: he seems to do well among Hispanics in the Nevada poll, and I doubt there are too many Cubans there.

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        • Tibor says:

          By the way, I’ve always wondered about his. What gets you classified as “hispanic” in the US? If you are Spanish, are you hispanic (it would make sense to me)? If you are a white Mexican, are you hispanic or are you white? What about, say, black Puertoricans? Are they black or hispanic? Or is “hispanic” just a US term for mestizos (i.e. people of combined European and Amerindian descent)?

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          • Nornagest says:

            It’s basically self-selected. Which would normally come down to cultural, but there’s some fingers on the scale: your chances of getting a scholarship for example are much better if you can make a case for being non-Anglo.

            Most of the people calling themselves Hispanic in the US are probably what Latin Americans would call mestizo, but there’s also a lot of people of Southern (or occasionally even Northern) European descent but who have ancestors of Latin American national origin. Some Caribbean blacks, too.

            Normally on government forms you can tick the box for a “race” and also for Hispanic/non-Hispanic. And there’s usually a box for “two or more races”.

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          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            On the U.S. Census, anyway, “Hispanicity” is orthogonal to race.

            One question asks you what race you are: White, Black, Asian, etc.

            Anther question asks you a binary question on your ethnicity: “Are you Hispanic?”

            So you can be a White Hispanic, Black Hispanic, Asian Hispanic, Native American Hispanic, etc. And as far as the census is concerned, it’s up to you to self-identify.

            As far as other people are concerned, if you are a mestizo (not that most Americans know that term, but they recognize what one looks like), you will not generally be considered white. People will say you are “Latino” or “Hispanic” or just “Mexican” (even if you are not from Mexico).

            But if you are a criollo like Ted Cruz, you will be considered white. Someone like Marco Rubio (also a criollo, but of more recent Hispanic ancestry) is in the middle. I think most people would say he is white and Hispanic—everyone would say he is Hispanic, but not all might say he is white.

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          • Tibor says:

            I was always under the impression that “ethnicity” is sort of a sub-race. So “English” is an ethnicity, while white is the race, but one cannot be both English and black (in terms of ethnicity, not nationality) or Japanese and white (of course it gets more complicated with mestizos and other mixed-race people…although internally, I’ve always considered mestizos to be white for some reason, probably because culturally Central and South America seem quite close to Southern Europe, so it has something to do with culture as well I guess)

            From your descriptions, it seems to me that “hispanic” is rather a cultural than a genetic term in the US, so not really an ethnicity (although maybe ethnicity is not as strictly genetic and more a mixture of genetic and cultural).

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          • brad says:

            The designation hispanic (or latino/a) in the US is a total mess.

            The undisputed core of the notion is a mestizo of Mexican decent — think (or google) George Lopez. Similar shaded Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Hondurans, & El Salvadorians are also comfortably within the core.

            Beyond that you get into problems. People from Spain are problematic. Italians, Germans and Japanese whose parents or grandparents settled in South America but who are now in the US are problematic. Brazillians are problematic. Portuguese are doubly problematic. English speaking Belizians are problematic. Latin Americans with significant African ancestry, particularly from the islands, are problematic — doubly so when they speak English or French. Bolivians descended wholly from indigenous populations whose first language is Quechua are problematic (note that American English has no racial/ethnic term for indigenous populations of other countries in the Western Hemisphere).

            Which is not to say that no one can give you an answer to the above questions, there are various rules sometimes literally in the case of government programs, but there’s no wide cultural consensus.

            Between the Hispanic problem, the tortured definition of black and white and the non-existence of common racial terms for so many people, I always have to laugh when people push back against the notion that race and ethnicity are socially constructed. There may be a notion of race that isn’t hopelessly arbitrary, contradictory, and fuzzy but it isn’t the one that people actually use.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @brad
            “I always have to laugh when people push back against the notion that race and ethnicity are socially constructed.”

            An experiment you could use to test this hypothesis: acquire photos of some number of couples with children. Ask some number of people what race they would classify each of the parents as; throw away the couples who do not get an overwhelming majority of classifications as the same race. Then for the remaining couples, ask the people what race they would classify their children as. If people almost universally classify children as the same race as their parents – as I think it is enormously likely they would – that is evidence that race is determined by genes rather than by society.

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          • Randy M says:

            Race is as culturally constructed as color (of light or pigments). Certainly based off of an underlying objective reality, but seperated into precise groups with difficulty at the margins due to the blurriness of the boundaries along the spectrum. People disagreeing with what to call the result of mixing two parts yellow and one part blue doesn’t change the fact that plants respond differently to light of that shade.

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          • brad says:

            @Anonymous
            I don’t think that experiment would do what you think it would.

            I’d expect you’d have to throw out a great number of pictures — there are plenty of “races” for which American English doesn’t even have a common term. Also, your experimental design doesn’t even seem to contemplate couples where people agree on both the race of the father and the race of the mother but they aren’t the same. So you’d be selecting those exact cases which work best for your hypothesis and throwing out all those which are problematic.

            If race is all about genetics that how come someone with 10% recent(ish) African ancestry and 100% recent African ancestry are in the same race? If I’m looking for the genetic contribution of “African genes” to some phenotype characteristic shouldn’t I be discounting the first person considerably?

            As I said there may be some coherent notion of genetic sub-populations (though I wonder how useful a concept it is now that geographical isolation is falling apart) but it doesn’t match up to how we use the words race or ethnicity in America. Those are predominately social constructs. I’d guess that at least some actual scientists in peer reviewed work are careful in their definition, but their enthusiastic lay audience certainly isn’t.

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          • Nornagest says:

            note that American English has no racial/ethnic term for indigenous populations of other countries in the Western Hemisphere

            “Indian” is the usual word for that. If you use it in the US people’s first assumptions will either be someone from India or a descendant of those peoples indigenous to the US or Canada, like the Navajo or Cheyenne, but no one will bat an eye if it refers to an Amazonian tribesman in context, either.

            There isn’t an equivalent of “Native American” (if you’re American) or “First Nations” (if you’re Canadian or want to signal PC) that applies to those groups, though. Specific ethnic or linguistic descriptors (like “Maya people” or “Chibchan-speaking peoples”) are usually preferred in those contexts.

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          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:
            There was a phenomenal picture I saw in Discover magazine many years ago that had, I want to say, something 144 headshots of people from around the globe. When you viewed it as a whole,letting your eyes scan across the different faces, it made really, really clear that there aren’t any sharp dividing lines. It is very much a continuum.

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          • Tibor says:

            It is a nuisance for me that English (I do not think the distinction American is necessary) has the same word for Amerindians and Indians from India (actually I kind of like the word Amerindians although I generally do not like portmonteaus and I don’t think Amerinidian is a very common word in English) . At least in Czech and German there are two words, albeit similar, one of which means Amerindians and the other Indians (Indiáni vs. Indové in Czech and Indianer vs. Inder in German).

            As for race – I think that while it is definitely not a clear binary concept such as male/female or dog/cat, that does not mean it is entirely arbitrary (cultural, social,…) either. There are many things that happen on a spectrum and it is not clear where one ends and the other begins but that does not mean all those concepts are devoid of actual meaning.

            I do agree that the word race (and racist) is often misused and used for whatever ranging from nationality (although in the past, the word race was also sometimes used synonymously with nation, especially in Europe) to political opinions (as discussed in the article above).

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          • @Tibor:

            1. I think the more usual term is “Amerind” rather than “Amerindian”

            2. Male/female isn’t perfectly binary either. There are people who are genetically XXY (the most common odd version) or something else other than XX or XY. There are people who are phenotypically one gender, genotypically the other. There are hermaphrodites (aka “intersex.”) There are people who are biologically one gender but claim, very possibly correctly, to be psychologically the other.

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          • Douglas Knight says:
          • Noumenon72 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I’m sure you could produce a similar picture by selecting men and women.

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          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            At this point, it depends on how nicely you fit in to the current media narrative. If you back up the narrative, you are a full-fledged Hispanic. If you don’t, you’re binned as a “white hispanic” or some similar neologism.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            “Hispanic,” as used in political journalism, means people whose ancestors spoke Spanish in the relatively recent past and who are largely Democratic voters although they are allowed to be devout Catholics even if that messes up their voting preferences.

            The term “white Hispanic” is subtle signalling which translates to “Not really Hispanic at all but if we say that people will laugh at us.”

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          • Careless says:

            “there are plenty of “races” for which American English doesn’t even have a common term. ”

            Plenty of “races” that are common enough in the US that they’d be captured by such an experiment? There are just not that many Melanesians around here.

            Or you might want to say that my wife’s partial aboriginal Taiwanese ancestry would mark her as another race, but either way she’s getting listed as “Asian”

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          • Anonymous says:

            @brad

            Yes, I intentionally specified that mixed race couples would be disregarded. I don’t think that weakens the experiment. If you have 100 couples each considered to be of the same race as one another, and for 99% of them their children are classified as the same race as their parents, that seems to me to be strong evidence that race is determined by genes. If you included mixed race couples it would indeed make things more complicated. However you could perform a different experiment in which you were testing to see if the children were classified as either one of the parents’ races. I doubt very many children of one black and one white parent would be classified as Asian.

            I think the analogy to color that someone else mentioned is very useful. Race, like color, is a set of vague ambiguous terms referring to a real concept – either genes or wavelengths of light. That the terms are ambiguous doesn’t mean that the concept they imperfectly describe is a social construct, any more than peoples’ inability to agree whether one shade of blue-green is blue or green means that color is a social construct.

            You could even do the same experiment for color. Get some number of tins of paint. Get some number of people to classify their colors. Combine pairs of tins that are mostly classified as the same color. See whether the combined colors are or are not classified as the same as the ‘parent’ colors. Again I think it is enormously likely that virtually all colors made from two shades of blue will also be seen as blue, all colors made from two shades of red will also be seen as red, and so on.

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      • Mike says:

        From the few immigrant friends I know and talk with on the issue — few people are as unhappy about illegal immigrants as people who spent years fighting their way through the legal way of doing it.

        And that doesn’t include the hispanic people who have been here for generations, and hold the standard “now we’re in they should shut the gates” view that is so common in our history.

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        • Gbdub says:

          I agree. This should be particularly true among Hispanics who already identify as Republican. Trump’s “racism” is more of the “they’re gonna take our jobs / welfare!” type than general “brown people suck”.

          So if you’re legally immigrated or US born Hispanic or black, and predisposed to other Republican ideals (law and order, self reliance) you probably like Trump’s rhetoric, which from that perspective is less racist and more economic isolationist.

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      • hlynkacg says:

        Another question is are we talking about Hispanics as in people of Latin-American decent or Hispanics as a proxy for recent immigrants?

        I can see Trumps popularity among 2nd and 3rd+ gen. American citizens being quite high while still being low amongst immigrants.

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    • Trevor says:

      Did you hear that Grey is finally putting his voting knowledge to good use?

      http://www.hellointernet.fm/podcast/the-shortlist
      http://www.hellointernet.fm/flagvote

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    • Alsadius says:

      While I haven’t been following the Trump campaign closely, my impression is that he’s specifically ragging on *illegal immigrants*, not Hispanics in general. All the Hispanic voters are, by definition, legal immigrants. Nobody hates a queue-jumper more than the ones who stood in line for twenty or thirty years honestly, especially when the response to their actions makes life hard for the honest ones.

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      • Outis says:

        Some immigrants feel that way, but for many Mexicans, other factors are at play. A significant number probably has relatives or friends who are illegal immigrants, or who are interested in immigrating one way or another. Some even seem to feel that they are taking over “el Norte”. All of these are reasons for opposing any sort of limitation on immigration.

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        • Gbdub says:

          Not all Hispanics are Mexican. The ones who aren’t tend to resent the implication that they are, and this may also factor in Trump’s popularity among Republican Hispanics.

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      • brad says:

        There’s a whole lot of gray immigration going on. That is people that didn’t follow all of the rules but were able to sort it out. For example, someone that came in on tourist visa, overstayed but ends up marrying a US citizen and can adjust status in the US. Or the college student who qualified for an F-1 visa only because he swore up and down that he didn’t have an intent to immigrate (certain visas allow dual intent, but that’s not one of them) but as soon as his senior year rolled around the first thing he did was start looking for a full time job in the US. And so forth and so on.

        As for twenty to thirty years, there’s very few people waiting that long. The only category I can think of is Filipino brothers and sisters of US citizens (the quota is back in 1993!)

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      • Chris Conner says:

        All the Hispanic voters are, by definition, legal immigrants.

        No, most Hispanic Americans were born in the United States. See here. Scroll down to the question “How many Hispanics in the United States are immigrants?” The answer, in part, is “Of the 54 million people in 2013 who identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino origin, 35 percent (19 million) were immigrants.”

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        • hlynkacg says:

          Note that site’s numbers are taken from the US Census which only counts citizens and legal residents.

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          • Emily says:

            They only count residents (like, you’re not counted if you’re here on vacation), but they certainly do not distinguish between legal and illegal status in terms of who they try to survey. Whether they do a good job of finding people who are illegally is another matter.

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          • Chris Conner says:

            Note the “Definitions” section near the top:

            “Foreign born” and “immigrant” are used interchangeably and refer to persons with no U.S. citizenship at birth. This population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, persons on certain temporary visas, and the unauthorized.

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  4. Case says:

    Hah, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought the Berniebros article was literally the worst thing I’ve ever read, or at least the worst thing not posted on Salon.

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    • Graeme Sutton says:

      IDK, did you see the national review article that called Sanders a Nazi?

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      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        This article?

        Sure, it’s full of the usual over-the-top claims that the victory of the wrong candidate would be the end of the world. And it uses just about every one of Scott’s “Arguments from My Opponent Believes Something”.

        But it’s not totally wrong, either. Sanders is a “national socialist”, in the take-the-term-literally, semi-trolling sense.

        Obviously, the article is being provocative with its choice of words. The most salient thing people associate with “national socialism” is: invading Poland, killing the Jews. And so the reader looks at the headline; thinks “But Sanders is Jewish! He doesn’t want to invade Poland or kill the Jews”; then generates pageclicks when he wants to see what this is all about. (This is pretty much the same reason that Ayn Rand wrote a book called “The Virtue of Selfishness”, which sold a lot of copies, instead of a book called “You Should Do What Will Ultimately Give You the Happiest, Most Fulfilling Life”, which probably would have sold substantially fewer.)

        The actual thesis of the article is to point out that Sanders combines an appeal to economic solidarity and redistribution “in one country” with populist, anti-globalist nationalism. The gist of it is: “We need to stop these corporate elites from sending red-blooded American jobs to foreign countries, where the fatcats can exploit coolies to undercut American wages! We’ll take the money from the fatcats, use it to make sure every American has a good standard of living, and we’ll make sure we don’t have let too many Mexicans in as unfair competition.”

        That is national(istic) socialism. It says we ought to have socialism (at least in the attenuated sense in which Sanders identifies as socialist), but among our kind only. The nation comes first. It’s unfortunate that people are poor in Bangladesh, but we’re hardly going to sit back and let the rich get richer by exporting jobs there. And we’re not going to let the Bangladeshis come here, either, because it would either be too expensive to support them or undermine our national solidarity with the huge inequality.

        Sanders notoriously attacked open borders as a “Koch brothers idea” which would undermine the welfare state and the idea of America as a big club which looks after its members (which, I suppose, it would).

        If you say that this kind of fusion of socialist and nationalist rhetoric has long been common on the “left”, that’s true. The Trotskyites were not wrong to note that, at the end of the day, “socialism in one country” differs little from fascism.

        The article itself compares Sanders to Hugo Chavez (and, by extension, other Latin American populist “national socialists”). I don’t think that’s completely wild and crazy, though the suggestion that Sanders’ election would immediately transform us into Venezuela would be.

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        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          Nationalism and socialism can only be combined so far, but they always have a breaking point: Whereas nationalism preaches the doctrine of an united nation competing with other nations regardless of class differences, socialism is based on differences and contradictions inside of that nation. These can be succcesfully combined in some cases (anti-colonial movements, for instance, could condemn the local bourgeoisie, or sections of it, both for being exploitative in the traditional sense of class conflict and for being too chummy with the foreign colonial masters), but generally, there’s a break at some point.

          With the Nazis, when the push came to shove, the chose nationalism and shoved socialism aside (quite violently, in case of Gregor Strasser etc.), allied with the German capitalists and conducted their policy in a way that favored them; there’s currently no sign that Sanders is planning to do the same (unless you want to believe the more doctrinaire Marxist-Leninists and anarchists, of course).

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          • Tibor says:

            I don’t think that Nazis supported capitalism in any way. Hitler even made it clear in one of his speeches that he is an anti-capitalist. Now, they did align with capitalists (in the sense of big business owners), or rather forced the capitalists to align with them, but the resulting regime was closer to socialism (i.e. government directed and centralized production) than to capitalism (everyone running their business free of state intervention). Actually, the proper term is fascism I think, except that the term is often misused and mistaken for “radically socially conservative” or some such. I see the difference between socialism and fascism as the same as between absolutist monarchy and feudal monarchy – in one system a single entity controls everything directly, in the other the control is done by keeping those smaller lords in line. Both have advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of the ruler but both are equally abysmal for the people. Also, I guess that today’s China is something between a fascist and a capitalist system, it probably depends a lot on which economic zone of China you are in.

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    • E. Harding says:

      I thought the article was pretty clever. I’ve read orders of magnitude worse in the past week alone.

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  5. Ezra says:

    Minor spelling error: While I don’really expect any fireworks to fly, it’s a risky situation and makes this an interesting time to be watching politics.

    don’really

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  6. Toggle says:

    As an insult, ‘white’ has some circumstantial nuance.

    As you say, it can mean ‘Red Tribe’ and therefore imply ignorance, religiosity, warmongering, and patriotism. But when the context shifts, the meaning can change; think Stuff White People Like, or Piper from “Orange is the New Black”. Basically, when it’s pointed at a person already established as a Blue Tribe member, it begins to mean something more like “sheltered, rich, probably getting a graduate degree in English Literature or something.”

    Like any excuse to point and laugh at someone, it sticks a little better if the description is already ‘accurate’ in the public imagination- if you’re targeting a group that is popularly assumed to be privileged and naive (preferably, a naiveté that follows from the shelter of a strong economic shield). Nerds, polyamorists, atheists, even the bird watchers got hit with this a while back. Sanders, contra the ‘white’ label, is an underdog and kinda scrappy. And when it’s pointed at a Blue Tribe member, being scrappy is evidence that you’re not white (in the perjorative sense of the word).

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    • Outis says:

      Very interesting observation. I wonder if it aligns with the divide within Democrats that Scott mentioned.
      Certainly, “white” as a pejorative agains Blues is never used by Reds, but by other Blues. And my impression is that it is used by SJs and nonwhites against educated professionals and whites.

      (We are going to need better names for the two subtribes, btw; I’ll try “Periwinkle” for the SJs and nonwhites and “Cyan” for the professionals and whites.)

      On the other hand, “white” as a pejorative against Reds is certainly widely used by Cyans. I’m not sure if they use it more than Periwinkles do, though.

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      • Deiseach says:

        I think there’s a difference between “White” and “white”, though; “White” is often used (certainly in the SJ sense) of “check your privilege” – educated, though mostly meaning Male Cis Straight White Christian (probably) Rich (and also probably) Republican. It’s “White” as in “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” being the ruling class.

        White is structural privilege when talking about racism or class (poor Whites don’t count, because even though their poverty makes them “white” not “White”, they’re probably also male and/or Christian which gives them privilege points, though this can be ameliorated somewhat if they’re Democrats, rather than the source of all evil which is Republican).

        And personally I find it very confusing, especially with US racial categories (which are not the same as other places classify race/ethnicity) because I would (for example) count Hispanic/Iberian as white, North African/Egyptian as white (whites are Caucasians, though not all Caucasians are White), Semitic peoples as white, etc. That’s why I saw a young person on Tumblr, who was about as milk-skinned and blue-eyed in complexion as I am, going by the plethora of selfies they posed for, arguing that they weren’t white because they were Jewish. Obviously, they meant they weren’t White (person in position of perceived if not actual authority or power because of particular historical circumstances giving authority and power to that ethnicity/nationality/religion/gender/sexual orientation) rather than white.

        So Bernie Sanders’ supporters would be White (college-educated, upper-middle class or the arty boho types, the bien-pensants, you know- the nice people who have the right opinions on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) but not white (poor, probably small-town/rural, anti-science and pro-religion, the ‘bitter clingers’).

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        • Mike says:

          This always amuses me, because the “White anglo-saxon ruling class” is now predominantly Blue tribe, while the unwashed masses of the “white” Red Tribe are largely of German and Scots-Irish descent.

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          • brad says:

            Out of 15 Cabinet secretaries it looks like 2 are WASPs in the traditional sense, plus one woman that’s English (was born in England). There are no WASPs on the Supreme Court. Boehner is Catholic, Paul Ryan is Catholic, Pelosi is Catholic, McConnell is Scotch-Irish (I think), Reid is Mormon.

            It’s not much of a ruling class.

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    • Tibor says:

      Something that happened to me recently made me think about this a little. I was sitting with a couple of people, one if which had this card game called “cards against humanity” which I never played before so we tried it. The principle of the game is that you draw some cards with short sentences on it that you try to match to another card (which everyone can see and which contains a start of what you then try to make a joke of with your cards) in an anonymous way and each round one player judges how funny the matches of others are – if yours is picked, you get a point (and since it is anonymous, you can’t just choose whoever you want to get the point). It turns out that the game is not really very funny (mad libs generate much funnier sentences), but that is beside the point. At one point a card was drawn saying “White people like ____”. And the responses (of course you are limited to the cards you have on hand, but still) were “300 years of colonial atrocities”, “serfdom” and one more which I forgot. Actually, I put the colonialism there (I though it was stupid but at the same time as somehow “fitting”…and I did not have better cards 🙂 ). The interesting thing about it is that “white” (without context) is nowadays associated with guilt or bad things whereas “black” is sort of untouchable (which I think is also bad even for blacks…it is still a form of a dehumanization in my opinion). At the same time, pretty much nobody means “Europeans or people of European descent” by these “white people”.

      A slightly similar pattern – I was at a concert of an aboriginese band, sort of reggae/dancehall with didgeridoos, who had one song with lyrics something like “standing strong in my culture, keeping the traditions alive” (I think it was literally this, but it was a while back). Now, first I was a bit amused that a band which uses didgeridoos to support a partly electronic music coming from a different quartersphere (northern AND western hemisphere 🙂 ) is not doing the traditions much justice. Then I thought what it would be like if you had the exact same lyrics but replace the Aborigines and reggae with Europeans and hard rock…You would get a band most people would probably consider neonazi or bordering on that…definitely most people who would cheer for the Aboriginese 🙂

      The question is why that is the case. On one hand, the answer is that “educated people” consider nationalism as something bad and therefore people who look nationalist as either stupid or evil. But why does this only apply to white people? A very uncharitable answer might be that blacks and other minorities in white-majority countries are seen more like “children” who need to be taken care of and nurtured than full members of the society – and perhaps this sentiment is even stronger on the left (whereas on the right they would be seen as “troublemakers”). Still, this cannot be the full story, because I think people would not react as favourably to east Asians looking nationalistic. So maybe this only works for those minorities that are statistically worse off than the majority (which east Asians do not tend to be).

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      • anodognosic says:

        I suspect we just have a taboo against the already-most-powerful-demographic coalescing into a strong political identity.

        ( I happen to think it’s fairly justified.)

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        • Tibor says:

          Ok, but what about the East Asians then? Or was I wrong with my assumption about how people would react to “Chinese power”? 🙂

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          • Loquat says:

            “Chinese power” in some American Chinatown? Perfectly fine, yay for minorities organizing against the white oppressor.

            “Chinese power” in Beijing, particularly if it’s specifically Han Chinese, the dominant ethnicity in China? Scary nationalism with a side of oppression against China’s 55 officially recognized and many more un-officially-recognized ethnic minority groups.

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          • Tibor says:

            Loquat: This is how you feel or this is how you expect the people in general to feel? If it’s the latter case, why do you think so?

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          • Luke Somers says:

            FWIW, that’s how I’d read it too. It’s about not letting people justify oppression.

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      • Deiseach says:

        Now, first I was a bit amused that a band which uses didgeridoos to support a partly electronic music coming from a different quartersphere (northern AND western hemisphere 🙂 ) is not doing the traditions much justice

        Ah, the question of how to keep the tradition alive and relevant, rather than mummifying it or fossilising it, is a vexed one in most cultures 🙂

        The Pogues had a lovely riposte to Noel Hill’s criticism of them; they wrote a cod-trad tune in his honour.

        Partly why I can’t stand most modern English folk music: too much like whiny faux-Billy Bragg. Though I am probably prejudiced, but if I hear one more goddamn song with a guy with a Carefully Cultivated Regional Accent being all guitar-singer songwriter about the closed up mining tradition or fisheries or what have you, I will do damage. Even Kate Rusby, who has a good voice, irritates me with certain of her song selections. Leave the electioneering and politics out of it, or at least not in such a heavy-handed fashion!

        I mean, I’m broadly sympathetic to the small-scale and rural being crushed by the juggernaut of industrial capitalist progress, but the kind of self-pitying whinge that gets produced is very annoying to me. It’s the musical wing of the Occupy movement, though it predates and has probably survived it, and I don’t think Occupy does much more than signalling for student activists how rad they are (before they all graduate and go to find good jobs) plus a few hard-core crusties who will never give up the struggle against The Man.

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        • tcd says:

          Back in college when I was playing soccer/football our coach was a tiny English man (and sad, sad lifelong Tottenham fan). Every season he would approach the captains and have them select the warm-up music for the coming season, but he would never let them choose the halftime/post-match music. During halftime and after the match it was non-stop Billy Bragg. I always believed it was some cheeky attempt at psychological warfare.

          Curious for your opinion on Dick Gaughan since he has ascended to prominence on one of my Pandora stations. There is a raw anger in his voice (which to me seems authentic) that I only stumble across very rarely.

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        • Tibor says:

          Well, a lot of good music is spoiled by politics for me. Take Rage Against the Machine for example. Their music is great, the timing is irreproducible, it is full of energy. But the lyrics are just a horrible communist bullshit that even keeps contradicting itself sometimes (one song about how the capitalists are the evil warmongers and violence is bad, another song about how it is type to smash the fucking establishment 🙂 ). I have similar albeit less acute (it is harder to understand sometimes 🙂 ) problems with Asian Dub Foundation. By the way, I had no problems with the guys using didgeridoos like that. But it is not very traditional imo, so it is a bit funny to accompany it with such lyrics.

          As for modern European folk songs, they just tend to be whiny whatever the lyrics are about 🙂 But it is true that politics sometimes adds awkward to the whiny, especially when the musician is trying to be “insightful”.

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          • Careless says:

            The RATM singer sings like he wants people to hunt him down and punch him in the face.

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          • Marc Whipple says:

            A friend of mine once told me she thought I would like Atreyu. I got one of their CD’s at a used music store (this was then) and listened to it.

            When she asked me how I liked it, I said, “There were some awesome instrumentals and then this drunk guy with Tourette’s started screaming and I had to turn it off.”

            I feel much the same way about RATM. I want to like it, and I do, if I don’t listen to the singing.

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          • Careless says:

            Hey Whipple, we should hang out

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      • DavidS says:

        Eh. If you had a (white) band playing folk or country or whatever talking about keeping traditions alive, not sure anyone would take it as racist or anything like that. But a free-floating reference to ‘standing strong in your culture’ or similar celebrations are obviously different depending on whether what you’re celebrating is in a dominant position or not. Gay Pride marches would have very different overtones in a culture where most people were gay and straight people got beaten up for being straight, for instance.

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        • hlynkacg says:

          It’s called “Country” and it’s accused of being racist all the time.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Eh. If you had a (white) band playing folk or country or whatever talking about keeping traditions alive, not sure anyone would take it as racist or anything like that.

          Counterexample:

          Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton
          Old times there are not forgotten
          Look away, look away…

          Okay, so there’s a lot of baggage around “Dixie”, but you take my meaning.

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          • DavidS says:

            Yeah, there’s specific baggage about white people in the South talking about the good old days. That is neither surprising nor inconsistent. We also react sceptically to Russians talking about the good old days.

            Whereas folk music in most countries does not have this, specific, baggage and therefore isn’t seen in that light.

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          • Brian Donohue says:

            I just heard Joan Baez singing ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” on the radio. The baggage seems to have only been acquired recently.

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          • keranih says:

            Whereas folk music in most countries does not have this, specific, baggage and therefore isn’t seen in that light.

            Does that say more about the South, or about the people looking?

            (I’d suggest that oh heck yes a lot of the music (and tales) of the ‘low folk’ have baggage that is ignored until the baggage is forgotten. Check out Janet Yolen’s take on Rumplestiltskin, for example.)

            Baez’s take on ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ is an interesting one, given the (fairly subtle) shift of the speaker from being a farmer to a ‘working man’. When the song was released/written by The Band, there was not a widespread sympathy for ‘white Southerners’ particularly amongst the activist young who made up a lot of the audience. There’s a quite indepth page on the song here.

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        • Tibor says:

          Well one thing is to say “so we have this flamenco band because we want to preserve our Andalusian culture and traditions” and a different is to heavy handedly put it into the lyrics of your song and actually spell it out like that. I don’t mean I was offended or anything but I imagine a lot of people would be if you replaced the setting the way I described.

          Then I also remember this one black african singer (it was at the same music festival as the aborigine band) who would say between the songs how black women are so beautiful and how no white women are even close (then also something about how the global capitalism is a problem, but, well, anyway). Now if this was done by someone white (regardless of the audience I guess…um, except for skinheads) that would be met with a lot of booing from the audience (and rightly so, because it is just stupid). This (mostly white) people applauded to (granted that audiences at concerts applaud to more or less anything, but still).

          The thing with the gay pride is a good point though.

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      • Toggle says:

        So, on Facebook, in order to avoid getting caught up in the latest two-minutes-hate of mutually shared outrage, I use a heuristic: suppose that, as the [lion hunting / mosque building / non marriage licensing] action takes place, ten million babbling disembodied heads suddenly appear, floating in the air. Some of the heads appear confused, some are saying surprisingly nasty things; all of them are screaming. Is the event improved by this situation? If not, I don’t post about it on Facebook. I have this sense of the audience as a moral actor in the situations that it observes. Sometimes, like when a bill is being debated in congress, the weight of that audience is appropriate, and the ten million screaming heads are an expected part of the process. But when it’s, say, a clerk in Kentucky, the weight of being a national social-media event actually distorts the situation and makes it much more perilous for everyone involved.

        Now, apply that theory of ‘audience jurisdiction’ to racial identity in a situation where Malay folks outnumber the Han Chinese ten to one. Here, Chinese myths and stories about Malay folks are mostly diffuse, and really strong social impact is mostly felt in heterogeneous Han enclaves. But when Malaysians have an opinion about the Han, then the weight of those shared beliefs is going to land on the Chinese faction like a load of bricks. Those opinions are going to color everyday experiences, and quite possibly legislation. If shared Han stories present the Malaysians as villains, such that one out of every ten Chinese is inspired to go out and murder a Malaysian, then 1% of Malaysians are killed. If shared Malaysians do the same thing, the Han all die. And so the obligations that Malaysians and Chinese people have, as observers of their society, are different. This difference is particularly but not exclusively manifest in ‘racial nationalism’.

        At least, I think that would pass an ideological turing test for social justice. I definitely think we can believe SJ types when they say that their primary goal is the alleviation of institutionalized suffering, rather than ‘equality of action’ or egalitarianism per se.

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        • Orphan Wilde says:

          >If shared Han stories present the Malaysians as villains, such that one out of every ten Chinese is inspired to go out and murder a Malaysian, then 1% of Malaysians are killed. If shared Malaysians do the same thing, the Han all die.

          Multiply the populations of both groups by ten, and set this aside as a second scenario. Is the death of all Han in the first (your) scenario worse than the deaths of the same number of Malaysians in the second (my) scenario?

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          • Toggle says:

            Certainly the death of all Han would be more destructive, for the same reason that a species extinction is more destructive- the culture of the Han is irreplaceable without at least some moderate seed population. If you assume that a Han life and a Malay life are commensurable, then the death of a culture is still only present in one of the two scenarios.

            “Worse”, being a bit more subjective, is going to depend on your assessment of the Han Chinese way of life and whether civilization is better off with that culture contributing to it. But technically, that’s true of the Han and Malaysians as individuals as well.

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      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        “It turns out that the game is not really very funny (mad libs generate much funnier sentences), but that is beside the point.”

        Cards Against Humanity is funny because it lets Blues blow of steam by forming offensive statements in a controlled environment. No one’s going to get punished if they fill in the blank to “Life for Native Americans was never the same after whites exposed them to…” with “The unstoppable tide of Islam” instead of something Blue-safe like “Smallpox blankets”. The worst that’ll happen is that the active player won’t find your un-PC joke (or incest joke or whatever) particularly funny, which makes reading the players key to winning.

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      • With the thoughts you'd be thinkin says:

        I wonder what the reaction would be to Black Africans singing “Shoot the Boer” a song sung during resistance to apartheid, that talks about killing the Boers, either South African whites or farmers. As white farmers in South Africa have such a high rate of being murdered that it has been described as beginings of a genocide, you can understand why it’s controversial.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Like any excuse to point and laugh at someone, it sticks a little better if the description is already ‘accurate’ in the public imagination- if you’re targeting a group that is popularly assumed to be privileged and naive (preferably, a naiveté that follows from the shelter of a strong economic shield).”

      I find it interesting that there are certain traits seen as disadvantageous that it is absolutely forbidden to laugh about, while others – such as being unattractive or unintelligent – are fair game. It seems to me that calling someone ugly and stupid ought to imply they are less privileged, not more. But apparently you assess privilege from one handful of characteristics, then laugh at the privileged by claiming they possess the less-preferable versions of a different set of characteristics. To put it another way, a world in which straight white guys are ugly and stupid seems more socially just, less problematic, than a world in which straight white guys are also smart and good-looking. I would’ve thought someone arguing that we need more social justice would want to claim the latter is the case, not the former.

      Perhaps there is a parallel universe in which the group considered all-powerful oppressors are Intelligent Attractive people (the lowest difficulty setting there is!), who are mocked with insults along the lines of “ha ha, you’re of a race that confers disadvantages!” by their equivalent of Jezebel.

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      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        @ Anonymous:

        I think it’s just a matter of inconsistency and the good old human tendency to moralize certain unchosen traits.

        In every form of artistic expression, we associate ugliness with evil. The Dark Side makes you yellow and wrinkly. The man with the scar down his face is a villain. On the other hand, being good and pure makes you beautiful. (There are constant exceptions, but they “prove the rule” by standing out to us: Quasimoto, the charming killer, the evil seductress—who turns good nine times out of ten, while the ugly harpy never does.)

        If your political enemies are ugly, that’s just the outward evidence of the corruption in their souls.

        The same goes for intelligence. For some odd reason, we tend to view this as something you morally deserve (probably because we conflate it with hard work and knowledge). It’s supposedly “just” (and not only practically useful) for the smartest people to be on top of the heap: “meritocracy”.

        So again, if your opponents are stupid, that is just more evidence of the fact that they are evil.

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        • Anonymous says:

          ” The Dark Side makes you yellow and wrinkly. The man with the scar down his face is a villain. On the other hand, being good and pure makes you beautiful. ”

          This also matches up well to racism as well as anti-ugly sentiment (ugliphobia?), but the social acceptability of that one has very much been quelled.

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          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            It looks like feminism is trying to dictate “all (female) bodies are beautiful” through the standard propaganda channels. Surprising no one, the same activists actively body-shame men.

            As far as ugliphobia’s application to racism, I have seen the argument that women have more neoteny than men, the races are more neotenous in the order Africans -> Caucasians -> Asians, ergo men are predisposed by evolution to find Asian women most and African women least beautiful. But at least black men get to be handsome in this racist argument.

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          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Anonymous:

            Yes, I think racism is a good example of the same phenomenon.

            Observe that (archetypical) racists think certain groups are naturally inferior in mental capacity / prone to violence and savagery, and at the same time, they hate these groups and consider them evil.

            These two things are in tension with one another, at least on standard views of what makes something morally blameworthy.

            If certain races are naturally violent and savage, being unable to help it, it doesn’t make sense to blame and hate them. You may regard them as mad dogs that must be exterminated, but we don’t hate mad dogs.

            But most of the time, people are perfectly capable of doublethink in this regard. “Why did the Nazis murder people? Because they were intrinsically evil.” It doesn’t occur to most people that you could then hardly blame the Nazis for acting according to their nature.

            Of course, there are some exceptions to this. Martin Luther initially felt positively toward the Jews, confident that his reforms to Christianity would convince them to convert. When they didn’t, he became hostile and wrote long rants against them—but at least in theory he was willing to embrace a Jew who repented his “evil” ways.

            The Nazis were, in many ways, the opposite. They sometimes demonized their enemies, as can be expected, but they also tended to bill their mass murders as a sort of public health campaign to clean up society. They also fully embraced the idea that morality is race-relative. So a Aryan acting to kill Jews and a Jew acting to resist can both be acting rightly according to their respective moralities. Of course, the Aryan will be wrong according to Jewish morality, and the Jew will be wrong according to Aryan morality—but there is no reason that any person ought to act by another race’s morality.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Le Maistre Chat, Vox Imperatoris

            I meant more with regards to ‘the Dark Side’ being evil, ‘purity’ being good. I don’t think I’m just imagining the racist connotations there.

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          • Cauê says:

            These associations have existed in European languages for a very long time, since before it would make sense to expect racism to be a factor. It also doesn’t seem mysterious. I see no reason to think there’s a racist component there, despite this being brought up with some frequency.

            I’ve always been curious to ask someone familiar with non-European languages. I expect that darkness/fear/badness is something that would show up a lot, and purity/good looks just obvious. But darkness/fear/badness/color black and purity/good/color white would be more interesting.

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          • Airgap says:

            @Vox: I don’t know about *archetypal* racists, but actual racists don’t think that way, precisely because of the tension. For example, your typical white supremacist thinks of blacks as stupid and violent and a bad thing to have around, but not exactly evil; sort of like raccoons or urban foxes or something. On the other hand, he sees jews as crafty, consciously dangerous, and thus evil.

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        • Anonymous says:

          This all could be the result of a genetic load-perceiving heuristic. Genetic load hits randomly, so if you’ve got an individual with perceptibly high levels of it (like say, being very ugly), that person is more likely to have the load all over the place, not simply concentrated in the visible attributes.

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        • Ghatanathoah says:

          It’s supposedly “just” (and not only practically useful) for the smartest people to be on top of the heap: “meritocracy”.

          This isn’t my experience with artistic expression at all. Intellectualism tends to be more common among villains, not heroes. Villains are usually less likely to use slang and more likely to use big words. Heroic intellectual characters are usually subordinate to a less intellectual characters (Spock is first officer rather than captain, Harry Potter is the hero instead of Hermione Granger, Flash Gordon leads, not Zarkov). The “mad scientist” trope exists for a reason.

          Obviously there are exceptions, like Sherlock Holmes, the Doctor, and Reed Richards. But it seems more common for intelligent characters to be subordinate to, or opposed to, charismatic characters of a closer-to-ordinary level of intelligence.

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          • Jaskologist says:

            Mad scientists are just the modern version of evil wizards; they can threaten in a way that isn’t actually possible in real life. There’s no real difference between a laser or a spell that will destroy the world; we’re just waving away the boring details with “Science!” instead of “Magic!” in order to get to the good stuff.

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          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ Ghatanathoah:

            Of course, you’re right that there is also a tendency for people to be suspicious of intelligences greater than their own.

            However, I suppose I was really using “smart” more as a metonym for “natural talent”, which including charisma, athletic ability, etc.

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          • The original Mr. X says:

            True, but when people (or at least newspaper columnists; admittedly these might not be a representative sample) talk about how society and education ought to be done, the rightness of meritocracy is usually taken for granted, on both right and left.

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      • Loquat says:

        Straight white guys are generally considered to have a disproportionate amount of power and money. If they’re also on average smarter and better-looking than people who aren’t straight white guys, that would create the sneaking suspicion that they *deserve* their disproportionate amount of power and money. Whereas, if they’re on average ugly and stupid, that shows they don’t deserve the power and money they have, so we need to smash the system that gave it to them instead of to women and minorities.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I’m not sure I understand the logic by which being born white and straight, meaning (apparently) people like you more and are more willing to offer you jobs and give you power, makes you undeserving of that wealth and power, but being born intelligent and attractive, again meaning that people are more willing to offer you jobs and power, means you are totally deserving of them.

          Perhaps it is because people shouldn’t like you more and give you more money because of you being white, that even if that’s a demand that really exists and you’re getting money by satisfying it, it’s a wrong demand, so people ought not to want to pay money to get to interact with a white person, and white people ought not to gain from satisfying that demand. Whereas, the demand for intelligent and attractive people is acceptable, therefore someone who has that demand, and someone else who gains from satisfying it, are not doing anything wrong.

          If, on the other hand, it is something more like “you should not gain directly from employing people, you should strive to make the most money possible and then gain only afterwards by spending that money”, does this apply to employees as well as employers – is it wrong to take a job you prefer that pays less well, rather than one you enjoy less but pays more?

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    • Dain says:

      This idea that whiteness isn’t really a race, but instead describes the essence of an action, I’ve seen at work for some time. For example George Zimmerman is an honorary member of the white race because what HE DID was white. Get it?

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  7. And although Bill Clinton was pretty popular among nonwhites, I don’t see anything super-special about Hillary that would make her attractive to them.

    On the contrary, Hillary is about as close to Bill Clinton as one politician could be to another. It should be no surprise that people who support and admire Bill would also support Hillary.

    I think Bill (and therefore Hillary) is seen as a reliable ally to the black community. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders comes from an almost all-white state, and obviously has little experience with black audiences.

    We have seen this exact phenomenon before. In 1976, Jimmy Carter also had an advantage with black voters in primaries, while competing with more-liberal politicians from very unblack constituencies, like Mo Udall and Frank Church.

    (I know some see Carter as very liberal now, but back during the 1976 primaries, he was the most conservative Democrat running.)

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    • Saul Degraw says:

      Bernie Sanders comes from Brooklyn, which is not exactly the whitest place on earth. Though he has been based in Vermont since the early 1970s as much as he can’t escape his accent.*’

      *I like a lot of what Sanders says but I am also amused by the idea of a President who reminds you of a cranky, Jewish, socialist uncle.

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    • meyerkev248 says:

      So I’m going to play pure Devil’s Advocate here.

      In 1996, Black voters are 10% of the vote, slightly over 11% of the total population*, and Clinton wins them 84-12 (+4% voting Perot)
      In 2012, Black voters are 13% of the vote, slightly less than 12% of the population, and Obama wins them 93-6.

      If “Hillary == Bill” in terms of black turnout and black margin of victory, that’s a 2.5-3% loss in terms of the overall margin of victory.

      Since Obama only won by 4% in 2012, this is about half the gap the Republicans need to close in 2016 for more or less free. I wouldn’t exactly call that an issue of non-zero concern for the Democrats.

      * And if anyone has cross-tabs of “percentage of VOTING AGE population”, I will adore you forever. Given black/white fertility differences (minor, both near 2.0), I’m not sure it matters. If we were comparing whites and Hispanics, it would absolutely matter though.

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    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Carter is very liberal?

      The general impression I get of him is that he almost entirely ignored domestic affairs in favor of foreign affairs. He was the epitome of a dove on foreign affairs, and was (surprisingly, to many at the time) quite effective in that role. At home, however, congress basically ran things, and nobody was happy with the fact that he did little-to-nothing to stop their insane excesses.

      I don’t know if I’d characterize him as liberal, except if I were using the word as a codeword for “Ineffectual and weak.” (Which some people do, granted.)

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      • Nicholas says:

        According to the very first (so beware, but I’m headed out the door so there’s not much time) source on Carter’s domestic policy, Jimmy Carter succeeded on a bit more than half of his domestic policy goals in the face of a congress that hated him (he’d accused the Democratic leadership of corruption while vetoing Democratic bills that he said were not in the general best interest of the nation). Then Carter made the mistake of looking at the United Sates’ current issues at the time from a more global “how does the government currently work” sense instead of focusing on narrow policies, and basically said in a speech that the ongoing recession and energy crisis were caused by Civilizational Inadequacy, the same kind that Elizer and Hanson sometimes talk about. It turns out, people do not like to have the terms “Civilizational Inadequacy” explained to them in terms they understand. This lead to the widespread belief that Carter was a quitter who was blaming Americans for causing their own problems. His popularity evaporated after that and his early successes in policy did not translate to a more general prestige.

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      • Airgap says:

        PD-59 is now declassified, so you can judge for yourself how much of a dove Carter was. Personally, authorizing the use of nuclear weapons in conventional warfare doesn’t strike me as particularly dovish, but I’m old-fashioned that way.

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          Is a dove someone who finds all violence unacceptable, or someone who wishes to minimize violence?

          I wouldn’t be all that logically offended by someone who argued that we should use nuclear weapons in appropriate situations to minimize the overall amount of violence and claimed that it was a “dovish,” i.e. peace-loving, thing to do.

          You’re right that there aren’t many people who argue that and fewer still who’d call them doves, but I don’t think it’s illogical.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I guess I phrased that wrong – I meant “Bill Clinton is popular among minorities, but aside from her connection to Bill I don’t see what Hillary herself has done in that direction.”

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    • Liskantope says:

      A couple of semi-random ideas, related only to the phenomenon of Clinton doing better among minorities than Sanders, and (as usual) posted later than would be ideal.

      First of all, while the black population has been staunchly Democrat since, I suppose, the 1960’s, the general political views held by them have not been particularly radical or left-wing. In social matters, for example, I expect that black people in America have generally been more conservative (more Christian, certainly). I’m reminded of a radio interview of black church members which I heard sometime before the 2012 election, shortly after Obama had come out in favor of gay marriage. They were saying that due to Obama’s support of gay marriage, they might have to vote for Romney — it was sad, but they’d consider it. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has not been strongly associated with the tide turning in favor of gay rights (nor has she been at the forefront of other once-minority positions among Democrats, such as opposition to the Iraq war). In short, it’s not hard for me to imagine that the political position of the average black voter may well be more in line with a Christian “establishment Democrat” rather than a Jewish self-identifying socialist who isn’t afraid to sound radical.

      Secondly, as well as being associated in a very obvious way with “the first black president” Bill Clinton, Hillary is also more closely connected with the first actually black president than the other Democratic candidates are. Obama is essentially directly her boss. I think those who viewed the Democratic debate were made very conscious of this, especially when Clinton clearly didn’t feel comfortable specifying any way that she would be different from Obama (other than the fact that she’s a woman).

      As others have noted, rather ironic. (Note that Sanders was the only candidate in the Democratic debate who promptly gave the “black lives matter” answer.)

      Anyway, I think Scott’s idea of why both Clinton and Trump would be more popular among minorities is also sound.

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      • First of all, while the black population has been staunchly Democrat since, I suppose, the 1960’s

        Until 1932, approximately 100% of black voters were Republican.

        From 1932 to 1964, both parties were competitive among black voters.

        Since 1964, approximately 90% of black voters have been Democratic.

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  8. Trevor says:

    this bizarre situation of the guy most vocal about helping the least fortunate getting support from everyone except the least fortunate themselves

    Berkson’s Paradox, maybe?

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/how_not_to_be_wrong/2014/06/03/berkson_s_fallacy_why_are_handsome_men_such_jerks.html

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    • Berkson’s fallacy is one of the best simple ideas these days.

      It also explains why nerdiness is associated with intelligence, interest in difficult STEM etc. To be honest, the biggest dork in our high school class, the guy who wore the same shirt for the whole year and did not really looked like they are washing it, was stupid and had no interest in these. But if you are both dorky and stupid nobody even notices your existence. Nobody talked to him. Smart nerds exists as a stereotype precisely because you see someone who is terrible at clothes, grooming, social interaction, keeps gazing at his shoes etc. and you are just about to write him off and then he says something smart and you go wow, that is remarkable that this social loser is not such a complete loser after all. I know this, because I was that guy, for the high school girls I was made of glass, the skeletal shoegazer guy in the Cannibal Corpse t-shirt, what a complete social fashion fail, and when I occasionally said something witty or the teacher praised me they look a bit like wow, sort of did not expect you don’t completely suck after all. This was all Berkson’s fallacy.

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  9. Mil says:

    I don’t know where you’re getting that Clinton is the choice of social justice people…she’s considered the embodiment of white feminism. Ppl got mad at Sanders dfor blm but forgave him when he hired a blm organizer .

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    • Anonymous says:

      “I don’t know where you’re getting that Clinton is the choice of social justice people…she’s considered the embodiment of white feminism.”

      This is interesting. It seems doubtful to me that ‘white feminism’ applies to more than a handful of people. What does this group look like, exactly? From my impression, anyone explicitly calling themself a feminist these days is of the tumblr, SJW, intersectionality, affirmative consent etc. etc. type. Other people who don’t share the views of the aforementioned might consider themselves feminists on some level but I doubt they are likely to put it at the forefront of their identity. Others still might have been considered feminists decades ago, when feminism was pursuing goals that have since been achieved and pretty much accepted by everyone, but calling these people feminists today based on that would reduce the term to meaninglessness. (Related: my preferred response to the claim “if you think women should be able to vote, you’re a feminist!” is “if you think black people shouldn’t be slaves, you’re a Republican!”.)

      So to return to the original question, I am curious – who does ‘white feminism’ refer to, how many of these people are there, what do they believe?

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yeah, I think that’s the one part of the six-part spilt that doesn’t really line up. I still think she’s probably more social justice than Sanders, and I think that on the broader scale of things everyone except feminists themselves just thinks of “white feminism” as “feminism”, but I admit that it’s not a great match.

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    • TK-421 says:

      This has been my experience as well — within the set of SJ people I have been exposed to, at least, “Hillary” is basically a curse word. Fear and loathing. It feels like another of those paradoxical ingroup/outgroup reversals sometimes… a candidate like Trump gets sneers but less active hate, because it’s already understood that he’s on the Other Team, but someone like Clinton is treated as the boll weevil in the garden.

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      • Cauê says:

        Virtue signaling seems to fit. When everyone is maxed out on showing hate for Trump, that becomes “the baseline for being a decent human being, what, do you want a medal for that?”, and showing that you’re also better than Hillary and Bernie is the way to get points.

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      • houseboatonstyx says:

        I would like to hear from people outside the US, as to how much feminist support Thatcher and Golda Meir had. I wonder if there’s a pattern, however faint, where a thoroughly able woman who succeeds on her own, is no longer counted as a woman, at least not for feminist or anti-feminist purposes.

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        • Fazathra says:

          Pretty much all feminists here in the UK hate Thatcher, and they entirely ignore this inconsistency. When it’s brought up, they basically view her as a traitor who turned her back on feminism “after all it had done for her.”

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          • JBeshir says:

            To be fair, given the choice between them being consistent in the policies they support, and consistent in supporting everything done by a woman, the former is vastly preferable.

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      • E. Harding says:

        Same here. The SJWs and psychological Communists I’ve been exposed to are consistently pro-Sanders and are skeptical of Hillary.

        #BlackLivesMatterisnotaboutBlackpeople

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  10. Saul Degraw says:

    Considering no votes have been cast yet, I still have a hard time believing Trump will be President even though Jeb! is drowning and the other establishment candidates are not doing so great. Rubio might be the most establishment candidate to benefit from Trump.

    I think the best explanation I have seen for Trump is that he appeals to Middle American Radicals. MARS voters are white, not college educated and work in semi-skilled positions, sales, and low-level clerical work. They see the middle class as being attacked by the poor and the rich. The original research on MARS voters was done in the 1970s. They expressed the most hostility to the idea of doing something about racism and segregation but were also fond of the New Deal.

    I think there is a kind of right-winger who gets excited when politicians talk about ending affirmative action but are completely uninterested in talks over priviatizing social security or medicare. So a large chunk of the GOP economic platform does not interest them.

    Maybe Trump gets a fair amount of support from Hispanics and African-American Republicans but most of those voters have been turned off from the GOP completely.

    I am a Democratic voter and on the liberal side of the party. I like Sanders but he probably was never going to win the nomination. I think the GOP has moved so far to the right that they generally don’t recognize that the Democratic Party is still more centrist and not filled with the unreconstructed reincarnations of Lenin. Most Democratic Party supporters believe in Capitalism/profit motive. They just believe as HRC said in the debate that there is a balance and capitalism needs to be saved from itself from time to time. They also don’t think (correctly in my view) that there is a contradiction between the profit motive and the welfare state. I just and enjoy capitalism to give me craft beer galore and other consumer products. I don’t trust it to deliver healthcare to the masses. I don’t think the solution to the fiscal crisis and scandals of the past few years is more deregulation.

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    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      @ Saul Degraw:

      I think there is a kind of right-winger who gets excited when politicians talk about ending affirmative action but are completely uninterested in talks over priviatizing social security or medicare. So a large chunk of the GOP economic platform does not interest them.

      Right, and I think this is what the articles are getting at when they say Trump appeals to “white resentment”. He appeals to the kind of guy who doesn’t really give a shit about economic liberty or personal freedom; but rather just wants government handouts for Red Tribe members and Red Tribe values. It’s the same kind of person who got mad about “welfare queens” not because it was welfare per se, but rather because it was welfare for blacks.

      (Also, the left’s favorite game is to discredit libertarians is to identify them with this group, or else to paint them as its “useful idiots”.)

      Now, how this squares with Trump’s apparent popularity among minorities, I’m not sure. My guess is that minorities (and remember, this is a code word for “poor minorities”) are more likely to be poorly educated. Poorly educated people are consistently more likely to want a strongman leader to guide the “ship of state” with a “firm hand”, etc.

      I just and enjoy capitalism to give me craft beer galore and other consumer products. I don’t trust it to deliver healthcare to the masses. I don’t think the solution to the fiscal crisis and scandals of the past few years is more deregulation.

      I would gladly hand over trivial shit like craft beer and Ferraris to run into the ground by the government, if I could trade that for getting an actual free market in the really important things like healthcare and education. But no, the interventionists always insist on having the state sabotage the most vital industries.

      I really wouldn’t mind too much if we had a shortage of champagne and yachts for the rich. But instead, we establish price ceilings on apartments and price floors on wages, creating a shortage of living space and jobs for the poor. That seems especially perverse to me.

      Also, “more” deregulation might just be the solution to our financial crises if a) these crises were preceded by net increases in regulation, b) the absolute amount of regulation was higher than ever, and c) not to put too fine a point on it, the regulations directly incentivized the behaviors causing the crises!

      Moreover, “deregulation” can also be ambiguous because often one regulation exists to limit the deleterious effects of another regulation. For example, when the government requires health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, this regulation demands another regulation forcing everyone to buy health insurance. If not, the insurance market would be totally destroyed by the first regulation (since no one would buy insurance until he actually got sick).

      In this (and many other cases), it is quite possible to increase the effects of government intervention through “deregulation”. Another example is Taft-Hartley Act, which places a government restriction on the right of employers and unions to agree on a “closed shop” contract. But this restriction was only enacted to curb the deleterious effects of the previous Wagner Act, which established unions as quasi-governmental entities and forces employers to negotiate with them.

      (This phenomenon has a technical name, which I am forgetting at the moment. Something like “primary vs. secondary regulations”. Maybe someone can help me remember?)

      In any case, it applies quite directly to the financial system. If you “deregulate” and let banks do whatever they want while retaining the FDIC and the Federal Reserve’s function as guardian of insolvent banks, you have not necessarily approached closer to a free market. You have just kept the incentives for banks to take risks with taxpayer money while removing the restrictions on what risks they can take.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “I would gladly hand over trivial shit like craft beer and Ferraris to run into the ground by the government, if I could trade that for getting an actual free market in the really important things like healthcare and education. But no, the interventionists always insist on having the state sabotage the most vital industries.”

        Agreed.

        Saul Degraw – to turn the question around, if you expect the government to make a better job of providing healthcare than the free market, why would you not expect them to also make a better job of providing craft beer and Ferraris? Have you considered this argument – that maybe the government should also be in charge of the brewing and automobile industries as well as the healthcare industry, if you believe them running the latter would be preferable?

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        • Murphy says:

          Different pattern.

          The free market is extremely good at providing xboxes,Ferraris and craft beer.

          The pattern is,
          I see xbox -> I want xbox -> I work hard and save -> I buy xbox. -> everyone is happy

          Healthcare doesn’t work like that.

          I need healthcare-> I am unable to work-> I die and society loses the vast resources that have been invested in getting me up to the point where I can be a productive individual.

          America tried to shoe horn it into the free market by combining it with insurance so that the system becomes

          I pay a crippling portion of my income to an insurance company for years->I need healthcare-> I am unable to work-> I try to claim on the insurance -> the company goes through my medical records with a fine toothed comb -> they find that I had a cold or lost some weight 6 months before I took out the policy -> they claim this could have been an early sign of the illness and refuse to pay because preexisting condition-> they tie it up in court and wait for me to die so that they can avoid having to pay out. -> victory of the free market

          Of course the mean old government has ruined it with horrible and pointless regulations like “no you can’t invalidate contracts like that after accepting their money for decades”.

          On the other hand the free market works pretty well for some services provided by doctors like facelifts, boob jobs, etc.

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          • Orphan Wilde says:

            >Of course the mean old government has ruined it with horrible and pointless regulations like “no you can’t invalidate contracts like that after accepting their money for decades”.

            The mean old government made it so they -could- invalidate contracts like that after accepting their money for decades by enacting special exemptions to contract law for health insurance. This isn’t a case where the government is stepping in to fix a problem the market created; the government created that problem in the market in the first place.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Why does this just apply to medical insurance, though? Why not all insurance? Why isn’t home insurance impossible to provide via the free market because when your house burns down, the insurers go through your details with a fine toothed comb, claim that you’re liable for the fire because you bought too many flammable objects and arranged them in such a way that they might contribute to a fire, then tie it up in court and wait for you to run out of money so they don’t have to pay out?

            “On the other hand the free market works pretty well for some services provided by doctors like facelifts, boob jobs, etc.”

            Okay, but why? I don’t find the argument “healthcare cannot be provided by the free market because look at America” convincing at all. For one thing, many other countries have healthcare systems that are private in one sense or another. For another thing, I’m under the impression that these problems with healthcare in the US are a somewhat recent phenomenon. What was healthcare like in the 50s? Was it like you describe back then? Why, or why not? Generally the argument from a single example seems to me incredibly flimsy, especially when you can even name counterexamples within the system yourself.

            To put it another way, say I noticed that healthcare in the US is horrifically inefficient and expensive, and I decided to set up a business selling healthcare at something more like what it ought to cost. What is stopping me from doing this? It seems to me more likely that the answer is “some impossibly tangled mesh of regulations” than “healthcare fundamentally cannot be provided efficiently by a market”. And if it’s the latter… Why? I’ve never seen a reason that does not also apply to other things that markets can provide perfectly well. If you have one I would be very keen to hear it.

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          • Murphy says:

            @Orphan

            Recision is a general aspect of contract law. It was recently made illegal specifically in the context of health insurance under most circumstances.

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          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Rescission as it was practiced by health insurance was not part of general contract law.

            I work in health insurance, and there’s this organization called the Medical Information Bureau which insurance companies contact whenever they get new policy applications, which (basically) gives them all the information you’ve ever put in a health insurance application form – the same information they use to rescind your policies. Critically, they get this information – and continue accepting your money anyways.

            In a normal contract, if you have information that somebody lied in the contract, and you accept their money anyways, you’ve agreed to honor the contract anyways. Healthcare got special contract laws passed which allowed them to rescind the contracts anyways.

            ETA: Also, normal contract rescissions require a civil court case, absent party agreement. Health insurance companies were given legal authority to rescind policies unilaterally, with the legal challenge happening after the fact.

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          • Murphy says:

            @Anon

            It’s easier when your opponent is dead and probably dead with a bankrupt estate even absent any court case.

            In property even a burned down house is still worth a lot since the site is still there and there’s likely other large organisations with deep pockets like the bank holding the mortgage who’d make life difficult in a large portion of cases.

            Houses are a cost known in advance while health care can be far more expensive than any house.

            Also the individual is still alive and able to make money to keep fighting you if they have a grudge.

            All of which means the stable point is very different for house insurance.

            “What was healthcare like in the 50s? ”

            Not too different to healthcare in victorian england: ie abysmal. It “works” only in the sense that a system can be stable in that state and is fine if you don’t care about lots of horrible suffering and preventable deaths of poor people.

            This shows it pretty well:
            http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/figures/m4838a2f2.gif

            The 1930’s and 40’s where when the government really started poking it’s nose into healthcare with things like the Department of Health and Human Services.

            You could probably make a very good business out of it in some places though there’s certainly a lot of protectionism in the US. But lets assume you’re successful.

            Would you be serving everyone who actually needed healthcare or would most of the facilities in your organization be dedicated to removing wrinkles from the faces of wealthy dowagers?

            We deal with poor people not getting Ferraris by saying “not everyone get Ferraris”. In your ideal world do we deal with kids who can’t afford antibiotics with “not everyone get’s antibiotics”.

            Does your ideal free market hospital get to turn away A&E patients who look like they don’t have much assets?

            This is a terminal goals thing. Is your goal to get healthcare at the cheapest price to the wealthiest few or is it to minimise the number of people suffering and dying from preventable causes in a semi-utilitarian way?

            The NHS does an extremely good job of the latter. Private hospitals can do the former quite well.

            I know a big chunk of my paycheck goes to the NHS but it’s 1: less than insurance would cost me in the US by a wide margin. 2: I’m covered for just about anything with no threat of rescission or random things not being covered. 3:if I’m not happy with it I’m free to get medical insurance which is way way way cheaper than american medical insurance and go private (about $1500 per year total for a normal adult).

            The NHS doesn’t even waste money on legions of debt collectors like the US medical system does.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Murphy
            “We deal with poor people not getting Ferraris by saying “not everyone get Ferraris”. In your ideal world do we deal with kids who can’t afford antibiotics with “not everyone get’s antibiotics”. ”

            Ferraris are, of course, a luxury good. Make it food, then. Why not nationalize the grocery stores?

            You could claim that the poor ought to have their healthcare costs subsidized, as they are for food, but that would be a different argument entirely. Incidentally, one I have a lot more sympathy for.

            “Would you be serving everyone who actually needed healthcare or would most of the facilities in your organization be dedicated to removing wrinkles from the faces of wealthy dowagers?”

            The former, since that’s the demand that is apparently widely unmet and which I’m talking about meeting. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Take supermarkets again – I say, why can’t I set up a budget price store targeted towards poor people. You say, would you really make it budget price or would you actually sell high end groceries to well-off people? Er, the former; what makes you think that poor people are not a market that is widely targeted? Cheap low-end products exist everywhere, why so doubtful that anyone would produce them when it comes to healthcare?

            “In property even a burned down house is still worth a lot since the site is still there and there’s likely other large organisations with deep pockets like the bank holding the mortgage who’d make life difficult in a large portion of cases.”

            Presumably the bank wouldn’t be too happy about you dying and not being able to repay your mortgage either?

            “Houses are a cost known in advance while health care can be far more expensive than any house.”

            I’m not sure I see why this matters: an insurance company is insuring many people, what matters is their estimate of the likely total cost, which they can then divide between their customers based on some estimate of how much risk each one represents. For home insurance, they might know how much each house is worth but that figure only acts as an upper bound which they will never hit or even get close to. Everyone’s house is not going to burn down; most peoples’ houses are not even going to burn down. Talk of how expensive health care ‘can be’ seems to me to be meaningless.

            “It’s easier when your opponent is dead and probably dead with a bankrupt estate even absent any court case.”

            “Also the individual is still alive and able to make money to keep fighting you if they have a grudge.”

            This seems to be the most interesting and substantial point. One response would be to point to life insurance, which only pays out once the customer is dead. Another response, more generally, would be: why would ‘tendency to refuse to pay out and tie customers up in court until they die’ not be something medical insurers could compete over not doing? Why would anyone continue to be a customer of an insurer that did this, why would this not be business suicide as their competitors come in and clean up all of their customers?

            EDIT:
            “if I’m not happy with it I’m free to get medical insurance which is way way way cheaper than american medical insurance and go private (about $1500 per year total for a normal adult). ”

            This seems more like an argument for my position than yours. If it’s that cheap for what you call a ‘normal adult’, and bearing in mind this is private healthcare in competition with nationalized healthcare, so will only appeal to people who are willing to pay twice, in other words, rich people – how much cheaper do you imagine insurance for the poor would be, if the NHS were abolished and private healthcare were to expand to serve them too? I can’t see any reason to expect poor people to be fundamentally more expensive to insure than rich people, and there are obviously lots of ways healthcare can be made cheaper, as evidenced by the fact that the private, $1500/year healthcare we’re talking about is fairly exclusively for the well-off. If private healthcare in the UK is far more cost effective than private healthcare in the US then that seems like evidence that the problem with the US’ healthcare is something specific to that country, not a general problem of private healthcare being unfeasible.

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          • Murphy says:

            I’m not sure I see why this matters: an insurance company is insuring many people, what matters is their estimate of the likely total cost, which they can then divide between their customers based on some estimate of how much risk each one represents. For home insurance, they might know how much each house is worth but that figure only acts as an upper bound which they will never hit or even get close to. Everyone’s house is not going to burn down; most peoples’ houses are not even going to burn down. Talk of how expensive health care ‘can be’ seems to me to be meaningless.

            if a 500k house burns down the company is on the line for some large fraction of 500k.

            if someone gets sick… they company could be on the line for 5K or 5 million+ . Something expensive like MS … well it’s economic to dedicate several people full time for quite some time to seeing how you can screw the person and avoid paying out.

            Think logarithmic distribution. it’s not economic to screw you out of a $5K treatment, it’s very economic to screw the 0.x% of people who need a $5 million treatment.

            The size of the pool is meaningless if they can save many millions easily by putting effort into screwing you even a modest fraction of the time then they will. Since house insurance is typically far less expensive then it’s not economic to do the same for house insurance.

            If a house with a mortgage is insured then the bank has a stake in the company paying out and will fight it in court to make sure they don’t lose money. If you die of something unrelated they can’t go after your medical insurer. Your bank can’t insist that they pay out on your chemo just because you have a loan from them. On the other hand they can have a straightforward stake in house insurance payouts.

            “why would this not be business suicide”

            Why were so many US companies able to get away with routine rescission without their customers fleeing? Only do it to the most expensive x% of claims. Tack a thin justification on so that people can convince themselves that it won’t happen to them, tack a non-disclosure onto any settlements so that people don’t hear about the totally open and shut cases where you couldn’t tack a thin justification on. Advertise.

            If it’s that cheap for what you call a ‘normal adult’, and bearing in mind this is private healthcare in competition with nationalized healthcare, so will only appeal to people who are willing to pay twice, in other words, rich people – how much cheaper do you imagine insurance for the poor would be, if the NHS were abolished and private healthcare were to expand to serve them too?

            far far far more expensive since a large part of the reason that the insurance is so cheap is because the NHS still absorbs a lot of the very most expensive treatments.

            If you get MS or a rare cancer the private insurance often won’t cover the central elements of care because they don’t have to: you’re still entitled to the care from the NHS though they may have some guarantees to make sure you get private services fast if there’s a long waiting list for something.

            The private insurers tend to compete on the more minor routine service level stuff that makes up 99% of most peoples medical needs.

            Most private hospitals can’t afford to have all the different specialists that the NHS as a whole can. Economies of scale kick in big time.

            They’re not in competition with the NHS any more than taxi and trucking firms are in competition with the national highway system in the US.

            supermarkets

            Cheap, commodity, utterly unpersonalized, clearly advertised costs, not a natural monopoly, wide variety of providers.

            I don’t believe the NHS should be in the buisness of producing paracetamol tablets even though they’re related to healthcare.

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          • Cauê says:

            This is a terminal goals thing. Is your goal to get healthcare at the cheapest price to the wealthiest few or is it to minimise the number of people suffering and dying from preventable causes in a semi-utilitarian way?

            Oh wow.

            Repeating myself from a previous thread: assuming the enemy is working under your framing and simply choosing the bad side, failing ideological Turing test.

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          • Anonymous says:

            (regarding supermarkets:)
            “Cheap, commodity, utterly unpersonalized, clearly advertised costs, not a natural monopoly, wide variety of providers.”

            The amount people spend on food each year isn’t cheap. Food and medical care both are – or can be – commodities. What someone buys from a supermarket is very much personalized, surely moreso than healthcare: I would expect more variety in the kinds of shopping people buy than the choices regarding what treatment people would want for the same medical condition. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why healthcare can’t have clearly advertised costs. Healthcare doesn’t seem to be a natural monopoly any more than supermarkets. As for the last, how many supermarket chains are there in the UK – four main ones, no?

            [EDIT: it strikes me that it might be cheating to compare the variety in what people buy from a supermarket to the variety in what treatments people prefer for a single condition. Even so, I would maintain that there is an enormous variety in what people buy from supermarkets. Have you ever looked at just how many different products supermarkets sell?]

            Your point regarding the potential for insurers to exploit legal loopholes to avoid paying out for the most expensive customers, which I assume you’re basing on the assumption that there is some fairly high fixed cost per payout refusal meaning it is more feasible to refuse one $5,000,000 payout than ten $500,000 payouts is… Interesting. Certainly not one I’ve heard before.

            Does this apply to other kinds of insurance with this pattern of very infrequent, very high payouts? Would you recommend the government run the insurance industry for those cases, too – and if not, why not?

            Re: private healthcare in the UK, one relevant point is that there’s also a good reason to expect it to be more expensive than budget-price private healthcare would be, since it is currently the domain of the wealthy only. Also,

            “Most private hospitals can’t afford to have all the different specialists that the NHS as a whole can.”

            A private insurance setup totally allows for specialist treatments to exist and be contracted by multiple insurers.

            I’m curious about what the situation is like regarding other kinds of low-risk high-payout insurance – probably the first plausible argument I’ve heard as to why medical insurance really might be a special case.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Sorry, one more thing to add: when I said that the NHS is in competition with private healthcare, I did not mean in the sense that customers can choose which service to spend their money on. Obviously they can’t, they must pay for the NHS whether or not they use it. Competition was probably a misleading word to use. My point was rather that private healthcare exists as an alternative to state healthcare; since you have to pay for the latter anyway, the former must be significantly better to make it worth paying twice for. I believe this is a large part of the reason why private healthcare, as well as private schooling, is something that is only worth providing in a high-quality, high-cost form. Perhaps this is obvious, I don’t know.

            I also think Orphan Wilde’s points above might be relevant re: the problems you mention regarding rescission.

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          • Nicholas says:

            So a couple of things.
            One, I don’t know what wonderland of corporate responsibility the rest of you live in, but if there’s a fire in your home in my state, the insurance company will in fact go through your home content history to the best of its ability, attempting to prove that you maintained the home irresponsibly (too many flammable objects) so that they may rescind.
            Second, between dealer exclusivity laws and paying farmers to burn crops, I’m pretty sure grocery stores and ferraris are more nationalized than health care.

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          • Careless says:

            Second, between dealer exclusivity laws and paying farmers to burn crops, I’m pretty sure grocery stores and ferraris are more nationalized than health care.

            So you’re contending that something like >75% of grocery spending is paid by the government? I’m sure that’s equally batshit for Ferarris, but I know nothing about car dealerships.

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          • Luke Somers says:

            > There doesn’t seem to be any reason why healthcare can’t have clearly advertised costs.

            Well, that would go a fair way to helping enable a free market!

            Would medic stamps (like food stamps, since we’re drawing the analogy already) work well? Maybe so.

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      • James Vonder Haar says:

        It’s a conundrum; I honestly don’t have a good theoretical model of why the one works and the other doesn’t. Stuff like a single government buyer being able to drive down prices for health care sounds plausible, but that also applies to cars and beer.

        What I do know is that, empirically, the countries that nationalized cars and beer were economic backwaters, when they weren’t economically disastrous. And the countries that nationalized medicine get far better outcomes and far better bang for their buck than America does. I trust this observation more than I trust my own economic theories.

        I suspect that the heavily regulated nature of health care in America causes the free market to go wrong somewhere, though I’m not sure where. Maybe it’s the credentialing process, maybe it’s the FDA, maybe it’s the de facto regulation from lawsuits. But all of those have pretty good reasons behind them, in a vaccuum. If they do distort the market, and they’re good ideas in and of themselves, I think going fully in the direction of state control makes sense.

        On the other hand, Singapore’s health care system also vastly outperforms the American one. My preference would be for something like Scandinavia’s policies, but failing that, give me Singapore. Choose a damn path and stick with it, don’t give us the Frankenstein we’ve got now.

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        • LeeEsq says:

          I think that free market policies do not work with healthcare for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of perverse incentive on the parts of the various providers either not to do their part of the service or to charge whatever they good because people generally want to live and not die so will probably pay through the roof and go into debt to heal themselves or a loved one. When it comes to car, it makes no sense for a car company or dealership not to give you a car after they got your money. A bar that takes money but doesn’t give you a glass of beer is going to close quickly It makes a great deal of sense for a health insurance company to collect premiums while doing whatever it can to avoid pay out. There is usually nothing that a customer could do but fight it out.

          The simple problem is that the nature of healthcare and people’s need for it encourages some of the worst and most unethical business practices possible in order to ensure that somebody is making money, which tends to be a pretty big motivator on why somebody went into business.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “When it comes to car, it makes no sense for a car company or dealership not to give you a car after they got your money.”

            The obvious advantage to taking someone’s money and then not giving them the car is that you keep the car, which you can then sell (or pretend to sell) to someone else.

            I’m not sure any of your reasons don’t also apply to any kind of service, particularly insurance, and/or other important things people care about such as food and housing.

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          • LeeEsq says:

            That might be true but in healthcare, there are more scenarios and methods for engaging in this sort of behavior. Car dealers and other merchants might benefit occasionally by cheating somebody out of there money but if they do it too often they will find themselves out of customers compared to more honest merchants. This only works if the good or service is very needed and nearly every provider decodes to go the dishonest route.

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          • Cauê says:

            This only works if the good or service is very needed and nearly every provider decodes to go the dishonest route.

            Then why would “nearly every provider” do this in healthcare and not other markets?

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          • Nicholas says:

            Because car dealerships are required by law in many states to only operate in a single city or county. This means that they can only cheat people in an environment of high information. Insurance in the United States went to shit when the laws constraining insurance companies to just one region or state were abolished, allowing them to Jack Kerouac their customers.

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          • Cauê says:

            And would you say there are similar laws for every single market in which “nearly every provider” doesn’t decide “to go the dishonest route”? Because that’s a lot of markets.

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          • Nicholas says:

            For every market that is not similarly dogged by poor service, rent-seeking, and purposefully malformed labor landscapes, either a natural constraint on the industry or a government intervention has created a high information environment. And the US government at least is pretty much everywhere.

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          • Cauê says:

            a natural constraint on the industry

            Sure, such as competition and consumer choice. That’s most markets, and a big part of why it works so well.

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          • Careless says:

            Congratulations, Nicholas, that’s the worst argument I’ve read in a couple of months

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        • JBeshir says:

          Singapore’s system seems to rely on a great deal of pragmatism; it starts from a basis of a free market in healthcare, but then has things like mandatory health savings accounts, a large public healthcare system (which charges money to the end consumer, always at least a little even after subsidy), and a combination of price controls and subsidies for accessibility.

          I think its creation owes something to Singapore’s different political system; I think it’d be quite difficult to replicate a carefully-impure system like that in any political system where all the groups involved are more interested in long term ideological success/not giving ideological ground/”schelling fences” then actual effectiveness.

          It’d be too tempting to fight to make it more ideologically pure, make it align with nice rhetorical defensible principles, at the cost of its effectiveness.

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          • LeeEsq says:

            The criticism that you hear in liberal circles about Singapore’s health care system is that it basically is gigantic accounting trick. It uses free market and conservative mechanisms but with all the subsidies, price controls, and regulations turns out to function similar to a European one at the end. It just looks more free market in design.

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          • Careless says:

            So to recap, LeeEsq: conservatives can’t use left wing methods, and they also can’t use things that work at least as well as left-wing methods?

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      • “This phenomenon has a technical name”

        Theory of the Second Best?

        Your point about important vs unimportant things reminds me of a conversation I had a very long time ago, in Vienna at the time of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, with a couple of Czech students who were trying to decide whether to go home. They told me that what the reformers wanted was a system where most things were handled by the market but important things, like milk and bread, by the government. I responded, of course, that if the market worked better for most things, it was even more important to use it for the important things.

        Their response (I think–make allowance for linguistic difficulties and the haze of memory) was “Yes. That’s what our professor says too.”

        At which point I understood why the Russians invaded.

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    • Tibor says:

      It is interesting that what you describe as MARS in the US, would be left-wing voters in many countries in Europe. They look to me like one fraction of social democratic voters – socialist and conservative. The other fraction of the social democratic voters are the bleeding hearts (although they are spread between the social democrats and green parties, a lot of which are not so much green as kind of “SJW” parties) and then you have capitalist conservatives and capitalist liberals (i.e. what we in Europe still call liberal) voting for the various parties on the right (of course, there are also communist parties and whatnot, but broadly this is the picture in Europe, or at least most of it).

      It is interesting that the alignment of the socialist conservatives is different in the US than in Europe (and of course, there is variation in Europe as well and there might be exceptions I am not aware of).

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      • Nokster says:

        MARS are clearly right-wing in Europe – all the anti-immigration parties (BNP, FN in France, Fremskrittspartiet in Norway, Sannfinnene in Finland, SD in Sweden) all have “welfare for us, but not for *them*” as their core value. To me they seem like a good analogue to american MARS voters.

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        • JE says:

          In Norway at least FrP shares a voting demographic the populistic quasi-socialist SV. There’s always a certain amount of voters moving between the two parties despite their very different platforms.

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        • Tibor says:

          Well, “welfare for us, but not for *them*” generally strikes me as quite a left-wing attitude (even if Marine Le Pen or Folkeparti get labeled as “right-wing populist”, I thing they are socialist populist). It is a socially conservative, economically socialist position. A right-wing equivalent for me would be “welfare for nobody and foreigners out”.

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    • Murphy says:

      I find bookies to be far better at predictions than pollsters and if you look at the paddypower betting on the US election results

      http://www.paddypower.com/bet/other-politics/us-politics/Winner-2016-US-Presidential-Election-4146711.html

      currently
      Hillary is the front runner at 8/11
      Rubio is next with 6/1
      Trump next with 13/2
      Jeb Bush next with 7/1
      Sanders 9/1

      So he’s a strong contender.
      If you really believe he has no chance you can probably make a profit betting against him.

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  11. Jiro says:

    Also, one may conclude that Asian-Americans are neither Republicans nor Democrats.

    And seriously:

    I suggest that when talking politics “white” sometimes literally means people of European descent, but other times means

    How would you tell the difference between “the blues claim that Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white because they don’t literally mean white” and “the blues claim that Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white because Trump is considered an enemy and they don’t care much about whether accusations made about an enemy are accurate”?

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    • Nornagest says:

      I’ve noticed that when you go to a shooting range anywhere near the Bay Area, two thirds of the people there are always Asian. I’m not sure how well this generalizes, but I suspect it’s indicative of real political differences.

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      • Careless says:

        Really? I don’t pretend to have any knowledge of gun culture in California or Asians in the West, and won’t try to contradict you, but really?

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        • Nornagest says:

          Yes, really. I mean, this is anecdata with all the usual caveats, but still, really.

          Note however that by “anywhere near the Bay Area” I mean the urbanized Bay (which is maybe 30% Asian in total) and small towns for maybe 10 miles outside. Shooters in my hometown, which is still Northern California but much farther inland, are mostly white.

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    • Cauê says:

      How would you tell the difference between “the blues claim that Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white because they don’t literally mean white” and “the blues claim that Trump’s supporters are disproportionately white because Trump is considered an enemy and they don’t care much about whether accusations made about an enemy are accurate”?

      There’s a similar phenomenon with assumptions that those who oppose abortion are disproportionately male (as in the trope “if men got pregnant…”). Also that reproductively viable worker ants are right-wing.

      I don’t think there’s an explanation analogous to the two meanings of “white” in those cases.

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  12. Is there a truly principled difference between democracy and demagoguery / populism?

    As far as I can tell the later are what average voters really like, because it is basic tribal instincts, so populism is the real raw democracy. Aristocratic opposition to democracy was usually based on the idea that it is populist and demagogical by nature. See Cicero to Burke or even better, Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Democracy in the good-thing sense as it is used in modern days means something more like a popular will filtered and directed by intellectuals who try to make those instincts “nicer”. The filter lets through popular instincts towards more jobs but filters out popular instincts towards hating outsiders.

    When intellectuals do too much niceifying of actual popular instincts, they are called “out of touch” or “smug snobs” and usually someone arises who channels real raw popular instinct. That is the populist. When the niceification is only moderately done, so it is not completely unacceptable for the people, that tends to be called something like “moderate liberalism” or “conservatism”. It is noticeable in the case of these moderate leaders, when they are competent, how they usually give nods to the raw, angry, popular instincts, then backpedal, like “I understand your anger but let’s try to solve it amiably”.

    Of course I could be wrong about this, and this is really about the popular instincts of different groups. I tend to think in my framework that “the people” means “working class majority race male” but yeah that is kind of outdated. Their populism always tended to be, er, um, how to put it that it does not come out the wrong way, kinda-socialist combined with kinda-nationalist. More money to us, but only to us. More jobs for good patriots. Don’t let them come and take our jobs. Kinda. Perhaps one should simply identify different populisms of different identity groups, like kinda-socialism without kinda-nationalism could just be the populism of a different group and so on.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When someone says ‘democracy’, they usually mean ‘constitutional parliamentary system with universal suffrage’. This is very far from the literal meaning of ‘rule by the (common) people’. A strict democracy in the literal meaning would have to be non-constitutional (because who are you to tell the people that they can’t enact some law or other?) and non-parliamentary (because it’s supposed to be rule by the people, not by the people’s chosen representatives), where every legislative and executive decision would be decided by referendum.

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      • constitutional parliamentary system = republic, universal suffrage = democracy, combined = democratic republic, but that is too long and of course people shorten it. Why is it more often shortened as democracy than republic?

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        • JE says:

          Because republic already means non-monarchy.

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          • Peter says:

            Well, there’s the glorious A Non-Philosopher’s Guide to Philosophical Terms which gives a philosophical definition of republic as “a nation which may well have a monarch, so long as the monarch believes everything Plato believes, and has Plato’s taste in music”.

            But yes, in the UK, a republican is someone who wants to get rid of the K bit. No, scratch that, in GB, a republican is someone who wants to get rid of the K bit; the opposite of a monarchist. In Northern Ireland a republican is the opposite of a unionist; there’s a specific already-existing republic that they want to be a part of.

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          • JE says:

            Republic (or the local cognate of it) is used in the same way as in the UK in much of the rest of Europe too.

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        • Guy says:

          Because there are other kinds of republics that might make sense, but most other forms of democracy are obviously unworkable at any reasonable scale.

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    • Tibor says:

      I think that Switzerland is about as close as you get to “raw democracy” nowadays. Would you say that the Swiss politics is populist? To a degree maybe, the strongest party, Swiss people’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei) is of the sort of “foreigners are causing trouble” sort, although I am not sure how much really (even though they try and partly succeed in making it harder for foreigners move to the country and work there…then again, one fourth of the population of Switzerland already is foreigners, which might be the most of any country in the world which is not a city-state).

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      • Ricardo Cruz says:

        I was told by someone who has worked in Switzerland that it is pretty much impossible to reside there. They are very protectionist. What many people do is make a neighbor EU-country their residence and then just travel each day to work in Switzerland.

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        • Tibor says:

          It should not be too hard for EU (minus Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania) nationals, especially if you have a good qualification. If you are a factory worker, you will have a hard time even as an EU national, basically none otherwise and you won’t probably even get the “pendler” (those who go travel from say France or Germany to work in Switzerland each day) visa, because the Swiss employer has to prove that he cannot find a Swiss or an EU citizen for that position first and your visa is tied to your contract, at least in the first few years – after 5 or 10 years it is possible to get a permanent stay visa which makes it pretty much about as simple as in the EU countries.

          So yes, this is much more restrictive than the EU, especially if you are from the EU and have never had any experience with getting work or stay permits in another country, because everywhere else you just don’t need them.

          But the Swiss also consistently vote in the referendums against high taxes on rich people, over the top social welfare and things like that which is often exactly the argument used in other countries for why referenda would not work (“people would just vote for all the benefits and ruin the state”), so in this sense it is less populist than what the usual notion of populist is (and definitely less populist than say France, despite its elitist quasi-caste political system).

          I think I remember reading one CATO institute study about “direct” democracy which concluded that it in fact leads to more fiscally responsible government than the “directed” democracy. I do not remember the details and of course CATO is biased (although I don’t think it is particularly biased towards direct democracy…or opposed to it) but it kind of makes sense. The reason a politician decides to spend all the money he can is because that gets him the next election and he does not care about the 20 years in the future when he most likely won’t be in the office. If you have a public vote on that, spending a lot brings you possibly the benefit from the spending if it is directed towards you, but you have all those people who do not get that benefit who get to vote on that too. Everyone would want to vote for benefits for themselves paid by others but not for the benefits of others paid by themselves. And the chief motivation for the excess spending – winning the next elections – is just nonexistent.

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          • Brandon Berg says:

            I don’t think Cato’s bias is relevant here. Their goal is to promote libertarian policies. If they publish a report about why libertarian policies are awesome, then sure, you should take that into account. But if they publish a report about what form of government best promotes libertarian policies, their goals are best served by getting the right answer, not by getting any particular predetermined answer.

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        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          Wikipedia: “Foreigners with permanent residency (which does not include temporary foreign workers) make up about 23% of the population.”

          That’s a larger percentage than in almost all other European countries and also larger than in US.

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    • E. Harding says:

      Russia and Rwanda are populist, but not particularly democratic. Venezuela is very populist, and is more democratic (the political opposition there is more credible than that in Russia or Rwanda). Merkel is also very popular, and Germany has stronger democratic institutions. Germany certainly doesn’t feel very populist like Russia and Venezuela do. Greece also has a strong populist streak.

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    • JDG1980 says:

      “Their populism always tended to be, er, um, how to put it that it does not come out the wrong way, kinda-socialist combined with kinda-nationalist. More money to us, but only to us. More jobs for good patriots. Don’t let them come and take our jobs. Kinda. Perhaps one should simply identify different populisms of different identity groups, like kinda-socialism without kinda-nationalism could just be the populism of a different group and so on.”

      It’s really a shame that because Hitler’s party was called the NSDAP, we can’t talk about the intersection of nationalism and economic liberalism without sounding like Nazis. This is despite the fact that many successful post-WWII European political parties could quite plausibly be described as “national socialist” if that term didn’t have such a stigma.

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    • Adam Casey says:

      Populism seems to just mean “what the people unreflectively say they want”, as distinct from democracy “what the people want after reflection”, and republican “what the people ought to want”. But that’s a rather messy formulation.

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  13. hermanubis says:

    Are there any books/articles/talks by leftists wrestling with their lack of support among the people their policies would benefit the most? This seems like kind of a central problem preventing their electoral success. I guess I could see a signaling explanation, but those always feel like cop outs.

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    • blacktrance says:

      “False consciousness” is a standard explanation.

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    • Anonymous says:

      A lot of it is probably the left presenting a worldview that explicitly or implicitly contradicts the ground-level reality that a would-be left-policy beneficent perceives. For example, a poor person struggling to make ends meet is intimately familiar that there’s no such thing as free lunch, so when the left promises them one, they are suspicious. The naive ones (“You mean there is a magical lunch replicator and you’ll give me a meal if I vote you in? Awesome!”), the pragmatic ones (“So you’re saying that you’ll steal this lunch from someone else and give it to me? Where do I sign?”) and the vengeful ones (“I hate those bastards who you’ll take the lunch from, I’ll vote for you even if you merely destroyed said lunch, serves them right.”) will align with the left, while the rest will not.

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      • A simpler explanation is that people don’t vote for policies, they vote personally for people who are at some level similar to them, whom they can identify with, who are felt as representing them on a personal level. Leftism is largely an upper-class intellectual thing, with little personal connection in style to the lower classes. “Smug” etc. Righties, even when mega-rich, can somehow more talk like a plumber, perhaps just by being direct and blunt.

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        • > Leftism is largely an upper-class intellectual thing

          Only in the US.

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          • Not at all. Politicians like Tony Blair, Romano Prodi, or even Francois Hollande generally have a snobbish rather than common-man vibe. But the Cathedral, the intellectuals and the journalists, who are far more important than the politicians, even more so.

            At some level it follows from their view politics, too. I actually do have lower-class relatives and they have totally different ideas.

            If you are a true working class steel worker male, and some politician or journo whines about racismsexismhomophobia, don’t you think they are out of touch with you? In your world, that is just a fancy way to describe normal talking over a beer in the bar.

            On the other hand, even the how the actual leftie part of economic policy works, even that is out of touch with the the type of working class guy I described. For example, generally speaking he would want two things, either jobs or plain simple cash in the hand. Instead, it tends to be complicated social programs.

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    • Randy M says:

      I haven’t read it, but that seems to be the thesis of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”
      Which my rebuttal would be, keeping in mind that I haven’t read it, “People care about more than money.”

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      • dndnrsn says:

        I haven’t read it in years and years, but as I recall part of the core of that book was that the lower-class Republican voters weren’t getting the social-conservatism things they wanted: prayer in schools, an abortion ban, etc.

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        • hlynkacg says:

          The thesis of the books was still flawed in that it assumed that the author knew Kansas’ preferences better than Kansas did and that those preferences where strictly material.

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          • dndnrsn says:

            Yes. In retrospect, his argument was kind of a variant of the position you see sometimes by secular/atheistic people that religious beliefs are just sort of “cover” for other things – that there’s got to be a reason beyond belief that people believe things, that there’s got to be a material reason.

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    • Orphan Wilde says:

      My personal explanation – YMMV – is that the people who their policies would theoretically benefit the most from have actually seen what those sorts of policies do. Think about all the states that receive more federal money than they pay in taxes – do they vote for more welfare? No.

      I grew up in a very poor, very rural part of the country. The middle class there would have been regarded as living in poverty anywhere else – but they lived genuinely middle class lives, because living costs were that much lower.

      And welfare was a huge problem, because it paid better than any jobs you could get. Getting crippled for life was like winning the lottery. Better, really, because you’d still have income thirty years from now. Having children young and receiving benefits for the next twenty-thirty years (you had more children, see, to keep it going) was, well, a career – and high school girls -knew it-. People set out to live on welfare, and succeeding meant they were set for life, or at least the next few decades. Then, lacking direction or purpose, they’d fall into deep depressions and turn to drink or drugs to pass the years.

      I moved somewhere else, more urban and well-off. Welfare there was… kind of bad. You could live on it, but it’d be a very bad life. And people weren’t quite so eager to get on welfare.

      I’ve seen both sides of it. And the issue is, the people pushing for welfare only see the side of welfare where people live terrible lives, or can’t afford to live at all – they never go into rural parts of the country where welfare systematically destroys, rather than enriches, people. The minimum wage of New York City isn’t appropriate in bumfuck, Arkansas. The level of welfare appropriate to Chicago isn’t appropriate to sistershag, Tennessee.

      And the “urban” people keep pushing for the entire country to follow their welfare example without actually looking at how it affects rural communities.

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      • DavidS says:

        Interesting theory – but I’m 90% sure that in the UK people in the areas that are net receivers of redistribution tend to be left-wing. In fact, there was news recently when the right-wing government reduced the amount that rich areas subsidise poor areas and it was very visibly a ‘Labour councils funding cut, Conservative councils suddenly have more money’ situation. So I’m not sure this follows.

        This makes me super-interested in your self-answered question: “Think about all the states that receive more federal money than they pay in taxes – do they vote for more welfare? No.” Briefly put -are you sure?

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        • DavidS says:

          ACtually, just wikipediad this and two interesting facts.
          1) poor people are MUCH more likely to vote democrat, rich to vote republican
          2) urban people more likely to vote democrat, rural to vote republican

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2012#Voter_demographics

          No idea how this interacts with the racial split of the vote, mind you. But interesting that (as in the UK), the right wing party is also the ‘rural’ party and the left wing the ‘urban’

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          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Pretty much. It’s VERY much a rural vs urban thing. The costs of living make the kinds of policies pushed by urban people insane for rural people – and perhaps likewise the reverse. A minimum wage of $15 is way too low for New York City – and way, WAY too high for rural Arkansas or Texas.

            The issue is that most people think that their local environment constitutes the country as a whole; I couldn’t live on $8 an hour, how could anyone? Well…

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          • DavidS says:

            OK, so that’s not really a ‘poor people don’t vote left-wing’ thing (which wikipedia shows is simply untrue), but a country vs. city thing.

            Also, interested by what you say about NYC, as (with exchange rates from £) I remember it being if anything rather cheaper than London in terms of cost of stuff. And $15 is (just) above the ‘National Living Wage’ for London – not the legal minimum, mind you, that’s about $10, but the one that employers can sign up to and show they’re doing the Right Thing.

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          • meyerkev248 says:

            Americans presume a higher standard of living?

            Just tossing stuff out there, housing (expectations) is going to be the big one IMO.

            The average (new) British house is 925 sq. ft. Meanwhile, (new) American ones are 2600.

            So culturally speaking, roommates are for college, and maybe your very early 20’s in a very expensive city or for a couple of years. After that point, you will have your own (700 sq. ft. at least, probably closer to 1000 if it’s “nice”, as compared to Stockholm where the average is ~420) apartment until you get married, have a couple of kids and move out to the suburbs into that 2,500 sq. ft. home so that each kid can have their own bedroom.

            (And seeing some older family members going through this phase, at some point after the kids leave, you invest in an even bigger home so that the kids and grandkids can all come home for Christmas and have their own bedrooms.)

            To the extent which Sherlock is an accurate portrayal of British reality, middle-aged people needing roommates in America just… I’m not going to say it’s not done ever, but it’s weird. They’ve chosen 2 hour commutes over roommates because at a certain point, you need your elbow room.

            If those apartments are then going for $2-3000/month because NYC, that means that you need to be taking in $24-36K/year after taxes just to make your rent. Add on another grand, maybe 2 because NYC is expensive, and you’re looking at $45K/year in minimum cash flow. Before taxes, that’s $60K.

            /At which point, you create a $30/hour minimum wage, and the jobs/housing mismatches +crazy foreign investment that prompted $2000/month rents prompt $3000/month rents and the cycle continues, but.
            //”Sweden doesn’t have a working poor” “Your average apartment is 2x the size of my bedroom growing up. EVERYONE’s working poor.”
            ///Yes, I’m aware that Sweden isn’t the UK.

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          • JBeshir says:

            Sherlock is doing that because the original Sherlock Holmes did that, primarily, and it wouldn’t be the same without Watson living with Sherlock and reacting to all his eccentricities. That said, London housing is in really high demand, not current SF levels, but high, so in London *in particular* it’s plausible, I think, if they were not well off.

            But that aside I think your general point about different expectations of housing, especially on size/space are right.

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        • Nornagest says:

          Briefly put -are you sure?

          “Red states receive more federal funding than they provide, so they’re being hypocritical when they vote against entitlements” is a gotcha of American politics so old that it’s cliche. Orphan Wilde might not have the causal model nailed, but he’s got his facts right.

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        • hlynkacg says:

          I don’t have immediate numbers on hand, but it is a favorite Blue Tribe talking point that Red States cost the government more money. IE “How dare you lecture others about financial responsibility when your state accepted x million dollars of federal aid!”

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          • Jiro says:

            Of course, there are lots of reasons why that complaint about red states is misleading:
            — Red states tend to have military bases and other government installations and money spent on those counts as money spent “in the state” when the government is just moving the money from one hand to the other.
            — Red states tend to be rural, which means proportionately more funds spent on highways. Highway spending mainly benefits the country, not the individual state and shouldn’t completely count as spending on the state regardless of where the highway is physically located.
            — In some cases (Florida, for instance), people pay taxes in blue states, retire, and move to a red state. This gets counted as the state receiving more money than it brings in, when on a per-person basis that is not what is really happening
            — Some types of spending are particularly high in blue areas within red states (such as minorities in inner cities).

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        • brad says:

          Interesting theory – but I’m 90% sure that in the UK people in the areas that are net receivers of redistribution tend to be left-wing.

          Really? I was under the impression that greater London pays for everything (notwithstanding Scotland’s but but oil refrain) but that England ex-greater London is by and large Tory country.

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          • DavidS says:

            Ah, well that’s complicated. London produces a lot of the money but also has a lot of poor people in it. And a higher-than-average level of ethnic minorities, many of whom tend to be Labour, etc. The Home Counties have a lot of rich people in them, and aren’t net subsidised (possibly unless you include pensions) – but then lots of those rich people either currently work in London, or made their money there.

            Other cities – Manchester, Liverpool etc – tend to be primarily Labour. And the UK outside of England tends to be Labour, and tends to be net receivers (again,

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        • Orphan Wilde says:

          I don’t know how to translate Left and Right wings between UK politics and US politics, because I’m frequently informed by Europeans when the issues comes up that the European left is more like left-libertarianism in the US, and the European right is more a mixture of the authoritarian bits of both of our political parties/wings.

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          • hlynkacg says:

            Yes, its a bit weird and I say that as an American trying to make sense of European politics. 😉

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          • JBeshir says:

            Part of the issue is that they’re a lot closer together in the UK, especially in the mainstream parties, which have both been chasing marginal votes in the centre for a while.

            The only really clear gap that aligns with left/right is on attitudes to redistribution, I think.

            Roughly speaking, the left has the fringe “collective ownership” crowd still, but outside of that wants social democracy with more redistribution from the rich to the poor, and view the poor as screwed over by an unfair system, whereas the right wants social democracy with less redistribution from the rich to the poor, focused on only the people who “truly need it”, and view the people on welfare as mostly moochers. There’s a fringe of people who oppose all redistribution on principle but not many.

            The right is pro-austerity, the mainstream left party used to be pro-austerity-but-slower but has recently shifted to be anti-austerity while still talking about a balanced budget eventually.

            On authoritarianism the mainstream left and right are more or less identical in their happiness with the status quo in the UK. There is a sizeable contingent in the population who oppose non-discrimination laws, hate speech laws, and “political correctness” at the social norm level, who are usually associated with the right but often dislike that association. They get a lot of catering to in tabloids, but little attention from the mainstream political parties. The “Freedom naturally goes downhill forever, an inch given is forever lost to tyranny” narrative is American, and so far hasn’t propagated over enough to interfere with a willingness to base policies on things other than their effect on the size of the state.

            On social issues, the left through mainstream right are all in favour of gay marriage and acceptance, efforts to change cultural attitudes to trans people, etc. While there’s a socially conservative element in the population that’s again mostly identified with the right, the general attitude throughout politics is that the debate has been settled in favour of not shunning gender/sexual variation.

            The remaining arguments there are when/how it’s acceptable for people who disagree with this to express it, but only the most anti-political-correctness people would be completely non-judgemental about you unilaterally shunning LGBT people rather than waiting until if/when you convince others that you’re right.

            Immigration is probably the most divisive issue. Anti-immigration positions are another of those “people associate them with the right but they probably don’t like that” cases, but this is probably where there’s the loudest disagreements in British politics.

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    • Poor natives would be most benefitted by populist (welfare for us , but not for them) policies, not the standard package of the left. It’s just that they don’t often get offered them. That’s what needs explaining..

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    • Brian Donohue says:

      Didn’t the expansion of the franchise in 19th century England redound to the success of the Tories?

      JS Mill said “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.”

      Debatable, but hardly a new idea.

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    • Urstoff says:

      That this questions gets brought up always puzzles me (from an intellectual standpoint; not if I frame it in tribal terms). After all, don’t we want people voting for what’s in the best interest of the public, which may not be in their best personal interest? Or is this just not presumed to be true for poor and working class people? Maybe the assumption is that what’s in their best interest is best for the public. Even given that, though, the implication seems to be “why are these people so dumb that they vote against their economic interests” rather than “how can we get these (and other) people to vote in the best interests of the public?”

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      • LCL says:

        “Voting your pocketbook” is an obvious idea that gets very little support from research. Except that people, when asked, will consistently report that they think other people vote their pocketbook, though the respondent himself votes his principles.

        I suspect it’s a wrong idea. At an individual level, the chance your vote influences economic policy is basically 0. But the chance your vote influences someone’s opinion of you is much higher, and the chance it influences your own self-image is 100%. So the voting incentives favor social and internal motivations over economic ones.

        I have no information how well social and internal motivations correlate with economic interests, but it’s clearly not 100%.

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    • DavidS says:

      I’m not sure it’s true in general that poor people don’t tend to vote left. You’d expect not ALL of them to anyway, as people don’t just vote selfishly. See also people in higher tax brackets voting for higher taxes and so on.

      From UK politics, working-class support for right-wing parties often appears to be about social rather than economic policies. And on those grounds, it could make more sense. E.g. poorer people are more vulnerable to crime and have less job/housing security, so are more likely to respond to ‘tough on crime’ messages and to politicians saying that they can solve the job/housing thing by immigration policy.

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    • cassander says:

      The people who don’t vote fore democrats are not the people who benefit from democratic policies. If you’re a white guy who didn’t get a college education, i.e. the most republican a quarter of the country, then what good would the democrats do you? The subsidies to college don’t help, you didn’t go. The welfare state doesn’t help, white guys who didn’t go to college generally make too much money to qualify. And if you do go to college, you’ll be actively discriminated against by anti-rural bias and affirmative action. So really, there’s no upside to the democratic slate of priorities.

      then on top of not offering you anything, the democrats want you to pay higher taxes. they want to regulate the brown industries, mining, oil extraction, heavy construction, that you’re likely to work in.
      You want to know why whites without a college education vote for republicans? Two words, “keystone pipeline”, a perfect example of how the democrats put every single interest group on their list ahead of blue collar whites. They vote for republicans because it’s the rational thing for them to do.

      there are many books of the sort you talk about, the prime exemplar of which is “what’s the matter with kansas.” I’ve never seen one that even bothers to try to prove that democratic policies benefit the group in question. They all just assume it.

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    • JDG1980 says:

      Intersectionalists (“SJWs”) are a major part of the modern Democratic Party coalition. And intersectionalists really, really hate the white working class – especially the Southern and rural white working class. It’s not surprising that people would be reluctant to vote for a party that has a major faction that hates their guts. It’s the same reason why most African-Americans and Hispanics are reluctant to vote Republican, even if they are affluent and would otherwise benefit from Republican policies.

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  14. Deiseach says:

    That comment about Trump/Republican Party appeal to “white voters”, as if “white voters” are some kind of exotic (and possibly venomous) fauna made me go to the 2010 U.S. census.

    First, the US demographics for that break down to 64% white (a wibbly category, because some people consider themselves white while others of the same ethnicity don’t; there are biracial people, etc.) However, this means that the rest of the population is more or less 36% non-white.

    So if Republican Party is the party of the white people (!) and the Democratic Party are the good inclusive minority representation guys, then the Republicans (on brute numbers alone) are always going to beat the Democrats.

    Which means if the Democrats are not totally useless, of course they are going to be appealing to white voters too! And middle-class voters, and the potential party donors with enough money to give to run modern political campaigns!

    Re: Bernie Sanders, this does not surprise me in the slightest. He strikes me not as the equivalent of Labour in the U.K. but as the Liberal Democrats – that particular shade of sandal-wearing right-on which people found very irritating in a mild way (I know: how can it be “very” in a “mild” but it was more that they were so small, self-involved and not really relevant).

    There are people on Tumblr swooning over Sanders, and promoting him as a better choice even on feminist etc. grounds than Hillary, with no idea that his campaign is not going to translate into non-white people flocking to his banner, or that his appeal goes beyond a very defined demographic.

    I can forgive that on Tumblr, because even if it doesn’t tilt as young as reputed, there are still a lot of young people whose first time voting this would be, and they naturally have no idea what a winnable campaign – or the kind of things you have to do for such a campaign – is like. But the idea that out there is a vast untapped majority of LGTBQ+, non-white, feminist, socialist, social justice, non-binary, whatever you’re having yourself voters who will flock to Sanders and make him the coming choice – that reminds me of the hype around Obama the first time and really you’d hope the pundits had learned from that.

    All that being said, I still can’t get my head around how well Trump is doing. When a self-glorifying vulgarian who made his pile and flaunts it as a sample of whatever it is he is presenting himself as, is the protest vote against the monied types who run both political parties – then I am at a loss.

    Trump is, I grudgingly admit, not as much a buffoon as he appears. There’s an undeniable smarts or cunning at work there. But what is it he does represent? What would a Trump Presidency stand for? Take away all the booh-wah about “Make America Great” (which is the same type of booh-wah as “Hope and Change”) and what does that mean?

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  15. Last link/sentence in the first paragraph is broken.

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  16. Thanks for this – very interesting. Reminds me a of this great opinion piece by Janan Ganesh on Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters:

    “Nobody who asks for “authenticity” in politicians understands how decadent this sounds. Most people in most societies for most of history would have made do with administrative competence, incorruptibility and a disinclination to plunder citizens or conscript them as war fodder. Mid-20th century Britons dreamt of low inflation and heated homes before they caressed hopes of conviction politics.

    A country with the leisure to take umbrage at scripted interviews and bloodless technocracy is doing fine. The modern distaste for spin, which makes heroes of plain-speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, is like the campaign against obesity: warranted, but also a mark of how far we have come. There are worse problems to have and we had them not long ago.

    Mr Corbyn’s rise to eminence is not a verdict against Britain’s social failures. His movement is not, as it claims, a howl at inequality and questing militarism that has been gathering wind under complacent elites for years. Corbynism is not an expression of how bad things have become but how comfortable they are. Whatever our era ends up being called — late capitalism, high modernity — it has thrown up a class of people who can afford to treat politics as a source of gaiety and affirmation.

    The electors who were decisive in giving him the run of the Labour party tend not to be working class or doctrinally socialist or even very political, though all three types exist in his ranks. They are public-sector professionals or students on their way to becoming the same. They are comfortable, more likely to live in London than the post-industrial north, more likely to read the broadsheet Guardian than the tabloid Mirror. And they are candid about the psychology of their movement.

    When a Corbynite says there is more to politics than winning elections, they tacitly concede that Britain is tolerable as it is, at least for them. If it were not, the acquisition of power would be the alpha and omega of their cause. Press them on their lacerating dislike for Tony Blair and they say his leadership of the Labour party made them feel scuzzy. Politics, this implies, is there to make activists feel good about themselves. Everything comes back to feeling; everything comes back to the self.

    A Corbyn rally is not a band of desperate workers fighting to improve their circumstances, it is a communion of comfortable people working their way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They have physical health and security; they crave belonging and self-actualisation. They are in politics for the dopamine squirt that comes with total belief and immersion in like-minded company.

    //

    Their movement has more in common with the psychic disturbances going on in anglophone democracies than with anything in Europe. Mr Corbyn became Labour leader for the same reason that Australia, which has not had a recession since 1991, cannot hang on to a prime minister; and America, with 5 per cent unemployment, is toying with the idea of President Donald Trump or President Bernie Sanders.

    //

    It had nothing to do with Corbynism but as Labour members convened in Brighton for their annual conference this weekend, a hipster café selling pricey bowls of cereal in Shoreditch — an east London neighbourhood that used to be as coarse as its name — was trashed by an anti-gentrification mob. A country where some fret about their area becoming too rich is extraordinarily evolved. A country where some people ask that politicians irrigate the arid plains of managerialism will be all right.

    Mr Corbyn is not a strike against capitalism. By inuring people to prosperity, freeing them to make loftier demands, capitalism is exactly what keeps him in business.”

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/fb1ad42e-65c2-11e5-a28b-50226830d644.html#axzz3pKV6LMw7

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    • Troy says:

      Nice quote. One could replace Corbyn with Sanders and much of it would remain true.

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    • DavidS says:

      Some of this is rather cheap. E.g. most people who strongly support Corbyn would see the difference between Cameron and e.g. Andy Burnham (or for that matter Blair) as microscopic compared to that between either and Corbyn. So it’s ‘support someone you believe in for a lower chance of what you actually want, plus the chance of moving the debate, rather than constantly compromising and supporting someone you despise slightly less’.

      HOWEVER, lots of people who somewhat support Corbyn without being majorly ideologically attached definitely fall into the sort of description you give. It’s definitely a very similar emotion to the one that buoyed up Farage and I think is helping Trump as well. People aren’t particularly attached to the policies – they main thing they associate with politics is finding the politicians inauthentic and slimy, so they want something different.

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      • JBeshir says:

        Yeah, yay-he-seems-like-a-friend was a big part of it, but an also necessary part of it was that even from a more hard-headed perspective, the other candidates were very poor. They failed to enunciate any reason why selecting them would make the world a better place, other than “I’ll get elected”, which when you sound similar to but less compelling than the two people who failed to get elected before you, and you can’t say what you’d do after being elected, is a poor offering. Lots of talk about “needing to offer a radical yet practical vision”, very little actual offering of any kind of vision or even policy. The moderates who’d usually vote down something like this thus had no reason to.

        I personally think anyone who bet on him improving/moving the debate seems to be getting what they wanted.

        So far Corbyn’s appointed a Shadow Minister for Mental Health, a position which has a fair chance of outlasting him and winding up in Government at some point, created the opportunity for the leader of the Conservatives to make a bid for the centre through a speech about equality of opportunity for minorities at their party conference, and gotten the “moderates” inside Corbyn’s own party to go form a couple of groups within the party to come up with some actual policy proposals so when he gets ousted they have some ideas for how to make things better.

        If you were fairly sure none of the leadership candidates were going to win the next election, I think you probably got a good deal here, consequentially.

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        • Deiseach says:

          So far Corbyn’s appointed a Shadow Minister for Mental Health, a position which has a fair chance of outlasting him and winding up in Government at some point

          Given the absolute mess being made of the NHS due to constant fiddling and tweaking by successive governments (trusts! waiting list reduction! more managers! fewer managers!), do you really think a new position that will probably mean a shedload of new regulations and an extra layer of bureaucracy but no real increase in “person needing to access psychiatric or psychological help can bypass the whole go to your GP, get referred to a consultant if you’re lucky, be stuck on waiting list” services is going to be any good?

          I’m cynical about these intitiatives because our Minister and Department for Health brought in a whole new “yes, thanks to the efforts of mental health charities and representative groups, we’re unveiling a whole new scheme for accessing counselling services” and when I needed them, it was “Yeah, it’ll be three months waiting to get an assessment appointment” because no new staff hired on to cope with all the people now eligible and looking for primary mental health care (as opposed to ending up in the ER of the local hospital after they’d attempted suicide).

          So great, Minister for Mental Health! And how many new community nurses etc. will that translate into?

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I actually think I disagree with this pretty strongly. There’s as much political spectacle in India as there is in Britain. People have held armed rebellions with practically no chance of winning.

      The idea of voters as rational people who are very good at pursuing their immediate self-interest right up until the point when they become too rich to care doesn’t seem to have fared very well in the poli-sci studies. I think it’s signaling all the way down.

      That said, I think it’s very healthy that the thing we’re signaling is authenticity instead of loyalty to our own clan or race or class or whatever.

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  17. Primadent says:

    As one recent Vox article remarked the importance of race in american political discourse is really baffling to non-americans, and the same applies for gender. Opinions about race/gender that are only shared by fringe leftits here in France are completely mainstream in the US and are displayed daily on big news websites. On the other hand, social class is almost completely ignored, since all americans believe they belong to the “middle class”.

    I realized that all the more during the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January when all that americans were talking about was Charlie Hebdo’s supposed racism whereas in France this was a thing only among a handful of leftist activists.
    It is often said that american liberals are much more on the right than the european left but if we take all this social justice stuff into acount I’m really not sure.

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    • Tibor says:

      I second that notion. Then again, European countries are ethnically much more homogeneous than the US. Then again again, Latin American countries are ethnically about as diverse as the US and race is not such an issue there (maybe? I am not totally sure about this). Although there seem to be some racial divisions in Brazil.

      Also, this is not entirely true. A lot of European politics today is shaped by questions regarding Arabic and African immigration. It is partly a fear of poor people with little education coming and living off welfare and increasing the crime rate (IMO a reasonable objection…either to the welfare state or immigration, that depends on your political views), which has little to do with ethnicity but partly also “muslims are going to create a khalifate in Europe and kill us all!” which has a lot to do with ethnicity and religion (although these two are quite intertwined in this case). One does not wonder about “who is the arabic candidate?” in Europe because there are simply not enough Arabs as of yet for that question to matter. 64% of US citizens are white, but the same holds for about 90% or more of the citizens of pretty much all European countries.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Regarding opposition to immigration in Europe, my suspicion is that most of it is opposition on cultural grounds (“I don’t want immigrants coming in and changing the makeup of our town”), but it is largely presented in terms of economics (“They’ll take our jobs”) because the former reason is too politically incorrect to be stated out loud.

        I don’t have a problem with cultural change myself, but I sympathise with those who do, and think their stance is understandable and that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with having the preference for living and interacting mainly or entirely with people of your own culture.

        If I were to try to sell open borders to a cultural conservative, I would do it by presenting open borders as privatised borders: couple it with less state involvement in the economy, less redistribution, greater ability for individuals to control who they do and don’t interact with. The more you do that, the less it matters who else is living in the nation, because ‘the nation’ becomes less like a big collective tribe, more like a piece of land occupied by lots and lots of different tribes who organize their lives separately, interacting as trading partners rather than as family members.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, freedom from association would be nice to have.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “Yeah, freedom from association would be nice to have.”

            I’m not sure I understand how this is distinct from freedom of association. If you’re associating with some people, you’re implicitly not associating with everyone else.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not sure I understand how this is distinct from freedom of association. If you’re associating with some people, you’re implicitly not associating with everyone else.

            Suppose you build an apartment block, and want to rent out the apartments therein. Is it legal for you to indicate explicitly, for example, “no blacks”/”no Christians”/”no women”/”no Republicans”?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Legal, no, but that’s not what we were discussing, was it? Or are you saying that we (you, as I’m not American) have freedom of association, therefore since you can’t discriminate based on certain protected characteristics, this must not count as freedom of association but must be something else?

            I was working from the assumption that we were in agreement that in the US you do not have freedom of association. If you disagree, do you have a better reason than “the law says we do”? To return to my original question, in what sense are freedom of association and freedom from association not the same thing?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ah, I misunderstood your position. I agree that the US does not have freedom of association, and that freedom of association requires freedom from association.

            I have, however, heard at least one person opining that freedom of association is great, but freedom from association is evil, because of discrimination potential. I did not understand how they would like one without the other.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “I have, however, heard at least one person opining that freedom of association is great, but freedom from association is evil, because of discrimination potential. I did not understand how they would like one without the other.”

            Huh. I would make a stronger claim – that they are identical, two terms for the exact same thing.

            If that person who made this argument is here, would you mind elaborating? I would like to hear what you think makes these two terms different concepts.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Not an SSC commenter, AFAIK. Their argument was, paraphrased, “but then the blacks will get discriminated, so freedom from association is rightly forbidden”. As I said, I did not understand how this made sense.

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          • That was possible me, and the argument was that freedom of association never meant anything like discrimination,. it mean the right to hold rallies and political meetings. So the Freedom of Association that the Right talks about is kind of bad, but also kind of not what FoA really is.

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        • Tibor says:

          I don’t know, I think that most of at least the vocal opposition is actually on the cultural grounds AND acknowledged as such. You have Pegida in Germany which is quite obviously based on that (it is an acronym for what in English means “Partriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West”), Marine Le Pen in France also seems to be more concerned about cultural identity than economics (her economic policies are terribly, it is with some exaggeration a time machine to the 18th century mercantilism, being for high tariffs, against globalisation etc.). Then there is the Czech movement (again a translation to English) “We do not want Islam in the Czech republic”, which speaks for itself. Danes have something similar to Pegida too. The strongest Swiss party, SVP, had a billboard with white sheep kicking out the black one during the second last election (although it also amounted to a small scandal), which suggests that this is also not just about the economy (or that it was really not thought-trough).

          But yes, I guess that if someone is socially conservative AND tries to sell his views to someone who is not, then he would probably try to use economic arguments. But if someone just uses economic arguments I tend to (maybe naively) believe that that is what their objections actually are, because I don’t know how I would differentiate between the “masked social conservatives” and people who actually care about what they say they care about.

          Although maybe one could see what their stance is on immigration of people who are unlikely to end up on welfare (say highly qualified workers) but who come from a culturally/ethnically very different country.

          I also note that even people who are against Arabic or African immigration on cultural grounds are usually not against (not not nearly as much) immigration of East Asians or Indians who are culturally and ethnically at least equally different, but who tend to do better economically (whatever the reasons). This suggests that maybe even the cultural opposition is in a sense an economic opposition just in simpler terms – or rather that the economic problems translate into cultural opposition and there would be more or less none (save for actual neonazis) if there were no problems of economic nature associated with it.

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          • Jiro says:

            I also note that even people who are against Arabic or African immigration on cultural grounds are usually not against (not not nearly as much) immigration of East Asians or Indians who are culturally and ethnically at least equally different, but who tend to do better economically

            That’s because not a lot of people are against cultural differences just because they are cultural differences. They’re only against cultural differences that cause problems. It gets spun by opponents as “they hate all other cultures of whatever type” but that’s not actually true.

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          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Unassimilated Hindu or East Asian immigrants can be a “problem” for the natives, but only in the sense that it takes mental effort to learn their cultures. Think of how it’s mentally taxing for Aspies to learn their OWN culture’s rules, if this is a demographic you have any experience with.

            With Islamic immigration, the natives have to worry about violence if they offend the alien culture. No one should have to put up with that.

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        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          “I don’t have a problem with cultural change myself, but I sympathise with those who do, and think their stance is understandable and that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with having the preference for living and interacting mainly or entirely with people of your own culture.”

          Thank you. Living in a culture confers a vast number of benefits that we literally don’t have to think about, letting us save our finite mental power for higher things than basic social situations like “Is it polite to shake a woman’s hand when introduced?” or “Can I loiter in this suburb of Paris without paying the jizya?” Multiculturalism just hurls sand in the gears of daily social interaction.

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      • Bettega says:

        Brazil is as diverse as a country can get, but race does not influence elections. Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, some of the most African cities in the country, both culturally and demographically, never had black mayors, for example.

        Not that young activists, influenced by the American social justice movement, aren’t trying to change that, but that kind of black racial activism Americans are used to is mostly restricted to universities.

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        • LeeEsq says:

          Race in Brazil is a very complicated topic. It doesn’t quite play out the same way that it does in the United States for a variety of reasons but it is there. During the 19th century the Brazilian government encouraged European immigration to decrease the percentage of people of color in the population and decrease their potential political power even though they also officially maintained the notion that they were a multi-racial democracy. There was a lot of truth to this but race seems to be something of an element in the room in Brazil.

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        • Cauê says:

          The differences between the US and Brazil are interesting, considering very similar history and demographics. I think the most dramatic difference is that there’s no cultural element to race in Brazil. The notion of being able to tell if somebody is black or white by their name, the way they speak, or preferred activities is alien here.

          The cultural differences follow socioeconomic and regional lines, and are correlated with race to the extent that socioeconomic status and geography are correlated with race, which doesn’t help to understand how and how much each of those components matters to a given question. This is unfortunate, as we are not good at putting the “science” in “social sciences”, and could use the help.

          (ETA: this is where most of the discussions about race around here come from – and of course, “not as big a deal as in the US” still leaves plenty of room for nastiness)

          In politics race is not nearly as big as in the US (well, other than student-politics). One of the three serious contenders for the presidency last year was a black woman, but that was barely a thing in the campaign. (and I was going to mention that São Paulo’s first black mayor in the 90s wasn’t that big a deal but just now found out that no, the first was in the 40s, I just never heard of it)

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          • LeeEsq says:

            From a few documentaries I’ve seen on race in Brazil, including attempts to bring in affirmative action, race isn’t an issue in Brazil in the same way in the United States because there are a lot of strong taboos about talking about in public. It seems to be an elephant in the room thing. From an American liberal prospective, there seems to be a lot of tension in Brazil but it all simmers bellow a very heavy led and is waiting to boil over.

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          • Cauê says:

            This is actually a point of contention (enough so that I’m pretty sure the documentaries you’ve seen were leaning leftist).

            We’ve imported some of the discourse from the US, and as such it’s a lot stronger in universities, and from there to activists and TV, than it is on the streets. Anecdotally, it was only when I was in college arguing race that I realized that “hey, every single one of my uncles is black, that’s kinda funny” – I can’t imagine someone going a couple of decades in the US without it being a thing.

            Strong taboos? Perhaps, but nothing special compared to the US, or also compared to topics such as religion and politics, arguably. My take is it’s closer to “oh, no, there he goes again about the plight of the proletariat / how kids these days need Jesus” than it is to “oh no, don’t let him say the emperor has no clothes, it can’t become Common Knowledge!” – uncharitably, the guy in the former scenario will probably see himself as the one in the latter. As I said, point of contention.

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    • 4bpp says:

      > It is often said that american liberals are much more on the right than the european left but if we take all this social justice stuff into acount I’m really not sure.

      It depends on how you define “right” and “left”, too.

      The historical definition of monarchists versus populists? It’s not clear where the “social justice stuff” falls on that scale; from my perspective, it looks like the brainchild of a generation of kids who grew up between padded walls and tight supervision and want that tight supervision to be expanded to all of society now that they have stumbled out of the cradle. On the other hand, to its proponents, it’s all about a broad base of oppressed people rising up against a pervasive and entrenched power structure, and the question quickly becomes a sort of bravery debate about whether the entrenched power structure is white heteropatriarchy in league with the red tribe or Moldbug’s cathedral in league with the blue tribe.

      Laissez-faire versus guided economical policy? Everything in the US is far to the right of most of everything in Europe, and SJ has only marginal influence on that.

      General social liberality, measured in terms of what range of individual behaviours adherents of each side want to prohibit and what they would leave alone? The SJ circles might be somewhat more comfortable with transsexuality and what-not than the European Left, whereas I get the impression that Europeans these days actually have a larger window of political speech that is not considered being LITERALLY HITLER (I sure wouldn’t have bet on that ten years ago). Americans are probably still universally more on board with “you can do whatever you want in the privacy of your own home” in the sense of non-intervention in choices like feeding and schooling your children or smoking n packs a day. I think the American Left might win here by a very narrow margin, but this highly depends on how you weigh each aspect.

      The American Right and the American Left as points in whatever high-dimensional vector space they live in? Nothing in Europe is even remotely collinear to them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “Laissez-faire versus guided economical policy? Everything in the US is far to the right of most of everything in Europe, and SJ has only marginal influence on that.”

        When it comes to what the left in the US and the left in Europe want, rather than just what they have currently achieved and can demand openly, I think there is probably much less of a difference. With the right I can certainly believe that the European right and the US right have different end goals in mind; not so much with the left.

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        • Tibor says:

          Well, I don’t know how reliable it is, also it conflates several things together such as “freedom form corruption”, but anyway:

          http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

          You still have 4 countries (Switzerland, Estonia, Ireland and Denmark) in Europe which rank above the US and one of them (Switzerland) is even in the top 5 total (as the only country west of Singapore). Of course, then you also have France, Italy or (god forbid) Greece which are nowhere near the US, but also a lot of countries that are quite close (UK, Lithuania, Germany, Netherlands, Finland).

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    • Ricardo Cruz says:

      Wages in the USA are more than three times those in my country (Portugal). Most people bring lunch to work here, and some do not have lunch at all. Is that true in America? I expect that in countries where the marginal value of wealth is lower, other human conflicts become more salient, namely dating, prestige, etc. Maybe that explains why people care more about gender or racial status than financial status.

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    • LeeEsq says:

      European countries spent a good chunk of the 19th and 20th centuries obsessing about Jewish people in ways similar to the way that race is dealt with in the United States. From the French Revolution to the end of World War II, a good chunk of political energy was consumed by the issue of whether Jews should be emancipated and integrated into European life or continually excluded and persecuted.

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  18. John Sidles says:

    SSC readers are invited to verify that Trump’s own web site TRUMP: Make America Great Again — Positions explicitly sets forth a dead-simple four-fold prescription:

    • More money in your pocket, via lower taxes.
    • Keep your guns, and buy more if you want.
    • Build a big wall to keep out poor Hispanics,
       (and expel poor resident non-citizens).
    • No more H-1bs (except for ultra-elite STEM workers).

    Equally importantly, on all other issues Trump’s platform consists of fog onto which voters can project any desirable feature that they wish to perceive.

    Without debating the merits of Trump’s platform, it’s crafted such that at least one of its four explicit planks appeals to pretty much everyone who votes, and that goes for every last one a-you, regardless of yer race, color, or creed!

    For example, the Trump platform has ample appeal even for the STEM-heavy readership of SSC (by virtue of its H-1b-limiting plank).

    What does this mean exactly?  It means that Trump’s platform already is optimally well-crafted to win the GOP nomination outright — in witness of which, the Republican establishment already is strategically check-mated (as pundits are beginning to appreciate). And so the other Republican candidates are already condemned to long months of morale-destroying “suffering” (as chess-players call sustained playing at a disadvantage).

    Moreover nominee Trump will confront the Democrats with a mighty tough platform to win against (as pundits also are beginning to appreciate). It’s true that the Democrats can deploy the fan of reason to blow away the fog of Trump rhetoric … which risks blowing away the Democrat Party’s own fog too. Yikes!

    So interesting times lie ahead … as was prophesied twenty years ago … rationally there can only be one outcome … obviously it will take an outsider to beat an outsider … and so at next year’s deadlocked nominating conventions, the unthinkable must become thinkable … Al Franken for President!

    Because don’t Democrats deserve their own surprise candidate?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Good work. This post did not trigger any “Time Cube” detection subroutines.

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    • Alsadius says:

      You say that like the wishy-washy frontrunner’s campaign hasn’t been tried before. It works sometimes, sometimes the voters get the impression that the person promoting it is an unprincipled sleaze and it explodes. Given that we already know that the person promoting this one is an unprincipled sleaze…

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    • Linch says:

      “• More money in your pocket, via lower taxes.
      • Keep your guns, and buy more if you want.
      • Build a big wall to keep out poor Hispanics,
      (and expel poor resident non-citizens).
      • No more H-1bs (except for ultra-elite STEM workers).

      Without debating the merits of Trump’s platform, it’s crafted such that at least one of its four explicit planks appeals to pretty much everyone who vote.”

      Well, on the object-level I disagree with all 4 of them.

      “More money in your pocket, via lower taxes.” This is the hardest, but Pro: The Against Malaria Foundation has more money. Con: Most people spend their money on activities that are orders of magnitude less efficient. Pro: greater economic efficiency from less distortionary behavior. Con: Since utility is log with respect to income, decreased redistribution is probably net harmful.

      “Keep your guns, and buy more if you want.” Bad. (Slightly ameliorated by increased economic efficiency, but generally bad).

      “Build a big wall to keep out poor Hispanics, (and expel poor resident non-citizens).” Obviously bad. Isn’t it awfully convenient that the least powerful people in a community are always also the ones without a vote? #democracy.

      “No more H-1bs (except for ultra-elite STEM workers).”Not as bad as the third point, but still pretty bad. Decreased productivity is a pretty crappy situation, even if the “ultra-elite” gets an exemption.

      Of course, I can’t vote…so I guess John Sidles’ point still stands. I re-iterate once again that it’s awfully convenient that the scapegoats of every society also happens to be the politically excluded.

      If I were to ever run a campaign based on the Dark Arts, I would blame all of the nation’s problems on immigrants, foreigners, convicted felons, the mentally incompetent, and seventeen-year olds.

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      • Linch says:

        Which, coming to think about it, isn’t all that different from a normal election season.

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      • Cauê says:

        Pro: The Against Malaria Foundation has more money. Con: Most people spend their money on activities that are orders of magnitude less efficient. Pro: greater economic efficiency from less distortionary behavior. Con: Since utility is log with respect to income, decreased redistribution is probably net harmful.

        You should try throwing some numbers at this. I think you’re balancing wildly different sums.

        Also, orders of magnitude less efficient than the State?

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        • Linch says:

          “I think you’re balancing wildly different sums.” Well, OBVIOUSLY.

          It *was* a mostly facetious comment. I don’t actually think the donations of myself and my peers are more than epsilon in value when compared to the other considerations of national policy…

          (also, “orders of magnitude” was in relationship to the AMF, which I think is a very reasonable claim).
          $3400 marginal value of a life vs. over 5 million.

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      • Brian Donohue says:

        Maybe you weren’t listening closely, but at one point during the second Republican debate, Trump promised Americans “more of everything.”

        How can you be against that?

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        • Glen Raphael says:

          @Brian Donohue:

          Trump promised Americans “more of everything.”

          That might just be another way of saying “lower taxes”. Lower taxes means more of everything else – If we spend less on government we can spend more on luxuries, necessities, savings, and helping one another.

          On the other hand, building a wall and shutting out foreign workers and getting “tough on China” is another way of saying less of everything else – Less surplus value created from trade and comparative advantage. so in practice maybe those two policies cancel out.

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      • Marc Whipple says:

        Isn’t it awfully convenient that the least powerful people in a community are always also the ones without a vote? #democracy.

        It’s not “convenient:” it’s inevitable. And, depending on how you define “vote,” it’s applicable to all human societies that exist, have ever existed, or ever will exist.

        Acting like it’s some sort of deep observation rather than about .5 mikes above a tautology is a little disingenuous, if you’ll pardon my saying so.

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        • Linch says:

          It was a comment that arose out of frustrations arguing with people who think that democracy is the last and final solution for all of society’s ills, or that legislation is somehow an effective measure to end poverty (if they mentioned immigration+free trade then at least there’s an obvious vector), when it seems blatantly clear to me that the American public will never vote for significant amounts of foreign aid to places with names that are hard to pronounce.

          “And, depending on how you define “vote,” it’s applicable to all human societies that exist, have ever existed, or ever will exist.”

          Depending on how far back you go, there were definitely tribal structures that are significantly more egalitarian (not that they’re exactly great societies to live in), and moving forwards I see no reason, conceptually, why the Schilling fences of national borders will not eventually be dissolved once we have more global abundance. I see no real reason ex-felons can’t vote (unless the fact that they committed a crime is a comment about their judgement, but I’m uncertain how important that is, given that something like half of Americans think GMOs are dangerous already). W/r/t both mental disability and age, I see no reason in principle why we can’t say “people have the right to have a vote if they demand it.”

          All of this assumes that we’ll continue to flourish and have a democratic system moving forwards, which admittedly is somewhat contentious.

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      • me says:

        Well with the blaming seventeen-year olds you may be onto something

        Report comment

  19. Earnest_Peer says:

    I’m a little surprised that no one so far has talked about the *content* of the Black rejection of Bernie Sanders:

    Sanders’ position on race is that Black problems are mostly class and wealth problems, and best tackled as those. This is, mildly put, not the Black Lives Matter view on the issue. A lot of Black people still see racism as the root cause of a lot of their problems, and fear Sanders might not treat racism as a special interest.
    For one thing, that’s what the Black Lives Matter interruption was about. BLM got Sanders’ attention, then sent people to talk to him about race. (Although now that I write this down, I notice this issue is a few months old. If Sanders hasn’t changed course now, I don’t know if he will.)

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    • Emily says:

      Did you see him at the debate in response to the “Black lives matter/all lives matter” question? He pandered harder than Hillary. He has listened to the BLM folks.

      But most black voters could not tell you what Bernie’s stance on BLM is because most voters are just not paying that level of attention.

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  20. Svejk says:

    Journalists are disproportionately active on Twitter, and Trump has a very visible cadre of vocal racist supporters. No such high-visibility faction is attached to any other candidate, as far as I can tell. There was an extended Twitter dustup between these Trump supporters and more mainstream conservatives + Southpark libertarian types, which brought the contrast into even greater relief. That makes his support seem disproportionately white, because of its visible association with a smaller group that is exclusively white.

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  21. Daniel Armak says:

    > In other words, the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is totally unsupported by any polling data.

    Another possibility is that Trump *is* appealing specially to white voters, which increases his white vote, *without* decreasing his non-white vote. Is it truly a zero-sum game?

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    • meyerkev248 says:

      Yes Or at least, prior to Trump, I would’ve said that it certainly wasn’t zero-COST. Possibly net negative cost even.

      “Hispanics are all murderers and rapists” -> “Loses zero Hispanic votes”.

      *Quizzical Dog.jpg*. Lololololol. Ololololol. WTF. How is that even possible?

      Report comment

  22. nil says:

    Is it really that crazy to regard the Red Tribe as the direct heir to the “white nation” as it existed during segregation (with the Blue Tribe being an amalgamation of academic and professional culture, caucused with minority cultures)?

    Report comment

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Yes. If that’s your understanding of the Red Tribe, I don’t think you’ve actually spent any time with them, particularly those who lived through segregation.

      One of the most important things to realize about the Civil Rights Acts is that they didn’t just grant the right to vote to black people. In fact, more white people gained the right to vote as a result than black people lived in the South. The Democrats in the South (who were the racists then, remember) were corrupt as all shit, and responded to the Civil Rights Act with all kinds of shenanigans, including wide varieties of voter fraud, which Federal Courts clamped down on (and this is all why Federal Courts, until relatively recently I believe, had to approve all changes to voting laws and policies in these states). This horrified most of even their party base, who left, not because the Democrats suddenly became non-racist or even replaced their membership, but because the Democrats were behaving terribly.

      Lots of other shit was happening throughout the same era – local Democrats were trying to suppress critical radio stations throughout the South with equal airtime laws, for example. They started trying to enforce gun control against poor white people (they had long been enforcing it against poor black people throughout the South). So on and so forth. The Red Tribe was deliberately appealing to the poor, who the Democrats had never represented in the South; the Democrats had always represented the wealthy and well-educated there, and suppressed as strongly as possible the votes of anybody who wasn’t wealthy and well-educated.

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      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        I’m not unsympathetic to your account here, but I think you may be confusing “Red Tribe” and “Blue Tribe” with the actual Republican and Democratic Parties.

        Rich white racist Southerners might have been Democrats, but they aren’t really part of the Blue Tribe as Scott lays it out. Probably because the tribes had different characteristics then.

        Report comment

    • Sastan says:

      Crazy? No.

      Political tribe-motivated uncharitable wishful thinking? Yes.

      Report comment

    • cassander says:

      blue tribe is not some amalgamation of academic and professional culture, they’re the direct descendents, physically and intellectually, of the puritans, of which academia is one small corner.

      Report comment

  23. baconbacon says:

    What I find interesting in the comments is how many people still take politics seriously from a policy perspective. I don’t even mean the Hansonian “Politics isn’t about policy” or the Caplan “irrational voter” viewpoints. I mean, how many people actually follow politics and follow a candidate and think they are going to enact their actual platform as president? How many have gone back and listened to Obama’s speeches, promises and rhetoric and then compare to his actual presidency? This isn’t anything new, a chunk of FDR’s platform was that Hoover was to interventionist and running up far to big a deficit.

    I would say that for a rational and informed voter- caring about a candidate’s platform is irrelevant. What they actually get done reverts to what is popular at the time, and not what they promised to do. Questions about why Hispanics would or wouldn’t like Trump based on his statements are kind of silly (barring really inflammatory ones that stand alone as attacks on the whole community).

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  24. houseboatonstyx says:

    And although Bill Clinton was pretty popular among nonwhites, I don’t see anything super-special about Hillary that would make her attractive to them.

    Billary’s Third Term?

    Expanding the question to all voters…. When the Clintons first won the White House, a great deal was said (pro and con) about them being a team. As a Clintonista, I’ve been surprised ever since 2008 that Bill+Hillary’s record was not more used.

    I would like to see what overlaps there are among Democrats — indicating what age are supporting Sanders, how many of what age think he might actually win the nomination (and really want him to), how many remember the 1990s, or even the general election of 2000 when Nader’s “vote your hopes not your fears” weakened Gore, and Bush became President.

    I doubt that Sanders would run in November as Nader did. Sanders’s vote-splitting, if any, would be in the primary, weakening Hillary and giving the nomination to some Democrat less Progessive than either S or H. If Sanders did win the nomination, some Hillary supporters would vote Republican and others would stay home, perhaps giving the presidency to the Republicans again.

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    • baconbacon says:

      It would probably get used more in a general election than in a primary.

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      • houseboatonstyx says:

        I can see two perhaps opposed reasons why it hasn’t been used yet, but might be used in a General Election. In the 2008 primary, ‘running on Bill’s record’ would have been criticized by other Democrats as non-feminist because ‘she should run on her own without male help’. In a General Election, Republicans might ignore it because ‘Billary’s third term’ would get votes from Republicans who supported Bill in the 90s, and more votes in general from people well informed about what the couple did in the 90s.

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  25. Salem says:

    And if Sanders supporters accept that in their own case, maybe they’ll be more understanding when other people plead the same.

    Oh, God bless you Scott. Don’t ever change.

    But no, that’s not how it will play out.

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    • Orphan Wilde says:

      If the accusations seriously take hold, I think that’s exactly how it will play out, it will just be felt differently; it will be felt as a fracture between comfortable, affluent (“White”) Democrats, who will be re-labeled as racist (in part because, coming to understanding about this accusation, they’ll stop taking it seriously), and the rest. There might even be rhetoric about the final schism between the racist old Jim-Crow Democrats and the new Kindness and Understanding and Social Justice Equality For All Democrats.

      It’s important to understand Political Correctness as the glue which has historically held the various coalitions of the Democrats together. It’s also important to understand the fractures taking place in the coalitions as the result of the replacement of Political Correctness, which was about avoiding offending potential allies, with the insanity of the new variant, which is about finding offense wherever it can be found.

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    • Landstander says:

      The Berniebro article strikes me as more of a case of someone inventing a new outgroup, specifically to avoid the kind of realization that Scott hopes for.

      Report comment

  26. Vaniver says:

    As you once said before:

    Wait, You Mean The Invisible Multi-Tentacled Monster That Has Taken Over All Our Information Sources Might Be Trying To Mislead Us?

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  27. Vaniver says:

    So far these have been very benign splits. Everyone’s interests basically line up the same and nobody has a lot of reason to fight with anyone else (unlike the Republicans, who are already in civil war).

    I feel like this characterization is more reflective of your political perspective than the facts on the ground. That is, there’s an argument to be made that both parties are in civil war, and an argument to be made that both splits are benign, but arguing that one split is benign and the other split is a civil war seems like a ‘perspective-laden judgment.’

    Specifically, the opposite case–that the Republican’s interests basically line up the same and nobody has a lot of reason to fight and the Democrats are already in civil war–is the Steve Sailer case that the Republican party is the “party of the core” and the Democratic party is the “party of the fringes.”

    The more someone’s life is going well, the more likely they are to be Republican, and “plays nicely with others” is a Republican trait. So, sure, you’ve got the cultural conservatives and the fiscal conservatives who don’t always agree, but things get settled in a friendly enough fashion and people are willing to sacrifice some for the good of the group. But the Democrats are the party of resentment, and the only way to keep everyone angry at the same thing is to endlessly demonize white men, who everyone can be resentful against, because as soon as any other issue comes up, the fissures jump to the fore. How does the Democratic party discuss issues like, say, blacks robbing stores run by south Asians?

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    • Randy M says:

      I do think there are strong tensions in the republican party, as evidenced by Ace of Spades railing about the Republican’s “failure theatre” of only basically fighting for anything many conservative voters care about as an increasingly transparent ruse. Whether either party will actually fracture or voters will continue to ally long enough to vote the party on election day will be interesting to see.

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      • Jaskologist says:

        I think there is indeed a strong split in the Republican party, but it’s not between social and fiscal conservatives, it’s between the base and the leadership. Note that Ace isn’t himself a social conservative, but he’s upset by “failure theater” directed at them because he knows that the exact same tactic is used against the issues he cares about. A lot of the party leadership’s efforts have been oriented towards getting their voters to submit to them. This may be the technocrat/populist split mentioned upthread, but may also be better termed ruler/ruled.

        I don’t know how much a similar split exists on the Democrat side, but if you look at their presidential debates, it’s not exactly brimming with diversity, especially compared to the Republicans. You’d think some minorities would be pissed off about that.

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        • Randy M says:

          Yes, I wasn’t sure exactly how best to describe it, but, say, socially agnostic, pro-free market types may get fed up with Republicans who look to have confused pro-freedom with pro-business.

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        • Vaniver says:

          This may be the technocrat/populist split mentioned upthread, but may also be better termed ruler/ruled.

          I agree that there’s a major ruler/ruled divergence in the Republican party, but I think the same is true of the Democratic party, and the Labour party in Britain, and…

          I think the issues with Democrats are a little harder to demonstrate exist, because they show up in different avenues. The ruled contingent of the Republican party is on the ball enough to elect people to national office, and so we can look at Congresscritters disagreeing with each other and say “yes, clearly something is going on.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t similar fissures with Democrats.

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        • brad says:

          I think this formulation reifies a certain part of the Republican Party as *the* base.

          Contrary to what angry people calling into talk radio think Boehner, McConnell et. al. aren’t taking their marching orders directly from sub/urban FIRE professionals, small business owners, CxOs of medium companies, etc. They are taking their concerns into account, but that’s entirely proper because they too are a part of the base.

          The angry tea party types are pissed off with the leadership because the leadership recognize that they are, and must be given electoral realities, leading a coalition. The other parts of coalition also aren’t getting everything they want, far from it, but they are intelligent and reasonable enough to know that’s inevitable, not part of some kind of dastardly plot. And grown up enough to not want to burn down the country if they don’t get their way on everything.

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    • Held in Escrow says:

      The Republicans have actively threatened to form a coalition government with the Dems over the Freedom Caucus (Rep. Jolly R-FL said so much on CSPAN Radio). That’s not a benign split. There is absolutely nothing close to that in the Democratic party

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      • Sastan says:

        The Dems have been ideologically cleansed by three losing elections in the Congress. Everyone from any even marginal district is now a Republican, meaning they have far more political diversity than the Dems. It is my opinion that the “split” is about this and little else. The hardcore Reps from hardcore Republican strongholds are duking it out with the moderate Reps from swing districts. This is made worse by the fact they can’t get anything past a Democratic president. Frustration adds to the stew.

        Note the old “Blue Dog” moderate Dems folded some time back. The combination of two convincing presidential wins combined with hundreds of congressional losses has shifted the party significantly to the left. They now openly embrace a socialist candidate after years of “we’re not socialists, how DARE you, sir? How DARE you!” “Oh, BTW, we’d like to elect a socialist now.”

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      • LCL says:

        Yeah that seems pretty clear to me also. The most obvious indicators are the one you mentioned – congress – and the presidential primary. Where there are a zillion republicans and the two leading candidates are party outsiders who aggravate the establishment (and are popular for just that reason). Vs. the democrats who basically have had their establishment-as-it-gets candidate picked out for 8 years already and are just trying not to get bored.

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    • Maware says:

      the interests do not line up at all. They don’t hinder each other, but there’s no small internecine warfare against the social cons, who are now a liabilty.

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  28. moridinamael says:

    I think the broad-base support for Trump reflects the fact that most people don’t really care about platforms. When it comes to a politician’s platform, they can say whatever they think people want to hear. Everybody knows this, and this is why nobody actually reads the candidates’ platform statements. They already know what it’s going to say, and they also know that it won’t reflect anything the politician would actually do if elected.

    (Whether true or not, that is the popular perception of how politicians operate. Politician is synonymous with duplicitous weaselly chameleon psychopath.)

    Shake off all of your cultural education and sort of pretend you’re a hunter-gatherer, or just a young person ignorant in the ways of modern politics. I present to you two candidates:

    – Candidate A: inherited wealth and power, maintained and even grew this wealth and power, has personally run a medium-sized empire through several periods of economic disruption, beloved by his subordinates, married to supermodel, extremely dominant personality

    – Candidate B: born into normal circumstances, tricked people into voting for them by shamelessly appealing to what they wanted to hear, ideologue, known liar, known to be “inauthentic”, unappealing personality

    Who would be the better candidate to command the tribe?

    Note that Candidate B functions as a stand-in for *the popular perception of* every politician except Trump. Because you are a hunter-gatherer ignorant of the modern dogma, I have left out the platforms of the two candidates because you don’t care. If you’re blue-skinned and Candidate A happens to be green-skinned and wants to make it harder for blue-skinned people *from beyond the hills* to come join your tribe, what do you care? He still seems like a straight-talking badass compared to Candidate B. And if you’re purple-skinned and Candidate A hails from a group of people who traditionally make life harder for purple-skinned people, what do you care? He’s obviously not one of those guys! Look at how differently he behaves!

    Alternate framing: Would you rather hang out with Hillary or Trump? Your immediate reaction tells you everything you need to know.

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    • Alsadius says:

      > Would you rather hang out with Hillary or Trump?

      Is chugging battery acid an option?

      Report comment

    • stargirl says:

      Do you have evidence that Trump is “beloved by his subordinates?” If so this would significantly raise my opinion of Trump.

      Report comment

      • moridinamael says:

        This is very probably spin, but this quote:

        “I love the guy,” Calamari says. “My thing is, I’ve always promised I would, knock on wood, never let anything happen to him.” His voice wobbles. Lately, if you catch the right Trump speech and look carefully, you see Calamari. He likes to watch over his boss on the trail. “I just enjoy it. It’s not the money. I enjoy working for the man.”

        From this article:

        www dot bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-how-trump-invented-trump/

        seems to indicate that at least his immediate subordinates genuinely like working with him. I have no evidence that this feeling extends down the chain of command.

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    • Artemium says:

      Yeah, in the end it usually comes to that.

      Relevant article: http://www.paulgraham.com/charisma.html

      “Occam’s razor says we should prefer the simpler of two explanations. I begin by reminding readers of this principle because I’m about to propose a theory that will offend both liberals and conservatives. But Occam’s razor means, in effect, that if you want to disagree with it, you have a hell of a coincidence to explain.

      Theory: In US presidential elections, the more charismatic candidate wins.”

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      • FacelessCraven says:

        So who’s more charismatic, Trump or Clinton?

        I’d say Trump, but it seems like a hard sell. Clinton smiling has always struck me as the face of sociopathic madness, but Trump is basically the archetype of rich smug bastard.

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          Trump can be charismatic. I’ve seen him do it.

          I have never, ever seen Hillary acting in what I personally (but then I’m weird) consider a charismatic fashion.

          Trump may be smug: Hillary comes across, as has been pointed out, as a barely restrained sociopath. She literally frightens me. (Well, makes me nervous. I’m pretty sure I could take her if the SS didn’t get involved, though I’d probably lose some skin.)

          Who would I rather hang out with? Trump. I bet I could make him laugh at himself. I might be fooling myself, but I at least get that feeling.

          I’d always have a tiny little fear in the back of my mind that Hillary would try to tear my throat out with her teeth if I did exactly the wrong thing.

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  29. Randy M says:

    I surprised to be the first to make this point:
    Blacks may well support Trump more (not than Obama or generic D, but than those who think he’s ipso facto racist think they would) because contrary to the somewhat racist assumption, all minority groups are not necessarily the same. Blacks probably have the most to lose from illegal immigration (or even expanded legal immigration) due to the increased competition for lower skilled jobs, low cost housing, etc. Hispanic citizens may feel likewise if they are more pragmatic than nationalist.
    This may be counter-balanced by the increase in power they would wield as aclass-based coaliltion, but I think not because tribal ties are stronger and the white-versus minority organizing principle is decreasing in salience as whites decrease to a mere plurality (now or in a near projected future).

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    • Vaniver says:

      Blacks probably have the most to lose from illegal immigration (or even expanded legal immigration) due to the increased competition for lower skilled jobs, low cost housing, etc. Hispanic citizens may feel likewise if they are more pragmatic than nationalist.

      Blacks definitely lose from illegal immigration. But I would argue that legal, established Hispanics lose more than they gain from illegal Hispanic immigration, for roughly similar reasons that free Northern Blacks lost more than they gained from Southern Blacks moving North after the Civil War. Sure, there are more numbers, but people judge groups by their averages, and if there is any sort of racial or social segregation one loses out if the average externality of their group decreases. (That is, if Asians will live near Asians, and both Malays and Chinese agree that Chinese make better neighbors than Malays, then Asians will prefer to block Malay immigration, even if they’re Malay, and especially if they can pull in their relatives in a way not stopped by generic opposition to Malay immigration!)

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      • Thomas Sowell, in _Ethnic America_, discusses the repeated pattern of a relatively small number of an ethnicity immigrating, becoming established and accepted, then having to deal with the effect of large scale immigration by low status members of what can be seen as the same ethnic group. Sephardim/Ashkenazi, Lace Curtain Irish/Famine Irish, Free People of Color (northern blacks)/southern peasants coming north, Northern Italians/Sicilians.

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        • Brian Donohue says:

          If you’re Jewish and your family comes from Galveston, thank Jacob Schiff.

          19th century established American Jews were largely from middle and western Europe- modern, sophisticated, and a bit horrified at the prospect of backlash from a high concentration of recently-arrived poor Eastern European shtetl Jews congregating on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. So, Schiff hit upon the plan of routing ships to Texas.

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        • onyomi says:

          This is exactly what I thought of when reading about the surprising support for Trump among non-Cuban Hispanics.

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    • Chalid says:

      Going to amplify with an even simpler point. Black people hate generic Republicans. Whatever you may think about Trump, he’s definitely not a generic Republican, so you’d expect him to be hated less. (Kind of the “mutations are generally bad” theory but in reverse.)

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      • Randy M says:

        Not sure I buy that as explanatory. Maybe they hate generic republicans because the media paint them in a negative light, or because they are more likely to be white, or percieved as wealthy. Trump does share some things in common with generic republican, and in some of his differences, he is further away from typical blacks, ie, less religious.

        He is less southern/rustic than many republicans; it might be interesting to compare his support with that Rudy Guilliani recieved a while back, or maybe Chris Christie.

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        • Chalid says:

          It’s definitely not wealth (Clinton vs Sanders, Kerry vs Bush) and definitely not “perception of whiteness” (every presidential candidate pre-Obama was equally white). And if you blame “the liberal media” you have to explain why black people are apparently universally brainwashable while white people are largely immune.

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          • Randy M says:

            2 extra hours of TV per day?
            http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics/
            Or, just different TV. Black Americans are known to have different viewing habits than white Americans. I wonder if there’s studies on how different parties are portraying on shows watched more by different ethnicities.
            Not much though (do I wonder about it). I wasn’t trying to prove anything other than that Trump shares some characteristics with sterotypical republican, so I don’t think that alone was sufficient explanation.

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  30. anon says:

    I’m an European and I don’t pay much attention to policy or politics. To me, Trump doesn’t look like he’d be the worst thing ever; being a CEO is a flag for being way more qualified for the job than the professional politicians.

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  31. Zorgon says:

    Kind of amazed that this doesn’t have a “Things I Will Regret Writing” tag.

    Report comment

    • Maybe there’s some marginal value of regret going on. I mean, you will probably regret it the first time you stand up and speak unpopular truth, but the fifth? The tenth? I think most of the people who would give Scott cause to regret writing things checked out at “Literally Voldemort.” many months past.

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    • Artemium says:

      I don’t think that he wrote anything controversial.

      I see it as kind of revenge move on the people who are promoting stuff like “Poliamory/LessWrong/Atheism are mostly white and male so they must be racist.”

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  32. Quite Likely says:

    I agree with the interpretation of the Bernie campaign. The liberal professional class is simply a lot more tuned in politically than minority voters are. If you’ll recall, Hillary had a fairly solid lead among black voters even against Obama this time in 2007: http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/17/poll.blacks.democrats/

    They came around eventually when they a) realized Obama had a real shot, and b) just started paying attention at all.

    Now on the one hand Bernie’s not black, so he doesn’t get that boost, but I can definitely still see the same phenomenon helping his standing quite a bit with minority voters starting early next year.

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  33. Iskra says:

    I’m going to keep sticking to the belief that, this early in the game, polls are based mostly on making good television. Bernie is only fun to watch for social groups that skew heavily white, while everyone can get on board with the Trump show.

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  34. Nicholas says:

    Anechdota here, but every non-white participant in the Occupy Movement that I know personally says that the OM was actually extremely racist, to the point where one of them wrote a book about it.

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  35. dndnrsn says:

    With the discussion of what interest groups, etc make up the two parties, a thought I have pondered for a while:

    If the US were to adopt a proportional representation system of some sort, presumably there would be more parties, with the two major parties splitting, and tiny fringe parties that can at most act as spoilers gaining influence.

    How many parties would the US end up having? What would they look like?

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    • brad says:

      From my vaguely remembered college political science, you should expect 2^k parties, where k is the number of major social cleavages in the society. Even where there are strong correlations you still expect that to happen because of saliency differences.

      Report comment

      • dndnrsn says:

        It would be interesting to see the reasoning behind that number.

        Germany has 4 parties with seats, but their system is designed to keep small parties out. Holland and Israel have, I think, straight PR, and 11 and 10 parties with seats, respectively.

        If the US is as socially divided as some suggest, pure PR would presumably lead to a great number of parties.

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        • M.C. Escherichia says:

          > It would be interesting to see the reasoning behind that number.

          With n “important issues”, there will be 2^n combinations of positions one could take on the important issues. i.e. 3 issues means 8 possible combinations, thus 8 parties to choose from.

          This is highly abstract and theoretical though (and assumes all issues are binary yes/no issues).

          Report comment

    • Sastan says:

      Well, there’s regional, class and ideological things to consider.

      The coasts are the most obvious, versus interior. Labor versus professionals/Immigrants. Environmentalists. Religions.

      Honestly, if there were some way of breaking down the red/blue tribalism, I think a solid plurality of middle America would go for something like a Labor plank. Socially slightly conservative, economically liberal, mildly religious. This could scoop up the old Union white vote, the lower class Republican vote, and those two groups probably make up 20-30% of the voters. Split the remaining between a socially liberal/economically libertarian technocratic party and a hard-left SJW coastal party, with perhaps a rump Green party just to make it interesting and I think you could cover the electorate with three or four parties.

      Of course, this relies on one or more of those parties making alliances with the basically right-wing* subcultures of blacks and hispanics.

      *Right wing in terms of their own community.

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      • dndnrsn says:

        I think you’d have more parties than that.

        Even the German system, which is meant to limit a profusion of parties and keep fringe parties from getting a toehold, has 4 parties with seats, and had a few more with seats in recent memory. And the US is far more diverse (ethnically, geographically, etc) than Germany.

        If the US had a system like the Netherlands, I think there could be potentially dozens of parties able to get seats. Again, the Netherlands is much less diverse than the US, and they’ve got 11 parties with seats, including one devoted to the interests of senior citizens. Coalition governments are the norm, and given the number of seats a party can get a seat with less than 1% of the vote.

        There are a lot of weird bedfellows in US politics. I think, for instance, in a Dutch-style system, with a national party list, your prediction of an “SJW” party would fall apart: a lot of those groups have nothing in common, and if you could get a seat with a tiny fraction of the vote (let’s say they kept the House and Senate – that would be 1% of the vote to get a Senate seat, and less than .25% to get in the House)…

        I could see several parties, each focused on one of many “social justice” issues: there could easily be two LGBT parties (a reformist, “politics-of-respectability” party vs a more radical party) a Black Lives Matter party, several feminist parties, etc.

        EDIT: Honestly, although it would probably be a complete shitshow for getting anything done, the US adopting the Netherlands’ electoral system would at the very least be really, really amusing. There would totally be parliamentary brawls.

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  36. TheOmnivore says:

    I Trump gets the “White Candidate” label because of the white nationalists who defend him (a virtually singular event in modern politics). While there are racial identity groups that like Hillary (or, I guess Sanders?) no one is as demonized as white nationalists–and coming out to support Trump is a pretty big deal for them.

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  37. Charles says:

    What strikes me about this essay is you don’t actually discuss what the candidates say, you only discuss who likes them. I don’t think pundits are saying Trump is playing to white fear based on polls showing he has only white support, but on his saying terrible things about Mexicans and Muslims.

    Now I’m going to have to use a Hitler example so before I begin I just want to make clear that I am not saying Trump is in any way a Hitler type; it’s just a good example of the vagueries of political support.

    I have read (and I don’t know what these claims are based on, or how true they are) that early in his career Hitler had Jewish supporters. If true, that wouldn’t surprise me, because some Jews would only be paying vague attention and wouldn’t have heard Hitler hated Jews, and some would have said, oh, he’s just doing that to get votes, but he doesn’t really mean it, and I like his certainty. But in retrospect we can say that any essay that used Jewish support as an indication that Hitler wasn’t running on an anti-Jewish message was not well thought out.

    Trump is playing to white fear, but his supporters are, by and large, idiots drawn in by his blunt “honesty” and his assuredness. Idiots come in all colors, so it isn’t surprising that black idiots and Hispanic idiots and, I’m sure, idiots of every race on the planet would find Trump’s histrionics appealing. But that doesn’t change the racism in his message.

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    • Vaniver says:

      What strikes me about this essay is you don’t actually discuss what the candidates say, you only discuss who likes them. I don’t think pundits are saying Trump is playing to white fear based on polls showing he has only white support, but on his saying terrible things about Mexicans and Muslims.

      Exactly. Scott is pointing out that it’s kind of silly to use labels like “white” based on what a candidate says, instead of who that candidate appeals to. It assumes a relationship between what a candidate says and who that appeals to that simply isn’t correct.

      Idiots come in all colors, so it isn’t surprising that black idiots and Hispanic idiots and, I’m sure, idiots of every race on the planet would find Trump’s histrionics appealing.

      Which is fine–if one is willing to fully accept the claim that the color demographics of support for a movement are unrelated to the racism (or not) of that movement.

      Basically, there are two lines of attack: “Because there are so few blacks in your group, you must be racist, regardless of what you say” and “Because the things you say are troublesome, you must be racist, regardless of how many blacks there are in your group.” By conservation of expected evidence, each line of attack must have a mirror: having sufficient blacks would be evidence against racism, and saying non-troublesome things would be evidence against racism.

      But it’s clear that the line of attacks often go in opposite directions. As pointed out by Scott before, the Catholic Church is anti-woman in terms of what it says, but women are overrepresented among its adherents. So we are left with a trilemma: either abandon the first line of attack, abandon the second line of attack, or abandon the facade of intellectual consistency. (That is, choose whether to focus on what someone says or who someone’s supporters are based on whether you want them to be considered racist or not.)

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      • Anonymous says:

        “Basically, there are two lines of attack: “Because there are so few blacks in your group, you must be racist, regardless of what you say” and “Because the things you say are troublesome, you must be racist, regardless of how many blacks there are in your group.””

        Perhaps both are required for a person to be non-racist. As evidence of this I would point out that what you call the mirror of the first of these lines of attack:

        “having sufficient blacks would be evidence against racism”

        is seen, when made as a claim of evidence against racism, as the opposite: as evidence of racism. Only a racist would point out their black friends in an attempt to avoid being branded racist.

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        • Cet3 says:

          For a lot of people who think “racism” is a real thing that’s relevant to the everyday world of respectable Westerners, being non-racist isn’t something that can be realistically proven.

          Report comment

        • hlynkacg says:

          Anonymous says: Only a racist would point out their black friends in an attempt to avoid being branded racist.

          So what do you do if the person genuinely does have black friends, or even a black spouse?

          Do you think that you are better qualified to asses that person’s racism (or lack there of) than their black associates are? If so why?

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          • Cet3 says:

            If you think black people are never friends with people they think are racist, you’re starting from an incompatible understanding of racism. Not sure exactly how to explain it, but imagine if someone argued that having friends proves you aren’t an asshole.

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          • Anonymous says:

            @hlynkacg

            I was describing arguments I have seen made by others, not my own views.

            @Cet3

            That’s true. On the other hand, I think being friends with someone with a certain characteristic is evidence that you don’t hate people with that characteristic. Not conclusive proof, but evidence. I suspect a higher proportion of white people with close black friends are non-racist, compared against white people with no close black friends.

            I also suspect that people lovers tend to have more friends than misanthropes.

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          • Nornagest says:

            I think being friends with someone with a certain characteristic is evidence that you don’t hate people with that characteristic.

            [rubber Robin Hanson mask] Racism is not about hate. [/rubber Robin Hanson mask]

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Nornagest

            I can’t think of any useful definition of racism according to which I would not expect white people with close black friends to be less racist, on average, than white people with no close black friends.

            Report comment

          • Cet3 says:

            You appear to have shifted from “friend” to “close friend” and from “not racist” to “less racist on average.”

            Report comment

          • Anonymous says:

            @Cet3

            My original claim above:

            “I suspect a higher proportion of white people with close black friends are non-racist, compared against white people with no close black friends.”

            Not seeing any shift.

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          • hlynkacg says:

            Anonymous says: I was describing arguments I have seen made by others, not my own views.

            Ahh… My mistake then.

            Cet3 says: If you think black people are never friends with people they think are racist, you’re starting from an incompatible understanding of racism.

            I would argue that if your definition of “racism” is so diffuse that it allows “racists” to have interracial friendships and even be in interracial marriages, it looses all value as a qualifier.

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          • JBeshir says:

            Friends is pretty plausible; offering the exceptionally talented members of a disliked group the opportunity to be “the good one” and be high status as a tacit exchange for them not applying those talents to helping the rest of their group and being strongly on your side is pretty standard human behaviour.

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          • hlynkacg says:

            @ JBeshir.

            How would you differentiate between that sort of tokenism and a tribe that isn’t defined along racial lines? Is there a difference?

            I’m reminded of the bit in Scott’s neo-reaction post about playing well in groups.

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          • Charles says:

            I had a friend who was Jewish and married to a non-Jew. He believed Jews ran all the corporations and the media and were lying and manipulating the world. When he said that I was stunned, because yeah, you expect someone who marries a Jew to not be anti-Semitic.

            My point being, a white person can have black friends and be racist. Racism is a set of beliefs about a racial group, but friendship is a set of beliefs about an individual. People aren’t logically consistent, which is why they can believe all black people are lazy even if the hardest working, most likable person they know is black. They would simply call that the exception that proves the rule.

            In the same way, you can be black and have a racist white friend. Because you like hanging out with someone does not mean you agree with all their positions.

            Think about politics. Do we vote for people whose political philosophy is 100% ours? Not usually. We pick a few important issues and use that as a guide. If you meet someone who’s funny and smart and always fun to hang out with, you might hang out with that person even if they are racist, or even if think people of their race are inferior. It’s like sleeping with someone who’s really hot but stupid; sure, maybe you’d prefer someone who’s really hot and smart, but some people are willing to compromise on one to get the other.

            I knew a guy who said shockingly racist things all the time, and he had a lot more black friends than I did. He had a lot more friends in general; he was charming and extroverted. He also genuinely liked his black friends. He just thought they were stupider and lazier than his white friends.

            Having friends of another race does not mean you aren’t racist. And using the argument “I’m not racist because I have friends of another race” is a crap argument because of that.

            So how do you prove you’re not racist? You can’t. All you can do is try and not do or say racist shit.

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          • Cauê says:

            So how do you prove you’re not racist? You can’t.

            If there’s no difference between someone who is accused of racism and is a racist and someone who is accused of racism and isn’t racist, then how is anyone supposed to take seriously an accusation of racism?

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Charles

            Even so, would you not expect there to be any kind of trend there? I would expect, for example, people married to Jews to be less anti-Semitic, on average, than people not married to Jews.

            While having close relationships with members of the group you are accused of hating is not conclusive proof that the accusation is false, I think it is evidence that it’s false.

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          • Linch says:

            @Charles: I think you’re confusing the claim of a statistical relationship with that of an absolute logical implication.

            Eg, when I say, “men are taller than women” I mean this in the sense that men *on average* (and the median man) is taller than the *average* woman (and the median woman). Pointing out the single instance of a woman that’s taller than a man does not invalidate my claim, at least in common usage.

            Similarly, when somebody says:

            “I suspect a higher proportion of white people with close black friends are non-racist, compared against white people with no close black friends.” This seems like a reasonable claim that you should take them on their word for.

            The fact that you could come up with several examples of racists with close black friends (taking your word for it) does not disprove the general case in the *common* usage of the term. The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, and you need a lot more than personal experience to be useful data.

            If you truly believe that something can’t be generally true since you found a single counterexample to demolish the claimed general relationship, I’m updating towards thinking that you’re either a pure mathematician or really, really naïve.

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          • Charles says:

            @Linch, I realize that it can be tricky here to see which post one is replying to. I should have included @hlynkacg in my comment above. I’m not arguing with the theory that a white person with black friends is less likely to be racist than a white person with no black friends. I haven’t seen anyone offer proof of this (and if you’re going to criticize me for anecdotal evidence I think I can fairly criticize you for a supposition with no evidence whatsoever), but I grant it’s not an unreasonable theory.

            But so what? Having black friends is not proof that you’re not racist, and trying to use it as proof is silly, which is why people always mock “some of my best friends are …” comments. While I acknowledge that in a group of 1,000 people, those with black friends may be statistically less likely to be racist than those with no black friends, on the individual level it doesn’t prove anything at all.

            Even if we say that black friends are evidence of a better likelihood that you’re not racist, we have no way of weighting that evidence. Perhaps having black friends makes you 50% less likely to be racist, or 1%. If someone can produce a study showing friendship as a strong predictive factor I would love to read it.

            @Cauê, of course there’s a difference between someone who is accused of being a racist and isn’t and someone who is accused of being a racist and is. What people call you doesn’t effect what you are. If I call a maple tree an oak tree, it’s still a maple tree.

            The fact that you can’t categorically prove you aren’t in any way racist doesn’t automatically invalidate all accusations of racism. Some accusations of racism are judgement calls, but that doesn’t mean you can then say, well, since it’s all a matter of opinion and some people will never be convinced, I won’t take any accusations seriously. If the KKK burns a cross on someone’s lawn, it’s not a judgement call.

            I feel that people are a little too eager to “prove” they’re not a racist. I feel people would be better off if, when accused of racism, they said, “please explain your perspective to me and let me explain my perspective to you and let’s see why we disagree on whether I’m racist” rather than “I have wonderful black friends so clearly I’m not racist at all.”

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          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Charles,
            The question still stands. What makes think that you are better qualified to asses that person’s alleged racism than the affected party, or ought be offended on someone else’s behalf?

            Are you a fantastically racist individual who feel’s the need to conceal their sins by feigning outrage over otherwise friendly banter between friends?

            You yourself have all but conceded that accusations of racism are a Kafka Trap so how do you respond?

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          • Cauê says:

            If you can’t effectively defend against a false accusation, then one can’t tell a true accusation from a false one. What’s the (legitimate) use? It carries a more information on those accusing than on the one accused.

            I feel that people are a little too eager to “prove” they’re not a racist.

            This is because the accusation is abhorrent to the people being accused, even besides the heavy costs it brings. And that is why this disgusting little kafkatrap is so powerful and used so often.

            The only ones who won’t get an emotional reaction to the accusation are the self-identified, proud racists. Imagine a fantasy cursed sword, that cuts anyone except those who are actually evil.

            (well, cuts anyone the first time, anyway)

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          • Anonymous says:

            @Charles

            I don’t find either of those objections particularly convincing. Pointing out that you are a member of a group which is less likely on average to have a certain characteristic than non-members is evidence against you having that characteristic. I don’t think it’s useful to think in terms of proof or disproof, because neither are things that you can realistically attain for the kind of intangible question that “is this person a racist” is.

            Nor do I think the fact that you cannot weight this evidence makes it useless. I think we can agree that certain evidence, such as burning a cross on someone’s lawn, is fairly strongly in favor of the person in question being a racist. I would hope we can also agree that other evidence, such as being a member of a Diversity Committee and working tirelessly for years to combat racism, is fairly strongly in favor of the person in question not being a racist. Inbetween those extremes we can find evidence of varying strengths for either conclusion. I think you could safely claim, for example, that having black friends is better evidence of non-racism than having a black sister-in-law, which in turn is better evidence than having spoken to a black person once. Even if you can’t put a precise figure on these factors, I think you can have a vague idea of how they might influence the conclusion you are trying to come to.

            I also think it’s totally reasonable for someone accused of something awful like being a racist to present whatever evidence they can, whether conclusive proof or not. I don’t think you need to read ulterior motives into someone for mentioning their black friends in the face of a character-destroying accusation such as racism.

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          • Charles says:

            @hlynkacg, I have never claimed that if a white person says something to a black person that sounds racist to me, and the black person says, oh no, that’s not racist at all, that I would feel my judgment was superior to theirs.

            What I said is a white and black person can be friends, and the white person can be racist and the black person decides not to call him on it because he doesn’t think it’s worth it. But that does not mean the black person is condoning the statement. You can’t say something everytime your friends say something stupid if you don’t want to lose all your friends.

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        • Cauê says:

          Only a racist would point out their black friends in an attempt to avoid being branded racist.

          The only way I can see this being true is with a weird definition of “racist”, or a too loose use of “only”.

          And this is partly snark but part genuine curiosity: How does one defend against being branded racist? It doesn’t seem to be possible once the attackers have decided on it.

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          • Fazathra says:

            Ritually self-flagellating, confessing your crimes, and proclaiming that you are a horrible person and your accusers are always right about everything seems to do the trick.

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          • Airgap says:

            I think the best argument for Cet3’s position is that pointing to your black friends as evidence of your non-racism is a sign of a guilty conscience. If you really weren’t racist you’d reply “Oh, fuck off.” Although I agree that this is a much better answer, it’s hard to draw the line between a guilty conscience and scrupulosity, and pretty unfair to brand the scrupulous as more racist than the confident.

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          • keranih says:

            “Oh fuck off,” though, has the effect of shutting down conversation and assumes malice on the part of the accuser. “But, I’m married to one!” is an argument in good faith in that it assumes the accuser to be mistaken but amiable to reason.

            (And again, if ones definition of ‘racism’ includes people married to, rooming with, or good friends with people of the race under consideration, I think that one has chosen an evil with rather low side effects to rail against. There are more important things to work on, imo.)

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        • Airgap says:

          “Only a racist would point out their black friends in an attempt to avoid being branded racist.”

          No, but if we’ve decided to brand someone as racist because it serves our interests to do so, it certainly makes sense to interpret anything they do as evidence of their racism.

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        • Marc Whipple says:

          In our society both are required (but are barely, if at all, sufficient) to not be racist. That is why either line of attack works by itself, which means that there are few people or groups, if for no other reason than statistical chance, that can’t be successfully defined as racist.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      Any citation for the Hitler claim? If he had the same levels of Jewish support as the average German politician, that would…be really interesting if true and maybe make me rethink some things. Unless it had a boring explanation like “he kept the anti-Semitism really quiet unti later on”, which based on Mein Kampf it doesn’t seem like he did.

      It would be a pretty strong criticism of democracy in general, basically a “we can’t trust groups to look out for their own interest, they need the media and elites to dictate to them who is and isn’t on their side”.

      I agree that which candidate has the most pro-white policies is a different question than which candidate has the most white support. But the claims made by the articles I linked to in the first paragraph seem very clearly about which candidates are going for white voters.

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      • dndnrsn says:

        I too would be interested in a citation, and how early this was in Hitler’s political career. He wasn’t necessarily consistent in what he said over the course of his political career, although once the war started, he started to retcon that he had been consistent all the way through.

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      • Chris Conner says:

        The Association of German National Jews was a conservative Jewish group in Germany that supported complete assimilation of German Jews and the expulsion of immigrant Jews from eastern Europe. It lasted until 1935 when the Nazis declared it illegal and dissolved it.

        They supported the Nazis at least to the extent of publishing this statement in 1934: “We have always held the well-being of the German people and the fatherland, to which we feel inextricably linked, above our own well-being. Thus we greeted the results of January, 1933, even though it has brought hardship for us personally.”

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      • John Sidles says:

        Scott Alexander requests “Any citation for the [claim that ‘early in his career Hitler had Jewish supporters’]”

        Trigger warning: SSC readers who confine their attention to works that are explicitly quantitative and rational, reaching conclusions that are short and simple, need to read any of the citations that follow.

        On the other hand: SSC readers who regard case histories as instructive are invited to consider the well-documented life and times of the German Jewish right-wing Nobel-winning chemist Fritz Haber (1868 —1934).

        Haber is celebrated as the “father of chemical warfare”, and also (paradoxically?) as the scientist whose researches achieved (arguably) more than any other in regard to alleviating world hunger.

        Any serious study of Fritz Haber’s life extends to:

           • Haber’s pacifist chemist-wife Clara Immerwahr
             (early death by suicide)

           • Haber’s chemist-colleague Otto Sackur
             (early death by laboratory explosion)

           • Sackur’s physicist-colleague Hugo Martin Tetrode
             (early death by autistic isolation+tuberculosis)

        Together these four intertwined lives embody pretty much every theme that matters to SSC readers, including the paradoxical ideological embraces of which Scott Alexander seeks a better understanding.

        In particular, these four lives touch also upon my own thematic interest in “order”, in all its performative STEM-manifestations, ranging from quantum entropy (see, e.g., the historical origins of Sackur-Tetrode entropy descriptions) to the regenerative healing of battlefield injuries (with healing viewed as a medically-induced disorder-to-order transition).

        See for example, Massimiliano Badino and Jaume Navarro’s “Dissolving the boundaries between research and pedagogy: Otto Sackur’s Lehrbuch der Thermochemie und Thermodynamik” (2013). This Sackur-style “dissolution of boundaries” has emerged as a concretely performative theme that spans the entire ecosystem of 21st century STEM-disciplines. We can learn plenty from the study of its origins, by cognition both rational and empathetic.

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        • suntzuanime says:

          You could have just said “no”.

          Report comment

          • John Sidles says:

            suntzuanime says: “You could have just said ‘no’ ‘yes’.”

            Imprecision by suntzuanime …
            correction by me …

            Liese Meitner:
            Letter to Otto Hahn

            March 21, 1933

            Today is the ceremonious Reichstag inaguration in Potsdam. […] Hitler spoke very moderately, tactfully, and personally. Hopefully things will continue in this vein.

            If the level-headed leaders can prevail […] then there is hope for developments turning out well in the end. Periods of transition almost inevitably produce all kinds of blunders, of course. Everything now depends on rational moderation.

            It surely must have been difficult for [Fritz] Haber to raise the swastika flag. I was glad to hear by chance that he personally gave [Richard] Kuhn the directions in raising the brand-new flag; that is so much more dignified than if this requirement had been forced upon him.

            Note: like (chemist) Fritz Haber, (physicist) Lise Meitner was of Jewish descent … in view of subsequent genocidal events, it is unsurprising that in her post-war years, along with many of her colleagues (both Jewish and not) Prof. Meitner bitterly regretted the German scientific community’s “moral failing” in hoping for “rational moderation” in national socialism during the 1920s and 1930s.

            Not every German scientist sought moderation, needless to say; the above-mentioned swastika flag-raiser Richard Kuhn became an enthusiastic Nazi-collaborator and Jew-denouncer.

            It has been a pleasure to assist your historical comprehension, suntzuanime … by specific, verifiable citation of primary historical documents.

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          • Jiro says:

            I’m pretty sure it’s a fallacy to say “they made a decision. This decision turned out really badly for them. Therefore, making that decision was a bad idea (and for other people to make similar decisions is also probably a bad idea).” Even if the decision turns out so badly that people die.

            Hindsight is easy. It is plausible that without hindsight, supporting Hitler wasn’t a bad idea at all, because there’s no way to distinguish in advance between supporting Hitler and having him kill you, supporting Hitler and having him win some things but not get a chance to kill you, and supporting someone who just sounds like Hitler but isn’t.

            It’s not as if you’ll have heard of the zillions of cases where someone supported a Hitler-sounding person, got what they wanted, and nobody died. Availability bias.

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  38. Maware says:

    Trump’s popularity is more of the last gasp of conservatism in the USA.

    There are three legs of the Republican party.
    1. Social conservatives (which a lot of minorities are, and explains some of the support for him among them)
    2. Economic conservatives
    3. Hawks.

    All three have been routed.

    The social conservatives…man we were defeated hard. Sexual revolution + mass media/internet culture destroyed us, because the form of social conservatism that was in the USA was weak and had no real defense or backing apart from Christianity. The defeat is ongoing, and will probably end with the Catholic church destigmatizing homosexuality. They will, because they are held hostage with their property and need for social approval.

    Economic conservatives probably survived the best, but failures of austerity and trickle down economics means not much more than wonks would vote for them. You have a part-time economy of underemployment: it’s now impossible to argue for less welfare and less taxes.

    Hawks…well goodbye to them. We’ve been sending young men to the various deserts of the world for thirty years. We’ve had non-stop war of one kind or another, and no one would really back someone who did the traditional policeman of the world hawk platform.

    Trump is what happens when people subconsciously realize this. You turn on your leaders when you’ve been routed, not when its just a setback. That’s when you get leaders like Trump.

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    • Nornagest says:

      Meanwhile, back in reality, the Republiicans have control of both houses and most state legislatures and governorships. And projections for 2016 are pointing to a close race.

      I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I’ve heard people on the left claiming that the GOP’s going to dry up and blow away Real Soon Now since at least the 1990s, and usually with more or less this reasoning. It’s slightly more compelling now that the Tea Party bloc has really taken off, but I’m still pretty skeptical.

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      • Maware says:

        Yes, that’s why their defense against gay marriage, creation of a viable alternative to Obamacare, and promotion of strong conservative principles was so effective…wait.

        Being in control of those things is far less effectual than it seems.

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        • Nornagest says:

          I’m not talking about specific policies, though I could point to policy areas where the Republicans have been successful (especially at the state level). I’m talking about conservatism as a brand, as proxied by electoral support. You know, the kind of thing that you’d expect to be dwindling if this was the “last gasp of conservatism in the USA”?

          It’s really common in national politics for one side or the other to look at some tactical successes and project out from them into long-term dominance; quite recently, for example, the conventional conservative wisdom was that higher birth rates among evangelicals and disillusionment with persistent Democratic policy failures would translate into a permanent Republican majority at the federal level. It was wrong then, and I’ll bet at long odds that the Democratic version is wrong now.

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          • Nicholas says:

            The model looks something like this: The Republican political party is not a part of the Red Tribe, it is a political organization in alliance with the Red Tribe. While the Republican political party continues to do well, it has abandoned or become outright hostile to several of the Red Tribe Clans, and it is the loss of political alliance by these clans that constitutes the “last gasp of conservatism” not whether their former allies do well after betraying them.

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          • Nornagest says:

            Okay, I’m a little more sympathetic to the model when you express it like that, but I still feel like it’s kinda no-true-Scotsmanning American conservatism. It’s not like the Dems’ recent national-scale policy successes align very well with their base’s preferences, either — gay marriage is a major exception, but it is an exception.

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    • E. Harding says:

      There was no failure of “austerity” or “trickle-down economics” (whatever those quadruply-slippery terms might mean).
      “it’s now impossible to argue for less welfare and less taxes.”
      -No, it’s not.
      “We’ve had non-stop war of one kind or another, and no one would really back someone who did the traditional policeman of the world hawk platform.”
      -One word: Cotton.

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      • Nicholas says:

        I think that if, at this point, there isn’t enough evidence that austerity doesn’t work, then austerity is one of those anti-inductive things that you can’t make predictions about, and there’s little point in arguing about it.

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    • FacelessCraven says:

      Counterpoints:

      -Gun control was a fundamental policy issue for decades, and conservatives won it in a hands-down rout. Thanks to 3D-printing and various other cheap manufacturing technologies, I don’t think it’s ever coming back, either.

      -It’s a bit early to call, but I think conservatives are in a pretty solid long-term position on education, and within a decade or two liberals will have lost that fight about as decisively as liberals won gay marriage. As in, entire chunks of the current establishment that we think of as eternal and immutable are going to simply and quietly disappear.

      -Likewise it’s VERY early to call it, but I think a large chunk of the Social Justice wing of the liberal party has a bad outlook long-term. It seems to me that their short-term gains lead only to long-term losses as they alienate allies and discredit their ideology.

      -The expansion of the social safety net seems… if not stopped, at least slowed to a manageable level. Obamacare might be a counter to my argument here, but its effects seem to have been at least survivable. I think marxism is pretty dead, capitalism is fairly resilient, and the tinkering the economy endures seems to happen slowly enough that runaway disasters are unlikely. This may not be a win for conservativism, but it doesn’t look like a rout either.

      Rather than seeing Conservativism as on its deathbed, I see it as poised for a comeback. The issues conservatives lost in the culture war were their weakest ones, and they are well rid of them. The ones they won (or are making significant progress on) are the ones where they were the strongest. This seems true to me even for my fellow Christians; Christianity isn’t (supposed to be) concerned with social norms, but with the faith of the individual. The fight over social norms was an expensive one that generated little of value in return, and I think a lot of us are glad it’s over and are reasonably happy with the outcome. Those who aren’t are still in Culture Warrior mode, and their craziness will die out as the lack of issues to fight over chokes off the outrage supply. Ditto for the crazies on the left.

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      • JuanPeron says:

        This is an interesting observation about the failures and advantages of “big tent” politics.

        It’s very easy to hold up a dozen major examples and call 20th century conservatism a ‘failed movement’ because it was so diverse to begin with. Neither party had (has) an ideologically consistent set of policies, for the simple reason that essentially unrelated issues had to be split up into party binaries. There’s no meaningful relationship between gay marriage legislation and the details monetary policy, but we only get two parties to sort our views into.

        Since about 1900, American conservatism (not Republicanism) has shed a succession of unsustainable views. Many of the ‘lost’ causes were fundamentally discriminatory, and there was no lasting way to dress up anti-suffrage or pro-segregation viewpoints as egalitarian. Turn of the century policies would exclude upwards of 70% of today’s voters. These were universal views for a long time, but the Democrats repeatedly jumped ship a bit sooner, leaving them viewed as the pro-equality party. All of society has shifted on issues from suffrage to gay-marriage, and conservatives, true to their name, have moved more slowly.

        Portraying this as the failure of conservatism is a matter of narrative building, and requires cherry-picking to avoid the periods where progressives made a lot of the same transitions. I’m not sure it’s accurate to cast this as a shrinking or consolidation of the movement, though. There’s a pretty steady treadmill of social and foreign policy issues that each movement has to answer, so it’s not clear to me that the Culture Wars are over as much as they’re in abeyance.

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        • FacelessCraven says:

          @JuanPeron – “There’s a pretty steady treadmill of social and foreign policy issues that each movement has to answer, so it’s not clear to me that the Culture Wars are over as much as they’re in abeyance.”

          It seems to me that, barring civilization-ending apocalypse, Cultural conflict seems to be actually tapering off. Settling the slavery question was a massive bloodbath, but once it was settled, it stayed settled. Ditto for suffrage, civil rights, etc. Racial civil rights required less violence to settle than slavery, and gay rights required less violence than racial rights. Any trend that can’t continue forever won’t. At some point, we run out of things to fight over.

          What are the horrifying social issues of twenty years from now?

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          • Jiro says:

            At some point, we run out of things to fight over.

            But if you don’t also run out of people who want to fight, you may get trouble. They won’t go home just because there aren’t any real enemies left for them to fight. They may just start fighting people whom they imagine to be enemies instead.

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          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jiro – “But if you don’t also run out of people who want to fight, you may get trouble. They won’t go home just because there aren’t any real enemies left for them to fight. They may just start fighting people whom they imagine to be enemies instead.”

            I think the supply of people who want to fight is artificial. That is, Social Justice Warriors are made, not born. There’s a structure that makes them, and if that structure decisively comes apart, the supply dries up, and it does so on a timescale of months rather than decades. Further, I think I personally am evidence that the structure is fragile, not robust.

            Social Justice at one point was about legitimate grievances. At some point, they ran out of those and switched to questionable grievances. They are now about out of those, and are having to switch to bullshit grievances, people are noticing, and the wheels are coming off.

            [EDIT] – To be clear, I am not arguing that Social Justice shouldn’t be taken seriously as a threat. It is legitimately nasty, and needs to be fought. I just don’t think the results are particularly in doubt. Tolerance of Homosexuality is, in the final analysis, relatively costless (or at least the costs are diffuse enough to be waved off), and so the majority of resistance came on purely ideological grounds. Implementing the Progressive Stack culture-wide is… well, apocalyptic seems an apt phrase. People don’t want to live through the apocalypse, so they will take the steps necessary to make that not happen.

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          • JBeshir says:

            The angry fringe people blogging on the Internet make a lot of requests for affirmation which are stifling, mostly I think because they don’t understand how they are so.

            Especially outside of the parts of society which are strongly pro-social-justice, though, there’s still a fair supply of reasonable issues being campaigned on by the same kinds of advocacy groups which have existed for a long time.

            There’s complaints relating to trans issues in particular, with either difficult, obstructed, or when it comes to birth certificates, entirely absent processes for name or gender marker changes in various states, the continuing “if I go into the bathroom matching my presented gender am I going to be thrown out, if I go into the one matching my originally assigned gender am I going to be spat at for being obviously trans” thing, there’s non-discrimination laws, etc.

            And of course further down the line we probably have aspects of law which make polyamory difficult that will have campaigns for change.

            There’s also fairly reasonable cultural stuff about discouraging throwing abuse on the streets and similar. Society isn’t homogeneous- the fact that some parts of it have become very, very much pro-social-justice concerns doesn’t mean there aren’t other parts which are, well, unpleasant. Here I think the problematic parts are the means, not the ends.

            I think we’re going to run out of sensible things to discuss and work on eventually, but we’re not there yet. I think we might be approaching a point where the formation of angry Internet mobs reduces due to backlash while things are campaigned for by other means, though. At least I hope so.

            (Personally I’d like prison reform to become a big issue, but I’m not sure I see it. That campaign may need to come from somewhere else.)

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          • JuanPeron says:

            @FacelessCraven, @JBeshir:

            This is an interesting question. I agree that several of the more fundamental cultural fights (slavery, suffrage) appear to be settled matters, and all that’s left is to get the news to places like Mauritania.

            That said, I think there are a few unresolved questions and several more to come – enough at least for another few decades of culture war, beyond which I can’t guess.

            1) Trans people. JBeshir nailed this – opinions aside, everyone should be able to agree that trans people experience unclear social requirements and have horrible health outcomes compared to their intrinsic health. Something will give within the next 20 years.

            2) Polyamory. Not a huge thing, but I’d expect to see declining stigma and possibly something like multi-party civil unions.

            3) Gender and race as modifiers of the brain. This is the sort of topic that almost cost Lawrence Summers his job, but I’m seeing cracks in the movement between “Everyone is the same or else!” and “Acknowledge my identity-shaping traits, or else!”

            4) Drugs. Pot is a done deal (whatever David Brooks thinks), but picking how we deal with heroin addicts et al is a moral question, and an unsettled one.

            5) Immigrants/the de-whitening of America. No one’s going to change whether this happens, but it’s going to generate a lot of heat on the way. It may spill over into things like gun legislation as some people see the “Us:Them” ratio fall.

            6) Islam. As radicalism gains ground in several parts of the Middle East, it’s become increasingly accepted to be flatly anti-Islamic. People on both sides have “the other guys should stop having their beliefs (or lives)” as a stated goal, so something has to give.

            Some of these are as association-free as gay marriage, some are economic and political as well as social. All, I think, will see enough conflict and change to keep the culture wars going for a few decades at least.

            Now, speculative stuff:

            7?) Cults & exclusive religions. I think we may see a sea-change on outsider-avoiding religious groups (I’m avoiding names here). They tend to make bad neighbors, and they represent some extremely fast-growing movements. This is the speculative part of my list.

            8?) Body & gene mod. This depends on biotech, but if we see either ‘designer babies’ or elective body grafts become widespread, we can expect a new moral panic.

            9?) Surveillance. So far, we seem to be at “mad but not enough to act”. The problem with that is that the tech is getting better. When people finally start crunching data *really* well and learning intense details, I predict more fighting over the issue.

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          • FacelessCraven says:

            @JaunPeron – “That said, I think there are a few unresolved questions and several more to come – enough at least for another few decades of culture war, beyond which I can’t guess.”

            What makes me optimistic for the end of the Culture war is that I see most of the issues you list as smaller facets of larger questions.

            Two main questions come to mind from the last culture war:
            1 – Is America a Christian nation, with institutions that should reflect that heritage?
            2 – Is massive government intervention needed to give us basic security?

            On the first question, we have a decisive result. America isn’t a Christian nation. Gay Marriage and Abortion are here to stay. Legal enforcement of morality is dead. If you want something banned, you need to make the case via statistics. This result simply affirms the existing status quo; internet porn and no-fault divorce were the real disruptions, gay marriage at this point is barely a ripple in terms of real-world consequences. Christians will quickly recognize that their end of the fight is pointless as well as hopeless, and society will settle into the current equilibrium.

            On the second question, we likewise have a decisive result. Gun Control has failed completely. The drug war has failed completely. Various campaigns against “antisocial” media have failed completely. The idea that we need massive government intervention to protect us has been obviated by decades of falling crime rates and numerous examples of government incompetence. The only counter to the trend is on surveillance, which it seems to me is a result of the runaway explosion of the internet and tech industry; that fight was over before people even realized it was happening.

            To your specific points:

            Trans Rights/Polyamory – At this point, I don’t think there’s any real opposition left to these from the right. Whatever seems like a workable solution will happen, and I think it’ll happen relatively quickly and painlessly. Polyamory may (or may not) get support from the Mormons. Again, I think the fight for morality legislation is pretty much over for the Christian Right.

            3) HBD – What are the policy implications? I think racial paternalism is pretty well off the table, and I’ve no idea what policy female differences would argue for. This seems like an issue where the investment is more in the symbolic effect than in any material outcome.

            4) Drugs – I would expect a shift from incarceration to treatment as drug use grows increasingly normalized. Ramp down the drug war, essentially. Again, I don’t think there’s any real tension left to make this fight a nasty one. the War on Drugs has failed too decisively and for too long; it’s only inertia that’s keeping it going. Break that, and it collapses completely.

            5) Immigrants/the de-whitening of America – This one seems plausible as a point of serious conflict.

            6) Islam – This one, not so much. The middle east is either going to shake itself out and stabilize, or clamp down and continue the slow burn. Neither seems like it will have long-term consequences for America. For Europe, on the other hand…

            I’m sure there’ll still be enough fighting to keep the politics interesting. What I’m skeptical of is a fight on the scale of the Gay Rights issue, which was massively influential on national politics for something like twenty years.

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      • Jiro says:

        Likewise it’s VERY early to call it, but I think a large chunk of the Social Justice wing of the liberal party has a bad outlook long-term. It seems to me that their short-term gains lead only to long-term losses as they alienate allies and discredit their ideology.

        I am skeptical of this kind of analysis because it is too easily prone to wishful thinking. The short-term win is known to exist. The long-term loss is speculation. They’re not on an equal level.

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        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Jiro – “I am skeptical of this kind of analysis because it is too easily prone to wishful thinking. The short-term win is known to exist The long-term loss is speculation. They’re not on an equal level.”

          We may have sparred over this previously, but what is the “short term win”? Social Justice’s strategy is to use targeted social attacks on high-profile victims to terrorize anyone who disagrees with them into silence. Judging by the last year’s worth of evidence, the strategy doesn’t work. The amount of damage done to the targets is acute, not chronic, and every victory feeds the growing backlash against them. And there is a backlash; hell, I’m part of it. So was most of GamerGate. Speaking as someone who works in the video game industry, GamerGate looks like a loss for them, not a win. Their goal was to control the conversation within the video games spectrum, they failed to do so, and they seriously damaged the video game press in the process.

          The question isn’t whether they can hurt people. Clearly they can. The question is whether their movement is sustainable long-term. It seems to me that pretty much all of their offensives last year were crushing strategic losses, large-scale resistance is being mobilized on both the left and right, and they’ve more or less gone into hiding since GamerGate, with the Hugo ballot being their final disengagement skirmish. If they come back up shooting on another culture-wide offensive I’ll revise my estimate, but I think that’s pretty unlikely.

          For purposes of humility, I will admit that I have very limited media intake, and a lot of my view comes from reading comments here. Are there serious offensives going on that I haven’t heard about?

          [EDIT]
          Do you think academia/the university system/the public education system will exist in its current form in another twenty years? Fifty years?

          Do you think Gun Control will make significant advances in the next five years? Ten Years? Twenty years?

          Do you think the Feminist movement will be stronger in a year? Two years? Five years?

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