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Getting High On Your Own Supply

There’s a lot of debate over what Hillary did wrong in her campaign, and how the Democrats can change before 2018 or 2020.

Some of this revolves around policy positions. For example, should she have supported expanding Medicare to everyone? Should she have been tougher on immigration to preempt some of Trump’s support? These are tough questions, made tougher by the need to balance what’s right against what’s electable.

But other parts of the debate revolve more around her vision and way of looking at the world. Some common points here:

1. She focused too much on identity politics and ignored the white working class
2. She tried to reason with people (eg her performance in the debates) rather than appeal to their emotions
3. She proposed complicated wonkish policy schemes instead of simple things normal people understood like “tax the rich” or “build a wall”
4. She talked too much about managerial competence and not enough about her Soaring Vision
5. She was too “we’re all in this together” and not enough “us vs. them”, where the “them” is some combination of billionaires, political elites, and Republicans.

Advocates of these points usually end with some plea for Democrats to change their ways and approach these matters differently.

Consider two possible ways that Democrats might act on the first point (and for now we’ll ignore the part where “the Democratic Party” is not a single monolithic entity that can take direct action).

They might act superficially by eg telling the campaign worker in charge of TV commercials to make more commercials about the white working class, and fewer commercials about identity politics.

Or they might act deeply by changing the entire culture of the Democratic Party, so that Democrats think about identity politics less, identity politics activists are marginalized within party circles, white working class activists are promoted within party circles, party-aligned media sources focus more space on the plight of the white working class, et cetera.

Likewise regarding point 2, the Democrats could fire their old speechwriters and hire new ones who are better at writing emotional appeals. Or they could change the epistemic culture of the party, so that discussions of how to amend Section 421B of the tax code to be 2.4% more fair were met with eye-rolling everywhere from local meetings to DNC headquarters, but rousing speeches about Taking Back The Country were universally met with applause.

And the point I want to make is that the epistemic culture that makes you sound electable isn’t necessarily the epistemic culture that makes you competent.

It might be that appealing to the white working class really is the most important way to win elections, but that in the real world “identity politics” surrounding minority groups are a more important or more tractable issue, where government interventions can help far more people.

Or it might be that raving about your Grand Vision is the best way to get elected, but that most of the low-hanging fruit for helping people right now does involve wonkish tinkering around with very complicated parts of health care regulation.

Let me give an example of what I mean. The Republicans have an electoral strategy based on a Grand Vision talking about how the elites in Washington have become corrupt and sold out the country to Big Government. This has been very successful for them; no Republican can complain that they don’t win enough elections. But it’s also completely screwed up their party’s ability to govern. Their trouble repealing Obamacare seems like the most glaring example – there just wasn’t enough overlap between reality-based policies that made political sense, and policies that legislators could support without worrying about getting primaried by Tea Party types accusing them of selling out.

And this is just a rare (though increasing) example of a time when Republican dysfunction hurt the Republican Party. Most of the time it just hurts the country. Only time will tell exactly who the GOP’s dysfunctional presidential primary and subsequent nomination of Trump hurts, but I doubt Republicans will be happy with the results.

Of course, remaining epistemically pure and never winning anything isn’t much fun either, so whatever. I guess my only advice for the Democrats is: don’t get high on your own supply.

What do I mean by that? A while back, I discussed the recent trend in articles – mostly on the Left – explaining how using facts and reason don’t work and so we should switch to making emotion-based appeals. There was an article like this on Financial Times, and another one in Current Affairs.

So what I’m wondering is: are Financial Times and Current Affairs taking their own advice? That is, when I read one of their articles, am I reading somebody trying to rationally present their argument for my evaluation? Or am I reading an emotional appeal written by someone who thinks facts don’t matter? When a writer at one of these publications tries to decide which side of an issue to support, are they, within their own head, trying to obtain facts and reason about them? Or are they making emotional appeals to themselves?

The media – especially intellectual partisan media like National Review or Jacobin – are ideologies talking to themselves, processing information, and settling on opinions. The way they report is the way that their respective ideologies think. If a news source decides to report via emotional appeals rather than facts, their ideology’s thinking is taking place through emotional calculations and not factual ones.

Or to put this another way – a lot of the conversation assumes a divide between two natural categories – elites and the public. Elites are unmoved movers, who set strategies and policies based on their own omniscient knowledge of the political calculation. The public is unmoving movees, receiving information from the elites and voting based on which set of elites sounds more convincing.

But reality is more of a spectrum, down from party committee members reading internal bulletins, to party elites reading National Review, to informed people reading The New York Times, to random yahoos watching reality TV and catching campaign ads in the commercial breaks. Everybody is influenced by the prevailing media environment and helps influence it in turn.

If you optimize for the epistemic culture that’s best for getting elected, but that culture isn’t also the best for running a party or governing a nation, then the fact that your culture affects your elites as well becomes a really big problem. If focus groups tell you that your campaign ads need to be more emotional, more zero-sum, more simplistic, and more oriented to the white working class, it’s pretty scary if you don’t reflect before making your whole ideology’s culture more emotional, zero-sum, simplistic, and oriented to the white working class.

Luckily this has an easy solution. From the same Tim Harford article I cited earlier:

Last year, three researchers — Seth Flaxman, Sharad Goel and Justin Rao — published a study of how people read news online. The study was, on the face of it, an inquiry into the polarisation of news sources. The researchers began with data from 1.2 million internet users but ended up examining only 50,000. Why? Because only 4 per cent of the sample read enough serious news to be worth including in such a study. (The hurdle was 10 articles and two opinion pieces over three months.) Many commentators worry that we’re segregating ourselves in ideological bubbles, exposed only to the views of those who think the same way we do. There’s something in that concern. But for 96 per cent of these web surfers the bubble that mattered wasn’t liberal or conservative, it was: “Don’t bother with the news.”

If you’re online, your audience isn’t “the public”. Although I don’t have hard statistics on this, my guess is that if you’re writing for a magazine, or speaking at a conference, your audience isn’t “the public” either. You might as well say what you believe to be true, in the manner you think is most productive, and promote the epistemic culture you think is healthiest for the party and the country. And if you write an argument saying not to use facts and reason, maybe append something like “but our publication will continue to be factual and rational, and you should keep being factual and rational in anything with consequences other than public relations.”

If you’re a speechwriter, campaign commercial director, or TV producer, I assume everything you do is already tested via ten million polls and focus groups and meetings. You can keep doing that, except apparently you’re terrible at it and you should probably get much much better.

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772 Responses to Getting High On Your Own Supply

  1. GregQ says:

    “informed people reading The New York Times”

    I believe you misspelled “people living in a left wing bubble” as “informed people”.

    Yes, that’s snarky, but if you’re unaware of how much the NYT cocoons its readers from unpleasant facts, you really need to get out more. Try http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/ he has regular posts on the NYT bubble

  2. baconbacon says:

    There are a lot of underlying assumptions here.

    But it’s also completely screwed up their party’s ability to govern. Their trouble repealing Obamacare seems like the most glaring example – there just wasn’t enough overlap between reality-based policies that made political sense, and policies that legislators could support without worrying about getting primaried by Tea Party types accusing them of selling out.

    This isn’t peculiar to the Republicans. You can grant that the Dems passed the ACA, but doing it absolutely preventing them from governing by costing them elections in the near term. Now people who credit the ACA for their health care won’t vote for anyone opposed and those who blame the ACA for their care won’t vote for anyone that supports it. The situation has been created where you can’t win over both groups in the near term.

    Dems absolutely failed to govern with the ACA, this was never the end goal but just a step where they would then modify and fix as issues came up and move steadily towards a better system. Instead they ruined health care for as many people as they provided it for. This process didn’t start with the ACA or the Obama administration, but the view that they managed to govern because they passed the ACA is terribly flawed.

    • Brad says:

      Dems absolutely failed to govern with the ACA, this was never the end goal but just a step where they would then modify and fix as issues came up and move steadily towards a better system. Instead they ruined health care for as many people as they provided it for.

      I don’t doubt that ACA ruined health care for at least one person — it’s a big country. But between the medicaid expansion and the people that qualify for very high percentage subsidies and cost-sharing assistance, you are looking at tens of millions that the law provided for that otherwise didn’t have much in the way of access to care, except going to the emergency room and hoping for the best. I don’t think you can find tens of millions of people with ruined health care. Maybe you can find tens of millions that are at least a little worse off than they would otherwise be but that’s not the same thing as saying their healthcare is ‘ruined’.

      • Ratte says:

        I count 20% annual increases in premiums and $12,000 average deductibles as ‘ruined,’ but I realize definitions may vary.

        In particular, the explosion in deductibles has done a lot of damage to people with chronic conditions or predictable recurring medical needs (like myself), who now find their out of pocket costs are considerably higher than they were pre-ACA.

        • Brad says:

          A few responses:
          * The $12,000 number appears not to be a year over year increase but a total.
          * The base rate wasn’t zero. Every year for as long as I can remember insurance benefits have gotten worse (deductibles, co-pays, networks, etc) while premiums have increased more than the rate of general inflation.
          * The increase in premiums for marketplace policies are offset by subsidies for many that purchase them.
          * Some people facing these premium increases and deductibles had nothing before hand.

          So again, how many people had healthcare ‘ruined’? I acknowledge it is probably not zero, but is it really of the same order of magnitude to the number of people that have access to healthcare because of the medicaid expansion, large marketplace subsidies (including cost sharing assistance), the children under 26 rule, the elimination of medical underwriting, bars on refusing to cover preexisting condition, and so on?

          • baconbacon says:

            For people with chronic health issues deductibles are annual.

          • baconbacon says:

            The increase in premiums for marketplace policies are offset by subsidies for many that purchase them.

            What percent of people do you think this is true for?

      • baconbacon says:

        ou are looking at tens of millions that the law provided for that otherwise didn’t have much in the way of access to care

        Three groups made up the majority of those who received expanded coverage.

        1. The Medicaid expansion
        2. People already covered by Medicaid but didn’t know it and enrolled thanks to the publicity
        3. People who didn’t want to pay for insurance without the mandate.

        The number of people who went from not being able to afford to being able to afford insurance was < 10 million due to the actual law.

        I don’t think you can find tens of millions of people with ruined health care. Maybe you can find tens of millions that are at least a little worse off than they would otherwise be but that’s not the same thing as saying their healthcare is ‘ruined’.

        Functionally everyone not in the above 4 groups, which total ~30 million people (ball park, could be as high as 50 million depending on how people view themselves) got between a little bit worse and a lot worse health insurance. You don’t have to buy my anecdotes, the popularity of the ACA was low, and declining from most polls until Trump won. Premium increases over the past few years have been extremely rough on those who are in the moderate to low subsidy range, and without the option to drop insurance for a year and risk it thanks to the penalty. Insurance carriers dropping out mean a lot of people have been forced to change doctors, for healthy people this is an uncomfortable pain in the butt (especially women), for unhealthy people this usually means expense and stress (on top of their already declining experience with their insurance).

        If you take the common estimate of 30 million people without insurance pre ACA and ~10 million without after you have 15-20x as many people with either a neutral or negative experience compared to those with a positive one.

        • cassander says:

          >2. People already covered by Medicaid but didn’t know it and enrolled thanks to the publicity

          you’re leaving out “people who signed up to avoid paying the fine for not having insurance.”

          Getting people who were already eligible for medicaid to sign up for medicaid doesn’t actually help them at all. if they had ever needed it, you can be damned sure the hospital would have signed them up.

          • baconbacon says:

            you’re leaving out “people who signed up to avoid paying the fine for not having insurance.”

            That is group 3.

        • Brad says:

          Functionally everyone not in the above 4 groups, which total ~30 million people (ball park, could be as high as 50 million depending on how people view themselves) got between a little bit worse and a lot worse health insurance.

          If you take the common estimate of 30 million people without insurance pre ACA and ~10 million without after you have 15-20x as many people with either a neutral or negative experience compared to those with a positive one.

          The vast majority of those that had a neutral or negative experience had a neutral experience. Viz. people with employer based health insurance or government provided heath insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, IHS).

          It’s deceptive to compare neutral or negative to positive, especially when the underlying claim was that the number that benefited is the same as the number that had their healthcare ‘ruined’.

          • baconbacon says:

            The vast majority of those that had a neutral or negative experience had a neutral experience. Viz. people with employer based health insurance or government provided heath insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, VA, IHS).

            People with employer based health care did not automatically have a neutral experience. OUr family health insurance has changed twice since the ACA and we now have a worse plan (higher deductible, higher copays) than we did 5 years ago. If we have a major health occurrence we would be out thousands to tens of thousands of dollars more than under the previous plan.

            It’s deceptive to compare neutral or negative to positive

            The point is the magnitude. If 30 million people had a positive experience and 300+ million had a non positive experience it takes only a modest number (10%) of that other group to have a significantly bad experience to equalize the groups.

            The numbers are worse than that, probably on 5-10 million got net benefits from the ACA by their own estimation.

          • Brad says:

            OUr family health insurance has changed twice since the ACA and we now have a worse plan (higher deductible, higher copays) than we did 5 years ago. If we have a major health occurrence we would be out thousands to tens of thousands of dollars more than under the previous plan.

            Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Why are you so certain ACA is to blame?

          • baconbacon says:

            Besides the federal government introducing massive changes to the insurance market?

            Well there was the CEO informing the company that the change was being made due to recent legislative action.

            But Occam’s Razor probably says that it was coincidence.

  3. acedeuceblog says:

    There is no “need to balance what’s right and what’s electable” on immigration. Trespassers should stop trespassing, period. Immigration should be a mutually voluntary relationship between the migrant and the host country. The difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration is the same as the difference between sex and rape. What’s right is to physically remove all illegal immigrants, except whoever we want to keep.

    • random832 says:

      Who is “we”? How are you proposing to determine who “we” want to keep?

      • acedeuceblog says:

        Voting. A country has the collective freedom of association right to determine its membership, just like any private club should have.

        • random832 says:

          And do you believe that the letter of the current law, contrary to how it has actually been enforced across multiple electoral periods, is what the majority of the country in fact approves of?

          What about rumblings about how jus soli should be overturned? Do you think the majority of the country (or even of those who wouldn’t be dis-citizenshipped by the interpretation he’s proposing) is on board with that? What about the arguments that the government is currently making in Maslenjak v. United States. Did the majority vote for that?

          Let’s not pretend that Trump is upholding the status quo or in any way what people have understood for decades to be the law.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What about the arguments that the government is currently making in Maslenjak v. United States.

            You mean the argument that any false statement on a citizenship application, whether or not material to the decision, can be used to retroactively revoke naturalization granted through that application? That’s not new. The case, after all, is being brought to the Supreme Court after the Sixth Circuit (in a case argued during the Obama administation) upheld the decision to revoke naturalization.

          • acedeuceblog says:

            A stale mandate is better than none. But defining exactly what the voters want right now is not my concern. My concern is that immigration should be mutually voluntary relationship between host country and guest, but most of the pro-immigration activists don’t even accept that basic premise of voluntarism.

            Birthright citizenship is extremely exploitable, which is why no first world country except the US and Canada has it. Naturalization should be voluntary on the part of the host country, not forcibly granted when a pregnant woman illegally crosses the border for 30 seconds to give birth, based on some unelected activist judge’s strained interpretation of the 14th amendment.

  4. acedeuceblog says:

    This is hilarious — pretending Hillary had any semblance of epistemic purity, when she was constantly whining about nonexistent problems:
    1. Gender pay discrimination: If you adjust for marital status, age, occupation, continuous years of experience, hours worked, kids, etc, the entire gap goes away.
    2. Systemic racism in policing: If you adjust for the differences in crime rates and recidivism rates, the entire gap goes away.
    3. Not enough socialist safety net — even though we currently spend three times more on it in real per capita terms than the entire real gdp per capita circa 1870.
    4. Not enough minimum wage — Despite all the historical and theoretical and moral arguments against all forms of price controls.
    5. Muh neo nazi boogeymen

  5. Tricky says:

    They might act superficially by e.g. telling the campaign worker in charge of TV commercials to make more commercials about the white working class, and fewer commercials about identity politics.

    Or they might act deeply by changing the entire culture of the Democratic Party, so that Democrats think about identity politics less, identity politics activists are marginalized within party circles, white working class activists are promoted within party circles, party-aligned media sources focus more space on the plight of the white working class, et cetera.

    Is the implication that Trump succeeded through splitting the difference on the Republican side?

  6. gbdub says:

    This whole thing seems like a false dichotomy – there’s no reason you can’t have both a deep, wonky policy plan, and a high level, inspiring way to sell it. Bill Clinton did it, George W Bush did it, Obama did it. All of them were more competent at governance than Trump, and more inspiring/likable than Hillary.

    You need both sound bites and policy white papers. Trump only had the former, but a) most elections are about sound bites and b) the Republicans were always going to have a natural advantage coming out of two Obama terms (just as Obama had a natural advantage over McCain).

    Two other issues – much of the Hillary campaign felt like preaching to the choir – Deiseach mentioned it farther up, but stuff like going all in for Planned Parenthood etc. when she was always going to have that vote. Her ads which were 90% “Trump is a horrible human being” – everyone who is going to be swayed by that already knows it. Tell me why to vote for you and not against Trump.

    Also, the “inspiring” thing she had going for her was “first woman president”, but I think that’s a harder sell when she’s been the ultimate insider since the 90s. Obama as a relatively fresh face and blank slate could play “first black president” much better.

    • keranih says:

      Also, the “inspiring” thing she had going for her was “first woman president”, but I think that’s a harder sell when she’s been the ultimate insider since the 90s. Obama as a relatively fresh face and blank slate could play “first black president” much better.

      I think it’s possible that, post Obama, people figured out that one would be “the first X to be elected Y” on the first day of the presidency…

      …and then have to figure out what else to do, the other 3 years and 364 days of the term.

      • Aapje says:

        It was also directly on the heels of another first. I think that quite a few people get tired of such emotional manipulation fairly quickly.

      • BBA says:

        All through 2016 there was a little voice in the back of my head saying, “I’m glad we’re finally electing a woman president…but why did it have to be her?”

        In retrospect, this was a warning sign I probably should have heeded, but by then it was too late.

  7. ChuckleberryFinn says:

    This post is maybe the most perfect example of a status quo technocrat making an “emotional” appeal to himself. In response to your first point, the argument made by the left (which obviously isn’t a monolith yadda yadda) is that the superficial identity politics of the Clinton campaign was a dishonest and ineffective substitute for real progressive policies that seek to address inequality. A real “deeper change” for the democrats would be promoting policies that seek to address the rampant inequality that plagues the identity groups (including the white working class) that the Clinton campaign spent all that time paying lip service to. Not “marginalizing identity politics activists”. What are you talking about? They’re making explicitly real world political arguments and you’re weirdly morphing them into this vacuum sealed straw man space of logic and argument.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      This was something I noticed as well. I mean we would marginalize self-identified “identity politics activists” that are made up of rich women like Clinton. But it wouldn’t apply to the normal person average activist.

    • Naldo Sjakie says:

      In response to your first point, the argument made by the left (which obviously isn’t a monolith yadda yadda) is that the superficial identity politics of the Clinton campaign was a dishonest and ineffective substitute for real progressive policies that seek to address inequality.

      The points raised (1-5) aren’t supposed to be valid or comprehensive, but only those that demonstrate a contrast between electable epistemic culture and competent-governing epistemic culture.

      • ChuckleberryFinn says:

        Well, they should probably be at least approaching validity, otherwise what are we doing here? My point is that in practice these epistemic cultures are so tightly intertwined that ignoring “competent-governing epistemic culture” to make an argument about “electable epistemic culture” is a masturbatory intellectual exercise completely removed from the mechanics of politics.

        • Naldo Sjakie says:

          Well, they should probably be at least approaching validity, otherwise what are we doing here?

          They don’t have to have any validity at all, just made seriously as criticisms of Clinton’s vision. These points have in common that they pose a “drug supply” of emotional rhetoric administered to intoxicate voters into giving up the goods. But that approach is risky, it becomes easy to get “high on your own supply” once in office and change the epistemic culture of the party for the worse. Reading that analysis is what we’re doing here.

          My point is that in practice these epistemic cultures are so tightly intertwined that ignoring “competent-governing epistemic culture” to make an argument about “electable epistemic culture” is a masturbatory intellectual exercise completely removed from the mechanics of politics.

          Past practice is not the point here. It is articles in Financial Times and Current Affairs referenced above that are calling for new practices going forward that do indeed attempt to separate “electable” and “governing” approaches. This approach has risks, as Scott warns.

          • ChuckleberryFinn says:

            I’m saying that those risks are bullshit and divorced from reality. Political persuasion is hardly a new practice.

  8. joncb says:

    1. She focused too much on identity politics and ignored the white working class

    5. She was too “we’re all in this together” and not enough “us vs. them”, where the “them” is some combination of billionaires, political elites, and Republicans.

    Maybe it’s just me but i’d argue that both of these can’t be totally true at the same time. If expect that trying to bring identity politics to bear means implying “us vs white/males” whether you mean it that way or not. Having said that, I think the best evidence against this argument is the numbers on the exit polls which, from memory and if you believe them, saw no real uptick in the white vote for republican.

    Perhaps point 6 should be “don’t run a candidate who had a recent job review of ‘quite possibly incompetent'”.

  9. “you should keep being factual and rational in anything with consequences other than public relations”

    On the whole I think openness is overwhelmingly a good trend, however there’s a problem in that 95% of politicians’ lives is now effectively PR already (and increasingly the same with the rest of us). Eg:

    “Mr Churchill, your campaign slogan of ‘restoring democracy’ sounds very noble, but last year on your Facebook feed you posted a comment that was later deleted stating ‘the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter’. How do you reconcile those comments with your campaign today? Your opponent Mr(s) ShowtingLoudly has on the other hand been very consistent both privately and publicly on calling for the ‘printing of more money to boost the economy’. Why would the voters trust you?”

    The new environment seems like it advantages those who get high on their own supply a lot of the time (this probably applies even outside of politics now). I’m not sure what the solution is, the options seem all as bad as each other 🙁

    • Jiro says:

      Churchill probably didn’t say that

      And if he did the proper response is “Oops. What I’m telling you in my campaign is different from what I actually believe. I shouldn’t have lied about my beliefs in my campaign in order to get votes. I realize this probably means you won’t vote for me after you learn my true beliefs, but that’s my fault for having those true beliefs, not the fault of Facebook-analysts for revealing that I’m lying. Also, I’ve tried to convince myself that I only spun my true beliefs in my campaign, I didn’t actually lie, but as far as everyone else is concerned, it’s still a lie.”

      • Churchill probably didn’t have Facebook either, but the point I was making was not about lying. Its that it may be becoming impossible to hold or even privately discuss positions that are not in line with best-practice PR, which is not necessarily good policy. And while catching politicians out on lies is great, I have not noticed this trend resulting a wave of honest politicians recently.

        • Jiro says:

          “Politician’s private position is not in line with his PR” is equivalent to “politician is lying”. The politician and his supporters may fool themselves into thinking “it’s just spin, it isn’t lying“, but nobody else believes that. He deserves to be judged based on his private position, and his preference that he we judge him by his PR doesn’t deserve respect.

  10. JDG1980 says:

    Regarding why Hillary lost, one of the best series of articles I’ve seen on this subject is “The Real Story of 2016” by Nate Silver.

  11. BBA says:

    [Epistemic status: speculation based on personal experience. I may be dead wrong that anyone else felt like me, especially in the inner circles of the campaign vs out on the fringes of the blogosphere where I am.]

    Here’s a mental trap, common on the left, that the Clinton campaign fell right into: there were huge amounts of criticism of Clinton coming from right-wingers who were never going to support her anyway, and a lot of it was blatantly unfair and misogynistic. This eventually rounded off in Clinton supporters’ minds as “all criticism is right-wing perfidy and misogyny” and they would never listen to anything negative that anyone had to say about her. If I ever mentioned on certain other blogs that Hillary wasn’t all that charismatic, or the hyperfocus on young urbanite identity politics may be counterproductive, I would instantly be denounced as a misogynist, a right-wing concern troll, and/or on Putin’s payroll. And, hell, I can see why, most of the anti-Hillary sentiment there came from people like that! But once you’ve been inoculated by bad-faith arguments, it’s very hard to listen to good-faith arguments for the same thing.

    So instead, most of the people on the left who considered suggesting a change of course kept silent, and Hillary stayed the course.

    • shenanigans24 says:

      I think virtually none of the criticisms I heard of Hillary were misogynistic. It’s surprising to me people see most of it that way. The vast distance in these perceptions may be important.

      I think your average voter really thought Obama getting elected would ratchet down the “everyone’s a racist” rhetoric, but it instead ratcheted it up. Another round with a dose of “everyone’s a sexist,” and a lot of middle America just said “Fuck it, I’m done with trying to please these people.”

      • Liz says:

        She ran a horrible campaign.
        Albrights’ “special place in hell for women who don’t vote for Hillary” comment was the nadir.

    • Deiseach says:

      This eventually rounded off in Clinton supporters’ minds as “all criticism is right-wing perfidy and misogyny” and they would never listen to anything negative that anyone had to say about her

      My perception was the other way round; any criticism of Hillary was met with “that’s sexism and misogyny!” and the assumption that women would all vote for her because she was a woman. The Democrat campaign would, very rightly, have been all over any candidate trying to vote-grab by saying “I’m a white guy, vote for me because I’m one of you!” but they didn’t see the mistake in trying to appeal “vote for the woman because she’s a woman”.

      “It’s all down to sexism” was an easy go-to response during the campaign and a salve to injured pride afterwards (it wasn’t our fault, it was the fault of all the sexists on the other side! and the sexists in the electorate! and the white women who voted for Trump instead of voting for a sista!) but you either vote for someone because they’re the best candidate and colour/gender/sexual orientation/religion has nothing to do with it, or you vote based on naked identity politics/interest blocs, in which case white working class voting for Trump is no more (or less) wrong or biased or a failure of the system than African-Americans and Latinos voting for Hillary, or “hey girls, vote for the girl!”.

      • BBA says:

        There certainly was a lot of low-level misogyny – “Trump That Bitch” was a popular unofficial slogan. There’s also been a lot of complete bullshit dogging Hillary throughout her career – she killed Vince Foster, don’t you recall? – that wasn’t gendered but Hillary being a woman certainly didn’t help.

        It’s just the leap from that to “she’s obviously the most qualified person to be president in the history of everything and you’re a woman-hater if you dare to say otherwise” that’s where everything went pear-shaped. I have never seen Hillary as an inspirational figure, more of a cagey back-room operator, but there were lots of people who did find her inspiring and would give me the virtual tar and feathers for suggesting this wasn’t obvious, objective fact.

        tl;dr “there was no misogyny” is wrong. “it was all misogyny” is wronger.

        • Deiseach says:

          tl;dr “there was no misogyny” is wrong. “it was all misogyny” is wronger.

          I do think that if Hillary were a man, she would get the same reaction – that it’s not merely or simply gender-based, there is something she struggles with as a likeability problem. Look at Ted Cruz and the Zodiac Killer meme – you can say that’s funny because it’s so ludicrous, but it’s still a pretty unpleasant comparison after all, and I think a lot of people had very bad reactions to Ted Cruz and some even hated him.

          I mean, I may be missing the misogyny here because I don’t find Hillary an inspiring figure and don’t see any depth to her desire to be president other than she wants/wanted it so badly and I’m a woman myself, so unless someone wants to claim I’m suffering from internalised misogyny, it’s not “because she’s a woman” that I don’t like her.

          I’m not saying there wasn’t any misogyny or sexism, but the Vince Foster thing and other scandals as you say that dogged her were more of a package deal: isn’t the whole conspiracy theorising that it was Bill and Hillary working together as the Macbeths Power Couple and not just Hillary on her own? The sexism defence was too much of an immediate knee-jerk reaction in some quarters, and it certainly was overblown in the aftermath of the election as the all-explaining answer as to why she lost.

        • cassander says:

          There certainly was a lot of low-level misogyny – “Trump That Bitch” was a popular unofficial slogan.

          And if Hillary were a man, the slogan would have been “Trump that asshole.” Would that have been misandry? That some people used gendered language to describe her doesn’t mean they’re motivated by misogyny.

          tl;dr “there was no misogyny” is wrong. “it was all misogyny” is wronger.

          True, but “Misogyny wasn’t anywhere near the top 10 of the problems with her and her campaign’ is less wrong than both.

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          tl;dr “there was no misogyny” is wrong. “it was all misogyny” is wronger.

          I do think that if Hillary were a man, she would get the same reaction – that it’s not merely or simply gender-based, there is something she struggles with as a likeability problem

          It’s actually the opposite.

          An NYU prof had an actor and an actress coached in duplicating the mannerisms and delivery of Trump and Hillary then put on a performance of the debate – except with the actress playing Trump and the actor playing Hillary.

          The 100% Hillary supporter audience freaked out (men bursting into tears, etc.) when they saw the performance because they realized that they all liked the Trump actress better, thought she made sense, projected competence and leadership, etc. vs the Hillary actor who they thought was evasive, flailing and seemed dishonest.

          https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/march/trump-clinton-debates-gender-reversal.html

          Many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon what they had admired in Hillary Clinton—or that Brenda King’s clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out. For those Clinton voters trying to make sense of the loss, it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered.

          Now this is from the NYU report of it so they have to say “it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered” – no, it wasn’t bewildering – the “misogyny” you thought you were seeing in the campaign never existed because anyone plugged into the progressive culture machine has been conditioned to believe the opposite of reality – competent women constantly rescuing bumbling men, dispassionate fair authority figures always being women or NAMs (or both – every single judge on broadcast television is required to be a black woman apparently) – all in the name of “correcting stereotypes”.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          There’s also been a lot of complete bullshit dogging Hillary throughout her career – she killed Vince Foster, don’t you recall? – that wasn’t gendered but Hillary being a woman certainly didn’t help.

          I guess. It sure seems like the right wing has enough conspiracism to go around, and now we’ve got the left wing hopping on the train. I wonder if conspiracism isn’t simply inevitable with enough tribalism; the other side that could easily refute it is excommunicated and you have ever more reason to believe (the conspiracy or unlikely theory tells you that the people you oppose are secretly evil, the people you like were falsely flagged, etc)

        • abc says:

          There’s also been a lot of complete bullshit dogging Hillary throughout her career – she killed Vince Foster, don’t you recall?

          As far as I know that was not specific to her, i.e., the theory was that the Clintons had him killed. Also, I suspect your dismissing the evidence not for any rational reason, but because you’re the kind of person who “doesn’t believe conspiracy theories”, where “conspiracy theory” is defined as “believing people in power acted badly and the FBI hasn’t investigated them”.

  12. vV_Vv says:

    5. She was too “we’re all in this together” and not enough “us vs. them”

    Basket of deplorables.

    It might be that appealing to the white working class really is the most important way to win elections, but that in the real world “identity politics” surrounding minority groups are a more important or more tractable issue, where government interventions can help far more people.

    TIL transgender bathrooms and “rape” on campus are more important or more tractable issues than low-income workers losing their purchase power.

  13. nate_rausch says:

    The analysis falls a bit short. The public is the audience indirectly.

    Because
    1. interest in politics rises right before elections.
    2. Easy to remember and recite “memes” get spread in networks

    The people who read the news become the nodes in their local network. So you would still want to be charismatic, and keep churning out memes showing that you care about the people and your opponent does not, in the hope that one of them will stick and spread far beyond the readers of news.

  14. Christopher Hazell says:

    Tangentially, I am fascinated by the rise of the term “white working class” as a stock phrase.

    I think that, in academia, and the American Op-Ed and pop culture industries, there has been such extreme focus on race, gender and sexual orientation privilege that they no longer have a coherent vocabulary for describing somebody who is cis, white, hetero and male yet still, inexplicably, has problems.

    There’s no vocabulary anymore for talking about people like that, let alone talking to them.

    More and more, I am hearing left-wing people confuse privilege with power and security. Our weekly alternative just had an article about “White Fragility” which claimed “it’s natural (though not necessarily benign) that white people get complacent growing up immersed in a system that functions to their advantage.”

    Across from my work is a park, and a few local families get together to give out free food to the homeless or needy every weekday. Portland being the city that it is, the people lined up out there are mostly white men. Is the system functioning to their advantage?

    Hell, I’m not even going to say privilege doesn’t exist among the homeless: Perhaps black homeless people are more likely to get hassled by the police, or homeless men are less likely to be assaulted than homeless women, or maybe there are more shelter beds set aside for women.

    Certain of these street people have said extremely sexist or racist things in my earshot. But if you want to change that, maybe your pitch shouldn’t start with “The system is so rigged in your favor that it allows you to live your life in comfortable complacency, and so what you really need to do is be willing to accept that sometimes maybe you don’t have to be in charge of everything and that you need to listen to other people.”

    Because, even for the racist ones, that pitch is so fucking at odds with what they’re living through: It is entirely possible to be a cis hetero white male who is openly racist AND living a life in which you are the subordinate party in almost every interaction you have and which is lacking in even the most basic consistency or security.

    And I think the country is completely losing track of how to talk about that. Right wing pundits want to pander to or excuse any of the racism; left-wing ones want to deny the material insecurity and actual power that many people have even after ticking some or all of the privileged demographic boxes.

    • herbert herberson says:

      I think the fatal flaw of privilege discourse was that it was developed in an academic setting where at least a degree of Marxism was taken for granted, but has been exported to a liberal setting where certain assumptions within it happen to be absolutely toxic.

      I’m starting from the position that most important privilege of being white is “having white ancestors who were weren’t legally denied or inhibited from the opportunity to develop skills, capital, and overall join the bourgeois, and subsequently pass that legacy down” Like, sure, there’s a lot of little everyday things too, and some big everyday things (like interactions with the law and law enforcement), but I think most of that pales in comparison to the racial wealth gap, mid-20th-century redlining, intergenerational trauma, etc. etc.

      The disjunct is that, from a Marxist perspective, “joining the bourgeoisie” is morally neutral at best, morally suspect at worst. If your white grandfather remained a prole, that doesn’t say anything bad about him. However, in a liberal perspective, “joining the bourgeoisie” is a laudatory accomplishment, a demonstration of merit. As a result, privilege discourse in a liberal society contains, implicitly but unavoidably, an insult against the parents/grandparents of anyone who is in the white working class: “your ancestors had all of the tremendous advantages of white supremacy, but still died as poor coal miners; they must have REALLY sucked!”

      • Deiseach says:

        “having white ancestors who were weren’t legally denied or inhibited from the opportunity to develop skills, capital, and overall join the bourgeois, and subsequently pass that legacy down”

        Except that only applies in a limited fashion; a lot of whites do have ancestors who were legally denied or inhibited, that’s why they ended up emigrating to the USA. So it’s a very culturally and socially specific instance that gets universally applied and misapplied.

        • Bugmaster says:

          Yeah, no kidding. Try being ethnically Jewish in the USSR sometime.

        • Aapje says:

          a lot of whites do have ancestors who were legally denied or inhibited, that’s why they ended up emigrating to the USA.

          And then some of them got a nasty treatment in the US.

          It’s not like the Italians and Irish were handed candy and flowers when they came over. They got anti-catholic violence and discrimination.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @herbert herbertson:

        That’s a good point. I think there’s something else that happens to anything that develops in an academic setting: it is developed by (and thus often for) people who are almost never poorer than middle class – where the least-well-off people you’ll find are generally lower-middle-class first-generation-to-go-to-university types. Almost nobody truly poor.

        Among a group of people where most everyone is well off, and very few people are actually poor, class isn’t going to register as much. In a group of people that is predominantly middle class or better off, the women are going to have stories about being catcalled or worse, the black people are going to have stories about getting hassled by the cops, the gay people are going to have stories about being afraid to hold hands with their partner, etc. You’re going to have far fewer people telling stories about the utilities getting shut off, etc.

        Having a certain amount of money is a significant advantage, but it is one that, rather bizarrely, is easily overlooked, despite being one of the few advantages that is 100% an advantage (one can come up with, say, disadvantages to being male – what disadvantages are there to having parents with money and no student loans?). Probably a part of why it’s overlooked is that it is the advantage one can most easily divest themselves of – one sees men beating their chests with guilt over being male, etc, but almost nobody doing so over being wealthy – because the obvious rejoinder is “if you feel bad about having money, give it away” – and nobody wants to do that.

        So you end up with a situation where, for example, a university-educated well-off woman posts an article on Facebook about blue-collar white men in places where collapsing industry has wrecked job prospects for many, and she adds some mocking jab about how hard they must have it – never asking herself “would I trade places with them?”

        • herbert herberson says:

          Yep.

          Plus, in cities, rich and middle class whites will interact (superficially) with poor black people pretty routinely, but are actually quite segregated from poor whites. I’ve had friends from college come visit the very white, very rural, and not-terribly-affluent area where I grew up; for more than one of them, it was the first time they’d ever gone to a fast-food place with more than one or two white people behind the counter.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Isn’t it generally the case in Canada and the US that poor whites tend to live in rural areas? I know that seems to be the case in my experience, but I’m hardly going around asking to see people’s tax returns.

          • Brad says:

            At least where I live low level service jobs are more likely to be held by Asian or Hispanic immigrants than African Americans. Possibly related, there’s net African American migration from northern cities to the rural south.

      • John Schilling says:

        I’m starting from the position that most important privilege of being white is “having white ancestors who were weren’t legally denied or inhibited from the opportunity to develop skills, capital, and overall join the bourgeois, and subsequently pass that legacy down”

        That’s not a privilege of being white. That is a privilege, by definition, of being middle class. It’s middle-class privilege. The son of middle-class white people has it. The daughter of middle-class black people has it. The son of poor white people, doesn’t have it. However they got there.

        So if someone wants to say that I have middle-class privilege and talk about what that means, that’s one thing. But if you instead go on to “…and 70% of white people are middle class but only 40% of black people, so we’re calling it White Privilege(tm)”, I know you’re trying to pull a fast one and I know I’m not coming out ahead or even breaking even if I let you get away with it.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          Hmm, I agree with this. Weird feeling. White Privilege(tm) is a tool of utility monsters to get their way.

        • herbert herberson says:

          The opportunity to do it is conceptually important even when the opportunity isn’t taken, though. Through that lens, something like affirmative action helping middle-class black kids instead of poor white kids is a feature, not a bug–because absent the de jure discrimination of the past, the family of that merely middle class black kid could have been rich, a true peer to their rich white counterparts in a way that the poor white kid never was supposed to be.

          Of course, from that original Marxist perspective, proletarian whites were in fact routinely denied any realistic opportunity to enter the bourgeois. But from a purely liberal perspective, particularly the superficial and blythe variety thereof that you’re likely to see amongst a bunch of half-educated jerks on Twitter talking amongst themselves, nah, all those 1920s coal miners totally could have become successful entrepreneurs! The only reason they didn’t do so were deficits of grit and ambition, because capitalism is a well-functioning meritocracy and, outside of missteps like Jim Crow, always had been!

          • John Schilling says:

            I was trying to say “denied from the opportunity” not just “denied from the fact.”

            But we know from the existence of e.g. Barack Obama, that black people were denied neither the opportunity nor the fact of advancement to wealth, power, education, status, and all the rest. These things were for a time made much more expensive for them, requiring much greater risks to achieve, but they were not absolutely denied.

            Neither were they granted outright with zero effort or risk to people simply because their skin was white.

            So, one person’s ancestors put in the work to achieve solid middle-class status and pass it on to their children, another person’s ancestors didn’t. The first person has the consequent privilege, the second doesn’t. Why does it matter that the one person’s ancestors had to put in more effort and take more risks to get to that point, given that they did get to that point?

          • herbert herberson says:

            Obama lived almost his entire life after the end of Jim Crow and had a white family that he derived substantial social and assumedly literal capital from. He is the exception that proves the rule for the effects slavery and Jim Crow had on black America.

            As to your broader point, I hope my edited post does a better job of explaining why I think that matters (to some people! not to me, I hope is clear) than my original post did.

          • cassander says:

            @herbert

            Obama lived almost his entire life after the end of Jim Crow and had a white family that he derived substantial social and assumedly literal capital from. He is the exception that proves the rule for the effects slavery and Jim Crow had on black America.

            Careful now, you’re dangerously close to admitting that there might be some limit to affirmative action, either temporal (once everyone who was alive under jim crow is dead) or biological (only the descendents of slaves). And admitting that would destroy the democratic party.

          • John Schilling says:

            Obama lived almost his entire life after the end of Jim Crow and had a white family that he derived substantial social and assumedly literal capital from. He is the exception that proves the rule for the effects slavery and Jim Crow had on black America.

            Exception that proves the rule? You should be ashamed of yourself.

            And how many exceptions do I need to provide; how many wealthy and powerful black men and women, descended from slaves and former slaves from 1865 down to the present, how large a black middle class, before the exceptions start disproving the rule?

            As to your broader point, I hope my edited post does a better job of explaining why I think that matters (to some people! not to me, I hope is clear) than my original post did.

            Not really, no.

          • herbert herberson says:

            biological (only the descendents of slaves).

            Theoretically I wouldn’t oppose a form of affirmative action that required a tracing ancestry to someone that suffered from some form of de jure segregation. Practically speaking, you’re talking about a lot of very difficult paperwork and I’d oppose it for that reason, but I don’t believe it’s the bombshell you think it is.

            Exception that proves the rule? You should be ashamed of yourself.

            Are you trying to shame me for paraphrasing (and linking to Ta-Naishi Coates)? On Slate Star Codex?

            And how many exceptions do I need to provide; how many wealthy and powerful black men and women, descended from slaves and former slaves from 1865 down to the present, how large a black middle class, before the exceptions start disproving the rule?

            What rule is it that you think you’re disproving, here? That people benefit from the advantages of their parents or grandparents, or that people who suffered from de jure discrimination were socially and economically disadvantaged and that even if they nonetheless obtained some measure of prosperity, the counterfactual where they achieved even more success in an alternative universe without the de jure discrimination is possible and, indeed, likely?

          • Are you trying to shame me for paraphrasing (and linking to Ta-Naishi Coates)? On Slate Star Codex?

            I assume he is trying to shame you for using that phrase, as many do, to imply that evidence against a theory is evidence for it.

            “The exception proves the rule” meant that if something was stated to be an exception to a rule, that implied the existence of the rule it was an exception to.

            So it was explained to me by a colleague at U of C law school who was an expert on early English law, and I believe he was correct.

          • cassander says:

            @herbert

            Theoretically I wouldn’t oppose a form of affirmative action that required a tracing ancestry to someone that suffered from some form of de jure segregation. Practically speaking, you’re talking about a lot of very difficult paperwork and I’d oppose it for that reason, but I don’t believe it’s the bombshell you think it is.

            Such a move would kick everyone who’s not black off the racial grievance goody train that makes up so much of the modern left. That’s more than half of the people currently on it. That by itself would represent an enormous change in attitudes.

            On top of that, though, it’s the thin end of the wedge. right now, polite opinion is that any admission that their should be an end to that train is racist. There is a tiny exception for wistful that such an end is, of course, desirable and might arrive in some distant future, presumably during the reign of the king in the mountain You, though, would allow for substantial limits to be placed on the train today, and that will invariably lead to normalizing debate about other limits.

          • herbert herberson says:

            “The exception proves the rule” meant that if something was stated to be an exception to a rule, that implied the existence of the rule it was an exception to.

            So it was explained to me by a colleague at U of C law school who was an expert on early English law, and I believe he was correct.

            Its colloquial usage applies aptly, though: the fact that the first Black president grew up in places that were very far away, in every sense of the word, from the regions with a history of legal segregation could be taken as a remarkable co-incidence (given how statistically rare it is), or it could be taken as strong evidence that the negative legacy of de jure racism passes down through the generations. The one thing it can’t be credibly taken for is evidence for the non-relevance of that negative legacy, which fortunately for me is exactly what my interlocutor tried to do.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Except it’s not about ancestry, it’s about skin color. According to their theory, a white person still benefits from the system of privilege even if they literally just got here. Redlining is a favorite of Ta-Nahisi Coates; while redlining was in effect, all my parents, grandparents, etc who lived in this country were living in red or at best yellow areas. Yet because I’m white, I’m still counted as _benefiting_ from it.

    • Viliam says:

      I am fascinated by the rise of the term “white working class” as a stock phrase.

      It allows one to pronounce “working class” with open contempt, without losing their left-wing credentials.

    • shenanigans24 says:

      I think if you add up all the verifiable examples of privilege for women, minorities etc. through no kidding verifiable institutions like affirmative action, women owned business privileges, gendered physical standards, targeted scholarships, etc. and you subtract the number of slights, hate crimes, hurt feelings and otherwise perceived animus towards the same people you get a positive number. And a really big one. The divergence between that reality and the rhetoric will remain a problem until its fixed.

  15. JohnBuridan says:

    [Explicit: language, classist, may include incidents of character building, the author did not bother to couch a lot of things so interpretive charity is needed]

    One of my favorite elections in history was the 2058 Presidential Election in the Tau Tau Chapter of the Alpha Beta Gamma Fraternity.

    As freshmen, we loathed the sophomores, but in particular the sophomore in charge of making sure we cleaned the house well. He was pretty good at conflict management, effective at communicating, decently organized, and, we claimed, “very bougie.” Let’s call him Icup. One of my confreres, let’s call him Boomshakalaka, created a deadly meme, an ICBM of disrespect.

    It was customary in our fraternity that when the freshmen were doing their required study halls (that’s right: REQUIRED) other members of the fraternity might see them, or really any group studying and say, “Phsah, Nerds!” or “Pffth! Bunch of virgins.” It became common to say, “Hey nerd!” and respond with, “Hey virgin.” But Boomshaka started a new trend. Whenever, Icup would say this, Boomshaka would jokingly respond, “Fuck you, Icup!” It was all in jest – immature, stupid, unwholesome fun.

    The phrase, “Fuck you, Icup” started being used more and more often. Icup would try to talk when he entered a room and Boomshaka would interrupt and yell, “Fuck you, Icup.” A lot of freshmen joined in doing this with various levels of timing, humor, and charity. Icup got upset and would calmly take Boomshaka aside and ask him to stop. Icup treated people with respect, and he was generally respected. But the brothers didn’t like his condescending tone of voice, his notorious overestimation of his own intelligence, and his ladder climbing ambition (plus he was “very bougie”). No one thought anything of this dynamic, it was common. People respected each other, loved each other, but verbally bantered and attacked each other to no end. Whenever things became malicious there would be a series of interventions done by one of our committees and the parties would be officially reconciled.

    Boomshaka’s incorrigible meme proliferated. Everyone enjoyed using the phrase, “Fuck you, Icup!” New fraternity members the next year used the phrase. When Icup for the final semester of his senior year ran for the office of president, the non-serious, completely contentless meme, “Fuck you, Icup!” although significantly less used than in past years was still around, was part of everyone’s operating perception of Icup. Icup would have made a decent president. He was organized, he was good at working with the administration, he would make sure the gears of our 50 man government were greased. On the hand, he cared about status a lot, and campus perception, and being thought of as an alpha-fraternity in terms of “cool” factor, so I had no care for his platform. He had a decent chance of winning.

    “Fuck you, Icup!” intervened. He couldn’t get the votes. Too many people had participated in the contentless insult for too long. He lost. It was the first time anyone had seen him truly disappointed ever. He licked his wounds, and everyone was a lot nicer after that.

    The next semester, after Icup was gone, Boomshakalaka ran for President and won.

  16. P. George Stewart says:

    The “bubble” idea is over-inflated IMHO. In my experience, there’s bleedthrough at the edges of the bubble that’s quite sufficient for cross-fertilization and avoidance of overmuch groupthink.

    For example, on Youtube, most “response videos” from my tribe link to the original video, and while I usually simply enjoy my tribe’s takedown of the opposition, maybe about a third of the time I’ll look at the original video, canvass some of its supporting comments, and follow my nose with links to things supporting their position.

    I don’t believe that my behaviour is all that different from most peoples’ behaviours. Obviously one enjoys one’s tribe’s position more, one consumes more of it, but that doesn’t mean one is entirely insensible to looking at things from the other tribe’s point of view now and then. Often it begins as sheer entertainment (“silly other tribe, look at that”), but sometimes someone will say something that gives a little shock to one’s system, and one feels compelled to dig a little bit.

    That sort of process overall seems perfectly fine to me, I don’t think you need any more than that.

    Opening up the scope a bit, when I look at historical political oppositionality, it seems to me that what we have today is quite mild, and usually merely rhetorical peanut-gallery stuff, in relation to the actually physical bloody noses and broken bones you sometimes got at the beginning of the 20th century.

    These things wax and wane; even the Antifa nonsense today can be seen in historical context as quite mild (even geographical context – the French “Antifa”-equivalents are comparatively more violent, for example, but even then not as violent as the clashes between political groups in the early to mid 20th century – and that’s fairly mild compared to having to have an aisle of a certain width in the House, to avoid the possibility of cutlery clashes).

    • herbert herberson says:

      I’m the same way, but don’t underestimate how weird we are. I was talking to my wife about the ACHA yesterday and I mentioned how “pass the bill to see what’s in it” was a longtime right-wing catchphrase (by way of Nancy Pelosi). She’d never heard of it, and she’s a.) brilliant b.) not the least bit self-absorbed, c.) has a number of conservative family members and d.) is married to the kind of guy who not-infrequently comments in places like this.

      Most people don’t have the hypertrophic sense of curiosity and/or tolerance for masochism that the online commentariat does.

    • Aapje says:

      @P. George Stewart

      Those response videos are surely biased to the more outrageous and silly parts of the opponent’s platform, no?

      The bubble consists of you not seeing the stuff that no response videos are made for.

      • P. George Stewart says:

        Actually they’re usually based on typical opponent’s platform stuff in the context of Youtube.

        The resolution of the mystery being that people who make Youtube videos are a pretty weird bunch to begin with 🙂

        Is “not seeing the stuff that no response videos are made for” a “bubble” or just an artifact of limited time? (And that’s actually even more true for ordinary folks who have jobs, spend more time on their families, etc., etc.)

        I dunno, I just think the point is exaggerated these days, yeah there’s a bit of truth to it (social media exacerbating a tendency that’s pretty much innate) but it seems to be a too-easy solution that journalists reach for.

        The real problem IMHO is rational ignorance. Ideally, you want people to weigh the issues and sift through sources to get at the truth, but there’s so little connection between the decision you make, based on all that investigation, and the eventual result, that it’s hardly worth bothering, so people mostly stick to their tribal vote, or go on the “feel” of a candidate as a person (which is when they may sometimes go outside their usual tribal vote).

        But bringing up that topic would open up too many cans of worms for prime time discussion.

  17. Christopher Hazell says:

    To be fair to Clinton, I don’t actually remember what her plans were for elevating the black working class, either.

    One of the mildly hidden ideas underlying most of the points you bring up is that Clinton had obviously sensible ideas, which she just communicated poorly.

    What if, and I’m just throwing this out there, her ideas and policies weren’t that popular?

    Let me put it this way: Paul Ryan is often described as a policy wonk. He is also unpopular with Democrats. If his strategists were asking “How can we attract more Democratic voters” I think, “I know! He needs to talk more about his grand vision and stop being so specific!” would be pretty piss-poor advice. He’s not unpopular with Democrats because his ideas are too complex; he’s unpopular because Democrats dislike his proposed solutions to problems.

    • Kisil says:

      At least in theory, “leaders” are supposed to marshal support for their ideas by convincing others. It would be a pretty piss-poor representative democracy if every elected official followed the 51% of the people whichever way the winds blew.

      So, sure, Clinton’s ides were unpopular, but making them popular is part of her job description. I guess I take it a bit as a given that if a candidate supports an idea that would make person A better off, and person A is against doing that thing [1], the candidate has “communicated poorly”.

      1] Excluding for selfless reasons; there are obviously counter-examples but I’m thinking of the simple case here.

      • Aapje says:

        @Kisil

        A populist tells people what they want to hear.

        A leader convinces people that the leader is right.

  18. Kisil says:

    I’ve been thinking about a related axis lately, which is how well ideas degrade into soundbytes. Assume that you’re a politician with some complicated theory you’re reasonably sure is correct. (I’m also starting from the assumption that a politician has a genuine desire to do good; I gather from other comments that’s not well accepted here.) If you’re right, maybe you’ll be able to convince people who can understand the whole idea. But there probably aren’t many of those, and to get elected, you have to convince everyone else too.

    People fall on a spectrum of political understanding, through some combination of varying engagement and intellect. So there’s some level of complexity any given person will process, and they’ll essentially ignore any arguments above that level. If you want to reach people across this spectrum, your idea needs to degrade gracefully into something that’s still understandable and mostly-correct at every level.

    If your opponent is unconstrained by truth, this becomes a tough problem, because they can pick a simple, obvious-sounding message that just happens to be false. The reverse problem does not apply: people higher up the spectrum are happy to accept a simpler message, at least up to the level where they can tell that it’s wrong. The more convincing argument at any level wins (in this theory), and that gives the obvious-wrong version a huge advantage at the bottom. To win back the intermediate levels, you have to put a competing message out at that level. If there’s nothing between your full message and your soundbyte, you’re going to have a bad time.

    I think this was a lot of the Clinton’s problem in the last election. While I’m not saying everything she proposed was correct, she at least started from a place of caring about facts a little bit. But she did a poor job of providing intermediate-complexity versions of her message, so when she tried soundbytes, they didn’t sell. Think of “Trumped-up trickle-down”: it resonated with people who already believed that trickle-down doesn’t really work, but there was no bridge of increasing-complexity versions of the argument, so it was easily ignored.

    This feels a bit like a corollary of Guided by the Beauty of our Weapons. If you’re right, you really should be able to win. But it’s not enough to have a correct message. You also have to be able to get people to understand it, and if you’re a politician, the onus is on you.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      I really like what you are saying here!

      I think about this in terms of schooling all the time. You try and teach kids about the world, but you have to gloss over a lot of complexity, so you give them some easy soundbytes, memes, stereotypes of the Spartans, Athenians, Romans, Founding Fathers, ecosystems, geology, morality, etc. to start building the foundation. But things get really tricky in the intermediate stages let’s say 9th grade to Sophomore in College where complexity and understanding seems to vary, and you are trying to complicate their understanding and add nuance (while keeping them engaged).

      I suppose a similar dynamic exists in politics.

    • I think the job you are describing isn’t mostly for politicians but for intellectuals. Done either honestly or dishonestly, it consists of packaging a conclusion in an argument that sounds persuasive and easy to understand but is not entirely correct, may be completely wrong.

      To me, the classic example is protectionism. Protecting the country is obviously good, it is obvious that foreigners selling things in America that I want to sell in America hurts me, and with a little fuzzy thinking you can identify “offer to sell us things cheap” with “attack us” by ignoring the American consumers in favor of the American producers. That’s made easier by the fact that we specialize in production, diversify in consumption, so identify much more with the one good we produce than with the many goods we consume.

      The result is that an economic theory that was conclusively debunked two hundred years ago continues to dominate both the policies and the political discourse of most countries on trade. Someone earlier commented on the existence of right economists and left economists. One of the things I am pretty sure that Krugman and I agree on is support for free trade. Which no country in the world has.

      There are two solutions. The popular one is to accept the false metaphor and extend it. Selling us something cheap is trade warfare, which hurts us, tariffs are our counter warfare, tariffs against us are their counter-counter-warfare, peace is better than war, so we should drop our tariffs in exchange for them dropping theirs. Economically speaking that translates as “we should stop shooting ourselves in the foot in exchange for their agreeing not to shoot themselves in the foot,” but rhetorically it sometimes works.

      The alternative is to put the correct analysis in a form simple enough for people to understand. I tried to do that long ago with my “growing Hondas in Iowa” story. It hasn’t brought free trade to the world, but it is one of the most copied memes I’ve ever produced.

      Even that alternative isn’t fully honest. As I occasionally explain, exporting wheat and importing Hondas isn’t quite equivalent to pouring wheat into a machine that turns it into cars, because changes in the amount we export and import can shift exchange rates and world prices. If we were a monopsony on the auto market, a tariff on autos could conceivably make us better off in a way that a tax on the wheat to auto machine couldn’t.

      But including all of that in the story would have reduced even further the number of people who would follow it and find it persuasive.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        You’re making the typical mistake of free trade proponents. Most educated anti-free trade people understand the theory behind free trade. But they disagree that it works that way in practice. You can’t keep repeating to me the same thing over and over and believe that will achieve something. Definition of insanity and all. Not only is it ineffective but its insulting and makes it harder for you gain support for free trade because people think you are condescending.

        • Kisil says:

          This isn’t really a conversation about free trade, so much as about how to argue with people who aren’t willing or able to engage at the level of detail required for full understanding. Perhaps someone’s noticed the skulls, but those are not the people I’m talking about persuading.

          That said, I’m happy to indulge the tangent: I have yet to see a convincing argument about why free trade fails to work in practice, outside of certain narrow exceptions. The protectionist arguments I’ve come across have all been, to at least some degree, simplistic and obviously wrong. Perhaps I’m guilty of weak-manning, but certainly not on purpose.

          Can you summarize, or link to, valid and persuasive arguments in favor of protectionism?

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            The basic idea is about who free trade works FOR. The most simplistic form of the free trade argument is about comparative advantage. But these arguments are all on the national or international level.

            The first issue is that if two countries engage in free trade as monolithic actors, each fictional entity, each nation, is better off materially. But this doesn’t say anything about individuals within the nation.

            The second issue is that free trade advocates don’t really care about nations at all. The super wealthy are not just exchanging products over borders. As individuals they don’t have a singular commitment to one nation. That’s where the epithet of globalist comes from. The money that is produced in a given country is not given to that country in any real way. Consider the immense drama over moving money overseas among even the low tier millionaires, much less the trillions from major corporations.

            This second issue also ties into immigration. Remittances send vast sums out of our country, something like 133.5 billion dollars. Now this is perhaps .7%/.8% of our GDP but its still a lot of money that could be spent here.

            Another related issue is beyond trade between two nations into global trade. Free trade has massively advantaged certain groups over other groups. There has begun a slow leveling of wealth differences across the world even as the promoters of free trade themselves are in no way affected by this.

            Most advocates of free trade on the left would probably support it if it redistributed the gains but it doesn’t. It further concentrates global wealth.

            No one really disagrees that globally free trade increases total wealth. But they do disagree about who truly benefits from that wealth and that all of those gains come from ethical economic practices.

          • each nation, is better off materially. But this doesn’t say anything about individuals within the nation.

            What do you think it says? The claim is about a sum of effects on people within the nation. The theory doesn’t tell you how those effects are distributed, so some people are quite likely to be worse off, as is true of pretty nearly any change.

            I don’t know what engaging in free trade “as monolithic actors” means.

            “The money that is produced in a given country is not given to that country in any real way.”

            That sounds as you think the argument has something to do with where the people who benefit by free trade spend their money. Are you assuming that what makes people in a country well off is there being lots of money?

            I conjecture from your point later

          • vV_Vv says:

            Can you summarize, or link to, valid and persuasive arguments in favor of protectionism?

            Alice wants to buy potatoes, she can buy them from Bob at $ 0.5 per lb, or from Carlos at $ 0.4 per lb.

            Alice and Bob both live in country A, while Carlos lives in country M. Both Bob and Carlos sell at their respective lowest profitable prices, the difference between them is due to different labor costs in their countries.

            Under free trade, Alice buys from Carlos. Both Alice and Carlos benefit from this, while Bob is screwed.

            But if government of country A levies an import tariff on potatoes of $ 0.15 per lb, then Alice buys from Bob. Alice is a little worse off, (she buys the same number of potatoes spending a little more, or she buys a little less potatoes spending the same, or something in between, depending on her price sensitivity), Bob is much better off, Carlos is screwed.

            It can be argued that the responsibility of government of A is primarily towards its citizens (Alice and Bob) rather than foreginers (Carlos), and that making Alice a little worse off in order to make Bob much better off is a positive tradeoff, therefore the government of A should enact the protectionist policy.

            EDIT:

            I should add that according to the classical Ricardian theory, under free trade Bob finds a way to convert his production from potoatoes to something else (phone apps? movie sequels?) he can produce comparatively more efficiently in country A, and sell them to Carlos, to the benefit of everybody.

            In practice, this doesn’t seem to work out very well.

          • Aapje says:

            @vV_Vv

            You can also argue that the externalities are priced into Bob’s price less than Carlos’s price, as Carlos lives in a country with laws that are worse at pricing in externalities.

            If buying from Carlos destroys the commons, that is bad for mankind in the long term.

          • @vV_Vv:

            Try running the numbers on your story. For simplicity I’ll assume that Alice keeps buying ten pounds of potatoes a week after the change.

            She is worse off by $1.00/week, since she is paying ten cents more a pound. You told us that “Both Bob and Carlos sell at their respective lowest profitable prices,” which means that at any price below $.5/lb Bob would be worse off selling than not selling, which means that his loss from not selling potatoes to Alice is much less than her $1.00/week, so on your assumption inhabitants of country A (Alice and Bob) are better off with the change, not worse off.

            One of the mistakes you are making is confusing revenue with profit. Bob’s revenue is down by $5/week, but his costs were about $5/week since he was selling at the lowest price at which he could cover them.

            The other mistake is not asking what Carlos is doing with the money that Alice is paying him. You can’t eat dollars. He is using them to buy something from someone in country A, not necessarily Bob. I can run through more complicated possibilities if you want, but that’s the simple one.

            Suppose we drop your assumption that Bob is selling at cost. Bob is actually making $.15 on each pound of potatoes sold, so the previous scenario leaves him worse off by $1.50.

            But in that case, faced with competition from Carlos he will cut his price to $.39/lb, which still leaves him better off than not selling the potatoes, so at that point his loss exactly balance’s Anne’s gain. Drop my simplifying assumption that Anne’s demand was perfectly inelastic and there is now a net gain to inhabitants of A–explanation available if someone really wants it.

            Axioms earlier wrote that:

            Most educated anti-free trade people understand the theory behind free trade.

            I responded:

            My impression is that the Principle of Comparative Advantage is like the Theory of Evolution. Lots of people think they understand it, because they think the name tells them what the theory says. But it doesn’t.

            Thank you for demonstrating my point.

          • vV_Vv says:

            One of the mistakes you are making is confusing revenue with profit. Bob’s revenue is down by $5/week, but his costs were about $5/week since he was selling at the lowest price at which he could cover them.

            I didn’t say he was selling at cost, he was selling at cost plus enough profit that he can make a living out of it. This is a big difference for Bob.

            The other mistake is not asking what Carlos is doing with the money that Alice is paying him. You can’t eat dollars. He is using them to buy something from someone in country A, not necessarily Bob.

            Sure, he is buying iphone apps and Star Wars episode XX movie tickets, but how is this helping the unemployed Bob?

          • Sure, he is buying iphone apps and Star Wars episode XX movie tickets, but how is this helping the unemployed Bob?

            It isn’t. As I already suggested, one part of your misunderstanding of the theory of comparative advantage is that you believe it is supposed to imply that nobody is worse off when a tariff is abolished.

            If that were the case, nobody would lobby for tariffs.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Your whole point was that people who oppose international free trade do so out of ignorance, because Ricardo debunked protectionism two hundred years ago, proving that free trade always leads to a better equilibrium.

            But now you are conceding that Ricardo’s assumptions were too strong and international free trade is not necessarily Pareto-optimal.

            If international free trade makes some people better off and other people worse off w.r.t. protectionism, then your argument is refuted.

            There can be rational reasons to support protectionism, and the decision of a government to privilege the people who stand to gain from free trade as opposed to those who stand to lose is political: it is the result of a social bargain between groups with intrinsically opposed interests.

          • But now you are conceding that Ricardo’s assumptions were too strong and international free trade is not necessarily Pareto-optimal.

            If international free trade makes some people better off and other people worse off w.r.t. protectionism, then your argument is refuted.

            You are misunderstanding what Pareto-optimal means. A situation is Pareto-optimal if there is no change from it that would be a Pareto-improvement. What you are saying is that the abolition of a tariff is not necessarily a Pareto-improvement, which is true, as any economist would concede. Very few large changes are Pareto improvements.

            I don’t regard Pareto-optimality as a useful concept, as it happens, in part because it is too easy to satisfy. Since almost no changes are Pareto improvements for a large society, almost any starting point is Pareto-optimal.

            I prefer to use Marshall’s concept of an economic improvement, in modern terminology an increase in economic efficiency. That is almost equivalent to a Hicks-Kaldor improvement aka a potential Pareto improvement, but I think a more honest version. I discuss the general issue in Chapter 2 of Law’s Order, webbed.

        • Most educated anti-free trade people understand the theory behind free trade.

          Do you think so? I would guess that is true only if you have a very narrow definition of “educated.”

          My impression is that the Principle of Comparative Advantage is like the Theory of Evolution. Lots of people think they understand it, because they think the name tells them what the theory says. But it doesn’t.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            I’m curious. What do you think people most often fail to understand about it?

          • vV_Vv says:

            The Ricardian argument for free trade makes the strong assumption that labor is immobile between countries but it is arbitrarily mobile between different industries within a country.

            In practice, how realistic it is for an unemployed former factory worker in the Rust Belt to get a job as a programmer in the Silicon Valley or as a banker in Wall Street?

            If labor is not very moble within a country, then a strong argument for protectionism can be made.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Those arguments make a number of strong assumptions on top of that.

            And we are currently totally ignoring the fact that there is a high level of net loss of mobility, regardless of the base standard of living, between local employees and globalist employers.

          • The Ricardian argument for free trade makes the strong assumption that labor is immobile between countries but it is arbitrarily mobile between different industries within a country.

            It’s true that Ricardo makes a lot of simplifying assumptions in his Principles, of which the big one was that the labor/capital ratio was the same for all goods. He had to–he was inventing general equilibrium theory with no mathematics beyond arithmetic, which is obviously impossible.

            But your assumptions are not needed for the principle of comparative advantage. Nothing in the argument implies that free trade will make every individual better off, which I conjecture is the conclusion you are inventing assumptions to explain.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Actually many free trade advocates profess exactly that. There are bigger winners and smaller winners but we are all winners.

          • Protagoras says:

            Well, that’s just obviously wrong. It is inevitable that free trade will produce more gain than loss, but nothing guarantees that there will be no loss. It’s not even guaranteed that there will be more winners than losers, though if there are more losers than winners, the winners must be gaining a lot more than the losers lose. From an egalitarian perspective, one might well be inclined to oppose free trade that produces a small number of big winners and a large number of small losers. And sometimes sophisticated anti-free trade arguments are pitched that way, but such arguments usually are misrepresenting the situation; most commonly there are large numbers of small winners whose benefits are less obvious and who are therefore being ignored.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            I wonder if you consider the second purpose of free trade? Its second primary purpose is to eviscerate regulation and workers’ rights. What is the true cause of “inefficiency” that makes domestic goods more expensive? Protection of the working classes. Workers in nations with a large amount of wealth must pay vastly higher prices for basic goods because of the increased value of land. In a free market they could not afford reasonable living conditions. The only goods that are truly immune to outsourcing, but not automation, are service jobs.

            The major reason that free trade causing lower prices for certain consumer goods is meaningless is because of the increased value of land. If you lose your good job in exchange for cheaper consumer goods you are still stuck with the problem that housing doesn’t become cheaper. The land needed to house the goods that you buy doesn’t become cheaper. Food prices need to be able to absorb the rent or taxes from the place they are sold. The same is true for other goods. And that’s on top of the housing cost issue. The people who work at your corner Starbucks in major cities often can’t afford to live very close to work or else they must give up quite a bit to make up the cost. Building cheaper, but still decent, housing literally lowers the land value of surrounding land as well, giving rise to NIMBYs.

            Supporters of free trade ignore so many issues when insisting that free trade is a net good, and a large net good at that.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            In practice, how realistic it is for an unemployed former factory worker in the Rust Belt to get a job as a programmer in the Silicon Valley or as a banker in Wall Street?

            It seems to me that if you’re protecting people’s jobs despite the fact that those jobs do not benefit the country as a whole [as much as the other available alternatives do] then protectionism is little different from make-work. You might just as well take it to the logical conclusion, and give some people jobs digging holes and other people jobs filling those holes in again.

            … obviously, what I’m ignoring here is that a lot of the people in question belong to cultural sub-groups in which having a job is not just a source of income but also a source of identity, or something like that; I’m no sociologist. But there’s a difference between “free trade doesn’t work” and “free trade conflicts with our cultural values” and I think that’s an important distinction to retain.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            But cultural values ARE applied to capitalism. I mean theoretically if we disposed of most kinds of leisure, especially for the exponentially more productive rich, we could vastly increase our output. Think of all the intelligence wasted on culture. Chess? Worthless. Sucking up good minds. Music, art, etc. The wealthy put perfect efficiency below their own amusement. But if working people do it suddenly its a problem? That’s not consistent. Having summer trips to Europe on your private yacht is NOT necessary to productivity. Cheaper, shorter, local vacations would be sufficient. Removing stretched out business lunches and golf breaks would improve productivity. But we don’t do that. Because those are the benefits accruing to the people who consider themselves the ruling classes. Hit me back when you’re being consistent.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It seems to me that if you’re protecting people’s jobs despite the fact that those jobs do not benefit the country as a whole [as much as the other available alternatives do] then protectionism is little different from make-work.

            You don’t have to go all the way to make-work. If someone’s job was marginally above subsistence 10 years ago and is marginally below subsistence today, you just need some subsidies. Or think of it as “80% your old job, 20% make-work.”

            It’s vastly cheaper, too. Instead of wards of the state, we only need to subsidize about 20% of their lives, and their children have a model of going to work every day so we’re not creating a permanent underclass.

          • What is the true cause of “inefficiency” that makes domestic goods more expensive?

            You go on to argue that costs are higher in the U.S. because of regulation, and that explains why foreign goods are cheaper. That’s absolute advantage, the internally incoherent view of trade that Ricardo refuted about two hundred years ago. You might as well be discussing the space program with Ptolemaic astronomy.

            Forget about money for a moment. Trade is ultimately good for goods. If everything is cheaper in Mexico that explains why we would want their goods. But why would they want ours?

            When you imagine that everything is more expensive in the U.S., what units is everything more expensive in? In order to compare prices in dollars to prices in pesos you need an exchange rate. At an exchange rate at which everything is cheaper in Mexico, nobody with pesos would want to buy dollars with them.

          • Actually many free trade advocates profess exactly that. There are bigger winners and smaller winners but we are all winners.

            I would be surprised to find anyone claiming that that was true of abolishing a single tariff, which was the example I was responding to. If nobody benefited by a tariff nobody would lobby for one. It might be true of abolishing all tariffs, but that’s an empirical question, not a result implied by the theory of comparative advantage.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            The reason regulation is relevant is because free market capitalism always prefers un-regulated third world countries for jobs that produce mobile goods. Globalization/free trade is about spreading limited capital over a much less limited pool of workers with no bargaining power. Free trade is a shortcut around regulation. The only way for Americans to compete for jobs is to remove regulation and thus cripple the ability of workers to negotiate. The reason western workers could mobilize to improve their conditions is because capital wasn’t mobile in the same way.

            Free trade allows capitalists to dictate the rules. Workers have no power. That’s why free trade is a problem. Not because comparative advantage is wrong. Comparative advantage is irrelevant.

            You are talking about comparative advantage completely removed from any real world context. You have no perspective. In a purely abstract theoretical way which has no tie to the concrete world comparative advantage works the way you say it does. But free trade being good does not follow from comparative advantage being abstractly correct. That’s what people talk about when they mean that Ricardo simplified too much. Comparative advantage in the real world doesn’t exist in isolation.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            But cultural values ARE applied to capitalism.

            @axiomsofdominion, I assume that was addressed to me? I don’t see the relevance; I didn’t say that it was a problem that people have cultural values.

          • The reason regulation is relevant is because free market capitalism always prefers un-regulated third world countries for jobs that produce mobile goods.

            It follows that U.S. foreign trade is mostly with third world countries rather than with developed countries. Have you checked on whether that is true? It’s more trouble than inventing facts on which to base your argument but, now that we have the internet, not a lot more trouble.

          • Jiro says:

            No, that doesn’t follow. At most what follows is that the US trades more with third world countries, on a per-good basis, and proportionately to the supply of goods.

            It also requires that other considerations are equal, particularly the cost of transport–Canada and Mexico are right there. “Prefers” doesn’t mean “prefers as the only consideration”.

      • Kisil says:

        I do think that this is largely a matter for politicians, out of necessity: they’re the ones who are trying to get things done in the world, and are directly hindered by people not understanding their ideas. Perhaps breaking ideas apart across abstraction levels is the “proper job” for intellectuals, but politicians are the ones invested in the outcome.

        Perhaps this is an issue of semantics, where I’m defining politicians a bit more broadly. Again, I’m assuming some good intent to make specific changes, as opposed to the popular model of the purely-power-driven ruling class.

      • Jiro says:

        I tried to do that long ago with my “growing Hondas in Iowa” story

        I responded to that one.

  19. lemmycaution415 says:

    That current affairs article does not say that facts are bad. It just says that facts are insufficient by themselves to persuade. This seems right to me.

    “Aristotle really did point out something quite useful in his treatise on rhetoric. He wrote that:

    “There are… three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions-that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.”

    Rhetoric consists of logos, ethos, and pathos—logic, emotion, and character. To be a skilled persuader you need all three. Make purely logical arguments and you’ll flounder, because you also need to be able to use language in ways that touch people emotionally and that convince them you’re a person of sound character who ought to be listened to. People come around to your views partially for logical reasons, but partially because they come to trust you, and to see you as reliable.

    That’s one key reason why people on the left lose debates. It’s not because “you can’t debate a fascist,” it’s because fascists think about how to actually win the audience. If you’re not thinking about that, of course you’ll lose.

    There’s something that sounds faintly dirty about encouraging people to think beyond purely rational forms of persuasion. But it’s that refusal to get one’s hands dirty with rhetoric that is the problem, not the willingness to use language rather than physical force as one’s chief political weapon. The choice is not necessarily between “trying to reason logically with the other side” and “engaging in violent struggle.” It could also be that for progressives, persuasion is usually best effected neither through violence nor formal deductive reasoning, but through effective messaging, telling people things that actually get them to support your politics. In other words, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it and who you are.

    Bernie Sanders offers a good illustration of what I mean about using language effectively by going beyond reason and incorporating character and emotion. I long thought Sanders would be particularly effective in a debate against Donald Trump, far more so than Hillary Clinton. That was not because Sanders has a more acute command of debater’s logic than Clinton; in fact, she’s far better at this. Rather, it’s because Sanders had those other two appeals: the emotional appeal and the character appeal. Sanders could very effectively describe meeting people without health insurance, and speak with moral conviction about the plight of the underclass, and he could fundamentally get people to trust him by having a kind of personal integrity that many people respected. (Hardly anybody respects the character of either Clinton or Trump.) Democrats need to not just be right on the facts, but to have candidates that can speak to people on an emotional level, and who seem to have the kind of human traits in which people can place their confidence. (This is why, political positions aside, it’s probably a bad idea to run a slippery self-aggrandizing politico like Cory Booker or Andrew Cuomo in 2020.)

    Thus I think giving up on argumentation, reason, and language, just because Purely Logical Debate doesn’t work, is a mistake. It’s easy to think that if we can’t convince the right with facts, there’s no hope at all for public discourse. But this might not suggest anything about the possibilities of persuasion and dialogue. Instead, it might suggest that mere facts are rhetorically insufficient to get people excited about your political program. You don’t need to refuse to debate people. You need to stop trying to debating them simply by pointing out that their statistics are erroneous and their syllogisms faulty. “

    • lemmycaution415 says:

      To give partisanship its due, I find non-partisans unpersuasive and flaky. Dudes are always going on the joe rogan show and talking about how bad both sides are and putting out weird policy ideas that they have not really thought through.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      as I already noted in the previous discussion on this article; white nationalists have taken left rhetoric and appropriated it. “If black power is OK why not white power?” And so logical debate doesn’t really work against that, because there is no logical argument for that; the closest you get is some mish-mash of power dynamics and consequentialism, and that really isn’t satisfying enough to win from an emotional level, on top of not being that logical either.

      So yeah, if you don’t want to argue against identity politics writ large, you have to appeal to emotions and feelings. Because you can’t win logically.

    • AnonYEmous says:

      as I already noted in the previous discussion on this article; white nationalists have taken left rhetoric and appropriated it. “If black power is OK why not white power?” And so logical debate doesn’t really work against that, because there is no logical argument for that; the closest you get is some mish-mash of power dynamics and consequentialism, and that really isn’t satisfying enough to win from an emotional level, on top of not being that logical either.

      So yeah, if you don’t want to argue against identity politics writ large, you have to appeal to emotions and feelings. Because you can’t win logically.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      From the other side, I don’t see the left arguing dispassionately and reasonably. There is some of that, sure, but there’s also lots of marching, screaming, shouting, cursing, no-platforming, rioting, and endless parades of news sob stories of poor minorities horribly mistreated to tug at my heartstrings. And when we get down to the social justice circles, facts and data are right out: lived experience uber alles.

      Hearing about an illegal immigrant family getting deported makes democrats cry, but I kind of shrug and say “that’s unfortunate, but they shouldn’t have been here illegally and the government has a basic responsibility to make sure only people we want here are allowed in the country.”

      But listening to an American father describe how his son was murdered by an illegal immigrant makes me cry, and very angry. But democrats probably shrug and say “well, that’s awful, but these things happen and we can’t punish all illegal immigrants for the actions of a few.”

      Our disconnect is not over the use of emotion, or facts, or reason, but that we get emotional about different things.

      • Viliam says:

        And when we get down to the social justice circles, facts and data are right out: lived experience uber alles.

        Lived experience trumps data, but the position on the progressive stack trumps lived experience.

        (And being friends with the right people sometimes trumps the position on the progressive stack. But that’s human nature.)

      • lemmycaution415 says:

        US conservatives get angry about immigrant crime in Europe because immigrant crime in the US isn’t particularly worse than native crime. You are right that “Our disconnect is not over the use of emotion, or facts, or reason, but that we get emotional about different things.”

  20. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Posted before I’ve read all the comments.

    Playing to the white working class isn’t identity politics?

    I thought one of the big issues was that Hillary was unpopular and she should have had better sense than to run and/or the DNP should have had better sense than to have supported her candidacy. “Unpopular” splits into “deservedly unpopular” and “the RNP spent decades unfairly wrecking her reputation”.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I think it depends on how you’re playing identity politics. Are you telling the target group “we’re going to help your group” or are you telling them “we’re going to hurt your outgroup?”

      If you’re going to demonize an outgroup for your target identity group, it’s best to pick people who (allegedly) don’t vote, like illegal immigrants or foreign muslims, or people everyone hates like Wall Street and media elites and corrupt politicians. Hillary chose to demonize, directly or indirectly, whites, males, heterosexuals, etc, who are still extremely large voting blocks.

  21. Deiseach says:

    Okay, here’s a simple question that should be answerable.

    Why did Hillary Clinton want to be president?

    That is, what were her aims, goals and yes, Grand Soaring Vision for the presidency?

    Apart from “First female president” – which frankly I think had little to do with it, I think Hillary’s ambition was such that had she been a member of a nine-gendered species of methane-breathers from Xyzzzprkliz, zir slogan would have been “First metankalophic president!” – why would you vote her in as president?

    I really got no sense from her campaign – other than “it’s Buggins’ turn” – as to why Hillary Clinton should be the next president of the United States of America. “I’m not the Republican candidate”, while pithy, lacks a certain something to convince the floating voter.

    So give me the reason(s) why she wanted to be/should have been/would have done had she achieved office as president, and that’s the answer to Scott’s post about “what should the Democrats aim for in 2018”, right?

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      She would have done all the usual left-liberal stuff, which really ought to be enough for those who like that sort of thing. Grand Soaring Visions are overrated.

      • Christopher Hazell says:

        Ought it to be enough?

        Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter both happened while Barrack Obama was President. If the Clinton campaign didn’t notice that the natives were getting restless and impatient with “all the usual left-liberal stuff” they really were asleep at the switch.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          As long as you can satisfy enough of the people who actually turn out to vote, the natives can be as restless as they like. As an electoral problem, Hillary’s unlikeability pales in comparison to the Democrats’ dependence on people who don’t show up at the polls unless there’s an Obama on the ballot.

      • Deiseach says:

        Okay, so Hillary’s message was “vote for more of the same”. But what is more of the same? Obamacare II: This Time We’ll Get All The Bugs Out? What exactly is the usual left-liberal stuff? Obama stole her thunder on gay marriage (okay, the Supreme Court did it for him, but she would not now have the chance to drape the White House in rainbow flags and bask in the popularity. And Joe Biden got there first at officiating a gay marriage).

        “Well, she’ll just generally keep doing whatever it is she was already doing” is not really a reason to vote someone in as president (however it may work for returning a long-serving senator to the seat they’ve held for thirty years).

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          “Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect”, in Harry Hopkins’ memorable phrase. It doesn’t always win, but it’s still the best weapon they’ve got, and you oppose it at your peril– as the erstwhile repealers of Obamacare have suddenly realized.

    • engleberg says:

      @ Why did Hillary want to be President?

      So she can extort more bribes. That half-billion the Clintons got from Microsoft’s competitors to sic the Justice Department on Microsoft had to be pretty sweet. A billion-dollar slush fund doesn’t fill itself.

      And I think everyone here but me underestimates the ‘got caught stealing the primary from Bernie’ as a factor in why she lost the general. You are nice people who think ‘got caught stealing the primary’ is too crass to mention?

  22. Jiro says:

    Another possibility: It isn’t that Hillary wasn’t competent as a salesman; it’s that people didn’t want to buy what she was selling.

    I can just imagine Scott going up to a store that sells Pythonesque crunchy frogs and telling them that the only reason people aren’t buying the frogs for dinner is that they need a better marketing executive.

  23. John Schilling says:

    Luckily this has an easy solution.

    Implementing a political philosophy where people don’t have to win elections before they are tasked with governing nations? No, I’m sure there’s a reason somewhere why that’s not the solution…

    • ChetC3 says:

      What, like monarchy? Where the last person who got the king drunk and/or laid gets to determine policy?

  24. postgenetic says:

    Think the tone and intent of this piece are commendable and genuine, but the philosophic starting point is erroneous. Think democracy and capitalism are increasingly broken in regard to passing natural selection tests, and to try to mend them is analogous to putting patches on a damn that’s about to burst. The damn’s structure doesn’t fit its new environs. Won’t work; can’t work.

    This is my 2nd comment; and as I’ll generally do, going big picture again, per this:
    “We need scarcely add that the contemplation in natural science of a wider domain than the actual leads to a far better understanding of the actual.” Sir Arthur Eddington

    Can’t hook up all the dots here, would take too much space; below is an incomplete sketch with some fundamental dots.

    The efficacy of democracy, which now essentially fellates moneyed-power, has been crushed by exponentially accelerating complexity, EAC.

    Think EAC is the dominant phenomenon of our era: Add roughly 5.9 billion humans since 1900, many using vastly more powerful tech (chemicals, radar fishing, meds, jets, chainsaws, etc.), add the impacts (poop, resource use, etc.) of a huge increase in domesticated animals …
    These still-increasing additions alter myriad relationships in novel, complex and unprecedented ways in-and-across geo eco bio cultural & tech networks, and across time.

    Re Relationship:
    “The most fundamental phenomenon of the universe is relationship.” Jonas Salk — Anatomy of Reality

    Re Complexity:
    From complexity scientist Yaneer Bar-Yam: “In simpler times, judging a policymaker based upon values or claims made sense. Today they can’t tell what their actions will cause.”

    The pols can’t tell what their actions will cause, nor can the voters.
    The webs of relationships and downstream domino effects are beyond human beings’ information processing abilities.

    These novel environs are too complex for us.
    Data point re complexity:
    “There were 5 exabytes of information created by the entire world between the dawn of civilization and 2003; now that same amount is created every two days.” Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

    EAC is an emergent phenomenon, again unprecedented, and we’re not set up (coded) to navigate, to process the onslaught of relationship information in these alien environs, i.e., like an overloaded immune system, we can’t process with sufficient reach, speed, accuracy and power.

    Hence our relationships continue to breakdown. We can’t even get along with the sky and ocean.
    We’re bringing our kids a “premature and perverted death.”
    We be lethally wrong, and have been for decades.

    1970: “The oceans are in danger of dying.” Jacques Cousteau
    1980: We live in a “death culture.” Russell Means
    1983: “We’re in a war for survival and it’s everybody’s duty to get involved. If they don’t, they’ll be drafted into it anyway, by circumstance.” Paul Watson — Founder of the Sea Shepherd
    1983: “Our system for the selection of leaders who are suited to the time in which we live is no longer appropriate, useful, or effective.” Jonas Salk — Anatomy of Reality

    Here’s an abstract of sorts re Complexity, Culture & Code: link text

    • Exponentially accelerating complexity is an argument against centralized control mechanisms, for decentralized ones. Markets are a decentralized control mechanism, and one that scales well–works somewhat better for large systems than for small ones.

  25. Robin says:

    Anyone has an opinion on the book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign?

    From what I understand from it, it says that she lost because she is a paranoid control freak; after she lost to Obama, she read all e-mails from her campaign staff looking for traitors, and had her husband sabotage the campaigns of illoyals afterwards; her campaign was unorganized and chaotic, everyone fighting for power; and even her closest staff members didn’t know why she wanted to be president in the first place.

    Here is a summary, unfortunately in a foreign language.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Matt Taibbi wrote a good English language summary.

      I don’t think the problems described in Shattered are enough to explain why HRC lost. After all, most voters don’t interact with the campaign outside of advertising, and while the advertising was certainly far too focused on Trump’s negatives as opposed to a positive case for HRC, it otherwise seemed to be competently done.

      But I do think they are the single greatest reason for her underperformance compared to polls. During the weeks leading up to the election, there was a lot of talk about how Trump would do particularly bad due to his lack of local offices/ground games/other traditional campaign apparati. It was assumed that HRC, being an experienced and competent politician, wouldn’t have those problems–but it turned out that her dysfunctional campaign actually failed dramatically on a lot of those fronts.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Well, Jeff Stein of Vox tweeted an interesting screenshot of a highlighted passage from the book. (Via Steve Sailer.)

      • entobat says:

        Completely off-topic, but I will never get over how some guy in my graduating class from high school is mentioned so often in the SSC comment section.

        Someone should tell him he’s famous!

        • entobat says:

          Wait, I got this Stein confused with a different Stein around the same age and from the same town. This is so much less exciting.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      If you’ve read a newspaper article or two about the book you probably already have what little good there is to be gotten out of it, and so have no need to slog through it. While it was probably inevitable that the book would to some degree partake of the dreariness of its subject, you also have the authors’ beastly string-of-cliches style to deal with. (Full disclosure: I gave up a little more than halfway through, when I concluded that the part about Hillary’s convention speech was never going to end. It’s possible that it gets better after that, though that’s not the way to bet.)

    • Jaskologist says:

      I think the losing campaign is always painted as a dumpster fire. If she’d won (and it’s not like she was far from that), the books would all be about how brilliantly run the campaign was.

      It’s not that I think the stories told are wrong, so much that the selection of which stories to tell is driven by the narrative of who won. So I’d take it with a grain of salt.

      • Randy M says:

        Yes. For all I’d like to read a resounding rejection into Hillary’s defeat, or failing that amusing tales of hubris, I expect the answer is it’s pretty hard to run a national campaign appealing to the majority of a country as diverse and large as this one, and she was reasonably close to winning.

      • Iain says:

        Agreed.

        Given the narrowness of Trump’s victory, Nate Silver is almost certainly correct when he says that the Comey letter cost Clinton the election. (Note: that’s not to say that there weren’t lots of other things that cost Clinton the election; when the margin is so slim, any number of changes could conceivably have led to a different result.)

        Imagine the alternative universe in which everything is the same except that Comey doesn’t release the letter. Clinton wins, Trump loses. Now the books about the Clinton campaign are all laudatory, and oh, man, the books about the Trump campaign would have been savage. But the only difference between that universe and this one is an exogenous factor outside the control of either campaign.

        • herbert herberson says:

          It’s always worth mentioning that Comey’s actions played out the way they did specifically because he, like so many others, thought Trump was sure to lose and was trying to do the thing that would prevent anyone from accusing him of having affected the final result of the election.

          • Deiseach says:

            Good point. Had Hillary won and then the mini-scandal erupted during her early presidency, there would indeed be some accusations of “undue pressure was put on the FBI to sweep this under the carpet so she could win”.

            Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

          • cassander says:

            Comey had a way out. the minute he was at the center of a controversy he should have announced his intention to resign no matter who won.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          Having seen some choice quotes from the book about Hillary…I can’t claim to know what would’ve happened, but there’s certainly a lot to criticize here. And has Trump’s campaign really received much in the way of laudatory statements? I know there’s some praise for appealing to the white working class in a few key states, and some “4d chess” stuff, but…it does seem like the evidence isn’t there for your theory. At worst, people got it right for the wrong reasons, and who cares about that?

          Plus, that article is quite far from proving its point. I mean,

          A week later — after polls had time to fully reflect the letter — her lead had declined to 2.9 percentage points.

          No instant spike? Seems…odd. But there was a downwards trend after the letter…except, looking at the graph posted, it’s the same trend she was on before the letter came out. Moreover, we have this:

          Exit polls showed that undecided and late-deciding voters broke toward Trump

          Is this a result of the letter? Or is it simply a result of Trump getting undecided and late-deciding voters some other way? Obviously I can’t prove anything, but it sure seems to me like – looking at Hillary’s polls, in the chart provided – that Trump was gaining momentum even before the letter. On top of that, the investigation was closed well before Election Day, so why would that be the significant causal factor in getting late-breaking and undecided voters to actually vote for you?

          And this is all stuff I gathered from the article which argues that the letter was a deciding factor. Seriously, if the rest of my post wasn’t enough to convince you that this argument is flimsy, that sentence alone should give you pause.

          • Iain says:

            No instant spike? Seems…odd.

            If there’s an instant spike in voter sentiment, it will take time for that to be reflected in polling averages, many of which include a rolling sample taken over several days. That dip is pretty much exactly what you’d expect to see from an instant spike in voter preference.

            It’s the same trend she was on before the letter came out.

            That “trend” is just noise, and momentum isn’t really a thing for this kind of polling. Look at the period between 9/18 and 9/26ish: the average jumped up and down by the same amount as the pre-Comey movement, over a shorter period of time. If you’d tried predicting subsequent changes based on perceived momentum at that point, you would have been completely out to lunch.

            Is this a result of the letter? Or is it simply a result of Trump getting undecided and late-deciding voters some other way?

            Well, one way to find out would be to look at other times that Clinton’s emails were in the news, and look at their impact on the polling numbers. Lo and behold, the previous time Comey was in the news also corresponded with a dip in Clinton’s numbers, among other confirmatory factors.

            (This Gallup graphic, showing what Americans were hearing about each of the candidates in the news during the election, is also pretty eye-opening.)

            Seriously, if the rest of my post wasn’t enough to convince you that this argument is flimsy, that sentence alone should give you pause.

            Your choice to cherry-pick the parts of the article that you see as supporting your case, while ignoring the subsequent responses to those points in the article itself, does give me pause — but not about Nate Silver.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            If there’s an instant spike in voter sentiment, it will take time for that to be reflected in polling averages, many of which include a rolling sample taken over several days. That dip is pretty much exactly what you’d expect to see from an instant spike in voter preference.

            Fair enough.

            That “trend” is just noise, and momentum isn’t really a thing for this kind of polling. Look at the period between 9/18 and 9/26ish: the average jumped up and down by the same amount as the pre-Comey movement, over a shorter period of time. If you’d tried predicting subsequent changes based on perceived momentum at that point, you would have been completely out to lunch.

            That’s a couple-day mini-spike, but Hillary had been trending downards since around 10/17. Besides, isn’t the entire mountain in the middle of this chart subject to similar questioning? It sure seems like she just had a peak for about two weeks and it was already starting back down afterwards.

            Lo and behold, the previous time Comey was in the news also corresponded with a dip in Clinton’s numbers, among other confirmatory factors.

            I guess you’re referring to this paragraph:

            In July, when Comey said he wouldn’t recommend charges against Clinton but rebuked her handling of classified information, she lost about 2 percentage points in the polls. Periods of intense coverage of her email server had also been associated with polling declines during the Democratic primary.

            To the first: getting chewed out by the head of the FBI tends to do that. Does the head of the FBI re-opening an investigation he later closes also tend to do that?

            To the second: yes, as long as a scandal remains unresolved, people talking about it will in fact cause you to lose points.

            What isn’t addressed at all is whether or not she gained back those voters. And this is what Nate doesn’t really address (and you don’t either). Moreover, it rather proves my point about only using what’s in his own article to disprove it; instead I’ll use my own source:

            http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/04/2016-election-pollsters-react-237975

            “The evidence for a meaningful effect on the election from the FBI letter is mixed at best,” the report states, citing polls that showed Clinton’s support beginning to drop in the days leading up to the letter. “October 28th falls at roughly the midpoint (not the start) of the slide in Clinton’s support.”

            In fact, while the Comey letter “had an immediate, negative impact for Clinton on the order of 2 percentage points,” the report finds that Clinton’s support recovered “in the days just prior to the election.”

            In other words: people just didn’t like Hillary. They may have liked her less after the letter, but they returned to equilibrium afterwards; unfortunately this was true for Trump as well as Hillary, and his equilibrium was simply stronger than hers (electoral college-wise, at least).

            Your choice to cherry-pick the parts of the article that you see as supporting your case, while ignoring the subsequent responses to those points in the article itself, does give me pause — but not about Nate Silver.

            “waahh, us lefties keep getting picked on all the time in SSC comment threads”

            gee, wonder why that could be

          • Iain says:

            Besides, isn’t the entire mountain in the middle of this chart subject to similar questioning? It sure seems like she just had a peak for about two weeks and it was already starting back down afterwards.

            No, the “entire mountain in the middle” — or at least the left side of it — corresponds with Clinton being the generally acknowledged victor of all three debates, the first of which took place right at the foot of the mountain. There is a clear explanation for why Clinton’s numbers went up; if you don’t think Comey’s letter mattered, what is your explanation for why they suddenly dropped back down again?

            To be clear: I think it’s quite plausible that Clinton’s numbers would have gradually meandered somewhat downwards, even in the absence of the Comey letter. Some of the decline that we see would have happened anyway. But Trump’s final margin of victory was so narrow that you don’t need to assign much of the decline to Comey before you have to admit that he swayed the outcome of the election.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Clinton being the generally acknowledged victor of all three debates

            I’m honestly wondering whether or not this is really true. But it seems like something better to leave to the mists of time.

            the first of which took place right at the foot of the mountain. There is a clear explanation for why Clinton’s numbers went up; if you don’t think Comey’s letter mattered, what is your explanation for why they suddenly dropped back down again?

            I mean, why did they start dropping before? Isn’t it possible that, well,

            Clinton’s numbers would have gradually meandered somewhat downwards,

            ?

            Bottom line is, it may have had some impact, and you’re certainly right that the election was close enough for that to have mattered. But it also may not have, and I’m content to leave it at that.

          • Iain says:

            I’m honestly wondering whether or not this is really true. But it seems like something better to leave to the mists of time.

            First debate. Second debate. Third debate. As far as I am aware, there wasn’t a single poll that said Trump won any of the debates.

        • Spookykou says:

          This isn’t really important to your point, but it seems to me there would be less interest in a book about why Trump lost. The media narrative was that Trump would lose up until he won, if he had actually lost, how he lost, hardly seems like a topic that would generate much fervor. Clinton on the other hand was the 99% chance to win, going up against the ‘ridiculous’ Donald Trump. How she managed to fail is a deeply important ‘mystery’ to the left, delightful blunder to the right.

          I remember post election interviews with Trump voters who seemed to mostly say some version of, ‘I knew he was going to lose but I went out and voted anyways’.

          • keranih says:

            Imagine what the vote would have been, if the American public had thought “huh, a bunch of smart & thoughtful people think Trump could win, I suppose there is something about what he’s talking about.”

          • Incurian says:

            Then it would have been easier to mobilize support for Hillary? For all the Trump supporters that stayed home because it was a lost cause, I’m sure there were plenty of Ds and NeverTrumps who stayed home because Hillary had it in the bag.

          • keranih says:

            @ Incurian –

            A fair point. I was thinking more along the lines of people who went reflexively “Everyone says Trump’s a racist idiot, so obviously he’s someone I’d never vote for.” I’m not saying that the media slant is decisive in non-close races, but on the margins it helps.

            Would have to run a couple trials, to be more sure which thumb on the scale was heavier.

    • hlynkacg says:

      My opinion is that this book confirms way too many of my pre-existing suspicions for me to treat it as a credible source.

    • Progressive Reformation says:

      It was good, but I went into it expecting something along the lines of When Genius Failed (about the LTCM debacle), i.e. a long steady buildup to the catastrophe followed by a few detailed chapters of how it all went wrong. But the bubble bursting is only in the second-to-last chapter, which was rather abrupt. And unlike When Genius Failed, where the LTCM whiz-kids were growing in confidence and swagger up until they lost it all, here the campaign seems to be in almost permanent crisis mode.

      The penultimate chapter describes the shock of the campaign that their supposedly-large lead was being wiped out. But through the whole book this or that staffer was freaking out about some disaster – Comey’s statement, the Podesta email leak, Weiner, some poor performance of Hillary’s, etc. It felt a bit incongruous to then declare that they were incredibly confident going into Election Day.

      Some things also felt rather, I dunno, cherry-picked. The effect of Bill Clinton was especially strange. Everything Bill did supposedly hurt them (for example, he supported Hillary in her paranoia and helped cultivate an atmosphere of fear and suspicion in the campaign); yet everything he wanted to do but couldn’t would have saved them (stump in Rust Belt cities among a demographic hostile to Hillary but with a natural affinity for him). It seems unnatural that everything they decide to do with Bill was the wrong thing.

      Also, and most seriously, I wish it had more details on the analytics and modeling and how that went wrong. I suppose it’s all proprietary – so much that the authors weren’t even given any information – but it feels like something is missing. For such an important figure, Analytics chief Elan Kriegel is almost entirely absent (Robby Mook kind of stands in for him, but still odd).

      But there is good stuff there. The struggle to figure out what Clinton stood for; how they destroyed Ready For Hillary, a super-PAC run by independent enthusiasts, rather than using them effectively; the weird way they approached trying to make her likeable (a debate-prep memo contains the instructions “Happy to be there! Smiling! Never Rattled! You look great!”); the underhanded tactics they used to make the Democratic Convention seem more unified than it was.

      All in all, I’d rate it a B. Solid, with a lot of interesting details, but ultimately lacking in some key areas and overlong in others.

  26. Marshayne Lonehand says:

    It’s been a tough week at SSC Group, hasn’t it? What’s the by-the-book response, when ASPD/NPD cognitive norms begin to dominate group discourse? Where do therapists go themselves, to participate in therapeutic give-and-take?

  27. Anon. says:

    It’s all just standard Public Choice. No need for complicated theories about the Republicans.

  28. Tibor says:

    From where I stand, the US is simply too big a country to have chance of being governed well, particularly with the current level of government involvement.

    I think you have two options. You can either split the country into smaller bits (I’d go all the way and dissolve the US into something like the current EU minus the idiotic subsidies, the European commission and the European Parliament, which really is not a proper parliament anyway), or at least make is significantly more federal (I’m wondering whether at this point the US is more or less federal than Switzerland…except of course that Switzerland as a whole has a population lower than most US states). The more is decided on the local level, the more it pays off to be an informed voter and the easier is to coordinate the desires of the people by democracy, since it is easier to find a common ground between fewer people.

    The other option is rolling back the government itself, making it decide fewer things, thus again increasing the chance of finding a reasonable common ground.

    Ideally you do both. But in a country of 300 million people where the government plays quite a significant role (which is slowly increasing over time), you can’t really appeal to the majority and at the same time be really honest to your principles (what also doesn’t help is that you only have 2 parties and a majority system). Which is not to say that things are all good and dandy if you go down to say 10 million. I think you need to go even further, ideally below 1 million people. That’s not to say you can’t have a federal government ruling over those 300-500 municipalities, but they should have a high degree of autonomy (higher than the US states do today) with the federal government dealing mostly with things such as national defense and the central bank (if you want to keep a monetary union) and inter-state law disputes. That way, on the federal level the number of topics is so small that people can find an easier common ground, hence there is less partisanship and appeal to emotion and more rationality in general. On the local level, if you have half a million to a million people from a small area, they will have a lot more in common, so they will reach a consensus a lot easier – hence you don’t need so much appeal to the least common denominator and you can focus on being competent instead. I don’t know if this is the case in the US as well, but I think it is, that on the local level, people are a lot less party oriented and they care a lot more about actual experience and competence of the elected officials – like the mayor. It is also a lot easier to get that information. If I vote about the mayor of the home district of my home town, that’s a few square kilometers and maybe 30 000 people. And finding about whether he is good or not (even if you’re someone who does not watch news at all) is as simple as going to the pub and asking your neighbours, because a lot of people will know the candidate personally. On the whole city level, it still works to some extent, the last mayor of my town (about 200 000 people) was my high school teacher and I’d say that still a lot of people either know him personally or know someone who knows him.

    Btw, I don’t quite buy the story of Hillary Clinton as the “rational” candidate or the Democrats as a “rational” party (although I guess Scott essentially meant it in a hypothetical way, not necessarily saying whether he agrees with that view or not), as far as I can tell from across the ocean, they use as much emotion as the Republicans just in a different way because their audiences have on average different sensibilities.

    • Kevin C. says:

      I think you have two options. You can either split the country into smaller bits

      What part of “settled at Appomattox”, “indissoluble unity”, and “perpetual Union” is unclear? Once you’re in, you’re in forever, and territorial division has been ruled absolutely and completely verboten, for any reason, for all time. And besides, a look at a county-level political map would show that modern mobility has shaped things so there isn’t nearly the clear-cut geographical lines as the last, failed attempt to split the country.

      or at least make is significantly more federal

      But that means leaving the deplorables free, where they’re a majority, to practice their deplorableness! To engage in unacceptable violations of basic human rights, like refusing to bake gay wedding cakes, or saying there are only two genders! “No tolerance for the intolerant,” “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Too many people see it as their sacred duty to “civilize the savage” and “convert the heathen” (for his own good), whether he wants it or not, for this to be workable anymore in the age of cable news and the internet.

      The other option is rolling back the government itself, making it decide fewer things, thus again increasing the chance of finding a reasonable common ground.

      That’s not likely to happen either, because the incentive structures are all wrong, and “libertarian” inclinations to “small government” — as opposed to hating “big government” only when, and because, that government is seen as controlled by and serving the interests of the enemy tribe — are, and will always be, very rare (and, given demographic tendencies, getting rarer; Hispanics, for example, tend to support the same sort of economically-redistributive policies in the US as they do in Latin America).

      So really, both of these are out of the realm of possibility. However, you missed a third option: that the “dominant” tribe, to use Scott’s parlance back on “Neutral vs. Conservative“, chooses to “grind our enemies beneath our boots”, that the people in charge — to quote Tekhno in the comments thread there — “force them back into line and make them conform” to the norms and rites of the dominant tribe instead of their own, ‘squash’ “conservatism into ever smaller, ever crazier spaces”, suppress the resulting “violent and doomed reaction, removing all of that resistance, allowing us to move forwards again, until one day soon, there’s nothing left to be conservative about”, and otherwise engage in cultural cleansing until unity is restored by eliminating the other, rival tribes from existence.

  29. JulieK says:

    Nice to see the reference to National Review, after the “Neutral vs. Conservative” post gave the impression that Fox was the be-all and end-all of right-wing media.

    • Null42 says:

      True, though I think they’re a lot less important now. The GOP may be shifting in a populist direction, in which case they’ll need some intellectual version of Breitbart (I think some West Coast Straussians tried to make one with American Affairs but they never published a second issue), or else simply have no idea people. This is OK for winning elections, but Trump’s going to have a heck of a time doing anything because he has no policy personnel to staff the White House with. Look at all the neocons (and I do mean neoconservatives) he’s had to hire simply because there’s nobody else on the right to fill staff positions. They need to have someone there with experience running an organization that doesn’t produce frog memes.

  30. MostlyCredibleHulk says:

    Interesting how I say socialism would help and you automatically assume I mean going full USSR.

    Nothing interesting here, there’s no other socialism. There’s only one, and it works the same everywhere, the difference is only a matter of degree. There’s no “true socialism” that “wasn’t tried yet”. The one that you see is the only one you’d get.
    Of course, you don’t have to go 100% all the way, so if you go half way, it gets half bad (well, it’s not actually linear, but you get the point – the further you go, the worse it becomes). But if you think socialism helps, what would prevent you from going 100%? If capitalism is bad and socialism is good, why not have 100% socialism and no capitalism? If I think socialism is terrible (I do) and capitalism is great (I do) I certainly would advocate for 100% capitalism. Why won’t you support your own preferred model?

    It seams like every country that tried to have a mixed economy did rather well

    That’s like saying “every person who drunk alcohol and smoked and snorted cocaine did rather well” and deriving from that alcohol and smoking and cocaine are beneficial. No, they are not, but they won’t kill you immediately in some doses, and with doses low enough you can very well survive for a very long time, and even outlive many people with worse luck in genetic lottery. If they country is rich enough, it can afford a lot of socialism, just as a healthy and genetically advantaged person can indulge in a lot on unhealthy pursuits and still live a long and enjoyable life.

    Thatcher and Reagan decided they wanted to make every citizen in their own country have the most miserable life possible

    I am sorry, this is utter baloney and I am not going to address this. If you want to speak in factual or even conjectural terms, sure, but if you want to propagandize me about evil conspiracy among conservatives – it’s not my cup of tea, I bow out of this. This is not going to lead in any sane direction. I am going to address the point about Hayek and socialism-fascism connection though.

    For trying to convince me that people that said capitalism works better are idiot-savants who are ignorant about real world – I say I saw both, and I’ve read Hayek, and what Hayek says matches my experience much more than what Hudson says. I wonder how much experience Hudson has seeing actual fully developed socialist society in action. I mean not taking a party-sponsored tour and playing Duranty to some or other Stalin, but actually experiencing it. We’re seeing socialism developing into fascism right now in Venezuela, and we’ve seen it happen many times before where socialism produced horrible totalitarian regimes, though of course one can produce one without socialism too – totalitarian regimes predate socialism, and there are examples of non-socialist totalitarian societies of course. Including Chile at the past. So Hudson is right that socialism does not have exclusive claim on suppressing freedom. He is wrong that socialism is possible without suppressing freedom. It isn’t.

    • I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to get on the socialist merry-go-round again. But let’s be clear about where that leaves humanity. From a game-theory perspective, I see three centers of gravity towards which humanity might trend:

      1. Capitalism mixed with neoliberalism and political aristocracy.

      A. What do I mean by “neoliberalism” here? I mean, as a worker, business, or country, having to actively court capital. If you are going to play the game, it is better to play it well and be the winner rather than play it badly and be the loser. Here is where I would agree with Reagan, Thatcher, etc. Within capitalism, the healthiest thing for capitalism is high profits. More profits means more jobs, more accumulation, more investment, and more of an ability to attract capital. Therefore, the best thing to do in this case is to cut wages, cut regulations, cut taxes, and win the battle for courting capital. I see no way for “social-democracy” to be a stable equilibrium because it will get out-competed in the game of courting capital by the more neoliberal countries. I don’t see “welfare capitalism” or “socially-conscious capitalism” being a stable equilibrium because those businesses that pursue those policies will be out-competed by those who don’t. I don’t see labor unions being a stable equilibrium because those workers who insist on higher wages will be out-competed by those who don’t. (But, there is one potential exception to all of this—see option #2 below).

      B. What do I mean by “political aristocracy? I mean, one dollar, one vote. I see no way for political equality to be maintained if there is economic inequality. Politics is not some watertight sphere of society that can be screened off from the base of material incentives in society. For those who think that “campaign finance reform” or other laws can prevent economic power from being translated into political power, I would ask how can these laws be implemented in the first place? What Archimedean lever is there outside of society that could make these changes before itself being changed and “corrupted” in the first place? Besides, we return to the question of, “what is good for capital?” Regardless of whether a system is formally democratic, if it must respond to the needs of capital or else face capital flight or other material punishments, then in what sense is such a system able to distinguish itself from a formal aristocracy? Even if the populace is formally in charge, they will inevitably be “persuaded,” for instrumental reasons, to serve the needs of capital (for that will be the only condition under which they will be able to pursue their own interest in not starving). By the way, insofar as capitalism has seemed to display an affinity for political equality, I would argue that this has been an historical aberration (partially due to the need for capitalists to make compromises with workers to get workers on their side in times of war or revolution against old ruling classes). I agree with Slavoj Zizek that “Capitalism with Asian Values” appears to be a natural fit and a harbinger for what the rest of the world has in store for it, in that it appears to offer a superior deal to capitalists and will steadily out-compete any kindler, gentler, more equal versions of capitalism.

      2. Capitalism held on a leash by “One Big Union.” “One Big Union” is the only leash big enough to wrangle modern, border-hopping, globalized capitalism. Nation-states and their national taxes and minimum wages and regulations can’t do it anymore. The only way I see for how political democracy, high wages, and high re-distributive taxes could be maintained along with capitalism would be for all workers around the world to form into “one big union” a la the ideals of the IWW and insist on a common set of demands regarding wages, regulations, tax redistribution, political democracy, etc. In that (far-fetched) case, this would be “the only game in town” for capital no matter where it went in the world, and it would not be able to exercise the whip of capital flight to get its way. However, getting all workers to coordinate on this rather than defect is highly unlikely.

      3. Socialism—or to be more specific, “socially-planned production of goods and services as use-values for administered, socially-determined use” rather than “private production of goods and services as commodities for private exchange.”

      All other alternatives (for example, “liberal-democratic capitalism, or social-democracy absent the context of the “one big union,”) appear to me to be unsustainable and destined for the historical dustbin.

      I understand that people have an aversion to #3 (personally, #3 is my favorite). But I also think that most people (especially Trump voters) will be dissatisfied with #1. So maybe they should have a serious look at #2 and figure out if there is a way to fix that immense coordination problem?

    • bbartlog says:

      But just to take one example: there are European countries with mixed economies that apparently have substantially more efficient health care systems than we do. True, they don’t have Silicon Valley and they have lower median household incomes, so it’s not all gravy, but it’s not at all clear to me that their socialism-in-the-realm-of-medicine has made them worse off.

      • Civilis says:

        The general rule seems to be that the more intervention in a sector of the economy, the more inefficiently it performs, and the larger and more complex the system, the more inefficiency intervention generates. Inefficiency can manifest in a number of ways, some of which can be masked by sufficient application of government spending.

        The US health care system is not free of government intervention; on the contrary, health care is one of the most regulated sectors of the US economy. The US health care system is also much larger and more complex than health care systems in the European countries with ‘mixed economies’, meaning that intervention has more effect in reducing the efficiency. Finally, many of the often-cited European ‘mixed economies’ are as economically free as the US, meaning they can afford the inefficiency in one sector.

        • bbartlog says:

          Yes, of course the US healthcare system is not free of government interference. But I would expect that if freedom from government were something that improved healthcare in general, and not just in the peculiar case of the USA, we should be able to find a country somewhere that has a (more) libertarian healthcare system that outperforms even those of Europe – and so far as I know no such country exists.
          Broadly speaking I think the main issue I have with the original argument (of MostlyCredibleHulk) is that there really is more than one kind of socialism, at least as people use the word. I don’t think it makes sense to treat Finland as having just a lesser degree of the same kind of governance that Venezuela has, simply because a public sector exists. And in particular, calling redistribution of wealth ‘socialism’, when the real concern seems to be with business inefficiencies brought about by regulation, is really mixing up two very different problems.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            we should be able to find a country somewhere that has a (more) libertarian healthcare system that outperforms even those of Europe – and so far as I know no such country exists.

            Maybe Singapore? You might “no true libertarianism” it, because they have compulsory medical savings accounts, and some government-run services, but with nothing free they have a lot of people paying attention to costs everywhere. Prices are public information. (Try calling up a doctor in the US and asking how much things cost.)

            is that there really is more than one kind of socialism

            This also applies to health care. The US is very like Switzerland in terms of health care. Switzerland is more like the US than it’s like Germany, with for-profit insurance companies every where.

            Everyone keeps on thinking that the kind of health care system matters a lot, because there’s this silly meme that the US is the one outlier running a crazy private system while everyone else is running a sane government system. The US system costs more, but the reason is “because everything” instead of “because [my party’s pet issue].”

          • 1soru1 says:

            > Maybe Singapore?

            Dunno why everyone picks that. Like most Commonwealth countries, Singapore has a state-run health care system that is a first cousin of the British NHS.

            Calling the tax that pays for it all ‘mandatory contributions to a medical savings account’ doesn’t change anything about what money goes where, and under who’s control.

          • keranih says:

            But I would expect that if freedom from government were something that improved healthcare in general, and not just in the peculiar case of the USA, we should be able to find a country somewhere that has a (more) libertarian healthcare system that outperforms even those of Europe – and so far as I know no such country exists.

            Why does the existence of a better way fail when no other country does it? If there is some rule that means countries are required to do rational sense-making things, I completely missed this.

          • Incurian says:

            I’ve seen two competing claims about how healthcare in Singapore works, does anyone have the One True Answer? Whether the consumer is in charge of their [mandatory] health savings account makes a big difference.

      • shenanigans24 says:

        I would like to know what people actually pay and what they actually get in the US. I hear a lot of talk about Americans spend x dollars annually which isn’t very informative. More informative would be how much they have to pay, not the average of what a wealthy person pays for cutting edge healthcare combined with an average person.

        If I said Americans spend on average more money per year on cars than Poland one would probably think, “of course they do because Americans have more money and buy better cars.” This is almost certainly a true statement. Healthcare is harder to measure than car performance but I see no reason to think it’s governed by different economics.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        apparently have substantially more efficient health care systems than we do

        How do you define “more efficient”? US healthcare system is built on a principle that R&D is financed by setting high prices on some drugs and procedures. You can use different system, of course, e.g. government financing R&D directly from tax revenues, but why do you think it’s more efficient?
        Plus, of course, US healthcare has ton of regulations – US healthcare industry is one of the most regulated industries in the nation, you literally need to spend billions to have the government to just allow you to sell the product on this market, and there are volumes of regulations describing how one can behave on this market. Can this behemoth of regulation be made more efficient? You bet. However, when comparing it to entirely different behemoth – one has to ask how exactly the comparison is performed.

        it’s not at all clear to me that their socialism-in-the-realm-of-medicine has made them worse off

        How you define “worse off”? If you define “better off” as in “having access to a socialized healthcare system financed through taxes” then of course countries with socialized healthcare systems financed through taxes are “better off” by definition.

    • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

      But if you think socialism helps, what would prevent you from going 100%?

      The same reason that thinking that eating some fruit is good for you doesn’t mean you think you should eat nothing *but* fruit? As a general rule, there are very few real-world situations in which taking an extreme option is a good idea, no matter which of the various extreme options you might choose.

      • shenanigans24 says:

        If socialism is helpful then scarce resources are better managed by a central authority than by individuals. If this is only true of certain resources than it certainly requires an explanation of how those resources are different and why one method stopped working.

        Personally I think it’s on its face incorrect to claim that resource allocation can not be left to individuals. Value is itself subjective.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          Well my value is not leaving resource allocation to individuals. And that’s equally as valuable as any other value, so.

          • shenanigans24 says:

            Only if you have all the resources. Otherwise you need some guns to enact the plan. Morally speaking, the opposite plan doesn’t require them. I see that as an additional bonus.

        • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

          @shenanigans24, there are several fairly obvious ways in which “healthcare” (treated as a resource) is different from, say, “food”. I don’t think we necessarily need a just-so story to pretend to explain exactly why those differences justify treating them differently, given that doing so has been empirically proven to work reasonably well. (Although I’m sure that any number of such stories have been told. Some might even be useful.)

          But more importantly, I think you’re making the same mistake as the parent poster, of going to extremes. It isn’t necessary for a resource to be either entirely centrally managed or entirely managed by individuals. It can be a bit of both. You can have both public and private healthcare, for example.

          (A year or two back, dealing with a difficult-to-identify condition, I needed to see both an ENT specialist and a Respiratory specialist. I went with a private ENT specialist, but waited my turn to see one of the Respiratory specialists at the public hospital. It was my choice as an individual how to allocate my resources, but I would not have had that choice in the absence of a partially socialized healthcare system.)

          • John Schilling says:

            there are several fairly obvious ways in which “healthcare” (treated as a resource) is different from, say, “food”.

            Except that there are segments of the health care market that work very much like the food market, e.g. birth control pills. Regular, predictable requirement, modest cost, range of options, etc. Yet the same people who tell me that health care has to be handled by the Almighty State because market failure not like food yada yada, seem to be the ones telling me that asking women to pay for their own birth control pills is a crime against humanity.

            There are some segments of the health care market that are sufficiently un-food-like that market solutions might not be the best idea. But pretty much everybody who might be qualified to assess that issue and propose alternatives, has laid their credibility on the altar of political ideology.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            John, I think that goes back to my original point, that you don’t have to take everything to extremes. New Zealand does in fact subsidize some forms of contraception, but that’s because we made the decision to do so, not because we felt obliged to take an all or nothing approach to healthcare.

            My pet crank theory is that it is having a written constitution focused on “rights” that makes so many Americans seemingly inclined to take a black-and-white view to all legal and political questions. 🙂

          • shenanigans24 says:

            If the idea is so good then why not advocate a parallel public system for attracting people instead of a mandatory one?

            Currently, and probably forever the amount of healcare resources are scarce. None of the plans dreamed up lower the cost of doctors, hospitals, or medical supplies. None of them add those things. So despite any rhetoric we will still have fewer resources than people. Except instead of “can you pay” as a method of allocation, it will instead be a board of officials deciding cost benefit for others.

          • Anon. says:

            Healthcare is different from food in ways that suggest government should heavily penalize its use. See eg Hanson’s Showing That You Care: The Evolution of Health Altruism.

          • Whos advocating for a mandatory system, again?

          • Brad says:

            None of the plans dreamed up lower the cost of doctors, hospitals, or medical supplies.

            Sure they do. No country in the world pays as much as the US for these things.

          • Civilis says:

            Sure they do. No country in the world pays as much as the US for these things.

            Most (but not all) of the plans change who pays, not how much gets paid. The cost isn’t lowered, just passed on to someone else, either healthy people or the taxpayers in general.

            Attempts to lower the cost of healthcare (by reducing reimbursement for Medicare, for example) have led to reductions in the supply.

          • Brad says:

            Doctors don’t make as much money in other countries. Drugs don’t cost as much. Hospitals have fewer, lower paid, employees.

            There’s a reduction in the number of interventions, but not a reduction in outcomes. Would you measure the value added of the car repair sector by the total number of repairs?

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @shenanigans24,

            If the idea is so good then why not advocate a parallel public system for attracting people instead of a mandatory one?

            Unless I’ve misunderstood you, that’s exactly what I’m advocating, to the limited extent that I’m advocating anything at all. New Zealand has a mix of taxpayer-funded, taxpayer-subsidized, and completely private healthcare, and in my opinion it works reasonably well.

            (It may have been a mistake to choose healthcare as an example, since it is such a topical issue in the US at the moment. For the record, I have no strong opinions on Obamacare vs. whatever you had before that vs. whatever Trump is trying to do, none of those bear very much resemblance to anything I’m familiar with.)

          • Incurian says:

            My pet crank theory is that it is having a written constitution focused on “rights” that makes so many Americans seemingly inclined to take a black-and-white view to all legal and political questions.

            Pfff, I wish.

        • cassander says:

          I don’t think we necessarily need a just-so story to pretend to explain exactly why those differences justify treating them differently, given that doing so has been empirically proven to work reasonably well. (Although I’m sure that any number of such stories have been told. Some might even be useful.)

          Proven to work reasonably well? Is there a single developed country not sitting on top of a mass of oil that doesn’t have a looming pension crisis largely caused by healthcare costs? A cocaine addiction works fine for a while too, that doesn’t make it advisable.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            There are certainly concerns about the rising cost of superannuation payouts in New Zealand and I think many other developed countries. Whether you’d call it a “looming crisis” I don’t know. But in any case that’s not because of healthcare costs, since they’re budgeted separately.

          • cassander says:

            >There are certainly concerns about the rising cost of superannuation payouts in New Zealand and I think many other developed countries. Whether you’d call it a “looming crisis” I don’t know. But in any case that’s not because of healthcare costs, since they’re budgeted separately.

            Budgeting things separately doesn’t eliminate their cost. That said….

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Certainly both healthcare and superannuation are costs that need to be kept under control. I was just puzzled at the suggestion that the one caused the other.

            I will also note that the article you link to explicitly quotes the head of the department that produced the report as saying “there is no crisis”. 🙂

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        Eating fruit does not contradict eating meat, you can eat both at the same time in the same meal. Having socialism contradicts having capitalism – more you have of one, less you have of the other. It’s not complimentary things, it’s diametrically opposing directions of action. If you believe going north is great and going south is deadly, it doesn’t make sense to advocate going 5 steps north and 5 steps south. If you think having no private property and having the economy centrally planned is superior, there’s no reason to stop halfway and say “we’d allow central planning, but only of making shoes and not pants, and only set prices for cars but not for plane tickets”. “Hybrid” systems usually come to be not because people believe half-way is the best, but because half people believe one extremum is the best and half people believe other is the best. Having it inside one person is usually sign of inconsistency.

        As a general rule, there are very few real-world situations in which taking an extreme option is a good idea

        This sounds like a meaningless platitude. Of course there are lots of such situations. For example, you are offered a cup of a deadly poison. Your options are to drink all of it, to drink half of it or not to drink at all. The sane option is the extreme one – not to drink it at all. If you say this situation is not real, there are tons of household liquids which could be deadly if drunk. Somehow a conundrum of taking extreme position of not drinking any of them poses absolutely no problem to anyone.

        • Aapje says:

          If you think having no private property and having the economy centrally planned is superior, there’s no reason to stop halfway

          This is not the claim. The claim is that:
          – For some issues, central planning works better
          – That unrestricted capitalism is unstable and devolves into monopolies. Monopolies are central planning as well, just not central planning by a democratic government.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            For some issues, central planning works better

            “Some” is very vague. In any socialist country I know of, “some” is rather “most issues that matter”, but if you want to perform and old routine of inventing “true socialism” unlike all false ones tried for the last 100 years, be my guest – point out what “some” means.

            Monopolies are central planning as well, just not central planning by a democratic government.

            There’s one key difference. Monopoly indeed can emerge in some area. But private monopoly can not use violence to prevent somebody else to undermine their monopoly. If I am, say, a monopoly taxi cartel, and there is somebody who owns rides for money outside of my cartel, I can’t stop him, at least not lawfully (and if I try to do it unlawfully, the state should step in and jail me). However, if my cartel is a state cartel, I can jail the competitor instead, or at least put them out of business.

            Private monopoly is inherently unstable, and while it can control some marked for a while, it can be – and usually rather soon is – disrupted and dethroned by competition. The only way for it not to happen is to employ either legal or illegal violence in protection of that monopoly.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            “Some” is very vague. In any socialist country I know of, “some” is rather “most issues that matter”

            “Issues that matter” is also pretty vague, but have you ever visited, say, England? New Zealand? Canada? Pretty much anywhere in western Europe? I really don’t think they conform to your theories.

          • Aapje says:

            @MostlyCredibleHulk

            But private monopoly can not use violence to prevent somebody else to undermine their monopoly.

            In the absence of centrally planned law-making and policing to prevent this, they can.

            and if I try to do it unlawfully, the state should step in and jail me

            So…you are agreeing with me that central planning is necessary to some extent.

          • But private monopoly can not use violence to prevent somebody else to undermine their monopoly.

            In the absence of centrally planned law-making and policing to prevent this, they can.

            That’s a pretty strong claim. Why do you assume that law-making has to be centrally planned and enforced? I can offer multiple examples of societies where it wasn’t.

            Or is your assumption that there is a reason why centrally planned systems prevent firms from using force to maintain monopolies and decentralized ones don’t? I can’t offer much evidence on the second half of that, but we have lots of examples of centrally planned legal systems that provided monopoly firms with force to maintain their monopolies.

            On the more general issue, I think you are arguing with me, not the poster you responded to. Most people who are against socialism don’t consider government law enforcement to be an example–indeed, most don’t even think of the public school system as an example of socialism. The conventional, non-anarchist, version of laissez-faire has a government enforcing property rights, contracts, and the like, and defending against foreign aggression, but not doing much else.

            Are you agreeing with that position and disagreeing only with the Anarcho-capitalist version? Only with my variant of that version? In Rothbard’s there is a single set of laws, although enforcement is decentralized.

        • You can have both by having unregulated markets coupled with a strong welfare state.

          • Very roughly speaking the current Scandinavian model. I’m pretty sure at least some of the Scandinavian countries rate near the top on the economic freedom index.

        • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

          If you believe going north is great and going south is deadly,

          The operative word there is “if”. If you believe that to the south is a sheer drop, and to the north is a raging river, you’re probably better off staying where you are. And if you’ve escaped from the river by going south, that doesn’t mean that you should keep going south indefinitely, right off the cliff face.

          For example, you are offered a cup of a deadly poison.

          I said “real-world situations”. But … have you never heard the expression “the dose makes the poison”? Refusing to eat or drink anything that could be poisonous if you had too much of it is not a sensible approach to life. (For a start, you’d die of thirst, because drinking too much water can kill you, and if that’s true then obviously you shouldn’t drink any water at all.)

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            So, I’m sure if you encountered a cup of bleach, you’d drink at least some of it, on the premise that a) water is poison too, so what’s the difference; and b) refusing to drink bleach is an unrealistic extremist position?

            Good that bleach is nowhere to be found in any realistic situation!

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Well, has anyone ever offered you a cup of bleach to drink? In my personal experience, that’s not a realistic scenario.

            … of course, there are situations in which drinking bleach, at an appropriate dosage, is a sensible choice.

          • John Schilling says:

            As it turns out, most of the water in my emergency supply is actually a very dilute bleach solution, the better to not become a bacterial sludge over years of storage.

            So, yeah, the dose makes the poison, etc. And if you want to be the extremist who never ever drinks any bleach at all because it is “poison”, the price may be dying of preventable thirst and dehydration if an earthquake or other calamity disrupts the local water supply for more than a day or two.

    • Who is that a reaponse to ?

  31. dansimonicouldbewrong says:

    The underlying fallacy in this post is the assertion that there’s an objective notion of governmental “competence”–identified with thoughtful, well-reasoned policy, and independent of political interests and preferences–and that politically popular politicians tend to lack this objective property of “competence” because they’re too focused on getting and maintaining popularity. It’s a bit like claiming that there’s an objective notion of “tasty” for soft drinks, and that popular soft drinks taste terrible because their manufacturers are too focused on making them popular.

    The whole point of democracy is to get a government that satisfies the interests and preferences of the majority of voters better than the available alternatives, just as the whole point of soft drink manufacture is to satisfy the tastes of the majority of customers better than the available alternatives. Those who argue that popular politicians are incompetent or that popular soft drinks taste awful, without conceding that their evaluation is personal, subjective and biased, are simply playing a rhetorical trick by trying to disguise their subjective preferences as objective criteria.

    Michael Dukakis famously claimed that the election in which he ran for president was not about ideology, but about competence. Unsurprisingly, he fooled no one–voters recognized his ideology, and because most happened not to favor it at that time, they voted against him, his claims of hyper-competence notwithstanding. Likewise, the current president is dismissed as incompetent by people who strongly dislike him for any number of reasons, both personal and political, and wish to make their distaste for him seem objective and rational rather than subjective. (For the record, I also dislike him, for many reasons, and did not vote for him.) But his “competence” will ultimately be determined by the November 2020 election, not by analyzing his skill at drafting well-reasoned, persuasive executive orders or policy pronouncements.

    • Progressive Reformation says:

      This seems all wrong. It can never be completely objective but that doesn’t mean that whatever is popular is always the best. Cry Godwin’s Law all you want, but I think it’s appropriate to simply note that Hitler was popular, as was Stalin and Jim Crow (yes, I know Hitler and Stalin didn’t preside over democracies – except for Hitler’s early years – but the point is that popular does not equal good, unless you’re prepared to defend Hitler). Democracies have the same problem, that popular policies can often be detrimental in the long run – and, popular as they are, it is hard to define these policies as “competent government”.

      Furthermore, your soft-drink comparison is actually quite revealing, because consuming tasty soft drinks might be pleasant in the short run, but has adverse health affects in the long run. So we can run the analogy with [taste = popularity] and [health effects = governance quality], and reach the opposite conclusion. I personally think this government-as-soft-drink metaphor is more accurate than yours. But of course analogies or metaphors cannot ever prove anything.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I would say the error is more “those opposed to my political goals are incompetent.” In fact, one can be competent and yet not share your goals and values.

      • The soft drink comparison is interesting for a different reason. If I make a mistake in choosing which soft drink will taste better, I am the one who bears the cost, so I have a private incentive to pay attention to the taste. Further, since multiple brands are out there competing, I get to compare Coke to Dr. Pepper and decide which I like best.

        If I vote for a candidate, that has almost no effect on whether he wins, so I have no incentive to figure out which candidate will do a better job. And even if I tried, I can’t compare the Obama administration of the past four years to the Romney administration of the past four years, so any comparison depends on methods much less direct than “how well did each of them do at the same job.”

        There are good reason to expect that the successful soft drinks will taste good. There are not good reason to expect that the successful politicians will be the ones who actually produce the outcomes the voters want.

        • dansimonicouldbewrong says:

          If voters actually believed that their unlikelihood of affecting an election’s outcome with their vote removes any incentive to select the better candidate, then they’d also believe that it removes their incentive to vote altogether, and moreover removes it more completely in the case of national elections, where their chance of affecting the outcome of an election is truly astronomically tiny, than in the case of local ones, where the likelihood of one voter changing an election’s result is many multiples larger. But in fact national elections consistently get very respectable turnouts, whereas local ones often don’t.

          This shouldn’t be very surprising, as people in general are known to be very poor at estimating and reasoning about extremely tiny probabilities. And in fact their political behavior, in the aggregate, suggests that a large fraction of the voting public is convinced (however incorrectly) that the risk of the wrong candidate winning as a result of their failure to vote is too dangerous to accept.

          • then they’d also believe that it removes their incentive to vote altogether

            An interesting point.

            People enjoy partisanship. That’s why sports teams tend to be linked to universities or cities–it provides a preformed group of partisans. The reason to go to a football game isn’t just to watch athletes performing, it’s also to cheer for your team.

            Every four years a game is played out across the U.S. with the future of the world at stake. You not only get to cheer for your team, you get to play on it, even if in a very minor role. And all it costs you is half an hour filling out a ballot.

          • John Schilling says:

            If voters actually believed that their unlikelihood of affecting an election’s outcome with their vote removes any incentive to select the better candidate, then they’d also believe that it removes their incentive to vote altogether

            It removes one possible incentive to vote. Just not the one that actually matters to most people.

            Note that, e.g., people still stand for the national anthem, and sing it if they think their voices are up to the task. And not just in the United States. Presumably none of these people truly believe that their singing the anthem will materially affect the well-being of the nation, yet they still do it. Why do you think they do that?

            Or, as David notes, cheer for their favorite sports team.

          • dansimonicouldbewrong says:

            I’ve seen the “sports fan” analogy before, and there’s no doubt that political partisanship shares certain tribalist characteristics with sports fandom. As a critique of democracy, though, it’s unpersuasive. Typical sports fans motivated enough to, say, fill out an all-star ballot not only don’t randomly pick a team to support, but have most likely been a fan of the same team most or all their lives, and quite possibly inherited their preferences from parents or grandparents. Moreover, they tend to care very deeply about their team’s successes and failures, and many of them study their teams’ moves very closely, developing very strong and carefully considered opinions (of uncertain reliability, to be sure) about what their teams should or shouldn’t do to achieve and maintain success. In short, they couldn’t be further from the anti-democratic libertarian’s model of a capricious voter choosing arbitrarily among candidates purely for entertainment, without any interest in the outcome.

            Of course, they’re also very far away from the idealistic model of the civic-minded voter selflessly voting for the sake of the better public good, irrespective of personal interests. But that model is in any event doomed by game theory, since it allows any small cohort of voters to massively increase their power at everyone else’s expense by organizing to vote strategically in their own interest. Sports fans most resemble the majority who are committed partisan voters: they are loyal to their team/party out of deep and long-lived conviction and solidarity, and with strong opinions about how their team/party should increase their odds at winning and holding the lead over opponents.

          • John Schilling says:

            Typical sports fans […] not only don’t randomly pick a team to support, but have most likely been a fan of the same team most or all their lives, and quite possibly inherited their preferences from parents or grandparents.

            So, just like most people’s political preferences?

            In short, they couldn’t be further from the anti-democratic libertarian’s model of a capricious voter choosing arbitrarily among candidates purely for entertainment,

            Pretty sure that’s not the average anti-democratic model of voter behavior, or the average libertarian model of voter behavior.

      • dansimonicouldbewrong says:

        I certainly wasn’t arguing that we are all obligated to love and endorse every opinion or every politician that is popular or wins elections. In case it’s not obvious, for example, I happen to be of the opinion that Hitler’s government was very, very bad.

        However, the only sense in which my opinion on that subject is even remotely related to objectivity is in that it reflects a near consensus view–that is, that any openly Nazi politician in the US is invariably extremely unpopular. If that were not the case–if pro-Nazi voters were a majority, or even a sizeable minority, of the electorate–then it would be obvious that my anti-Nazi sentiments (which would certainly persist, even in such an environment) are just that, and not objective claims, no matter how unanimously and enthusiastically others on this particular forum would agree with them.

        It is a common argument against democracy that electorates in democracies occasionally elect terrible leaders or support terrible policies. And I personally concur that at least some democratically elected politicians and democratically supported policies in history have been truly terrible. But I don’t actually expect democracy to produce governments and policies that are never, ever terrible by my standards–only to produce terrible governments and policies much less frequently than any non-democratic system. And that is something it unquestionably succeeds in doing.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        didn’t preside over democracies – except for Hitler’s early years

        Hitler never presided over a democracy for “years”. The democracy ended in mere months after Hitler came to power. Technically, there was a short period – between Hitler being appointed chancellor on 30 January 1933 and and Reichstag Fire Decree on 28 February 1933 and Enabling Act on 24 March 1933, where Hitler technically presided over a democracy, but that was a democracy only in name and no democratic mechanism was working properly already.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      I feel like you’re using the term “competence” too broadly. Trump getting elected in 2020 demonstrates only his competence at getting elected (being a politician), not his competence at Presidenting.
      Also, making competence equal to getting elected makes all two-termers equal, thus placing Lincoln and Reagan side-by-side beneath FDR and above JFK.

    • Kevin C. says:

      The whole point of democracy is to get a government that satisfies the interests and preferences of the majority of voters better than the available alternatives, just as the whole point of soft drink manufacture is to satisfy the tastes of the majority of customers better than the available alternatives.

      Except that while soft drinks are pretty much down to taste, leaving “better” and “worse” purely subjective, it’s not entirely the same with government. After all, a country can be wealthy and prosperous, static and stagnant, laden with corruption, in decline, wracked by civil war, or being invaded by its neighbors. While “prosperity” may be somewhat subjective, it’s not entirely so, and there’s plenty of outcomes that pretty much everyone would agree are to be avoided (such as the “foreign conquest” outcome). It’s not all down to personal “taste.” And that’s where the problem comes in: what if “the preferences of the majority of voters” are likely to more likely to lead to that sort of failure over the alternative? What if they vote for Venezuelan socialism? In short, what if the ignorant masses really don’t know what’s good for them?

    • There are objectives measures of competence, such as GDP, inflation and debt.

      • ThaadCastle says:

        I think there are two measures of presidential ‘competence’ ‘partisan’ success and ‘global’ success.

        Partisan success would mean succeeding in accomplishing something that your party/ideologues would like but your opponents would not (i.e. defunding planned parenthood or enacting additional gun control bills). This is a success, but one that will likely upset a significant portion of the opposition.

        Global success is things like overseeing a growing economy, low unemployment, and not being invaded by Canada. The president often has very little control over many of these (especially the economy), but they are things that, republican or democrat, people will appreciate. If Trump oversaw an economy that grew at 10% a year and unemployement was at 4% then you can almost guarantee he will get reelected. Even if these (absurd) numbers are only because someone had invented fusion power or the second coming of the internet (which the president has nothing to do with).

        • The Nybbler says:

          Even if these (absurd) numbers are only because someone had invented fusion power or the second coming of the internet (which the president has nothing to do with).

          Of course not, that’s the vice-president’s job.

          And I think that IS Trump’s re-election strategy: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        How do you quantify things like “I have a comfortable society in which others share my customs and values?”

      • JDG1980 says:

        There are objectives measures of competence, such as GDP, inflation and debt.

        Not really. GDP only benefits the average citizen if it’s widely shared; increased GDP concentrated too heavily at the top can actually be harmful because it screws up the investment markets (too many dollars chasing too few good business prospects) and drives up the price of positional goods. Inflation? As long as it’s not accelerating, a wide variety of inflation rates can work OK. Debt? Depends what it’s for. Debt for infrastructure investment, paying for valuable employment training for citizens, or something else that will pay dividends in the future is worth incurring. Debt for operating expenses is usually bad, but it can work well from a Keynesian perspective if it happens during a recession and is paid back during the next boom.

        None of this is simple or straightforward.

  32. benquo says:

    2. She tried to reason with people (eg her performance in the debates) rather than appeal to their emotions
    3. She proposed complicated wonkish policy schemes instead of simple things normal people understood like “tax the rich” or “build a wall”

    It’s worth pointing out that this is simply not true. She referred to the idea that she had expertise and credible policy proposals with reasons, but in the debates, and in her campaign commercials, she didn’t really bother to explain what she wanted to do or why it would be good. Most of it was about showing how Donald Trump was a bad man, while Hillary Clinton was a woman.

    Sure, her campaign had policy papers, and so did Trump’s (sorta), but that’s not what most voters saw. I heard that her campaign speeches were more policy-heavy, though I never saw any clear examples.

  33. Steve Sailer says:

    The Democrats’ strategy has been:

    – to import more ringers from abroad to vote Democratic,
    – to unite the Billionaires with the Coalition of the Fringes, and
    – keep the Fringes unified by ginning up hate hoaxes to get them to hate Haven Monahan and all the other evil cishet white males even more than they hate each other.

    It’s a great strategy … as long as you control the media and can continue to shame the opposition into not mentioning what you are obviously up to.

    Trump, on the other hand, is shameless, and the media can’t take its lenses off him.

    • Tatu Ahponen says:

      …if I burglarized my way to the Democrats’ main campaign office, Watergate style, and found a binder marked DEMOCRATS’ GRAND STRATEGY, would it contain those three exact points?

      • Jordan D. says:

        No, you need to go for the secret file titled “DEMOCRATS’ ULTIMATE DARK PLAN”. The GRAND STRATEGY file is just where they keep their notes on how to get ahead in Crusader Kings II.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          With a specific section for GINNING UP HATE HOAXES, of course. It’s probably Hillary herself who goes around drawing those swastikas on those bathroom walls.

      • Null42 says:

        That’s a bit of a strawman (and I know you are joking). What he’s actually arguing is that the Dems are increasing or preserving immigration of groups likely to vote Dem (ie anyone with sufficiently low epidermal RGB values), avoiding any significant redistribution while supporting identity politics for groups that are or feel marginalized, and supporting hate hoaxes.

        It’s only the last one I would argue is untrue–there’s no evidence hate hoaxes are a part of Democratic party strategy, it’s just sort of something that happens in a conducive environment. But the first part at least was argued in The Emerging Democratic Majority.

  34. MostlyCredibleHulk says:

    It is kind of funny (in a sad way) to read all that analysis of Clinton campaign that does not even consider Clinton herself. If you’re worried about how facts are disregarded, why not consider some facts about Clinton as an actual candidate? Like Clinton Foundation thing, the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars speeches thing, the Beghazi thing, the secret email server thing, the “bimbo eruptions” thing, the “vast right wing conspiracy”, or her investment genius leading to 100x investment appreciation in 10 months, Whitewater thing, etc. etc. No ideas about having a candidate that maybe doesn’t do such things? Maybe not nominating a terrible candidate because “it’s her turn now, it’s inevitable” worth a try? Or is it sounding too unrealistic to find such a unicorn of a candidate, and giving up on facts and reason is now the only hope for Democrats? Well, we’ll see in 2020 if they can out-Trump Trump.

    • cassander says:

      Seconded. As I said elsewhere, incompetence can be excused if you’re sufficiently honest, corruption can be excused if you’re sufficiently competent. Clinton is incompetent and corrupt, and had the gall to run on a platform of “Vote for me, I’m super competent and my opponent is corrupt.”

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        I don’t think even plain “corrupt” describes Clintons adequately. There are a lot of plain corrupt politicians. If you dig enough, there’s probably some quid-pro-quo or shady deal or skeleton in the closet of one sort or another for certain number of major players. It’s not good, it is sad, but it’s relatively common. Clintons, in my opinion, represents whole other kind of it, where corruption stops being a personal phenomenon, and raises to systemic levels found in Russia and such. It reminds me an old joke, when a person is brought to a judge, and judge tells him “well, I see here in the arrest records it says you peed in a swimming pool” and the defendant says “well, yeah, but what’s the big deal, a lot of people do it, I’ve read a study where it says 20% people admit to doing it one time and another…” and the judge exclaims “well, they didn’t do it from the top of the diving tower!” That’s what Clinton-type corruption looks like.

        • Deiseach says:

          I wonder if the idea of corruption isn’t so much that they are very much more corrupt than the general run of politicians (as you say, it’s hard to find one without some kind of skeleton in the closet and most parties are beholden to big donors in one way or another), but that it’s more clearly visible with them about how they set about leveraging their position and influence to their advantage.

          Bill genuinely comes from a hardscrabble background and Hillary (ironically enough) reminds me of Maggie Thatcher; lots of ambition, respectable but lower-middle class background, aspirations to rise out of her class into the next highest one. There were always stories about how the Tory party high-and-mighty rather looked down on Mrs T as being a touch common, or how she supposedly ditched her family Methodism (again, something else in common with Hillary) for Anglicanism as a strategy in moving up the social ladder, etc.

          The “we left the White House broke and in debt and we had to work hard to pay it all off” story may be somewhat exaggerated but I think it’s true that they didn’t have the family background of resources like others, so they had to make hay while the sun shone. Hence, things like the amazing success in trading cattle futures, and the murkiness about the Clinton Foundation and were the donations really “cash for access” and so on.

          So it’s just more obvious with them that they’ve moved from “less well off to very well off” and since that all depended on connections and influence and the after-dinner speech circuit and charging huge lecture fees etc. it’s both visible and looks more corrupt than similar dealings that others may have had, but can cover better? Something like Tony Blair and how he’s hoovering up positions on international bodies and consultancy work etc?

          A lot of politicians do it, as you say; in England it seems the traditional way is for an ex-minister or cabinet official to discreetly take on a raft of non-executive directorships as well as becoming a board member of Company Whatever and doing a lot of consultancy work on the side (gamekeeper turned poacher, in a sense, as they advise on how best to lobby their old department). But because it’s all done smoothly and discreetly and not blatantly, it doesn’t attract as much public attention, even though it’s every bit as much trading on connections made with business interests while in political office.

        • Why no convictions, then?

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            Well, Comey just told us again, that apparently when it comes to Clinton and top Clinton aides (in this case, Huma Abedin), “she did what is technically a crime by law, but she didn’t really mean it” is an absolute defense against prosecution or even further investigation – as soon as it’s clear “she didn’t mean it”, the investigation is closed. And the FBI has 100% sure capability of determining “she didn’t mean it” which absolves one of any crime, but unfortunately, this technology is only developed enough to work on top politicians and thus sadly unavailable to regular citizens, who still can be shot with impunity because a cop didn’t like what they said.

          • So Clinton is guilty of corruption, but got off,…no! wait,,,you’re talking about emails.

            So Clinton has not been convicted of corruption, whereas trump has been found to be running Trump U fraudulently. Which can only mean Clinton in guilty and Trump is innocent.

  35. Steve Sailer says:

    I think this is the single most important key to understanding Hillary’s performance in 2016:

    https://youtu.be/OhELEj-J8GU?t=19s

    From the New York Times on 2/13/16:

    “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow,” Mrs. Clinton asked the audience of black, white and Hispanic union members, “would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the L.G.B.T. community?,” she said, using an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?”

    • reasoned argumentation says:

      “Look you dolts – the banks are on our side and are the ones making the ‘mortgages for immigrants’ work, on top of that the finance economy getting it’s fingers in every pie means every company that has to keep finance happy so they can keep funding their operations is now vulnerable to activist pressure – yes, LGBTQ, NAACP, various women’s groups – all of them have more power over corporate America because finance is utterly dependent on the USG backstopping their bets – so shut the hell up about the banks you dopes!”

      {muttering to herself} “it’s like these people think the kickbacks they get fall from the sky…”

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        I think Sanders popularity points out that people are getting on this game. The sad part is that this game is inevitable – no sane Democratic candidate would seriously consider building true bolshevik-style socialism, and big-government corporate welfare capitalism they will consider maintaining and expanding involves tight cooperation with Big Business. Yes, also tight control, but Big Business learns how to work the controllers very quickly, and inevitable regulatory capture ensures the relationship is far from adversary, even if it made look like so in the electoral ads. That relationship would be one of codependency.
        The scary part is that after being disappointed in that game, people might vote for some nutter who genuinely may want the government to do whatever they want without listening what those capitalists say. And that would be a real disaster, because capitalists usually know much better how things work than nutty social engineers with grand ideas. One presidency probably won’t turn the US into Venezuela, but can wreak a lot of havoc.

        • userfriendlyyy says:

          Yeah, because FDR destroyed prosperity and the middle class for generations… oh wait, that was Reagan.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            Yes he did, and no that wasn’t. Also FDR is known for SC packing and Japanese internment. If we’re talking about fascist tendencies among socialists, I’m not sure I’d recommend you FDR as the best counter-example.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            “If we’re talking about fascist tendencies among socialists, I’m not sure I’d recommend you FDR as the best counter-example.”

            …because he wasn’t a socialist?

          • FDR presided over the worst depression in U.S. history, and his policies were an expansion of the policies followed by his predecessor. Why does he get credit for ending it?

            The Great Depression that appeared to start in 1921 ended in 1923, having been treated with roughly the opposite policies.

            We don’t get controlled experiments in economics, since each situation is different, but that history ought to make one at least a little skeptical of the assumption that without FDR things would have been even worse.

          • Also FDR is known for SC packing

            He threatened to pack it, and that threat may have been the reason the court changed its position, but he didn’t actually pack it. So far as I know, the only president to have expanded the number of Justices in order to shift the balance in his direction was Lincoln.

          • Evan Þ says:

            How much of Lincoln’s Court expansion was to shift its positions, and how much was a rebalancing of the circuits? At the time, each circuit court had one Supreme Court justice assigned to ride circuit on it, so when California got a new circuit, it meant there was a tenth Supreme Court justice.

          • @Evan:

            The account I read of Lincoln putting Field on the court was that Field was a pro-war Democrat and Lincoln wanted to make sure none of his wartime measures got overruled. Whether that is correct I don’t know.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            He threatened to pack it, and that threat may have been the reason the court changed its position, but he didn’t actually pack it.

            True. IIRC that story is also known under the name “The switch in time that saved nine”, isn’t it? OK, so maybe the more precise formulation would be “successfully bullied SC into submission by threatening to pack it”.

      • Deiseach says:

        If she’d put that argument – “the banks owe the government big time, not the other way round, so we can get our social policies pushed through by making support for and implementation of those policies the price they have to pay for us backing them up, which means your daughter, Lashonda, and your son, Héctor, are going to get good white collar jobs via diversity hiring practices” – then she’d have had more appeal.

        That excerpt, however, sounds more like “Look, I naturally like the rich and the bosses more than I do you horny-handed sons of toil because they’re the ones who pony up the huge speaking fees I charge, so shut up about asking me to meddle with them and getting them all upset so they won’t book me on the after-dinner speaking circuit any more”. She’s right in essence that “bring down the fat cats” is not the simple magic cure for ending discrimination and prejudice, but once again she has that tone-deaf way of impatiently lecturing the dim students who can’t keep up with her that gets people’s backs up.

  36. userfriendlyyy says:

    There are SO few people that have spent any time thinking about political ideology at all, I’m not at all surprised by that 4% figure. They couldn’t give you much past a few boilerplate partisan positions and almost never give you a reason why either party has landed at a particular stance. Jonathan Chait just pointed out in NYMag that not only is trump not ideological, he barely understands what the difference is between different ideologies. Trump recently called Bannon a Libertarian…. sigh.
    Trump Isn’t a Pragmatist. He Doesn’t Understand Ideology.

    Many Americans share Trump’s lack of ideological sophistication. High-information voters tend to clump at the ends of the political spectrum. They may not have sophisticated beliefs, but their identification with one of the party coalitions is a tool they use to make sense of individual issues. Low-information voters tend to have a weak understanding of what the political parties stand for and how those positions relate to each other. These voters can be roughly categorized as “centrist” because they don’t line up neatly with one party platform or the other. But, rather than a consistently moderate outlook, they share a mishmash of extreme and frequently uninformed beliefs. Because they don’t understand the philosophical basis for disagreements, they assume the two parties ought to naturally cooperate, and tend to see partisan bickering as a failure and an indication of personal fault by politicians.

    Trump thinks about politics like a low-information voter, which enabled him to speak their language naturally. His stated belief during the campaign that he could expertly craft a series of popular deals — “it’s going to be so easy” — appealed to low-information voters because it earnestly described the political world as they see it. Trump’s experience as a developer and professional celebrity have put a narcissistic gloss on Trump’s low-information worldview. He sees politics as a variation of real estate or reality television — a field where the players are sorted not so much as combatants on opposing teams (though they may compete at times) but on a hierarchy of success, with the big stars at the top sharing interests in common. His vague boasts that his presidency would create terrific things that everybody loves and is winning again is a version of how he truly sees the world.

    I think that has a lot of truth to it. People have seen no wage growth since the dawn of neoliberalism in the 80’s. They have had to go further and further into debt just to keep their head above water. When 2/3rds of the country couldn’t meet a $1000 emergency, we are living in a very unstable and angry time.

    Most of them know it is Wall Street’s fault but they are only starting to realize just how much Obama is to blame by punishing the greatest financial disaster since the great recession with a blank check and a get out of jail free card.

    People are ready to blame anyone and anything too close to Wall Street. Clinton managed to force the Media to use it’s last ounce of credibility to trash Sanders as unelectable and a sexist in the primary, because they all knew that she is a very petty woman and holds a grudge and they wanted access to her administration.

    There is a reason Drain the Swamp was a popular rally cry. YouGov has a thing where you can write an opinion on something and people from all sides get to vote on how much they agree or disagree with it. The anger is still palpable and Trump making the rich richer is not doing the GOP any favors. Here is something I posted the other day.

    The people making the decisions for both parties are completely detached from the devastating consequences of their decisions. There is a whole parasitic consultant class that is self serving and has thrown the middle class under the bus. We are closer to neofeudalism via debt bondage than a Democracy. But that’s what you get when Wall Street owns both parties and they always win and the American People always lose. I’ll be shocked if this country still exists in 20 years. Socialism would help.
    http://imgur.com/a/y7MSb

    Republicans just lost themselves the house in 2018 with that AHCA vote that will never make it past the Senate. If it did they would lose that chamber too. If Trump can’t stick it to Wall Street, and hard, or at lease give some gains to someone besides the ultra rich I see a Sanders presidency in 2020.

    • reasoned argumentation says:

      Most of them know it is Wall Street’s fault but they are only starting to realize just how much Obama is to blame by punishing the greatest financial disaster since the great recession with a blank check and a get out of jail free card.

      This doesn’t really get at the heart of it though.

      Yeah, Wall Street built up a giant pile of debt and derivatives on that debt and they all held the same assets as capital so that when there was a dip and someone was forced to sell to maintain capital ratios it would depress the prices leading to more banks having to sell to maintain capital ratios in a downward spiral. However, what did you expect to happen when the government mandated that “home ownership is for everyone” and winked at every bank that bought up bundles of mortgages without looking too closely at the contents? Looking too closely was racist because of something something traditionally under-served borrowers and diversity is our greatest strength and George W Bush really wanted to get 40% of the Latino vote, etc.

      So the mortgages were pushed by the government, rated AAA by the rating agencies (who were paid by the banks – because the photocopier made the old business model where the bond buyer paid the rating agencies obsolete so they changed over to having the underwriter pay the rating agency – when the last generation was still in charge the obvious conflict of interest never amounted to anything because that generation learned the business under the old model but by ’08 they were all gone), bought by all the banks because AAA and gotta get competitive returns, then when any shock happened the whole thing came crashing down.

      Who on Wall Street should go to jail for that? If you questioned any of it in an email the USG goes after your firm for questioning diversity.

      • poipoipoi says:

        Oh, it’s even better then that.

        The low-income housing markets were *lagging* indicators. They didn’t collapse until late 2008 or 2009. Because there was a major credit shift away from low-income borrowers that was 10 or 20 times the size of the credit shift towards them during the bubble.

        Don’t get the Fed raising interest rates in the face of an inverted yield curve from 2005 to 2008, and don’t get the credit shift starting in 2005 and continuing to today, and those “predatory” loans are good. And compared to 2017 rents… they’re not predatory at all.

      • userfriendlyyy says:

        Sigh, I guess there are still some people that will swallow the bank propaganda no matter what. Ther CRA wasn’t even mentioned as an explanation for the explosion in subprime lending until 3/07. If these angels on Wall Street were so concerned about being forced to make these risky loans it sure is odd that they wait for it to start exploding before they decided to say anything. It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they were raking in money by repackaging as many subprime loans as they could get their hands on with other mortgages for Credit Default Swaps. They came up with fun nicknames like NINJA (no income no jobs or assets) despite totally expecting those people to be able to repay, which is why they went ahead and bundled and sold those off too. Just ignore the fact that a whole lot of the sub prime market was not minorities, and not in urban centers…

        Ambitious lenders such as Seattle-based Washington Mutual’s Long Beach Mortgage, which between 2004 and 2006 made $48 billion in high-rate loans, used armies of outside brokers to push subprime loans into the suburbs. (A company slogan: “The Power of Yes.”) The result was a mortgage bonanza that reached every racial and ethnic group, income level and geographic area.

        By 2005, a list of subprime lending specialists compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development had grown to 210 lenders, from 141 in 1996. Their combined loan volume grew tenfold during the same period.

        “Old industrial cities like Philadelphia have a poverty problem, and that’s why people had to use subprime loans,” says Kevin Gillen, a research fellow at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. But in pricey areas such as Miami, where the high-rate market share jumped 25 percentage points from 2004 to 2006, subprime loans didn’t have a downscale reputation. They were seen as the answer to sky-high housing costs. “They are different groups, but subprime served both of them,” Mr. Gillen says.

        It used to be that high-rate borrowers weren’t allowed to stretch as much as conventional borrowers on loan amounts, a reflection of their higher credit risk. But as home prices rose throughout the U.S. in the early 2000s, lenders grew more willing to let high-rate borrowers get bigger loans as measured against their annual incomes. In 2005, borrowers who got high-rate mortgages to buy one-to-four-family homes were loaned 2.1 times their reported annual income, on average, according to the data. That was 4% higher than regular borrowers.

        Lenders also extended more “second-lien” mortgages — many of them “piggyback” second loans that borrowers used to cover down payments. Such second-lien loans climbed to 22% of all mortgages last year, up from 12% in 2004. Piggybacks are considered far more likely to default than a standard mortgage.

        Lenders did little to discourage speculation by real-estate investors, which contributed to rising home prices. Last year, 13% of all high-rate home loans were for properties not occupied by owners, up from about 9% in 2004, the data show. Experts say such properties are higher foreclosure risks than homes lived in by their owners….

        About 63% of high-rate mortgages originated in 2004 were sold that same year, compared to 68% of all home loans, the data indicate. Last year, about 73% of new high-rate loans were sold, compared to 67% rate of all home loans. Last year, the average high-rate loan carried an interest rate that was 5.6 percentage points higher than a Treasury security of comparable maturity — up from 5.3 points in 2005 and 4.8 points in 2004.

        Just admit it. We live in a corrupt country where the incentives are all off and it’s Wall Street’s Fault.

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          You don’t even know the difference between the major banks and the mortgage originators – NINJA was term coined by the originators.

          The major banks bought the packaged mortgages in the thousands and never looked too closely at the details – again, because that would have been racist.

          Here’s the incentive structure – no matter what the Wall Street banks put their funds into they’re all at systemic risk of collapse because competition drives them to the highest rate of return that’s still AAA rated which is going to be the same asset class for all of the banks. No matter what they need to be backstopped by the Fed because that’s what maturity transformation does – it guarantees eventual collapse.

          The whole thing works out quite nicely because the Wall Street firms get to make huge bets, collect the profits when they pay off, and when the crash comes they get bailed out. The USG loves this because it means every bank has to be paid up with the political favor bank or they go the way of Lehman – which was stupid enough to make their political favor payments to Jeb! and John Kasich (yep – both of them pulled down a few million as employees of Lehman Brothers) instead of to the Clinton machine. Instead the Wall Street firms all want to be like GS – who “never took a dollar of TARP money” – but got a massive backdoor bailout through AIG.

          So when the time comes and the USG wants mortgages to strawberry pickers, the USG gets mortgages to strawberry pickers. Wall Street makes a ton of money too – but that’s because they’re actually needed. You think our political class has the math skills necessary to run a financial industry? They can barely interpret poll data.

          • bobbingandweaving says:

            I think the answer is neither racism nor subprime mortgages. I think the biggest answer lies in: a) doom loop (Haldane), b) excessive competition post deregulation in the 80s leading to innovation in finance c) repeal of Glass Steagal and replacement with GBL in 98 led to mergers and universal banks d) tax code encouraging leveraging e) limited liability laws instated in the 19th century? e) Basel’s inadequacy and ease of circumvention f) innovation leading to the same mechanisms (leveraging, bust, deleveraging) being far more dangerous simply because of the interconnectivity the financial instruments allow g) regulatory and academic capture to represent wall street’s interests.

            Most of these factors originated pre Clinton’s homeownership policies so I doubt it was that. The reason it was so deadly and wasn’t contained to the vulnerable reasons was because of the nature of CDOs, instruments allowing for complexity and financial deepening like never before.

          • cassander says:

            @bobbingandweaving

            c) repeal of Glass Steagal and replacement with GBL in 98 led to mergers and universal banks

            Except this didn’t happen.

            And on philosophical level, GS did nothing to reduce risk. It didn’t say commercial banks couldn’t make risky bets, all it did was require them to hire an outside Ibank to do certain kinds of business instead of doing it in house. GS made banking less safe, not more, by artificially insulating certain kinds of business from others,which meant when an unusual event happened, it would hit a lot harder in certain places than others.

            This theory was born out by how the financial crisis actually happened. The banks that got in trouble weren’t unified investment/commercial banks, they were banks like bear sterns that were pure ibanks operating the same as they did before glass steagall. unified banks were SAFER, not less safe, precisely because they had more varied holdings. On top of that, the acute phase of the crisis was ended by having the ibanks merge with commercial banks to shore up their finances. The empirical evidence is the exact opposite of what you claim in this case.

            In sum, saying “the repeal of GS led to the financial crisis” is, while popular, utterly wrong and totally at odds with both theory and history. It’s a red flag th at the person talking is either A, selling you a bill of goods, or B, doesn’t know much about finance.

          • bobbingandweaving says:

            @cassander

            The use of SPVs existed before glass Steagal. What glass Steagals repeal did do was give banks the green light to go ahead and merge and cross subsidise their inherently risky trading activities with revenues and profits gained from the core business of making loans and mortgages to ordinary folks. And regarding universal banks being safer, that’s contentious – economies of scale vs. administrative bloat and principal agent write large, what we do know is that universal banks have a definite green light from the state that they will be supported and receive capital injections if need be because of how tied up their are to the retail side of the banking system which is essential for consumption smoothing that keeps business cycles muted. This obviously gives other banks a huge incentive to deal with them because they know they will defacto fall under the universal banks safety net if shit hits the fan. I also disagree with your point that by insulating risky activities it makes us more vulnerable, that’s not necessarily true. If a bomb goes of in the desert no one is hurt. If it goes off in the city, people die. Breeding a banks trading books with its retail books is like placing a huge nuke in the city. There has to be a demarcation, what’s more the people who deposit in these institutions would have a serious problem with their money being used to buy CDOs.

            Also regarding your point about varied holdings, I’m not so sure it composes well, most of the banks that suffered had varied holdings, the problem was is that they all varied in exactly the same way so ones failure implied failure of them all.

            Regarding your claim about what banks got in trouble: there were universal banks, especially in Germany, they didn’t get into the sorta trouble that Bear Stearns did because they had implicit state guarantees and often received bailouts, hell even Goldman Sachs became a universal bank overnight just to file for state relief.

            To be honest, there is no unanmity in beliefs of the causes of the FC, except for maybe the governmental ones beginning in the late 19th century. Also, I’m very tired so sorry if my comment is somewhat incoherent.

          • cassander says:

            >The use of SPVs existed before glass Steagal. What glass Steagals repeal did do was give banks the green light to go ahead and merge and cross subsidise their inherently risky trading activities with revenues and profits gained from the core business of making loans and mortgages to ordinary folks.

            This obviously gives other banks a huge incentive to deal with them because they know they will defacto fall under the universal banks safety net if shit hits the fan.

            Which is why, in 2008, these banks fell first……

            Oh wait, no. literally the opposite of what happened in the crisis. Pure Ibanks got in trouble, not combined banks, and combined banks bailed them out. This theory is a good one, it’s just 180 degrees at odds with reality.

            There has to be a demarcation, what’s more the people who deposit in these institutions would have a serious problem with their money being used to buy CDOs.

            No country on earth besides the US seperates commercial and I banking. They are not all smoking financial craters, because the distinction is entirely arbitrary.

            To be honest, there is no unanmity in beliefs of the causes of the FC, except for maybe the governmental ones beginning in the late 19th century. Also, I’m very tired so sorry if my comment is somewhat incoherent.

            There are a great many theories about the FC, but one that is absolutely certainly wrong is that the repeal of glass steagall had anything to do with it.

    • engleberg says:

      ” I see a Sanders presidency in 2020.@

      I saw a Sanders win in the 2016 primary stolen by establishment D party for Clinton. Would you call that a Russian conspiracy theory?

      • Dabbler says:

        That doesn’t mean Sanders can’t win now. Sure his faction is losing, but it’s in a stronger position than before and Clinton’s out of the way. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say he’s at a disadvantage but not write him out for winning the Democratic Party yet?

        • engleberg says:

          ‘I won last time but they stole it, and they got caught’ is a great resume builder. I’d hate to be the establishment D party guy running against Sanders on anything now- the default assumption would be that I’m a cheater, and even if I’m not, I deserve to be punished for the 2016 theft.

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      The people making the decisions for both parties are completely detached from the devastating consequences of their decisions. There is a whole parasitic consultant class that is self serving

      That’s what you get when you do big government. There’s no way to have a government of a country as vast as the USA to have a finger in every pie and a nose in every pot and not grow to enormous class which specializes on doing that. It’s just impossible to do any other way. And once they exist, first thing they’d do is ensure whatever happens, it’s no threat to them. And who’s going to prevent them from doing so, when they are literally “l’etat c’est moi”?
      And of course it would be completely detached – how can you attach one centralized body to hundreds of millions of people and billions of endeavors they are occupied with? It’s not possible, the more centralized it is, the more detached it is, it’s inevitable.

      Socialism would help

      As a person who lived under actual socialism, please allow me to assure it won’t. You’d get the same issue, only multiplied by 1000, and with no nice things to keep you warm, healthy, fed and entertained. You may think those are things cunningly produced to distract workers from struggle for their rights, but try living without them, and I assure you, the workers would be distracted much more by such questions as where to get some meat and toilet paper (somehow socialism and toilet paper are hardly compatible, it’s a mystery – once socialism develops somewhere, within years there are problems with toilet paper…) and where to buy shoes and pants that do not look like they were made by reptilians for reptilians and don’t fall apart after a week. And I’m not even touching how it works when you try to go to a dentist or call a plumber… No, if you don’t like self-serving parasitic classes having total control and ignoring needs of actual people, while themselves living well above common man and isolated from all responsibility, you’d hate socialism.

    • cassander says:

      I think that has a lot of truth to it. People have seen no wage growth since the dawn of neoliberalism in the 80’s. They have had to go further and further into debt just to keep their head above water. When 2/3rds of the country couldn’t meet a $1000 emergency, we are living in a very unstable and angry time.

      In a world where cheap , unsecured credit is mailed to everyone ever day, why on earth would you need to be able to put your hands on 1000 dollars? Don’t get me wrong, having that much money is definite good practice, but it’s only needed if you CAN’T borrow money easily and cheaply, and today everyone can. those people who don’t have a grand aren’t going to die because they don’t have it, if they need it, they’ll borrow it.

      • Protagoras says:

        You know, there are people with credit ratings low enough that the cheap, unsecured credit is not available to them, as well as people with their credit cards maxed out who similarly can’t get any more credit (and probably shouldn’t). While 2/3 of the country is surely an exaggeration for how many such people there are, it may be as high as 1/4. Still a lot of people, anyway.

        • cassander says:

          If that’s the case, it’s because they’ve already borrowed a lot and torched their credit by not paying it back. your credit score doesn’t start out bad.

          • Protagoras says:

            I was pointing out the existence of people for whom your proposed solution is not available. How they got that way is not relevant to the question of whether they exist.

          • cassander says:

            How they got that way certainly matters. Pretend there was a government program, once in everyone’s life, they can get a 1000 dollars, no questions asked, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Call it the freedom bonus. And let’s suppose the entire country is filled with thrifty people who only take out that money in an emergency. IF you want to tell me “1/4 of people don’t have 1000 dollars to their name for emergencies!” Then my first question is going to be “what percentage of them can still get their bonus?”

            Now, credit cards are not nearly as good a deal as the freedom bonus, but they’re a lot easier than saving. I am sure lots of people have bad credit. But whatever the percentage of people is with no savings, you need to subtract those without bad credit. And probably also those with a serious financial setback in recent years, like bankruptcy. THe context matters.

          • Protagoras says:

            If the percentage of them that can get their freedom bonus is less than 100%, then there are some people for whom the suggestion “they could just get their freedom bonus!” is worthless. If it’s a lot less than 100% (which seems to be the real world case), there are a lot of people for whom the suggestion is worthless.

            BTW, how much do you actually know about what credit is available to lower income people? The methods of calculating credit ratings are less than fully transparent (trade secrets and all). I know that college students can get credit cards with no credit history, but I would be shocked if the banks were actually treating all people without a history of borrowing as equal; the credit reporting agencies have more info about people than just what they’ve borrowed and how they’ve been repaying it. And I honestly don’t know how easy it is for someone who is not a college student, who is perhaps older and so for whom it might look suspicious to the banks that they don’t already have a credit history, to get unsecured credit. I think you may be making unjustified assumptions about how things would work for such people.

          • cassander says:

            >BTW, how much do you actually know about what credit is available to lower income people? The methods of calculating credit ratings are less than fully transparent (trade secrets and all). I know that college students can get credit cards with no credit history, but I would be shocked if the banks were actually treating all people without a history of borrowing as equal

            Nope, but I was a college dropout for a while with little income, and I kept getting them. Heck, I even got them when I was living in mexico getting paid cash, though I was a graduate by that point.

            I think you may be making unjustified assumptions about how things would work for such people.

            It’s very possible.

      • userfriendlyyy says:

        Wow, you have never met a poor person have you? 7% of US Households are unbanked. An additional 20% are underbanked (they have a checking or savings account but do most of their banking outside the banking system). With over a quarter of the population not being able to afford to maintain a checking account you think they are going to get a $1k line of credit at anything short the most ridiculous rate imaginable? How do you suppose they will be able to afford to pay back that $1k when they are barely making enough to live right now? This country is awful for poor people. Like it’s a wonder any of them survive with the complete lack of a safety net we have in this country. It’s a wonder they don’t want to go around killing rich people for making their lives practically unlivable. We are well on our way to neofeudalism, and I’m not being hyperbolic.

        • cassander says:

          >Wow, you have never met a poor person have you? 7% of US Households are unbanked.

          alright, So what? Are they choosing not to bank or are they unable to bank? Because if it’s the former, I don’t care. If circumstances change and they need a bank, they can get one. If you have numbers on those who can’t bank, for some reason, then we have something to talk about.

          >An additional 20% are underbanked

          A completely meaningless statistic.

          >With over a quarter of the population not being able to afford to maintain a checking account you think they are going to get a $1k line of credit at anything short the most ridiculous rate imaginable?

          there is no interest rate that costs more than having to save up the money before you spend it. People are switching to debt rather than savings because debt is easier. If saving was easier, they’d do that.

          >This country is awful for poor people. Like it’s a wonder any of them survive with the complete lack of a safety net we have in this country.

          The US has a very generous safety net…..for the elderly. But it’s not my fault the left decided to build a welfare state that transfers money from the young (and relatively poor) to the old (and relatively rich). I want to change that, but I suspect you don’t.

          • keranih says:

            Re: unbanked –

            People do have to apply to get a bank account. A bad credit score – specifically, repeatedly bouncing checks or having a rental or utility lien against you – can and does result in a bank declining to open an account for you.

            Likewise, if one is trying to avoid paying child support, one might want to avoid having a bank account which could be seized.

            As for why people don’t save up, Megan McArdle had an insightful talk about social capital.

            Most poor people in the USA do okay. Not great, but okay. Most of them would do better if they drank less, smoked less, and hung out less with unemployed people, but that’s all of us, really.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Likewise, if one is trying to avoid paying child support, one might want to avoid having a bank account which could be seized.

            But making people who owe child support miserable is an explicit goal of the system, so shouldn’t those cases just be stamped “Working As Designed”?

  37. jhertzlinger says:

    Please note that Clinton ran ahead of her party. Please also note that the boring Republicans in Congress ran ahead of Trump.

    Also, Point 1 sounds like “She focused too much on identity politics and ignored identity politics.”

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Really? In Missouri Trump won by 21 and Kander lost by 5. So he was running 16% ahead of Clinton.

      • Iain says:

        Clinton won the popular vote for president, 48.2%-46.1%. The Republicans won the popular vote in the House, 49.1%-48%. So Clinton edged the House Democrats by 0.2% of the total (and by more than 3% in the margin of victory), whereas House Republicans beat Trump by a solid 3%.

        (The Democrats won the popular vote in the Senate, but that’s harder to compare fairly, since only a third of senators are up for election at any one time.)

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          but that’s based on massive population centers. so yeah she won by 4.6mil or something in cali, which makes the rest of the nation irrelevant.

          • Iain says:

            Uh, what?

            California also voted on House Democrats. Winning California by a significant margin doesn’t put Clinton ahead of the House Democrats unless her margin was even bigger than theirs. That’s what it means to run ahead of your party.

  38. falstaffAZ says:

    Some of my pet hypotheses:

    1. The polls and the press and the prevailing wisdom said that Clinton would win easily. No need to show up to the polls if you prefer her to Trump, but don’t really like her and maybe don’t care that much about politics anyway.

    2. Bernie might have been helpful to the Democrats in recruiting young voters who wouldn’t otherwise have been as enthused about Clinton as, say, their slightly older peers were about Obama. What he also ended up doing was serving as a foil to Clinton, whose belated opposition to TPP, etc. was nakedly, characteristically cynical and opportunistic. When Trump became the more credible anti-globalization candidate of the two plausible contenders (and the first in generations at the top of the ticket), the white working-class in the decisive states (WI, MI, OH, and PA) were willing to cross party lines/show up to the polls in greater numbers than they would have for generic D vs. generic R.

    3. As others have suggested, the White House has swung between the two parties with almost perfect regularity since WWII: two years Democratic, two years Republican — the lone exception being Carter/Reagan in 1980. Clinton had this pendulum working against her from the start, and although I expected Trump to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, he succeeded in ways that Republicans I would have supported would not have done. (I’m not sure whether Rubio’s or Kasich’s unfavorables would have been as much a handicap as Clinton’s or Trump’s in the general election, but before November 8 I would have rated Cruz as likelier to win than Trump, and in hindsight, I think I was wrong about that.)

    4. Scalia’s seat motivated some significant number of temperamentally #NeverTrump conservatives to plug their noses and cast their ballots. Short of nominating Eugene Volokh or one of his co-conspirators, I don’t know that any of the other Republicans could have improved on Gorsuch in rewarding this gamble.

    • Enkidum says:

      You forgot about Clinton vs Bush as the other exception. Otherwise I think you’re mostly right.

    • bbeck310 says:

      #4 is incredibly important in figuring out why Trump’s unpopularity with conservatives in the primary didn’t hurt him more in the general. I was a hardcore Cruz/NeverTrumper in the primary, to the point that living in non-swing Illinois, I voted for McMullin in the general–but had I lived in a swing state, I still probably would have held my nose and voted for Trump. And if Trump’s presidency ends up being essentially “Change nothing of substance, and put Gorsuch, Diane Sykes, and another equivalent on the Supreme Court to replace Scalia, Kennedy, and probably Ginsburg,” I’d be a very happy conservative.

      • falstaffAZ says:

        @Enkidum

        This might be misplaced optimism, but I just didn’t see Jeb surviving the primaries, with or without Trump. One other significant factor to which I haven’t seen enough credit given is the segment of Trump’s supporters who were pro-Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012. There was an untapped reservoir of conservative voters with no time at all for another Bush, by any name (i.e., fairly or not, Rubio). Furthermore, I think there are enough Republicans who, if they don’t quite share the popular estimation of Bush II as Worst President Ever™, do nonetheless understand that enough people do feel that way that Bush III would have been DOA against Clinton II, or virtually anyone else.
        He did raise an awful lot of money, though…

        @bbeck310

        We’re on the same page. I was anti-Trump, pro-Cruz as well, and ended up voting Johnson in November. If I was in a traditional swing state — or if I’d have known that AZ would be quite so swingy (which I ought to have, given that one reason I thought Trump was a surefire disaster was how much I expected him to outdo any other Republican in galvanizing Latino voters to show up for the Democrats) — I would likely have held my nose and dropped my pebble in the Trump bucket, too.

        • Enkidum says:

          No, I meant Bush Sr was a 1-term president (and succeeded a Republican, for that matter), so an exception to the clockwork regularity of 8 years between the parties.

          • falstaffAZ says:

            Ah, I see. The idea (which I’ve stolen from elsewhere, I should add) is that Bush Sr. was filling out the second of the two regularly scheduled Republican terms, whereas Reagan’s first term was “supposed to be” the Democrats’ second.

  39. The Nybbler says:

    Really, I think running some mainstream Democrat (i.e. not Bernie) other than Hillary was the Democrats winning move. Hillary was among the worst candidates they could have picked. But it was her turn. That said, she lost by so little there are probably any number of things she could have done differently to win.

    • Acedia says:

      Really, I think running some mainstream Democrat (i.e. not Bernie) other than Hillary was the Democrats winning move.

      Yeah, Biden would definitely have won. People who think the Clintons are great just can’t accept how disliked they are even by many people who don’t consider themselves to be on the right.

      • herbert herberson says:

        In fairness, it’s hard to understand. I strongly dislike a ton of things both Clintons have done, their entire politics is designed to shut the likes of me out, I think HRC has buckets of blood on her hand, but I still find myself puzzled by just how much people across the political spectrum truly hate her. To me, she just seems so bog-standard, barely distinguishable from a million other warmongering neoliberal New Democrat faux-technocrats; I can’t understand or explain why so many people are so uniquely triggered by her (at least without reaching for the obvious, very uncharitable, assumptions).

        • Kevin C. says:

          “I can’t understand or explain why so many people are so uniquely triggered by her”

          I’d say part of it is a matter of affect and demeanor. If I must try to sum it up in one word, I suppose it would be “schoolmarmish”. That is, she comes across as kind of cold, stiff, and not merely “lecturing” or “talking down”, but hectoring, berating. Obama’s “bitter clingers” may have come off as arrogant and condescending to plenty of us, but it wasn’t as openly hostile as “basket of deplorables”. She has neither the affable charm of her husband, nor the professorial polish that I’ll admit Obama could display. Plus, there’s always that perception expressed by some people, on both sides of the aisle, of her putting off a sense of entitlement, as if she was “owed” the office.

          Just one man’s opinion, though.

        • cassander says:

          > To me, she just seems so bog-standard, barely distinguishable from a million other warmongering neoliberal New Democrat faux-technocrats;

          Incompetence can be excused if you’re honest, corruption can be excused if you’re competent. Clinton is incompetent and corrupt, and had the gall to run on a platform of vote for me, i’m super competent and my opponent is corrupt!

        • Deiseach says:

          I can’t understand or explain why so many people are so uniquely triggered by her

          Charisma deficit, which is a flaw in a politician. Hillary can be a very competent civil servant – she did okay as Secretary of State under Obama, give or take a few little things like Libya and the email server – but when she’s not parachuted in to a safe seat (like the New York senator’s gig) and has to go out and hustle for the votes of the grubby masses, this shows up in a glaring way. Like fire, she’s a good servant but a bad master.

          She just does not have Bill’s charm and magnetism (which isn’t her fault, very few do) but even Obama was able to turn on the performance from ‘wonkish law professor to icon of Hope and Change’ and she can’t do that. She can talk detailed policy until the cows come home, but she can’t manage the attractive, makes-you-feel-good-by-association, uplifting thing when campaigning.

          Again, that’s not her fault but for a position like the American presidency which has a lot of power and influence globally as well as nationally, people want a statesmanlike figure who seems to have star power, not a dull bureaucrat who can be trusted to have the filing in perfect order. I think she’s aware of this, and that lies behind the things like the string of campaign slogans to find one that will stick and things like the claim about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia; she tries on personae to find one that will have mass and maximum appeal, but since she can never convincingly adopt one, everyone can tell it’s a mask and that simply makes her look false and shallow.

          As for the dislikeability, it’s the naked ambition on show (yes, all politicians have it, but the successful can plaster over it with a coat of ‘public service and the good of the people is why I’m seeking high office’; ‘I deserve it is why’ peeks through the coat of whitewash with Hillary) and the impression she gives (I don’t know if it’s true in reality, but she does give it) that she holds grudges and will remember if you ever crossed her, even if that’s only in her opinion that you crossed her, and you will be made to pay for it – that extract from Shattered about how after the failed campaign against Obama, she went on a loyalty purge, demanding access to the emails of her staff so she could read through them and find out who had ‘plotted’ against her, and then spent time afterwards sabotaging the disloyal. I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems plausible, it seems credible in terms of her character that she’d make and keep a little list and cross off names as she got payback against them, and that’s not really a good impression.

          • Reading your description of Hilary, it occurs to me that she is somewhat like Nixon. My view of him was that he had a high IQ and low Charisma, was not a natural demagogue and so had to do it with his head instead of his heart. A lot of people hated him, and I don’t have the impression that his supporters loved him.

          • Deiseach says:

            Reading your description of Hilary, it occurs to me that she is somewhat like Nixon.

            I was but a small child when Watergate broke and I had very little idea of what was going on, save that the American president was in big trouble. And it didn’t surprise me because I thought he looked shifty. I don’t think I picked up this attitude from my parents, it was a result of seeing his face on the news: he looked untrustworthy in some manner.

            Now, the man probably couldn’t help his face, but if Hillary triggers the same kind of “nope, she looks crooked” instinctual reaction in people, that could explain some of the intense dislike of her. Even if Nixon and Hillary are both as smart as they think they are, they have a very high handicap to get over in that regard, even if Nixon goes to China and makes an important diplomatic breakthrough in relations. And I don’t think anybody is going to take it as a compliment to be compared to Nixon 🙂

            But I think the comparison is apt: intelligent, ambitious, hard-working but not naturally “people persons” and with a definite aura of “the bastards are out to get me, but I’m going to get them first!” about them.

          • cassander says:

            I think Hilary thinks she’s like Nixon, but she isn’t. Part of Clinton’s lack of appeal is she seems to think she’s smarter than she is. Everyone knows the kid whose IQ is 110 but acts at if it’s 130. That’s Hillary to a T.

            And to call her a dull bureaucrat is to mistake effort for achievement. Hillary was very popular at state. By all accounts she did her homework. but in 4 years she did almost nothing besides that homework. She left no mark on the department and no mark on policy outside of Libya and Syria, both of which were disasters. Those are not the results of a serious wonk who just can’t get people to like her. They’re the results of someone who thinks she’s a serious wonk because she can tell you the names of all the species of trees. And that’s exactly the trouble she had with healthcare 25 years ago. She learned nothing and forgot nothing.

          • Deiseach says:

            And to call her a dull bureaucrat is to mistake effort for achievement. Hillary was very popular at state. By all accounts she did her homework. but in 4 years she did almost nothing besides that homework.

            Well, that is what I meant by “dull bureaucrat” – someone who efficiently and competently carries out the instructions they’re given, but whose performance depends on being given instructions by someone more capable for setting policy than acting on their own initiative*. That’s what we’re arguing about with Hillary’s campaign and lack of a Soaring Vision – “four more years of the same old” very much depends on what the “same old” was, and it was the case that the “same old” was “doing what Obama wants done”.

            When it came to “doing what I want done”, there was no real indicator there as to exactly what it was she wanted done: plenty of detail on how the fabric for the invisible clothing is going to be sourced, woven, cut and tailored, but no actual “and this is the suit of clothes the Emperor will wear once it’s all done!” pictures.

            *Not to be mean to dull bureaucrats, this is exactly the type of minor minion I am – tell me what you want done then go away and let me do it without micromanaging, I thrive. Give me free rein to make all the decisions and nothing more concrete to go on than “It’d be nice if something unspecified vaguely happened” and I flail and panic**. The notion that without Obama (or Bill) to tell her what to do, Hillary would flail and panic – or worse, that electing her meant that in effect it was a third term for President Bill who would be the one really making the decisions – could have been behind some of the lack of enthusiasm for her candidacy.

            **(a) “I’m going to lunch now, write a nice letter for Susan Jones wishing her well as she leaves for her new job and leave it on my desk for me to sign when I get back” – no problem, I will do a nice mixture of generic soppiness and personalised touches extracted from her personnel file couched in an informal manner that blends warm fuzzies with boss-to-employee type positive assessment of her service here.

            (b) “I’m going to lunch now, do up a letter for Susan for when I come back, okay?” – wait, which Susan, we’ve got three working here! And what kind of a letter – is she getting fired, getting promoted, she contracted Purple Plague, what? And is it formal “Dear Ms Jones” or “Dear Susie” you want? Waaaaaah!!!!!

          • That’s where the unlikeable comes form: where does the evil come from?

        • LCL says:

          I had this same impression, with the twist that I thought the status quo was pretty good and therefore looked favorably on a seemingly bog-standard neoliberal establishment politician.

          But I’m a reader and barely ever watch TV. After I did tune in to a couple of the debates, it started to make more sense. I was struck by how fake she seemed. Fake and mechanical – she wasn’t inhabiting the role well at all. You don’t have to be a great actor to be a politician but it helps not to be a terrible one.

          Trump on the other hand was very authentically churlish, inarticulate, and instantly bored of any subject other than himself. Which is an awful personality for a president, but oddly gives you a kind of warm fuzzy feeling towards him. The very inappropriateness of his behavior, for a presidential candidate, acts as reassurance of his authenticity. He’s not only not faking, but patently incapable of behaving any other way.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Good answer, and very possible that the same thing is going on with me.

            Also comports with the Nixon comparisons people are making in other parts of this thread.

    • Deiseach says:

      That said, she lost by so little there are probably any number of things she could have done differently to win.

      (1) If it’s true that her campaign tried to help nudge the selection of Trump as the Republican candidate because they thought he was the most easily beatable of the selection on offer, then they deserve the loss because that was monumentally stupid.

      (2) Taking the minority demographic vote for granted. African-Americans turned out for Obama because first black president. They were not going to turn out for rich white woman in the same numbers, and assuming that they would because “she’s the Democrat” was counting your chickens before they’re hatched.

      I do think they were the two worst errors. The whole emails imbroglio didn’t help, but it would have died down if not for Anthony Weiner and the investigation into his sexting a minor and the finding of work-related emails on the shared family laptop kicked it all off again (honestly, somebody should have him neutered, or at least make sure he never again comes within fifty miles of anybody associated with the Clintons, but apparently Huma is taking him back for one more chance and she remains one of Hillary’s closest friends and advisers, so the Democrats are not learning their lessons there, because Wandering Willy will lead him – and by association, the Democratic Party – into yet another scandal one of these days!)

      • Null42 says:

        I rather enjoyed the Breitbart suggestion that Weiner and Willy were going to go out to, ah, seek the company of the opposite sex together if Hillary won. At the very least there’s a good recurring sketch gag in there.

        • Along with Bill’s friend Donald, perhaps?

          • goddamnjohnjay says:

            I was honestly a little surprised that at no point Donald produced a tape of him and Bill laughing about Bill’s affairs.

        • Deiseach says:

          Oh dear, this is one of those “two nations separated by a common language” thing 🙂

          By Wandering Willy, I did not mean Bill Clinton – the thought never occurred to me, though in hindsight I can see how the confusion arose.

          I meant Anthony’s Little Tony, the head that seems to do all his thinking for him, is going to get him in trouble again one of these days (going by past performance: if Huma is willing to take him back after everything, and once again everything, and yet again everything, why on earth would he ever change his behaviour?). Willy in this sense (which is why, when trailers for the movie “Free Willy” were shown in cinemas in the British Isles, they unintentionally caused a lot of laughter).

          • Null42 says:

            We have that too, but Clinton was known for a while (particularly among his detractors) as ‘Slick Willy’ so it kind of overwrites it. Not that weren’t many jokes about Willy and his willy.

            David: No, because this was Breitbart, but that is a really great idea. (Or at least would have been if Hillary had won…remember the conspiracy theories that the Clintons paid him to get in the race to make the GOP lose? I can totally see him pocketing the money and inviting Bill up to Trump Tower for drinks and…company to celebrate.)

  40. spork says:

    I think that Democrats feel like we aren’t able to ditch identity politics when these are electorally inconvenient, because our long-game strategy is to ride these into a permanent majority – eventually. The party leaders added up the numbers and concluded that the party of the white people is demographically doomed, so that territory wasn’t really contested. I absolutely hate this strategy, but it is the strategy, and it was deployed so openly and cynically that it actually made many white people rally together. And to be fair, despite the loss, the strategy might – eventually – work, but it is a position that shouldn’t define a governing party in any country. It’s so fucking tribal and gross and devoid of principle.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Right, but then the Democrats didn’t follow out their logic by nominating a black like Sen. Booker or Kamala Harris, they nominated … Hillary.

      So, black men didn’t bother to show up and vote Democratic.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        If Booker had a black wife and a black baby, he’d be a strong candidate. He still has time by 2020.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him.

          Is it too much to ask Senator Booker to take one for the Party and marry an attractive black lady and sire at least one black child?

          • Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him.

            On the other hand … who kniws the secrets of a man’s heart?

          • Jaskologist says:

            Did he? What I’ve read (very little) indicates that she ditched him.

            “In the winter of ‘86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” she told Garrow. Her parents were opposed, less for any racial reasons (Barack came across to them like “a white, middle-class kid,” a close family friend said) than for concern about Obama’s professional prospects, and because her mother thought Sheila, two years Obama’s junior, was too young. “Not yet,” Sheila told Barack. But they stayed together.

            Just before he left for Harvard Law School, Obama proposed to Jager once more. She declined, as she was heading to Seoul for a study program, and he seemed upset that she wouldn’t put her ambitions on hold for his.

            She’s got to be kicking herself now.

          • Enkidum says:

            Look, you’re a smart enough guy, but saying shit like this just makes you look like Alex Jones. Stop it.

          • He’s oddly variable.

          • pipsterate says:

            Is Sheila necessarily smarter than Michelle? I’m not sure about that. My impression is that it probably takes a higher IQ to be a lawyer than an anthropologist.

            Also, I’m not sure how accurate it is to say that Obama “ditched” Sheila, considering that he asked her to marry him, twice.

            I think this is a more complex situation than you make it out to be.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @pipsterate

            A side note, but why do you think lawyers would tend to be smarter than anthropology professors? A bit of Googling doesn’t suggest they are. I imagine average IQ would vary by legal specialty. ;

          • Philosophisticat says:

            Well this took an ugly turn.

          • pipsterate says:

            @ dndnrsn

            It just seems to me that law is more rigorous than most fields of anthropology and attracts more intelligent students.

            It’s certainly possible that I’m overestimating lawyers, or underestimating anthropologists, though.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well this took an ugly turn.

            Yep, he’s not hiding it nearly as much here lately.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @pipsterate:

            My experience was that a lot of law students are there by default – “oh shit, I have a BA, what do I do with this” and law seems like the best choice. Law school is not as hard as law students like to pretend it is. If being a lawyer was as hard as lawyers say it is, there would be a lot fewer lawyers. I would guess the two groups are probably similar in median intelligence.

          • abc says:

            Look, you’re a smart enough guy, but saying shit like this just makes you look like Alex Jones. Stop it.

            Stuff like what. Are you saying politicians’ families never influence voters’ choices?

            Or is making these kinds of nonsense comments your way of trolling?

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            oh dear abc, is:

            politicians’ families …influence voters’ choices

            really a paraphrase of

            Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him

            you’re willing to stand behind?

          • abc says:

            politicians’ families …influence voters’ choices

            really a paraphrase of

            Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him

            you’re willing to stand behind?

            Ok, so you’re willing to admit that politicians’ families …influence voters’ choices. Now are you going to argue that a politician would never choose who to marry based on a desire to be more electable? Or do you have no coherent reason for your objection beyond it making “your guy” look slightly bad?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            oh god

            people are actually unironically pretending like Obama wasn’t aware of racial politics?

            I never get this. He’s a politician. It’s at least reasonable to suspect that he is aware of political factors, such that some of his personal decisions are calculated. And yes, I’m willing to stand behind that generalization, no matter how racially charged the particulars are.

            I understand how some people feel about that, because it’s an accusation of deep cynicism. But deep cynicism is sometimes a quality of politicians; I’d say often, in fact.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Obama [was] aware of racial politics?

            I think this paraphrase is even worse, abc, so you’re off the hook for now I guess.

            One more time for the people in the cheap, ugly, seats:

            Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him

            And this

            a politician [might sometimes] choose who to marry based on a desire to be more electable?

            is probably the best of the three, so it feels like we’re moving in the right direction. It’s still terrible though. Maybe try again?

            Obama ditched his smart girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Yager, now professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin, because he had to have an African-American wife to get blacks to vote for him

            Now:

            Or do you have no coherent reason for your objection beyond it making “your guy” look slightly bad?

            You are too awful at this to warrant this level of impoliteness.

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            @ Steve Sailer, pdbarnsley, abc, anonYEmous

            Ok, I’m going to have to take pdbarnsley’s side here.

            Yes, Obama is a consummate politician, and yes he is perfectly aware of racial politics. But he didn’t “ditch” Yager, he twice asked her to marry him. So, when she went to Korea, he found a new girlfriend, because obviously he did. I have no idea whether “electability” crossed his mind or even if marrying a black person was the most “electable” choice (I’d argue the opposite – he’s already black himself, why does he need a black wife to appeal to black people?).

            In short, Ockham’s Razor suggests the best explanation is just that he left Yager when she refused to marry him and went to Korea, and then met Michelle Robinson and married her instead.

          • If anyone is having trouble following this, the issue is how the hell Sailer would know Obama’s real reasons’ for doing things.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I think this paraphrase is even worse, abc, so you’re off the hook for now I guess.

            …Not really, dude. There are plenty of black people that can be found to complain if a prominent black person marries a white person. I don’t doubt that this transfers to asian people as well, and I don’t doubt that this could’ve changed voting patterns; maybe not enough, granted, but it’s not like he knew ahead of time how many votes he was getting. (Sorry if that’s an uncomfortable racial truth!)

            As to the other, I’m willing to admit that it might be wrong on the facts. But pre-facts, it is a plausible theory and I don’t think anyone should be offended. If you don’t like it, blame reality.

          • Brad says:

            If anyone is having trouble following this, the issue is how the hell Sailer would know Obama’s real reasons’ for doing things.

            Bizarre spins on deservedly obscure facts is kind of his thing.

          • abc says:

            You are too awful at this to warrant this level of impoliteness.

            Enkidum objected to Steve’s theory without giving any reason in an extemely rude manner without giving any explanation, you are now attempting to defend his position still without giving any reason. Near as I can tell, your method of arguing appears to be based on the idea that if one repeats a non sequitor loudly enough, eventually it’ll become a valid logical inference.

            If you actually have an argument, I’d love to hear it. However, the fact that you have gone 2-3 comments without presenting one isn’t encouraging.

          • he’s already black himself, why does he need a black wife to appeal to black people?

            That was actually the question that occurred to me reading the thread, and I’m not sure of the answer. On the one hand one might claim that a white wife would make him more acceptable to white voters. On the other hand, I could imagine it having the opposite effect–there is a cultural story about black men being sexually attractive, thus beating out white men in the competition for white women, and I suspect it still has some, possibly unacknowledged, bite to it.

            Looking on the other side, I can imagine some blacks seeing a successful black man marrying a white woman as a sort of treason.

            So I don’t know if the political argument works or not. Quite aside from whether it makes any sense as an explanation of Obama’s motives.

          • The reason is obvious: it was a baseless claim with obvious political motivations.

          • abc says:

            The reason is obvious: it was a baseless claim with obvious political motivations.

            Steve provided evidence for his claim, which is more than any of the people objecting to it have done.

          • Sailer is claiming to know Obama’s real reasons for doing something. What would evidence for that even look like?

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Huh, until today I didn’t realize Cory Booker was black. I need to watch more TV, or at least read articles with pictures in them.

      • Null42 says:

        True. You also have to admit the Republicans have started playing the same game. I think some golf course architecture blogger suggested it back in the early 2000s.

    • Progressive Reformation says:

      I agree. If either party is promoting racial division at this point, it’s the Democrats. But I don’t think the Republicans can be absolved either, given the enthusiasm with which they embraced their role as the “party of white people”. It’s also worth noting that when these roles were getting defined at first, the Republican position (anti-Civil-Rights, anti-integration) was the position of tribal identity politics.

      • cassander says:

        I’ll call the Republicans enthusiastically embracing the party of while people when they start advocating affirmative action for West Virginians. Until then, no. And your history is wrong, it was democrats who led the campaign against de-segregation. The dems have always had a racial component to their party, they just have switched which races.

      • bbartlog says:

        It was Nixon who managed to rearrange the tribal politics landscape with his Southern Strategy. Arguably things have been somewhat static since then. You could argue that Democrats were complicit in making the arrangement stable when they decided to favor the interests of hispanic immigrants over those of the native labor unions. Anyway, various roles existed before that and the southern Democrats were no stranger to tribal identity politics.

        • cassander says:

          The southern strategy is largely a myth. Nixon didn’t win the votes of southerners, he lost them in 68 to a Dixiecrat who did have a southern strategy. In 72, he won everywhere. The South continued voting Democrat until the 90s. That’s when the south shifted.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You say this BS every time the Southern Strategy is brought up, and it’s still just as wrong.

            The South stopped voting D for president in 64, after the CRA passed, and that has been consistent. They either voted R or for the one open white segregation candidate ( Wallace).

            Your wave election point that you always bring up likeways makes no sense, as the loss of the South to the Rs is what made those wave elections.

          • The South stopped voting D for president in 64, after the CRA passed, and that has been consistent. They either voted R or for the one open white segregation candidate ( Wallace).

            Here is an electoral map of the 1976 election. The South is solidly democratic, with Virginia the sole exception.

            1980 was a Republican landslide, but Georgia was one of the few states carried by the Democrats. Also West Virginia, if you count that as southern.

            In 1984 the Democrats carried Minnesota.

            1988 was another Republican landslide, with W. Virginia the one somewhat southern state the Democrats carried.

            In 1992 the South splits, but the Republicans get more electoral votes than the Democrats.

            If you are going to claim that someone else’s post is BS, you might want to check the facts first. Through 1992, the only elections in which the Republicans carry almost all of the South are ones in which they carry almost all of the country, which is consistent with what Cassander claimed, inconsistent with what you claimed.

          • cassander says:

            @David and HBC

            It also shows up in the level of state results. 72 nixon does do well in the south, which averages 68% for him, but he gets 60 in the rest of the country. In 76, the southern states vote 43 % for ford compared to 51 in the rest of the country. In 80, reagan gets 49% of the southern vote, the rest of the country gives him 53. in 84, 61/61. 88, there’s a slight republican advantage in the south, 57 to 54.

            92 and 6 are a bit weird because of perot. the south votes both more republican and more democratic than the rest of the country in 92, 43 to 40 republican and 42 to 37 democratic. In 96, it’s just as democratic (47%), and slightly more republican, 44:41.

            It’s not until 2000 when bush gets 54% in the south and 49% elsewhere that a republican pulls a majority of southern support without getting a majority in the rest of the country too.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Friedman:
            Yea, Carter is the last gasp of the old map. Cassander and I have been through this a time or two.

            If you want to deny the existence for the “Solid South” you are welcome to delude yourself and claim my “facts are wrong”.

            My point about wave elections is the following:

            The difference between 1952 and 1984 is the South. You can’t explain away the shift away from southern democratic presidential state wins by simply referencing a “wave”. The wave couldn’t happen for Republicans before precisely because of the South. The South had never voted en bloc for anyone but Democrats since the end of reconstruction.

            Get your facts rights.

          • Your claim, to which I responded, was:

            The South stopped voting D for president in 64, after the CRA passed, and that has been consistent. They either voted R or for the one open white segregation candidate ( Wallace).

            Do you agree that that in 1976, the Democrats carried every southern state but Virginia. Do you agree that 1976 is after 1964? If you agree to both, does it not follow that what I just quoted from you was false?

            You don’t convert a false statement to a true statement by offering one reason it was false, which is what your “Carter is the last gasp of the old map” does.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:

            The southern strategy is largely a myth

            That is what I am responding to. It’s an argument that cassander and I have had frequently. I have expounded on it at length in the past.

            I contend that this claim is malarkey.

            Do you think that claim holds water?

            I have, in those long expositions made the point to him before that 64, 68, and 72 are complete departures from the Southern voting patterns since the end of reconstruction, and that Carter, as Southern evangelical, Washington outsider, resurrected that map for one last time. Reagan cements the new voting pattern by consciously aligning with evangelicals and with conscious overtures to the old segregationist Southern Democrats.

            The state and local politics turned over much more slowly, as should be expected.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub says:

            I have, in those long expositions made the point to him before that 64, 68, and 72 are complete departures from the Southern voting patterns since the end of reconstruction, and that Carter, as Southern evangelical, Washington outsider, resurrected that map for one last time. Reagan cements the new voting pattern by consciously aligning with evangelicals and with conscious overtures to the old segregationist Southern Democrats.

            You can exposite all you want, just so stories are not data. I have shown, with data, that the south remained consistently less republican in presidential races than the rest of the country until, at the earliest, 88 Your “one last time” repeated itself in 80 and 84. It’s right there in the vote totals. It’s 64 and 72 that are the exceptions, not the rule. And 68 isn’t an exception to anything, democrats and dixiecrats crush nixon in the south. The most you can claim for them is that they started the end of the democratic south, you cannot claim they finished it.

            The state and local politics turned over much more slowly, as should be expected.

            I don’t think that’s to be expected at all.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Do you know what a Yellow Dog Democrat was?

            The South was essentially one party rule. There was no Republican Party presence. That doesn’t pop up overnight. It has to be built.

          • The southern strategy is largely a myth

            That is what I am responding to. It’s an argument that cassander and I have had frequently. I have expounded on it at length in the past.

            I contend that this claim is malarkey.

            Do you think that claim holds water?

            I don’t know. I would have to look into your and his arguments more carefully to form an opinion.

            I was responding to something you said which was demonstrably false. You first said it, then defended it fiercely (“Get your facts rights”) after I pointed out that it was false, and now want to shift to a weaker claim without first conceding that the claim I disputed was false.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            No.

            You popped into a long running argument I have had with cassander (a point which I referenced) and accused me of not having my facts right without bothering to spend one minute evaluating the claim I was responding to.

            That the Southern Dems changed voting pattern in 64 is clearly the core of my statement in response to a claim you don’t care to defend. That’s the heart of the argument.

            If you wanted to point out a factual error in my statement, without challenging my response to his claim, you had that option available to you. It’s not the route you chose to go.

          • keranih says:

            @ HBC –

            You keep saying that the South “stopped” voting for D for president after 1964. And then when people point out that, well, actually, the South did vote for D, you say “well, except for those times they stopped.”

            If you want to point out that the shift gained serious momentum after 1964, sure, that’s great. But the older voters that I spoke with in the 1980’s sure as heck gave me the impression that there was a mismatch between the local/state Democrat priorities and the national level Democrat priorities dating back decades prior to 1964.

            So IMO your error is not so much your choice of inflection point as it is making that inflection point decisive vs part of a long standing shift in attitudes. The socialism of the union workers of the industrial north was not what the small businessmen and farmers of the South wanted.

            (Granted, it might have been the (long-time-coming) acceptance of the African-American worker into the union world that broke the camel’s back for the Southern Democrat, but the conflict was there for quite some time.)

            It’s the same lesson that all parties eventually learn – get too far out from the center of gravity, and you shed voters. Part of the trick is shifting the center to where you want it to be, part of it is shifting your party to the center.

          • You popped into a long running argument I have had with cassander (a point which I referenced) and accused me of not having my facts right without bothering to spend one minute evaluating the claim I was responding to.

            Because a fact you asserted in giving your side of the argument was false, as I was able to determine with a few minutes of googling. You could have responded by conceding that you had overstated your claim and replacing it with a more modest version, but you didn’t.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            No. I immediately conceded that point, as I have already pointed this out multiple times to cassander, that the Carter map is the last time that map works for the Dems.

            That wasn’t enough, you had to claim that I was falling back to a weaker claim. But you seem to be unclear on the meaning of the word “consistent”, which does not mean always.

            Either go off and form an opinion on whether the CRA led Nixon to engage in a consequential “Southern Strategy” or bow out. The fact that you don’t already have an opinion on this (or won’t admit to one) should tell you something.

            I am really tired of your “gotcha” arguments where you think some minor misstatement invalidates an entire argument.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:
            You are welcome to look at the EC maps for yourself.

            You can show that that the split begins earlier than 1964, that Storm Thurmond’s state wins as a Dixiecrat in 48 and the electors who would not cast their votes for Kennedy in 60 presage the breakup of the Democratic coalition.

            But you can’t argue that the break for Republicans doesn’t start in 64, nor can you argue that the 1972 map is merely a wave election. I invite you to look at all of the maps from the end of Reconstruction forward.

            And the idea that nothing really happens until the 90s doesn’t make any sense.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            No. I immediately conceded that point, as I have already pointed this out multiple times to cassander, that the Carter map is the last time that map works for the Dems.

            And, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, pointing this out proves nothing. Especially when you combine it with the fact that while reagan won 44 states and 49, he did as well or worse in the south than the rest of the country.

            You can show that that the split begins earlier than 1964, that Storm Thurmond’s state wins as a Dixiecrat in 48 and the electors who would not cast their votes for Kennedy in 60 presage the breakup of the Democratic coalition.

            That something “presages the breakup” means it is not the breakup, and intra-democratic party squabbling certainly is not proof of the existence of a republican campaign strategy.

            But you can’t argue that the break for Republicans doesn’t start in 64, nor can you argue that the 1972 map is merely a wave election. I invite you to look at all of the maps from the end of Reconstruction forward.

            Yes, you can, if you bother to look at the actual numbers. Between 1952 and 88, the south is less republican than the rest of the county in all but 2 elections. In 92 and 96 they’re slightly more republican, but also more democratic, and since 2000, to today, they’re more republican in EVERY election. there absolutely was a shift, but the shift took place long after nixon was gone.

            If you don’t believe me, do the math. Just looking at the electoral map is useless because republicans did so well everywhere between 68 and 88, but that’s not a southern strategy, that’s a whole country strategy.

          • Skivverus says:

            @cassander, HeelBearCub

            It seems entirely possible for you both to be correct: HeelBearCub when comparing R-vote percentages within the same state (or districts) over time, cassander when comparing R-vote percentages between states. (Warning: haven’t actually looked at the data myself)
            Simplified example: two states, A and B, three elections at times T1, T2, T3.
            A votes 40% R at T1, 55% R at T2, 51% R at T3.
            B votes 20% R at T1, 51% R at T2, 44% R at T3.
            A clearly prefers R more than B does in all three elections; there’s a big jump in R’s favor between T1 and T2 in B, though.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Cassander:
            How many times did Republicans win “Solid South” states after the end of reconstruction and 1964? How many time after? Out of how many chances?

            The strongest portion of the argument looks at 6 states. AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC had a grand total of one Republican EC win (LA in ’56) in those 21 elections. That is 1 out of 126.

            5 of 6 of them vote R in 1964. They all vote Wallace (the outright segregationist) or R (SC) in 1968. They all vote Republican in ’68. That is 12 out of 18, plus 5 more for the man who ran on the “segregation now, segregation forever” platform.

            That is a shift that cannot be any clearer. It is not vague or muddy. It is as plain as day.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Skivverus:
            I strongly encourage you to actually look at those maps and the other links I have provided. It should also be noted that vote total only matter in the EC if they are close enough to allow the state to “swing”. Those 6 Southern States were demonstrably not “swing” states (in terms of being winnable by Republicans) before 1964.

            The other 8 states in the “Solid South” also demonstrably switch post CRA, but it’s not as clear cut.

          • cassander says:

            @Skivverus ,

            It seems entirely possible for you both to be correct: HeelBearCub when comparing R-vote percentages within the same state (or districts) over time, cassander when comparing R-vote percentages between states.

            This is true as far as it goes, but my claim is that looking at just the southern states overtime is misleading, because it ignores the fact that basically the whole country was voting R for president in this period. between 68 and 88, republicans average more than 40 states per election. if there was some southern strategy that got the southern states to vote republican, it worked on the rest of the country too, and thus can’t be called a southern strategy.

            HBC’s argument only holds up if you ignore most of the country and how it was voting much more republican than the south was in the same period. The republicans won in the south because they won almost literally everywhere.

            @HBC

            That is a shift that cannot be any clearer. It is not vague or muddy. It is as plain as day.

            In other words, if you cherry pick and ignore 2/3s of the data you can totally make my argument look bad!

            If, however, you look at the whole picture, you’ll notice that the south remained less republican than the rest of the country until, at the earliest, 88. Or you would, if you didn’t have an ideological axe to grind.

          • Skivverus says:

            @HeelBearCub
            Had a look, and agreed that Democrats have those states quite solidly from 1876 until the 1960s; pinning the shift there on Nixon specifically seems slightly backwards to me, but comparably so to other claims of politicians shifting voter sentiments.
            Makes more sense in my mind to say politicians tend to find adjacent positions to shift to that voters already hold.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            How about (Republican percentage in the 11 ex-Confederate states) – (Republican percentage nationwide) as a metric?

            1952: -7.1%
            1956: -8.5%
            1960: -3.6%
            1964: +10.2%
            1968: -8.8%
            1972: +8.9%
            1976: -3.3%
            1980: +0.7%
            1984: +3.6%
            1988: +4.9%
            1992: +5.2%
            1996: +5.4%
            2000: +6.4%
            2004: +7.2%
            2008: +6.9%
            2012: +6.4%
            2016: +6.1%

          • @David Friedman:
            No. I immediately conceded that point, as I have already pointed this out multiple times to cassander, that the Carter map is the last time that map works for the Dems.

            Your response to my pointing out that your assertion, which I quoted, was false, was:

            Yea, Carter is the last gasp of the old map. Cassander and I have been through this a time or two.

            …[Stuff about how the South stopped being solidly Democratic]

            Get your facts rights.

            Nowhere in there do I see “what I wrote was an overstatement, but …”

            You could hardly deny that Carter carried the South, given that Virginia was the only southern state that didn’t vote for him. But I don’t count the sequence:

            (you)

            A and B are true

            (me)

            A is false

            (you)

            A is false, as I have told someone else in the past, B is true, get your facts right

            As conceding any error at all.

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            So it seems that the permanent Republican bias started around the time of Reagan. Didn’t Reagan change the Republican party and make it the ‘small government’ party?

            My provisional conclusion is that this change aligned the Republican party more with the values of the south.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Paul Z:
            Note that in 68 those votes did not return to the Dems, they went to Wallace, the pro-segregation candidate.

            @Friedman:
            I said “get your facts right” merely to echo what you said to me. It seems uncharitable to object to it now. I made clear this a long running conversation over many threads. You seem to think I must recapitulate the entire argument each time I respond to him.

            Again, the fact that you want to pick this one nit, and are resistant to engaging your faculties on the actual question, should tell you something.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Skiverrus:

            pinning the shift there on Nixon specifically seems slightly backwards to me,

            I am not pinning the shift on Nixon. If that was your impression, it’s probably merely because we are arguing more about when the shift happened (as a proxy for why).

            The Southern Strategy was what you described, Nixon modulating his message to attempt to appeal to Southern voters.

            No, the cause of shift was the desire of the Southern Democrats to remain segregated. The Dixiecrat party, which won several of those states in ’48, ran on a platform of a commitment to segregation. The South was increasingly uncomfortable with the progressiveness of the Democratic coalition on civil rights. When the Civil Rights act passed in 1964, and is signed by a Democratic president, this catalyzes their presidential voting actions.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            That data a) doesn’t go back far enough as you really need to see these vote differentials back to 1880, and b) doesn’t show what you are thinking it shows.

            In 1960 a number of Southern electors refused to cast their votes for Kennedy. That -3.6 isn’t a baseline number but reflects the already ongoing split (and the fact that Kennedy is the first Catholic president).

            In 1964 the South goes Republican and votes for Goldwater when the entire rest of the country votes Johnson. They had not voted Republican before, as I already showed (1 out of 126).

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje: By drawing the line in 1980 instead of 1964, you leave out:
            a) Jimmy Carter, Georgian peanut farmer;
            b) an election where most of the South was won by an independent candidate; and
            c) the two strongest showings for the Republican party in the history of the South (by Paul’s metric).

            It is unclear why a) and b) should outweigh c), particularly given that the independent candidate in question in b) was a segregationist, campaigning on exactly the issues that HBC is claiming were behind the Southern shift. Jimmy Carter is an outlier, sure, but it seems wilfully blind to look at Paul’s numbers between 1952 and 1972 and say “well, looks like the big changes all started in 1980”.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            By drawing the line in 1980 instead of 1964, you leave out:
            a) Jimmy Carter, Georgian peanut farmer;
            b) an election where most of the South was won by an independent candidate; and
            c) the two strongest showings for the Republican party in the history of the South (by Paul’s metric).

            Are A and B not evidence against the southern strategy being hugely important? Clearly that strategy wasn’t a very strong tactic by Republicans if it got defeated by a guy with the right accent and guy who was more racist than the Republicans. The latter is especially damning for the accusation that Republicans got a lot of support due to a racist platform and catered strongly to racist defectors from the Democrats, since George Wallace clearly didn’t consider the Republicans racist enough and a lot of voters with him.

            What I see in the data is the south leaning Democrat until ~1964. Then it starts going all over the place for about two decades. This pattern makes it look like the Democrats lost support in the south, but that the Republicans were only able to consistently capitalize on this from Reagan on.

            Now, in a two-party system, there are always a whole bunch of topics where one party is slightly more X and the other party a little less. Politicians typically like to cater to various groups by appealing to their biases. So it’s certainly not surprising if politicians try to appeal to racists as well, not even necessarily by being explicitly racist, but by appealing to their core concerns (like law-and-order). But when using that tactic, you are appealing to a much larger group than just racists.

            For me, it looks like tarnishing a huge block of people when the assumption is made that the voters who respond to statements that are liked by racists, are all racists.

            For example, take the Wiki page on the southern strategy. It says:

            Reagan’s campaigns used racially coded rhetoric, making attacks on the “welfare state” and leveraging resentment towards affirmative action.

            So here, favoring small government and pure meritocracy are called racist. This is bad logic. I’m sure that it is true that racists oppose the welfare state and AA more than non-racists. However, there are plenty of non-racist reasons to oppose these.

            If you are going to play this game, then you also need to do it the other way around. For example, communists surely are more in favor of the welfare state than non-communists. So by ‘dog-whistle’ logic, the Democrats were catering to communists and their electoral successes in the north were because they catered to a large number of American communists.

            If you agree that this is bad logic and that, while the welfare state is favored by communists, it is also favored by a far larger group of moderates; then you also have to concede that the right wing ‘dog whistles’ may similarly just appeal to a lot of people who simply feel more strongly about self-sufficiency and the like.

            So I don’t see how you can declare with certainty that appealing to racists earned the Republicans so many votes that it can be declared as the primary reason for the eventual solid ‘redness’ of the south.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            You might want to read about what comprised the Southern Strategy.

            Nixon’s advisers recognized that they could not appeal directly to voters on issues of white supremacy or racism. White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman noted that Nixon “emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognized this while not appearing to.”

            The consequential thing is the embrace of civil rights, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, Nixon is not creating the conditions that split the Democratic coalition, he is simply recognizing and exploiting it.

            For 1976 one has to consider that fact that Nixon resigned in order not to be the only president ever impeached (and likely convicted and removed from office anyway). Ford pardons Nixon which is highly controversial. He hadn’t even been on the ticket in 1972 and was appointed VP because Agnew resigned for tax-evasion. So many things were working against Ford in ’76.

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje:

            1964: +10.2%
            1968: -8.8%
            1972: +8.9%

            In the three elections following the Civil Rights Act, the South was dramatically Republican, then dramatically racist, then dramatically Republican again. The success of George Wallace is a good indication that, at that point of the 60s, race relations were the dominant issue in Southern politics. The Republican success before and after George Wallace is a good indication that they were capturing the same crowd. George Wallace didn’t run in 1964 or 1972, but it’s not a giant leap to conclude that the swing towards Wallace and the swing towards the Republicans might be related, particularly if, as HBC says, you stop looking at numbers and start looking at the things that people were actually saying at the time.

            In any case, it is crystal clear that something was happening in the South in the 60s and 70s. Jimmy Carter is an outlier, sure, but the existence of one outlier doesn’t mean that you can throw away all previous data points. Republican control of the South does not originate with Reagan.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            You could make a case that we would get a better view by looking at the relative Democratic vote shares than the Republican. I chose to go with the latter because the OP attributed it all to Republican machinations, so it made sense to look specifically at how the changes benefit them. 1968 is a case in point, since moving votes from Humphrey to Wallace didn’t do much of anything for the GOP: had the election been closer in the rest of the country, the winner would have been chosen by the Democrat-controlled House.

            We should all be able to agree, based on the data, that if we insist on treating the entire time series as the working of a single process then Nixon didn’t have much of anything to do with it. It’s also clearly false to say that the South was solid for the Democrats until the 1990s, or even the 1980s– though that still leaves room to argue (as I would, and Aapje appears to be doing) that today’s Republican dominance in the South is the result of a separate process, one that began with Reagan, and doesn’t necessarily have anything in particular to do with race. (Any attempt to explain away Southern willingness to vote for the peanut farmer from Georgia has to be compatible with their later unwillingness to do the same for the glad-hander from Arkansas.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Paul Zrimsek:
            You are starting your data series after the start of the process. The President’s Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 is the beginning. You would need to look at Southern Democratic vote shares from 1880 through 1948 to get a real sense of what is going on.

            Can you tell me where you got/generated that data?

            ETA:

            I chose to go with the latter because the OP attributed it all to Republican machinations

            As I have explained already, I did not do this. I make no such claim. I claim that the Republican consciously targeted the votes of disgruntled Southern segregationists, not that they caused them to be disgruntled.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I was not arguing that Nixon didn’t use this strategy. My argument is that the evidence is weak that this caused most or all of the shift to the Republicans, especially post-Reagan.

            I’m not even arguing that it isn’t true. I’m saying that the evidence presented so far is quite weak.

            It really feels like a convenient simplification to avoid responsibility: ‘we couldn’t help losing the southern vote, they are just degenerates who can’t be reasoned with.’

            It’s the same reasoning we saw around the most recent election about Trump supporters.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            I got the numbers by taking the vote totals for each election from Wikipedia and running them through a spreadsheet. At the time I got them, 1952 was the earliest election mentioned in this subthread. It could be done for earlier years, but I don’t know what that would tell us that we don’t already know. I haven’t seen anyone denying that the giant spike in 1964 was a reaction to the CRA, unless you count the guy who’s bizarrely denying that it happened at all.

            The OP I was referring to was ‘Progressive Reformation’, who brought the matter up in the first place.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:

            It really feels like a convenient simplification to avoid responsibility: ‘we couldn’t help losing the southern vote, they are just degenerates who can’t be reasoned with.’

            Look, I never, at any time, used those words. Nor will I.

            But you now force me to ask this question:
            Do you accept that the reason for the shift was the move towards civil rights and, ultimately, the elimination of legal segregation?

          • @Friedman:
            I said “get your facts right” merely to echo what you said to me.

            After you had asserted a fact that was demonstrably false and I had responded with a collection of facts that were true. You don’t have to recapitulate your argument with someone else every time the topic comes up. But it would be nice if you avoided making false statements in support of that argument.

            The South stopped voting D for president in 64, after the CRA passed, and that has been consistent. They either voted R or for the one open white segregation candidate ( Wallace).

            was a false statement, since in an election after 64 the South went for the Democratic candidate. “Consistent” was your word.

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje:

            I’m not even arguing that it isn’t true. I’m saying that the evidence presented so far is quite weak.

            Perhaps, then, you should take a moment to go look up evidence on your own?

            The concept of the Southern Strategy is not HBC’s quixotic crusade. It is a generally accepted phenomenon among historians / political scientists, with some quibbling around the edges about the best way to characterize it. There are a multitude of corroborating statements from contemporary Republicans. Take, for example, this 1970 quote from Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips:

            From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats

            This is not difficult information to find.

            @David Friedman:
            Everybody who is reading this conversation is well aware that Carter is an exception to the pattern. HBC has, in other contexts, explicitly pointed out Carter as an exception to the overall trend, but failed to do so in this case. He has acknowledged this fact several times. Everybody is clear on this point. You win. The horse is dead. You can stop beating it.

            Now, would you care to stop picking nits and comment on the broader question?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Paul Z:
            Where did you get regional totals? I can’t seem to google fu my way to that information.

            unless you count the guy who’s bizarrely denying that it happened at all.

            Do you mean cassander? Because this whole conversation is essentially about his contention.So your point seems weird given that we don’t seem to have any sort of blanket agreement that cassander is wrong.

            ETA:
            As to Progressive Reformation’s point, if the Republican party had chosen to shun the segregationists, rather than embrace them, we might have seen very different voting patterns going forward. The conscious decision to court these segregationist voters is well documented, the fact that they also then got these votes would seem to be a point in favor of the idea that the Nixon, Reagan, et. al. succeeded in their aim.

          • Now, would you care to stop picking nits and comment on the broader question?

            No. I’m not interested in the broader question.

            I object to people making statements that are not true. I object more when the response to my pointing it out is not “oops, I was wrong about that, but …” but instead “Yes, fact X isn’t true, get your facts right.”

            To see the conversation from my side, imagine that it was about a clearer and less political issue:

            Cassander: “All odd numbers are prime.”

            HBC: “That’s nonsense, as I have pointed out before. There are lots of odd numbers that are not prime, such as seven and nine.

            Me: “What you wrote isn’t true. Seven is prime.”

            HBC: “Seven is prime, as I have mentioned in past exchanges with Cassander. But nine isn’t. Get your facts right.”

            The difference between “after 1964 the South consistently voted Republican” and “in 1972 all but one southern state went for the Democratic candidate” is not a nit.

            Concern with whether what people say is true isn’t nit picking.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The difference between “after 1964 the South consistently voted Republican” and “in 1972 all but one southern state went for the Democratic candidate” is not a nit.

            Ahem.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Where did you get regional totals? I can’t seem to google fu my way to that information.

            I couldn’t either. I ended up pasting the entire Wiki state-by-state tables into Excel, deleting the lines for the non-southern states, and then having it figure the percentages. You begin to see why I didn’t want to go all the way back to 1880!

            While what Cassander is saying is literally false, I think there’s an important truth buried in it, which is that Republican domination in the South today owes almost nothing to the civil rights battles, and almost everything to the white-on-white Culture Wars of the 1980s and later. It appears to be eroding now– hard to explain, on the racial model, why this should have begun to happen in 2008, of all years.

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman:

            From the outside, the conversation looks a lot more like this:

            HBC: Prime numbers are all odd. Therefore, the Sieve of Sundaram is an effective way to find prime numbers.
            David Friedman: But 2 is prime! Get your facts right!
            HBC: Yes, there is a single exception, which has to be handled separately. The Sieve of Sundaram is still a valid mechanism for finding prime numbers. Get your facts right!
            David Friedman: I am not interested in whether the Sieve of Sundaram works. You claimed that all prime numbers are odd.
            HBC: Yes, and that was careless of me, but it doesn’t diminish my actual point, which was about the Sieve of Sundaram. I am arguing that the Sieve of Sundaram is capable of finding all prime numbers other than 2, up to a given integer. Do you disagree? If not, why do you keep pestering me about this?
            David Friedman: Because 2 is prime!
            HBC: Yes, and I immediately conceded that point. I have mentioned it several times in the past, too. My argument about the Sieve of Sundaram does not rely on 2 being composite. Do you have anything useful to say about the Sieve of Sundaram?
            David Friedman: You keep dismissing my objection. Why won’t you say that 2 is prime?
            Iain: EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT 2 IS PRIME.
            David Friedman: The difference between all prime numbers being odd and 2 being an even prime number is not a nit.

            You have correctly pointed out that one thing HBC said was false. HBC has conceded as much. However, you have repeatedly declined to comment on whether that falsehood is materially relevant to his broader claims about the Southern Strategy. Whether or not something counts as nit-picking depends on the context of the conversation. If you are not willing to engage with the rest of the conversation, then — like it or not — you’re nit-picking.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You have correctly pointed out that one thing HBC said was false.

            It’s even worse. I said “The South stopped voting D for president in 64 … and that has been consistent.”

            That isn’t even false.

            If I say “AZ has consistently voted Republican since 1952”, that wouldn’t be false, despite Clinton in 1996, it would just be incomplete.

            ETA:
            I’m still waiting to see whether Friedman corrects the statement he made that is false.

          • cassander says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            How about (Republican percentage in the 11 ex-Confederate states) – (Republican percentage nationwide) as a metric?

            you need to look at the average percentage in the non-southern sates, not the country as a whole. and those numbers i discuss above. You also have to account for the Dixiecrats who are manifestly not republicans.

            @HBC

            The consequential thing is the embrace of civil rights, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, Nixon is not creating the conditions that split the Democratic coalition, he is simply recognizing and exploiting it.

            He’s exploiting it…..by signing a civil rights act? that’s the opposite of how you’d exploit it.

            So many things were working against Ford in ’76.

            Funny how they worked against him so much better in the south than anywhere else in the country, but that data is clearly irrelevant.

            @ian

            In any case, it is crystal clear that something was happening in the South in the 60s and 70s. Jimmy Carter is an outlier, sure, but the existence of one outlier doesn’t mean that you can throw away all previous data points. Republican control of the South does not originate with Reagan.

            The whole point is Carter ISN’T an outlier. you can’t just call data you don’t like an outlier. Carter fits in perfectly with the pre-64 trend. The south is more democratic/dicxiecratic than the rest of the country in all but 2 elections from 1948 to 1988. It’s more republican in every election from 2000 onward. in 92 and 96, it’s both more republican and more democratic. There is clearly a shift, but it takes place in the 90s, not the 60s. the 60s are, at the absolute most, the first inklings of a future shift, it is not the end of the story

            @Paul

            It’s also clearly false to say that the South was solid for the Democrats until the 1990s, or even the 1980s– though that still leaves room to argue

            I didn’t say “solid”, I said “more democratic than republican”, which is inarguable.

            While what Cassander is saying is literally false

            ,

            What you’re saying I’m saying is false. But it’s not what I actually said.

            If you want to continue this, bring it to the open thread.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The following data is from this google sheet pointed to by this article:

            The column I have as Nat. Diff is, if I am interpreting correctly, the difference in the Southern vote (all 14 states) vs. the national vote in terms of Dem vs. Republican.

            | Year | --D- | --R- | Othr | Nat. Diff |
            | 2016 | 42.5 | 53.1 | 02.7 | R+ | 07.0 |
            | 2012 | 44.3 | 54.4 | 00.0 | R+ | 07.0 |
            | 2008 | 45.7 | 53.2 | 00.0 | R+ | 08.0 |
            | 2004 | 42.0 | 57.2 | 00.0 | R+ | 06.0 |
            | 2000 | 43.2 | 54.5 | 01.3 | R+ | 06.0 |
            | 1996 | 46.0 | 45.9 | 07.3 | R+ | 05.0 |
            | 1992 | 41.2 | 42.4 | 16.0 | R+ | 04.0 |
            | 1988 | 41.3 | 57.9 | 00.0 | R+ | 04.0 |
            | 1984 | 37.2 | 62.3 | 00.0 | R+ | 03.0 |
            | 1980 | 44.4 | 51.6 | 03.0 | D+ | 02.0 |
            | 1976 | 53.9 | 44.9 | 00.0 | D+ | 03.0 |
            | 1972 | 29.3 | 69.2 | 00.0 | R+ | 08.0 |
            | 1968 | 32.2 | 36.1 | 31.5 | R+ | 02.0 |
            | 1964 | 51.9 | 46.6 | 00.0 | R+ | 09.0 |
            | 1960 | 49.6 | 47.6 | 02.8 | D+ | 01.0 |
            | 1956 | 47.2 | 50.2 | 02.6 | D+ | 06.0 |
            | 1952 | 51.1 | 48.8 | 00.0 | D+ | 07.0 |
            | 1948 | 53.0 | 30.8 | 16.1 | D+ | 11.0 |
            | 1944 | 66.2 | 31.6 | 00.0 | D+ | 14.0 |
            | 1940 | 70.8 | 29.1 | 00.0 | D+ | 16.0 |
            | 1936 | 73.5 | 26.0 | 00.0 | D+ | 11.0 |
            | 1932 | 73.3 | 26.0 | 00.5 | D+ | 15.0 |
            | 1928 | 47.1 | 52.5 | 00.0 | D+ | 06.0 |
            | 1924 | 58.0 | 36.3 | 05.4 | D+ | 27.0 |
            | 1920 | 54.7 | 42.0 | 01.4 | D+ | 20.0 |
            | 1916 | 63.4 | 31.9 | 03.2 | D+ | 15.0 |
            | 1912 | 59.0 | 18.1 | 22.1 | D+ | 12.0 |
            | 1908 | 57.9 | 38.1 | 02.1 | D+ | 15.0 |
            | 1904 | 59.9 | 35.9 | 00.8 | D+ | 23.0 |
            | 1900 | 58.0 | 39.5 | 00.0 | D+ | 13.0 |
            | 1896 | 59.5 | 38.6 | 00.0 | D+ | 13.0 |
            | 1892 | 56.6 | 28.6 | 13.7 | D+ | 15.0 |
            | 1888 | 58.9 | 38.5 | 00.0 | D+ | 10.0 |
            | 1884 | 58.2 | 40.9 | 00.0 | D+ | 08.0 |
            | 1880 | 58.7 | 37.9 | 03.2 | D+ | 11.0 |

          • HeelBearCub says:

            A couple of things to note about the table above:
            – There is no point before 1964 where Republicans outpace their national performance in the South.
            – There are only two times after (Carter in ’76 and ’80) where they do not, but these are small (2 and 3 points) compared to the double digits common before 1948.
            – The two smallest Dem tilts before Carter are 1960 and 1928, when a Catholic is on top of the Democratic ticket.

          • @Iain:

            Yes, and that was careless of me

            I do not believe that HBC made any statement equivalent to that in the thread, certainly not in his initial response.

            @HBC:

            con·sist·ent
            kənˈsistənt/
            adjective
            adjective: consistent

            acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.
            “the parents are being consistent and firm in their reactions”
            unchanging in nature, standard, or effect over time.

            Further, you wrote:

            They either voted R or for the one open white segregation candidate ( Wallace).

            Not “they usually voted for.”

            You conceded that Carter carried the South. You did not concede that you had written something that was not true–as you have just demonstrated by arguing that what you wrote was consistent with Carter carrying the South.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Carter also won GA in 1980. Clinton won multiple states in the South and the Deep South in 1992 and 1996. Obama won NC once and VA, FL twice. HRC won VA.

            None of which makes my original statement incorrect, merely incomplete. Compare the EC results of Dems to Republicans in the South before 1964 and after and you will see a demonstrable and remarkable shift. If you look at vote margins and 3rd party results, you can see the slide beginning in 1948.

            I have now provided a great deal of data, but seemingly you are refusing to look at it and evaluate it.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You’re (A) leaving out the dixiecrats from the democrat total, (B) counting the southern average against the national average, not the average in the non-southern states. You are, in effect, double counting southern votes, and since the rest of the country was more republican than the south in the period in question, artificially lowering how republican it looks. You’re also counting oklahoma as a southern state, for some reason.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander: That kind of double counting doesn’t matter as we are concerned about change over time. The Dem advantage before 1964 would look even bigger, and the 1964 result would look even more stark in comparison.

            The Strom Thurmond vote, like the William Wallace vote, is confirmation of the theory that segregation is what drove the split, not a repudiation of it.

            I agree that it’s slightly weird that the Kos spreadsheet includes Oklahoma as part of the South. But then again the Census Bureau classifies it as such.

            Removing it would generally make things look worse for you as they voted R from 52 forward, except in 1964, when they voted D. It’s going to slightly accentuate the 1964 result. Carter’s Dem results would look slightly better though. I’d be surprised if it made any appreciable difference though, as OK is too small to really move the needle on its own.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            From the outside, the conversation looks a lot more like this:

            From the point of view of this outsider, the conversation looks like HBC making a false statement, getting called out on it, and then doubling down and throwing a load of needless belligerence at anyone who disagreed with him.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Original Mr. X:
            I’ve been belligerent towards Friedman, as I am returning in kind what he offered to me.

            I called cassander’s statement BS because it is (and because he keeps repeating it).

          • baconbacon says:

            @ Ian,

            That seems hyperbolic. The number of presidential elections post WW2 is far fewer than then number of primes. Considering that the counter argument is that the split occurred in the 90s you basically have 1/5 elected presidents bucking the trend, with a couple of others being inconclusive since they won with such broad representation.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I’ve been belligerent towards Friedman, as I am returning in kind what he offered to me.

            None of David Friedman’s comments on this subthread have been in any way belligerent. You, on the other hand, are coming across very strongly as an ideologue who can’t accept disagreement on his pet theory.

            I called cassander’s statement BS because it is (and because he keeps repeating it).

            Cassander’s statement is less obviously BS than your claim that the South consistently voted Republican after 1964.

    • Null42 says:

      Tribalism works in politics. The Republicans do it too. It hijacks the reptile brain pretty effectively. Long-term, practicing it will destroy a diverse country like ours.

  41. The Element of Surprise says:

    As far as I experienced it from across the pond, there seemed to have been lots of emotional campaigning from the Democrats as well? Remember “deplorables”, Trump-is-an-Antisemite, “alt-right” everywhere etc. Is this an article about how Hillary just happened to be a less charismatic candidate than Trump (which almost didn’t matter), or do Democrats actually use less appeal to emotion when campaigning for positions in lower levels of government?

    • pdbarnlsey says:

      I don’t know that “my opponent’s campaign manager is one of the key members of a borderline-Nazi movement” is, strictly speaking, an emotional appeal. It kind of goes to policy as well. You might expect an alt-right-influenced regime to have particular attitudes to even legal immigration, for example, or towards commemorating the holocaust.

      • Progressive Reformation says:

        Categorizing Bannon as anything even approaching a Nazi is absurd. Ergo, total emotional appeal.

        Now, alt-right is a valid label for Bannon, and you might rightly (see what I did? … I’ll see myself out) expect certain things regarding immigration. As for commemorating the Holocaust, (a) I don’t think the US government’s commemoration of it is a serious issue, and (b) given that Trump has Jewish grandchildren, I don’t see why there is any reason to worry regardless.

        • Null42 says:

          I agree American Jews are probably going to be OK at least through the end of the Trump administration (unless WW3 starts, in which case they will be blown up with everyone else). Even Bannon’s antisemitism is basically based on a report in a divorce trial, where both parties can be expected to make the other look as awful as possible.

          The thing IMHO is that (a) Jews are pretty nervous about another Holocaust given that a previously benign government suddenly snapped and killed 6 million of them–think about what that does to your risk-benefit calculus (b) Trump isn’t a Nazi, but a small, loud minority of his supporters like to alternate between saying the Holocaust never happened but it was a great thing that it did, and sending prominent Jews death threats and pictures of them and their children photoshopped into death camps (c) there’s a general feeling if you read the left-leaning Jewish periodicals like the Forward, Tikkun, etc. that a general rise in racism against other groups will also lead to antisemitism which seems to be somewhat borne out by the rise in incidents even after you subtract hoaxes like that Israeli guy making computer-generated bomb threats.

          Bannon ironically isn’t considered true alt-right because he hasn’t openly argued for a racialized politics–you may remember his plans involved getting 30-40% of the minority vote. (His lack of overt antisemitism also annoys those guys.) He’s more into clash of civilizations and being against Islam and globalization.

          • abc says:

            but a small, loud minority of his supporters like to alternate between saying the Holocaust never happened but it was a great thing that it did,

            A significantly larger minority of Democratic supporters also do this, but they tend to be Muslims so pointing this out is “Islamophobic”.

            there’s a general feeling if you read the left-leaning Jewish periodicals like the Forward, Tikkun, etc. that a general rise in racism against other groups will also lead to antisemitism

            Except the other groups in question tend to themselves be much much more anti-semitic than whites while not suffering from white-guilt.

            which seems to be somewhat borne out by the rise in incidents even after you subtract hoaxes like that Israeli guy making computer-generated bomb threats.

            Except most of the actual bomb threats tend to be made by people who are some combination of liberal, black, and/or Muslim.

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            @ Null42

            You’re right that many Jews are worried about another Holocaust, though your point about a “previously benign government” puzzles me. The Nazis were quite open about their anti-semitism, obviously, and I don’t think you can count the pre-1932 Weimar government as “the same government”. The NSDAP took over the government, not the other way around.

            I’m half-Jewish, and I’m personally also afraid. But it is neither Trump nor Bannon that scares me, it’s the so-called Social Justice movement. If that sounds weird, let me explain: (a) the SJ movement, while it claims to be anti-racist, is obviously willing to be extremely racist as long as its targets are considered “privileged”; (b) according to the SJ theory-of-the-world, if one group does better than another it can only be due to some sort of oppressive force exerted by the former onto the latter; (c) it is really hard to not notice the insanely high proportion of Jews in finance, the media, Hollywood, higher education, government, etc. There seems to be a concerted effort to divert attention from this extremely obvious fact, which is understandable but very counterproductive in my view as it reinforces the “conspiracy” angle of the whole thing.

            Put (a), (b), and (c) together run them through the computer. Add in things like the Nation of Islam and its links to many Social-Justice / Civil Rights icons (e.g. Jesse Jackson), or the Crown Heights Riot. The results aren’t pretty.

            Also, abc is right insofar as most so-called antisemitic incidents post-Trump have been hoaxes or misunderstandings (like how this guy was actually trying to make an anti-Trump statement).

          • Brad says:

            I’m half-Jewish, and I’m personally also afraid [of a second holocaust]. But it is neither Trump nor Bannon that scares me, it’s the so-called Social Justice movement. If that sounds weird, let me explain:

            Anywhere else it would be weird and require some reasonable explanation. Here it is entirely expected.

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            Just a quick clarification @ Brad: I’m not afraid of “a second Holocaust” per se, but of pogrom-style antisemitic violence. I don’t think America, as a State, will ever reach the necessary levels of organized antisemitism to create a new Holocaust. But it seems plausible that less-successful communities (not even minority communities, necessarily) might blame the Jews for their problems and vent their resentment in violent outbreaks (bolstered by the quasi-Fanonian elements of the theory of Social Justice, which can absolve violence). The Crown Heights Riot is the clearest example of this dynamic at work (against Jews, at least) in the US.

            PS. Also, I’m not quite sure if you mean that in a good way or bad way. Care to clarify?

          • Aapje says:

            He means it in a bad way.

            Anti-SJ voices are common here. Brad disapproves (at least to how the objections are expressed).

          • Brad says:

            But it seems plausible that less-successful communities (not even minority communities, necessarily) might blame the Jews for their problems and vent their resentment in violent outbreaks (bolstered by the quasi-Fanonian elements of the theory of Social Justice, which can absolve violence). The Crown Heights Riot is the clearest example of this dynamic at work (against Jews, at least) in the US.

            I was living in NY during the Crown Heights Riots and am very familiar with them. They had nothing at all to do with the social justice boogieman, if for no other reason than because it hadn’t yet been invented in 1991.

            They were the result of very local issues. Not Jews more generally or any kind of larger antisemitism but specifically as a result of tensions between the insular Lubuvich community that had (and has) a lot of political muscle in Brooklyn politics and the other residents of the neighborhood.

            Getting from there to:

            I’m half-Jewish, and I’m personally also afraid. But it is neither Trump nor Bannon that scares me, it’s the so-called Social Justice movement.

            is only possible via motivated or otherwise broken reasoning. Which as I mentioned is unfortunately common around here when it comes to the hated enemy.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            @Brad Do regular attacks on Jewish students on campuses under the guise of “struggle for Palestinian rights” or whatever (most of these attackers btw have no idea what are those “Palestinian rights” anyway) be legitimate cause of concern? Would be regular occurrence of Jewish students being questioned of double loyalty and considered unfit for various student government positions on account of being Jewish? Would be the regular and recurring theme on Israel-bashing on completely unrelated events such as BLM or student-administration conflict on some campus be a cause of concern?

            It seems that for the left, Israel-bashing has become sign of general virtue, and since they usually have no Israelis to attack in general vicinity, they attack the Jews they can access, so it’s usually just Jew-bashing.

            See e.g. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitism-is-the-new-social-justice/ or https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/04/24/the-hotbed-of-anti-semitism-isnt-a-foreign-country-but-u-s-college-campuses-report-says/ or http://david-collier.com/psc-riddled-antisemitism/

            So as a Jewish person, I am not afraid of Bannon who publicly denies he is an antisemite, or Trump, who never showed any antisemitic behavior. I am afraid of people who publicly insult, shun, shame and sometimes plain beat up Jews, publicly and consistently deny the right of my state to exist, publicly proclaim their desire to destroy it and who are completely accepted by their political peers. I think this reasoning makes a lot of sense.

          • abc says:

            They had nothing at all to do with the social justice boogieman, if for no other reason than because it hadn’t yet been invented in 1991.

            The term wasn’t in use that way back then, but the underlying movement has roots going back at least a century. Heck Alinsky published his Rules for Radicals in 1971, and he was already part of a long established movement.

          • Brad says:

            I am afraid of people who publicly insult, shun, shame and sometimes plain beat up Jews, publicly and consistently deny the right of my state to exist, publicly proclaim their desire to destroy it and who are completely accepted by their political peers.

            You and your country ought to be ashamed of yourself for constantly conflating Israel and the Jewish people. You are in a bootleggers and baptists coalition with American and European antisemites who like to do the same thing. Israel isn’t the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not Israel. Being Jewish does not mean being a supporter of Israel (and in particular its current government) and being a supporter of Israel does not mean being Jewish.

            We American Jews are more than capable of taking care of ourselves and don’t need you to be afraid on our behalf. After all American college kids aren’t going to travel to travel to Israel to beat you up.

            Maybe you should instead redirect that empathy towards the people you are disenfranchising and subjecting to military law.

            The term wasn’t in use that way back then, but the underlying movement has roots going back at least a century. Heck Alinsky published his Rules for Radicals in 1971, and he was already part of a long established movement.

            I hear it all goes back to the Knights Templar by way of the Masons.

          • Null42 says:

            There seems to be at least in part some disagreement over whether there is more genuine threat to American Jews from the left or right. Historically I would have guessed right. The alt-right crowd seems to be keeping the tradition up. But with the rise of what I’m going to call genuine anti-white prejudice (and anyone is invited to disagree with me) on the SJ left, I am not so sure anymore.

        • pdbarnlsey says:

          Progressive,

          I spent the trip to work wishing I’d written “borderline-fascist” rather than “borderline-nazi”, so please accept that substitution, for what it’s worth. I’ll happily defend the former.

          The way I had chosen to do that is to cleverly pick policies which Bannon has actually already influenced since coming to power, since that’s a powerful validation of policy-based concerns that he might do these kinds of things if he came to power.

          So Trump’s Jewish grandchildren did not, in fact, prevent the Trump/Bannon white house from deleting all reference to Jews from their holocaust commemoration and then repeatedly standing by that decision.

          He also apparently personally pushed for the inclusion of permanent residents and green card holders in the first iteration of the muslim travel ban. Also, the muslim travel ban.

          You can support those policies, but “whiff of fascism” seems like a reasonable characterisation of them, particularly with their coming in the first 30 days of the Trump/Bannon administration.

          So anyone worried about Bannon on policies grounds looks to have been justified, provided you’ve been paying attention to the things he’s already done

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            Ok, I will accept the substitution. I still think you’re wrong.

            Fascism is a very particular system, combining the following: nationalism; a reverence for traditional values; a fascination with highly centralized leadership by strongmen; placing all aspects of life in service to the state; and an aggressive imperialist / revanchist foreign policy. Bannon has the first two but not the last three, as he favors an isolationist foreign policy (going so far as to gut the entire State Department) and the deconstruction of the “administrative state”.

            Bannon is unquestionably a “nationalist”, and so was Mussolini. But Elizabeth Warren is a “socialist”, and so was Lenin.

            PS. Regarding the administration “deleting all reference to Jews from their holocaust commemoration and then repeatedly standing by that decision“, I’m Jewish and I honestly didn’t care (not that my opinion is necessarily typical). This doesn’t strike me as particularly Fascist either.

          • Aapje says:

            @pdbarnley

            So Trump’s Jewish grandchildren did not, in fact, prevent the Trump/Bannon white house from deleting all reference to Jews from their holocaust commemoration and then repeatedly standing by that decision.

            Isn’t this a matter of starting with a narrative and then interpreting facts in that light?

            Imagine that Obama would have done that. Then the interpretation would have been that he’s open-minded and inclusive to gays, Roma, Sinti, etc.

          • Null42 says:

            Motivated reasoning is very hard to avoid. As I recall (and I am 125% sure there are people here better versed in this than me), we evolved to argue points as social animals to further our interests, not to seek truth, so it’s kind of a rational irrational behavior. 😉

  42. The conclusion seems to be that you should be honest in your published work, which will be read mostly by members of your team, demagogic in your advertising, targeted at everyone else.

    One risk to this policy is that the other side will read your publications and quote them as part of their advertising. I’m thinking of the case of Jonathan Gruber who, speaking to a presumably sophisticated and friendly audience, openly admitted that Obamacare had been presented in a deliberately dishonest fashion in order to get it passed.

    The speech was recorded. And used by the opposition.

    • Dabbler says:

      David Friedman- What about simply trying to present things in the manner of rational argument, completely avoid emotion, and self-censoring anything which sounds like the opposition could use it against you? That seems to work a lot better.

      • Jacob says:

        That’s impossible. Censoring “anything the opposition could use” means removing a substantial amount of information on any topic. Only by a very limited (and useless) definition could that be considered a rational argument. Plus then you get accused of censorship (rightfully in this case) which people don’t like either.

      • That might be the least bad approach, but the censoring part is hard. How do you make honest arguments, within the movement, for your position when one of the important arguments is one that is, or can be portrayed as, politically unacceptable to some significant block of voters? It’s not as if every public intellectual and every involved politician has a censor filtering everything he says or writes.

        • 1soru1 says:

          The Chinese Communist party apparently does a reasonable job of this. Unlike virtual every other non-democracy, the party cadres do actually get to discuss and examine alternatives. But those discussions rarely leak.

          Doing the same in a party without access to the death penalty as a political sanction may be a bit tricky.

      • lycotic says:

        @Dabbler

        “seems to work”? How? Game theory says that’s unstable.

    • onyomi says:

      Voters don’t like candidates who run on serious, detailed policy proposals. Voters don’t like incumbents who govern on the basis of vague emotional appeals and grand visions. They also don’t like people who say one thing and do another, or have a “public stance” and a “private stance.”

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        For an average voter, it is useless to consider detailed policy proposals, unless that particular voter happens to be an expert in the thing that is being proposed and has access to all relevant data (and time to process it all). For all others, it would be relatively easy to create a proposal that would look plausible (or even awesome – like “free stuff for all!”) but would end up in an utter disaster when implemented. And for an average voter, it is very hard to know one from another, if the proposal is not obviously idiotic (not that there’s not a plenty of those – some people can’t be bothered to even diligently try to fool the voters). We used to have people that we could rely on to honestly figure out such things for us and publish the results, or at least I heard rumors such people existed, and for a small sum of money you could buy a piece of paper where such results are printed. Now what we’re getting is mostly propaganda sprinkled with confirmation bias with a bunch of cherry-picked facts on top (unless you read scientific peer-reviewed press, which virtually nobody among average voters does, or could adequately make sense of it if they wanted to). There are “left” economists and “right” economists – doesn’t this say everything you need to know? When a scientific pursuit gets a political adjective, it’s time to get out, or at least drop pretense it’s about science anymore. Unless of course you can make sense of it under your own steam, which maybe Scott can, but vast majority of voters can’t.

        So what the voter does? The voter votes for a person that appears most likely to a) have preferences aligned with this voter’s preferences and b) be able to hire people that can implement those preferences. To know that, one needs no detailed proposals at all.

        They also don’t like people who say one thing and do another, or have a “public stance” and a “private stance.”

        Of course, see above, because that subverts the obvious strategy for detecting preferences. If you can’t figure out what are true preferences of the candidate, you keep out.

      • Deiseach says:

        Yes, but what voters expect is that on the stump you have the charismatic candidate with the grand unifying vision for what they hope to achieve in office, and the details of the policy will be worked out by the backroom staff who dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Voters also – or should, in my opinion – have a slightly cynical view of campaign promises as nothing more than sprats to catch a mackerel and that when in power, there will be an adjustment to the “chicken in every pot” promising.

        It’s a tricky balance between having an airy, all sizzle and no substance campaign message that the voters can see through as having no substance and having a dense, detailed, wonkish message that turns them off and bores them silly. But it can be done. Heck, even the vapid sloganeering can get you elected, as we see with Obama’s first campaign on “Hope and Change”. There’s nothing you could call a concrete policy initiative to get your teeth into there, and while a section of the media lost the run of themselves in dizzy paroxysms of delight and tingles down their legs, to be fair nobody wanted to kick the tyres because they wanted so hard to believe it could be so.

        If you take Obama’s nomination victory speech literally, he sounds like a fruitcake: his selection is what is going to make the sea levels stop rising? But if you take it as the kind of Great Message that is involved in campaign sloganeering, it works:

        Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

        So you send out your candidate with the soaring rhetoric, and you get the bright lads and lasses working on the nitty-gritty of the policy details, and you distill down those details into a digestible bullet-point list for the candidate to reel off in the TV debates.

        It’s not rocket science but it does take some fine-tuning. But it can be done, and it is being done. And if Hillary’s campaign couldn’t manage to do it, then they did fail not because of “it was the Russians, it was Comey, it was misogyny and sexism, it was the dog ate my homework”, it was their own failure.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t think it’s correct to “modulate” your message so much that it seems deceptive. If I wonkishly debate policy in some magazine, but yell about the rich on TV, it’s hard for someone to quote that in order to establish I’m lying.

      • How can you seriously discuss health care policy without conceding that there will always be some version of death panels, some mechanism that allocates a limited supply of medical resources with the result that some people die whose lives could have been saved with a different allocation?

        And once you have conceded that, in print or in front of a video recorder, how do you use death panel demagoguery to tar your opponent’s health care proposal? But he, never having conceded that, can use it to tar yours.

        Perhaps the solution is to divide your team in half. You have a bunch of intellectual types who openly and honestly debate all the issues and a bunch of politicians who pretend that the intellectuals in their team have no connection to them, so they can’t be held responsible for what those intellectuals say.

        • Spookykou says:

          It doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult to discuss almost every important aspect of health care/health care reform(in articles and magazines and behind closed doors etc) without speaking directly to death panels in a quotable way. I don’t think they are terrible important to the entire edifice of health care. All politicians give evasive answers, so you certainly don’t need to avoid them completely, have an evasive answer for death panels in the event that someone tries to call you out on it, and you are set.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            “How do you decide what procedures are and are not covered?” is not a tiny little detail about a health care system.

          • Spookykou says:

            I just assumed, maybe in error, that the fact in and of itself that we have to have a system to determine what procedures are and are not covered would not generate juicy soundbites about death panels. I also assumed the context in question was, ‘article about healthcare reform’ in which I would not think that the meaty details of exactly which old people we are going to let die needed to be included.

            Obviously the laws themselves would have to include damning details, but by the time drafts of bills are being torn apart, the election in question would already be over/by the time you are looking at drafts of bills, the playing field is leveled again, because both sides will have to include some version of your quoted bit.

          • Aapje says:

            @Edward

            And yet it is a question that smart politicians refuse to answer (as in: BS their way out of), because it only causes lost votes by people who are upset that they won’t get what they want, but no one who gets what they want will thank them for it.

          • Spookykou says:

            Agreed, I don’t think anyone should spend a lot of/any time speaking to it directly, I just didn’t think it would be that hard to ‘wonkishly debate policy in some magazine’, without speaking directly to it. I could be wrong on how pervasive it is in the system, or how hard it is to avoid speaking about it, I have no first hand knowledge of the issues in question here.

          • keranih says:

            @ Spookykou –

            (A note – you are once again showing why you are such a good addition to this space.)

            I would not think that the meaty details of exactly which old people we are going to let die needed to be included.

            “Exactly” which old people, no.

            But the whole reason we need to have this debate/why some people think we need da gubmit to fix the problem is to keep as many old people from dying as are currently doing so.

            It’s not to save kids, nor to keep working age people healthy. Those are not – not in any developed country – the primary drivers of health care cost. The primary cost is non-ER care of very aged people.

            Plus, the values of the USA being what they are, for any system, we’re going to take care of the kids and the workers first. So when we start cutting costs, it’s going to start with old people. Which ones will we let die while we decline to provide more care?

            (Note that we do let some die now – mostly homeless or solitary drunks with mental issues. These might be the same ones that would die under other systems, and they might not.)

            This is a choice that will have to be made. I don’t think we need to pre-commit to *exactly* which ones get let die, but we do need to a) acknowledge that the choice will be made and b) agree on who gets to make that choice.

            Right now, families with money can feel pretty sure that they won’t have Grannie’s care denied if the family is willing to foot the bill. Those families want assurances that the “free” health care doesn’t come with fine print that says someone else can decide to not foot the bill.

            And families with money are more likely to vote, call their rep, and scream at hospital administrators than people without money.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @keranih,

            Right now, families with money can feel pretty sure that they won’t have Grannie’s care denied if the family is willing to foot the bill. Those families want assurances that the “free” health care doesn’t come with fine print that says someone else can decide to not foot the bill.

            I don’t understand. How could that possibly be an issue? Surely nobody is proposing that private health care be criminalized?

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Surely nobody is proposing that private health care be criminalized?

            You mean, like it is in Canada?

          • Yes. No one is proposing that private healthcare be criminalised like it is in two Canadian provinces, and like it isn’t under every other public Healthcare system.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            I gather that the laws in question are being challenged, too. Nevertheless, the presence of such a law in a neighbouring country, no matter how much of a bizarre anomaly it is, nicely explains why it is an issue; I think the rationalist term is “availability heuristic”? Thanks.

          • keranih says:

            @ Harry –

            You seem to be under the impression that we can provide more healthcare to more people for less money than is currently being spent.

            In other words, you assume that moderately wealthy family Smith – who is currently paying a non-trivial amount to insure Grannie – will have more spare change laying around, after the taxes go into effect to pay for Whatevercare, than they do now, so they will be able to afford “extra” insurance to cover Grannie Smith for what medical care the state refuses to cover.

            Firstly, they won’t have extra money, they’ll have less. Secondly, they have figured out how to make the system work for them now, and Whatevercare will mean they’ll have to learn a new system.

            Thirdly, no one expects to love a government system in the USA. We know what government service looks like, when it’s provided by government workers who can’t be fired, who themselves have no authority to fire their under-performing workers, and who have to waste extraordinary amounts of time adhering to every regulation in the books, and we overwhelmingly prefer any sort of market alternative.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            @keranih, well, you should in principle be able to gain some efficiency overall by cutting the bulk of the insurance company’s profits out of the picture. Building at least some public hospitals rather than just subsidizing privately run ones might also help, for the same reason.

            However, I don’t pretend to know whether the numbers could be made to work, even if the political issues could magically be resolved. My question wasn’t premised on this idea. It was just a question.

            So, your first point is relevant, in that it helps to clarify what you actually meant, as opposed to what you seemed to me to be saying. Thank you. As for your second and third points, they are interesting, but not relevant to my question.

            … to put it another way, I think that you think my question was a rhetorical one. For the record, it wasn’t.

            (I do have to wonder why nobody, President Trump included, seems to want to do anything about the last problem you mention. It isn’t a fact of nature that government workers can’t be fired, after all.)

            … yes, OK, that question was a little bit rhetorical. 🙂

          • @Keranih

            You have a great theoretical argument , but, empirically, public healthcare systems can deliver more for less.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            You have a great theoretical argument , but, empirically, public healthcare systems can deliver more for less.

            “. . . because the US a private health care system, and the rest of the world uses public health care systems.”

            Which isn’t true, of course. It’s like fans of public systems haven’t even taken 5 minutes to read Ezra Klein’s “What Liberals Don’t Get About Single Payer.”

            Really, I wouldn’t mind one of those European systems. But when they are sold to the American public as “more for less, it’s gonna be great, everyone’s gonna love it,” we are failing to realize the serious trade-offs that are involved, and trying to implement one of those systems without the trade-offs means disaster.

          • Brad says:

            There are some trade-offs from the patient point of view, though some are in areas where preferences are irrational (e.g. a preference for counterproductive treatment).

            However, there are also trade-offs that simply redistribute from providers to patients. There the patients just come out ahead. Perhaps there are long term recruiting issues, but the evidence from other countries suggest otherwise. It appears that much excess physician income, for example, is just deadweight loss to rent.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If 80% of doctors and 80% of nurses line up against your proposed regulation to stop them from earning so much money so you get better coverage, how do you think the politics play out? Especially because you haven’t prepared people ahead of time by saying “by the way, doctors suck.”

            Nor are those “patient doesn’t understand outcomes” situations easily glossed over. Most Americans consider “it’s between you and your doctor” to be a terminal value. If the doctor says it could save your life but the government/insurance won’t pay for it, what next?

          • Brad says:

            I’ve been doing my part in saying doctors suck, or more accurately that doctors should be thought of the same way one thinks of a car mechanic.

          • Really, I wouldn’t mind one of those European systems. But when they are sold to the American public as “more for less, it’s gonna be great, everyone’s gonna love it,” we are failing to realize the serious trade-offs that are involved, and trying to implement one of those systems without the trade-offs means disaster.

            How about saying what they are?

            If 80% of doctors and 80% of nurses line up against your proposed regulation to stop them from earning so much money so you get better coverage, how do you think the politics play out? Especially because you haven’t prepared people ahead of time by saying “by the way, doctors suck.”

            How do you think that problem was solved when the NHS was implemented? Because there certainly was opposition in the profession at the time.

          • I gather that the laws in question are being challenged, too. Nevertheless, the presence of such a law in a neighbouring country, no matter how much of a bizarre anomaly it is, nicely explains why it is an issue; I think the rationalist term is “availability heuristic”? Thanks.

            The availability heuristic would explain why many people take the Canadian arrangement to be the norm, although there is still a puzzle about why so many supposedly smart and rational people do as well.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            How about saying what [the tradeoffs] are?

            I don’t want this to come across as “it’s not my job to educate you” or something like that, because those tradeoffs are important to talk about, but this sounds like you think there are no tradeoffs. Do you really think that?

            How do you think that problem was solved when the NHS was implemented? Because there certainly was opposition in the profession at the time.

            NHS was implemented nearly 70 years ago. Medical costs have been rising in the US for a long time. Had someone bent the cost curve 70 years ago, things would be different now, but trying to suddenly snap one system into the place of the other is going to have incredible pushback.

            GPs make 160K (USD) in the US and 100K (USD) in Canada. How much did the implementation of NHS cut doctors’ wages between 1946 and 1948?

            It may have kept wages from rising fast, and that is something useful the US could copy. But it’s a bait-and-switch, among dozens of other bait-and-switches, where we are sold “this will help us save a bunch of money right off the bat” and actually buying “duh, you idiot, everybody knew that we weren’t talking about cutting costs today, this was about cutting costs in 40 years.”

        • Incurian says:

          You have a bunch of intellectual types who openly and honestly debate all the issues and a bunch of politicians who pretend that the intellectuals in their team have no connection to them, so they can’t be held responsible for what those intellectuals say.

          Is this team motte and bailey not the status quo?

  43. The psychology of politics is such that losing candidates are always personally blamed, especially by supporters. You lost, but another candidate, someone better than you, might have won. The outcome turned on your mistakes. Whatever positive, attractive qualities you had are completely forgotten, and your faults are writ large.

    Think back to Romney, McCain, Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern (leaving out the ones who lost as incumbents). Each of them was vilified and ridiculed for losing the election, as if they hadn’t tried their best to be successful. Now Hillary Clinton has joined that club.

    I don’t claim to be immune to this. This morning, at a panel discussion in front of an audience, in the course of answering a question about the election, I cited her personal qualities as one factor in the outcome. Another member of the panel pointed to mistakes made by her campaign.

    But this was all well known before the election. Hillary Clinton is not a natural politician like her husband. And all her campaign organizations have been notably low bang-for-the-buck, substituting money for enthusiasm whenever possible.

    All that being said, it is extremely difficult to keep the White House in the same partisan hands for the third consecutive term. The presidency is the balance wheel of American politics. The president is blamed for everything and gets credit for nothing. and whichever party has the presidency tends to lose everything else, while the opposition steadily gains issues and potential candidates.

    Meanwhile, Trump rode the crest of an-idea-whose-time-has-come.

    Considering all that, Hillary did remarkably well.

    • Dabbler says:

      Larry Kestenbaum- I’ve heard people say that Hillary Clinton’s skill and success was mostly in coalition-building amongst various groups and people that were politically involved, and that she screwed up everything else. What do you think of that?

      • I’ve heard people say that Hillary Clinton’s skill and success was mostly in coalition-building amongst various groups and people that were politically involved, and that she screwed up everything else. What do you think of that?

        That sounds like a pretty fair statement.

      • cassander says:

        When did she do that? Not as a senator. Not as First lady.

      • keranih says:

        I’m with Cass on this – I’ve never heard that she was good in bringing people together. Served as a granter of favors when she had the power to do so, which brought the self-serving to the table that she sat at – yes, I’ve heard that.

        Convinced people without a pre-existing incentive to do so to work with her, NSM. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    • Progressive Reformation says:

      I can’t say I really agree with this. Maybe it speaks to Obama being an exceptional candidate rather than Hillary a weak one (or both), but I get the definite impression that Obama would have wiped the floor with Trump. Furthermore, Obama is not leaving office the way Bush the Younger did, i.e. despised by the great majority of the country. Obama was an asset to Clinton’s campaign, while Bush the Younger was a millstone around McCain’s neck – recall the effort McCain made to distance himself from the Presidency he would have inherited.

      Nor do I think Rubio, Cruz, Jeb!, etc. would have won against Hillary, because they (unlike Trump) were not aboard (as you put it) the idea-whose-time-has-come. My estimate is that the Democrats, armed with a reasonably popular outgoing President, were poised to remain in the White House – and they screwed it up. Bernie’s insurgent campaign and decision to fight on; the DNC’s awful inner workings; Hillary’s unlikeable persona; and serious campaign and messaging blunders – all of it contributed to the disastrous campaign.

      • I can’t say I really agree with this. Maybe it speaks to Obama being an exceptional candidate rather than Hillary a weak one (or both), but I get the definite impression that Obama would have wiped the floor with Trump.

        Yes, Obama is exceptional, and yes, he would have won. But that’s a little different scenario. An incumbent president personally running for re-election has a lot of inherent strength that isn’t transferable to the proxy. Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bill Clinton could all have won third terms, too. The two-term limit is part of the clockwork that forces each party to become vulnerable to the other.

        Nor do I think Rubio, Cruz, Jeb!, etc. would have won against Hillary, because they (unlike Trump) were not aboard (as you put it) the idea-whose-time-has-come.

        I’m dubious about that. I mean, Cruz had his own special problems, but I think Rubio, Cruz, or Kasich would all have been favored to win versus Hillary.

        • Progressive Reformation says:

          Fair point on Obama, though I was trying to contrast him with Bush the Younger, who definitely would not have won reelection in 2008.

          On your “presidents who could have won re-election”: for Eisenhower, I think the 1950s are such a different era it doesn’t tell us much; for Reagan, note that the Republican candidate, Bush the Elder, did win at the end of Reagan’s 2nd term; and for Clinton, note that Gore came within inches of winning and would have handily won had (a) an unusually popular Green candidate not run that year, and (b) the Florida ballot been designed properly.

          In short, I think the small amount of available evidence backs up my position, that a popular outgoing President is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Of course, it is possible that keeping the Presidency after 2 terms is difficult if outgoing Presidents tend to not be popular, but this doesn’t have any bearing on whether Hillary could have been expected to lose, as you claim.

          [I am curious – given that you claim that Hillary “did remarkably well”, did you already expect her to lose before the election?]

          Finally, I don’t think there is any way to test who is right on the issue of establishment-Repub-vs.-Hillary, but here is my reasoning. All the Republican candidates you list – Rubio, Jeb! [I presume, given the first part of your sentence, that you meant him and not Cruz], and Kasich – carried the same cozy-with-the-bankers vibe that I think did so much to hurt Hillary. The Democrats carry a demographic advantage on the federal level, and so doing a mirror-matchup (Liberal Interventionist Globalist vs. Conservative Interventionist Globalist) would have had a very poor chance of success. Maybe, maybe, Kasich would have been different, though his electability is questionable too.

          • Brad says:

            and for Clinton, note that Gore came within inches of winning and would have handily won had (a) an unusually popular Green candidate not run that year, and (b) the Florida ballot been designed properly.

            Although we’ll never see another election like 2000, it’s worth keeping in mind that by any other standard this was an extraordinarily close election. Just flipping Jill Stein’s votes in PA, MI, & WI would have been enough to put Clinton over the top.

            Which is my biggest objection to the whole let’s totally revamp the Democratic Party idea. We know what a national collapse looks like. 2016 wasn’t it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad

            Except the 2016 election exposed some deep structural problems in the Democratic party. Super delegates, collusion/corruption, progressive stack order disputes (illegals vs blacks, muslims vs gays).

            The Democratic party is leftist ideologues plus a coalition of minority grievance groups who aren’t really ideological leftists. I don’t know how easily the cracks in the coalition can be patched up.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Just flipping Jill Stein’s votes in PA, MI, & WI would have been enough to put Clinton over the top.

            Sounds like a good cue to plug for RCV/Instant Runoffs

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            I don’t think your analysis is correct. It appears to blow things way out of proportion. The coalition looks fine to me going forward.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Brad
            Right now they’re united in their hatred for Trump, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2020. Especially when 2018 is unlikely to go well for Democrats, at least in the senate. That class came in on Obama’s coattails in 2012, so if you take away the safe red and safe blue seats, you’ve got I want to say 9 purple seats up for grabs, and it’s 1 republican and 8 democrats. So in the actually contested seats in 2018 the dems have to win 9 races to pick up 1 seat. So, they’ll be going into 2020 without any big wins to pull everybody together. It’ll be interesting and we’ll see what happens.

        • owentt says:

          There’s no plausible map for Rubio to win against Hillary. He’s very unpopular in VA suburbs and has no appeal to white working class voters in the Midwest states.

          Some suggest the SW was a possible place to Rubio to win some states, but Mexican-Americans have no cultural affinity for upper crust Cubans at all and NV and CO were ruined in advance by Rubio’s strong promise to end legal marijuana which is an extremely powerful issue in the west.

          Kasich, Cruz, and Jeb! would have been even less likely to win against Hillary. Trump was the only Republican available in 2016 that stood a chance.

          And with continued demographic drift due to mass immigration, Democrats will be even stronger in 2020. Also their candidate will be much better. We’re going to have a lot of blue presidents from now on.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Rubio, Cruz, or Kasich would all have been favored to win versus Hillary.

          I don’t see the white working class breaking the blue wall for Rubio, Cruz, or Kasich. They were not populists riding a populist wave. Trump was.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Obama may be personally liked, but look at the state of his party after 8 years of him. This is pretty much the least power they’ve ever held, all the more damning when you consider how much they had at the start of his term. Obama definitely shoulders a lot of the blame for that.

      • Nyx says:

        Obama was an exceptional candidate. Hillary Clinton’s vote total as a share of the electorate was actually well in line with previous presidential candidates… excepting Obama who is clearly visible as a peak on the chart (and Reagan if you go further back). Maybe you can chalk that up to “Democrats and Republicans alike tend to field terrible candidates”, but if the normal is “terrible”, then yes, Hillary Clinton is a terrible, normal candidate.

        • engleberg says:

          Obama was the first black president. First black president in 2008 wasn’t any too soon. Black voters noticed ‘first black president in 2008 wasn’t any too soon’. So’d most voters- I voted for him in 2008. He was an okay candidate, but ‘first black president in 2008 wasn’t any too soon’ is a big deal. Ross Perot was clean-cut and confident, big ears too, and you notice you never see Ross Perot and a bottle of shoe polish in the same room with Obama, but ‘first black president in 2008 wasn’t any too soon’ is a big deal.

          • keranih says:

            Right. But he was “first black president OMG!” his first day in office. With three years and 364 days still to go.

            I could have waited another twenty years for “first black president OMG” if it had come bundled into a person who could actually do the job. Now we’re stuck with “an ok guy who wouldn’t have gotten elected if he wasn’t black” as our “first black president OMG”, and we’re never getting those eight years back.

            And we have Trump. At least to some degree because “first black president OMG” over-rode the majority of voters’ thinking circuits.

            Here’s hoping we dump this identity stuff –
            including WWC identity – and go back to only electing “old white men” so that there’s at least the pretense of voting on the issues.

          • engleberg says:

            Trump, Obama, Hillary- all rich bloviators. We haven’t had a president who was obviously prequalified to be president since Eisenhower; we have no candidates. I like that Trump is willing to float a lot of trial balloons, he’s good with punchy five-sentence paragraphs, anyone who spends a half century in NY real estate has political experience, and he’s run big organizations before, but it’s not like he won D-Day.

            Obama wasn’t a bad president, just a bad administrator. And ‘first black president in 2008 wasn’t any too soon’ is still a big deal, OMG for very sooth.

          • cassander says:

            @engleberg

            . We haven’t had a president who was obviously prequalified to be president since Eisenhower

            Hard to argue that about Bush the Elder. I’m actually not a fan of his presidency, but he had a hell of a good resume. Navy pilot in ww2, congressman, successful oilman, UN ambassador, RNC chair, china ambassador, CIA head, and VP.

            Obama wasn’t a bad president, just a bad administrator.

            Could you elaborate on this? Being a passable administrator seems to me a basic requirement for being a good president. that or extreme luck.

          • Incurian says:

            he’s good with punchy five-sentence paragraphs, anyone who spends a half century in NY real estate has political experience, and he’s run big organizations before, but it’s not like he won D-Day.

            A tangent: holy crap the operations order for D Day was short. 5 pages, 14 with appendices. You couldn’t plan a picnic in the park these days without twice that.

          • engleberg says:

            @’Hard to argue that about Bush the Elder’
            Long resume, and he’s closer than Obama or JFK, but he never ran the Allied Army in Europe or any big huge internationally important organization before election.

            @’Being a passable administrator seems to me necessary to be a good president.’
            Yes, and Obama wasn’t a good president, but he wasn’t bad either. Good instincts in a fight, kept us out of war, oversaw the killing of Bin Laden, dignified, could deliver a set speech, not openly corrupt in office (I’m still mad the Clintons took a half-billion dollar bribe from Microsoft’s enemies to sic the Justice Department on Microsoft). Obamaphones worked, Obamacare fails.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            Somewhat OT, but one thing that has always puzzled me was why, approximately eight years ago, nobody seemed willing to admit that President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded because he was the first black President. I remember phrases like “the not being George Bush prize” and other dancing around the subject.

            Am I mistaken that this was the reason? Am I mistaken that nobody said so? If I’m not mistaken about either of these, is there another explanation?

          • cassander says:

            @engleberg says:

            Allied Army in Europe or any big huge internationally important organization before election.

            I’m not sure what counts as “big huge internationally important organization”, but surely multiple tours as an ambassador counts for something there. Andy while I wouldn’t say military command is a bad thing, it also is very different from a US style political executive. I’d rank a successful state governorship above military command.

            Yes, and Obama wasn’t a good president, but he wasn’t bad either. Good instincts in a fight, kept us out of war,

            He started, by my count, 3 wars. 4 if you count the afghan surge and 5 if you count going back into iraq. All of which are still going, mind you, in substantial part because while his instinct was to stay out, he wasn’t willing to take the political hits that required and so instead just committed half heartedly, which is the worst possible way to fight a war.

            oversaw the killing of Bin Laden

            Something that would have happened under any president besides joe biden.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Am I mistaken that this was the reason? Am I mistaken that nobody said so?

            I don’t recall hearing anyone saying so either, though I’m sure someone did. As I recall, George W. Bush was roundly hated by the European elites, so the “Not George Bush” prize made perfect sense. (That Obama then proceeded to become George Bush in terms of foreign policy was cosmic irony)

          • Protagoras says:

            Honestly, it’s almost as if there’s a rule that at least a quarter of Nobel peace prizes must be somewhere on a spectrum from ironic to absurd, and they’ve been trying to catch up in the past few decades for not quite meeting that quota in the early years.

          • cassander says:

            The way I put it is that if you want to win a nobel peace prize as an american president, you need to screw someone over really badly. Teddy Roosevelt got it for screwing the Japanese, Woodrow Wilson got it for screwing the Germans, and Obama got it for screwing John Mccain.

          • hlynkacg says:

            …not to mention most of the Middle East and north Africa.

          • John Schilling says:

            nobody seemed willing to admit that President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded because he was the first black President. I remember phrases like “the not being George Bush prize” and other dancing around the subject.

            Am I mistaken that this was the reason?

            I believe that you are. Paul Krugman isn’t black, and won a Nobel for essentially repudiating Bush/GOP economic policies, so we know the Nobel committee was handing out anti-Bush Nobels independent of race. And the bit where white guilt leads to people handing out special favors to black people, to the extent that it is a thing at all, is more of an American thing than a Swedish thing.

            So, I believe that Obama did in fact get one of the “We hate George W. Bush” Nobel prizes, not a hypothetical “First Black US President” prize.

          • Harry Maurice Johnston says:

            It would hardly be a “special favour”, though. At least, it seems like a genuine achievement to me. (I’m also kind of skeptical of the assertion that Paul Krugman’s prize was politically motivated. Not that I’d be able to tell, you understand, I’m just generically skeptical.)

          • Aapje says:

            It seems to me that the Nobel peace prize is basically a ‘you go, girl’ by intellectual & globalist Norwegians. Because they want to improve the world by giving the prize, the prize is often given hot on the heels of some development or even prematurely, to boost a side in a conflict or such.

            So Kissinger got the prize for pulling out of Vietnam, despite his actions most likely having enabled the Khmer Rouge to gain power and murder 2 million people. The EU got the prize in 2012 because of the rise of euro-skepticism. Santos got the most recent prize just before his people nixed the FARC peace deal in a referendum (oops). He managed to salvage it by revising it slightly and not holding a new referendum.

            This sensitivity to hype and partisanship is in stark contrast to the other Nobels, which are given very, very conservatively, many years after the work was done, to ensure that the work holds up.

        • engleberg says:

          @’nobody seemed willing to admit Obama’s Nobel was for being first black president.’

          We’re ashamed. I was kind of relieved they papered it over with ‘please screw Israel, here’s a prize in advance’.

          @’I’m not sure what counts as ‘big huge internationally important organization’
          Me neither, but winning D-Day and conquering Germany about does it. I liked Ted Nugent saying he didn’t want anyone who’d run the CIA to run America. Still voted for B the Elder, personally.

          @ ‘He started, by my count, three wars’
          By my count he mostly just surged some troops into hot spots. Dead Americans for nothing, more foreigners who hate us more than they fear us, but no new wars.

          @’the killing of bin laden would have happened under any president, except-‘
          Obama did good. He didn’t micromanage. He gave a direct declarative yes when they asked if they should go into Pakistan. He Presided. (Doesn’t make him Eisenhower, who would have phoned it in playing golf as a routine call, which it would have been, for Eisenhower even after his stroke.) Squad level stuff is random and risky, and Obama got lucky, but he did good. Bay of Pigs, Mayaguez, Jimmy Carter- this stuff is risky.

          That said, by ‘good instincts in a fight’ I mostly meant a general ‘he’s comfortable with confrontation’. Not that gay ‘I’m good at killing’.

    • JDG1980 says:

      Think back to Romney, McCain, Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, McGovern (leaving out the ones who lost as incumbents). Each of them was vilified and ridiculed for losing the election, as if they hadn’t tried their best to be successful. Now Hillary Clinton has joined that club.

      Is that true? I think most reasonable people would agree that at least some of these candidates could have won under more favorable circumstances. To determine if a candidate is good or bad you have to come up with a hypothetical “average” candidate for that party for that year and compare them to that person. By this metric, for example, McGovern still underperforms even though a generic Democrat would likely have lost anyway due to strong fundamentals on the economy. McCain lost but he probably did a bit better than a generic Republican would have done in 2008, thanks to his war-hero status and credibility as a moderate. Hillary lost when a generic Democrat would almost certainly have won.

  44. meh says:

    > “am I reading somebody trying to rationally present their argument for my evaluation? Or am I reading an emotional appeal written by someone who thinks facts don’t matter?”

    Same with Scott Adams.

    • herbert herberson says:

      With Scott Adams you’re reading the rhetorical equivalent of one of those guys who does a magic show where he reveals how all the tricks were done, but in this case the guy in question has nonetheless convinced himself that Magic Is Real.

      • engleberg says:

        That’s really good. And what’s more, I think Scott Adams would agree.

      • aeneasrex says:

        It’s even worse. He not only knows how thr magic is done, he advocates for its use to cynically bambooze people, and then has spontaneous amnesia whenever the reality of magic bebefits his case.

      • jimmy says:

        but in this case the guy in question has nonetheless convinced himself that Magic Is Real.

        It’s not so much “magic is real” as it is “there is nothing else”.

        • engleberg says:

          Maybe if you lose ‘nonetheless’ Scott Adams would agree more strongly. (Not him, no mind reader, not sure).

  45. meh says:

    Does the opposite of identity politics have to be white working class?

    • Yaleocon says:

      More pointedly, how is anything which appeals to a group characterizable as [race]+[class] not just another form of identity politics?

      Identity politics = democratic politics; any time anyone calls it a “numbers game” or analyzes differential turnout between groups, that’s what they’re doing. No escaping it.

      • Bugmaster says:

        When I say “identity politics”, I mean something like, “appealing to one demographic group by demonizing their outgroup”, not just “tailoring your message to a specific demographic group”. This is why identity politics is a dangerous game: today you appeal to Christians by demonizing gays, tomorrow public opinion turns against you, and now you are forever known as “that one crazy guy who hates gays so no one votes for him”.

        • John Colanduoni says:

          But Trump did demonize the outgroup of his supporters. He just mostly went after a small group of elites in their outgroup (the media, the Washington swamp) and illegal immigrants/certain nationalities. This has the advantage of being relatively precise, and not like firing a submachine gun in a crowd filled with voters like the “deplorables” comment.

          • owentt says:

            If you’re trying to win an election, setting foreigners and elites that hate their own people as your despised outgroups is a smart choice.

            Picking the single largest demographic in the country, like working class white people, is less clever.

      • ChetC3 says:

        Appealing to my preferred identity isn’t politics, it’s sound governance.

    • cassander says:

      The opposte of identity politics is refusing to talk about racial categories as relevant.

    • shenanigans24 says:

      Because the white working class doesn’t vote as a single block like other ethnic groups.

      • Mary says:

        Didn’t.

        Still doesn’t, to some extent. But there’s signs of change.

        • Kevin C. says:

          Still doesn’t, to some extent. But there’s signs of change.

          But enough change to counter the shrinking demographic share? Will we manage to become a “voting block” before we’re too small a fraction of the population to have much power no matter how uniformly we vote?

  46. AnonYEmous says:

    Their trouble repeal Obamacare seems like the most glaring example – there just wasn’t enough overlap between reality-based policies that made political sense, and policies that legislators could support without worrying about getting primaried by Tea Party types accusing them of selling out.

    I don’t buy that this is fundamentally separate from government not wanting to repeal any handout, because of the obvious incentives they have not to do this.

    Maybe I’ll go monarchist, if this keeps up. If the party specifically put into power to take care of the problem abjectly refuses, what’s the point of democracy at all? Especially when you consider that Obamacare was already a suicide tactic; Democrats lost big afterwards, but they took the fall. Now Republicans aren’t?

    It might be that appealing to the white working class really is the most important way to win elections, but that in the real world “identity politics” surrounding minority groups are a more important or more tractable issue, where government interventions can help far more people.

    This statement explicitly doesn’t argue that this is true, or false, so I won’t aim this at you

    just like to say that I don’t think it is true though. At this point most minority problems seem to be beyond government control, beyond simply things like “welfare” that white people can get just as easily

    • , because of the obvious incentives they have not to do this.

      On the other hand there is always an incentive to control taxation.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Maybe I’ll go monarchist, if this keeps up. If the party specifically put into power to take care of the problem abjectly refuses, what’s the point of democracy at all?

      Are the Repubs “abjectly refusing” to “take care of the problem”, or are they unable to do so?

      • Doctor Mist says:

        The Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House. In what sense could they be unable? Is the problem literally unfixable, in a logical sense?

        The best interpretation I can come up is that the Republicans are so fractured that they can’t agree on what action to take. But then the issue is less whether they will or can take care of the problem, and more that the label “Republicans” no longer corresponds to a unitary agent — a potential problem with any group, of course. Is that what you meant?

        • Kevin C. says:

          No that’s not what I meant. You say:

          The Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House.

          And I say, so what? That and a few bucks will get you a cup of coffee. Congress and POTUS are vestigial; whatever you learned in school about how things work on paper, their function in practice is to rubber-stamp what the real, permanent, unelected government decides. The Republican party’s sole job is to maintain the kayfabe, to be the Outer Party to the Democrats’ Inner Party, the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters. It’s to put on a show of “fighting” good enough to trick most of us Red Tribe sorts into thinking that “Progress” can be meaningfully opposed by voting for whoever has an “R” after their name (protip: it can’t). And when they fail to do that job, punisments ensue. There’s a difference between taking office and taking power; elected Republican officials do the former, but not the latter. Look at Trump’s executive orders, and the “judges in revolt” against him. Look at “government shut-downs” that don’t actually shut down the government. You don’t “drain the swamp”, the swamp drains you.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Ah, ok, I see what you mean and am not unsympathetic to that point of view. If they are unable to change things because the deep state is who is truly in charge, one might argue that this doesn’t prevent them from at least voting to repeal, which would mollify their voting base and let them stay on the gravy train. But I’m guessing your reply would be that the Republicans are well aware of how powerless Congress and POTUS are, and therefore will never do anything that shines a bright light on that powerlessness, for fear of losing their phony-baloney jobs to the next round of folks willing to claim they can rein in the deep state?

            This would certainly go a fair ways toward explaining how inneffectual our elected officials have seemed for the last few decades, and how much politics has seemed like Kabuki.

            When I am feeling less pessimistic, it strikes me that the real Deep State is the electorate, which seems to have a collective intelligence roughly equal to a dog’s. No collection even of smart, well-intentioned elected officials could ever make serious and intelligent reforms because the electorate as a body is not smart enough to understand the case for doing so, and just says, “Ooh, no, it might hurt,” — even if large numbers of individual voters actually are smart enough, the corporate entity is a dumbhead.

            That’s not a lot less depressing, of course.

        • mdet says:

          I’m a liberal, so my media consumption might be very different from yours, but at least on my end: Yes. Infighting + actually difficult problem are the reasons why Republicans have been unable to meaningfully repeal / replace Obamacare.

          As I understand it, health insurance is largely a zero-sum game. If you want to expand coverage for one group of people, you necessarily have to increase costs for another group in order to pay for it. Obamacare expanded coverage for poor & ill people, which increased costs for more well-off people. Some of those well-off people couldn’t afford the increase and dropped out, which raised costs for those who remained, which caused more dropouts, which raised costs—you get the picture. Obamacare was deeply flawed because despite aiming to expand coverage, it ended up causing many people to lose coverage as it began to “death spiral”.

          The best solution Republicans came up with was “Cut coverage for poor & ill people in order to cut costs for more well-off people”. This approach A) is a hard sell politically, given how inherently unfair it sounds, B) solves the problem of people losing / getting priced out of their insurance by having even MORE people lose / get priced out of their insurance, and C) doesn’t actually address the fundamental flaw with Obamacare, just shifts the losses around.

          In addition, Republicans have split into two groups: One side says “Universal healthcare coverage is a good idea, it’s just that Obamacare was a terrible policy. Let’s aim for the same goal but Conservative-style (ie, tax credits, health savings accounts, some deregulation, etc)”. The other is “If the free market can’t guarantee everyone insurance, then nothing can, and bringing the government in will only make it worse”. These two views are not really reconcilable.

          Among the moderate liberal / moderate conservative sources that I follow, this seems to be the consensus explanation for Republicans current healthcare woes.

          • engleberg says:

            ‘Some of those well-off people couldn’t afford the increase’- huh. Do you think there’s a giant pool of rich prudent people who can’t afford insurance?

          • mdet says:

            (New commenter, not sure why I can’t reply directly to engleberg)

            When I said “well-off” I didn’t just mean “very rich people”. To be specific, one group of people who were largely dropping out / refusing to buy health insurance was young people. Young people are generally the healthiest segment of the population (“well-off” in that sense), but don’t necessarily have a lot of money on hand, so many young people decided that just going without insurance would be much cheaper than paying for insurance that they hardly use. Also middle-income people, who make enough money that they don’t qualify for Medicaid or Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies, but still not enough money to consider health insurance “cheap”.

            I guess you can imagine some kind of algorithm or formula where:
            —Wealth == High, you can afford insurance no problem
            —Wealth ≠ High, but Health == High, you can voluntarily drop out
            —(Wealth && Health) == Low, you get government assistance
            —(Wealth && Health) == Medium, you involuntarily get priced out

            My information here is based a lot on Megan McArdle’s reporting on Obamacare. Samples:
            https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-18/the-once-and-future-obamacare-death-spiral

            https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-05/problems-the-republican-health-plan-doesn-t-solve

          • Aapje says:

            I agree with mdet.

            Insurance is almost guaranteed to have a perceived wealth transfer element to it, as people usually make a different assessment of their risk than the insurer (and usually more accurate).

            So you have two main groups:
            – Those who feel that they get a good deal, as they think that their premium is set too low, given their risk.
            – Those who feel that they get a bad deal, as they think that their premium is set too high, given their risk.

            That second group obviously has a tendency to cancel their insurance, if they perceive the deal to be very bad. If those people are indeed correct most of the time, when they cancel, the premiums have to go up for the rest. This just pushes a new group into perceiving that they get a bad deal, so they tend to leave -> death spiral.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What it appears people want from health insurance is coverage that covers everything for everyone with no restrictions, and nobody pays full price but “the rich” to whom the price is a pittance. This is simply not achievable and it’s no surprise everyone has failed at it.

            @engleberg

            Everything happens on the margins. It’s not “rich prudent people” who couldn’t afford the increase. It’s people who could barely afford the coverage they had. Obamacare made them choose between more comprehensive but more expensive coverage and nothing at all. This also holds for people who could, technically, afford the coverage but chose not to. Health insurance where the premium doesn’t depend much on the likelyhood of needing health care is a recipe for adverse selection.

          • Insurance is almost guaranteed to have a perceived wealth transfer element to it, as people usually make a different assessment of their risk than the insurer (and usually more accurate).

            That doesn’t give you a wealth transfer, since the insurance companies are allowing for it in their pricing–they have to cover their costs, after all. The wealth transfer happens if the insurance company consistently overestimates the risk for one group, underestimates it for another. In an ordinary market, that isn’t likely to happen, because if the groups are well enough defined so their members know if they are winners or losers, the health company statisticians will know too.

            What happened with Obama care was that it became illegal for health insurance companies to price based on risk–they had to overcharge the young and healthy, subsidize the old and unhealthy. The people who were being overcharged and knew they were naturally wanted out.

            The penalty for not being insured was supposed to prevent that, but, presumably for political reasons, it wasn’t set high enough to actually do the job.

          • engleberg says:

            @mdet- okay, by ‘well-off’ you meant young and healthy, not wealthy. On rereading, you said that the first time. Makes sense.

            I know a couple friends of friends who have to pay the Obamacare penalty for not having insurance. They aren’t well-off in either sense- not rich, not young and healthy. The fines won’t be paid quickly or completely. Maybe they get a suspended sentence, maybe just a crappier credit rating, maybe low wages get garnished. Won’t improve their health.

            These aren’t politically connected people either, so no real push to quit hosing them from D or R.

  47. Redland Jack says:

    Most of the five reasons have the sound of people who haven’t really come to grips with why they lost. They sound like they’re saying, “We were just too good and intelligent for the evil boneheads of this country. Man, it’s tough being so incredibly noble like us.”

    • ItsGiusto says:

      Agreed. Also, I don’t remember Hillary being too big on number 5. Maybe she wasn’t as “us vs them” as Trump, but I would have never said she’s a strong proponent of a “we’re in this together” kind of attitude or message. The “basket of deplorables” incident is just the first thing that comes to mind.

      • pdbarnlsey says:

        “Very roughly speaking, half of my opponent’s supporters are good people who have just been mislead, while the rest are a mix of some pretty unpleasant types of people, including those ones who keep posting racist frogs and putting people’s names in brackets for some reason”

        A more careful version of this kind of outreach would have significantly tweaked those proportions, which is something she admitted immediately afterwards, and that fact that she didn’t manage that out of the gate is further evidence that she’s not really great at this; but that’s an attempt at outreach, not condemnation.

        Also, maybe look at her policies towards the rural white working poor. No plans to cut their healthcare, for example.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          Yeah, but a more careful version of this kind of outreach would leave a very tiny base of “deplorables” indeed. Frogposters and wielders of the echo are a tiny fraction of the american populace; Hillary ended up insulting about 12.5% of the adult american populace. And it’s an obvious conclusion that she said this because she believes it.

          No plans to cut their healthcare, for example.

          Yeah, pretty sure Obamacare was a disaster for the rural white working poor. Actually, I hear it increased their death rate altogether, by allowing them to get their hands on lots more prescription drugs. Might be why they voted for a man who promised to repeal Obamacare, huh?

          • Iain says:

            Yeah, pretty sure Obamacare was a disaster for the rural white working poor. Actually, I hear it increased their death rate altogether, by allowing them to get their hands on lots more prescription drugs. Might be why they voted for a man who promised to repeal Obamacare, huh?

            Source?

            Among other problems with this narrative, Obamacare did a lot to make addiction treatment more broadly available. Obamacare added drug addiction treatment to the list of essential health benefits, meaning that insurance plans have to cover it. This spreads the cost around, which is arguably bad for non-addicts (until you take the subsidies into account) but certainly makes treatment more accessible for opioid addicts.

            More broadly, a huge chunk of the people who gained coverage as a result of Obamacare were members of the white working class. If the current version of the AHCA passes, semi-repealing Obamacare, the CBO estimates (table 4 in the PDF) that a 64-year old man making $26,500/year would see his premiums in the non-group market go up by $13,000 — that is to say, health insurance premiums would cost more than half of his annual income.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Yeah, even if you think that prescription opioids were the primary cause of the heroin epidemic (personally I think it has at least as much to do with the War in Afghanistan), there’s no correlation with the ACA, just a steady increase starting in at the begining of the millenium and leveling off around 2011, when the ACA’s actual implementation had barely begun.

            Or was there just a joking analogy we’re not getting?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Well

            http://time.com/4292290/how-obamacare-is-fueling-americas-opioid-epidemic/

            Like I said, I heard it, so I’m willing to acknowledge that I might have heard wrong. Worth noting that, though Time isn’t the strongest source, the writer doesn’t appear to be biased, or at least I could find no evidence of him being right-wing. So there’s at least a motive established.

            In regards to statistics: there might be a leveling nationwide and a significant Obamacare-related boost. In this Vox article:

            https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/23/15032348/obamacare-opioid-epidemic-cause

            which actually argues that Obamacare didn’t cause the opioid epidemic, there are statistics given (notably, unlike Herbert’s links, these go farther than 2012), showing that “non-methadone synthetic opioids” saw a large increase in overdoses post-2013 (which is apparently when Obamacare went into effect, putting a hole in the argument that a 2011 plateau means much). Heroin saw a similar numeric increase and other opioids still plateaud, but as a percentage the rise in the specific type of opioids is fairly large.

            More broadly, a huge chunk of the people who gained coverage as a result of Obamacare were members of the white working class.

            Yes, and the older ones will be screwed by AHCA. But not the younger ones. Because that’s sort of the point of AHCA – we can’t really afford to pay for the elderly’s care, because it is very expensive.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            AnonYEmous,

            The “non-methadone synthetic opiods” category is principally fentanyl, which is a prescription drug replacement manufactured illegally or shipped in from Mexico. Heroin Epidemic Is Yielding to a Deadlier Cousin: Fentanyl

            This whole thing looks like a series of attempts to change the subject while trying to smear a policy which has actually aimed at improving the lot of Trump’s notional core constituency:

            Make some narrow assertion about some small subset of healthcare.

            When asked for evidence, link to an article showing the opposite and then claim that an unexplained subset of opiates proves you right.

            Consistently ignore the comparison I made with Trump’s policies in relation to healthcare generally and opiate addiction specifically.

            Perhaps you’d like to come back and assert that one particularly type of fentinyl proves you right about Trump’s healthcare policy – since that seems like the logical progression at this point.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Perhaps you’d like to come back and assert that one particularly type of fentinyl proves you right about Trump’s healthcare policy – since that seems like the logical progression at this point.

            Like I said, I heard it, so I’m willing to acknowledge that I might have heard wrong.

            I’d continue the conversation, but your attitude makes that an unappealing option. Have a good 1.

        • I think “good people who have just been misled” doesn’t quite get the tone. It feels more like people who are desperate and a little stupid. No suggestion that anyone in the opposition might be a reasonable person who is merely mistaken.

          • Iain says:

            Here’s the actual text of Clinton’s remarks. I think your reading is rather uncharitable: in particular, there is a significant effort here to explain why reasonable people might find Trump appealing.

            …that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Next you’ll be telling me that Obama’s “bitter-clingers” remark was him stating that the Rust Belt was absolutely correct to feel failed and betrayed by the last several administrations (of both parties) and that this failure of mainstream politics accordingly made a turn to populism entirely understandable.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I call this the left’s “One Drop Rule of Nazism.” If there’s one nazi, anywhere, everyone around that nazi is a nazi. Trump got about 60 million votes. There are not 30 million alt-righters. When Hillary started talking about nazi frogs she sounded insane to the normal people who don’t know anything about internet memes.

          It’s like saying antifa represents “Democrats” or “Hillary voters.”

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            I think “deplorable” is a bit broader than “nazi”, Conrad. I know plenty of non-Nazi deplorables. It’s sufficient, but not necessary.

            So your comment feels like an example of the exact think it purports to be decrying – trying to make everything all about the Nazis all the time in order to distract from the broader point.

      • grendelkhan says:

        I would have never said she’s a strong proponent of a “we’re in this together” kind of attitude or message

        Here’s Hillary Clinton on coal miners:

        So for example, I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?

        And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.

        Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

        That reads to me as excruciatingly charitable. But it got rounded off to “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of work”, the other guy pandered hard, said he “digs coal”, promised to put everyone back to work (which is flatly ridiculous for a host of reasons), and they ate it up.

        I’m skeptical that being more charitable would have solved that.

        • Aapje says:

          The issue is that sane people don’t believe the type of promises that go: I’ll do something specific that will hurt you and then I promise to do something that I can’t tell you about yet to undo the hurt.

          If Clinton actually had a solid plan to get these people new jobs, she could have told them. That she didn’t is pretty solid evidence that she doesn’t have a plan or that her plan has major downsides that she doesn’t want to be known.

          Not having a plan to undo the damage strongly indicates that she cares much less about fixing the damage to miners than achieving her environmental goals. If she isn’t willing to expend political capital to make hard promises to the miners in a situation where she hasn’t yet achieved her main goal, it makes no sense to assume that she will be willing to spend that political capital when her main goal has already been achieved.

          The smart money is on her moving on to another main goal once the mines have been closed, while leaving the miners as collateral damage.

          • Iain says:

            If Clinton actually had a solid plan to get these people new jobs, she could have told them.

            Like, say, this?

          • grendelkhan says:

            If Clinton actually had a solid plan to get these people new jobs, she could have told them. That she didn’t is pretty solid evidence that she doesn’t have a plan or that her plan has major downsides that she doesn’t want to be known.

            She did. She really did. Here’s a summary with pointers to her campaign website. Only one of the candidates relied solely on aspirational sound bites and implications of vague corruptness in their opponent, and it wasn’t Clinton.

            And in general, this was a problem with Clinton. People felt like she didn’t have any policy on the opioid epidemic, or any credibility on climate change, and because the election was feels-over-reals, here we are.

            (And on top of all that, the mines weren’t closing because of environmentalism; the mines were closing because of automation (and fracking). The power plants would be closing because of environmentalism (and fracking).)

          • Aapje says:

            Like, say, this?

            Firstly, none of that is in her town hall answer. Do you think that miners are the kind of people that like reading fact sheets? So we have a failure to communicate in a way that matches her audience, for starters.

            Secondly, nowhere in her plan is there a specific link to the miners and new jobs for them. What are suitable new jobs for those miners (probably not programmers, who she wants to facilitate with better broadband). Pretty much all of the plan is generic: I’m going to improve the Appalachia region.

            The plan is really a Gish Gallop, to hide that there are no specific measures taken to help miners get new jobs.

            If she had promised to make a law to force road work and construction companies who work in that region to hire a certain number of ex-miners, there would have been something that spoke to miners. Then she could made that single promise in her town hall meeting, in a clear way that spoke to her audience.

            You have to keep in mind that manual labor workers who have worked in one industry for ages have little faith in their ability to grasp new opportunities, probably not unrealistically. Promising new opportunities is just not going to appeal to them, as they perceive that these opportunities will just be grasped by others, while they are left behind (perhaps quite realistically).

            In general, I see this as a major disconnect between the globalists and the other half of society. The former generally believe in their ability to take advantage of opportunities, while the latter often don’t.

            If you can’t speak to that (which is hard), you fail with them. Clinton failed.

            PS. These fact sheets are written in IQ 100+ language, for example: “holistic public health and economic development strategies.” Your average miner will probably just feel like a fool if you point to them this.

          • Iain says:

            I am impressed at how seamlessly you’ve pivoted from “Clinton obviously didn’t have a real plan for coal country” to “Clinton’s plan for coal country used too many big words for the dumb hick miners to understand, and didn’t promise to solve all of their problems immediately”.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            How real is a plan you can’t communicate and which therefore your audience could never verify that you implemented? Not only is the writing targeted at high IQ people but its also full of shitty buzzwords. Plus you have the whole issue of “one opinion in public and one in private.”

            The nebulous nature of the promises negates them.

          • Iain says:

            1. Miners aren’t idiots, incapable of understanding the written word. The presentation of Clinton’s platform may not be the most effective way of getting her message across, but it’s not like a miner won’t be able to tell whether or not they’ve been able to get medical care for their black lung because the word “empower” is on a webpage somewhere.

            2. There is a big difference between “not having a real policy to help coal country” and “not doing a good job of selling that policy”. Aapje was making the first claim, which is indisputably false. You might think that an appropriate response to learning that would be to reflect on how you came to believe something false, but apparently Aapje decided to pivot to a different claim instead.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            OK, you got me. I should have said that she didn’t present an actual plan when asked for it during a round table discussion with at least one coal worker, not that she doesn’t have a plan in general.

            However, grendelkhan presented this as Clinton reaching out to coal workers in a significant way. It’s not really fair that you attack me for pivoting, when you pivoted away from the claim that grendelkhan made about that event. I responded to grendelkhan’s claim in one way (where I admittedly was a bit sloppy) and I responded to your different claim in another way.

            I stand by my claim that if you think that either the event or the plan addresses the concerns of the coal workers in a way that they ought to find acceptable, you:
            – Lack understanding of how this tribe thinks (again: it is significantly different from the globalist tribe that most SSC readers are part of)
            – Are way too trusting of politicians, who do actually manipulate by various means. It’s rational to be aware of and be very cynical about statements that frequently turn out to be hollow, especially if a politician demonstrates that she lacks empathy with your tribe.

            PS. If you think that providing help for black lungs addresses their concerns about losing their jobs, you demonstrate that you don’t understand the tribe. One of their highest terminal values is the idea that a man should take care of himself and not be taking handouts.

          • Iain says:

            Look, my father worked at a potash mine for thirty years. I spent two summers working there myself, albeit mostly in an office. I do not need you to explain the psyche of miners to me, thank you.

            Getting broadband internet to rural areas is a longstanding demand from rural politicians. Losing your healthcare and your pension is a real concern for miners. There are a bunch of things in Clinton’s platform that address serious issues facing coal country.

            I do not deny that Trump did a better job of selling himself as a friend of coal than Clinton did. First off, Trump is a natural-born salesman — I think it’s his one real skill — and Clinton is decidedly not. Second, it is a lot easier to sell your platform when you give up on keeping it tethered to reality. No, she didn’t promise to wave a magic wand and bring all the coal jobs back. That’s because it simply isn’t going to happen. As grendelkhan says: it’s not environmentalism that is eliminating coal jobs; it’s automation. Clinton took that problem seriously and came up with a platform designed to ameliorate it as much as possible. Trump just promised to make coal great again.

            (Also: “especially if a politician demonstrates that she lacks empathy with your tribe”? Would you care to point to said demonstration?)

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Getting broadband internet to rural areas is a longstanding demand from rural politicians. Losing your healthcare and your pension is a real concern for miners. There are a bunch of things in Clinton’s platform that address serious issues facing coal country.

            Imagine these two scenarios:

            1. You come by and give me $100.

            2. You cause $1000 worth of damage to my property. You come by and give me $100

            In scenario 1, your gift makes me happy. In scenario 2, your gift makes me angry.

            Clinton favors closing the mines and other policies that are perceived by the miners as costing them jobs. My argument is that the miners value their jobs really, really highly and that Clinton was very bad at convincing them that her plan was going to result in most/all of them having new jobs. Heck, it’s bad at convincing me and I can actually understand it, unlike many miners. Furthermore, they value those other things you named less than their jobs and many of them probably don’t have much trust those promises anyway, due to being lied to about those things in the past.

            Now, I’m not claiming that it is easy to convince these people or that I could do it, but Clinton was not even able to do a poor job. My assessment is that this is because she lacks empathy with low IQ people and with people who feel unprepared for a new job. I believe that a person with more empathy would have done a better job in that round table discussion and would have done better with her plan.

            Trump just promised to make coal great again.

            And what the miners heard was: you can keep your jobs. That’s what they wanted to hear.

            If you want to sell people on something that they don’t already believe or want, you have a much harder task. Clinton believes the same as I, that coal should be on the way out. If you want to sell that to miners, you need grade A persuasion. Clinton couldn’t bring it.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            The whole IQ thing should be left out of it. Most miners could probably grok her platform, though they’d still disagree, if they had appropriate education in vocabulary.

          • John Schilling says:

            Getting broadband internet to rural areas is a longstanding demand from rural politicians.

            Is it a longstanding demand from rural unemployed coal miners?

            The uncharitable reading of Hillary’s platform is, “I’m going to bring in some high-tech industry to take over for the mines, and the people who can’t learn to be coders or clean-room technicians will be wards of the state until they age out and die”. It is entirely possible that rural politicians would much rather preside over Silicon Valley in Appalachian miniature than a standard-issue mining town, and see this as a positive thing even as the unemployed miners don’t.

            The charitable reading is that Hillary wants to help the actual unemployed coal miners of Appalachia and is expressing herself poorly. The help they want most is jobs they can reasonably aspire to do that pay well (yes, including health insurance) and aren’t busywork. Trump probably isn’t going to deliver those kinds of jobs, but he says quite clearly that he wants to and intends to. Hillary, whatever her actual intentions or likely results, didn’t.

          • Aapje says:

            @axiomsofdominion

            Most miners could probably grok her platform, though they’d still disagree, if they had appropriate education in vocabulary.

            They could, but they won’t. And no one is going to explain to them what “holistic public health and economic development strategies” are if the Clinton campaign doesn’t do that. And I don’t think they did.

            Manual labor workers are for the most part not people who enjoy studying anyway.

            A pretty large percentage of voters are low information voters. You need a short, simplistic message to appeal to these people. Then you need a more complex, nuanced message for the high information voters.

    • Dabbler says:

      If you don’t mind me asking Redland Jack, why do you think the Democrats lost? What would be a fairer summary of their mistakes?

      • Redland Jack says:

        Ah, sorry, I hope I didn’t make it seem like I thought I was some kind of expert. The election was reasonably close. It may just have been that people wanted a change (it’s gone Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, so maybe it’s just people are sick of the party in (Executive) power and want to try the other side (once the incumbency effect is gone)).

        I don’t really have a good sense of whether it was strategy, tactics, bad luck (maybe things would have been different +/- one month?), or if it was truly the content of the message.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I’m not Jack, but I’ll give it a shot. I think that the Democrats lost for several reasons:

        * Underestimating the appeal of Trump. This has nothing to do with any kind of moral or ethical failings, but is rather due to a failure in their polling methods.
        * Sidelining their own populist candidate (Bernie) who had a decent chance to, if not defeat Trump outright, at least fragment his base to the point where he can win on the margins.
        * Poor security practices, which led to them getting hacked, which led to the release of all the information above. Next time someone asks you, “why should I worry about buffer overflows and SQL injections, surely none of this stuff will ever come up”, you can say, “this is why”.
        * Playing into Tump’s hands by framing the election as “it’s elite politicians vs. populist demagogues, and we’re the elites”. Yeah, that was Trump’s entire message, too.
        * As their victory grew less and less certain, embracing identity politics to the exclusion of everything else. If at any point you find yourself declaring war on a cartoon frog, you should probably just concede.

        I fully expect them to continue using these same tactics in 2020, BTW. I don’t think the Democratic party can recover at this point.

        • pdbarnlsey says:

          Bugmaster, the testimony from intelligence agencies suggests that both parties were hacked in much the same way, it’s just that only one of them had the support of a foreign power.

          So your point three holds in an absolute sense, but not a comparative one.

          I think there’s a tension between your forth point (“Trump’s identity politics was very effective”) and your fifth (“identity politics undermined HRC’s appeal”). Maybe it’s more “do a good job of identity politics”, which is fair, but kind of facile.

          • Bugmaster says:

            So your point three holds in an absolute sense, but not a comparative one.

            Agreed, that’s the way I meant it. Democrats had every opportunity to be better than their opponents, but most of the time they settled for being just as good (or failed outright).

            I think there’s a tension between your forth point (“Trump’s identity politics was very effective”) and your fifth (“identity politics undermined HRC’s appeal”).

            I disagree, although perhaps I am confusing some terms. As I’d said in another comment, by “identity politics” I meant, “curry favor with a specific group by demonizing their outgroup”, not merely “appeal to a specific group”. Weirdly enough, Trump ran a mostly positive campaign; sure, he attacked Clinton personally, but he didn’t really go after her supporters the way she went after his.

          • falstaffAZ says:

            the testimony from intelligence agencies suggests that both parties were hacked in much the same way, it’s just that only one of them had the support of a foreign power

            Where can I read this?

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Falstaffaz,

            It’s here, FBI’s Comey: Republicans also hacked by Russia
            for example, though obviously we have better evidence where we can also look at what was released, not merely what was penetrated.

          • mvd1959 says:

            From your article…

            Comey said there was no sign “that the Trump campaign or the current RNC was successfully hacked.”

            Doesn’t seem to support the argument that since the Russians didn’t leak Trump emails they were supporting him.

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            there was “penetration on the Republican side of the aisle and old Republican National Committee domains” no longer in use

            It doesn’t sound like comparable to getting dump of Podesta’s full email. It looks like getting access to old webserver which has nothing but old campaign platforms. No wonder there was nothing to publish.

            there was evidence of hacking directed at state-level organizations, state-level campaigns, and the RNC, but old domains of the RNC, meaning old emails they weren’t using.

            In other words, again, nothing to publish. Calling it “hacked the same way”, when on DNC side it was email of Podesta, and on RNC side it was a bunch of defunct mailboxes, it misleading at best.

            Comey said there was no sign “that the Trump campaign or the current RNC was successfully hacked.”

            I think this pretty much closes the question.

          • Deiseach says:

            It doesn’t sound like comparable to getting dump of Podesta’s full email. It looks like getting access to old webserver which has nothing but old campaign platforms. No wonder there was nothing to publish.

            So the RNC’s blushes were spared by virtue of them being a bunch of technological dinosaurs who weren’t as plugged-in to the world of Big Data and constant connectivity and slick, everything done online and on mobile platforms as the DNC? Chalk one up for us old dinosaurs and Luddites! 🙂

        • abc says:

          * Sidelining their own populist candidate (Bernie) who had a decent chance to, if not defeat Trump outright, at least fragment his base to the point where he can win on the margins.

          I think Trump would have beaten Bernie as well. Granted he would have done it with a slightly different coalition, but likely with an even bigger margin.

          • pdbarnlsey says:

            Yeah, I suspect so. Bernie had a lot of stuff in his political past even more damning than email server management.

            The real question is whether his flaws would have been treated more gently by the media elite than Hillary was. Hillary had the unique disadvantage of being perceived as part of the elite by everyone and as “not really our kind of people” by the media elite themselves. That’s tough to come back from.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            What do you think the coalition would have looked like? And how would he have attracted them?

          • even more damning than email server management.

            Nooooo!

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What do you think the coalition would have looked like? And how would he have attracted them?

            I would not be shocked if fewer black voters decided to turn out for an atheist Jew.

          • abc says:

            What do you think the coalition would have looked like? And how would he have attracted them?

            A lot of the “respectable business/wall street types” would probably have been just as or even more scared by Bernie’s socialism as they were by Trump’s protectionism. Hence, they likely would have done some combination of voting for Trump/voting for a third party/not voting.

        • John Schilling says:

          why should I worry about buffer overflows and SQL injections,

          Unless you’re a coder, you should never worry about buffer overflows and SQL injections. Just understand that the people who are coders (for commercial software at least) will, predictably, always, fuck it up and leave in vulnerabilities that will be hacked.

          So keep your high-level strategizing in a smoke-filled room, where it belongs. Yes, it’s more convenient if you can work by iPhone from your favorite coffee shop. It also guarantees that you’ll lose everything that really matters to someone who doesn’t demand that convenience.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Yes, it’s more convenient if you can work by iPhone from your favorite coffee shop. It also guarantees that you’ll lose everything that really matters to someone who doesn’t demand that convenience.

            Insert favorite quote about “commitment to victory” here

          • Mary says:

            If you do anything in a public location, YOUR technology is the least of your problems.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          The Democratic Party can recover if it can stop becoming the host body to the Clinton parasite, which removed all other power players from the party for its own selfish desires, making a calculated gamble that “choose Clinton or the abyss” would cause everyone to go with Clinton.

          I thought this was a given, but if you see the news there are repeated attempts to reattach the parasite.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        I’ve seen lots of portentous explanations for why Hillary lost, but it seems clear to me it was just dumb miscalculation and hubris. She was convinced that she was the winner, thanks to the Blue Wall of Democratic midwestern states, but she was worried that she while she had a lock on the College she might not take the popular vote. So she spent all her resources trying to run up her popular vote in states like California, to make sure her victory could be claimed as a solid mandate. Further evidence of this is how quickly the machine started the line that Trump’s victory didn’t constitute a mandate.

        Those who attribute Trump’s victory to a fundamental change in the electorate are unfortunately kidding themselves. It might cause such a change, but the actual election was a squeaker.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          What resources did Clinton spend in California? Maybe she did fundraising there, but she didn’t campaign there.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          As the recent “Shattered” book says, part of the reason Clinton didn’t campaign much in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania was that she did not have a good message there.

          She’s a globalist and 2016, for better or worse, was an anti-globalist year. When the tide is against you, you work more on preventing losses than making gains, and you do this by keeping your head down and not talking much.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Except that she did campaign a lot there. Pennsylvania was behind only Florida.

            You make two extremely common mistakes: (1) trying to explain the facts without nailing down what the facts are; (2) valuing secrets over public data.

            Added: Contrary to Doctor Mist, she knew where she was vulnerable and campaigned in the correct states. But within PA and the midwest, she targeted only urban areas, particularly blacks. Yes, the book says that she hunkered down, fearing that campaigning to rural whites would be unproductive. It is a lot harder to second-guess such a calculation.

          • Iain says:

            …part of the reason Clinton didn’t campaign much in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

            Clinton spent a ton of time campaigning in Pennsylvania. Here are just five examples from the first page of a Google search for “clinton pennsylvania campaigning”.

            This is the big gaping hole in the claim that the Clinton campaign lost because they didn’t put enough resources into the Rust Belt states that Trump won. Sure, Clinton basically ignored Wisconsin — but given how much time and effort her campaign poured into Pennsylvania only to lose it anyway, it is unclear that more campaigning in the Rust Belt would have made a difference.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Yes, I was thinking “Michigan” but expanded it to three states in my head for some reason.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Clinton did campaign a lot in Michigan. She campaigned in exactly the same places as Trump. MI was tied for #5 with NV, behind FL, PA, NC, OH. Probably she should have cut her losses in OH and campaigned more MI and WI, but overall she had the right strategy.

      • Quixote says:

        Democrats underinvested in state elections in 2008,2009, and 2010 leaving them in a poor position to take advantage of the opportunity to gerrymander following the 2010 census.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Gerrymandering has no impact on the Presidency, Senate, or Governor races.

          • Brad says:

            Control of state government does have an effect and gerrymandering effects control of state government. There’s a reason NC cut back on early voting and it wasn’t to save money.

          • Quixote says:

            No direct effect. But choosing voting hours, number of machines per district, etc. does determine results in close elections.

          • keranih says:

            The R control of local legislature started back under Clinton – it was the 2000 election that was decisive, there.

            But you’re right, putting a thumb on the scale is bad. Wouldn’t it have been great if there had been a policy of nonpartisan neutrality in drawing voting district lines, and an adherence to traditional standards of proof of residency & voting integrity, while the Dems controlled the legislatures of those States?

            That would have given the R’s a proper example of how to act, once they got the legislative majority.

            OTOH, there’s reason to think that it was the pushing of the boundaries in registration permissiveness that helped fuel the negative perceptions of D control of cities, counties, and state. Looked too much like stacking the deck.

        • Mary says:

          Democrats suffer from the little problem that they tend to pack* and crack** themselves by choosing where to live. This means, people have found, that randomly drawn districts tend to favor Republicans.

          *jam themselves into areas that are 70%, 80%, 90% Democrat — far more than the margin need to win

          ** spread themselves over other regions so they are less than 50%

      • sourcreamus says:

        All the policy talk misses the point. Americans love two kinds of politicians, incumbents and charismatic outsiders. George Bush is the only modern president elected who did not fit either category.
        If Clinton wanted to win her only chance was to pull a Nixon. She should have fake retired and then let her self be talked into running as a reluctant savior. Instead she decided to run as the ultimate insider.

        • Deiseach says:

          She should have fake retired and then let her self be talked into running as a reluctant savior.

          The problem with that is that it depends on others talking you into running. Waiting beside a phone that never rings is a bad risk, and it looks like Hillary thought that nobody would pick up that phone to plead with her to come save the nation, so she went for the “ultimate insider” option instead.

          Does anyone remember if there was an Obama-approved candidate in all this Democrat selection process? Was Hillary’s worry that if she did fake-retire, it would turn all too quickly into real retirement as Obama’s side of the party anointed the successor to the Favoured One?

          • Brad says:

            Joe Biden was the obvious choice, but unfortunately his son died just about the time he would have had to start pushing hard.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I don’t think Joe was all that obvious. He was still “say-it-ain’t-so Joe” who gaffes every time he opens his mouth — although I can see that selling in a year when people are big into “outsiders who say rude truths.” (A gaffe being when a politician accidentally tells the truth, after all.)

            But the reason we were here was that the Clintons has deliberately sucked all the oxygen from the room to make sure there was no other choice except Hillary, who did not want to repeat 2008. The Democratic bench was weak to start with, but anyone who went up against the Clintons was going to risk having their career destroyed. Hence the only real competition came from someone who wasn’t even technically a Democrat and had nothing to lose by being blackballed for opposing her.

            Even if Hillary was destined to win, the party still should have had a real primary season, because it would have given the party’s B-team a chance to show off their chops on the national stage. Even if they got knocked around a bit, it would have been excellent practice and the experience they need to actually win a nomination next time.

            But the Clintons made sure there was No Other Choice. Now we have to rebuild the party.

    • Amos says:

      I agree. It’s not because Hillery sounded wonkish or not wonkish it’s because she was pro-open borders ,pro-abortion at anytime and put nebulous environmental concerns above peoples jobs . If she had been more like trump in language and temperament but still pro-open borders, pro-abortion and pro-environment-before-jobs, she would not have got more votes, she would have got less. The white working class just don’t like these policy and if you try to be friendly to them while keeping them you a just going to demonstrate the contrast between what you say and what they want. You’ll sound incoherent and schizophrenic.

      Given that she supported these policies trying to hide to behind a smokescreen of “”I’m super-competent and he’s not and my policies are good for you in ways that are to complicated to explain” was probably her best bet.

      • pro-open borders

        Literally? As in let anyone in?

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,

          from her speech to Banco Itau which was found in the wikileaks dump.

          • rlms says:

            Hence her enormous support from the libertarians here.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            For whatever it’s worth, as a Libertarian(ish person, though not from America), I much preferred Hillary to Trump, and most other Democrats, for that matter.