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Trump: A Setback For Trumpism

Donald Trump has been called a setback for many things. America. The global community. The environment. Civil service. Civil society. Civility. Civilization. The list goes on.

One might think he has at least been useful to his own cause. That he could at least claim to have benefited the ideas of populism, nationalism, immigration control, and protectionism. That if anything could avoid being devastated by Trump, it would be Trumpism.

But here are some polls from the past few years. They’re all on slightly different things, but I think together they tell an interesting story:

Support for global free trade mysteriously spiked around 2016.

So did moral support for immigrants.

…and, less clearly but still there, support for increasing the number of immigrants (though see here for an apparently contrary source).

…and opposition to deporting illegal immigrants.

So did belief in racial discrimination as a major cause of inequality, according to this chart with a completely unbiased title which is willing to let readers decide how to think about this issue for themselves.

And so did trust in the New York Times and other mainstream media sources.

The clearest example I can find of this effect doesn’t come from the US at all. It’s Minkus, Deutschmann & Delhey (2018). They find that a large European poll asked the same question about support for the EU the week before and after Trump’s election. Just after the election, there was a giant spike in support for the EU, “considerable in size, roughly equivalent to three years of education”. They conclude that:

The election of Trump as a right-wing nationalist with a declared aversion to supranational institutions including the EU — did not trigger a domino effect in the same direction in Europe. To the contrary, a rally effect occurred, in which Europe moved closer together, rallying around the EU’s “flag.” This indicates that an event that may at first sight appear to be a global victory for nationalism can immediately trigger measurable sentiments of resistance in another part of the world, actually leading to new impetus for supranationalism.

This kind of analysis is inherently vulnerable to cherry-picking, and I admit I’ve chosen some especially dramatic results. And polls naturally have a lot of variability, and none of these on their own constitute proof of anything. But I think when you put everything together you do get a trend. Some things have stayed the same, or are inconclusive. But there do seem to be a lot of cases where support for Trumpist positions show a sudden and lasting decrease as soon as Trump enters the national stage.

I want credit for predicting this. In my endorsement of anyone except Trump, I told progressives not to vote Trump because they opposed his policy, and conservatives not to vote Trump because he would cause a backlash that was worse than anything they might get from him. I said that the left thrives by imagining themselves as brave rebels fighting an ignorant, regressive, hateful authority, and that “bringing their straw man to life and putting him in the Oval Office” would be “the biggest gift” they could give the Democrats, and would end up pushing an entire generation further to the left.

I think this is a good broad theory of what’s happening, but it might be worth digging deeper to try to distinguish possible mechanisms.

First, maybe Trump is just such an offensive and aversive figure that people switch sides in disgust. This is a little weird; if you were anti-immigration before Trump, can’t you just say “I hate Trump, but I’m still against immigration”? But maybe people’s minds don’t work that way.

Second, maybe Trump made causes like protectionism and nativism so central to the Republican narrative that they became untenable for Democrats. That is, in 2010, it might have been possible to be an anti-illegal-immigration Democrat (remember, in the early 2000s Hillary supported a border fence), but in 2018, that would signal being a Republican, or at least someone of questionable loyalty to the Democratic Party. In order to fit in, moderate Democrats abandoned their anti-illegal-immigration stances. The graphs above seem to provide some evidence for this: they usually show the largest shift among Democrats, with Republicans merely staying where they are.

Third, and kind of opposite that, maybe Trump is such an offensive and aversive figure that conservatives feel a need to maintain their reputation by distancing themselves from him. Maybe in 2010, being anti-illegal-immigration signaled things that you wanted to signal, like patriotism and support for low-paid workers. And now, being anti-immigration signals things you don’t want to signal, like Trump’s particular brand of inflammatory divisiveness. This doesn’t fit the evidence from the graphs above, but it does sort of fit the European study, where further-right Europeans were more likely to switch opinions after the election than further-left ones.

Fourth, maybe Trump’s focus on certain causes shifted the focus of Democrats and the mainstream media to those causes, and Democrats and the mainstream media were better at opposing them than Trump was at supporting them. For example, since Trump the media has been focusing more intensely on negative aspects of ICE and Border Control practices which were less well-covered before his presidency. If this focus has successfully changed minds, that would explain a shift away from Trump.

Fifth, maybe Trump has shifted the goalposts. Maybe identifying as anti-illegal-immigrant before Trump just meant you thought there should be a little better border control, but now you think it means you want a wall and mass deportations, plus you think all Mexicans are rapists. If you felt like the anti-illegal-immigrant cause was getting more extreme, but your positions stayed the same, then you might stop identifying as anti-illegal-immigrant.

Sixth, there have been a lot of studies showing that peaceful protests may increase support for a cause, but violent or disruptive protests usually decrease it (1, 2, 3). It’s easy enough to analogize Trump to a “disruptive protest” – in the sense of an ideological cause getting associated with an unsympathetic proponent – and this would be compatible with any of the explanations above. But I notice that most of the research in this area was done on whites reacting to civil rights protests, adding an identity dimension: maybe disruptive racially charged protests by blacks increase the salience of race as a category for whites, causing them to shift their opinions more towards ones based on their race rather than based on other values. This would also explain the paradoxical Ferguson effect mentioned in Part III here. In the same way, we can think of Trump’s election as a disruptive Republican move that makes Democrats feel threatened and increases the salience of partisanship for them. This would cause a sort of unilateral polarization, where Democrats become more progressive but Republicans don’t necessarily become more conservative, and so the country as a whole shifts to the left. Like the second explanation, this is compatible with the party breakdown on the graphs above. It’s also compatible with this:

These show the familiar 2016 spike. But although Trump has taken positions against fighting climate change or regulating guns, I don’t think of these two issues as “Trumpist” in the same way as illegal immigration, and I’m surprised they seem to show a Trump-related change. This would make more sense if Trump caused a wider-reaching closing of ranks among Democrats rather than just a shift away from his personal hobbyhorses.

I think all of this should increase people’s concern about backlash effects. Contrary to what some of my conflict theorist friends seem to think, civility and honesty are not always pointless own-goals in politics. If you’re sufficiently repulsive and offensive, you can also end up damaging your own cause.

As I’ve pointed out before, backlash can sometimes be a necessary trade-off to energize your base. But as I’ve also pointed out before, people tend to overestimate the importance of turning out the base, and to underestimate the importance of not having everyone hate you. So if I were a Trumpist, I would be very worried right now.

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1,001 Responses to Trump: A Setback For Trumpism

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  4. Conrad Honcho says:

    Scott, I have an alternative explanation for your graphs.

    If the media spends three solid years screaming that if you support the policies in opposition to the financial interests of the corporations that own the media all good, right, moral and decent-thinking people then you’re literally the devil and also Hitler and unwelcome in society, polite or otherwise, they can get a 5-10 point shift in stated approval for those policies.

  5. JoeCool says:

    I suspect Trump could increase his chances and actually get something done if he started supporting an increase in legal immigration for high skilled immigrants *cough* white *cough*.

    It is a counter the trump as racist narrative (he could cherry pick some black high skilled immigrants) and ostensibly the Democrats would have to vote for it in the Senate or risk looking like *cough* being *cough* obstructionist hypocrites.

    His base seems to love him no matter what, so in a way, he, in theory, has a blank slate to pass whatever he wants and take credit, just as long as he passes dem supported stuff! I mean its already a conservative talking point that they like immigrants who “wait in line” (as if there is a line that most immigrants can wait in, but I digress).

    It would also increase economic growth and thereby maximize his election chances.

    • nkurz says:

      I’m confused by your first *coughing* fit. Are you saying that you believe “high skilled immigrants” are will be honorary “whites” because of their skills, or that that you believe the only such immigrants to be found will be melanin deficient? Or is the *cough* to indicate that you don’t believe this, but you think that others do? If so, who are these others and what exactly do they believe?

      I do wonder about the strategy, though. How would a program targeted at dramatically increasing immigration by, say, conservative Christian African medical professionals go over with the different American factions? My guess is that it would be viewed positively by the Republicans if they thought those new immigrants would be eventually likely to vote Republican. I think that’s one of the tricky parts for the Republican party — where can they find immigrants who are culturally likely to support them after arrival? Are there any groups for whom this is likely?

    • INH5 says:

      H1-B visas seem like a decent proxy for the expected demographics of any expansion in high-skilled immigration. The top 5 countries are India (more than all other countries put together, from what I can tell), China, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. So if anything one would expect any increase in high-skilled immigration to result in far more Asian immigrants than white immigrants.

      Highly skilled Indians, Chinese, and Filipinos have a lot more incentives to migrate than high-skilled Western Europeans, and thanks to Schengen many Eastern Europeans have a much easier time migrating to Germany or wherever if they want to live in a first world country. That leaves Russia and a few other former Soviet Union and Balkan countries, which simply don’t have enough English speakers to make them an attractive market for American employers looking for highly-skilled workers.

      So it looks like the white nationalists have their work cut out for them if they want to increase white immigration without policies that explicitly discriminate by race.

      • According to that link, Russia has seven and a half million English speakers. I expect they are heavily concentrated in the educated, upper income groups. And my impression is that Russian immigrants are quite likely to vote Republican.

        • INH5 says:

          Yes, but there are 125 million English speakers in India and 64 million in the Philippines. Russia is far down on the list of countries that American companies look at when trying to find skilled immigrant workers, and I can’t think of any way to change that without the government explicitly saying, “only white people can immigrate,” or something equivalent such as “only people from this list of countries, which all happen to be majority white, can immigrate.”

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Trump endorses the RAISE Act, which adopts a merit-based system for immigration, including points for speaking English. The Democrats oppose this, however. I couldn’t tell you why without being uncharitable.

      • cryptoshill says:

        This is something I never understood. This has been Trump’s explicit position on how we should do immigration in the United States since day one. This is by definition, less racist than our current national-origin lottery.

      • Brad says:

        Maybe because it would have cut both overall numbers and refugee numbers dramatically?

        If you are going to do a reform, do a reform. Don’t do a dramatic transformation plus a reform.

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  7. Deiseach says:

    Donald Trump has been called a setback for many things. America. The global community. The environment. Civil service. Civil society. Civility. Civilization. The list goes on.

    Today I saw a news story about Putin’s Stasi identity card from the 80s.

    Researchers have unearthed an ID card issued by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, to a young Vladimir Putin, when he was a KGB officer in Dresden in the late 1980s.

    The document was reportedly found by chance when researchers from a media outlet requested documents from the archive of the Stasi Records Agency.

    The ID was held by Putin between 1985 and 1989, however it does not mean that he worked for the Stasi. Rather, it means he had access to their offices.

    According to the archive, KGB officers stationed in East Germany working on cooperation between institutions were automatically issued Stasi ID cards.

    Trump is worse for civilisation than a guy who was literal KGB and worked with the Stasi?

    I don’t think Scott is giving his own personal views there and he is simply stating what some hysterical Chicken Little the sky is falling! people think. I also think that Scott is human, has political preferences, and inclines towards the one of the two major American political parties that approaches closest to his preferences.

    I’m not a Republican (in the American sense) but I am conservative/on the right; I think this post is just Scott honestly expressing his own opinions, and the advice about “Republicans, don’t run a candidate unless you can find one that best imitates a Democrat” is honest advice, but naturally it’s from what he feels is the proper, good, and moral values to have rather than the presumed values that the Republican party has.

    I’m on the right, he’s not; there’s no point in getting bent out of shape about that.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Where have I ever said Trump was worse than Putin?

      I just think “not as bad as a Russian dictator” is too low a bar to hold our presidents to.

    • and the advice about “Republicans, don’t run a candidate unless you can find one that best imitates a Democrat”

      I don’t think that’s the advice. It’s “don’t run a candidate who will not come across as a reasonable person.”

      Trump is special in two quite different ways. The first is a particular bundle of policy positions. The second is a personal style–lots of inflammatory tweets, a casual attitude to whether things he says are true. Scott’s argument is about the latter.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I don’t think that’s the advice. It’s “don’t run a candidate who will not come across as a reasonable person.”

        If you’re in a Blue enough bubble, it’s the same advice. I saw people metaphorically dancing on the grave of Antonin Scalia because he was such a terrible person. Romney and W attracted much of the same scorn. So did Ted Cruz. And Ben Carson. The only Republican who didn’t receive such scorn was Kasich, who arguably “best imitates a Democrat”. So if you’re going to be considered unreasonable in any case, maybe make reasonability your dump stat.

        • LadyJane says:

          George W. Bush attracted scorn for starting two wars. (Yes, I know, Obama, liberal hypocrisy, I’m aware and I agree, let’s move on.) And Ted Cruz and Ben Carson weren’t that mainstream: While Ted Cruz eventually settled into an establishment role, he originally made a name for himself as a Tea Party candidate who’d take a hard line on social issues and wouldn’t compromise with Democrats. Combine that with his staunch Christian Evangelicalism, and it’s not hard to see why liberals and moderates would view him as a fanatic. As for Carson, he was an outsider with no political experience who seemed even more detached from reality than Trump was, even if he wasn’t as loud and obnoxious about his crazy and inconsistent views.

          As for Romney, did he really get that much scorn from Democrats? Certainly there were attacks against him during the 2012 election, but that’s just business as usual. I don’t remember people having the same kind of outrage towards him that they had toward Bush or Trump. And when he joined the Never Trump movement, liberals accepted him without any real resistance; compare that with Bush, who couldn’t say anything bad about Trump without some leftist writing a lengthy screed about how Bush is a war criminal who doesn’t deserve the moral high ground.

          • INH5 says:

            Also note that before 9/11 threw everything out of whack, W’s approval ratings among Democrats hovered around 30% (see the bottom of this page). Trump’s approval rating among Democrats has rarely risen above 10%. Maybe you can blame this all on a different media environment, but I think there is a qualitative difference here.

          • The Nybbler says:

            George W. Bush attracted scorn for starting two wars.

            And for being (allegedly)stupid and inarticulate, and for dodging the draft (remember the whole documents scandal?).

            As for Romney, did he really get that much scorn from Democrats?

            Remember “Binders full of women”?

            but that’s just business as usual

            Well, that’s just it. If you’re going to get all those attacks regardless, there’s no reason to try to optimize for avoiding them, because you can’t.

          • If you’re going to get all those attacks regardless, there’s no reason to try to optimize for avoiding them, because you can’t.

            Romney got attacked by Democrats because he was a Republican candidate for president. But Trump gets attacked by lots of people, including fellow Republicans, because of the sort of person he comes across as being.

          • LadyJane says:

            Well, that’s just it. If you’re going to get all those attacks regardless, there’s no reason to try to optimize for avoiding them, because you can’t.

            There’s a huge difference in scale between “this guy isn’t fit to rule the country because [policy flip-flop/mildly offensive comment/silly gaffe]” and “this guy is a horrible racist sexist homophobic imperialist tyrant on par with Hitler, plus he’s corrupt and incompetent to a degree that’s totally beyond the pale even for politics.” The former gets directed at literally everyone running for any major office, on any side. The latter tends to get reserved for people like Trump.

          • cassander says:

            @LadyJane

            The former gets directed at literally everyone running for any major office, on any side. The latter tends to get reserved for people like Trump.

            I remember plenty of the latter getting directed at most of the members of the second bush administration. And while I don’t personally remember it, I’ve ready about it being directed at earlier republican administrations. I could probably dig some up for Romney too, if I tried.

          • LadyJane says:

            @cassander: Again, Bush got flak for his wars and Trump gets flak for being Trump. I live in a pretty solid Blue Tribe bubble and the worst that I remember people saying about Romney was that he was “out of touch.” They did take his 47% line out of context to make it sound more elitist than it actually was, but again, that’s politics. I remember some of the older Democrats in my family talking about how Obama and Romney were both great men. My father was enough of an Obama supporter to donate to Obama’s campaign, and he still said that Romney would’ve been a good President in a different time, he just didn’t think Romney’s conservative fiscal policies were well-suited for a recession. That noble adversary mindset was even more prevalent with McCain; establishment Democrats practically idolized that man.

            Compare that to the way that Democrats talk about Tea Party Republicans like Cruz or outsiders like Trump, and it’s hard not to notice a stark contrast. So no, I don’t think Democrats would’ve reacted the same way to a Romney or Kasich Presidency.

          • cassander says:

            @LadyJane

            Bush got the flack before, for “stealing” the election. For being too stupid to be president, to giving all power over to a dangerous, corrupt warmonger like Cheney (yes, even before Iraq).

            As for Mccain, they idolized him until he ran, then he was a stupid, dangerous hotheaded warmonger who was temperamentally unsuited to the presidency. I’ll grant you he got LESS of that than Bush and Trump, but I think that’s largely because he didn’t win, and so he had less time to collect it.

            https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/10/the-wars-of-john-mccain/306991/

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/19/AR2008041902224.html

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jun/22/johnmccain.uselections2008

          • Compare that to the way that Democrats talk about Tea Party Republicans like Cruz or outsiders like Trump, and it’s hard not to notice a stark contrast.

            I don’t think you want to put Cruz in the same category at Trump for the purposes of this discussion.

            Democrats would oppose Cruz mostly because they don’t like his policies–policies that they believe would be much farther from theirs than the policies Kasich would follow. If that’s all that is happening, then a legitimate response would be “you are asking us to give up on the policies we want because our opponents don’t like them.”

            What distinguishes Trump is not how extreme his policies are, it’s how far he deviates from normal patterns of respectable behavior. That provides people who don’t like his policies with a powerful extra weapon that they wouldn’t have against Cruz, at least from what I have seen of him.

          • albatross11 says:

            I also remember the rhetoric directed at Reagan, which was pretty merciless and was not entirely unlike that directed at Trump. Hyperbole is a pretty standard bit of politics, as Barrack “Socialist Muslim” Obama could tell you.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s a huge difference in scale between “this guy isn’t fit to rule the country because [policy flip-flop/mildly offensive comment/silly gaffe]” and “this guy is a horrible racist sexist homophobic imperialist tyrant on par with Hitler, plus he’s corrupt and incompetent to a degree that’s totally beyond the pale even for politics.” The former gets directed at literally everyone running for any major office, on any side.

            There’s literally no difference at all if the latter also gets directed at everyone running for major office, on account of that sort of dishonest rhetoric being tactically effective and acceptable to current political mores.

            More to the point, differences in scale don’t matter if the practical result is that you’ll never vote for the person and you’ll expect your representatives to oppose his agenda in Congress. The US political system just counts votes, it doesn’t measure the reasons behind them. The difference that matters is not that liberals, leftists, and other solid Democrats really really mean it when they call Trump a tyrant worse than Hitler. The difference that matters is that some normally Republican voters who used to say “we like these policies”, are now also saying “but this guy is a tyrant, so no”.

            For their own reasons, which are not the same as your reasons.

        • John Schilling says:

          If you’re in a Blue enough bubble, it’s the same advice.

          The advice is independent of what bubble you are in. If you are interested in having your beliefs backed with real political power, it is the “bubble” inhabited by swing voters that matters. And if you are tailoring you actions to extreme partisans, of either side, you’re going to botch that part.

  8. educationrealist says:

    This is utterly goofy. So long as you’re going to pointlessly obsess about polls, try this one: Trump’s approval ratings have remained largely static. There’s been no sea change in opinion. And the idea that Americans are suddenly going to become thrilled about masses of immigrants, legal or otherwise, is kinda nuts–almost as nuts as thinking Trump would make people more likely to hold that opinion.

    Without question, those who feel strongly that all immigration should be reduced are coalescing around the Republican party. Trade issues are different–both parties have a strong section of anti-globalists, although the GOP has more.

    But Trump isn’t changing minds about immigration. Quite the contrary, it’s more respectable to be anti-immigration and immigration restrictionists now than it was before he started running. That is, he’s changing minds about the dangers of being against immigration.

    Same people as always are for lots of immigration. It’s a small group.

    This is, in all honesty, one of the only really foolish ideas I”ve ever seen you go on about.

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  10. ing says:

    I agree that there was a backlash to Trumpism, but the whole thing still seems weird to me, because it sounds like a fully general argument against ever doing anything. (“Don’t ever elect your guy to office, because there will be a backlash!”)

    There was a backlash when Obama got elected and started work on Obamacare. It was still worth doing Obamacare.

    I think there’s an argument to be made here that Trump is such a particuarly terrible example of the Red Tribe that the backlash would’ve been particularly bad, so maybe it would’ve been worth sabotaging him, losing the election, and hoping to elect a less-awful person four years later. But nobody’s actually trying to make that argument, they’re just pointing to the backlash.

    The conservatives are apparently getting a bunch of very partisan court justice appointments out of the deal, plus (y’know) tax breaks on the wealthy, and environmental regulations torn up, and it seems to me that they really wanted those things. So I’m imagining they’re actually pretty happy with how this turned out, despite the backlash.

    — Like, if the backlash to Trump were really that bad, it seems to me that I would be thinking: “Wow, lucky for us that they made the blunder of getting Trump elected president! This is really going to be a big victory for progressive policies over the next ten years!”

    And I’m not thinking that.

    • Galle says:

      Lots of people are thinking that, though. I don’t agree with them, and I’m skeptical that Trump is bad for Trumpism (I think Trumpism is just an inherently self-destructive ideology that will inevitably burn itself out) but they do exist.

      That said, I think Scott’s argument isn’t “You should never do anything because it might cause a backlash,” but more specifically, “You should not elect the worst possible champion for your cause as president, because they will cause a backlash.” It’s not a fully general argument against electing Trumpist candidates, it’s only an argument against electing Trumpist candidates as personally repugnant as Trump.

    • plus (y’know) tax breaks on the wealthy

      One part of the change in tax law was to set an upper limit on how much of the interest on the mortgage on your house you could deduct. That was a change whose only effect was to increase the taxes of people rich enough to own very expensive houses. Nobody seems to mention that fact in contexts like this.

      The one big tax reduction was on the corporate income tax, and although corporations are legal people the effect of cutting that tax on the income of real people (stockholders, employees, customers) is unclear.

  11. hyperboloid says:

    Thermostatic effects in public opinion have been well documented. It has been the case for decades that when policy moves one way opinion often moves the other. Nevertheless, Trump does seem to be an extreme case.

    I suspect one important factor is the perception of competence. I would venture the hypothesis that opinions associated with people that are perceived as crackpots, idiots, or fanatics become less popular irrespective of their content. A good example of this might be the protests on the lead up to the Iraq war. While the protesters where overwhelmingly right they were also a bunch of patchouli smelling hippies, and Colon Powell sounds a lot more credible then a white guy with dreadlocks in a rage against the machine T-shirt.

    While Trump’s ideas are certainly stupid on their merits, it doesn’t help that the loudest voice advocating for them sounds like this. As bad as Trump’s policies are, they are done to favors in the court of public opinion by being served up with a healthy side of incompetence.

  12. VNodosaurus says:

    Object level: I suspect Trump has been good for both Trumpism and anti-Trumpism, and bad for orthogonal political ideologies. He’s brought certain issues (i.e. immigration) to the fore, while not talking about other issues (i.e. gun control). As such, the ideologies of agreeing with everything Trump says and of disagreeing with everything Trump says have both gained in popularity. Thus, i.e., identity politics has gained in popularity on both the right and the left.

    Meta level: Scott should really stop editing his posts because of blowback from conservatives who can’t stand reading Trump jokes from someone they know dislikes him. If you can’t stand negative comments about Republicans at all, you can go and read conservative blogs.

    • sharper13 says:

      I think it’s the cognitive dissonance from reading someone who has a long track record of being rational and kind, even on political issues, even on issues you may not agree with him on, suddenly seeming to be saying something which can be perceived as petty, ignorant of the opposition and exaggeratedly tribal in nature.

      I don’t believe that’s how Scott intended his post, not even the first paragraph. I didn’t read it that way when I read it. I think he was just using his typical snarky style and it happened to line up in that fiery tribal way in some people’s minds when they read it, likely because they’ve read other similar things from people in the last couple of years who did mean them in that over the top way.

      It’s sort of the way in which the Babylon Bee and The Onion sometimes run news stories as a parody which people then believe because someone goes and does something similar in real life.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Eh, it’s more the “can dish it out but can’t take it” thing. Upthread he perma-banned oppressed-minority for relating a joke the migrants in Germany tell that reveals the migrants’ contempt for the Germans. oppressed-minority was not telling this joke for laughs. It’s more like Bill letting us know Jim is a racist by telling us about the racist joke Jim told. Bill’s not the racist here. Still, that’s enough for a ban while Scott yucks it up against his outgroup.

      I’m a Trump supporter but I don’t care about the Trump jokes because I’m not a humorless pearl-clutcher. But either do no jokes or all jokes.

      • 10240 says:

        That joke is something mostly told by anti-immigration people. That some hard-right group managed to find an immigrant who was willing to tell that joke is hardly evidence for anything.

        I don’t think that the commenter was banned for his opinions. His comments had an extremely high ratio of snark to valuable contribution, and a very low level of argumentative experience (mostly gotchas).

  13. dragnubbit says:

    Changes in support for certain policies may not be indicative of people turning from Trump. Pro-immigration Republicans are still going to be loyal to Trump in 2020 and there is nothing he could do that would change that. His persona and charisma means each Republican voter can just pick from the menu of major issues that matter to them, and as long as one of them is met by Trump they can focus on that while they mark the ballot for him.

  14. Are comments auto-moderated or was it something in my comment?

    • CatCube says:

      If you use a word on the censored list, you comment gets memory-holed. So far as I know, that bit bucket has no retrieval function; it’s just gone forever.

      Also, if you have too many links, or possibly links to particular sites, it will get put in moderation. In that case, I think Scott could pull it out.

  15. If Trump had been elected in 2012 rather than 2016, he’d be blamable for Merkel’s Million, the Black Lives Matter movement and the ekaf newsthat fed it, and the near-nomination by the Democratic party of a self-described socialist in 2016. The radicalization preceded him, and in his absence it would have likely been even worse. He showed politicians throughout the world that no matter what the experts assured them, “it” can happen “here.” Macron, despite his rhetoric in praise of her, is less likely to follow in Merkel’s footsteps, seeing Clinton’s example:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/22/hillary-clinton-europe-must-curb-immigration-stop-populists-trump-brexit

    If the choice was between Trump and a candidate with Trump’s views without his personality, most of us would have chosen the latter. But there wasn’t that choice. Still isn’t. You didn’t see many mini-Trumps in Republican primaries. Why not? A few months ago I was talking to someone who works for a website, the politics of which can be called “Trumpist.” She asked me what I did for a living. I replied that I was a computer programmer, and she remarked that it seemed like everyone was a computer programmer. Indeed, look at the biography of every Trumpist, New-Right, or alt-Right “leader” under 50 years old, and you’ll find that the large majority work or have worked in the tech industry. And that’s a problem. Fact is, there aren’t many people with IQs greater than 125 with populist-nationalist views, and those who do tend to have aspergery personality types unsuited to participation in politics.(I include myself in this category.) At least in the medium term(next fifteen years) I think there’s little hope for populism in America. Trump will lose in 2020, the rhetoric of GOP politicians will go back to what the Right-neoliberalism of 2014. In the longer term, who knows. The GOP has been hard at work protecting the affluent from any consequences of their socially liberal beliefs, but it will become increasingly unable and unwilling to fulfill this function. So maybe(this isn’t a prediction, unlike my statement about populism lack of a future in the medium term) desegregation busing will bring it back.

    Getting back to the question of who we should have voted for in 2016, imagine you are the kid who, whenever he tries to play the sportsball game, always falls flat on his face, and gets laughed at by the other kids. He has little hope of ever improving, but then he gets an idea. He doesn’t know how to win the game, but he can take the air out of the ball, repaint the goal lines, tamper with the clock, and generally cause chaos allowing him to laugh at the confused sportsballers who laughed at him, even as he knows it’s all temporary. While I do think Trump was better on policy than the other Republicans and certainly the Democrats, in part 2016 was simply a chance to laugh. Good times.

  16. JohnNV says:

    I’m confused about something – if Scott’s advice for Trumpists was to vote for Democrats because electing Trump would result in a backlash that produces more liberal policies than had Trump not been elected, then shouldn’t his advice for Democrats have been to vote for Trump for the same reasons? To produce a backlash that’s ultimately better for the liberal policyset than Clinton would have been? If electing a Democrat is actually better for the Trumpist agenda, how can electing Trump not be better for a liberal agenda?

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Yes, in the past 3 minutes I’ve decided I’m actually a progressive and strongly in favor of open borders.

      I’m going to be voting Trump in 2020, and only for congressional candidates who are strongly in favor of Trump’s wall so we can fire up the backlash against Trump and his racist policies. I implore all my fellow progressives to vote only for strongly pro-wall, anti-immigration candidates and achieve our shared noble progressive goals of open borders and mass third world migration. Let’s show those nazis a thing or two by voting for them, right fellow progressives?

      • dick says:

        Progressives don’t want open borders.

        I feel like this has been covered before so let’s hit fast-forward:

        “Yes they do, Hillary Clinton once said – ” Did she say she wanted open borders?

        “No, but the only possible interpretation of – ” Do you let your outgroup phrase your positions for you?

        “No, but it doesn’t matter how they phrase it, the result of their policies would – ” Do you trust your outgroup’s prediction of the result of your policies?

        “But here’s a list of 37 quotes from prominent – ” Those are calls for opener borders than we have now, not open borders.

        “Well that’s essentially – ” No it isn’t. One is the mainsteam position held by many people on the left, and one is an exaggeration of it held by few.

        “Exaggerating a position doesn’t necessarily – ” It’s literally the first example when you look up straw man on wikipedia.

        “Everyone here knew what I – ” Still a straw man.

        “Fine, but – ” Thanks, let’s move on.

        • JohnNV says:

          I don’t disagree with you that progressives don’t want open borders. There are people who think that the country should go back to the immigration policies before 1921, which was essentially open borders. I’m one of them, so the question is, in the long run, are we closer to my policy preferences by having elected Trump or would we ultimately be closer by having elected Clinton? I can see the arguments both ways. Personally, I voted for Johnson who was more pro-immigration than either of the major party candidates.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          “We don’t want open borders.”

          “Great, so can we have a wall?”

          “No.”

          “Can we deploy the military to borders then to stop people entering illegally?”

          “No.”

          “Border Patrol doesn’t seem to be able to stop any significant fraction of the the people illegally coming in, though. Can we have more Border Patrol funding?”

          “No.”

          “Okay, so the people we do capture coming in, can we deport them?”

          “Not if they say the magic word ‘asylum.'”

          “Even if there’s absolutely no genuine reason they might qualify for asylum?”

          “Well you have to give them a hearing.”

          “So can we hold them until we give them their hearing?”

          “No! Double no if they’ve dragged some random kid with them!”

          “Okay, so we have to let them go, into our country, and hope they show up for a hearing months later. If they don’t show up can we send ICE to deport them?”

          “Well. Ugh. Not if they haven’t committed any other crimes! And even then still no. And no person is illegal. And our blue cities and states are now sanctuary cities and states which won’t cooperate with ICE! Also abolish ICE.”

          “What, if anything at all are we allowed to do to enforce our borders?”

          “I dunno. Nothing that might actually do anything.”

          “So you’re for open borders then?”

          “WHERE DO YOU GET THIS CRAZY CONSPIRACY THEORY!?!!?!”

          Repeat forever and ever.

          • dick says:

            Repeat forever and ever.

            Conservatives often say they want lower taxes, and never say they want higher taxes. So that means they want taxes to be zero, right? No, it means they want taxes to be lower. And progressives want borders to be opener.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, what dick said.

            I think liberals appear to be in favor of 0 immigration restrictions because of all debates are bravery debates (that is, they are so confident that Republicans’ approach to immigrants is too harsh that they are loathe to signal support for any limitation on immigration for fear it will be used against them/mistaken for a signal of support for the “anti-immigrant” camp).

            Liberals probably get a similar feeling discussing gun control with US conservatives. Most US conservatives don’t support private ownership of nuclear weapons, yet you’ll probably be hard pressed to get them to signal any willingness to restrict private weapon ownership because they have (with some good reason) a “give them an inch and they’ll take a yard” attitude.

            Somewhat related, is adjusting one’s rhetorical stance based on the audience or perception of a need to shift the Overton Window in one’s community inherently a bit of a “conflict strategy” (in that you are strategically not revealing your “true” stance)? Or is that different (a matter of not being disingenuous with anyone, only choosing to aim different, correct arguments at different audiences as seems appropriate)?

          • @Dick:

            You are not answering Conrad’s argument. His evidence is not that liberals say they want more immigration, it’s that they oppose the policies required to enforce any restrictions on immigration.

            The equivalent would be if conservatives wanted to have everyone simply declare his income, calculate taxes, and send them in, with no mechanism to check that the report was accurate.

          • Dan L says:

            @ dick:

            +1 to everything.

            @ onyomi:

            I’ve made identical arguments to yours in the past. My biggest concern in this (Both? All such.) debate is that what may be an effective Conflict strategy actually does push the policy debate to the edges, and then compromise becomes impossible. A problem, where there’s an actual Mistake to be solved.

            @ David:

            In dick’s list, Conrad is currently somewhere between the second and third line. There are plenty of examples of Democrats being willing to compromise on immigration policy, but these days as often as not the bargains get shot down from the Right. If someone wants to argue immigration but can’t be bothered to remember the Gang of Eight exists, they’re as close to bad faith as makes no difference.

            The equivalent would be if conservatives wanted to have everyone simply declare his income, calculate taxes, and send them in, with no mechanism to check that the report was accurate.

            A curious comparison crosses my mind: how am I supposed to interpret “Abolish the IRS”? (Maybe it’s just a punchy way of saying “I support the Fair Tax Act”, but then I’d have to apply the same charity to “Abolish ICE!” and that sounds exhausting.)

          • The Nybbler says:

            It appears “Abolish the IRS” does indeed mean repeal the income tax (though replacing it with a sales tax).

            One could imagine a world where the IRS was widely considered to be an extremely abusive agency and the slogan meant to abolish the agency while transferring its functions elsewhere. This isn’t that world. Similarly, one could imagine a world where ICE was considered to be very bad at their job and should be abolished with their functions transferred elsewhere. This isn’t that world either (though I do seem to recall similar movements aimed at their predecessor agencies).

            You see a bit of this with BATFE, with some gun control opponents wanting to abolish it and transfer its useful functions elsewhere, but there it’s mixed; they generally do want to abolish some of its functions.

          • dick says:

            You are not answering Conrad’s argument. His evidence is not that liberals say they want more immigration, it’s that they oppose the policies required to enforce any restrictions on immigration.

            That’s fair, I’m not arguing with him about immigration policy, I’m complaining that he’s repeating a straw man (“the left wants open borders”). When someone says, “Libertarians want [something you would call an exaggeration of libertarian aims]”, do you clear your schedule to dive into a nuanced point-by-point refutation?

          • dick says:

            Too late to edit, but that sounds really bitchy so I’ll add – all I really mean is I’m riled up by the meta part about misrepresenting the position of the left more than the object part about the particulars of immigration policy. What he’s saying – “I know they claim not to support X, but I think their position is tantamount to supporting X, so I will just declare that they support X and go from there” is a super weapon, you can use it to show that anyone believes anything. But on the object level, if Conrad found someone that does support fully open borders and had a big argument thread with them, I’d probably be more with Conrad than against him.

          • if Conrad found someone that does support fully open borders

            He doesn’t have to look very far.

            My point was that he made a specific argument and your answer was a rebuttal of an entirely different argument for the same conclusion.

          • dick says:

            My point was that he made a specific argument and your answer was a rebuttal of an entirely different argument for the same conclusion.

            I don’t think I rebutted anything. I agree that the left opposes almost anything the right proposes to fight immigration, and I think onyomi’s explanation of why is on point. I objected to characterizing the left as wanting open borders, that’s my only contribution. Do you disagree? You’ve said you’re in favor of open borders. You feel like the left is with you on this one? Is your position on immigration essentially the same as that of Hillary or Obama or some other prominent left person?

          • @Dick:

            I don’t think that any significant number of high level Democratic politicians are in favor of open borders, in part because they would not be willing to accept the other half of my old proposal–new immigrants not qualifying for welfare support for a substantial length of time.

            I wasn’t agreeing with Conrad’s conclusion or disagreeing with yours. I was pointing out that he had offered a specific argument for his conclusion and that your response, which amounted to “progressives are not saying they want borders to be open, just more open” ignored that argument instead of rebutting it.

            The rebuttal to his argument is that the progressives do not want to eliminate all of the things they pretend that they want to eliminate, the elimination of which, Conrad plausibly argues, would amount to open borders. They are attacking a variety of policies each of which can be made to look bad while ignoring the fact that eliminating all of those policies would lead to a result they don’t want. Typical political demagoguery–not, of course, limited to progressives.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not being rhetorical here, nor am I arguing in bad faith. I believe an examination of Democrat/liberal/leftist/progressive responses to any specific policy proposal reveal a preference for open borders. I did this by listing these specific policy proposals, and if I’m wrong about the usual response to any of those proposals, let me know.

            It’s a motte and baily, just with an incredibly flimsy motte. The baily is “nation of immigrants, refugees welcome, abolish ICE, no person is illegal, who’ll pick the tomatoes” and the motte is…”nuh uh we’re totes not for open borders.” There is no alternative Democrat proposal, and compromise doesn’t seem on the table either, as Trump and Republicans would be absolutely fine with a deal like “DACA for the wall” but anything to shore up the borders is a no-go for Dems.

            And if you’re trying to say “abolish ICE” is empty rhetoric like “abolish the IRS” I think this is wrong because the people who say “abolish the IRS” literally want to abolish the IRS.

            As for guns, it’s also not a bravery debate. Yes, I’m fine with banning personal ownership of weapons of mass destruction but not firearms. I would like slightly looser firearms laws, like a repeal on the full-auto ban and magazine restrictions, nationwide concealed carry, and a nationwide age restriction set to 18. But that’s literally the policy proposals I’d like enacted. I’m not overstating my preference for rhetorical purposes.

          • Brad says:

            How many currently serving democratic members of Congress have ever in their career proposed or voted for a bill or amendment to a bill that would set CBP and ICE’s budgets to zero or change the law such that no one could ever be deported or turned away at the border.

            You might be frustrated that what you consider a crisis in need of an immediate dramatic response is not so considered by others, but that doesn’t justify a disengenous labeling of their position.

          • dick says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I’m not being rhetorical here, nor am I arguing in bad faith. I believe an examination of Democrat/liberal/leftist/progressive responses to any specific policy proposal reveal a preference for open borders.

            This is artfully worded. I will certainly concede that the left’s actions “reveal a preference for” open borders in some abstract way, if that will make you happy. But at the end of the day, if David Friedman gets elected to the Senate and writes the Stop Fucking Around with Half Measures And Open the Borders Up All The Way Act of 2019, I’m confident the left won’t support it.

            Anyway, I don’t think is really the heart of the issue. Here’s what your position sounds like to me:

            I’m sick of the left’s obstructionism. This is a big problem and something must be done, but the left won’t help. All they do is sit on the fence, cock-blocking every plan we offer, and offering none in return. I would like to debate this topic with someone from the left, but only if they’re willing to not do this. So, for the terms of this debate, obstructionism isn’t one of the options – you have to either be willing to provide a list of the things my side wants that your side will agree to, or concede that your side supports abandoning enforcement entirely.

            I can understand why you’d want that, obstructionism is frustrating. But I’m not willing to accept those terms, and generally the left isn’t either. You imagine that the reason we won’t is a motte-and-bailey: we want to support open borders while claiming not to. But I think the actual reason is the one Brad mentioned: we don’t agree with one of the preconditions, specifically, the part about “This is a big problem and something must be done.” We don’t think it is. And by stipulating that there’s no middle ground between “take action to secure the borders” and “take action to open the borders”, all you’re really doing is refusing to engage with the people who occupy that middle ground, which is rather heavily populated.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            But at the end of the day, if David Friedman gets elected to the Senate and writes the Stop Fucking Around with Half Measures And Open the Borders Up All The Way Act of 2019, I’m confident the left won’t support it.

            I agree that, given a long enough process many leftist+leftish politicians will end up not voting for the proposal, but that appears to be because most people don’t want that and they would lose their jobs. It seems to me that the left + moderate political class would do that in a heartbeat if they could only rid themselves of the pesky voters.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t think that’s true at all, at least as to the moderate political class.* They wouldn’t want to for the same reason as it’s unpopular—it’s completely, totally, obviously unworkable. When we talk about real open borders, as opposed to something to throw in the face of people that don’t agree with me about the wall, we are talking about something that’s so totally radical that no one in a position of even minor power is at all interested. It’s like collectivizing the means of production—Bernie Sanders may love to call himself a socialist but he has no interest in nationalizing Walmart.

            *I don’t really know who “the Left” is supposed to be in these conversations, so I can’t say what they would think.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I don’t see why it is unworkable if we hew to the rhetorical model of those in favor of more immigration:

            They are only here to work and for a better life.

            They improve the economy.

            They don’t use welfare.

            They don’t commit crimes any more than your average person.

            Diversity strengthens the nation.

          • dick says:

            I don’t really know who “the Left” is supposed to be in these conversations, so I can’t say what they would think.

            Yeah, since you mention it, I’m not confident that I know exactly what everyone means by “open border” either. Like, if we abandoned border enforcement entirely but made e-verify mandatory so it’s hard for non-citizens to find legitimate work, would that be “open borders” or wouldn’t it?

            But I’ve avoided asking, so as not to get the non-meta (what should we do to enforce the border) and meta (is it okay to say Group supports Thing if they claim not to, but you feel that they do anyway) levels confused.

          • Brad says:

            I don’t see why it is unworkable if we hew to the rhetorical model of those in favor of more immigration:

            I don’t think this is engagement in good faith.

            If you so eager to argue with the strawmen, have at it by yourself.

          • When we talk about real open borders, as opposed to something to throw in the face of people that don’t agree with me about the wall, we are talking about something that’s so totally radical that no one in a position of even minor power is at all interested.

            Something that was U.S. policy for the first century of its history and pretty close for most of the second century. Even when restrictions came in in the 1920’s, they didn’t apply to New World immigrants.

          • Brad says:

            DF:

            I respect the consistency of your position and the fact that you are willing to advocate for it in spite of the libertarian conservative alliance. And maybe, maybe!, if you got most or all of what you wanted it would work. But I just can’t see how simply throwing open the country to any and all commers without changing anything else could fail to lead to utter chaos.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            @Brad

            Its no strawman. If I believed those things to be true, I don’t think it would be possible to argue against open borders in good faith. There may be a few other axes like, “Immigrants do not vote for Nazis and Commies more than the normal person,” but not many.

            So, if you believe those things, or even say them, you have to make a case against open borders that is really strong, because it looks like a super immoral thing to do.

          • Dan L says:

            Come on people! If you don’t even have the good grace to go find a representative twitter account, you’re still building strawmen. That extra effort does work in distinguishing what level of toxoplasma we’re dealing with, and if it can’t be done without revealing a consistently biased epistemic standard then that says something.

        • Yakimi says:

          Progressives don’t want open borders.

          Okay, then who are all the people furiously demanding that Angela Nagle be excommunicated for penning “the left case against open borders” (which was written from a dissenting perspective)?

          I find it difficult to take progressives at their word when they claim don’t want something that is entirely congruent with the moral premises of progressivism, not to mention its psephological interests. Many progressives circa 2008 would tell you that they didn’t want gay marriage either, before rapidly discovering that gay marriage is an inalienable human right. Forgive us for having trust issues.

          • dick says:

            There’s no amount of rhetorical jiu jitsu you can deploy to make it legitimate to exaggerate the other side’s position to make it easier to argue against. Not building straw men is a terminal value. You can certainly say, “The left may claim to not want open borders, but I don’t trust ’em!” That’s a legitimate position. It’s probably not going to convince anyone of anything and I don’t know that it’s a good use of your time, but that’s probably true of internet arguing generally.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            dick, I have you modeled as more like a mainstream Democrat, but if you are a progressive or have a better understanding of progressives than I do…why aren’t you or they for open borders? What is the progressive case against open borders?

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            The progressive case against open borders has already been made by Bernie Sanders, hasn’t it? His position on immigration led at least one wag to call him a “national socialist”, har de har har.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Bernie wanted to bring back people who were deported, so I’m not sure he and I have the same ideas about border security…

          • dick says:

            dick, I have you modeled as more like a mainstream Democrat

            I don’t know what I am anymore 🙂 I think I’m a pretty mainstream Democrat in most ways, but I also favor making e-verify mostly mandatory, which I think makes me tougher on illegal immigrants than the House GOP, right?

            What is the progressive case against open borders?

            Same as yours, I think? A trickle would turn in to a flood and cause all the problems you’re complaining about now. Like I said earlier, I think it’s a mistake to model this as a debate between people who want more immigration vs. people who want less. It’s a debate between people who think illegal immigration today is a Big Problem that Threatens to Undermine the Very Fabric of etc vs. people who think it’s just one of the many challenges in modern society with no good solutions that we have to manage as best we can without abandoning our core humanity and empathy.

            I know you’d like me to point out the dividing line, the thing that would put us over the edge. I honestly don’t know. If the right collectively said “fuck it, fine, no enforcement, see how you like it” I guess we’d find out eventually, but that’s not going to happen, yes? So, our stance on immigration enforcement is akin to Grover Nordquist’s stance on taxation: “I don’t like it, I know I have to tolerate a certain amount of it, but the other side is so in love with it that I can oppose it wholeheartedly without a worry that there might ever be less of it than I’d like.”

          • cassander says:

            It’s a debate between people who think illegal immigration today is a Big Problem that Threatens to Undermine the Very Fabric of etc vs. people who think it’s just one of the many challenges in modern society with no good solutions that we have to manage as best we can without abandoning our core humanity and empathy.

            I would phrase it more neutrally, but in general I like this framing. I can think of a lot of issues it applies to.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            @dick

            +1

            Thanks for the good framing, that is helpful in modeling the position. The comparison to Grover Nordquist I think is very apt and helpful for the other side.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, I think the Nordquist example is good. I feel the same way in the opposite direction: I can push for a wall, nuclear landmines and napalm strikes on illegal border crossers and I dunno maybe get a fence or something.

            Also I’m in favor of abandoning core humanity and empathy.

          • dick says:

            Three upvotes! Dear diary…

            I know this thread is pretty much over and the next one is CW-free, but someday I’d be interested in hearing the conservative case against making e-verify mandatory for employment.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            I personally feel conflicted by that conversation, but the reality is it’s not as weird as you think that “conservatives” are not in favor of mandatory E-Verify.

            In a single word – Regulation. Conservatives are generally wary of adding additional government oversight, and will rarely be the ones pushing to have yet another agency with the authority to enter a workplace with little to no provocation.

            More complex – the “Establishment” Republicans are still generally all about business, and that actually favors more immigration, especially as unemployment drops and wages rise. Right now, many old-school Republicans want to drop restrictions and push an amnesty. Think Jeb! or even Marco Rubio – both pro-immigration. Jeb even spoke of illegal immigration as coming from a place of love, in the Primaries!

            Forcing E-Verify is actually a worst-of-all-worlds approach for many. It brings in the government to do something that many don’t want done in the first place. On the other side, even if long-term effective at weeding out illegal immigration, those who are strongly against illegal immigration want to stop these people from entering the country in the first place, and feel that the government has been far too lax in enforcement. Capitulating on the border security question is a likely outcome of implementing universal E-Verify, so it’s almost a non-starter for that group. There isn’t a lot of trust that E-Verify would be totally effective, as the worst offenders don’t follow the regulations now, and won’t follow new ones. Someone not even trying to fill out an I9 is not going to suddenly log into E-Verify either.

            ETA: Posts like yours are a major part of why I read SSC – a position I don’t hold that is explained in a way that helps me understand other positions better. No snark, no attack, and a genuine attempt at framing it in a way that is understandable to the opposing audience. I feel like I genuinely updated my understanding of the issue.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m for e-verify as far as my limited understanding of it goes. I have heard there are problems with the system, however. But I would want that in addition to border security, not instead of.

            Also, nationwide E-Verify was in Trump’s original immigration reform whitepaper. So was H1-B visa reform. The media never talks about that, though, because “mexican rapists.”

          • Brad says:

            Republican President and Republican Congress. That we don’t have national everify and h1b reform has not much to do with Democrats or “the Left”.

          • dick says:

            @Mr. Doolittle

            Posts like yours are a major part of why I read SSC…

            Thank you, that’s very kind, I am trying to be the kind of poster I’d want to read from. Now, back to arguing 🙂

            It makes sense that making e-verify mandatory would cause all sorts of problems, but they don’t seem unsolveable. You roll it out a bit at a time, you fix issues, you expand the program cautiously and (dare I say it) conservatively. It’s complicated, but it’s not “put a man on the moon” complicated. It can’t be any worse than the Obamacare website’s first week. And I get that it would be a big new ball of regulation and bureaucracy, which the right is generally against (although it seems like most of that bureacracy already exists now, it’s just a matter of requiring more industries to adhere to it).

            But man, it’s hard to buy that that’s the issue. We have approximately a billion regulations in this country, and this one – the one that would actually move the needle on what is alleged to be one of your absolute top priorities – this is the one where you say enough, too much?

            I’m not saying these aren’t reasonable complaints. But I’m saying it’s hard to believe that these are the reasons you don’t want e-verify, and then take you (collective “you”) seriously when you talk about all the terrifying things that will happen if we don’t clamp down on illegal immigration. It’s either worth some discomfort or it isn’t.

            Also, I should say that my assumption going in to this was that the real reason the GOP won’t back e-verify starts and ends with the industries that rely on immigrant labor having a lot of money. You didn’t really address that either way, so I’d be curious if you think that’s accurate.

            @Conrad Honcho

            I’m for e-verify as far as my limited understanding of it goes. I have heard there are problems with the system, however. But I would want that in addition to border security, not instead of.

            I wasn’t offering it as a trade-off, and its interesting that you brought that up. I would’ve thought that one of the major selling points of e-verify is that it’s the best way to significantly curtail illegal immigration without producing any of the problems the left gets mileage out of. It’s basically bureaucratic and impersonal, so there’s not going to be a video of a guy in kevlar pushing a tearful immigrant child out of his mother’s arms or whatever on the evening news because of it.

            Also, nationwide E-Verify was in Trump’s original immigration reform whitepaper. So was H1-B visa reform. The media never talks about that, though, because “mexican rapists.”

            I tried to read up on that, it’s kind of a morass. Which is understandable – obviously it’s not a great idea to make huge sweeping changes, so there are a lot of phased rollout plans that could be described as “mandatory” or “voluntary” depending on your perspective.

            Also the “the media never talks about the plan Trump floated earlier this year in a white paper and abandoned – I guess they were too busy focusing on an enormously controversial statement he made that angered millions of voters and caused a minor international incident” is not a very convincing kvetch. Trump could get the media to focus on e-verify any time he feels like it.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Also, I should say that my assumption going in to this was that the real reason the GOP won’t back e-verify starts and ends with the industries that rely on immigrant labor having a lot of money.

            Most GOP immigration reform packages (which are not popular with the right wing of the GOP) include a large expansion in work permits for seasonal and short-term labor to try to square that circle (with no path to citizenship). But to keep the internal walls in place one would also still need to address birthright citizenship.

          • Aapje says:

            @dick

            I know this thread is pretty much over and the next one is CW-free, but someday I’d be interested in hearing the conservative case against making e-verify mandatory for employment.

            I personally support e-verify like system we have in my country, however, as another person said, it is an additional burden on mainly companies.

            I have a more general concern about our liberties being curtailed to cope with the behaviors of migrants. For example, in response to Islamic terrorism, we’ve seen expansions in police powers and surveillance powers.

            Because laws are not allowed to discriminate, non-migrants who are far less likely to engage in terrorism get to face the consequences of these laws as well. I don’t think it is particularly fair to those who have a culture without or with far less of these problematic elements, to have to suffer because people with a culture with rather serious issues come into their country.

            So if we extend this concern to illegal migration and ignore practical problems with this, one could argue that illegal migrants should be stopped at the border and such & that the natives should not be burdened.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            @dick

            But man, it’s hard to buy that that’s the issue. We have approximately a billion regulations in this country, and this one – the one that would actually move the needle on what is alleged to be one of your absolute top priorities – this is the one where you say enough, too much?

            I personally am open to E-verify, but lets say – wary? I am generally against regulation for the sake of regulation, and am not a fan of more requirements on companies. Chances are, the vast majority of companies will see very little change, except another hurdle, while the worst offenders will completely ignore it the way that they currently ignore I-9 forms (which are also mandatory regulation with the same intention).

            I’m not saying these aren’t reasonable complaints. But I’m saying it’s hard to believe that these are the reasons you don’t want e-verify, and then take you (collective “you”) seriously when you talk about all the terrifying things that will happen if we don’t clamp down on illegal immigration. It’s either worth some discomfort or it isn’t.

            I see this similarly to the anti-nuclear left, in regards to Climate Change. If GW is the biggest environmental concern of all, and nuclear would allow us to significantly move away from coal and therefore produce far less CO2, then how can we call the left serious when they refuse to consider it? Honestly, it appears that “the left” that is against nuclear has pretty good reasons – waste disposal, cost, fear of nuclear meltdowns. Those problems are tiny in comparison to what those same people will say about GW, but that doesn’t make nuclear an appealing option for them. Those that want to reduce immigration, especially illegal immigration, see E-verify as a minor solution and unlikely to make a big impact on the biggest issues. The costs might be worth it, but it’s questionable verses a slam dunk.

            Also, I should say that my assumption going in to this was that the real reason the GOP won’t back e-verify starts and ends with the industries that rely on immigrant labor having a lot of money. You didn’t really address that either way, so I’d be curious if you think that’s accurate.

            I did mention this in the post you responded to as the second reason – in the section about Jeb Bush (actively pro-illegal-immigration in the Republican primaries). As a coalition, Republicans who are against E-verify comes strongly from this group. Numerically, especially in terms of voters, this side is very small. That’s why I don’t consider this the primary reason E-verify is not top of the list of solutions to push. If Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters were strongly in favor of E-verify, then this group would have limited ability to keep it off the agenda. Consider the fact that border security is a very high priority in this administration. If the business GOP wing was really all that powerful, this would not be the case. Frankly, immigration is an issue that helped propel Trump as much as it did because the GOP refused to recognize that their own base disagreed with their leadership on this issue.

            That said, I do agree that this group’s animosity to E-verify works strongly to keep it off the agenda. That’s only really possible, in my opinion, because E-verify only enjoys “Meh” levels of support from the rest of the GOP and is a mixed bag for the rest of the coalition.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Republican President and Republican Congress.

            What’s a “RINO?”

          • John Schilling says:

            I know this thread is pretty much over and the next one is CW-free, but someday I’d be interested in hearing the conservative case against making e-verify mandatory for employment.

            Making e-verify mandatory means making a very large class of people resident in your country, ineligible for legal employment. If you think that all or even most of these people are going to pack up and move to a different country, then you don’t understand A: people and B: different countries, nearly as well as you think you do. They’re staying. And really, they are probably still inviting their friends and family to come join them, because that’s still better than the alternative.

            But at minimum, they’re staying, they’re not planning to just sit around and starve, and they are barred from legal employment. Now what?

          • dick says:

            @Aapje

            I personally support e-verify like system we have in my country, however, as another person said, it is an additional burden on mainly companies.

            Luckily, “companies” are legal fictions and they don’t have feelings to get hurt. Why is it a problem to spend money on e-verify but not on guys at the border with guns? Is the point to have less illegal immigrants, or to be seen as tough? (The rest of your post is not something I’m interested in engaging in)

            @Mr. Dolittle

            I personally am open to E-verify, but lets say – wary? I am generally against regulation for the sake of regulation, and am not a fan of more requirements on companies. Chances are, the vast majority of companies will see very little change, except another hurdle, while the worst offenders will completely ignore it the way that they currently ignore I-9 forms.

            These are fully general complaints against any regulation. Taxes, worker protections, environmental controls, and immigration are all burdensome. Taxes, worker protections, environmental controls, and immigration all get cheated on. But only one is being presented as a uniquely bad problem that demands immediate action. How far would you trust someone who said that tax non-compliance was one of the most important issues facing the nation today, but who wouldn’t raise the IRS’s budget?

            I see this similarly to the anti-nuclear left…

            This is a reasonable analogy (though it only goes so far – there are a lot more problems keeping us from building a nuke plant than the left not liking it, whereas e-verify could be the law of the land on Monday if the right felt like doing it). But I reiterate, these are reasonable complaints, and I’m not saying they’re wrong, just that they contradict the narrative about illegal immigration being a uniquely bad problem that requires immediate action and tough decisions. And if that narrative is not true – if your stance on it is “it’s kinda bad, but not so bad that we need to consider solutions we find distasteful” – then you can’t complain about the left objecting that they find certain solutions distasteful.

            @ John Schilling

            If you think that all or even most of these people are going to pack up and move to a different country, then you don’t understand A: people and B: different countries, nearly as well as you think you do. They’re staying.

            Yeah, you got me there. It’s totally unreasonable to expect that illegal immigrants would ever be willing to just pack up and move to a different country because they can’t find a good job in the one they’re in.

            Seriously, this is a problem, yes, but it’s a problem we already have, not a problem e-verify would introduce. They are already here; they are already ineligible for legal employment. There are various ideas (DACA, amnesty, guest worker programs, etc) about how to handle that, and I’m not the person to argue with about which is better than which, but the ability to use e-verify makes any of them more tractable. If you’re asking what I would do about them, it woul be an amnesty program of some sort, but I’m a filthy liberal, and I’m not here to pitch my solutions to my outgroup, I’m here to understand why e-verify is so unattractive to the right.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            These are fully general complaints against any regulation.

            Yes, and the Republican party and conservatives are generally against regulation. You should expect the default response to any proposed regulation to be somewhere between “no, thanks” and “NO!!”

            I disagree with your notion that only one area is being treated as an immediate problem. In regards to taxes specifically, the current (outgoing) Congress passed tax reductions. That you see this as generalized complaint is actually positive – it means you are hearing the argument for what it is.

            I’m am not personally individually against all regulation. My default is closer to “Maybe? Let’s talk over why.” than “No.” I have met very few conservatives that want zero regulation. They will push back against just about any proposed regulation for the same reason Libertarians do – it seems there are plenty/too many already, so new ones need to be justified.

            But I reiterate, these are reasonable complaints, and I’m not saying they’re wrong, just that they contradict the narrative about illegal immigration being a uniquely bad problem that requires immediate action and tough decisions.

            then you can’t complain about the left objecting that they find certain solutions distasteful.

            (Small aside – I don’t personally consider illegal immigration to be the highest order problem in the country. I think that our current system is bad for both the left’s goals and the right’s – at least as far as either states those goals, such that a general compromise can help both sides better attain their stated goals and is something that should therefore be pursued.)

            I certainly don’t object to the left finding certain solutions distasteful. If the compromise plan was on the table and the left was getting what they wanted on Global Warming, but also had to accept nuclear plants going up 20%, it would be fair to say that they were not being serious or maybe even lying about their goals if they rejected it. I would agree to the same if Republicans refused E-verify on a bill that was a decent compromise on other items (“decent” and “compromise” doing a ton of work here), then they would not be genuine either. As Conrad has pointed out, E-verify was in Trump’s proposal.

            Keep in mind the earlier part of the conversation, that a large portion of Republican leadership not only doesn’t feel like immigration (including illegal immigration) is a problem, but they actively support it. Since the plurality of conservatives voice some level of tepid support for E-verify, and very visible leadership is (sometimes hidden for voter reasons) actively against it, then it makes sense to not make E-verify the lynch pin of Republican bills. I would like to see a “reasonable” compromise bill on immigration, and I would want Republicans to vote in favor of it. If all it did was decrease penalties for illegal immigration (or enforcement) and add E-verify, then I don’t feel like that would be meeting the goals of almost any conservatives I know that are making this a top issue. I would similarly expect the left to reject a bill that provided approval to build nuclear power plants but did nothing else to affect GW.

          • dick says:

            Thanks Mr. Doolittle, I feel like I have a much better handle on this now. I think you’re being a little unfair about the GOP leadership by saying the “actively support it” – surely what they actively support is Hispanic votes, and they’re kind of holding their noses to support these various amnesty proposals? But I have a better feeling for why the average “the illegal hordes threaten our way of life” voter isn’t as amped up about this as they are about putting more kevlar boots on the border. (Though I maintain that they should be)

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            I think you’re being a little unfair about the GOP leadership by saying the “actively support it” – surely what they actively support is Hispanic votes, and they’re kind of holding their noses to support these various amnesty proposals?

            The Koch brothers (as a prominent example) are explicitly pro-immigration. They are Libertarian, but they are key supporters of GOP politicians. I’m sure that some politicians only care about the Hispanic votes (2012 “autopsy” report after Romney lost), but the other side are the pro-anything-business that genuinely just want to increase the number of workers available. Usually this is to do some combination of dropping wages and increasing the supply of workers.

            But I have a better feeling for why the average “the illegal hordes threaten our way of life” voter isn’t as amped up about this as they are about putting more kevlar boots on the border. (Though I maintain that they should be)

            That’s cool. I do agree with your last line here, and think E-verify is a much better solution than the current I-9s and may actually make a difference on illegal immigration. On the whole, I doubt it will be worse at the very least. I would gladly take E-verify if we can get rid of I-9s. Deal?

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, you got me there. It’s totally unreasonable to expect that illegal immigrants would ever be willing to just pack up and move to a different country because they can’t find a good job in the one they’re in.

            Yes, in fact that often is an unreasonable expectation. First, because “good jobs” is relative; a crappy grey-market job in the United States is better than most legal jobs in Guatemala or Venezuela. And none of the other countries that have lots of US-level “good jobs” are opening their borders to legal Central American immigration, nor do they have much in the way of support networks for Spanish-speaking illegals, so even a strict-eVerify US will often be the economically preferable option.

            Second, because not every immigrant is just in it for the money. Some of them really do fear being raped, murdered, or disappeared in their home countries. Many of them have a stronger social network in the United States than anywhere else. And an awful lot of them feel that raising their children in the United States is the best hope for a better future for those children. They’ll make great financial sacrifices to that end, not scurry back to Mexico because it’s easier to get a crappy job there. They’re not going away.

            Seriously, this is a problem, yes, but it’s a problem we already have, not a problem e-verify would introduce. They are already here; they are already ineligible for legal employment.

            Which we ignore. This allows millions of undocumented immigrants to live as generally upstanding, law-abiding taxpayers, at least to the extent that e.g. a user of recreational marijuana in California can be considered law-abiding. What you are proposing is roughly equivalent to mandatory drug testing for all jobs, with any marijuana use being an instant disqualification. It will drive millions of de facto Americans into daily alliance with explicitly criminal conspiracies, and it will drive their de jure American-citizen children into the arms of your political enemies.

            This is a problem we already have, yes. Your proposed solution will make it worse. Aside from the unrealistic fantasy of the illegal immigrants just packing up and going home, I can see no possible good in it.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            It seems like your position is that once we’ve accepted a large population of illegal immigrants into the US, we can never change that. Am I misunderstanding you?

            My understanding is that during the last recession, net immigration from Mexico went negative–people returned home when they couldn’t find work. I knew people who went back to Honduras because they couldn’t find work here. This is actually something that happened a lot historically with US immigrants, too–people would come here for a few years and decide to go back home to Italy or Germany or wherever. That suggests that we can, in fact, get a lot of illegal immigrants to go home by enforcing rules on employers more strictly–maybe with e-verify[1], maybe some other way. If we’re worried about the kind of shock effects of changing the rules all at once, we can do a gradual tightening of rules/enforcement, maybe combined with some way for a subset of people who’ve been here illegally (especially parents of citizens) to get some kind of legal employment status. (Start with the dreamers.)

            Now, I’m not sure this is the best policy to pursue. But I am pretty sure that it could be done short of causing the US to turn into some kind of oppressive nightmare state.

            [1] I have serious qualms about e-verify for libertarian/police state sorts of reasons–having a system where someone can make it impossible for you to work seems like a really scary tool to have lying around in the toolbox, waiting for congresscritters to apply it to deadbeat dads or sex offenders or whatever group gets this week’s moral panic.

          • John Schilling says:

            It seems like your position is that once we’ve accepted a large population of illegal immigrants into the US, we can never change that. Am I misunderstanding you?

            If “accepted” means a couple of generations of tacit acceptance, and sometimes not-so-tacit on the part of state and local governments, pretty much. At that point, you’re not getting rid of them without measures that would probably meet the legal definition of genocide. And very nearly the moral definition, for all the weight “but our grandparents only unofficially accepted all this” carries after that long a period of conspicuous tolerance.

            My understanding is that during the last recession, net immigration from Mexico went negative–people returned home when they couldn’t find work.

            The net back-migration you refer to averaged -150,000/year from 2007 to 2014, and doesn’t seem to have exceeded 500,000 even in the peak year. Compared to an estimated illegal-immigrant population of over eleven million, that means a characteristic timescale of 22 to 74 years to reduce the illegal immigrant population via the economic pressures of a prolonged major recession, except that those historically don’t last even 22 years (and better not start).

            You could presumably achieve effects of similar magnitude by legal rather than economic pressure, but again that doesn’t last 22 years in a democracy. And note that the Nuremberg laws, Krystallnacht, and all the rest combined, only convinced about half of Germany’s Jews to pack up and leave during the eight years it was Germany’s policy that they should do so(*) What have you got that’s both more persuasive and less atrocious than that?

            * And, for that matter, the policy of most Central American nations that any Jew who wanted to immigrate was welcome to do so.

          • dick says:

            This is a problem we already have, yes. Your proposed solution will make it worse. Aside from the unrealistic fantasy of the illegal immigrants just packing up and going home, I can see no possible good in it.

            First, if you want to argue against a policy, it’s not constructive to assume a priori that it’ll be implemented badly. We already have e-verify for certain types of jobs and the sky hasn’t fallen. The charitable assumption is that it would be rolled out gradually and coupled with guest worker and/or amnesty programs to minimize the upheaval to businesses and families that the right and left are respectively concerned about.

            Second, it’s not my proposed solution. It seems like maybe you came in on the tail end of this discussion; the question at hand is not “gosh, universal e-verify has no downsides so why haven’t we done it already”, it is “why, despite the challenges it would present and problems it would cause, is it not more popular with people who think illegal immigration is a uniquely dire problem that threatens our very culture and democracy and therefore demands extreme measures”.

          • cassander says:

            @dick says:

            First, if you want to argue against a policy, it’s not constructive to assume a priori that it’ll be implemented badly.

            It’s absolutely imperative to think about how well a policy is likely to be implemented. Governments are better at some things that others, if you policy requires the government to mail out a check every month, you can probably assume it can do that. If it requires the completion of a large IT project that will be used bu millions, well I submit to you federal government contract database as emblematic of the disaster that usually ensues when the government tries that.

          • dick says:

            It’s absolutely imperative to think about how well a policy is likely to be implemented.

            I didn’t say you can’t think about it, I said you can’t dismiss a plan you don’t like that way and still be a person who’s thinking rationally and arguing charitably. “The government fucks up hard things sometimes” is a fully-general argument against any ambitious proposal.

          • John Schilling says:

            First, if you want to argue against a policy, it’s not constructive to assume a priori that it’ll be implemented badly. We already have e-verify for certain types of jobs and the sky hasn’t fallen.

            When I assert a conservative case against e-verify, which is what I understood you to be asking, I was not assuming that it would be implemented badly. I was assuming it would be implemented well, with universal effect and perfect efficiency and no collateral damage or unintended consequences beyond those inherent in the concept. It is those consequences, of an efficient and well-implemented e-verify system making it impossible for illegal immigrants to find legal employment in the United States, that I predict will cause great harm to this nation.

            That no great harm has been caused by the current implementation of e-verify, is precisely because poor implementation has greatly limited the scope of its effect. By analogy, Prohibition caused great harm to this country in a manner and to a degree that the existence of a scattering of dry counties before and after did not.

          • dick says:

            I’m not sure what you mean by “universal effect and perfect efficiency”; that sounds like the opposite of what I think would be good implementation, which is a slow roll-out over many years, and amnesty/guest worker/etc programs to legitimize people who are already here and contributing to society.

            In any event, we both agree it would cause a lot of problems, the question is just whether those problems would be larger or smaller than the problems that the strongly-anti-illegal right claim are the inevitable result of not taking drastic measures, which is a disagreement in degree rather than kind.

    • John Schilling says:

      if Scott’s advice for Trumpists was to vote for Democrats because electing Trump would result in a backlash that produces more liberal policies than had Trump not been elected, then shouldn’t his advice for Democrats have been to vote for Trump for the same reasons?

      If the Democratic candidate had been an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, then I expect Scott would have advised Democrats to refrain from supporting that candidate, and that would have been good advice. The claim is not that one should always vote for the “enemy” party because a victory by your own party always provokes a backlash that costs more than the victory is worth. The claim is that a victory by an extraordinarily bad candidate for your own party will provoke such a backlash, and that Donald Trump was predictably extraordinarily bad at being a Republican president.

      • I don’t think that rebuttal works. The argument is that Democrats should have voted for Trump because he was an unusually bad candidate, not because Hillary was.

        Electing Trump has two effects:
        1. Various things get done, such as appointing Supreme Court Justices, that are positive for conservatives, negative for liberals. For simplicity, +T1, -T1
        2. Trump damages the reputation of policies he supports. Insofar as these are policies that conservatives like and liberals don’t, that’s a plus for liberals, minus for conservatives. For simplicity, +T2, -T2

        Electing Hillary, assumed not to be an unusually bad candidate, has one effect. Various things get done that are positive for liberals, negative for conservatives. For simplicity, +H, -H

        The net effect of electing Trump for conservatives is T1-T2, of electing Hilary -H, so a conservative should vote for Hilary iff 0>T1-T2+H. A liberal should vote for Trump iff T2-T1-H >0. Those conditions are identical.

        To avoid that, you have to add an additional assumption, for instance that liberals are more against what Trump will do than conservatives are for it or that weakening support for policies Trump supports hurts conservatives more than it helps liberals. I don’t think you have offered any reason to expect either of those to be true.

  17. Nootropic cormorant says:

    I would question whether ‘Trumpism’ could be fought for by anyone other than Trump, up to isomorphism.

    Neoliberal narratives have become so entrenched that it is very difficult to go against them without coming off as extremely offensive and tonedeaf, only someone like Trump who could stay unapologetic and weather all attempts to shame him.

    A person able to do this would likely be crude and politically incompetent anyway, so I believe the backlash was inevitable, but Trump’s election really put the foot in the door for stances which were out of the question beforehand. In the wake of his election you could see many attempts of steelmanning Trumpism by leftists which simply wouldn’t be afforded to a political option without this sort of power. He may have not moved the window, but he did expand it.

  18. OverExamined Life says:

    It seems that more than a few responders are easily distracted…

    Scott: “Larger point about the impact of Trumpism on the orientation of political parties.”

    First commenter: “Squirrel!”

    Following commenters: “Where?!”

  19. kaathewise says:

    There is also a curious perspective in which decline of “trumpism” is actually a sign of Trump’s success, not failure.

    I feel like the narrative in the post goes as if Trump is the cause of “trumpism”, as if his main mission is to increase the amount of “trumpism” in the world. But in reality, the opposite is true, it was “trumpism” that brought him, as a response to the particular aspirations of the people. The cause and effect go the other way around.

    So from this perspective, the decline of “trumpism” means that Trump actually fulfilled his duty, and answered the people’s demand.

  20. Civilis says:

    I did a search of this post for the word “sentencing” (as in sentencing reform) and found no mentions, despite Trump’s push for sentencing reform. I’d like to think this was surprising, but it’s really not.

    Trump is anti-immigration / anti-illegal-immigrant, and this provokes a backlash in the form of support for immigration.
    Trump is anti-gun control, and this provokes a backlash in the form of increased support for gun control.
    Trump is pro-trade protectionism, and this provokes a backlash in the form of opposition to trade protectionism.
    Trump gets the US out of the Paris accords, and people become more pro-environment.
    Trump supports sentencing reform, and despite all the talk of Trump causing a backlash for the causes he supports, sentencing reform remains popular and pushes ahead.*

    As as thought exercise, ask yourself if there would be a backlash in public opinion if Trump were to come out vocally in support of some progressive cause, say, gay rights. Sure, Republican support for Trump would drop, somewhat, though probably not by as much as most anti-Trump partisans expect, but I don’t think there would be a backlash against support for gay rights; if anything, I think the poll numbers in support of gay rights would go up.

    All of the discussion seems predicated on putting the responsibility for this backlash on Trump, as if the only players in this are Trump and the public opinion and the people driving public opinion don’t exist. In cases where the people driving public opinion don’t disagree with Trump, there’s no backlash. Scott’s solution to the problem is to not give the people driving public opinion any ammunition to use, and it’s certainly valid to some degree. Trump gives his opponents lots of easy ammunition. But even without being given ammunition, those opponents will still be doing their best to provoke a backlash by any means necessary (see the recent Kavanaugh Supreme Court CF). The problem for the left (and the US as a whole) is that from the right, there’s a better option: let the opinion makers in the media destroy themselves, and they’re doing that as they burn out what little reputation they have left on Trump, both by creating him and now trying to destroy him.

    Even as a Republican and a reluctant Trump supporter, it scares me that in 2018 the US public trusts the Presidency more than the media, both because I believe the power of the Presidency should be distrusted regardless of who is in the office and because we need a trustworthy and fair external check on the government’s power.

    * Added: There’s no way to prove this, but I suspect the reason sentencing reform is proceeding slowly is because the left doesn’t want Trump and the Republicans to get any credit for supporting it, and is therefore not covering it.

    • xq says:

      I suspect the reason sentencing reform is proceeding slowly is because the left doesn’t want Trump and the Republicans to get any credit for supporting it, and is therefore not covering it.

      Huh? Congress doesn’t need the media to pass bills. It’s entirely up to McConnell.

      • dragnubbit says:

        Sentencing reform could pass easily with Democratic votes (though probably not in a lame-duck session). Avoiding that ‘failure’ is why sentencing reform is stalled – there are too many GOP law-and-order types to get it passed without Democratic support, and that support comes with a price.

        It is a similar story to immigration reform and the mythical infrastructure bill. The GOP caucus is split but the one thing they all agree on is not using Democratic votes to move bills.

        • jgr314 says:

          The GOP caucus is split but the one thing they all agree on is not using Democratic votes to move bills.

          I would be interested to learn more about this. Is it because Democrats will demand something in exchange that the Republican leadership doesn’t want to give or some other reason?

          • dragnubbit says:

            Mainly because it will involve giving Democrats something the Republican leadership does not want (in the case of immigration reform that would be a path to citizenship for non-criminal immigrants AKA ‘amnesty’). In the case of sentencing reform it might be elimination of new federal prosecutorial guidelines to always file the maximum charge possible or a restoration of funding for civil rights investigations. It would have to be something the Democrats can claim was a concession to get their support, not just something both parties agreed beforehand was smart.

            If it is to avoid a shutdown or provide funding for a natural disaster, the GOP will move a bill with Democratic votes because otherwise the stakes are too high. But absent major and immediate adverse consequences, party unity and avoiding giving any oxygen to the minority party is seen as more important than incremental progress on long-standing issues like immigration or justice reform.

    • dick says:

      Has sentencing reform been a big issue for Trump? I know there’s been some kerfuffle about a specific bill in the last few weeks but I thought that was fairly modest and isolated. Upon googling it the first result was Radley Balko arguing that Trump’s support for sentencing reform is “shallow, negotiable and possibly subject to veto by hosts on Fox News” due to the limited scope of the bill, his tepid support for it, and his record of appointing advocates of longer sentences (Jeff Sessions, William Otis, Matthew Whitaker, and now William Barr) to key positions.

      • Clegg says:

        Criminal justice reform has been a big issue for Jared Kushner, and is increasingly supported on the right by groups like Right on Crime. The administration hasn’t made a big push on it yet, but it looks like it’s coming.

  21. norswap says:

    Interesting, because surprising.

    It’s not an objective of mine to keep abreast of these things (and I’m European so less concerned anyway), but I was under the impression that Trump was winning. More than I expected him to be.

    His strategies of making a lot of sound about his initiatives, and to blame it squarely on the opposition when they fail does make him look like a president that at least tries to get a lot done, and to keep his word.

    I also heard that he had about 80% popularity rating with the members of his party.

    (There are at least some sources online that confirm this, on the other hand he seems to have the lowest max rate of approval of any president in recent times, and also the lowest average.)

    • sharper13 says:

      The funny part is that he’s actually winning in many areas which aren’t publicized as much (because the media mostly hates him), but tends to be just fighting without a ton of progress in the areas which are big in the news (but he is being perceived as fighting and keeping campaign promises).

      Won? Taxes, regulations, judicial nominations are probably the biggest areas.

      • Jiro says:

        Won? Taxes, regulations, judicial nominations are probably the biggest areas.

        Also I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have gotten new Title IX guidance under Hillary.

  22. Jiro says:

    I told progressives not to vote Trump because they opposed his policy, and conservatives not to vote Trump because he would cause a backlash that was worse than anything they might get from him.

    Other people have mentioned the problems with this post, but I’ll repeat what I said about the previous post: If you tell me to do something that straightforwardly hurts me and helps you, on the grounds that it really helps me in some indirect way after all, I have a very strong prior that it probably doesn’t.

    Saying “if you support Trump or just don’t think he’s evil, you should vote against him” is like telling slaves to obey their masters instead of revolting because being a loyal slave makes their masters lazy and harms them more than a slave revolt, or telling someone whose marriage you disapprove of that they should separate from their spouse in order to strengthen their marital bonds by overcoming adversity.

    I could have said that if you wanted a female president, you should have voted against Hillary on the grounds that she would do badly and increase gender polarization, discrediting the idea of female presidents for long enough that you’d be better off wating for the next woman instead, but that would justifiably be called motivated reasoning or concern trolling.

    • Hyzenthlay says:

      I could have said that if you wanted a female president, you should have voted against Hillary on the grounds that she would do badly and increase gender polarization, discrediting the idea of female presidents for long enough that you’d be better off wating for the next woman instead, but that would justifiably be called motivated reasoning or concern trolling.

      If someone genuinely thought Hillary would be a terrible president to the point that she would make women as a whole look bad, this doesn’t seem like inherently flawed reasoning. Many leftists who liked the idea of a female president on principle still voted against Hillary because they saw her as a tool of the establishment (or white male patriarchy, or whatever) and were holding out for an Elizabeth Warren type.

      I don’t think Hillary actually would’ve been that bad; policy-wise I suspect she would’ve been pretty similar to Obama, who I don’t think was a bad president. But even quite a few liberals would’ve actually agreed with this argument for someone like, say, Sarah Palin. When she was running alongside McCain there was a lot of alarm that she might become President as a result of him dying, because he was old and in poor health. Obviously many voters’ desire for a female President didn’t outweigh their personal dislike of her or their feeling that she was unqualified. If our first female president ended up being a complete screw-up then I think that would indeed be bad for women overall.

      And I think that’s how many conservatives genuinely felt about Trump: that he was bad for the brand, that he was pushing the party in a direction they really didn’t want to go that would alienate a lot of people who otherwise might’ve leaned conservative, and thus in the long run would harm conservatism as a whole.

      • Jiro says:

        It’s not flawed reasoning, because it isn’t really reasoning at all. It’s a possible scenario, accompanied by a judgment call of how likely and how serious the scenario is. Whether I should believe you depends on how well I trust your judgment. And if you tell me that something that seems to help you and hurt me really is good for me, the opportunities for either motivated reasoning or concern trolling are so great that my prior is heavily weighted towards not trusting your judgment.

        Also, conservatives being anti-Trump is not a good comparison–it would be about liberals who are anti-Trump (or conservatives who are anti-Hillary).

      • onyomi says:

        And I think that’s how many conservatives genuinely felt about Trump: that he was bad for the brand, that he was pushing the party in a direction they really didn’t want to go that would alienate a lot of people who otherwise might’ve leaned conservative, and thus in the long run would harm conservatism as a whole.

        I think part of the problem is that “conservatism” and “Trumpism” are now sufficiently different that if what you care about is “Trumpism” it doesn’t make sense to oppose a “Trumpist” for the good of “conservatism.”

        If Pat Buchanan and Trump had been competing for the nomination it would have made a lot of sense to say to anyone inclined to vote for Trump, “please vote Buchanan, as he will be a much more serious, less inflammatory standard-bearer for the issues you care about.” The hypothetical Trump supporter might argue Trump would have a better chance of winning, but that’s really a separate question (though opposition to what seems like the GOP’s preference to lose with a “serious” candidate sooner than nominate an “unserious” candidate may actually be a plank of “Trumpism”).

        But Pat Buchanan wasn’t running. It was Trump vs. a bunch of “conservatives” and one or two libertarians (I wanted Paul or Cruz, personally, and was actually pretty dismayed when I finally realized 2016 wasn’t the “libertarian moment” for American conservatism). Given that, and the historical rarity of a “Trumpist” with a chance at winning a major party nomination, a “Trumpist” didn’t really have a good reason to expect a better representative of his priorities with a good chance of winning to come along soon enough to make up for the potential damage of a Hillary, or, indeed, Jeb! presidency. I’m reminded of a critique I read of democratic opposition to Pelosi.

        And it’s not as if the Democrats or the media or academia would have failed to vilify a more “serious” representative of Trumpism, had he come along, with all the firepower they could muster.

        I guess Scott’s original point is that “Trumpism” may be bad for conservatism, but that’s not the title of the post. It would have been more convincing if aimed at “conservatives” and/or libertarians, arguing that Trump and their failure to purge “Trumpism” from their midst has been bad for them, but the idea that Trumpists (or, more charitably, Paleocons) should not have supported Trump is a much harder sell, even if polls show intensified polarization on issues associated with a contentious president (and I don’t think President Pat Buchanan could have avoided being highly contentious were he ever able to win).

        • Hyzenthlay says:

          I think part of the problem is that “conservatism” and “Trumpism” are now sufficiently different that if what you care about is “Trumpism” it doesn’t make sense to oppose a “Trumpist” for the good of “conservatism.”

          They are pretty different. But a lot of more traditional conservatives did vote for Trump because, even if they didn’t like him, they felt like he was still more aligned with their principles than Hillary. And Trumpism/conservatism inevitably gets conflated by lots of people in the left and center, both because it’s politically useful for them and because people in general have a tendency to see things in terms of two opposing sides, rather than a bunch of different factions. And some actual Trumpists see themselves as the “real” conservatives and the rest as wishy-washy fake conservatives. So as much as someone who calls themself a Trumpist probably has different views than someone who calls themself a conservative, they aren’t totally separate things either.

          Trump is certainly good for Trumpism, but that seems almost tautological. I kind of read this post as “why Trump is bad for conservatives who hold similar but less extreme positions and/or are less belligerent about expressing those positions.”

          The data does suggest that people have moved closer to the center since Trump, but I could also see a case for why Trump could actually be good for those less-extreme/less belligerent conservatives because he makes them seem sensible by comparison. I heard a lot of liberals saying things like, “Holy shit, I never thought I’d be nostalgic for GWB” and “Remember when we were so freaked out about Mitt Romney? Hahaha. Mitt Romney.”

  23. kaathewise says:

    I apologise if I missed anyone mentioning it, but shouldn’t the null hypothesis be that it’s just regression to the mean?

    I.e., when some politics spike, they come to power, but then naturally swing back, because they were higher than average in the first place.

    Take Obama, do you feel that he improved the position of the Left, or that more people turned Right as a result of his policy? I would say neither — most of it is just regression to the mean.

  24. RalMirrorAd says:

    Thoughts:

    1. People’s perspectives on what the ‘policy’ is change when the circumstances change, even if the policies don’t change substantially or don’t change at all. E.G. Gun Control; the debate hinges on a faulty assumption that people know what the relevant laws governing firearm use are. If a shooting occurs it is naturally assumed gun laws are inadequate; if you ask Joe public what laws should be put in place he may very well propose something that already exists in an equivalent or more stringent form. In an electoral sense you ‘feel’ like the laws have shifted substantially when someone new takes office.

    Here are some other examples:
    A. Trade Support – I *suspect* driven by economic concerns. Ignoring how obnoxious it is to call the status quo with china ‘free trade’ the better the economy is the more tolerant people become of free trade and visa versa.

    B. Climate Change – Driven by weather events other than volcanoes and earthquakes. [Even though IPCC isn’t very clear how much a reduction in these would take place if carbon reductions were adopted]

    C. Immigration – Driven by immigration related news as well as possibly terror incidents. Having the ‘Muslim Ban’ litigated in the news probably increases support for immigration, while airing footage of the Caravan rushing the border would decrease it.

    2. Saying someone is against illegal immigration solely doesn’t make any sense unless you explicitly endorse a particular system of legal immigration. If the legality of it was your only concern then you could solve all problems by having an open borders policy.

    With that in mind, Reducing H1Bs that are being issued with the expressed purpose of lowering wages in certain industries, as well as curbing legal immigration in instances where the newcomers are a net tax liability is popular with his base. Failing to do these things and having that fact be known would hurt more in the long run. Critics of immigration restrictionism might be energized but they’re still in the awkward position of convincing median voters that increasing tax outflows to the global south and lowering domestic wages are a good policy. Obviously there’s a very effective 1 word argument they can and will make but voters minds will always drift back to the prospect of rising wages and better allocation of tax dollars.

    3. Salvini and Orban in Italy and Hungary respectively have done more to reduce the flow of migrants into their countries then Trump has, by a significant margin. Doing so hasn’t harmed their popularity and I’m skeptical that it has strengthened the position of people like Macron/May/Merkel.

  25. Pingback: Interesting Links for 14-12-2018 | Made from Truth and Lies

  26. Erusian says:

    My take on this: Opinion polls are not a great way to determine political fortunes. Voting is a discrete act between two bundled choices.

    The truth is that, out of the 538 electoral votes, about 460 of them are fairly predetermined every election. A Republican is simply not going to win California. A Democrat is just not going to win Texas. And states like North Carolina and Colorado have heavy slants. The remaining eighty odd votes are Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. You’ll notice three of the four are Great Lakes states. (Additionally, if you look at the second tier competitive states, the Great Lakes region is also overrepresented). The same is true in the Senate: there’s only really ten to twenty competitive seats, less if the swing state has a locally strong person.

    If you want the Senate and Presidency, what you really need is a small but loyal group to get you through the primary, then to win that part of the population. People talk about Obama being black spurring support in the South, but Obama’s political background was in Chicago and Biden played very well in Detroit with his white working class background. So if I were Trump, I’d be much more worried about sagging support in the Rust Belt than general opinion polls. The only question matters is if it will alienate the conservative base overall or, more importantly, if it will alienate the median voter in those four states.

    The real question is if the Democrats can find someone who can rhetorically and media-wise stand up to Trump, win the primary against more progressive candidates, and play well in those liminal regions. If they can’t, Trump again gets to be ‘better than Shillary’. Trump doesn’t need to outrun the bear, he just needs to outrun the Democrat. And he really only needs to do so in a couple of states.

    In fact, one of the great gifts Trump got in 2016 was pushing Democrats back to their strongholds. This means the current party leadership is literally California and New York with a few even more progressive people pushing them further left from New England. The more Democrats represent the coastal cities, the easier Trump’s job is.

    • TDB says:

      Texas used to be solidly democrat. They’re always looking for an issue that splits the opposing coalition, sometimes they find it and keep it for a while.

      • Erusian says:

        So did all of the South. The last Democrat to win (iirc) was Carter, who was a relatively conservative Democrat. We’re in a new party system right now with a more solidly Republican South. Grand shifts certainly could happen but outside of that you’re dealing with the situation above, no?

    • sharper13 says:

      Logged in to say something similar.

      The way Trump won the election was to skim off some of the blue collar union/Reagan Democrats in the northern mid-west to secure their State’s electoral college votes. He did that with rhetoric and policies which revolve around telling those folks what they want to hear, that someone cares about them and is going to “do something” about their skilled manufacturing job problems.

      The details of that revolve around being anti-foreign trade (manufacturing job competition), anti-immigrant (again job competition), pro-domestic business (tax changes to encourage onshoring again), etc…

      As a Republican who voted for Trump in the general, primarily for Judicial nominations, but preferred several better candidates in the primary, “Trumpism” has been a great success for me. Trump has made a lot of noise and made many on the left, especially in the media, look terrible (why they are unable to stop themselves from exploding in reaction to his tweets and statements, I don’t know, but they don’t seem to be able to stop shooting themselves in the foot that way), but he hasn’t actually done much real damage in the areas as a libertarian-leaning Republican I disagree with him on.

      Immigration? Tariffs? Lots of noise, no real changes over time, except if anything to push public opinion in the correct direction.

      Russia and Putin? You actually have Democrats regularly announcing their opposition. Compare that to even 10 years ago.

      Other military and diplomatic stuff? Trump seems to have stuck to some blustery negotiating points and allowed people who know what they’re doing (Bolton, Mattis, etc…) to accomplish quite a lot compared to the usual slow pace of D.C.

      Health Care? Some improvements, McCain’s vote killed anything super substantial.

      Big government environmentalism? Big changes at the top, with lots of resistance in the bureaucratic trenches, but some positive changes still getting done.

      Federal Taxes? Big improvements.

      Regulations? Would like it to be even better, but realistically the Trump Administration has done better than your average Republican in improving things.

      Judicial nominations? By outsourcing to the experts (Federalist Society types), has done much better than your average Republican President over the last few decades.

      There is nothing I can think of which Trump has done as President which would have turned out better under a Hillary Clinton Presidency. Truthfully, I’d have been happy with just judicial nominations this good and everything else staying the same, so to have some other policy wins for a libertarian Republican seems great.

      Trump has no need to care about what voters in CA and NY think, because he isn’t getting the electoral college votes from those States anyway. They’ve made themselves totally irrelevant in issues and campaigning terms, because it doesn’t matter by how many millions of votes the Democratic candidate wins there. Every time the media makes a big deal about him being anti-illegal immigrant or in the middle of a trade war with China or the EU, he wins more votes from factory workers in the rust belt States, which is where he actually needs to keep his voters. He’s going to win Utah and Texas as long as he doesn’t do something stupid like come out in favor of abortion on demand.

      Bottom line, Trump wins re-election in 2020 if he continues his focus on rhetorically stealing votes in the blue collar union states using traditional democratic issues (thus continuing an Electoral College edge) and at the same time manages to not upset mainstream and conservative GOPers any more than he has already.

      • Erusian says:

        Trump has no need to care about what voters in CA and NY think, because he isn’t getting the electoral college votes from those States anyway. They’ve made themselves totally irrelevant in issues and campaigning terms,

        I’ve often wondered if there’s so much wailing and gnashing of teeth because of this. Coastal cities are used to being the center of the world. They are used to completely dominating the rest of the country economically and culturally. Even when a show gets made about (say) a fictional city called Pawnee, Indiana, it’s made by Californians and is full of California culture. The Republicans in general but especially Trump are a reminder that big cities can put their full cultural, monetary, and political guns behind a candidate and lose. And that losing can then mean suffering real policy defeats and that they don’t have a seat at the political table.

        That must sting for people who aren’t used to major policy defeats or not being the center of the universe. It probably stings a lot more than, say, the rural Michiganites who lost their seats at the table under the Obama administration. No one thinks Yoop is the center of the world. Not even people from Yoop.

      • Trump has no need to care about what voters in CA and NY think, because he isn’t getting the electoral college votes from those States anyway.

        He isn’t going to get the electoral votes but he could get a sizeable minority of the House seats–or not, depending on what voters in those states think.

        • Erusian says:

          Could he? The Republicans get about a third of house seats in New York and California, mostly in the countryside. Those places are mostly pretty hard right. They’re too small to affect statewide elections but Trump isn’t going to lose them. Aside from them, what positioning could he take that would take the moderate leftist voters in California away from the Democrats? One that wouldn’t alienate the median voters who mostly don’t live on the coasts?

          • I believe the Republicans lost a bunch of California seats in the most recent election, including some in Orange County.

          • Erusian says:

            The Republicans lost seven seats in California out of 53. The Republicans maintained seven seats which the Democrats did not believe they could successfully contest.

            In order for California’s pattern to be disruptive, I’d have to see New York or California becoming like New England. New England is basically the only place in the Union where the mainstream Democrats are competitive in rural areas. There’s some Conservative Democrats who appeal to rural areas in other places. But those are people like Donnely, who was anti-abortion, right to work, etc.

          • Jesse E says:

            The problem is that those 7 seats the GOP previously held were basically ones they were planning on holding for future congressional majorities. If they’ve lost even 4 or 5 out of those 7 seats semi-permanently due to changing coalitions, that 4 or 5 extra seats they have to win they hadn’t planned on.

          • Erusian says:

            The problem is that those 7 seats the GOP previously held were basically ones they were planning on holding for future congressional majorities. If they’ve lost even 4 or 5 out of those 7 seats semi-permanently due to changing coalitions, that 4 or 5 extra seats they have to win they hadn’t planned on.

            Where’d you get that from? My knowledge was that the Republicans had expected they were going to lose the Orange County seats (for example) and were generally pessimistic about California. They intended to make it up in the Rust Belt (and they did gain some seats there, just not in net) and places like the South (which, again, they didn’t succeed in but poured more money into).

          • John Schilling says:

            Where’d you get that from? My knowledge was that the Republicans had expected they were going to lose the Orange County seats (for example)

            Looking at the 21st-century voting records of the three solidly Republican congressional districts(*) in Orange County:

            The 45th district averaged 61% +/- 5% Republican before 2018, with a long-term secular decline of 0.4% per year meaning it was projected to elect GOP candidates until 2036. Then turned in a meager 49.2% in 2018.

            The 48th district matches the 46th, 62% +/- 4% Republican, 0.4% secular decline, safe through 2038. Oops, 47.1% in 2018.

            The 49th district was 62% +/- 8% Republican, but Cthulhu’s leftward swim of 1.2%/year meant the GOP was projected to lose the seat in 2020. And instead lost it this year with 46.3% of the vote.

            If the Republican party was writing off OC and California generally, because they were “only” projected to keep two-thirds of their safe seats for the next twenty years, that seems rather foolish. But, having written off those seats, they did indeed lose them – a complete shutout in OC, with a 0.4%/year secular decline in support replaced by a 10% drop on one term. Possibly you believe it a coincidence that this occurred during Trump’s first term in office. So, how’s the plan to replace those seats with rust-belt Republican congressmen going?

            * Redistricting makes several of the others difficult to track over time; I believe the immensely popular Loretta Sanchez(D) has represented three different OC districts in her career.

        • sharper13 says:

          I agree with you, down ballot Republicans are going to continue to suffer in many places as they are forced to make hard decisions around being seen as Trump supporters or Trump opponents. Either choice is likely to cost them some votes they’d usually be able to get, as he’s become a pretty polarizing figure.

          On the other hand, Obama really hurt Democrats down ballot during his two terms as well and some of this is the natural movement of people in various areas back to where they were pre-Obama. Losing more traditionally Republican places like Orange County has got to hurt, but I’m not sure Trump cares as much about the GOP’s fortunes as the GOP itself does.

  27. Alliumnsk says:

    People voted for Trump not because they wish his policies. He was the only candidate who did not blame them of having primordial sin of whiteness, maleness. He was the only one who wasn’t afraid to say that Islamic terrorism existed. Shifting the Overton window is a win.

    • L. says:

      Yeah…that’s kinda bullshit. I’m by no means an SJW, but none of the candidates came even close to blaming anyone for being white or male; some may had “friends” who have such tendencies, but that’s because they belonged to that giant coalition that we call “Left” or “Democratic Party”, which by nature of being the only real option of the Left in the country will draw in a certain number of such individuals.
      Bernie Sanders alone disproves the claim that Trump was the only one who didn’t shit on white people and men, because, as you may recall, not shitting on white people and men was the chief media attack on him and his supporters.

      • cassander says:

        In 2012, you had Joe Biden get up and say that white people were literally going to put black people black in chains if they didn’t vote for obama.

      • Aapje says:

        Hillary Clinton blamed (presumably white) men for putting pressure on white women to vote for Trump (so much for women’s agency):

        “We do not do well with white men and we don’t do well with married, white women,” Clinton said at a conference in Mumbai, India. “And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

        She is and has always been a misandrist. In 1998 she already argued that women are the primary victims of war:

        “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. Women often have to flee from the only homes they have ever known. Women are often the refugees from conflict and sometimes, more frequently in today’s warfare, victims. Women are often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children.”

        Apparently, losing a husband is worse than a man dying, a daughter losing her father is worse than a son losing his father, etc.

        As for being anti-white, she accuses white people who voted for Trump for voting that way for racist reasons. That is the typical kind of anti-white racism we see: arguing that they vote the way they do to harm non-whites, not to further their own interests.

      • Alliumnsk says:

        Final election wasn’t Sanders vs. Trump. I’d think Sanders would have won that.
        Democratic party is increasingly growing to be non-white. Wasn’t a point crossed yet where more than 50% its votes are from non-whites?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Alliumnsk banned indefinitely. This comment was sufficiently unnecessary that it would have had to be impressively true and kind to get through; it was neither.

  28. Douglas Knight says:

    Fifth, maybe Trump has shifted the goalposts. Maybe identifying as anti-immigrant before Trump just meant you thought there should be a little better border control, but now you think it means you want a wall and mass deportations, plus you think all Mexicans are rapists. If you felt like the anti-immigrant cause was getting more extreme, but your positions stayed the same, then you might stop identifying as anti-immigrant.

    Moving the Overton window is usually seen as a win.
    So this is potentially not an explanation of the phenomenon, but a repudiation of your interpretation of the trends.
    So it is very important to distinguish this (sub)hypothesis.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think I’m thinking of this as not shifting the Overton Window. The perceived position of a certain party shifts, the Overton Window says the same, so people stop identifying with that party because it has outside-the-window positions.

      I don’t think Trump brought “Illegal immigrants are rapists” into the Overton Window. I think he said that statement once in his campaign, got tarred with it, and now people are successfully using it against him as an example of him being overly extreme.

      Also, I think labels might themselves affect reality; ie starting to call yourself “pro-immigrant” (even if your real positions haven’t changed) could start a process that changes your real positions.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Yeah, that’s why I called it a sub-hypothesis, because the 5th hypothesis covers both what you meant and this opposite possibility. I’m not saying that the 5th hypothesis is correct, let alone 5b, but I am saying that you shouldn’t ignore it.

        • Picador says:

          Doug, maybe you won’t, but I’ll go ahead and come out in favour of this hypothesis as the primary factor behind these trends.

          The POTUS is the most highly visible political figure in the US. Therefore, his policies and his rhetoric provide a baseline set of norms by which Americans gauge what political positions are currently dominant. It’s not just the Overton Window that has shifted (i.e. what political positions are seen as constituting the left and right bounds of polite discourse), but the actual perception of the power status quo., i.e. what the US’s policies actually are on the ground.

          So when a conservative in 2018 answers a poll about immigration by reversing his position from 2015 and saying immigrants aren’t really all that bad, he’s saying that maybe things have now gone far enough that he no longer needs to beat the anti-immigrant drum quite so hard. It’s no longer a threatening to him because he’s confident his man in the White House is already on the job of sending Those People back where they came from.

          My concern, Scott, is that you’re taking a possibly perverse reading of these results. Notice the patterns in history: once the Natives had been decimated by disease and war, cleared off of the land, and safely confined to remote reservations, anti-Native sentiment in the US somehow magically softened. Was this a reaction to the brutal policies that preceded this softening? No; it was a relaxation into complacency once there was no longer anything else to gain from anti-Native aggression, because they literally had nothing else left that could be taken from them.

      • TDB says:

        I think I may have been Overton defenestrated.

  29. marxbro says:

    I think all of this should increase people’s concern about backlash effects. Contrary to what some of my conflict theorist friends seem to think, civility and honesty are not always pointless own-goals in politics. If you’re sufficiently repulsive and offensive, you can also end up damaging your own cause.

    What conflict theorist are you actually referring to here? Or are you just referencing your unnamed anecdotal friends? Could you please use actual quotes if you’re referring to a particular conflict theorist such as Marx.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Don’t worry, I’m not friends with Marx.

      • marxbro says:

        Could you explain what conflict theorist you’re actually referring to then? Or which friend? It strikes me as a bit of a straw-man. Isn’t two groups becoming more polarized exactly the kind of thing a conflict theorist might predict?

        • Aapje says:

          Scott never attributed the opinion to a larger group, so it can’t be a strawman.

          The idea that civility is counterproductive is hardly a lizardman opinion either. Movements like antifa have it as a core tenet.

          You seem super-sensitive to anti-communist statements, where you see them in statements that don’t mention communists explicitly or implicitly.

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            The idea that civility is counterproductive is hardly a lizardman opinion either. Movements like antifa have it as a core tenet.

            Not just antifa. Leftists and SJ circles in general are highly critical of civility norms right now; it’s common to see civility described as a tool of oppressors designed to keep the oppressed in line.

            To be fair, Donald Trump and his supporters have also done a lot to erode civility norms, and the growing anti-civility sentiment on the left might be a kind of “well, it obviously worked for him so maybe it’ll work for us” mentality. Though in practice this has resulted in left-wing spaces where anyone with a slightly dissenting opinion gets screamed at and called a fascist, so liberal-leaning people who don’t enjoy that kind of climate tend to drift away from politics altogether.

          • marxbro says:

            The idea that civility is counterproductive is hardly a lizardman opinion either. Movements like antifa have it as a core tenet.

            Well, I’m not entirely sure that this idea of “civility” is anything more than liberal posturing. Clearly liberals abandon it pretty often. It’s not surprising that non-liberals such as antifa do not hold liberal ideals of ‘civility’, but this needs to be expanded on, not brushed over in an unsystematic way like this essay does.

            Perhaps a more useful and deeper question might be: Who decided what the ‘civility’ norms are and who gets to maintain and police those norms?

            Again, if Scott is going to invoke conflict theories to make a point, I think he should quote or at least refer to specific conflict theorists so that we know what he’s talking about.

            You seem super-sensitive to anti-communist statements, where you see them in statements that don’t mention communists explicitly or implicitly.

            I’m sensitive to vague or incorrect statements, it just so happens that Scott makes a lot of these whenever he’s referring to his political outgroups.

          • dick says:

            I’m pretty sure Scott meant “conflict theorist” in the sense of “someone who defaults to the conflict interpretation as opposed to the mistake interpretation” as described in CONFLICT VS. MISTAKE:

            Mistake theorists treat politics as science, engineering, or medicine. The State is diseased. We’re all doctors, standing around arguing over the best diagnosis and cure. Some of us have good ideas, others have bad ideas that wouldn’t help, or that would cause too many side effects.

            Conflict theorists treat politics as war. Different blocs with different interests are forever fighting to determine whether the State exists to enrich the Elites or to help the People.

            I don’t know what you’re using “conflict theorist” to mean, but it sounds like something totally different.

          • marxbro says:

            @dick. I don’t think that’s a very good definition. For example, Marx, the conflict theorist par excellence, treats politics as both a war and a science. Does Scott use his own idiosyncratic and misleading definitions of political theory often? This could account for some of his more inaccurate statements.

          • Aapje says:

            @marxbro

            Does Scott use his own idiosyncratic and misleading definitions of political theory often?

            I don’t see how Scott is being particularly idiosyncratic or misleading here. Wikipedia says:

            Conflict theories are perspectives in sociology and social psychology that emphasize a materialist interpretation of history, dialectical method of analysis, a critical stance toward existing social arrangements, and political program of revolution or, at least, reform. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies.

            Karl Marx is the father of the social conflict theory, which is a component of the four major paradigms of sociology. Certain conflict theories set out to highlight the ideological aspects inherent in traditional thought. While many of these perspectives hold parallels, conflict theory does not refer to a unified school of thought, and should not be confused with, for instance, peace and conflict studies, or any other specific theory of social conflict.

            (emphasis mine)

            So Wikipedia makes it pretty clear that this is a rather abstract description of a collection of theories that emphasize conflict between groups. Marx created one of the theories that fall under this categorization, but Marxism is to conflict theory as a chair is to furniture. Just like a table is also furniture, Social Justice is also a conflict theory (for example).

            Scott abstracted this a little bit further and focused not just on the attributes of specific theories, but also on the psychology of the people who are drawn to theories with certain attributes. He distinguishes the person who is strongly drawn to theories that attribute disagreements to fundamentally opposed interests from the person who is drawn to theories that attribute disagreements to disagreements on the facts. The latter Scott calls mistake theories.

            For example, a mistake theory activist might try to show pictures, testimonies, etc of workers living in poor circumstances to the CEO of Gap, expecting the CEO to want to alleviate this once he recognizes what is happening. However, a conflict theory activist might believe that the CEO doesn’t give a shit about these workers as his goal is merely maximum profit. So then this activist might organize a boycott, to use consumer power to force the CEO to change his ways, because his selfish desires can then best be met by giving in to the demands.

            Note that this dichotomy is mainly a philosophical tool to analyze theories and people, not a claim that only the extremes exist.

          • marxbro says:

            @aapje. My point is that it is not useful for Scott to “abstract further” when he seems not to have a very good handle on conflict theory to begin with, e.g. Marx would fall into both mistake and conflict theory as Scott has defined them. That is, Scott’s definition can’t even account for the most famous and widely-read conflict theorist.

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            Marx would fall into both mistake and conflict theory as Scott has defined them.

            Most thinkers have elements of both but lean in one direction or the other, so it’s still useful to describe people as conflict vs. mistake theorists, even if it’s hard to find a completely pure example of either. Which strikes me as true of pretty much any system of categories.

          • marxbro says:

            @Hyzenthlay

            By Scott’s definition, which direction does Marx lean towards, then?

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            I’d guess conflict, but I don’t think he’s ever stated as much. The only time I can remember him directly talking about Marx was in his “Singer on Marx” book review, and he didn’t really discuss conflict vs. mistake theory in that.

          • Aapje says:

            Scott does refer to both Marx and Marxists in his post on the topic.

            He believed that Marx is more of a conflict theorist than Bernie Sanders and that Marxists tend more towards conflict theory (with their revolutions, class warfare and such, this seems a reasonable claim).

        • Vorkon says:

          Yes, he’s referring to his actual, real life friends.

          This should have been obvious from the original post, and if it wasn’t it should have been obvious from him saying that Karl Marx was not his friend. And even if THAT wasn’t obvious enough, I’ve also found that ever since he moved to San Francisco it’s pretty safe to assume that if you’re ever wondering “huh, I wonder what brought this on” while reading SlateStarCodex, it’s probably in some way in response to his friends there.

          Either way, I think you can excuse him for not wanting to publish their names and draw them into an unsolicited Internet argument.

          • marxbro says:

            If I’m making a point on the internet I’m not sure how useful it is to refer to nameless, unquotable and unverifiable persons. Scott should be wanting to preset the absolute best of conflict theorist arguments, in which case he needs to quote Marx, C. Wright Mills, etc. Not random people he may or may not have talked to.

          • Aapje says:

            You keep misunderstanding what Scott was doing. He was merely rebutting one common argument he noticed his more conflict oriented friends using, by giving one example of how being civil and honest can allow the opposition to make an own-goal, so the behaving like that doesn’t (always) harm the cause.

            You don’t necessarily need to address an entire ideology or set of ideologies to point out a flaw, you can validly limit yourself to point out a counterexample to a categorical claim that the believers in those ideologies make.

          • marxbro says:

            @aapje. He’s “rebutting” conflict theorists by listing a large number of graphs showing two groups becoming more polarized in their views. Isn’t that exactly the kind of thing a conflict theorist might predict?

          • Aapje says:

            You just completely shifted from arguing that Scott was straw manning conflict theorists to arguing that the evidence that Scott presents doesn’t really support his claim.

            I do agree with the latter point, but I don’t see how it is relevant to the discussion we were having on the first point.

  30. broblawsky says:

    A secondary question: if there’s an economic recession in the US before the 2020 election (as appears likely now, given the recent yield curve inversion), will support for Trumpist policies drop further, tainted by Trump’s failure to maintain economic growth, or will the remaining hardcore support resist disenchantment? In particular, if a recession is linked to Trump’s trade policies, I’d expect support for free trade to become almost universal.

    • cassander says:

      I’d expect support for free trade to become almost universal.

      God no. The american, or any other, public is not nearly so sensible as that. Protectionism is too good at stroking the lizard brain to just go away. 19th century england is a miraculous exception, not the norm. And over the last 30ish years, support for free trade has gone along with economic success, not recession.

  31. onyomi says:

    Donald Trump has been a setback for many things. America. The global community. The environment. Civil service. Civil society. Civility. Civilization. The list goes on.

    Your partaking in that collective delusion/signalling game currently joined by nearly all journalists whereby you think it so obvious as to need no explanation that the president half the country voted for and whom a large percent still supports is unusually awful greatly damages my respect for you as an independent thinker.

    • Well... says:

      There’s definitely something obnoxious about casually making statements you know many people would disagree with, as if you were saying something about which there is no disagreement among all sane human adults. “The closest planet to our sun is Mercury” is said in this same tone.

      I’m tempted to say it’s not just something nearly all journalists do and rather it’s the essence of what journalism is, but that’s for another thread. And I definitely agree it’s a signalling game for most people who do it, journalists or otherwise.

      • cassander says:

        Some of them, sure. Trump is certainly a threat to a certain sort of civility. But civilization? the civil service? No, definitely not. At least, no more so that, say, George W Bush was, when the same sorts of people said the same things about him. And Romney and Mccain, for that matter.

      • Garrett says:

        There’s definitely something obnoxious about casually making statements you know many people would disagree with, as if you were saying something about which there is no disagreement among all sane human adults.

        I read this and initially was wondering if you were talking about Trump or the journalists.

    • AliceToBob says:

      Agree. It was surreal to read that.

    • Nicholas Weininger says:

      Isn’t this response just an argumentum ad populum fallacy, though? What does the awfulness or non-awfulness of Trump have to do with the percentage of people who support him, especially given what we know about the low level of voter information?

      • Statismagician says:

        +1. Whether or not the man is awful is a separate question from whether he’s uniquely awful, which is itself on an entirely different continent from vote totals.

      • onyomi says:

        I’m not arguing that a large number of people disagreeing with Scott’s appraisal makes Scott wrong. I am arguing that, given there are tens of millions of his fellow countrymen who would strongly disagree with these statements, I would be more impressed with Scott’s epistemic virtue if he not write them, as Well… puts it, in the same tone one would write “The closest planet to our sun is Mercury.”

        Had he linked some halfway-decent posts or arguments by himself or others to back up his hyperbole I would not have been disappointed as I was to read the opening of this post, as I have been disappointed by a number of other casual Trump jibes Scott has inserted in various posts in a manner very much de rigeur for educated society nowadays (“Donald Trump is a menace” is the kind of remark social signalling almost demands one toss out as a casual aside nowadays, as to actually justify it might signal you aren’t one of the smart people for whom it’s painfully obvious).

        As it is, the only post I know of where Scott actually justifies his opposition at any length is his endorsement of not-Trump, which I never found very convincing, and which I don’t think has aged all that well. But even just linking that, even if not everyone would be convinced he was right about the major points, would imply some motion on Scott’s part to explain why he thinks Trump’s presidency has been bad for human civilization rather than just throwing it out there as a given.

        The opening to this post feels very much like cheap signalling of the sort I expect Scott to do better than; the fact he seemingly hasn’t shouldn’t surprise me, though: Trump does seem to emit some kind of high-frequency cognitive dissonance waves. Either that or it’s an intentional part of his stated strategy to attract more left-wing commenters, in part by making right-wing commenters feel less welcome.*

        *Edit to add: and judging by the dumpster fire that already took place before I commented or noticed, it probably isn’t effective (I do, however, apologize if, by unintentionally “piling on” to a degree, I contributed to any sense of unwelcome felt by any left-wing posters reading the comment section).

        • Hyzenthlay says:

          Either that or it’s an intentional part of his stated strategy to attract more left-wing commenters, in part by making right-wing commenters feel less welcome.

          Eh, I doubt it. He doesn’t like Trump and he’s explained his reasons for this before, so I don’t expect him to trot out those reasons again every time he comments on Trump or something related to Trump.

          I took the remarks at the beginning to be a case of hyperbole for the sake of humor. The “Civil service. Civil society. Civility. Civilization” seems clearly set up as a joke with “civilization” as the punchline.

          Granted, there are a lot of people who say stuff like that without any trace of irony. But Scott has generally been a lot more nuanced in his critiques of Trump and has even written some lukewarm defenses of him (or at least, arguments that he’s not nearly as bad as some leftists make him out to be). I think he’s earned the right to a few Trump jokes.

    • sohois says:

      Are you willfully misreading the post, or is there some alternate version that doesn’t say: “Donald Trump has been called a setback…”

    • Brad says:

      I’m curious if you think this post will significantly impact the likelihood of you commenting here in the future.

  32. Hyzenthlay says:

    This is tangential to your point, but the “Seeing Discrimination For What It Is” bit annoyed me not just for the loaded title but because the question reinforces this weird false dichotomy people have when it comes to thinking about inequality. Maybe there was an “other” option that isn’t shown in the graph, but so often, questions about what causes poverty/inequality are framed as, “So, is it that disadvantaged groups of people are lazy or is it that they’re being discriminated against?”

    Inequality is complex and usually caused by a lot of different factors that don’t always boil down to laziness or bigotry. I mean, there’s generational wealth, which is structural but has nothing to do with discrimination–it’s just way easier to do well when you start out with some money. And there are obvious historical reasons why black people (as well as some white populations) would have less generational wealth.

    Also, I tend to think that disadvantaged populations develop cultures and attitudes based around scarcity, which makes it even harder to break the cycle. Like with the famed marshmallow test, kids from disadvantaged backgrounds did worse, but there’s a certain logic to grabbing food in front of you rather than waiting for a promised future reward if you come from an unstable environment. That isn’t “laziness” and it’s obviously not the kid’s fault, but it’s also easy to see how that could become maladaptive and contribute to remaining stuck in poverty.

    • Alliumnsk says:

      I generally agree, but on behalf of question, maybe it asks about ultimate and not proximate causes of differences?

      Lottery wins prove that this “cycle” doesn’t exist. China showed good economic growth after market reforms. Korea did the same decades earlier.
      As for US blacks, can you really say have separate culture from that of whites? They speak English, their religious structure is quite similar to that to US Whites, same TV… nowhere like SA apartheid where a language barrier existed.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        US blacks definitely have a different culture from US whites, especially when you start dividing white groups and don’t treat them as a monolith. The US culture isn’t homogenous and different cultures do things better or worse. For example, Scott has a lot of posts on animal cruelty and somehow being a vegetararian or a bunch of weird stuff like that? I’m from the Midwest. Even the liberals are members of People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

        On the other hand, we have no Silicon Valley here. But I’d much rather have steak, and everyone loving steak, than Silicon Valley.

      • Hyzenthlay says:

        Lottery wins are pretty rare events. The fact that people sometimes randomly come into large amounts of wealth doesn’t mean that the cycle of poverty doesn’t exist in a general sense. (Though I would be curious to see a study about the descendants of lottery winners and whether they retain that income-boost.)

        And while there’s a fair amount of cultural mixing, I do think that there are different subcultures within the US and that those subcultures are roughly divided along racial lines. Even if two groups both speak English, they speak different dialects. Someone from the deep South will sound different than someone from the Bronx, just as someone who grew up in a very black community will sound different from someone who grew up in a very white community.

        As for genetics (referring to the other comment below), while I don’t rule that out as a potential factor, I think comparing different groups of humans to different breeds of dogs is not at all accurate. Purebred dogs exist because people selectively bred them for specific traits. And as a result many purebreds have serious health problems (pugs have trouble breeding, golden retrievers get a lot of cancer, bull dogs can’t give birth naturally because of their narrow hips and have to have puppies through Cesarean section, etc.) In order to achieve that rapid differentiation, there had to be tons of inbreeding, and as a result purebred dogs could not exist in nature.

        Natural selection takes much longer to create significant genetic differences…and in modern societies there is very little genetic “purity” because different groups have been mixing ever since they came into contact. We’re all mutts. Culture seems like a much more obvious and straightforward explanation for why there are differences in outcomes between groups.

    • Alliumnsk says:

      >Like with the famed marshmallow test, kids from disadvantaged backgrounds did worse, but there’s a certain logic to grabbing food in front of you rather than waiting for a promised future reward if you come from an unstable environment.

      Repeat this cycle of unstable environment for 100 generations and you have a genetic bias which will persist even when environment becomes stable. (how the Vietnamese have so bright skin when they live so close to equator? their ancestors migrated from North and evolution didn’t have enough time to make them dark) A terrier is not a poodle, and it’s not their fault; but people claiming terriers and poodles same are guilty.

  33. danjelski says:

    So this really does look like cherry-picking. The poll questions are all very problematic.

    ++”Overall, do you think foreign trade is good or bad for the US economy?” Of course trade is good for the economy. But that doesn’t mean the US should be running persistent trade deficits decade after decade. And also, there really is a problem with China. The question misses all the important issues.

    ++”Percent who say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.” How could one disagree with that sentence? Obviously talented immigrants who work hard strengthen our country. They’re are not the problem. The problem (if there is one) are those who aren’t talented and/or don’t work hard. It’s a silly question.

    ++”I’m going to read you a list of environmental problems…” and then goes on to ask about the relative importance of climate change.
    This assumes that people think “environmental problems” are a pressing issue to begin with. Within the subset who do, those people will obviously worry about climate change, which in their mind represents an existential threat to civilization. The question says nothing about how important people think the larger issue of “environmental problems” is to begin with.

    ++Trump did, after all, negotiate a renewal of the NAFTA accord.

    Etc. All the poll questions have similar problems.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I would have used other polls that get at the same issue if I could find them. If you can find them please let me know, especially if they say anything different.

      I don’t think the admittedly loaded framing of some of the questions matters when analyzing the fact that a different percent of people agree with the loaded framing now than did so five years ago.

      • danjelski says:

        I think Trump has brought certain issues to the fore (immigration, trade, Paris accords) which were somewhat on the back burner before 2016. The increased interest in those issues is thus quite natural. People (at least some of them) are (slightly) more knowledgeable about those issues than they were before.

        It’s a real stretch to say the poll results are “anti-Trump.” After all, Trump is very much in favor of legal immigration. He obviously has nothing against talented immigrants who work hard. He has offered to legalize DACA people. I hope he finds a path to legalize most undocumented workers, and in the meantime he’s making no effort to deport them. But he does say (quite correctly, in my opinion) that a country without borders isn’t a country. We simply cannot allow a constant stream of illegal immigrants into our land.

        • The Nybbler says:

          After all, Trump is very much in favor of legal immigration. He obviously has nothing against talented immigrants who work hard.

          The best evidence against this are the rather low numbers in his (dead on arrival) points-based immigration proposal. On the other hand, it’s Trump; it’s quite likely they were intended as negotiating chips.

        • dragnubbit says:

          He has offered to legalize DACA people. I hope he finds a path to legalize most undocumented workers, and in the meantime he’s making no effort to deport them.

          DACA was put out by the President as a bargaining chip for wall funding, and when the Democrats agreed, it transformed into a bargaining chip for wall funding and significant decreases in legal immigration. Then by the time it got into the form of a House GOP bill that the speaker would allow votes on, it was reduced to a temporary DACA stay in exchange for wall funding and a significant decrease in legal immigration, which even the House GOP voted down.

        • But he does say (quite correctly, in my opinion) that a country without borders isn’t a country.

          The U.S. had no effective control over immigration until the late 19th century, no restrictions over New World immigration until well into the 20th. Was it not a country?

          • mtl1882 says:

            @DavidFriedman

            This isn’t a rebuttal of your point, but your post got me thinking about the issue historically, so I wanted to write out my thoughts while they were clear in my mind. The way this is spoken about is causing a lot of confusion, IMO.

            A sovereign state/community has a generally recognized right to control entry (and possibly exit). Communities exercise this right in different ways. Some exercise it by allowing all to enter, some can build a fortress and admit no one, most have some sort of compromise. Some policies are more effectively enforced than others. Having a right to control borders does not imply one must have restrictive policies, just that they can do so. That is one option.

            I would argue having the right is probably necessary to be a sovereign country. The early U.S. had that right and exercised it in various ways, but, as mentioned, it didn’t really have “effective control” over much. They didn’t have the ability to enforce much of anything, for various reasons, but I also don’t think they were eager to develop the administrative structure to be able to execute the right in a stricter manner. I don’t think, however, anyone thought they *had* to admit anyone who showed up. They just didn’t try to prevent much. And they were more state-based then – I think they protected their state sovereignty more strongly. Some places were more okay with immigrants than others. They probably got rid of undesired people, for the most part, by making it clear they weren’t welcome. They also probably enforced borders pretty well with regard to Native Americans.

            Citizenship was a surprisingly undefined and relatively ignored concept in the early U.S.–immigration status was much less tied to it. It depended on the state – many were welcoming and naturalized immigrants very quickly, but they were citizens of the state, and were not necessarily recognized by other states. Massachusetts had a strong concept of citizenship early on, and gave citizenship to black Americans very early on, but it was not recognized elsewhere. This is part of what led to the Civil War – the Dred Scott case raised the possibility that Massachusetts’ recognition of black citizens would be ruled unconstitutional, which they saw as a violation of their sovereignty. Things played out at a state level then, so you can really see the different conceptions of sovereignty.

            There were also weird things like laws regarding free blacks. Anyone seems to have been able to waltz in at the national level, but states banned or limited free blacks, so they really had nowhere to go and probably left. Many of them were from Haiti, due to the revolution. During the Civil War, D.C. let freedmen in if they could get some sponsors, a permit and follow a curfew etc.

            Thomas Jefferson petitioned the legislature of Virginia to allow the uncles of his children by Sally Hemings to stay in Virginia. Most free blacks were not allowed to be there, but you could petition the legislature as their sponsor and ceritfy that they had a job and good character and that they had always lived there and had family and community ties. As Jefferson had obvious influence, and his assertions were true, it worked. He did this late in life, when he was out of politics and his local community already knew about his domestic situation. He did not free his children or Sally because he would have had to have gone through this procedure if they wanted to stay, and everyone would have known they were his kids, and he was still in politics. If they didn’t say, he still would have had to announce their freedom. So he let them walk away with a little money to get them started in a new community. But they could have been caught at any time (many states objected to allowing slavecatchers into their state, which was another controversy), had someone realized the situation. Presumably they would have known Jefferson didn’t want them returned.

            Most early immigration controversies related to internal matters over the status of freed slaves or Native Americans.

            To summarize, I’d say the right was generally acknowledged, but not exercised in a way we would see today. And their view of immigration was looked at in different terms. I’d also argue that closing borders happens far more often in smaller communities, and is not very practical in large ones, because it is geographically difficult and because not enough people agree. I know some don’t mean physically closed borders, but it just gets complicated with a larger, diverse society. Communities that isolate themselves (have a strong feeling against admitting outsiders) are usually small and generally change their policy eventually, because people like to interact absent a big threat. They’re going to want visitors – that some guests never leave is the bigger issue, and they’re usually assimilated at some point.

            I don’t have strong feelings on the issue, but I do believe sovereign communities can control entry. There are a lot of practical concerns that our current debate ignores in a way as to make the discussion almost meaningless.

  34. Garrett says:

    Could this instead simply be regression to the mean? Things which are abnormal in a political cycle are likely to be the ones to get attention and shape political issues. But issues which are main-stream these days “it’s okay to be Catholic” aren’t going to get coverage. So ran on the things which were top-of-mind, in part because they were covered because they were new. Over time they both lose the “newness” as well as having a lot of the rough edges filed off through the ensuing discussion and debate.

  35. sclmlw says:

    One note on the graphs: these all compare percentages of groups over time. It’s entirely possible that some of these shifts are impacted by changes in group magnitude over time.

  36. BBA says:

    Like someone upthread said (and I haven’t bothered reading everything so sorry if this has been addressed), politics isn’t about policy, and Trumpism certainly isn’t about policy. It’s about triggering the libs, and speaking as a certified lib, I’m very much triggered. In that sense Trumpism is an extreme success, and will continue to drive the base to the polls for an almost certain 2020 reelection.

    My question is, when January 2025 rolls around and Trump leaves office with all the libs as triggered as possible but no wall, millions of illegal immigrants and Muslims still in the country, abortion still legal in at least some states, Hillary Clinton not locked up, etc., will it have been worth it? Obama left office with nothing but a hated half-measure of health reform to his name. So far Trump is on track to accomplish even less. What are his “wins above (Republican) replacement” and will any of them survive the next Democratic presidency?

    • Evan Þ says:

      If you’re saying that Trump should’ve lost the primaries, I totally agree.

      But, “(Republican) replacement” wasn’t on the ballot in November, unless you were in Utah where he was named Evan McMullin. In the 49 other states, the choice was between Trump and Clinton, and I believe Trump has noticeable wins over Clinton.

    • cassander says:

      If trump does nothing else, he’ll still have prevented hillary from doing whatever you think she would have done, and that’s a pretty substantial win.

      • BBA says:

        I sincerely believe that Hillary wouldn’t have done anything.

        • cassander says:

          She’d have appointed a few supreme court justices, if nothing else. And in all likelihood, she’d have gotten at least one major piece of legislation through, and lots of minor ones.

          • John Schilling says:

            She’d have appointed a few supreme court justices, if nothing else.

            But not in a way that makes it plausible that POTUS-46 will get to appoint half a dozen supreme court justices. Though that one is more Mitch McConnell’s doing than Donald Trump’s.

    • sty_silver says:

      Re-election is unlikely, not almost certain. PredictIt, which has been accused of having Republican bias the last time I brought it up, has Trump being re-elected at 33%. Are you going to max out on Yes now that I told you this, for an incredible 200% return on investment over two years?

      • BBA says:

        Am I going to wire money to some sleazy offshore gambling outfit in violation of domestic law for a “return” that’s either capped at a trivial amount or unlikely to actually get paid out when it comes due or both? No, no I’m not.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          PredictIt is legal, cleared by the SEC. You may be thinking of BetFair, of the island tax haven of Ireland.

          • BBA says:

            Betting on elections is illegal in all 50 states (in my state, it’s banned by the constitution). It doesn’t become legal just because you call it a prediction market instead of a bookie.

            The CFTC ruling was basically “this is small enough that we’re not going to regulate it as a futures market.” But it’s the regulated futures markets that are exempted from gambling laws. Unregulated futures markets are one big [shrug emoji].

            The risk of this ever getting enforced is low, sure, but I wasn’t particularly interested to begin with and this is enough to turn me off for good.

        • sty_silver says:

          The cap is 850$ maximal individual investment on any market, which isn’t trivial to me. @unlikely to actually get paid: I think you should provide evidence for this claim if you’re going to make it. I’ve never heard of anyone having any problems with their payments.

          There is admittedly a fee on profits, so it’s not quite a 200% return on investment, but still an incredibly good deal if the probability of Trump winning is actually >90%.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            You haven’t heard of problems with payment at current markets, because when people have problems, the markets stop being current. In particular, Intrade had accounting problems.

      • MrApophenia says:

        That seems really low to me. I am a risk averse wimp when it comes to gambling and I’m not going to bet on it, but it is simultaneously true that Trump is less likely to be re-elected than most first term presidents, and that incumbency is still a big enough advantage that he’s probably still the favorite.

        • sty_silver says:

          The odds of impeachment in the first term are at 48% right now. Presumably, Trump won’t be re-elected in 2020 if he gets impeached. So P(re-election | not impeached) might be more what you have in mind.

          BBA wasn’t conditioning on him not getting impeached, though, they made a general statement.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            What are the odds of conviction and removal from office in the first term?

          • sty_silver says:

            The closest to that is probably “Will Trump be president at the end of 2019” which is at 67%, but there is no corresponding market for his entire term. Definitely large enough that conditioning on it makes a significant difference.

    • L. says:

      Trump’s true and lasting accomplishment isn’t anything he did or will do, it’s what he enabled. You shouldn’t be asking what decrees of Trump’s presidency will be left after it ends, but who will inherit Trump after his presidency ends.
      The style he used to get to presidency and the issues he pried wide open isn’t something that can go back in the box.
      Trump is clown and therefore he triggered you; the next guy won’t be a clown.

      • That’s getting at the question that I have been wondering about.

        Suppose Trump, for one reason or another, doesn’t run in 2020. Has he altered the political landscape in a way that helps or harms the Republican party? Various policy positions, such as restrictions on immigration?

        The optimistic view, from the Republican standpoint, would be that he has persuaded a bunch of Democratic voters to vote Republican and many will keep doing so. He has persuaded some Republican and many independent voters to vote Democratic, but that is a response to his personality and so will vanish with a less abrasive candidate.

        The optimistic view from the standpoint of people who want substantially less immigration (of whom I am not one) is that he has demonstrated to both parties that that position is worth quite a lot of votes, so both parties will be more inclined to support it.

        More generally, he may have rearranged the political coalitions defining the parties, and it then becomes an interesting question what the long term effects may be. I’ve been arguing for a long time that the Democrats ought to try to pull libertarians, broadly defined, out of the Republican coalition, and Trump has probably made it easier for them to do so. At the same time, he may have made it easier for the Republicans to pull blue collar workers out of the Democratic coalition.

        • LadyJane says:

          @David Friedman: Yes, I was actually just reading a book on U.S. political trends that mentioned how, as recently as 2012, libertarians (defined as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”) tended to vote Republican, while populists (defined as “fiscally liberal and socially conservative”) tended to vote Democrat. I think Trump has definitely reversed that trend to some extent, though it remains to be seen whether this re-alignment will last in the long run.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The Republican party was moribund. It seemed to see its purpose as yielding as slowly as possible to whatever the Democrats wanted. In that respect he’s given them a desperately-needed kick in the pants. If they can hold on to the working-class white vote after Trump is gone, and regain a chance with the Never Trumpers by putting up a candidate who isn’t quite so personally obnoxious, they’ll be in a very good position. I personally suspect they’ll screw that up, either by running too hard against Trump and losing their base, or trying for a Trump Lite who is obnoxious enough to lose the NeverTrumpers but not tough enough to hold (at least rhetorically) on to positions the working-class whites will vote (R) for.

          The Democrats don’t seem to be making any attempt to attract libertarians, certainly, and I don’t expect them to; there aren’t enough libertarians to matter, even broadly defined.

          Biggest obvious change I see post Trump is that I expect many politicians from both sides will make louder mouth noises about stopping illegal immigration.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I don’t think Trump is mostly about triggering the libs. It’s mostly a weird populist take on immigration and foreign trade that’s been present in the US since its inception. Right now it’s married to an absurd over the top media personality, but I don’t think Trump is espousing anything unique. I mean, that would imply Trump is actually coming up with his own ideas, which is giving him too much credit.
      I personally voted for Trump in the primaries because it was down to Cruz or Trump, and I consider Cruz to be even crazier than Trump. I wanted Jeb! or Rubio, but neither one had a particularly good chance.

      I try not to be particularly fond of triggering the libs, but God you guys are annoying as hell sometimes. Like, literally invoking “right side of history?” The hell does that even mean? Do you guys even know how long history has been so far and you guys literally think you’re going to be seen as the good guys for the rest of time? That’s some Old Testament parable level arrogance right there.

      As an aside, I think Scott is way too charitable to median voters, or at least that’s my impression. The GOPers I know IRL are basically Fox News conspiracy theorists and the Dems I know all hate the GOP, have hated the GOP since Dubya, and are “free market” while easily swayed by any anti-market argument that comes along (while believing practically any race-bait article that comes along as well).

      I think there’s maybe two or three people who have political views that would be even remotely tolerable here, and the rest are basically caricatures.

  37. L. says:

    You have to understand that Trump is an uniquely moronic creature.
    I’m a racist, sexist, lgbt-phobic, “insert a religion that isn’t Christianity on a good day and anything that isn’t Catholicism on a bad day”-phobic, anti-sjw, ableist ethno-nationalist that also isn’t too keen on the Jews; I’m a guardian of privilege, defender of homogeneity and champion of oppression, yet reading virtually anything written or said by Trump causes me physical pain. The reason for this is the fact that everything that comes out of that man’s mouth is stupid, wrong or a flat-out lie – sometimes all of that at once – and whether I like it or not, he is currently the public face of my views.
    As entertaining as he is to watch and laugh with, the sheer force of his stupidity is more than enough to drive people away from the causes he supports.
    The best and most effective work done by his administration has been in my opinion the work done on lgbt and woman’s rights, something he has been divorced from. Those areas have been worked on quietly by competent people; no huge fuss, no pompous tweets, no righteous proclamations, just nibbling of competent people – little by little, bit by bit.

    • jstr says:

      Please mark your post more clearly as satire.

      • L. says:

        No satire here my friend. While I’m nowhere near the image that my description of myself undoubtedly conjures in the mind of the one who reads it, it is still an accurate description of myself.
        Think of me as your friendly neighbourhood bigot.

    • Trump’s behavior might be moronic if his objective was to promote the views you describe, but I don’t think it is. His objective seems to be to get attention for himself, in which he is very successful, and to get votes, at which he was more successful than most of us expected.

      • L. says:

        I agree with you from the point of view of him achieving his goals, but from the point of view of expressing coherent thoughts, rationality and having non-molesting relationships with truth, his behaviour is moronic.

  38. Statismagician says:

    1a) What does ‘Trumpism’ mean to you?
    1b) What do you think ‘Trumpism’ means to the majority of Americans?

    2) What would you like ‘Trumpism’ to mean? Would you prefer the same definition as in 1), but with a different name?

    3) To what degree, if any, do you think President Trump is a successful champion of the ideologies in 1) and 2), if different?

    Generalization of something I asked in a subcomment above.

  39. The Nybbler says:

    I don’t think this is really backlash. It’s signaling. Trump is for it, so people who hate Trump (which is a large portion of his opponents) are against it, or vice versa. It won’t carry over to feelings on specific policies if Trump doesn’t weigh in, and it won’t last once Trump is gone. It’s what’s being derided as “Orange Man Bad” or “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think we’re kind of saying the same thing, except that I think a lot of social things are common knowledge issues of the sort “everyone believes everyone else believes challenging immigration is unacceptable”, and those can be locked in, so I don’t expect them to go away after Trump leaves.

  40. Guy in TN says:

    Looking at these graphs, I think the more reasonable explanation isn’t “Trump caused this”, rather “Trump failed to stop already existing trends”.

    The reasons for which, I suspect, is that despite Trump being the center of media attention, he isn’t particularly influential in the formation of people’s political opinions. Trump isn’t the cause of the pre-Trump trends, so he also probably isn’t the cause of their continuation.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m surprised you’re saying this, because I thought the most interesting feature was that a stable or noisy pre-2016 trend has a major and unusual change around 2016. This is clearest in the first graph on trade, but I think it’s true of a lot of them.

      • Guy in TN says:

        The first graph is pretty clear, but a few others (“immigration levels” and “immigrants strengthen”) look more like continuation to me.

        I’ll grant that the trade data trend is strong enough for your central point to stand.

        • quanta413 says:

          I think your interpretation that it’s mostly a continuation thing is closer to being correct than Scott’s claim. But it could go the other way.

  41. TDB says:

    R.A. Wilson used to joke that Johnson was the pacifist president, because after him no one could feel very enthusiastic about war, and Nixon was the anarchist president, because after him no one trusted the government. By that approach, what will Trump be the president of?

    • Doctor Mist says:

      We won’t know that until something fells him — Johnson bowed out of a reelection campaign and Nixon bowed out of the Presidency altogether, so we can see that their mistakes were fatal. We have not yet seen what mistakes will be fatal to Trump, if any.

  42. TDB says:

    How do we compare inequality between ethnic groups to inequality within ethnic groups?

    I really wanted to know, has inequality among whites increased the same, more or less than inequality in general, or inequality between whites and various other groups?

    It seems odd to just give two choices to explain inequality, discrimination and willpower, as if it could be only be one or the other, no mixture of the two or even some third factor. Inequality within a single ethnic group can’t be explained by discrimination against that group, does that mean it is entirely explained by will power? I guess they had to keep it simple, since it was a survey question. Or maybe those are very popular explanations? I wouldn’t know how to answer, since the question seems so restricted. It seems obvious that discrimination has played a role, but I haven’t studied the issue enough to know whether it is likely to be the dominant factor or one of many.

    Is “will power” another way of saying “puritan culture”?

    Does that mean respondents should control for purely historical factors, or should include historical discrimination and historical lack of willpower in their comparison?

    If all discrimination ended today, inequality would not disappear tomorrow. How much inequality would remain one year from now? Ten years? 100?

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      IIRC there was a Black Mensa member who brought up the existence of considerable and persistent economic gaps in achievement between various European ethnic groups within the United States. Some of the map to the economic disparities you see between the constituent EU countries others not so much.

      To what force to we attribute these differences?

  43. yildo says:

    The position of certain, ahem, right-wingers in this thread seems to be an endorsement of communal punishment. Are you a member of a community they don’t like (because they think it’s “destroying Western civilization” or something)? Well, then you should be punished (e.g. by denying you the right to due process, or to enter a country, or to immigrate). Your own sins and virtues as an individual are irrelevant.

    The incompatibility between communal punishment and Western civilization does not seem to enter the minds of the self-proclaimed defenders of the latter.

    • Statismagician says:

      I’m required to point out that the latter two are not, in fact, rights at all under the letter of existing US law. Everybody agrees (I think? Please, can there be at least this one thing?) that people who’ll be a net benefit to the country and who follow proper procedure should be allowed in, the devil’s in the definitions.

      • Nicholas Weininger says:

        FWIW this is one issue where the distinction between “rights under current US law” and “moral rights under at-least-arguably-universal principles of morality” is particularly stark and important. At least some pro-immigrant anti-Trumpism is motivated by the ethical conviction that people do in general have a moral right to cross borders freely. People who hold this conviction may well be willing to admit significant classes of exceptions, as there usually are exceptions to human rights principles, but the *moral default* is that you should get in and, on this view, anything like the status quo represents a tremendous and immoral departure from that default. The Chinese government certainly believes that people whose speech is a net benefit to the country, as they define it, and who follow proper procedures, as they define them, should be allowed to speak freely; nonetheless it is correct to speak of that government’s policies as broadly anti-free-speech.

        Now it is certainly the case that people sometimes decide what their ethical principles should be for bad reasons, and “Trump is terrible, therefore people have a moral right to cross borders freely” is bad reasoning; but to Scott’s point it is plausible that a significant fraction of people have implicitly reasoned thus in the past few years.

        • John Schilling says:

          At least some pro-immigrant anti-Trumpism is motivated by the ethical conviction that people do in general have a moral right to cross borders freely.

          And at least some anti-immigrant pro-Trumpism is motivated by the ethical conviction that people do in general have a moral right to put up “no trespassing” signs on their property, individually or collectively. Claiming, as the OP implicitly did, that “rights” are a noteworthy property of just the pro-immigration side is unwarranted, unpersuasive, and annoying.

          • Nicholas Weininger says:

            “Individually or collectively” is doing an awful lot of work there. I can’t speak for the OP but I think a lot of those who think like the OP take it more or less for granted that rights are attributes of individuals and speaking of collective rights belonging to nations, peoples, etc is a category error.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @Nicholas;

            1. Rights are not an inherent property of a thing so it’s only a category error if people believe in ‘individual’ and not ‘collective’ rights. Both of these things are equally socially constructed and have historically co-existed to varying degrees.

            2. self-determination [ a ‘collective right’] was until recently a respectable position to take. How is self-determination compatible with the proposition that anyone can enter an already occupied territory and in so doing render themselves the relevant constituent population. Why does it matter whether or not a group of people perform this act under arms or not under arms if the effect is the same?

            3. WRT individual rights, Laws on the books already exist to outlaw individuals disassociating from each other or forming voluntary compacts to exclude certain people. The only permissible form of disassociation is the economic kind (high priced neighborhoods & Zoning restrictions) which is by the very nature of things out of reach of the common man.

            I bring this up because from the perspective of freedom of association; either people are stopped at the border or they’re not stopped anywhere at all.

            @Statismagician;

            Questionable. “Net Benefit” in the context of immigration generally means a Kaldor Hicks efficient improvement. Even for a net tax payers you see a rightward shift in the labor supply curve and a boost to economic growth that is shared between immigrants and employers [with employers getting the per-capita lions share] and native workers losing out in relative and absolute terms; especially since the big cost items like health care, housing, and education, are generally not made cheaper from immigration and cannot be easily outsourced. The overall gain may be net but at the cost of bifurcating your middle class.

            But even if you view this as an acceptable trade-off, The ripple effects from the social dislocation this creates (and the coarsening of politics) plus the opportunity cost that entrepreneurs are less incentivized to develop labor-saving devices might make the trade off worse overall.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nicholas Weininger

            Every ‘collective’ moral right can be rephrased as an individual right and sometimes vice versa as well. The right for family life is phrased in a collective way, but you can individualize it by describing it as the rights for:
            – a child to grow up with his/her parents
            – the right for a parent to raise their children
            – the right for adults to live with the person they romantically love

          • John Schilling says:

            I can’t speak for the OP but I think a lot of those who think like the OP take it more or less for granted that rights are attributes of individuals and speaking of collective rights belonging to nations, peoples, etc is a category error.

            Yes, I get that. And a lot of other people think that collective rights are very definitely a real thing. I’m fairly certain that the set of people who believe that there are at least some real collective rights is larger than the set of people who believe that there are absolutely no collective rights, but never mind the numbers. People fundamentally disagree on the subject of rights.

            When people fundamentally disagree on the subject of rights, and one group is arguing for policies that protect what it sees as fundamental rights and the other group is doing the same, characterizing the dispute as simply $BadGuys trying to deprive $SympatheticVictims of their “rights” is not helpful.

          • LadyJane says:

            @John Schilling: By what argument do these people claim the right to prohibit people from stepping foot in public spaces? They can’t rely on private property rights, since they don’t own the roads and parks. They can’t rely on collective property rights, because that would imply that public spaces are the shared property of all U.S. citizens, in which case a majority of those citizens would need to agree to prohibit people from them. They can appeal to representative democracy and argue that, since their side won more elections, their side should be allowed to enact the policies they want – but then they forfeit all right to complain about their rights being violated when the other side wins a Congressional majority in 2 years, reverses everything they’ve done, and implements a barrage of pro-immigrant and pro-amnesty policies. There’s that bizarre “net taxpayer” argument that I’ve heard some paleo-libertarians trot out, but that’s convoluted and borderline nonsensical, and even if you went by that insane and impractical standard, you still might wind up with a majority of people voting the other way. I can’t see any internally consistent paradigm in which the government and/or the people have a right to refuse immigrants entry, but not a right to allow immigrants entry if the current regime and/or the standing majority would prefer that.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I can’t see any internally consistent paradigm in which the government and/or the people have a right to refuse immigrants entry, but not a right to allow immigrants entry if the current regime and/or the standing majority would prefer that.

            You may be right, but this is not a paradigm that’s widely held. The people losing democratic elections are not saying that the majority has no right to change immigration law. The minority is attempting to win elections to enact their preferred policy.

            Being in the majority, whether a legislative majority or a public opinion majority, also does not mean you get to enact whatever you want, whenever you want.

            Being in the minority certainly doesn’t mean you lose the right to complain about what the majority does.

          • 10240 says:

            @RalMirrorAd The benefits of immigration are unlikely to go primarily to employers (i.e. company shareholders). Since capital markets are globalized, a given amount of risk corresponds to a given rate of return everywhere, to the extent the efficient market hypothesis holds. The effects of immigration to the US are unlikely to significantly affect the demand for capital on a global level, so they don’t significantly change return rates. Company profits converge to the prevailing rates of return (corresponding to the risk), through expansion of operations or the founding of new companies, if profit rates are higher than usual. Consequently, increases in company income get passed on as price decreases or salary increases on the long run.

            @LadyJane I guess the argument is that collective decisions are made through representative democracy, and a country as a collective has a right to put up a “no trespass” sign, therefore restricting immigration doesn’t violate fundamental rights. Some other policies do violate fundamental rights, and in that case it’s not OK even for elected representatives to enact that policy.

          • John Schilling says:

            @John Schilling: By what argument do these people claim the right to prohibit people from stepping foot in public spaces?

            We have discussed that point here many, many times before, and I don’t feel a need for another rehash. You can look it up, if you like.

            Regardless, it is very clearly the case that a large fraction of the US body politic recognizes such a right, and have long and extensive precedent backing them up. So simply attributing the position of “right” to the open-borders opposition alone is disingenuous, unconvincing, and basically equivalent to saying “I’m right, you’re wrong, I win!”.

          • LadyJane says:

            @John Schilling: There is one interpretation of rights that says that immigrants should be allowed to enter the country no matter what. There is another interpretation of rights that says the people of that country have a right to collectively refuse immigrants entry, but the same interpretation would also say that people have a right to collectively allow immigrants entry (and if people disagree, that’s what elected representatives are for).

            I go by the former, but even if we’re going by the latter, that still doesn’t make sense of conservative arguments that liberal administrations violating people’s rights by letting immigrants in. If the majority and/or the state has the right to refuse people entry into the country, why wouldn’t it also have the right to allow them entry?

          • 10240 says:

            even if we’re going by the latter, that still doesn’t make sense of conservative arguments that liberal administrations violating people’s rights by letting immigrants in.

            Do conservatives argue that? In this thread there were arguments that nations have collective rights, including the right to self-determination, and that requires the right to restrict whom they let in. However, if a nation has collective rights, it also has the right to waive or diminish its own rights by collective decision (through the democratically elected representatives), in this case by letting newcomers enter the community.

          • Even for a net tax payers you see a rightward shift in the labor supply curve and a boost to economic growth that is shared between immigrants and employers [with employers getting the per-capita lions share]

            How would you justify that final claim? I would guess that many immigrants end up with several times the income they had before, and I doubt that many employers find that they can get immigrant labor at a fraction of what they would have to pay native labor.

            Further, since employers are competing for both inputs, including labor, and the outputs they sell, I would expect most of the benefit from hiring immigrants to end up with the customers.

            especially since the big cost items like health care, housing, and education, are generally not made cheaper from immigration and cannot be easily outsourced.

            Judging by my experience in the Bay Area, a majority of nurses and a substantial fraction of doctors are immigrants.

        • Baeraad says:

          At least some pro-immigrant anti-Trumpism is motivated by the ethical conviction that people do in general have a moral right to cross borders freely. People who hold this conviction may well be willing to admit significant classes of exceptions, as there usually are exceptions to human rights principles, but the *moral default* is that you should get in and, on this view, anything like the status quo represents a tremendous and immoral departure from that default.

          Thank you. There are a number of cases where I’m annoyed by one side resolutely failing to understand another; the way that people on the right appear to feign complete incomprehension at the idea that idealistic people on the left want the written law to follow intuitive morality is one of them.

          I mean, you can absolutely make the case that cramming too much idealism into practical politics can lead to bad things. And I actually agree that leftist idealism has gotten increasingly scary in its refusal to consider consequences and practicalities. But how hard is it to understand that many people do not see what moral right one person has to tell another that they may not walk across an arbitrary line on the map?

          ETA: And if someone brings up the subject of private property – YES, but honestly, I find that to be every bit as morally iffy as border controls. And again, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the PRACTICAL problems with just declaring that everyone can go anywhere they please – I’m just saying, I can find no intrinsic ethical justification for it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But how hard is it to understand that many people do not see what moral right one person has to tell another that they may not walk across an arbitrary line on the map?

            We on the right say this all the time. “What the left wants is open borders.” And then we are exasperatedly informed that no, the left does not want open borders and that’s a right-wing boogeystrawman to imply they do.

          • JohnBuridan says:

            Theoretically, one could hold both positions. In the U.S. I think many people do hold both.
            1. Each person should have freedom of movement, unless there is a demonstrable reason why he/she should not.
            2. Each nation have a right to territorial integrity, unless there is a demonstrable reason why it should not.

            Number 1 still requires border control, no matter what Conrad Honcho thinks.
            Number 2 means nations may draft policy with the long-term view of its legal integrity.

            In the current political moment, many folks are, for whatever reason terrified about who is coming and so advocate for tighter border control in the name of national integrity.

            But if they are mistakenly letting their fears take hold or are miscalculating the risks, then it principles 1 & 2 are being abused to the harm and detriment not only of would-be immigrants but of fellow citizens.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Who decides what’s a demonstrable reason then John?

            May the US deny access to south and central Americans because of the demonstrable reasons of drugs, crime, disease, downward wage pressure, and political/demographic replacement?

            How mad would you be if I, Conrad Honcho, random middle class white guy, showed up uninvited in Japan and demanded access to their social programs, a right to work, etc, and they promptly drop-kicked my gaijin ass out of there? What’s their demonstrable reason for the Japanese (or the Congolese or anybody else) to deny me access to their nation? Related, how do you feel about (neo-) colonialism?

            Serious question: I illegally enter Japan, Japan deports me back to the US. Is Japan in the wrong to deport me, or was I in the wrong to illegally enter?

          • But how hard is it to understand that many people do not see what moral right one person has to tell another that they may not walk across an arbitrary line on the map?

            Do many people, in the sense of a substantial fraction of the population, hold that position? My impression is that support for open borders has been a tiny minority position throughout my lifetime, mostly limited to extreme libertarians. It wouldn’t astonish me if there is a similar tiny minority on the left, just one I am less likely to encounter.

          • False says:

            @Conrad

            Japan is actually not a great example for you because, assuming you are American, its impossible for you to enter Japan illegally, provided you show up at the airport and have your passport, as they will grant you a tourist visa basically sight-unseen. You can illegally overstay your visa (after 90 days), but you actually can apply for a version of the japanese universal health insurance for the duration of said visa. Its also not illegal for you to search for and get a job during your stay (technically frowned upon, but in practice very common); they will just make you apply for a “real” visa.

            So I think the answer to your question “How mad would you be?” is: no one would be mad at all because what you described happens all the time, and there is no practical way for you to illegally enter Japan, unless you were trying to piss people off on purpose.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @False:

            Okay fine pick any other country that doesn’t auto-grant visas to Americans. The point is that nobody would be calling the country that deports me evil and racist and saying “no person is illegal!” I would probably get laughed at for assuming my white privilege allowed me to do whatever I want, ignoring the immigration laws of other nations.

            @David:

            “Open borders” is not a common stated preference, but a common revealed one. People will say they’re not for open borders, but when you probe to find out what we’re allowed to do to enforce our borders, it’s “absolutely nothing.” Which means open borders.

          • albatross11 says:

            Every technique for enforcing immigration law is unpleasant in various ways, and often involves treating people badly whose main crime is that they were poor people in foreign countries who came to the US to find work. Because of that, there’s a rhetorical advantage in opposing each of the measures to enforce immigration law as unduly harsh or harming sympathetic people. (And they are harsh, and they do harm sympathetic people.) I suspect very few of the people arguing that way have thought it through to the point of actually favoring open borders. (As opposed to someone like David Friedman who favors open borders and has thought it through.)

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad,

            How does Mexico deal with illegal immigration?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Apparently not well. I had heard bad things, tried to google for more specifics but it’s not like the sources are exactly top-tier. Yahoo answers and National Review.

            Basically way worse than us. Anyone who enters their country illegally is a felon and they’re lucky if they’re just deported instead of being robbed, beaten, raped and deported.

          • sentientbeings says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            You mentioned:

            “Open borders” is not a common stated preference, but a common revealed one.

            I don’t think that’s accurate, though I don’t have much to substantiate it beyond casual observation. I think it is not a revealed preference but rather a reflexive or simply unthoughtful response to restrictions and their explicit advocates. If you look at actual policy crafted by “pro-immigration”-affiliated people, they don’t entail open borders. You can only associate a revealed preference with people who have some sort of skin in the game; otherwise it’s still just a stated purported preference, even if implied by lack of nuance revealed through your questioning.

            I think part of the issue is that there is confusion created by the phrase “open borders.” I do not know what it means. To describe an anarchic situation I would say “no borders.” To describe a situation with very easy legal immigration I might say “liberal immigration policy” (liberal in the sense of permissive). To describe easy immigration including illegal immigration I would say “porous borders.” We could describe other situations like “restricted” or “selectively permissive based on political rent-seeking” or “closed” as well.
            The fact is that immigration policy is pretty complicated and more description is better; grouping everyone’s beliefs into two categories is a bad idea.

      • Garrett says:

        Given that people are totally cool with *their* politicians supporting policies in violation of the written Constitution, there’s no reason to believe that there will be better support for rights which aren’t in the written Constitution.

    • 10240 says:

      Punishment usually refers to actions such that at least part of the intent is to hurt someone, usually to deter people from doing some wrong. Collective punishment typically means actions whose intent is to hurt a group in order to deter some wrong by exploiting intra-group solidarity or group self-policing. Actions where hurting someone is at most a side-effect but not the intention are not usually called punishment. Immigration restrictions fall into the latter category.

      This sounds like nit-picking, but there has never been a general norm against collective punishment in Western countries in the broad sense (that includes harm-as-side-effect), only in the more narrow sense (harm-as-intent). The US has had immigration restrictions since the 1800s.

  44. MB says:

    It’s strange how the solution for whatever ails the left is a return to first principles and the cure for whatever ails the right is more moderation.
    I wonder why SA isn’t prescribing more moderation to the Democrat Party as well.
    Wasn’t Occasio-Cortez’s election a mistake worthy of strong condemnation? Shouldn’t SA now support Bloomberg’s candidacy as a Democrat?
    He actually had a lot of sensible positions and, if he could make it in NY, he could make it anywhere.

    • Statismagician says:

      Come on, like every other SSC post is Scott going ‘this identity politics stuff is crazy and counterproductive, also over-regulation is very bad for everything everywhere, part n of infinity.’

    • Scott Alexander says:

      This post already links to a post of mine telling leftists they should be more moderate if they want to win.

  45. fluorocarbon says:

    I’d like to move up one meta-level and talk about how the Slate Star Codex commentariat is pretty right-wing and somewhat hostile to non-right-wing posters. This topic has come up before (a lot?), but this thread is a pretty good example of it. At the time I’m writing this post, there are 24 top-level comments. Out of them, I’d characterize 14 (58%) as right-wing or pro-Trump, 8 (33%) as neutral and 2 (8%) as left-wing or anti-Trump. (I’d be interested in other people’s numbers, since I’m of course not 100% unbiased myself.)

    There are also a number of comments that I can’t interpret as being made in good faith. I don’t know the etiquette around calling out other comments, but I’m going to quote sections of the comments below without including usernames:

    The only chance for the right is to start making plays that directly target the leftist initiative to change demographics and blend distinctions between demographics

    From having read things like Untitled, I had a sympathy for the woes of men struggling with sexual irrelevance.

    That’s not even mentioning the highly visible political violence directed against conservatives, with the mainstream media cheerleading for said violence.

    Indeed, the left takes a particular satisfaction in targeting the weak among their opponents and especially the children and the young

    I can’t really imagine someone on the left wanting to participate in discussions stated this way. And that’s 17% of the comments! I also can’t imagine that any of these points couldn’t be made without casting the left-wing as The Evil People Trying to Destroy Our Way of Life. (Maybe the second comment? But I still think it could be phrased better.)

    On the subject of post itself, I wonder if some of this can be explained by a switch from conflict to mistake theory. This is anecdotal, but a lot of people I know have changed from being mistake theory center-leftists to conflict theory must-defeat-Trump-at-all-costs-ists; I sort of fall in that boat myself too. That could explain why Trump gets much more extreme pushback than other politicians with similar policies. (Preemptive counterargument: claiming that all Republicans are called Hitler at some point is missing the forest for the trees; the opposition to Trump is much stronger and from a different group than opposition to other right-wing politicians).

    • gbdub says:

      This is a very culture-warry topic that Scott covered in a (for him) unusually superficial, culture-warry way that’s not particularly hard to read uncharitably (Rightists are dumb for voting for someone that claimed to support their preferred policies in an uncouth way!). I’m not surprised the comments are more partisanly low quality than usual, not that that excuses it.

      • Walter says:

        I mean, Scott WAS correct. Dude owns up to his mistakes in big ole posts. What’s wrong with him doing the same for when he gets it correct?

        • gbdub says:

          I don’t have a problem with him taking credit for a valid prediction, I just didn’t think this post had his usual level of care or nuance in examining the evidence. These are kind of Vox-like charts that he takes at face value / reinterprets to fit his point, without poking at whether the underlying data is any good.

          I certainly don’t think it was meant this way, but I think the post can, without being extremely uncharitable, be read as dunking on “Trumpists”.

      • fluorocarbon says:

        I can see why some commenters might feel that way. But it feels to me like there’s misplaced aggression–a lot of right-wing commenters probably live in pretty lefty areas and feel like they or their views aren’t treated fairly. They might (totally fairly) be on the defensive for bad arguments or sensitive to criticism.

        However I think Scott’s shown himself to avoid making a superficial or bad-faith arguments. Even if this post is culture-warry, I would argue that it’s making a good point about how choosing the wrong figurehead for a cause can end up doing more harm than good to that cause. It’s also speaking to a prediction he made in a previous post.

        • gbdub says:

          I think Scott usually does to go out of his way to be extra careful about superficial and bad-faith arguments when covering culture-war topics, but that’s precisely why I was a bit surprised by this post.

          For example, the fact that he was apparently completely surprised that anyone might be bothered by the conflation of “immigration” and “illegal immigration” speaks to a level of care and thoughtfulness below his usually very high standard.

      • Brad says:

        That may well be true, but it doesn’t explain the partisan mix. This post and years worth of others show that Scott is firmly left of center. Even though untitled and the like are what—almost half a decade old at this point?—his active commentariat keeps marching rightward. It’s something of a puzzle.

        • quanta413 says:

          I’m not seeing the rightward march. There used to be significantly more deatheaters here.

          It’s more a slow drain of left-wing people leaving than a shift in right-wing behavior.

          • Brad says:

            I was thinking more of the direction and pace of change at the median then the number of people way out on the right. Agreed that death eaters are far less common (and consider that a welcome change).

          • quanta413 says:

            Yeah, I agree the median may have shifted that way some.

            Also agree that I do not miss the deatheaters. There may have hypothetically been an insightful deatheater, but I don’t remember one. I do remember helicopter Jim though, who has not only been banned here but even banned by ESR which I think basically shows that even those really committed to debate (whether polite or impolite) tend to eventually start weeding out the death eaters.

        • @Brad:
          I’m not sure your facts are correct–Scott’s position isn’t easily classified on a left/right scale. But suppose it is. Further suppose that what is special about this group is that it is a civil conversation across a wide range of views.

          On those assumptions, the implication is that people on the right like engaging in such a conversation, people on the left don’t.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Even though untitled and the like are what—almost half a decade old at this point?—his active commentariat keeps marching rightward. It’s something of a puzzle.

          I don’t think the commentariat are marching rightward (median or otherwise). We may have gotten a few new righties, but we gather a few lefties, too. And everyone who’s stuck around for the last five years seems to have thought about their views long enough that they’re not going to change them much over even five years.

          It’s interesting, I suppose, that it gets new righties at all. I might be projecting, but FWIW, I think it’s because the ones that come and stay are here not because of Scott’s object-level views, but rather because of his meta-level. It’s not about where he is; it’s about how he got there.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I think you might be conflating support for Trump, and conservatives in general, with opposition to modern leftist social/political policies. For example, one can be opposed to political violence without supporting any specific political platform.

      Sadly, we’re in a really weird political place right now, where both the majority parties are heavily invested into identity politics. Therefore, any political discussion is likely to be strongly polarized; additionally, people like myself, who prefer “niceness, community, and civilization”, are likely to be branded as The Enemy by both sides simultaneously.

      • Galle says:

        For example, one can be opposed to political violence without supporting any specific political platform.

        Sure, but one cannot complain about “highly visible political violence directed against conservatives” while not even mentioning the equally highly visible political violence directed against liberals without supporting conservatism. The political bias is pretty brazenly obvious, especially when statistically, political violence against liberals is far more common than political violence against conservatives.

        • Bugmaster says:

          statistically, political violence against liberals is far more common than political violence against conservatives.

          Is that actually true ? How do you measure this ? It’s quite a bold statement, IMO. I think you could successfully argue that there’s maybe 55..60% probability that violence against one side is more prevalent than violence against the other; but you seem to have a confidence level that’s practically 100%. That sounds overconfident to me — and I’d say the same regardless of whose side you were on.

          • Galle says:

            I’d say it with maybe… 75% confidence? I’d be surprised if I was wrong, but not so much so that I’d reject the contrary evidence out of hand. Summary of sources that I can recall after a quick search of my Reddit history:

            The majority of extremist murders between 2008 and 2017 were carried out by the right

            219 people were killed in non-Islamic right wing terrorist attacks between 1992 and 2017, while only 23 were killed in left wing terrorist attacks during that period.

            I don’t have a quick summary of this graph, but it pretty clearly shows that deadly far-right terrorist attacks are much more common than deadly left-wing ones.

            Non-Islamic right wing terrorists were responsible for 115 incidents between January 2008 and the end of 2016, killing 79 people, while left wing terrorists were responsible for 19 incidents, killing 7 people.

            I admit that none of these things explicitly prove that right-wing political violence is more common than left-wing political violence, but they’re certainly all evidence that it is.

          • cassander says:

            @Galle

            I’d be very curious to see the actual list of incidents powering those graphs. the last one I saw of these took almost any violent crime committed by anyone with the vaguest of right wing affiliations, and called it right wing terror, even if it was knocking off a liquor store.

            You can see some of the ones listed on your graph, but the layout makes it difficult to browse.

          • dick says:

            I think you could successfully argue that there’s maybe 55..60% probability that violence against one side is more prevalent than violence against the other

            Given that it’s worded loosely, I think there is a 100% chance that both sides can successfully argue that.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Even if one could argue that one side does more extremist killings, or eats more babies, or in any way is generating bigger skullpiles, what one is invariably left with at the end is an argument over whose house is more on fire.

            Better to stick to the safer argument, that both sides are behaving poorly, and that the entire system needs some serious work.

          • Galle says:

            I’d be very curious to see the actual list of incidents powering those graphs.

            So would I! Unfortunately, hard data on this subject is difficult to come by.

          • John Schilling says:

            The people who produced those graphs have the data. It almost certainly isn’t classified, proprietary, FOUO, or any other such thing. It would have been trivial for them to link to a list of the incidents underlying their graphs.

            That they so rarely do, makes me very suspicious – particularly in a world where the SPLC is willing to label the Orlando nightclub shooting a “right-wing hate crime”. The Neiwart/Revealnews article that Galle cites does link to its database, and while they did properly classify Omar Mateen as an Islamist terrorist, I see that they are calling Gavin Eugene Long a right-wing terrorist on account of his black nationalism makes him part of an anti-government extremist group. So either I have to independently research the entire list, or I have to roll my eyes and move on.

          • onyomi says:

            @Galle, John Schilling and others:

            In addition to the problems John Schilling mentions (I am not one of those whose trust in the media has grown since 2016 and don’t trust the media to define “right wing terror” in a manner not designed to mislead so would have to dig really deep on my own to get a sense of what’s actually happening), even if we concede the point that right-wing “terror” is more common and more deadly in the US, this would seem to me not at all a good reason to dismiss concerns about e.g. Antifa. Not just because of “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but because left-wing political violence seems often to be of an entirely different character.

            Type 1: Guy with history of mental problems lives by himself in the woods wearing camo and stockpiling ammo. He has previously mailed bombs to prominent political figures and is finally caught one day when he opens fire on a group of park rangers, killing two of them.

            Type 2: Political social media group learns that a controversial speaker is coming to a local university. They issue a “call to arms” and a large group shows up on the day of the event wearing masks and wielding bike-lock-in-a-sock-type weapons. No one is killed but they succeed in shutting down the event, injuring several people and destroying a lot of property.

            Even if we concede that 1 is both worse in the sense that people died and, for the sake of argument, more likely to be perpetrated by a right winger, I don’t think that is a reason to say “on balance right-wing political violence is a bigger problem in society today” because 2 strikes me as not the same sort of problem perpetrated by the other side, but as an entirely different sort of problem entirely.

            For example, if we straight-up define 1 as “terrorism” and 2 as “politically-motivated mob violence,” it could make sense to say “right-wing terrorism is a bigger problem” but “left-wing mob violence is a bigger problem,” rather than just collapsing these two, to my mind, very different phenomena and concluding that it’s disingenuous to worry about e.g. the chilling effect on free speech of 2, since 1 has a bigger body count.

          • Galle says:

            While I’ll grant you that those two types of violence are dissimilar, I suspect that Type 2 is also more commonly committed by the right than by the left. I admit that that’s more of a guess than anything backed up by solid evidence, though, and if there’s statistical evidence against it I’d probably change my mind.

    • oppressedminority says:

      you dont think sympathizing with men struggling with sexual irrelevance could be made in good faith?
      Same with antifa violence? You actually think it’s bad faith for commenters to speak out against antifa violence?
      And on changing demographics, you’ve never seen leftwing articles gloating that whites will be a minority soon so republicans wont win another election, ever? Or maybe you have seen them but you think being opposed to having your country’s demographics changed to ensure electoral victories forever for the party you oppose is bad faith?

      • Joseftstadter says:

        As far as I’m concerned “Male sexual irrelevance”and “antifa violence” are creations of the internet that have no relevance to real life. Maybe it’s a class, generational or IQ issue, but I don’t know any men who have been taken to the cleaners in divorce court. Most men I know are married, more or less happily, have children, and are pretty OK with the world. I know plenty of women who were dumped by their spouses once they got too old. In the business world, it is still just us (mostly white) men running things, women still have no real power, and I have yet to meet a victim of a sexual harassment lawsuit. “Antifa” is a farce, promoted by alarmists on the right to divert attention from the actual erosion of rule of law and civil rights in most Western democracies. A bunch of anarchist idiotic college students breaking things is nothing new.

        I tend to agree with you more on the left’s self-defeating hatred of white people. “Demographic replacement” is a short-sighted and stupid strategy, and embraced by more on the left than the leadership is willing to admit.

        • quanta413 says:

          I’m not sure what the “sexual irrelevancy” thing means and I’m pretty sure it’s overblown, but eh.

          Most men I know are married, more or less happily, have children, and are pretty OK with the world. I know plenty of women who were dumped by their spouses once they got too old. In the business world, it is still just us (mostly white) men running things, women still have no real power, and I have yet to meet a victim of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

          How many is most? And are we talking first or second marriages? The long-term divorce rate is somewhere between a third and a half. About a quarter of marriages are second or later marriages.

          And women are significantly more likely to initiate divorce, so consider the possibility that you are living with an unrepresentative sample.

          I agree that sexual harassment claims going anywhere are pretty rare, but I think white men in the white collar business world is also a pretty unrepresentative sample of the population of white men in the U.S. To take that sort of claim to a totally absurd degree, nobody would say that all black people must be well off because LeBron James is super rich. Things are almost always good for people with enough money, your choice to implicitly ignore the majority of white people who aren’t upper-middle class or higher is doing a lot of work here. There are nonwhite ethnic groups that tend to make more money than most white ethnic groups. They probably tend to be better off in a lot of other ways too.

          As far as groups I’ve interacted with a decent amount, lower and lower-middle class white people seem a lot more like lower and lower-middle class latinos to me than they seem like upper middle and upper class white people.

          I tend to agree with you more on the left’s self-defeating hatred of white people. “Demographic replacement” is a short-sighted and stupid strategy, and embraced by more on the left than the leadership is willing to admit.

          It’d be a great long term strategy as much as any party even has those if it existed as a strategy. I think it’s more of an accident than anything else. Republicans even dig the hole they are in deeper. Granted, I expect any real tipping point would cause a party realignment, but it’s still pushing a lot of things in the desired direction for democrats.

          If democrats didn’t footgun themselves in the short run by scaring some white people, they’d do better though.

      • Galle says:

        Same with antifa violence? You actually think it’s bad faith for commenters to speak out against antifa violence?

        Speaking out against “antifa violence” without addressing the right’s political violence is absolutely bad faith.

        • CatCube says:

          Is it bad faith for people on the left to note the right’s political violence without also denouncing Antifa?

          • CatCube says:

            @Galle

            Aside from the notes from other commenters wanting to see the list of incidents these studies refer (bad faith on the part of people making the categorizations has been common enough that people making these claims don’t get the benefit of the doubt), using the one from CATO arguendo gives chances of left-wing and right-wing murders at 1 in 330,264,250 and 1 in 506,405,183, respectively.

            One might be a little less than 53% larger than the other, but they are both so small in absolute terms that if you’re going to demand that people noting that left-wing violence is poorly-covered compared to right-wing violence have to stop and make ritual denunciations, it’s perfectly fair to demand that you do the same.

            And, of course, if you don’t have such a cramped and tiny view of history that you’re unaware of anything before 2008, you can note that if people are going to denounce the violence of fascism they’d have to note that communism killed even more people.

            I don’t care if you want to note the difference in statistics in response to another’s comments, nor am I going to put up much of a fight if you want to demand that both sides have to make ritual denunciations of the violence on their side when talking about violence on the other side–that’s stupid, but at least its symmetrically stupid. However, I am sick and fuckin’ tired of requiring it of the right while minimizing or excusing left-wing crimes. Having Stalinists or Maoists (well, really any communists, but this is the apotheosis of left-wing monstrosity) at a left wing event should be treated the same as having Nazis or other White Nationalist groups at a right-wing one.

          • Galle says:

            Having Stalinists and Maoists at a left-wing event is treated the same way as having Nazis at a right-wing event. Tankies are extremely unpopular on the left, and are only ever tolerated on the Churchill principle (“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”) Other kinds of socialist are more tolerated, but it’s important to remember that there’s like five hundred different ideologies that all get called “socialism” and you can’t really treat them as interchangeable.

          • cassander says:

            @Galle

            I really don’t think that’s the case. See, for example, how IWW shows up all over major left wing events, with virtually no criticism from the left. Now compare that to how the KKK would be treated if they showed up at a right wing event, to say nothing about how the media would treat any event where they showed up even if they were immediately denounced.

          • CatCube says:

            @Galle

            Having Stalinists and Maoists at a left-wing event is treated the same way as having Nazis at a right-wing event.

            Except that I don’t see it in the news for a week, with thinkpieces discussing what this says about the organizers and how their presence reflects on the wider political side they support.

            Tankies are extremely unpopular on the left, and are only ever tolerated on the Churchill principle (“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”)

            This is literally exactly the kind of feeble excuse-making that I’m talking about. Let’s turn this around: do you think that it would ever be allowed to pass uncommented if a right-wing event “tolerated” the presence of Nazis because “at least they were able to kill more of communism’s invading hordes than anybody else?”

            I don’t have a problem with kicking Nazis out of events–I would personally and cheerfully denounce any event that didn’t, because they’re monsters–but I’m tired of not only the double standard, but the lack of recognition that the double standard exists.

          • Galle says:

            I really don’t think that’s the case. See, for example, how IWW shows up all over major left wing events, with virtually no criticism from the left. Now compare that to how the KKK would be treated if they showed up at a right wing event, to say nothing about how the media would treat any event where they showed up even if they were immediately denounced.

            This strikes me as being a huge false equivalency. How in the world is a moderate socialist organization like the IWW comparable to the open violence of the KKK? Just because they’re socialist doesn’t automatically mean they’re violent Stalinists.

            Except that I don’t see it in the news for a week, with thinkpieces discussing what this says about the organizers and how their presence reflects on the wider political side they support.

            Do you have statistics to back this up? The hostile media effect is a thing, remember.

            This is literally exactly the kind of feeble excuse-making that I’m talking about. Let’s turn this around: do you think that it would ever be allowed to pass uncommented if a right-wing event “tolerated” the presence of Nazis because “at least they were able to kill more of communism’s invading hordes than anybody else?”

            I don’t see how these are equivalent. Even the most die-hard conservative would agree that Nazis are worse than communists.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

            Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

            — the “moderate” IWW.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @cassander
            The IWW was a trade union the specifically rejected violence, the KKK was a terrorist organization that murdered thousands of Americans. I say was in both cases because both organizations are shadows of their former selves. In particular modern Wobblies are more or less LARPers.

            A hundred years ago when the IWW was a real force in American labor their plan was organize as many workers as possible into one big union
            and stage a general strike to bring about a peaceful socialist revolution. The KKK on the other hand was a death squad that was founded to subvert democracy through indiscriminate terror directed against freed slaves and their descendants.

            The fact that you equate these organizations says something about your value system. I suspect you would claim not to be a racist, but you and the rest of the black lives don’t matter crowd seem far more offended by threats to the property of the rich than the lives of those you believe to be your racial inferiors.

          • cassander says:

            @hyperboloid says:

            The IWW was a trade union the specifically rejected violence, the was a terrorist organization that murdered thousands of Americans.

            the IWW openly advocates class warfare and spent most of the 20th century actively supporting multiple communist regimes, any one of which killed far more people than the klan ever dreamed of.

            In particular modern Wobblies are more or less LARPers.

            I would say the same is true of the modern klan.

            The fact that you equate these organizations says something about your value system.

            About as much as you apologizing for people who supported stalin says about yours, I would think.

            I suspect you would claim not to be a racist, but you and the rest of the black lives don’t matter crowd seem far more offended by threats to the property of the rich than the lives of those you believe to be your racial inferiors.

            Well if we’re going to drop the civility and just sling mud, then I suspect that you would claim not to be a revolutionary terrorist, but you and the rest of the kulaks don’t matter crowd seem far more offended by threats to your sense of intellectual and moral superiority than the lives of those you believe to be your inferiors.

          • AliceToBob says:

            @ hyperboloid

            The fact that you equate these organizations says something about your value system. I suspect you would claim not to be a racist, but you and the rest of the black lives don’t matter crowd seem far more offended by threats to the property of the rich than the lives of those you believe to be your racial inferiors.

            Oh, knock it off. You can make your argument without the “you’re a racist” swipe.

          • Galle says:

            @Nybbler: Yes, the IWW are socialists, I’m not denying that. But what’s your argument that they’re Stalinists or Maoists, or in any way comparable to the KKK, which has a history of violent terrorist actions?

            @cassander

            the IWW openly advocates class warfare and spent most of the 20th century actively supporting multiple communist regimes, any one of which killed far more people than the klan ever dreamed of.

            But the IWW themselves have, as far as I know, never killed anyone, and “class struggle” does not necessarily mean literal warfare. I’m happy to condemn them for defending the Soviet Union, but that doesn’t make them anywhere near as bad as the KKK, and while hyperboloid is being, well, hyperbolic, they do have a point: it’s very, very weird that you’d think the two are even remotely comparable. One is, at worst, a threat to people’s property, while the other is a threat to people’s lives.

          • cassander says:

            @Galle

            But the IWW themselves have, as far as I know, never killed anyone, and “class struggle” does not necessarily mean literal warfare.

            the IWW did kill people, in the many riots and “strikes” that they organized in their heady early days.

            it’s very, very weird that you’d think the two are even remotely comparable. One is, at worst, a threat to people’s property, while the other is a threat to people’s lives.

            How did losing their property work out for the ukrainians? Or Mao’s peasants. Threats to people’s property are absolutely threats to people’s lives, as was proven time and time again in the 20th century, and that venezuela is proving again as we speak. Property isn’t just stuff, it’s autonomy, it’s freedom, it’s the power to do your own thing. And it’s food.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Cassander
            It is a sacred belief among many on the American right that their political enemies are secretly Communists. It is a view completely immune to logic or evidence. Is does not matter how many tons of napalm LBJ dropped on Vietnam, how many times Kennedy tried to kill Castro, how thoroughly the labor movement purged Marxists from it’s ranks, or how many leftist intellectuals denounced Soviet atrocities, conservative dogma demands that they must all be sharpening their bayonets to butcher kulaks.

            The fact that you have to change the subject to Stalin, who you might have noticed was not a member of the Industrial Workers of The World, is a sign that you know that you have a very weak argument.

            To see just how poor that argument is let’s take a look at what the IWW actually had to say about Stalin. In January of 1945 while the United States and the Soviet Union were still close allies the director of the Library of Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, one D. Ivanov, sent a letter to the IWW in Chicago requesting some back issues of the industrial Worker and offering to swap them for similar Soviet publications.

            The IWW responded with the flowing:

            DEAR MR. IVANOV
            Hanging round an Academy of Social Science, you may be aware of a platitude of science which is well known to the mujiki [probably a misspelling of Muzhiki, a Russian word for peasant] of America: that “what is bred in the blood comes out in the bone.” We can assure you that this is a pragmatic truth, the kind of truth which your govt. professes to like.

            We come from a long line of Yankee horse traders who married Xtian females. The maternal teaching was to “Return Good for Evil,” while the old man used to believe: “‘Tisn’t much good to give things away. When a guy needs something bad make a dicker and swap with him for something you need good. That way, you keep his friendship and show a profit on your generosity.”

            Being the result of our breeding and upbringing, we wouldn’t want to negate the truth of the American mujiki. Hence though we feel like ignoring you and your kind, it behooves us to act true to our breeding; to return the Good of the Industrial Worker for all the Evil you have done, and to try and make a dicker with you to our mutual advantage.

            Do you, Mr. Ivanov, remember the days when the shipyard workers of the Kronstadt pulled a strike for one of the noblest and most unselfish causes in the history of the labor movement? Do you remember how these workers, comparatively well-fed themselves, noticed that Communist bigshots were living on the fat of the land while women and kids in Leningrad and Moscow were dying of starvation—even those who were eating out of the garbage cans outside of Communist party headquarters?

            It was a time, you remember, when all people (even us poor suckers) believed in the professed aims of the Revolution. Believed that at long last, Liberty, EQUALITY and Fraternity had become the bedrock of the new era. These workers pulled the pin in order to draw the attention of the Commissars to their stand on social science and to the misery of women and kids of their class.

            And—you can read your Lenin on this—two vile rats named Djugashvilli and Bronstein took to the Kronstadt a large army of gunmen and two lying tongues. They induced the strikers to “arbitrate the issues” and when the strikers, believing in their honor, were willing to arbitrate, the gunmen put them up against the wall and machine-gunned them.

            Do you remember a period when the name of Theirs caused nausea among decent people of all kinds because he did these things in Paris after the fall of the Paris Commune? Do you know that the infamy of Theirs is buried in the minds of decent people beneath the much greater infamy of the two men who were YOUR governors at the time?

            These rats are known to the world under aliases. Stalin and Trotsky they called themselves. But in our social science, rats are still rats, no matter what they call themselves.

            We will trade you whole files of the Industrial Worker for the lives of the men your govt. murdered in the Kronstadt. Many of them were our boys; they had Wobbly cards and Wobbly buttons on them when they died. And even though most of the others didn’t belong they were still our kind of people. Workers with hearts; with guts; with thinking, rational minds, and with a hope of the future. Can we dicker with YOU for their lives?

            It continues on for some length after that denouncing a laundry list of Soviet atrocities.What ever else one might say about the Wobblies, they were no friends of Uncle Joe.

            The only thing that IWW had in common with the Communist party of the Soviet Union was that they both objected to the existing system of private property in western countries. When you equate the two of them it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that your real problem with the Soviets is that they took property, and not that they took lives.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Hyperboloid banned for three months

          • CatCube says:

            @Scott Alexander

            Maybe you’re tracking reports across multiple threads, but this is kind of a change in moderation standards; nothing @hyperboloid said jumps out at me as as something that hasn’t been said here a thousand times before (not disputing that it’s wrong, just that it’s the kind of wrong that we’ve tolerated here until now). Three months seems excessive given those facts.

            @Galle

            Do you have statistics to back this up? The hostile media effect is a thing, remember.

            Just what I notice reading cnn.com. If you’ve got examples of them taking note of left-wing tolerance of the violent ideologues in their midst, I’d be interested in seeing them; that sure seems rare enough that it’d jump out at me, but maybe I’ve just missed it.

            … Nazis are worse than communists.

            No, this is just straight-up false. (Your larger statement of everybody agreeing with this one is also false–hence this comment–but less important here.) However, the debate of which is worse tends to take on the qualities of, “Is it better to be beaten to death with a schedule 40 steel pipe or a schedule 80 steel pipe?” and isn’t really important here so I’ll grant arguendo that Nazis are worse for this thread. Communists are still bad enough.

            They killed tens to maybe a hundred million people, and instituted truly impressive repression throughout huge swaths of the world. I elected to not bother responding last night when the notification e-mails came through, which gives me the opportunity to link this Twitter thread that makes the point better than I ever could:

            That’s Communism. Dividing a country in half * turning half of it into a goddamn trailer park.

            A big part of my objection to your original comment is that there are a lot of people who paper over just how utterly monstrous international communism was. Stalinism and Maoism are the absolute nadir, but even Lenin was bad (who @hyperboloid has the IWW defending, as if that’s OK!). It’s basically holocaust denial with the sign flipped.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Scott Alexander: Why was he banned? His argument, while made in a somewhat unkind manner, seemed both true and necessary to the discussion at hand. I’m a die-hard anti-communist and I still view the comparison between the IWW and the KKK as unfair and disingenuous, and he provided some concrete evidence that the IWW did in fact oppose the Marxist-Leninism of the Soviet Union.

            A better comparison to the KKK would be a far-left terrorist group like the Weather Underground, or an actual Stalinist/Maoist group like the Revolutionary Communist Party, not a harmless activist group like the Wobblies that’s repeatedly and explicitly denounced violent extremism. If anything, the IWW is more like the left-wing equivalent of the Tea Party in the early 2010s, when they were still mostly just upset about Obama’s bailouts and concerned with keeping taxes down.

          • CatCube says:

            @LadyJane

            I think it was the “You’re a raaaacist” non-argument. Though like I said, nothing that hasn’t been said here many times before. I’d like to see that kind of thing pushed out (it’s long overdue), but I sure didn’t see anything before now that indicated that was verboten, so a full quarter is a little whiplash-y.

          • albatross11 says:

            The communists killed more people, but they had more people and more time to work with; it kinda looks like the Nazis were worse on a per-capita basis. Notably, fascism in general seems less awful than communism in general–Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot were about as bad as Hitler, and Mussolini and Franco and Pinochet were probably about as bad to live under as Castro, who’s definitely on the nice/non-genocidal side of communist dictators. (Rios-Mont might be closer to the Hitler end of the distribution, though, and I’m not sure I’ve got a good sweep of communist/fascist leaders.)

          • John Schilling says:

            @Scott Alexander: Why was he banned? His argument, while made in a somewhat unkind manner, seemed both true and necessary to the discussion at hand.

            The argument as presented in hyperboloid’s latest post is merely unkind and tedious, but the one before that flat-out accused cassander of being a racist, of believing black people to be his racial inferiors, in a thread that I don’t think even mentioned race until that point. The manner in which comments are threaded here makes it ambiguous which one Scott is responding to, but that sort of unprovoked accusation of pure evilness ought to be off-limits anywhere civil discourse is being attempted.

          • LadyJane says:

            @albatross11: Yes, I’d agree with all of that. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were all horrible, and I don’t think debating the exact death tolls really changes that, while Castro was more akin to ‘moderate’ fascists like Mussolini, Franco, and Salazar. Chavez would be more like the leftist equivalent of far-right authoritarian populist strongmen like Erdogan, Orban, and Bolsonaro.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Most body-count argument are too ripe for ideological agenda-driven methodology for me to take them seriously. A statistical comparison could be done, but finding a researcher uninvested enough in the subject matter to be impartial, but thorough enough to be rigorous in his analysis, would be a nigh-impossible intersection.

            I remember, about a year and a half ago, getting into the weeds on some of these, only to be told that famines in the British Empire didn’t count against capitalism because “colonialism isn’t the free market”, but famines in nominally communist countries definitely counted against the ideology of communism.

            Then there’s issues of
            1. Warfare (do you count it? if so which side do you blame?)
            2. What the appropriate baseline comparisons are (famines were common, even in pre-communist China)
            3. What the realistic alternatives are (e.g., for many communist countries this would be feudalism or military dictatorship)
            4. Being able to consider long-term benefits at the expense of short-term suffering (China, still communist, seems to be doing okay right now?).

            So I fear this analysis will just be a wreck, neck deep in shaky counterfactual hypotheticals and normative assumptions.

          • John Schilling says:

            but famines in nominally communist countries definitely counted against the ideology of communism.

            If you really want to dredge this up again: Famines in which people with guns take food away from hungry people definitely count against the ideology of the people with the guns. If you don’t want that laid at the foot of your beloved communists, try to arrange it so it isn’t the communists doing that.

          • it kinda looks like the Nazis were worse on a per-capita basis.

            I think the Cambodian communists hold the per capita record.

            I think Hyperboloid was correct on the IWW issue–at least, I can find no evidence that they were friendly with Stalin, some that they weren’t. But the one comment of his accusing his opponent of being a racist, believing in racial superiority, and related stuff was well outside the usual limits of discussion here.

          • China, still communist, seems to be doing okay right now?

            China isn’t still communist, even if the ruling party won’t admit it. You might as well blame the Nazis on socialism–after all, their party self-described as socialist.

          • dick says:

            @CatCube I reported that comment despite finding this stuff about the IWW very interesting and generally disagreeing with cassander about everything. Accusing someone of liking the KKK outweighs a lot of positive value.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, though still ruled by the Communist Party, China today is “communist,” aka “socialist with Chinese characteristics.”

            Attempts to implement communism in general seem eventually to collapse into something like fascism and China today is, in most ways, right-wing relative to Europe and even the US on most issues, especially nationalism.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @DavidFriedman
            I agree that you can’t rely exclusively on ideological self-descriptions, but that just further intensifies the difficulty of conducting such an analysis. Now you’re tasked with determining what people really are, ideologically, rather relying on what they say they are. Messy stuff.

          • In the case of China it isn’t that hard–I’ve been there. Shanghai is a capitalist city in the same sense that Chicago is–possibly more than San Francisco. China isn’t a democracy and there are still a considerable number of state owned entities but the economy is primarily run by private ownership and trade.

          • Guy in TN says:

            What metric are you using, in which Shanghai is more capitalist than San Fransisco?

            I’m not saying you are wrong, but I do suspect that capitalism-advocates and communism-advocates may often be using different parameters to define whether their system is being implemented. Any objective analysis would have to find neutral definitions for the two systems, which satisfy both parties.

          • I’m judging by the degree to which the economy is driven by market exchange vs the degree to which it is driven by government regulation or government owned and controlled institutions. I don’t have a mathematical measure, just the impression that things were somewhat freer in Shanghai.

          • AISec says:

            @DavidFriedman

            China isn’t still communist, even if the ruling party won’t admit it. You might as well blame the Nazis on socialism–after all, their party self-described as socialist.

            And the ‘fasci’ in fascism meant (approximately) labor unions. Mussolini almost certainly didn’t see himself as switching from left-wing to right-wing when he broke ties with his good buddy Lenin, though that is certainly how the communists portrayed it.

            Am I the only one that thinks that the whole left/right axis adds a lot of heat and little light when comparing fascists and communists, and that these two groups are much more alike than different? The outgroup hatred between them is much like that between religious sects following a schism – the people and ideologies that eventually sorted into communism and fascism were all mixed up together in early 20th century idealogical totalitarianism.

          • PeterDonis says:

            Am I the only one that thinks that the whole left/right axis adds a lot of heat and little light when comparing fascists and communists, and that these two groups are much more alike than different?

            No.

          • Tim van Beek says:

            Am I the only one that thinks that the whole left/right axis adds a lot of heat and little light when comparing fascists and communists, and that these two groups are much more alike than different?

            It is of course literally a one-dimensional classification. Besides that, the left-right-classification of fascists versus communists uses a European definition of left and right. There are different ones, but none of them encompass what seems to be a core part of the left-right-classification that a lot of people in the USA use, namely collectivism versus individualism.

            Both ideologies are collectivistic.

            It makes more sense if one uses conservative-nationalistic versus progressive-internationalistic.

            BTW, the Nazis were as much socialists as the GDR was a democracy (that’s what the ‘D’ stands for).

        • 10240 says:

          Only if the person speaking against antifa violence is aware that right-wing political violence is more common (assuming that it actually is). Deadly violence is much rarer than other forms of violence, it probably wasn’t what the commenter was thinking about.

          There are lots of bad faith comments in this comment section, though; some of @fluorocarbon’s examples weren’t the most prominent ones.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      +1

      I feel baited a lot in this comment section in a way that I usually don’t It’s unpleasant.

      • Vorkon says:

        I don’t mean to say that this is a good thing, because two wrongs most certainly do not make a right, but I think it’s worth pointing out that I think this “baited” feeling you’re describing is basically what conservatives feel basically everywhere that discussion takes place, outside of explicitly right wing spaces like the comment sections on Breitbart articles.

        It’s often not even outright hostility, so much as matter-of-fact offhand comments that are spoken like they’re so self-evidently true that no one could ever believe otherwise, and which would be hard to imagine someone saying unless they felt the type of people they were talking about were beneath them.

        It’s no excuse to exercise that behavior themselves, mind you, but hopefully you can imagine where it’s coming from.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Here at SSC we also get to deal with the oft-recurring implication that our mere presence here is a problem.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          I do get it, but I feel like SSC is something like a memetic DMZ most of the time, which is why I like spending time here. To be blunt, I don’t really care about the state of the meme war on other websites.

    • Statismagician says:

      I think what’s going on here, specifically, is that everybody who doesn’t violently disagree with the post went ‘yup, sounds about right,’ and moved on. The lower-level comments are largely people arguing with the top-level ones.

    • Randy M says:

      FWIW, there’s a few infrequent posters commenting often in this thread who are particularly strident. On both sides, but moreso the right wing.

      My count of top level posts is 11 R-W, 15 neutral, 3 L-W, though I counted some that were merely methodological complaints as neutral where you might have put them right wing–picking apart methodology is a long standing practice of the blog.

      I’m also not entirely sure you can extrapolate from top level comments on this particular post to blog readership; given the post is anti-Trump, people with objections to it, the most likely type of reader to comment directly on the article, are going to select disproportionately from those sympathetic to Trump/Trumpism.

      The only chance for the right is to start making plays that directly target the leftist initiative to change demographics and blend distinctions between demographics

      Avowedly left wing posters here have argued in favor of demographic replacement, as least as a positive side benefit of immigration.

      From having read things like Untitled, I had a sympathy for the woes of men struggling with sexual irrelevance.

      Wait, what exactly is wrong with that portion? It doesn’t say all men, and it doesn’t excuse any particular form of remediation for that struggle. I’m interested to know what you see as objectionable there?

      The other two objectionable comments are fairer to critique; they should really have given examples if they want those statements to be convincing.

      • fluorocarbon says:

        Avowedly left wing posters here have argued in favor of demographic replacement, as least as a positive side benefit of immigration.

        I’m not doubting you, but I would be interested in seeing these comments if you have any examples. I have heard arguments for increasing immigration in order to offset labor shortages caused by a decreasing birthrate, but using a term like “demographic replacement” to describe that seems to me like it poisons the reasonable discussion well.

        Wait, what exactly is wrong with that portion? It doesn’t say all men, and it doesn’t excuse any particular form of remediation for that struggle. I’m interested to know what you see as objectionable there?

        I did call that comment out specifically as the one of the four that I think may have real discussion potential behind it. The commenter was arguing that their support of Trump came from a support of traditional gender roles, and specifically from men’s “sexual irrelevance” which, to me, sounds like the inability of some men to find willing sex partners. This is a hugely fraught topic and could mean any number of things. Due to that, I would hope a commenter making a point about it would be extra careful.

        I’m also not entirely sure you can extrapolate from top level comments on this particular post to blog readership; given the post is anti-Trump, people with objections to it, the most likely type of reader to comment directly on the article, are going to select disproportionately from those sympathetic to Trump/Trumpism.

        I don’t have time to do it now, but I would be really interested in seeing a breakdown of comments by political leaning, original post, and the comment they’re replying to. I think there would still be a lot more right-wing comments, but you could certainly be right and it could change depending on those things.

        • Randy M says:

          I would hope a commenter making a point about it would be extra careful.

          Ok, but if you are going to call out a problematic comment, quote the problematic part. Someone saying “I had sympathy for the woes of group x” doesn’t rise to the level of making discussion untenable. I don’t recall the comment other than finding the logic of it a bit hard to follow, but the portion you quoted strikes me as entirely unobjectionable.

          I’m not doubting you, but I would be interested in seeing these comments if you have any examples

          I will look. I made a fuss about it at the time so I should be able to find it. It was some few months ago in an open thread.

          edit:

          but using a term like “demographic replacement” to describe that seems to me like it poisons the reasonable discussion well.

          Alright, to be fair I’m not sure they would have endorsed the term, but they didn’t push back when I characterized it as such. See this thread to judge for yourself.

        • Clegg says:

          I made the comment which you generously called out as perhaps having potential. Before I got to that caveat though, I read this:

          I also can’t imagine that any of these points couldn’t be made without casting the left-wing as The Evil People Trying to Destroy Our Way of Life.

          And I thought yes, that is more or less the logical conclusion, minus the “evil” and all the capitalization. I though immediately of Larry Summers, the great neo-liberal economist and veteran of the past two Democratic administrations, writing a couple of months ago about his recent realization that he and people like him should perhaps be more careful about destroying people’s ways of life:

          The phrase “way of life” is, I have come to think, an idea that those concerned with political economy could usefully ponder. It is fashionable to talk about business leaders and cosmopolitan elites who are more worried about the concerns of their conference mates in Davos, Switzerland, than those of their fellow citizens in Detroit or Düsseldorf, Germany. They are blamed for provoking a backlash against globalization. What I saw on my trip was how many profoundly different ways of life there are within the United States. I began to understand better than I had those who live as their parents did in smaller communities closer to the land.

          Men doing manly labor is an important part of some people’s way of life. Plenty of left-wing economists and commentators are openly dismissive of this, such as the other veteran of the Obama administration who wrote a month after the election that the real solution was for manly men to do more girly jobs.

          • Brad says:

            I get that, at least sort-of. But isn’t creating value inextricably part of that? I don’t quite understand how someone can take a lot of pride in working a job at a factory where that factory only exists because he and his co-workers lobbied the government to pay off the company to keep a money losing factory open.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            The person employed won’t really know that in a real sense. All he will know is he works hard, gets tired, and makes snowmobiles.

          • Brad says:

            ^^

            Taking that as true for the sake of argument, do you think it is reasonable to feel contempt for such a person?

          • albatross11 says:

            It’s probably impossible for anyone to really know how productive their job is in the grand scheme of things, for the same reason some central planner can’t replace the market and do better overall at running the economy. I mean, in our mixed but mostly market economy, it’s always possible that the snowmobiles you’re making are only economically viable because of some weird subsidy on snowmobile parts you’re getting, combined with some special tax break for billionaires buying their own private ski resorts if they buy only American snowmobiles. But nobody really knows that.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            No I don’t think its reasonable to feel contempt for that person, the contempt should be directed at the officers of his union and the politicians. Its silly to think a person shouldn’t be happy doing physical labor and being paid handsomely for it.

            I’ve stated many times that my dream job is being a lawnmower who makes a lot of money. And not like, the head of a lawnmower company, just a guy who pushes lawnmowers all day. Now, no such job exists, but if it did I would take a 10, 20% paycut from my current job to do that job. Not only that, but I’d end up living to 100 because there is little better for your heart than shoving lawnmowers for 8 hours a day (I would, of course, need to buy nice headphones so I can hear well still as I end up living to 99).

            The fact that so few jobs involve muscles and sweating is, of course, one of our existential crises of the day, because people need those things, but then you don’t want a SECOND JOB which is just exercise. The first company that invents in-sauna treadmill desks with some sort of anti-sweat technology will have like a 30% more productive workforce.

          • Brad says:

            But he isn’t being paid handsomely for his physical labor. He’s being paid handsomely for his vote. The physical labor is just a cover story.

            You say you’d like to push a lawnmower, what about digging and refilling holes?

            It seems to me that you are confusing the heuristic for the underlying thing.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            Digging is a less favorite activity of mine so I would be less willing to take as large of a paycut, but it is still preferable to any desk job at the same salary (assuming its not too cold in the climate I’m digging).

          • A comment at least partly on IDon’tKnow’s side.

            I concluded long ago that I felt better about making money by producing and selling something–writing an article I was paid for, giving a talk–than about my salary from a university. The reason is that the link between my activity and being paid, hence the feeling that I have really earned the money, is much clearer and more intuitive in the former case.

            On the snowmobile case, I think the default assumption in a market society should be that market prices are a good measure of value, that the fact that someone is willing to pay a thousand dollars for a snowmobile is good evidence, although not proof, that producing that snowmobile produced a thousand dollar value, hence that a thousand net of input costs is a reasonable measure of what the worker produced. It’s much clearer for a sole producer–a carpenter building chairs, say–than for an employee, as per my earlier point, but it’s still there for the employee.

            On the other hand, sweat and sore muscles are not a necessary part of what makes me feel as though I have earned my pay.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Brad,

            Just like every other time this has come up, you’re forgetting that “not maximally efficient” is emphatically different from “worthless.”

            The hypothetical factory worker making snowmobiles is, at the end of the day, producing value. The company profits a little less than if they had Bangadeshi orphans build their snowmobiles, but the shareholders and creditors still get paid. Consumers pay a little more for their snowmobiles than if they had been imported from Bangladesh, but they can still get the product they want for a price they’re willing to pay.

            Is it as efficient as possible? No, of course not. But it lets us get the goods and services we need while taking care of our own people and letting them live with dignity.

            The root word of economy is oikos: the family or the home. To the extent that our economy doesn’t provide American workers with the ability to support families and own homes, it betrays its purpose. Economic efficiency at the cost of American families is a perversion.

          • Brad says:

            @Nabil

            Let that guy go door to door and demand $50 from each of his neighbors because right now he’s trying to eat his cake and deny there ever was one to begin with.

          • Brad says:

            @idontknow131647093

            Would you be equally happy with a UBI that allowed you to spend your time mowing lawns or is apeing the superficial forms of market exchanges necessary for it to be satisfying?

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            @Brad

            I don’t see how the UBI solves the problem for me. I think the proposal you float means you very much misunderstand my preferences. I currently work as an attorney, which has high compensation, is generally high status, and overall not totally awesome to do. I said I would exchange a percentage of those benefits to make my job way more awesome (indeed the best thing I can currently think of doing that people routinely get paid anything to do that doesn’t require insane genetics). Now, that doesn’t mean that is actually the most fun thing to do. I’d rather just play sports all day (and indeed professional athlete is probably many people’s preferred profession, its just most of us are short and slow) and then when I am tired I would nap, then get up and play a game that I’m currently enjoying.

            So no, the UBI fails on many fronts. It doesn’t provide me the compensation needed (I’d require a bonus stipend just for being me), and it doesn’t get me to do any really productive things at all. I suppose I get some satisfaction out of seeing a lawn that I’ve just finished cutting, but mostly I like walking and being outside and don’t really like gardening because its too much hunching. Dogwalker is another good one, and I’d also be good at that.

            UBI generally fails my ideas socially as well because I do think a significant purpose of work is tiring people out physically (which is why I said there is a problem socially with the modern desktop workplace).

        • LadyJane says:

          @Clegg: Sorry, but it’s a way of life that isn’t economically viable anymore. There isn’t any real way around that, but there are a few different possible solutions here.

          1. The Darwinist approach: Leave them to suffer in extreme poverty. I don’t know that anyone who openly favors this possibility, but it technically is an option, albeit a horrible one. It’s also the option we seem to be going with by default.
          2. The Revolutionary approach: Overthrow the globalist elites and the capitalist ruling class, follow Marx’s outline and seize control of the means of production. Or maybe just go the anarcho-primitivist route and burn industrial society to the ground, there’d be plenty of manual labor for people to do then. It goes without saying that I don’t think this would be a good option either.
          3. The Left-Liberal approach: Cut them a paycheck. Implement a UBI, or make it easier for people in these communities to get welfare. The downside is that Americans, and especially conservative Red Tribers, tend to look down on welfare recipients. It also makes them dependent on the government, limiting their ability to fend for themselves. And finally, most people living off welfare aren’t living that well; they’d still be living in poverty, just not extreme poverty. All in all, it’s not a great option, but it’s much better than the previous two.
          4. The Neoliberal approach: Push them into different lines of work. Instead of giving them welfare checks, set up free training programs and employment agencies so they can earn a living doing something other than bashing metal and lifting heavy objects. Make fun of that “girly jobs” article all you like, but incendiary title aside, they have a good point. This is probably the best option overall.
          5. The Populist approach: Create artificial restrictions (tariffs, automation taxes, immigration controls) to hold back the economic factors that are making their traditional way of life obsolete. From their perspective, this might be the best option, but it makes things worse for everyone else in the country (since it results in higher prices) and it’s not viable in the long-term.

          From what I know about Europe, they’ve been doing a mix of 3 and 4, and it’s been working out pretty well for them. People displaced by imports, outsourcing, and automation tend to worry less, since they know there’ll be different types of work available down the line, and they have a strong enough social safety net that they can manage to live comfortably until then. But they also have a different culture, one where people’s identities aren’t based around doing physical labor and neither being a welfare recipient nor doing “girly” pink-collar/white-collar work are seen as demeaning.

          • Clegg says:

            @LadyJane I contest none of your facts, but disagree with your conclusion.

            The Populist approach: Create artificial restrictions (tariffs, automation taxes, immigration controls) to hold back the economic factors that are making their traditional way of life obsolete. From their perspective, this might be the best option, but it makes things worse for everyone else in the country (since it results in higher prices) and it’s not viable in the long-term.

            Yes, this is the trade off of populism (or economic nationalism, as I’d call it). Trump voters get to work jobs they can be proud of and have a shot at the American dream, and you and I have to pay more for our home appliances and choose among fewer ethnic restaurants. I don’t blame any of my fellow winners under neo-liberalism for wanting to preserve their own way of life. But I also don’t think economic policies that preserve it are the only viable ones, as you seem to.

            From what I know about Europe, they’ve been doing a mix of 3 and 4, and it’s been working out pretty well for them. People displaced by imports, outsourcing, and automation tend to worry less, since they know there’ll be different types of work available down the line, and they have a strong enough social safety net that they can manage to live comfortably until then. But they also have a different culture, one where people’s identities aren’t based around doing physical labor and neither being a welfare recipient nor doing “girly” pink-collar/white-collar work are seen as demeaning.

            I’ll believe you about Europe. I agree with the implicit conclusion that 3 and 4, while they work in Europe, may not work in America because we have a different culture here.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            I find it hard to fathom someone would point at what they are doing in Europe and saying, “Oh yea that is working.” At best its a managed decline with a non-clandestine fifth column working to end them and doing so fairly successfully wherever they have high concentrations.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Clegg: Well, different people have different preferences. But if there are really men out there who are refusing the switch over to more viable careers just because they don’t want to do “women’s work,” that’s going to make me less likely to feel sorry for them or care about their problems, especially when the only policies that would give them what they want would actively reduce my own standards of living. (I know it’s not actually as simple as guys saying “nah, I’d rather be unemployed than take jobs meant for girls,” but the fact that such a ridiculous motive plays into things at all is both laughable and sad to me.) Maybe you’re right and the solutions that work in Europe couldn’t work here as a result of cultural differences, but that would be really depressing if true.

            @idontknow: Economic growth and ever-increasing standards of living constitute a “managed decline” now? I’m not saying Europe doesn’t have its problems, but Germany and the Nordic countries seem to be doing quite well for themselves. The U.K. and France are clearly going through some serious political tensions, similar to the U.S. in some ways, but they’re still among the world’s largest economies, it’s not like they’re on the verge of collapse.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            LadyJane

            Increasing standards of living are a legacy of trends and momentum. If you only put up small roadblocks to it and point to the marginal gains (even though no one claims they are greater than the gains of the 1700-1900 era) you will just be pointing to an unfalsifiable proposition.

            It is true that a generation can survive on inertia, even many generations, even in a terrible system. The average Russian in 1980 was better off than the average Russian in 1940, that doesn’t mean the Soviet system was good, it just means it wasn’t hopelessly broken. Same with the average Roman in year 0 vs. in year 100 BC.

            This is a classic Nick Gillespe talking point that I have actually discussed with him in person. Just because something that has been improving for 300 years continues in the same direction at a discounted rate doesn’t mean there is no reason for concern. The discount is reason for concern because its the difference in me living to 100 and me living to 300.

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            The really strange thing about your argument is that Germany is doing well specifically because they have many ‘manly’ blue collar jobs. The percentage of German jobs that are in manufacturing is closer to China than to the US.

            Have you considered the possibility that the decline of manufacturing in the US might not simply be a consequence of economic forces, but may be driven by culture and policy?

          • acymetric says:

            @Aapje

            One of the problems that is unique to America and not a problem for Germany is distance from major ports (because of country size). Coastal manufacturing may be on the decline in the USA but is still present. Manufacturing in the middle states is where the squeeze is, and it is hurt at least partly because of the large transportation costs.

          • acymetric says:

            I’ll add that China avoids this by having most of their major manufacturing hubs in cities with sea ports, and to the extent that there is manufacturing in the interior increased transport costs are offset by massively cheap labor.

          • Aapje says:

            @acymetric

            American manufacturing is close to a huge market (the US). Why would transport costs be prohibitive?

          • Randy M says:

            Doesn’t Detroit have access to the ocean via canals and the great lakes? In absolute numbers, America surely has more population/major cities within 50 miles of a coast or major water route than Germany or possibly even China.

          • Garrett says:

            I don’t know that anyone who openly favors this possibility

            Hi! Nice to meet you!

          • CatCube says:

            @Randy M

            As you posit, Detroit became the Motor City because it had access to coal from the Pennsylvania coal fields that came in via rail, and iron from Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula via Great Lakes shipping.

            The fact that transport has gotten a lot cheaper since its heyday is probably one reason for the decline in the Rust Belt. With transport costs lower, it’s not as important to be so close to your sources of raw materials, so you can move to the south for better weather and less contentious labor environment. The fact that those raw materials have also markedly declined (both coal mining in Pennsylvania and iron mining in the Great Lakes region are pathetic shadows of what they once were) is probably also a major structural cause.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Aapje: Interesting. I’ve talked to several people from Germany who’ve said that manufacturing jobs are on the decline there. Of course, the number of manufacturing jobs could be declining while still being significantly higher than it is in North America.

          • 10240 says:

            @Clegg Can one really be proud of his hard physical work if it doesn’t actually create more value than a white-collar job?

          • LadyJane says:

            @10240: That’s also a very good point. If a machine can do a factory job cheaper than a human, but the government passes a law saying that factories have to hire a certain number of humans instead of having the machines do everything, then the factory workers are just getting a particularly inefficient and economically harmful form of welfare. It’s a form of welfare that’s better for their dignity, perhaps, but worse for their backs and worse for everyone buying that factory’s products.

          • Clegg says:

            @10240

            Can one really be proud of his hard physical work if it doesn’t actually create more value than a white-collar job?

            Have you ever opened a jar for a woman?

          • 10240 says:

            @Clegg

            Have you ever opened a jar for a woman?

            Not sure, probably yes. I’m not sure why you’re asking. I wasn’t proud of it. More importantly, it created a benefit that wouldn’t have been created without the action (i.e. the jar became open).

          • John Schilling says:

            [if] the government passes a law saying that factories have to hire a certain number of humans instead of having the machines do everything, then the factory workers are just getting a particularly inefficient and economically harmful form of welfare.

            Unless the law is particularly perverse, then the worst case is that the factory owners just hire the specified number of humans at the specified wages to do useless busywork. That seems functionally equivalent to a tax-supported welfare program with the same numbers, except probably less administrative overhead. And less moral hazard of people becoming shiftless lazy bums, for people who care about that sort of thing. Since at least some factory owners will probably be able to find somewhat productive work for these people to do, I’m not sure this is really “particularly harmful and inefficient”.

          • Aapje says:

            @LadyJane

            Hmm, their current high percentage of manufacturing jobs may actually be an artifact of Germany starting out with more. The decline seems similar to other countries.

          • LadyJane says:

            @John Schilling: Part of the problem is that I don’t trust the government to implement such a policy in a way that wouldn’t lead to perverse incentives. I also think that doing so might be harder than you think. Even if you’re right and it’s a form of welfare that’s more economically efficient, rather than less, you’re still shifting the burden of that welfare from the government to the factory itself, which distorts the market. For instance, it creates a higher barrier to entry, making it difficult for people to start new factories and giving an unfair advantages to larger and more established businesses that can handle the loss.

            Of course, you could have the government just pay the factory owners for hiring the required amount of people, but then you’re 2/3rds of the way to a guaranteed jobs program, which has its own benefits and drawbacks.

      • 10240 says:

        Demographic replacement is a very uncharitable phrasing, as it suggests that the original population would be eliminated, as opposed to both the original population and immigrants continuing to exist in the country.

    • Civilis says:

      It could be as simple as the post itself is left-wing, so there will be more comments challenging the post from the right than left-wing comments agreeing with it.

      I’ve noticed most comment threads seem to be alternating sides. If one level of comment is from the right, it’s not surprising to find that most of the comments replying to it on the next level in are from the left (and vice-versa).

      • fluorocarbon says:

        That is an excellent point and I need to check my own biases as well. Next time there’s a right-wing post, I will count the first 30 or so comments and see if there’s a similar pattern. My prediction is that they will still lean pretty far right, but I am totally willing to admit if I’m wrong.

        @Randy M above also mentioned that the nested comments may balance things out and I admit that might be true, but I unfortunately don’t have the time at the moment to go through all of them. I would be really interested to see this kind of analysis though!

        • Doctor Mist says:

          Please do this! I’m especially interested just in hearing a loud shout-out when you think you have identified a “right-wing post”.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I wouldn’t normally reply here, since you already have a lot of replies, but you did quote me directly.

      I can’t really imagine someone on the left wanting to participate in discussions stated this way.

      I agree. After all, why would they ant to participate in a discussion where the opposition is allowed to speak? It’s a lot easier and more fun to have a National Conversation where only your side gets to present arguments. Even genuine knowledge-seekers would find it very uncomfortable compared to the majority of online political discussions where you can rely on left-leaning mods to tilt the scales.

      The thing is, being uncomfortable in the presence of dissenting opinion is a character flaw. Indulging in it holds us back.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        I agree. After all, why would they want to participate in a discussion where the opposition is allowed to speak? It’s a lot easier and more fun to have a National Conversation where only your side gets to present arguments.

        That’s disingenuous, Nabil, and exactly what fluorocarbon is talking about. Don’t ignore what people are saying to score points.

        There are also a number of comments that I can’t interpret as being made in good faith. I don’t know the etiquette around calling out other comments, but I’m going to quote sections of the comments below without including usernames:

        The only chance for the right is to start making plays that directly target the leftist initiative to change demographics and blend distinctions between demographics

        From having read things like Untitled, I had a sympathy for the woes of men struggling with sexual irrelevance.

        That’s not even mentioning the highly visible political violence directed against conservatives, with the mainstream media cheerleading for said violence.

        Indeed, the left takes a particular satisfaction in targeting the weak among their opponents and especially the children and the young

        I can’t really imagine someone on the left wanting to participate in discussions stated this way.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          My initial comment was in good faith, and the way it was quoted as an example of “bad faith” is emblematic of the point I made in the comment you’re replying to.

          If it wasn’t for James Hodgkinson’s poor aim, the Republicans would be down two senators and two dozen congressmen. We narrowly avoided the largest slaughter of legislators in our nation’s history. Got roughly as much coverage as Trump ordering his steaks well-done.

          Ordinary Trump supporters, as well as a fair number of random people wearing red hats, have been assaulted over and over since the 2016 election to the present day. Usually while the police stand by twiddling their thumbs. This does get reported… but in such a deliberately misleading way that people, to this day, think that the Trump supporters are the ones attacking people at rallies or protests!

          The endorsement, sometimes by omission but increasingly explicit, of political violence against conservative politicians and ordinary conservatives coming from the media is as real as it is distrubing. The implication that mentioning it at all is bad faith is an excellent example of how much of a left-wing bubble the mainstream media and most online political discussions are.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            I had no idea which comment was yours, but I think that’s rather secondary to the point. Nobody is telling you to go away or shut up, man. But “cheerleading” is the kind of word that makes me think that you think that people were cursing that poor aim you’re talking about. Maybe it wasn’t in bad faith, but it was poorly chosen and, I agree, came across as hostile.

            That didn’t happen, at least on TV, and I don’t know anyone who sincerely wished that Republican senators got massacred. And you didn’t provide any hedging for what sounds like a claim that that was the dominant left-wing response. If you think that it’s obvious hyperbole, look upthread where I’m being told completely sincerely that if a little boy coincidentally named Trump kills himself “leftists” will call his bullies heroes.

            And then to top it off you’re taking someone who explicitly stated that they “don’t know the etiquette around calling out other comments” and made a top-level thread that was tangentially related to how something you said made them feel, and telling them that, because they felt uncomfortable about you implying that their tribe “cheerleadered” a near-massacre, they’re the one with a character flaw.

            I’m not telling you not to be upset for what I think you perceive as a passive-aggressive swipe at your side. It may well be, and it’s reasonable to be upset about it. I’m telling you that you’re reading too much into what people are saying and assuming malice when it’s not obviously warranted.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I’m telling you that you’re reading too much into what people are saying and assuming malice when it’s not obviously warranted.

            That’s very possible.

            But “cheerleading” is the kind of word that makes me think that you think that people were cursing that poor aim you’re talking about. Maybe it wasn’t in bad faith, but it was poorly chosen and, I agree, came across as hostile.

            That didn’t happen, at least on TV, and I don’t know anyone who sincerely wished that Republican senators got massacred.

            I’ve seen a lot of that sentiment IRL, with half of my immediate relatives and my entire lab upset that the massacre didn’t occur. Obviously that’s an impossible to verfiy anecdote so take it for what little it’s worth.

            The media usually isn’t that gauche, and the would-be victims were all people in the same social stratum as the typical news anchor. But the story dropped off the news cycle almost immediately while the most insignificant Trump gaffes hang on for weeks at a time.

            The cheerleading is most evident when it comes to Trump supporters and random bystanders getting roughed up. From the beginning, violence against them has been blamed on the Trump supporters themselves via misleading reporting. Increasingly, we’ve seen outright apologism for antifa and other violent counter-protestors, with the usual hot-take being that advocating for “violent” policies makes them an appropriate target for violence.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            That’s honestly pretty shocking about your lab. Like, big yikes. I have no idea what sort of people are around you, but my condolences. My immediate instincts are to ask if you’re sure that actually happened the way you think it did, but you know better than I do.

            At the same time, you have to realize that’s not a normal response. Half of America doesn’t wish that those guys got blown away; I’m absolutely stupefied that there are any populations where that sentiment is even publicly expressed, and I run adjacent to lefty circles a lot. As far as antifa, well… it’s moronic, but it’s still a pretty hot take. Nowhere near public acceptance, as far as I can tell.

            I don’t disagree with you about the differences in assigning culpability, to be clear. The left is uh… unreasonably uncharitable (at least to the right), by and large. I just don’t see the acceptance of violence you’re talking about, especially not in real life.

          • Mitch Lindgren says:

            If it wasn’t for James Hodgkinson’s poor aim, the Republicans would be down two senators and two dozen congressmen. We narrowly avoided the largest slaughter of legislators in our nation’s history. Got roughly as much coverage as Trump ordering his steaks well-done.

            An alternative but equally biased interpretation: the United States has mass shootings (four or more people shot in one event) on a greater-than-daily basis. “The left” has been trying to highlight this issue and propose solutions for literally decades. The response from the right has ranged from “stop politicizing tragedies” to “actually, what we need is more guns.”

            No mass shooting gets the coverage it deserves because there are literally so many of them that there’s no time to cover them all.

          • John Schilling says:

            No mass shooting gets the coverage it deserves

            How much coverage does a mass shooting deserve, and why? Is it more or less than the coverage that, say, a multiple-fatality auto accident would deserve?

            You seem to be demanding narrow and specific outrage for no clear reason, and that should be examined rather than indulged.

          • Vorkon says:

            An alternative but equally biased interpretation: the United States has mass shootings (four or more people shot in one event) on a greater-than-daily basis. “The left” has been trying to highlight this issue and propose solutions for literally decades. The response from the right has ranged from “stop politicizing tragedies” to “actually, what we need is more guns.”

            No mass shooting gets the coverage it deserves because there are literally so many of them that there’s no time to cover them all.

            I had just finished typing out an angry screed in response to this, until I realized you started out by saying “an alternative but equally biased interpretation,” which should have clued me into the fact that you knew how biased this statement was ahead of time, and only posted it in an attempt to illustrate how biased you felt the post you were responding to was, at which point I felt kinda’ dumb and deleted it.

            If you feel like doubling down on anything you just said about mass shootings, though, I’d have some choice words for you.

          • albatross11 says:

            Mitch:

            So is your argument that a mass shooting involving a bunch of congressmen is no more newsworthy than a mass shooting involving some nutcase going postal and killing his boss and coworkers?

          • acymetric says:

            @albatross11:

            So is your argument that a mass shooting involving a bunch of congressmen is no more newsworthy than a mass shooting involving some nutcase going postal and killing his boss and coworkers?

            Since this is not a hypothetical, consider that those examples are not apples to apples because only one of them involved a body count.

            It is probably worth considering that attempted mass shootings are likely going to get less publicity than successful ones. If multiple Republican congressmen had been gunned down by that shooter I promise it would have been the leading story on every news outlet for more than just the next news cycle. I am also confident that only the fringiest of the fringe (think Lizardmen) would have celebrated it.

            In other words, this didn’t turn into as big a news story as some other mass shootings because it wasn’t successful.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Just to throw in a non-shooting related example of “news media reports something appalling with no awareness of how appalling it is because it’s anti-Trump,” Incoming New York attorney general plans wide-ranging investigations of Trump and family.

            New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James says she plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.

            They’re not investigating any particular crimes or anything. The Attorney General is going to investigate Trump, his family, and anyone in his “circle” who may have committed some crime in someway. For the purpose of…hurting Trump.

            Nowhere in the article do the authors suggest there might be anything wrong with this sort of politically-motivated banana republic style action. No mention of Lavrentiy Beria. It’s a little off-putting, I think. But it’s all fine, because Trump.

          • Galle says:

            If it wasn’t for James Hodgkinson’s poor aim, the Republicans would be down two senators and two dozen congressmen.

            And if it wasn’t for Cesar Sayoc’s poor bomb-making skills, the Democrats would be down two senators, a congresswoman, and several former executive officials. Also possibly the entire staff of CNN would be dead.

            It is absolutely bad faith to characterize the American left as being responsible for the perpetration of political violence without acknowledging the political violence perpetrated by the right, especially when the latter is statistically far more common.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            He’s talking about the media coverage, not the nature of the violence. The #MAGABomber was all over the news for 2+ weeks but the media couldn’t memory hole the baseball field shooting fast enough.

            ETA: and as far as “statistically more common,” are you talking about that study that called BLM riots “right wing” because it’s “anti-government?”

          • Galle says:

            No, I made a summary of the sources I was reflecting on here.

            I think the media is, for the most part, correct to focus on the dangers of right-wing political violence. Left-wing political violence is quite rare, and the idea that it is widespread is mostly just a right-wing persecution fantasy.

      • fluorocarbon says:

        I agree. After all, why would they want to participate in a discussion where the opposition is allowed to speak?

        I also wouldn’t normally reply, but this is the kind of comment I find vexing. Instead of citing examples and proving your point–that there’s some epidemic of political violence on the left that’s covered favorably by the media, you double down on the snark.

        The thing is, being uncomfortable in the presence of dissenting opinion is a character flaw. Indulging in it holds us back.

        I agree and I’m surprised you don’t see any irony in writing this.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          If you want me to show my work, you can ask me. Just reply to my comment and say “hey Nabil, what you said doesn’t make any sense. Can you give some examples of this trend of political violence you’re talking about?” Either I can elaborate on what I meant or I can tap out of the discussion and implicitly concede the point.

          Instead you grabbed a short chunk of my comment, sans context or even my username, and used it as an example of bad faith on the part of right wing posters.

          That’s why I suspect that you might find it more comfortable in a place where you’re free to have a discussion about people’s views without them being present to disagree. Because that’s exactly what you did.

          • fluorocarbon says:

            Instead you grabbed a short chunk of my comment, sans context or even my username, and used it as an example of bad faith on the part of right wing posters.

            I selected quotes without authors because I wanted to comment on the content of the posts and not the person making the post. I was trying to say “this kind of phrasing is counterproductive” not “this person is counterproductive and must be eliminated.” I really do want to hear the conservative viewpoints and agree they’re under-represented in the media.

            If you have a suggestion about how I can call out comments in the future without hurting the feelings of the people making the comments, please respond with a suggestion. I mean this genuinely and without snark.

            If you want me to show my work, you can ask me. Just reply to my comment and say “hey Nabil, what you said doesn’t make any sense. Can you give some examples of this trend of political violence you’re talking about?”

            @DavidFriedman replied to your original post with:

            Examples? My impression is that the mainstream media are generally negative on Antifa riots and the like, even if perhaps less negative than they should be.

            You have not responded to that yet.

            That’s why I suspect that you might find it more comfortable in a place where you’re free to have a discussion about people’s views without them being present to disagree.

            If you want to have a real discussion, cut the snark and try to assume I’m arguing in good faith. Point out what I’ve said that annoys you and then respond to my substantive claims.

      • DeWitt says:

        ‘Local man reads post about the opposing side making arguments in bad faith and being dicks; makes post of his own in bad faith wherein he acts like a dick.’

        The amount of leftist SSCers annoyed that rightists get to talk here is approximately zero. The amount of leftist SSCers annoyed with people being asshats the way you’re doing is a bit higher.

      • 10240 says:

        I know what sort of reasonable claim your claim is an extremely exaggerated version of, but this sort of snark and exaggeration doesn’t help reasonable discussion, and it’s exactly the sort of thing that was called out. Yes, left-wingers often use such snark and exaggeration too, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • Mitch Lindgren says:

      +1. I stopped visiting the subreddit (well, the CW thread in particular) because it turned into a dumpster fire of right-wing ideologues who have an endless stream of implausible excuses for everything the Trump administration does, but view SJWs in college campuses and at tech companies as an existential threat. Hopefully the same thing doesn’t happen to the comments on the main blog.

      I believe the contents of this comment to be true and necessary.

    • albatross11 says:

      How many actual Trump supporters are regular commenters here? A handful, I think. (Though maybe some are hidden for fear of being Damored?)

    • dick says:

      + 1/2. I think it’s true lefties get dogpiled somewhat (though much, much less so since Matt M got banned) but I don’t think this is an unusually bad thread for it, and I certainly don’t think you can equate it to the number of right-wingers or right-wing posts. I’m explicitly here to be challenged and to hear uncomfortable truths and to see my sacred cows get gored, or whatever the metaphor is, so I’m glad to be in a place where I get exposed to lots of right-wing views. I wish there were a way to filter out the dumb/shallow ones, but I’m sure everyone feels that way.

    • 10240 says:

      “must-defeat-Trump-at-all-costs” doesn’t imply conflict theory. It’s often motivated by thinking that Trump and his supporters are very very mistaken.

    • My impression of responses to this post is that they contain substantially more comments by people who are either Trump supporters or at least supporters of voting for Trump than usual here. Those are arguments I’m not used to seeing very often, which makes them interesting.

  46. Bugmaster says:

    I think you might be missing some plausible explanations for the poll results:

    * The social climate creates a strong chilling effect on any statement that could be construed as pro-Trump, or perhaps even as insufficiently anti-Trump. This creates a bias in the polls.
    * The anti-Trump Democratic base is extremely vocal, and is more likely to return pollster’s calls, once again creating a bias (from the other side).
    * (unlikely, but not impossible) Trump supporters are more willing to also support traditionally Democratic positions (international trade, legal immigration) now that Trump is in charge (i.e., they wouldn’t trust Hillary to do it right).

    • finnydo says:

      Silent Torries!

      • CatCube says:

        You do remember that Trump was not projected to win up until the day of the election, right? There’s some precedent for questioning poll results where he’s concerned–the surprise Brexit results are also relevant here.

        That said, I agree there’s a swing against him. I’m pointing out that acting like somebody is crazy for questioning it isn’t warranted. Make the argument, don’t just sneer.

        • Statismagician says:

          I think that’s more a precedent for knowing what margins of error are. He did not win by any sort of landslide, and the actual vote and electoral totals were well within the margin of error of well-designed polls.

          If you want to say that the media coverage of those polls was stupid and mathematically illiterate, and/or that said coverage probably had a significant effect on the actual outcome of the election, I’m completely with you.

        • finnydo says:

          The poll results were close. There’s a reason FiveThirtyEight gave him a 1/3 chance to win. Everybody else was wishcasting.

    • dragnubbit says:

      * (unlikely, but not impossible) Trump supporters are more willing to also support traditionally Democratic positions (international trade, legal immigration) now that Trump is in charge (i.e., they wouldn’t trust Hillary to do it right).

      Based on the results of progressive ballot questions in red states as well as other opinion polling, there is evidence that plenty of GOP voters are in favor of increasing the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, non-partisan redistricting, felon voting rights, increased background checks for guns, Medicaid expansion, etc. and would probably readily vote for any GOP candidate who supported those positions. But since GOP candidates do not need to support any of those positions in order to earn their votes in general elections, and adopting any of them would doom them in their primary elections, they will never do so.

      GOP general election voters as individuals are actually becoming progressive on many issues. But that won’t lead them to vote for Democrats until they believe the Democratic candidate is on ‘their side’. And the GOP primary voters are moving steadily in the opposite direction.

  47. Artyoan says:

    Your first two paragraphs are purely attempts to shame people out of position. Trump may have become a lightning rod for all the woes befalling the entirety of the West but that doesn’t make it true. The symptoms of dysfunction will continue regardless of whether Trump remains in power or not. He could disappear tomorrow and the sentiment remains. He’s just a vehicle latched onto to get closer to where people want to go.

    I myself have been a Democrat and a leftist most of my life. But I’m also introverted and a bit of a hermit. Any pull on me to conform to the latest trends is not particularly effective. I’ll give you my piece from my vantage point from the midwest.

    I’ll get to my point and its tie in with your topic. Trump has certainly hurt any viewpoint that conservatives were principled in their values. They’ve compromised a lot to ‘win’. But I can’t blame them. Even as I voted for Obama in 2008 I would have readily admitted to anyone that the mainstream media and an enormous number of left-wing advocates were shilling to get him elected. The euphoria around him was bizarre and it was the first time I realized how powerful a good story can be over what is actually going on. I then proceeded to watch narratives override facts for his entire presidency. And not just about him, almost every topic became laced with a need for conformity, usually around lines of identity.

    That opinions are shifting and hardening isn’t news. Few people hold to any real principles. The left has been on a single minded mission that whatever hurts Trump is fit to print. If it doesn’t hurt him, then downplay it. I consider the media to be thoroughly compromised and I think so do most. They still shape opinions by relegating which topics are the important ones to discuss even if their slanted opinions are irrelevant to most.

    But I’ve changed my thoughts on a lot in the last few years. And a lot has changed around me. But the central topic that continues to amaze me is immigration. I do not understand the left’s position on this whatsoever. Or on multiculturalism at this point either. The idea that wildly different people will come together under one government and there will be peace and understanding is insane. Not to mention that no strategy could possibly undermine the notion of a multicultural society more than constantly, without fail, emphasizing tribal differences that override facts. The very people that tell everyone that the future is global multiculturalism are kicking the pillars out that might have made it work. When minorities are being openly shamed to vote their identity, when you’re told that foreigners are more deserving of being called Americans than actual Americans, when you watch governments in Europe doing everything to can to downplay crimes of migrants, how do you credibly claim that its gonna work out in the end?

    Trump is a horrible example of what people should want in a President. But Trump doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The choice people are given is between a horrible egomaniac constructing a rigid but functional future for us, or a typical politician kissing babies on camera while advocating for a position that will lead to increasing dysfunction, loss of trust, and more than likely bloodshed on tribal lines?

    So I watch day in and day out as people villify him with zero attempts at understanding why people like him are a self-inflicted tidal wave by an out of touch ruling class. We replaced helping the American working class with a purely narcissistic play at helping the rest of the world instead. Thats the evolution of thinking globally. I could not believe it when large swathes of people on the left were insinuating that ‘America first’ was a racist viewpoint.

    If too much nationalism led to a murderous instability then it would appear that a complete absence of nationalism has led to a suicidal march to the depths. The national body is reacting accordingly to keep itself alive. Call out his faults but do not succumb to Trump Derangement Syndrome and understand the choices people are being given.

    • MB says:

      I really liked Obama and was sold on his story, even signing up for “Organizing for Action”. Still like him, in fact, as a person, and strongly agreed with his reform of the medical system, at the time.
      But the last two years of his presidency have been eye-opening for me, showing that there is no point at which the left would just proclaim victory and go home. There is no reasonable compromise. There is no moderate wing. There was no “Sister Souljah moment” or, if there was, it was only a tactical feint in a moment of weakness. Actually, I have read articles stating this for a fact (in support of HRC’s candidacy).
      Just as in the 1930’s, the goal of establishing “popular fronts” against “fascism” is always a Communist takeover. Yes, there is a niche for almost everyone in this coalition of the oppressed (the young, the women, the marginalized minorities, the immigrants, the gender-nonconforming individuals, the vegans and environmentalists, etc.), but the leadership is never in doubt.
      The machine just keeps going.

    • gbdub says:

      It’s weird, I started more Right and am on many topics drifting Left, but I share your same frustrations with the media and many of the loudest voices on the left. I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned that anyone has coherent principles, or even particularly tries to. It’s “hooray for our side” all the way down. As you note, Democrats simultaneously pushing “multiculturalism” and “vote with your melanin/genitals” is so obviously contradictory. Even “science” has become a wedge issue, even though neither side listens to it in anything more than a superficial way.

    • Joseftstadter says:

      “The idea that wildly different people will come together under one government and there will be peace and understanding is insane”

      The history of the US appears to demonstrate just that. Liberals and Libertarians may well be deriving the wrong message from a short span of time, but the evidence available from the past 200 years of immigration to the US would suggest that it is hardly insane to conclude that the US is a melting pot that actually does create a generally peaceful society out of vastly different constituent peoples. The US has incorporated people from every major race and religion, managed to share power and resources among them and is still the most prosperous society on earth. The US has done an amazing job in breaking down peoples’ ethnic and racial identities and creating “Americans.” US success is particularly dramatic compared to the failure of a place like the Soviet Union to create “Homo Sovieticus” out of a far less diverse population.

      The idea that the success of the US can be replicated in places like France, Sweden or Germany has far less evidence behind it, and may well be “insane”.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        US Assimilation of immigrants, even pre Hart Cellar has been exaggerated in my opinion.

        1. A significant portion of those early immigrants returned to their home countries if they didn’t make it in the US. No modern country would tolerate the absence of a social safety net that made this incentive structure possible.

        2. The reaction against mass migrations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries lead to the national origins quota system which reduced the quantity and kinds of immigrants that could come to the US. It was more stringent and arguably more racialist then the “free white men of good moral character” standard erected by the founders in 1790.

        It’s likely that the assimilation of European ethnicities that occurred between 1920 and 1965 was due to the absence of new immigrants plus the differences between these groups being overshadowed by European – African racial tensions at roughly the same time The great Migration and subsequent white flight may have dispersed ethnic enclaves in US cities.

        Today, There’s currently no plan nor any desire on the part of anyone to replicate the legal, social, or economic conditions that existed in the past that made assimilation somewhat feasible, quite the opposite.

        • Statismagician says:

          I hadn’t considered things in quite these terms; thanks for the thought material.

        • Jacobethan says:

          Today, There’s currently no plan nor any desire on the part of anyone to replicate the legal, social, or economic conditions that existed in the past that made assimilation somewhat feasible, quite the opposite.

          One idea to which I’m delusively attached but nobody’s actually going to push politically would be explicitly linking a “pro-immigration” appeal (whatever that might mean) to bringing back the draft.

          Treat “assimilation” as a real issue and a legitimate aim, and explicitly say that assimilation worked better when Americans shared more common binding experiences. But don’t make it about obligatory respect for cultural signifiers like the Pilgrims or Christmas or whatever, tie it instead to the practical experience of working in a unit with Americans from all walks of life, and make it powerfully clear to new Americans that they’re both trusted and expected to take on the gravest tasks of civic life.

          Not *everybody* is going to like that at all, but I suspect as a proposal it could have a lot more resonance than political elites tend to assume.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            IIRC there are already programs in place giving certain perks for immigrants who enlist, [2 decades of war they’re running out of recruits I suppose] But that’s not really what you’re talking about.

            Without a legitimate casus belli a draft would basically be [feel like, be perceived of] a prison sentence for non-criminals. — The closest thing the constituent groups have to a common foe is a hatred for the founding American stock and I don’t mean that as a dark humored joke.

          • Statismagician says:

            Yeah. The thing to do would have been to change the military draft to a non-military civil service one instead of abolishing it after Vietnam; you can’t just introduce something like that without an underlying cultural tradition supporting it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It would have had to have been after WWII. The draft for Vietnam was far too hated to pull anything like that off.

        • dragnubbit says:

          Today, There’s currently no plan nor any desire on the part of anyone to replicate the legal, social, or economic conditions that existed in the past that made assimilation somewhat feasible, quite the opposite.

          1) Civil Rights legislation and gradual public acceptance of it’s principles.
          2) Interracial marriage has reached the tipping point of social acceptability and continues to increase.
          3) Red-lining is now (mostly) eliminated in suburban and urban areas providing for much higher levels of immigrant assimilation and acceptance in those areas. Migrants/minorities are still heavily stratified (and rare) in rural districts.
          4) Cities since 1980 have retaken their original prominence as engines of economic growth leading to higher levels of ‘white return’ and public investment.
          5) Nationalization of cultural American identity has accelerated with internet and increased levels of inter-state migration.

          Assimilation is going on extremely well in urban and suburban districts, even in the South (cable news reporting notwithstanding). Conditions for assimilation have deteriorated in rural areas, even in the North. But the population share is trending heavily away from rural areas. Where you live (and how likely you are to personally encounter immigrants as peers in your daily life activities) can have a big impact on how you perceive the process of immigrant assimilation. As can your media consumption habits.

          • Statismagician says:

            In re: 3 – My impression was that this was supposed to happen, but hasn’t actually due to [everything in The Two-Income Trap], and housing is basically just as segregated now as it was several decades ago. I don’t recall where I read this, so it could just be a local thing.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @Statismagician

            After looking at some more sources I tend to agree with you and would retract the redlining point.

          • educationrealist says:

            “how likely you are to personally encounter immigrants as peers in your daily life activities”

            If you mean that living in heavily immigrant areas makes you deeply skeptical of high immgration, then sure. But your whole post seems to suggest the opposite. There is no evidence that living around immigrants makes you more aware of their benefits, and lots of evidence suggesting otherwise.

            In most high immigrant areas, whites–the ultimate swing voters–are at least roughly split 50-50 GOP Dem. Cities are predominantly Dem not because of whites, but because of the tremendous boost caused by minorities living in these areas.

            “Cities since 1980 have retaken their original prominence as engines of economic growth leading to higher levels of ‘white return’ and public investment.”

            To the extent this is true, cities have “retaken” that growth by booting out blacks and working class whites while bringing in lots of illegal Hispanics and family chain immigrants who are often exploiting labor. Moreover, housing prices explode, often because immigrants are being funded from back home. And oh, let’s not forget all the tent camps.

            Assimilation is far worse. There’s a constant stream of new immigrants making it unnecessary, and people who live around immigrants aren’t terribly enthusiastic about it. Unless, of course, they’re rich enough to want the cheap labor for their yardwork and child care of kids who will be put in safely tucked away public districts or private schools.

          • dragnubbit says:

            Taken from this Pew report:

            While there are racial and ethnic differences in the makeup of rural, suburban and urban areas, this overall pattern of geographic divergence is also seen among whites. Among rural whites, the GOP enjoyed a roughly 10-percentage-point advantage throughout much of the 2000s; the GOP advantage among rural white voters is now 24 percentage points (58% to 34%). At the same time, while urban white voters were roughly evenly divided in their political preferences for much of the last two decades, in recent years the Democratic Party has enjoyed a double-digit partisan advantage: Today, 54% of white urban voters are Democrats or lean Democratic, while 41% identify with the GOP or lean Republican.

            Attitudes towards immigrants are more positive in urban and suburban areas than in rural areas, while the population of immigrants is the opposite. See this other Pew report for more details.

            Anecdotally, of course, there are staunch anti-immigrant views in cities. But even Republican whites in urban and border states are more supportive of immigrants and immigration than Republican whites in rural areas.

        • INH5 says:

          The number of French speakers in Louisiana declined 80% over the past 50 years despite official government efforts at language preservation. Racial intermarriage rates are at an all time high. Anecdotally, the second generation Indian immigrants that I’ve worked with seem pretty assimilated to me.

          Everything that I’ve looked at indicates that, contrary to claims that America can’t assimilate immigrants anymore, assimilation is now happening faster than ever before. Sure, there may be a bunch of loud people saying that assimilation is a bad thing, but 15-20 years ago there were a lot of loud people saying that porn is unhealthy and addictive and obscene at the same time that the internet was making porn more widely available than ever.

          What is different now is that there isn’t anything resembling a unified American culture to assimilate into anymore. I wouldn’t expect a child of a typical Bay Area H1B Indian immigrant to turn out much like Bobby Jindal.

  48. MB says:

    These polls are not saying anything about support for illegal immigration.
    From 1994 until now, the proportion of US residents born abroad among poll respondents has increased significantly. Of course many such people would be in favor of increased immigration (though not necessarily of the illegal kind). This by itself suffices to explain the poll results.
    Concerning the “seeing discrimination for what it is” poll (what an Orwellian name), Trump’s election was in part due to a voter realignment, so Democrats before his election are not be the same as Democrats after his election.
    More generally, in the past few years people have become more aware that they live in a surveillance society, many have experienced censorship, search engine result manipulation and poll manipulation have become public knowledge, and many have drawn the corresponding conclusions.
    People’s responses to polls and attitude toward poll-takers may be quite different now from what they were 4 years ago, even for this reason alone.
    We really live in a DemoPol now, as foreseen in the “Dosadi Experiment”, with all the attending consequences.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      People’s responses to polls and attitude toward poll-takers may be quite different now from what they were 4 years ago, even for this reason alone.

      I wish this were more true than it is. Very few normies (the vast, vast, vast bulk of the electorate) have experienced censorship, understand the surveillance society, or are aware of search engine result manipulation and poll manipulation.

      • azhdahak says:

        I was on a Greyhound the other day and there was an old guy a few seats away who was complaining about getting a three-day ban from Facebook for a mildly off-color joke about men and women.

  49. Walter says:

    I…agree, but I feel like maybe you aren’t really putting yourself in our shoes and grokking what stuff is like for us? Like, back in the day I’m sure California Republicans made roughly as compelling noises about income tax or whatever as California Democrats did. Then the other side imported a new electorate, checkmate.

    Like, I agree with your argument that electing Trump is great for the Democrats. I agreed at the time, and it hasn’t stopped being obvious that that is true.

    But, like, imagine the reverse world, yeah? Say we elect Hillary Clinton. Things trundle along for four years. Now it is 2020, is it ok to elect an anti immigration candidate?

    Let’s say we get another Trump situation then, not unreasonable, we’ve been the Party Of No for 12 years at this point. So we wait for 2024, where some genuine conservative statesman comes along, someone who could implement our policies without letting the liberals use their cultural monopoly against him (He is the Mule, I guess).

    Time to elect him, let’s do this. Oh wait. Texas is blue now. The Demorats own (in the sense that the voters necessary have a non political stake in their victory and are thus not persuadable by politics) Texas and California. No more Republican Presidents until the Democratic party splits.

    Like, dropping the hypotheticals, the pro/anti for Trump is pretty clear.
    Pro : We get 4 years of trying to shore up the SC to weather the coming decades of Democratic dominance
    Anti: Their cultural power increases even more, they double win every public debate forever.

    You are pointing out that the Pro is pretty garbage, but what I’m trying to point out is that the anti was already gone. Anyone turned against us by the left’s coverage of Trump would have been turned against us by their coverage of Mitch McConnell as he resisted Hillary’s agenda and was made into a Trump figure. That money was on the ground whenever they got around to picking it up.

    We weren’t/aren’t going to let the fact that we will ultimately lose stop us from picking up the points that we can get while we can get them.

    Like, I didn’t enjoy pulling the lever for Trump. I figure he is probably a rapist, definitely a crook of some kind. I just wanted an SC justice and for us not to attack Syria. I got 2 who seem to be pretty ok, and we haven’t attacked yet. I’m satisfied thus far.

    • finnydo says:

      It is not really about his policies. The point of the post isn’t “his policies are terrible and thus backlash”. It’s that he is terrible, and he’s so terrible that he’s had a negative impact on support for his policies. The point was “Voting for this specific terrible person is bad for your policy priorities, even though (and likely exactly because) he is the most solid proponent of them on the national stage in a generation”.

      It’s not a judgement statement on trumpist policies. It’s pointing out that Trump has been particularly bad for the public approval of Trumpist policies, in a way Clinton wouldn’t have been. There was no particular comment on the rightness or wrongness of Trumpist policies, and the fact that this entire thread is full of Trumpies bleating about Scott being a leftist is weird. And I think it says a lot, on its own, about the relative importance of the policies and the cult of personality in Trumpist thinking. An attack on the man, specifically referring to his negative impact on support for the policies is immediately and fully perceived as an attack on the policies.

      • Walter says:

        I feel like I granted that? Like, yes, electing Trump hurts anti immigration policies. He will mess them up, and his anti halo will taint them going forward.

        Regardless, if I didn’t make that clear at the start, I’ll own up to it now. Scott was right when he posted, and is justified in this victory lap. Trump getting elected hurts every cause that Trump espouses.

        I do think, though, that Scott was wrong to urge us to betray our party, because Trump was still better (despite the fact that he is terrible for our causes) than Hillary would have been.

        Like Scott’s argument is that Trump is -2, and I am nodding along. And I feel like you are calling me out for not admitting that -2 is worse than 0, and if I didn’t before, this is me admitting that. But I feel like y’all aren’t admitting, in turn, that Hillary would have been minus 10 for what we care about.

        I mean, sure, Trump botched the border thing as hard as it is possible to botch it. Border control now equals racism in the minds of every being that the media can broadcast to. But if we switch our viewpoint to a country where the election went the other way, it looks like Angela Merkel didn’t do such a bang up job of border control either, in that she deliberately invited in and welcomed the people we want to keep out.

        Similarly, Trump is a disaster for being pro life. Do you think Hillary would have been better? Are we likely to be able to save more babies with her justices instead of Goresuch and Kavanaugh?

        And so on. I didn’t vote for Trump in the primary. I would have preferred an establishment Republican president. But I didn’t get that choice in the general, thus Trump. Scott’s article was pointing out one of my pain points, and I can’t hate on a progressive for dunking on his opponents, but if you put yourself in our shoes you can still see that if you actually care about Republican issues vote Trump in the general.

      • Civilis says:

        This assumes the attacks on Trump are justified.

        Partly, it’s circular logic. Trump is a terrible president, and this is bad for the policies he supports. And he’s terrible because he supports these terrible policies, which are framed in the most terrible way possible.

        It’s also partially he’s terrible because he’s Hitler, and any policy Hitler supports is bad. Of course, any Republican is Hitler when they’re running for or are in office, and great before and afterwards. Trump wasn’t terrible back when he was a relatively non-political and hob-nobbing with the elite.

        All the stupid things he says (some of which really are bad) get lost in all the other criticism he gets for terrible policies that weren’t terrible when done by a Democratic president and criticism for being Hitler because he’s a Republican president. And the people making substantive criticisms get lost in the noise. Democratic presidents say stupid things too, but because the media doesn’t cover them like they cover Trump’s stupid sayings, it doesn’t have the same effect.

        The lesson the right is taking from this have less to do with politicians and more with the power of the media to frame the narrative.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          +1

          If the media treated Trump the way they treated Obama he’d have a 70% approval rating.

        • xq says:

          Democratic presidents say stupid things too, but because the media doesn’t cover them like they cover Trump’s stupid sayings, it doesn’t have the same effect.

          Most of the stupid things Trump says get almost no coverage because the media is bored of it. They cover some of it but the sheer volume of false claims, incoherence, made up stories, etc. is underplayed by the media.

          To pick an example at random from Daniel Dale’s (the only person who does try to actually cover all of it, AFAICT) twitter:

          Just tuned into Trump’s Hanukkah event. He was in the middle of his lie about how the move of the embassy in Jerusalem, which will cost at least $21 million, cost “right around $400,000.”

          Based on some googling, this got some attention in Israel but almost no American reporting. The president getting the cost wrong by 50-fold is just a non-event.

          When Ocasio-Cortez, an incoming freshman congresswoman, made a false statement about pentagon accounting in a tweet, it got a full article in New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, Yahoo News, The Hill, a bunch of factcheckers, local news sites…and basically every right-wing source, which do actually count as media.

          It’s really hard for me to see how this situation is unfair to Trump.

        • dragnubbit says:

          When past non-Trump politicians (on both left and right) said something stupid (such as “basket of deplorables”) they can be found pretty quickly walking it back and doing damage control. There is an acknowledgment of common norms that should be respected by everyone, or at least a desire to avoid open conflict where the facts obviously favor one side.

          Trump is completely different, and this is nothing to do with right or left. He just doubles down, repeats and gaslights everything. He literally acts as if there is no underlying reality that his statements need to conform to, and that as long as he is delivering the right signal to his base there is no need to stick to facts or accepted history. This drives the media (and his political opponents) crazy. First because he thinks he can get away with completely ignoring easily disprovable facts when they have always had to correct themselves or at least add clarifying language, and then it drives them even crazier because his own party and base loves it and supports his loose relationship with reality, especially because it drives the media and ‘libs’ crazy.

          This brazenness extends to his relationship with the FBI and the intelligence community. He creates the reality and they have to conform to it. Failure to do so is not perceived as an effort to ground public debate in common facts and information in which Trump will gracefully retreat from mistakes and stupidities, but instead any effort to correct his statements is viewed solely as a personal attack on Trump and he doubles down on stupid every time. It helps him identify who is really loyal to him and who is instead loyal to any other principle.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Time to elect him, let’s do this. Oh wait. Texas is blue now. The Demorats own (in the sense that the voters necessary have a non political stake in their victory and are thus not persuadable by politics) Texas and California.

      Bush won the Texas Latino vote in 2000 and 2004. To the extent the post-2008 split in Presidential elections (which is about 65-35, still way more even than California Latinos) is a problem, it’s a self-inflicted problem. And it’s one driven mostly by national Republican messaging. Statewide candidates still split pretty closely. Greg Abbott only ran 10 points back among Texas Latinos in his gubernatorial race against Lupe Valdez.

      Moreover, it’s not at all clear that is the problem. Beto didn’t give Cruz a scare in last month’s Senate election because Hispanic turnout was especially large or friendly to him. The non-white vote was almost identical between 2016 and 2018. He gave him a scare because all the white college grads in the cities and suburbs went from 60-40 to 50-50. And even if we consider both the post-Bush shifts among Latinos and post-Trump shifts among whites to represent a new normal, Texas’ overall white vote is *still* skewed more red than Texas’ Latino vote is skewed blue.

      Despite incessant hype from all sides, demographics are not inherently a mortal danger for Republicans. They only become so when their concerns are treated as somehow specially “non-political” and voters as specially “non-persuadable,” at which point politicians decide they’re better off using them as an outgroup to gin up nativists. I don’t pretend to know California as well as I know Texas, but I know enough to recognize that “imported a new electorate” is a glib cover story. Even if demographics were destiny, demographics are slow. California is a huge state and first-generation immigrants barely vote at all. The electorate doesn’t shift that much in 20 years without something happening to piss off existing Latino voters and a good chunk of whites besides.

  50. Yaleocon says:

    There’s been a lot of talk on how to characterize people who answer “no” to immigrants strengthening the country. I think a lot of the criticism of Scott on this is off-base; for the average person , this question is a proxy for their moral opinion of immigrants, not a considered belief on their economic or social impact. I’m inclined to think more people answering “yes” probably does represent increasing “moral support for immigrants.”

    With that said, that “moral support” is probably still very ill-informed. The average person who says “yes” doesn’t want immigrants moving into their city. They’re just in favor of immigration as an issue, not as a reality. In other words, it’s a vapid statement of opposition to “racism” that they perceive in their enemy, but not themselves. The average “yes” is in opposition to a “no” that they’re attacking and ascribing to at the same time.

    How one answers that poll question is a question of identity, not policy. Actual immigrants hardly come into it, except as an unrealistically constructed prop (either all bad or all good) used to shame the enemy. And that applies to average people on both sides. Confronted with an actual immigrant, their reaction depends on whether the poor sap is being paid to clean their house, or wants to move in next to it.

    Obviously, you can and should have better reasons to support or oppose immigration. And from the comments here, many people do! Wonderful! But when Scott is discussing polls, those policy questions are hardly even relevant to what he’s talking about. He rightly treats that question as a barometer for social opinion of immigrants, and I think he’s right to be happy about the direction it’s trending, even independent of policy changes that does/doesn’t produce.

    • bindubasketball says:

      Given the left wing lean of most major cities, this strikes me as likely to be untrue:

      http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/urban-suburban-and-rural-residents-views-on-key-social-and-political-issues/psd_05-22-18_community-type-02-05/.

      Without parsing the data aggressively, I would guess that something like 65-70% of city dwellers and maybe 50% of suburbanites are in favor of immigrants moving into their city

      • Yaleocon says:

        Splitting hairs, they’re in favor of the status quo. And this is still representative of people answering a pollster asking about their opinions, so I would expect the same bias to be present; to get a better idea, you’d have to look at actual behavior on the local level when confronted with the threat of a new wave of immigration.

        That said, this is an important counterpoint, if not a conclusive one. I’ll try to look into it more.

    • Confronted with an actual immigrant, their reaction depends on whether the poor sap is being paid to clean their house, or wants to move in next to it.

      For what it’s worth, the actual immigrants I am confronted with in the Bay Area include people who clean my house and mow my lawn and drive cabs but also many, perhaps a majority, of the doctors and nurses I encounter plus a civil engineer/faculty member. Also, of course, lots of techies.

  51. jw says:

    Scott, You should go back and re-read your critique of tribalism, also re-read your post on murderism.

    I think, since moving to the left coast, you’ve slipped comfortably into the far left tribe, and are now doing things you used to see as bad, but now deem your “moral duty”. There has been a growing leftist bias in your posts of late. I’m pretty sure we’re not to far from a future post from you about “we must round up conservatives for the good of the country because they are not sane” post that will surely be coming….

    • JohnBuridan says:

      Scott prefers free-to-leave asylums for the “insane.”

      Also, FWIW, I do not think Scott’s views have shifted very much in the past 5 years.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Scott’s steelmanning of reactionary philosophy was good enough to convince me that Moldbug was worth reading further. He does not seem interested in extending the same service to Trumpism. Perhaps he could summon the strength to attempt the former because it was clearly just an intellectual exercise.

        • The Pachyderminator says:

          That’s because there is no Trumpist “philosophy” or coherent worldview. There’s just Trump raving like a drunk, while those trying to construct a philosophy out of his ravings scramble to keep up.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Perhaps. But Scott seems to have some notion himself of what Trumpism is, or his article would make no sense.

          • 0oQ3jS2o says:

            Drunk-ocracy *is* a coherent worldview, and a perfectly respectable one, just like machine learning is a perfectly valid approach to solving problems. Both essentially operate on the same principle of “rapid a/b testing against an external decision-making apparatus” (the external environment in machine learning, the general public in drunk-ocracy), and are thereby viable for the same reasons.

            Drunk-ocracy is quite frankly a heck of a lot more compatible with democratic decision-making than the “pick le best experts to make le right policies” meme (which is laughable at the best of times, and would be suspect even if it did somehow start producing reliable results) or the conceit that democracy should be a series of alternating dictatorships with different pet causes.

        • Galle says:

          To the extent that Trumpism can be steelmanned, it gets steelmanned into reactionary philosophy.

    • Well... says:

      I never sniffed closely enough or pondered hard enough to decide exactly what Scott’s politics are. I think a vague leftward shift since moving to CA is plausible, but I couldn’t say whether or not there’s been one. But I think most of what you wrote seems over-wrought and even paranoid, especially the last sentence.

      • Walter says:

        I sort of thought he was a progressive? Like, he criticizes their excesses because he wants them to be better progressives.

    • Nornagest says:

      Scott does seem to have gotten more Berkeley since moving to Berkeley, but I don’t think his views on Trump have shifted that much; this particular post seems weak to me, but just weak, not out of character. The posts on NIMBY were more of a tell.

      • Eternaltraveler says:

        Scott does seem to have gotten more Berkeley since moving to Berkeley

        This seems to be true and I’ve thought the same.

        However I also agree with the his present take on Trump being harmful to his own cause (or the cause of his supporters, his own cause seems largely based on supplying the needs of his personality disorder) and don’t view this post particular evidence of a “Berkeley” shift either.

        Maybe it’s not Berkeley, but Trump that is driving the shift, and the perceived need to push back against him. Maybe it’s both. I do hope the shift doesn’t continue. It is good to have a place in on the internet where those from different tribes can discuss anything civilly, and I suspect that will go away if Scott decides he needs to take too much of a stand. Maybe that is already happening with the policy of only banning troublemakers on the right unless they are particularly extreme.

        My own view is that the Red and Blue tribes have gone largely insane, and we here should fight back very hard to remain sane ourselves and celebrate nuanced views. I think Scott tries to do this. I think we all fail, but lets keep trying.

  52. MB says:

    The left will still be fighting right-wing strawmen long after the last such opponent has been sent to the concentration camps. It’s easy to find right-wing deviationists to keep the threat alive.
    https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/11-year-old-boy-had-to-change-trump-last-name-after-being-relentlessly-bullied-at-school/
    Even an 11-year-old boy can be made into a threat. The teachers’ half-hearted intervention can also be interpreted along these lines: “the left thrives by imagining themselves as brave rebels fighting an ignorant, regressive, hateful authority”.
    These bullies are left-wing heroes now, just like their grown-up counterparts in Berkeley, SF, Oakland, LA, Portland, and Seattle.
    Indeed, the left takes a particular satisfaction in targeting the weak among their opponents and especially the children and the young:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XVII_of_France#1794:_Illness
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlik_Morozov
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patty_Hearst
    Every generation of leftists “discovers” this tactic, since they are historically ignorant.
    According to SA’s logic, there’s nothing one can do, because it will only invite justified left-wing retaliation. The best is to hunker down and let the revolution run its course. One just has to pretend to agree to everything and not make waves, lest one should become a target.
    But the problem with this approach is that there is no point at which the left says “Enough is enough. Maybe we should reconsider some of our more extreme positions, now that we have run out of opponents. We were only doing what we were doing out of resentment against Nixon (or Reagan, or Trump, or the tzar, or Louis XVI)”.
    On the contrary, what they say is “Now our time has come”.

    • oppressedminority says:

      But the problem with this approach is that there is no point at which the left says “Enough is enough. Maybe we should reconsider some of our more extreme positions, now that we have run out of opponents.

      This happens when the left inevitably summons a Stalin-like figure. If you’re younger than 50 you will see the US version of Stalin within your lifetime.

      • MB says:

        Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ll see the US versions of Rosa Luxemburg, Thaelmann, Mussolini, and Franco (no, neither Hitler nor Lenin) within my lifetime and I’m not looking forward to either.
        One can easily see the differences between the circumstances that produced Hitler and Lenin and current US circumstances. But the future of the US will still likely be unpleasant enough.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      You can piss and moan about strawmen, or you can indulge in persecution fantasies about your outgroup sending you to the ovens. I don’t think you can do both.

      • MB says:

        What strawmen? Both the Red Terror and the White counter-terror were real enough.
        Or are you saying it could never happen here? Americans are too decent for that, is that it?
        Germans were widely considered the most civilized (or among the most civilized) people in Europe before WWI. Look at what came out of it.

        • Statismagician says:

          Look, if you think there’s an analogous situation to WWI, Versailles, and WWII coming up, I’d love to know about it in advance, but extraordinary claims -> extraordinary evidence.

          • MB says:

            Franco happened without Spain being involved in WWI at all, Italy (Mussolini’s country) was on the winning side. Salvador Allende and Fidel Castro happened at times when Chile and Cuba’s economies were doing just fine and without any (hot) war taking place.
            Hitler and Lenin are not among the possibilities I foresee.

          • Statismagician says:

            You can’t just allude vaguely to $bad_guys from $country; if you’ve got serious enough concerns to make things like

            The left will still be fighting right-wing strawmen long after the last such opponent has been sent to the concentration camps.

            not themselves strawmen, lay them out. We’re supposed to do better than this here.

          • cassander says:

            @MB

            Franco wasn’t a 73 year old reality TV star in a country with more than two centuries of stable democratic tradition.

          • MB says:

            “You can’t just allude vaguely to $bad_guys from $country”.
            OK, here is the connection: the so-called “moderate” left can never stand up to the extreme left, nor does it really want to, because they are always more extreme than they try to let on.
            Even after a thorough drubbing, like Reagan and Thatcher gave them, which made it possible for “moderates” to rise into power, they were in it only for the power and the money and lacked any courage of their convictions. See the recent left-wing articles stating that there was never any “Sister Souljah” moment, it was only a pretense.
            Thus, if the left is not checked by the right, as Trump is currently attempting to do, there literally is no limit to their ambition. See: the last two years of President Obama’s term, the current goings-on on US university campuses.
            The veneer of moderation goes away when they get into power. This will likely end up like Kerensky or Fanya Kaplan.
            Hence the examples I gave become relevant, with the caveat that extreme cases like Lenin are unlikely to happen.
            My point is: one has to fight the left. It’s never going to stop itself. The worst-case scenario is quite bad indeed.

          • Statismagician says:

            … And that’s what you came up with when asked to be specific and non-strawman-y?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            OK, here is the connection: the so-called “moderate” left can never stand up to the extreme left, nor does it really want to, because they are always more extreme than they try to let on.
            Even after a thorough drubbing, like Reagan and Thatcher gave them, which made it possible for “moderates” to rise into power, they were in it only for the power and the money and lacked any courage of their convictions. See the recent left-wing articles stating that there was never any “Sister Souljah” moment, it was only a pretense.

            We can debate the extent to which Tony Blair is a genuine centrist or an unprincipled mercenary, but I don’t think either is particularly compatible with extreme leftism. If he’s a mercenary, well, corporations can usually outbid the proletariat. If he’s genuine, the fact of his coming to power is proof of the thing you claim is impossible. Corbyn didn’t spend 25 years on the backbenches because he wasn’t left-wing *enough*.

          • MB says:

            To me, this is a sufficient reason to support Trump’s stance. Once you have seen it happen in enough countries, you know America is not necessarily an exception.

          • MB says:

            Right, Tony Blair is not an extreme leftist, but he lacked the courage of his (presumably centrist) convictions and his supporters . In my view, he’s akin to the Kerensky who prepared the ground for Lenin.

          • MB says:

            Right, Tony Blair is not an extreme leftist, but he lacked the courage of his (presumably centrist) convictions and his supporters deserted him once a more extreme left-wing alternative came along. In my view, he’s akin to the Kerensky who prepared the ground for Lenin, in more than one way.
            Yes, I can sympathize with both Kerensky and Tony Blair, while at the same time being aware that they are not a real solution, due to their weaknesses.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Right, Tony Blair is not an extreme leftist, but he lacked the courage of his (presumably centrist) convictions and his supporters . In my view, he’s akin to the Kerensky who prepared the ground for Lenin.

            Let’s assume Tony Blair is a principled centrist rather than a mercenary, then. In what sense did he lack that courage? He certainly didn’t adopt a Kerensky-esque “no enemies to the left” policy. He infuriated leftists by repealing Clause IV, adopting tuition fees, introducing work requirements for welfare benefits, and refusing to reverse several of Thatcher’s privatizations and union reforms. Some leftists such as George Galloway were outright expelled for opposing the war.

          • MB says:

            Just like the Clintons, Tony Blair was an unprincipled, mercenary centre-leftist, who sold out for financial gain. His fortune is in the hundreds of millions. Since he did not earn that much as a public servant, some compromises may have been involved along the way.
            However, you are right that, as opposed to the Clintons, he has stuck to his political principles so far. Let’s see what he does when he runs for reelection, though, as HRC did 🙂

          • MB says:

            Aside from facile word games, what I actually meant was that neither Kerensky nor Blair (nor Hollande nor Macron) derived any strength from their convictions, nor were they seen as strong leaders.
            Kerensky’s convictions left him vulnerable to Lenin. In the long run, he made no difference. His supporters melted away and were mostly absorbed by the extreme left, though some were purged later.
            Likewise, I don’t see any reason, in Britain, in France, or in the US, to be a Social-Democrat politician, except if: the atmosphere is very right-wing and one is afraid of consequences for being overtly left-wing, or one is interested in a sinecure in public administration and bribes from lobbyists.
            Either way, the consolation for such a betrayal of principles is pushing left-wing interests as discreetly and as often as possible.
            There is no “there” there, in the centre-left (not sure about the centre-right either). It’s mostly opportunists and weak people with weak convictions. They have no natural defense against the extremes. Left-wing intellectuals like a winner just like everyone else. When Lenin came to power, they all rushed to his side and forgot about Kerensky.
            There is no actual basis for opposing the extreme left within the left, only for timid collaboration and subordination. The organized opposition to the extreme left, once it was time to be counted, had unpalatable (or worse) leaders such as Denikin, Krasnov, Franco, Pinochet, or Chang Kai-Shek.
            Trump, as cartoonish and immoral as he seems, is worth supporting to avoid this possibility. He is no worse than Roosevelt. I could easily get behind that, for the time being.

          • LadyJane says:

            @MB:

            Likewise, I don’t see any reason, in Britain, in France, or in the US, to be a Social-Democrat politician, except if: the atmosphere is very right-wing and one is afraid of consequences for being overtly left-wing, or one is interested in a sinecure in public administration and bribes from lobbyists.
            There is no “there” there, in the centre-left (not sure about the centre-right either). It’s mostly opportunists and weak people with weak convictions. They have no natural defense against the extremes.

            What if you genuinely believe that centrist policies are likely to produce the best outcomes for the greatest number of people?

            For instance, your stance might be: free-market capitalism is great and has produced enormous economic and technological gains for everyone, but it’s not right for some people to be starving in the streets while others have iPhones, and those conditions will lead to crime and possibly violent revolution in the long run, so let’s implement some new taxes and a social safety net; that way, inequality will at least have a minimum threshold that’s somewhere above extreme poverty, and people won’t be dying of starvation and exposure.

            Or your stance might be: democracy and rule of law are great, they’ve resulted in greater amounts of peace, stability, and personal freedom than any other system, but people on the far-right and the far-left tend to oppose democracy and rule of law in favor of authoritarianism and/or radical populism, so we should oppose far-right and far-left movements like fascism and communism.

            I happen to hold both of those stances, so I don’t know why you think it’s impossible for people to genuinely believe in centrism.

          • MB says:

            Both of these are reasonable, but weak stances. They do not prescribe any specific course of action. A person holding these stances could easily be influenced into supporting extreme measures. It’s hard to make an argument, based on these stances, e.g. why it is bad to harass a person with inconvenient political views, or shoot a bunch of politicians who just happen to be in the way.
            So, again, I don’t think that Social Democrat principles are very strong or preclude a sympathy for extremism. In fact, history shows otherwise.
            Moderate stances are moderate. It’s more likely that a moderate is moderate due to an overall lack of concern, because one hasn’t thought things through, rather than due to carefully weighing the issues and coming down straight in the middle.
            How many people died for Communism or Fascism? How many people died for (some other) religion? How many people died for Social Democracy?
            Relatively few, compared to the first two.
            And there is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone should have to take a strong stance or make choices. But I’m under no delusion about the efficacy of simply refusing to do it.
            Besides, there is a difference between private citizens and politicians. Most moderate people are moderate because they simply want to get along. I find it hard to believe that holding such moderate stances is a sufficient motivation to get involved in politics, let alone lose sleep and spend every waking hour working for the success of a political campaign. Nowadays I usually suspect some ulterior motive. Thus, I doubt politicians who claim to be Social Democrats due to principle, especially if they have risen above the city councillor level.

          • MB says:

            “Franco wasn’t a 73 year old reality TV star in a country with more than two centuries of stable democratic tradition.”
            So who says that Trump will be America’s Franco? This is an absurd comparison. He’s not even in the military.
            As I wrote elsewhere, I rather think that Trump is America’s chance, a poor imitation Roosevelt. Or, in the worst case, Napoleon III.

          • LadyJane says:

            Both of these are reasonable, but weak stances. They do not prescribe any specific course of action.

            “Keep the market mostly free but implement a social safety net” is a pretty specific course of action.

            A person holding these stances could easily be influenced into supporting extreme measures. It’s hard to make an argument, based on these stances, e.g. why it is bad to harass a person with inconvenient political views, or shoot a bunch of politicians who just happen to be in the way.

            Supporting democracy and rule of law seems incompatible with just going around murdering everyone who disagrees with your views.

            Moderate stances are moderate. It’s more likely that a moderate is moderate due to an overall lack of concern, because one hasn’t thought things through, rather than due to carefully weighing the issues and coming down straight in the middle.

            ‘Moderate’ is a relative term, a lot of different stances can be described as moderate. But I don’t see it as particularly unlikely that people might think over the issues and decide that centrism is the best option – especially if centrism actually is the best option, and all the historical evidence shows that it works better than the alternatives.

            How many people died for Communism or Fascism? How many people died for (some other) religion? How many people died for Social Democracy?

            Quite a few, judging by the statistics.
            American military deaths during WWII: 407,300
            British military deaths during WWII: 383,700
            Canadian military deaths during WWII: 42,000
            Australian military deaths during WWII: 39,700

            Not everyone should have to take a strong stance or make choices. But I’m under no delusion about the efficacy of simply refusing to do it.
            Besides, there is a difference between private citizens and politicians. Most moderate people are moderate because they simply want to get along. I find it hard to believe that holding such moderate stances is a sufficient motivation to get involved in politics, let alone lose sleep and spend every waking hour working for the success of a political campaign.

            Again, you’re conflating “taking a centrist stance” with “refusing to take a stance” and “taking a deliberately vague and malleable stance to be agreeable to all sides.” Those aren’t the same thing.

          • MB says:

            “Keep the market mostly free but implement a social safety net” can serve as a description of policies pursued by everyone from Reagan to Hugo Chavez. The details matter.
            This principle does not prescribe how one should have voted in the recent elections. This principle does not prescribe one’s stance on gay marriage. In fact, both Clintons and Obama were against it before they were for it. This principle does not prescribe one’s stance on illegal immigration. This principle does not prescribe when a country should or should not go to war. This principle does not even prescribe who should have the right to vote.
            This is what I mean by weak principles.
            Yes, during WWII many people died for Social Democracy. You are right and I apologize for unthinkingly dismissing their sacrifice. But now they have Social Democracy. Would they die to protect it? Would they die to oppose a Communist takeover? Or would they rather join enthusiastically, as they actually did when given the choice?
            “Supporting democracy and rule of law seems incompatible with just going around murdering everyone who disagrees with your views.”
            Yes, indeed. But it does not prevent one from being sympathetic to people who go around murdering everyone who disagrees with your views. And what about just sending them to re-education camps? What about merely harassing them?
            Is there anything about “the greatest good for the most people” that precludes one from harming people one disagrees with? Isn’t Social Democracy in favor of social progress and against antiquated traditions?
            Is there anything about Social Democracy that should prevent one from admiring what Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Communist China did, in spite of disagreeing with some of the more extreme methods they used?
            And, to be clear, I am not offering a better set of principles. But putting one’s trust in Social-Democrat principles seems misguided.

          • LadyJane says:

            This principle does not prescribe how one should have voted in the recent elections. This principle does not prescribe one’s stance on gay marriage. In fact, both Clintons and Obama were against it before they were for it. This principle does not prescribe one’s stance on illegal immigration. This principle does not prescribe when a country should or should not go to war. This principle does not even prescribe who should have the right to vote.
            This is what I mean by weak principles.

            I have strong stances on all of those issues. The two points I mentioned were examples, not the totality of my political beliefs.

            Yes, during WWII many people died for Social Democracy. You are right and I apologize for unthinkingly dismissing their sacrifice. But now they have Social Democracy. Would they die to protect it? Would they die to oppose a Communist takeover? Or would they rather join enthusiastically, as they actually did when given the choice?

            Judging by the Cold War that immediately followed WWII, I’d say that most of them were indeed willing to take a hard stance against authoritarian communism and fight for democracy. I’m not sure what you mean by “as they actually did,” since there was never any real communist uprising in the West. And if there had been one, I find it unlikely that the majority of Americans or Western Europeans would’ve supported it.

            Yes, indeed. But it does not prevent one from being sympathetic to people who go around murdering everyone who disagrees with your views. And what about just sending them to re-education camps? What about merely harassing them?
            Is there anything about “the greatest good for the most people” that precludes one from harming people one disagrees with? Isn’t Social Democracy in favor of social progress and against antiquated traditions?
            Is there anything about Social Democracy that should prevent one from admiring what Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Communist China did, in spite of disagreeing with some of the more extreme methods they used?

            Is there any answer I could give here that would actually satisfy you or change your mind, or are these basically rhetorical questions? If your point is simply that you can’t trust laws and institutions alone, that’s been true for all of human history, hence the fact that crime and war and revolutions happen. If enough people say “fuck what the official rules say, we’re doing things differently now,” then no, it doesn’t really matter how the system works, but that’s a flaw with literally every system known to man, not just democracy.

          • MB says:

            You are right. After reading more about it, I conclude that many Social Democrats were decent individuals and behaved admirably during the Cold War.

          • Tony Blair was an unprincipled, mercenary centre-leftist, who sold out for financial gain. His fortune is in the hundreds of millions.

            The second statement does not appear to be true. Googling around, estimates of his wealth range from thirty million dollars up to sixty-five million pounds, with the latter I think including property owned by other family members.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      These bullies are left-wing heroes now, just like their grown-up counterparts in Berkeley, SF, Oakland, LA, Portland, and Seattle.

      Do you really believe this?

      Serious question.

      • MB says:

        Yes, I firmly believe this. These people are now heroes among their (cool) left-wing classmates and teachers for bullying Trump and for standing up to the (uncool) teachers.
        And here is evidence in support of my thesis (from Wikipedia):
        “And Patty Hearst, you standing there in front of the Symbionese Liberation Army flag with your legs spread. I was wondering: were you gettin’ it every night from a black revolutionary man and his women?”
        “Before the fadeout, Smith sings in the voice of Hearst angrily repudiating both her privileged upbringing as well as the mainstream society which has condemned her as a spoiled, vacuous “pretty little rich girl” who became a terrorist.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kilgore
        So yes, I believe there exists a widespread desire among leftists of doing terrible stuff to the children of their right-wing enemies and/or converting them to their cause in the process. The people who do it are praised as heroes and romanticized by mainstream leftists, like Patty Smith.
        It mostly works. That child called Trump who was bullied will probably either commit suicide or grow up with left-wing sympathies, just like Patty Hearst converted.
        This stuff was already well-known to Orwell, who noticed how the Party uses children for its own purposes: recuperating the children of their ideological enemies, brainwashing them, and specifically using them against their parents.
        Some leftists have already announced an intent of doing the same to Trump’s children.
        Now do you have any opposing evidence, that these sorts of leftist tactics, which have reoccurred over a span of more 200 years, are not going to be used this time?

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Now do you have any opposing evidence, that these sorts of leftist tactics, which have reoccurred over a span of more 200 years, are not going to be used this time?

          What would convince you?

          I could go with the kind of rhetoric that you’ve used to advance your position, which, as far as I can tell, relates almost entirely to Kilgore and nobody else, but I have a feeling you wouldn’t find it convincing. Do you want an example of people telling bullies that they’re bad for hurting white people? I doubt it – it happens every day. So, what do you want?

          • MB says:

            Well, for once, I’d like you to acknowledge that a pattern that has recurred over more than 200 years exists. Why go to the trouble of listing so much actual evidence, otherwise? Just for you to tell me that this thing I’m noticing (and Orwell noticed) is not a thing, or even if it exists it no longer happens nowadays, so there is no reason to have an opinion on it, one way or another?
            If you have examples of important leftists loudly condemning the kidnapping and brainwashing of Patty Hearst, the killing of Louis XVII, the legend of Pavlik Morozov, or the public threats against Trump’s children, please tell me. I am willing to listen to opposing evidence.

          • Statismagician says:

            None of those are reasonable questions, and you either know it or should know it. It didn’t become standard practice for politicans to issue public statements saying that self-evidently awful things are, in fact, awful until the 90s; the ‘left’ didn’t exist in any (modern politically) meaningful sense during the French Revolution, everybody and their goldfish acknowledges that the Soviet Union did some objectively horrible things, and when you show me an actual public figure making such a threat rather than some random idiot or internet personality, we can discuss that last thing.

          • MB says:

            If one can retroactively condemn Columbus or the practice of slavery, one can also condemn the killing of Louis XVII, let aside the almost contemporary official Communist practice of making children denounce their parents or the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.
            So how is it unreasonable for me to ask for evidence of such condemnation? Is this an impossible demand?
            “Everybody and their goldfish acknowledges that the Soviet Union did some objectively horrible things”. One: no important left-wing figure has, to the best of my knowledge, publicly recognized that. Not even Clinton or Blair. They only change the subject. Two: this particular horrible thing is a consequence of left-wing ideology, according to which there is no natural connection between parents and their children and if such a connection exists one must try to weaken it, because the family is a locus for abuse and reactionary ideas. Three: far from condemning it, leftists are more likely to use this particular tactic, as the historical record shows.

          • LadyJane says:

            @MB: I mean, yeah, if you’re just going to conflate [really bad stuff] with modern center-left liberals, then it’s pretty easy to argue that they’re [really bad].

            I could just as easily say that Trump followers are the real modern-day French revolutionaries, willing to tear the country apart just to spite the distant and cosmopolitan elites of their time. Or that Trump is a modern-day Caesar, a rejected Patrician who used to support of the Plebeians to undermine the lawful and democratic institutions that the upper class had built. Both of those make more sense than comparing establishment icon Hillary Clinton to Robespierre or to Patty Hearst’s kidnappers.

            It’s bad enough when people simplify the current political environment to two opposing sides. When you try to simplify all of human history to being one binary conflict, you wind up drawing some really weird conclusions. And since modern ideologies don’t really match up to ancient ones, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that the lines are going to be drawn in bizarre and arbitrary ways, typically with everyone a person likes on one side and everything they hate on the other.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @MB

            Yes, it’s rather unreasonable to demand that Barack Obama denounce the abuse of Louis XVII.

            Blair on the soviet union, though – sure.

            We regard the United States as our allies and partners. We are proud of what we have achieved together against tyranny and in defence of freedom, most recently in Iraq. Let me speak frankly about the dilemma Europe faces over the United States. You know the value of the American alliance. When you welcome President Bush tomorrow you welcome him as President of a country that stood by you in your years of Soviet repression, that was a beacon of freedom amidst the darkness of the police state.

            – Tony Blair in a speech in Warsaw, 2003

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/may/30/eu.speeches

            First thing that came up on Google.

            If you want to call him out for calling the USSR a repressive police state but not talking about the Soviet story of a boy murdered by his parents for tattling, be my guest. I don’t think it’s reasonable for an official to make a public statement on that either.

          • MB says:

            “I could just as easily say that Trump followers are the real modern-day French revolutionaries, willing to tear the country apart just to spite the distant and cosmopolitan elites of their time. Or that Trump is a modern-day Caesar, a rejected Patrician who used to support of the Plebeians to undermine the lawful and democratic institutions that the upper class had built. Both of those make more sense than comparing establishment icon Hillary Clinton to Robespierre or to Patty Hearst’s kidnappers.”

            The first comparison makes no sense. A large proportion of the French elite of that time was sympathetic to the Revolution, at least until the Terror began. The French revolutionaries weren’t some sort of disaffected peasants, as you seem to imagine Trump’s supporters are. On the contrary, the French countryside by and large resisted the revolution, just like in Russia 100 years later.

            The second comparison makes a lot of sense to me and I have thought about it often. Except that Caesar’s opponents were as corrupt and brutal as he was. At the point when he took over, and then again when he was assassinated, there wasn’t much to save, unfortunately.

            Hilary Clinton has nothing whatsoever to do with Robespierre. She’s more like the Duke of Orleans, if you want to make such a far-fetched comparison (and remember you suggested it, not I).

            Yes, there are lessons to be drawn both from the French Revolution and from the downfall of the Roman Republic that apply today. No, it’s not absurd to want to draw lessons from history, despite your attempt to make it seem so.

          • MB says:

            I note that, in Blair’s version, Soviet repression simply happened and had nothing to do with left-wing ideology or any policy they implemented, except for having too many police.
            Not coincidentally, this is the semi-official left-wing position on the Soviet Union, that its failures have nothing to do with left-wing ideology. We just need to try harder next time.
            Still, this reminds me why I used to like Blair. Even a half-hearted non-apology is better than none.

          • LadyJane says:

            Yes, there are lessons to be drawn both from the French Revolution and from the downfall of the Roman Republic that apply today. No, it’s not absurd to want to draw lessons from history, despite your attempt to make it seem so.

            I don’t think it’s absurd. On the contrary, I think we can and should take lessons from history. What’s absurd is thinking that the lines of conflict are still drawn along the same lines that they were hundreds of years ago, as if there’s any kind of meaningful continuity between the French revolutionaries and the modern centrist establishment. You can draw parallels, of course, but you could just as easily draw parallels between the French revolutionaries and the alt-right, or the communist far-left, or the anarchist fringe, or between the modern centrist establishment and the monarchy that the revolutionaries fought against. Is Putin the ideological descendant of Tsar Nicholas II or Premier Joseph Stalin? Trick question, he’s both and neither.

            I note that, in Blair’s version, Soviet repression simply happened and had nothing to do with left-wing ideology or any policy they implemented, except for having too many police.

            Do you really think that Blair’s belief is “the USSR was totally fine as a system, the only reason it turned out poorly is because the individual people in charge happened to be bad people, if it just had less police and nicer folks in charge then it would’ve gone great”? If so, your model of Blair’s mindset is ridiculously uncharitable and wrong-headed, to the point of absurdity. What on Earth would lead you to believe that a staunch supporter of capitalism and democracy would be even half-supportive of authoritarian communism?

          • MB says:

            As centrist, honest, and clear-thinking as Blair was, he still had to manage a rather diverse coalition and this is the most criticism of the Soviet Union he could afford, in public.
            I wish him all the best in private life, am not troubled by any of his foibles, have no curiosity about the origin of his fortune, in spite of snarky remarks about it, and hope that he never has to run for election again and “modernize” his stance accordingly.
            The Iraq war was a tragedy for all involved. Still, he was a better man than his party and England deserved.

          • Statismagician says:

            Right, I’m calling nonsense; in just the next subcomment up you, @MB, say:

            Just like the Clintons, Tony Blair was an unprincipled, mercenary centre-leftist, who sold out for financial gain.

            So, pick a lane. And, before you do that, explain what possible connection there’s supposed to be between Tony Blair and the French Revolution, such that he, or his equivalents over on this side of the Atlantic, ought to have to personally apologize for its excesses. Unless you know something more than you’re saying – possibly involving secret Templar cults, I don’t know – this is just bizarre conspiracy theory, and very, very obviously so.

            EDIT: And, moreover, how in Christ’s name doesn’t ‘the Soviet Union was an abusive, repressive police state’ count as sufficient condemnation for a politician speaking well over a decade after it was dissolved?

          • MB says:

            I am not bothered by Blair being mercenary — or the Clintons, for that matter. I was bothered by HRC’s new political stances, which contradicted her old political stances. I hope that Blair doesn’t run again for elections, so that I don’t have to learn that he is in fact much more “progressive” than he let on initially or that his opinions have “evolved”.
            How does my statement that Blair is mercenary contradict any previous statement? On the contrary, this supports my assertion that there are few principled Social Democrat politicians. How charitable should I be toward him, anyway?
            I’m not actually expecting an apology from any leftist leader concerning the practice of bullying opponents’ children in order to turn them against the parents. The world is waiting with bated breath for any sign of dissent within Trump’s family. I don’t see this going away anytime soon.
            But still, I was asked about a convincing sign that this tactic has been officially abandoned and this was my answer. What would another reasonable answer have been? How does one tell that this tactic is no longer officially approved?

          • Statismagician says:

            There is no Grand Leftist Conspiracy Traversing All Bounds of Space and Time, very obviously to everyone except, apparently, you. The only way any of your historical issues make any sense whatsoever for consideration is if there is, and that rather demands more evidence than you’ve shown.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @MB

            The goalpost was, “important leftist loudly condemning” something. If Blair loudly and unqualifiedly condemning the USSR doesn’t count, I’d say the goalpost moved. Set a new one if you want, but there’s a reason I asked what would convince you. Please don’t waste my time.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Side note: Louis *XVII* died of illness at the age of 10 while imprisonned. His father Louis *XVI*, was executed by the revolutionaries, just 2 years before that. Louis XVII has a number because in the eyes of the royalists he was legally king for two years.

          • I’m not actually expecting an apology from any leftist leader concerning the practice of bullying opponents’ children in order to turn them against the parents.

            In my history as an opponent’s child, I have observed no such bullying. So perhaps the practice is less common than you suppose.

        • MB says:

          “as if there’s any kind of meaningful continuity between the French revolutionaries and the modern centrist establishment”.
          The modern centrist establishment is more like the reformist nobles who, while firmly in control (or so they thought), encouraged prudent talk of reform, supported dissident thinkers, and sympathized with revolutions abroad (US, Poland, Holland). Lafayette comes to mind, of course, but there were many like him. Louis XVI was a hero of the American revolution too! They probably got a frisson from cavorting with real revolutionaries, but weren’t revolutionary per se.
          Most would have been happy with a constitutional arrangement like in England, following the Glorious Revolution.
          Under the Ancien Régime, their lives must have been rather dull. Playing at revolution must have been quite exciting. And, best of all, they were innocent victims. Who could have known that encouraging Rousseau would lead to Robespierre? It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.

          • Most would have been happy with a constitutional arrangement like in England, following the Glorious Revolution.

            That seems to have been about what Talleyrand wanted.

            And he managed to play an active role in French politics from the Directorate through the revived Bourbon monarchy.

        • And here is evidence in support of my thesis (from Wikipedia):
          “And Patty Hearst, you standing there in front of the Symbionese Liberation Army flag with your legs spread.

          I cannot find any of that in the Wikipedia page you linked to. The source seems to be this page.

    • Viliam says:

      Indeed, the left takes a particular satisfaction in targeting the weak among their opponents and especially the children and the young

      The part “among their opponents” seems like an unnecessary detail.

      Looking at the three links you provided: Louis XVII happened to inherit a crappy situation. It was not his enemies’ desire to have a child in a position of a king. But there was a child in a position of a king, and that is the situation they had to deal with. Pavlik Morozov and Patty Hearst seem like selected evidence. Yes, Bolsheviks tried to brainwash the children of their enemies, but they also tried to brainwash the children of their allies. Terrorist groups are likely to abuse everyone they can.

      I think a stronger case can be made about greater disregard of children (unless we are talking about educating them, which always includes values) among the left. Like, unborn children are basically just a meat to be chopped when necessary; if someone tries to make pedophilia a respected sexual alternative, they will almost certainly approach the topic from a left-wing position or at least use typically left-wing terminology; and if hypothetically there would be a religion whose prophet mumble mumble something mumble mumble a six years old girl, non-members insisting that the religion deserves great respect and its criticism should be considered a crime would almost certainly be left-wing.

      The parallel for the right wing is that they are more likely to approve physical punishment for children; and marriage (sometimes forced) of underage (but still way older than six years) girls. Right wing wants to teach children (e.g. about Biblical values and the evil lies of evolution), too.

      On a second thought, none of this seems obviously connected to Trump.

      • and if hypothetically there would be a religion whose prophet mumble mumble something mumble mumble a six years old girl

        According to the traditional account, Mohammed married Aisha when she was six but she remained in her father’s house and the marriage was only consummated when she was nine or ten. That still seems odd to us, but not quite as odd.

        As of 1880, the age of consent in most U.S. states was ten or twelve–in Delaware seven. In England in the 18th century it was ten.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Banned indefinitely under true, kind, necessary policy

  53. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    One factor that, surprisingly, I haven’t already seen in the comments:

    Trump’s election has made it significantly riskier to your employment to publicly hold Trump-adjacent political opinions.

    If I had, in 2015, spoken out against illegal immigration I wouldn’t have made many friends in academia but that would be the end of it. If I, in 2018 speak out against illegal immigration there’s a small but non-zero chance that I would be drummed out of my graduate school. The administration, the faculty and the students are all in full #resist mode and there’s no way I’d take the chance even on an “anonymous” poll.

    In the last few years, we’ve seen people lose industry jobs, faculty positions, college admissions offers, even getting kicked off payment processors and web-hosting services for conservative statements that would have been considered innocuous just a few years ago. That’s not even mentioning the highly visible political violence directed against conservatives, with the mainstream media cheerleading for said violence.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      In the last few years, we’ve seen people lose industry jobs, faculty positions, college admissions offers, even getting kicked off payment processors and web-hosting services for conservative statements that would have been considered innocuous just a few years ago.

      Finance and tech corporations are SJW, not just academia. This put the January 2016 Republican Party that just wants to give big business blowjobs but wants conservatives to vote for them in an awkward position.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      While I agree with this, I expected a more pronounced demonstration of this effect in the midterm elections. I expected Republicans to outperform polls, and they did, but not by near as much as I expected. I’d say the “shy Trumper” effect is ~2%, and not the 5-10 point shifts in the graphs.

      • Dan L says:

        I expected Republicans to outperform polls, and they did, but not by near as much as I expected. I’d say the “shy Trumper” effect is ~2%, and not the 5-10 point shifts in the graphs.

        I challenged you on this before the election, and you specified that you were looking at a post-2017 change. Perhaps that made it unfalsifiable then, but what data are you looking at now to substantiate it? The more elaborate cross-correlational work might still be in progress, but it doesn’t look good for that theory (especially if you’re looking for a contrast to 2016 results).

        Alternatively, are you now referring to a “shy Trumper” effect that extended back to 2016? In that case, the rebuttals given then still apply.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I’m looking at things like the Democrats predicted to win Florida and Georgia by 2-3 points when instead they lost by less than 1. I expected the Republicans to win by 2-3 instead, for about a 5% underpolling of Republicans and instead it’s only 2%. Yes, there are a lot of Republicans/Trumpists who relish hanging up on or lying to pollsters, but it’s not nearly as big an effect as I thought.

          • Dan L says:

            A few points:

            1) Trying to extrapolating from a small number of unusual state-level results to a national trend is a Bad Idea. Letting those states be chosen by narrative factors* is a VERY BAD IDEA. Then using that to make a case about changing trends without referencing the previous cycle is an obvious non-starter.

            * D +1 -> R+1 is less meaningful than R +3 -> R +6, but use shitty heuristics and you’ll get that reversed every time – one of many such failure modes.

            2) That said, where on Earth are you getting that Georgia prediction? Assuming you’re talking about the topline race, RCP had R +3.0, 538 had R +2.2. Actual result being R +1.4 seems to argue against your theory. Clearly within anyone’s margin of error, but if you’re going to call it out…

            3) Florida specifically is the state that’s going to need the most time to decipher (I called it out as such immediately after the election), but there are plenty of already well-supported factors simultaneously in play there without inventing more (decreasing incumbency qua incumbency benefit, increasing partisanship, underperfomance of the progressive wing, take your pick).

            All told: your evidence is insufficient for your claim even before the veracity of that evidence fails. You’d be hard-pressed to even claim Bayesian evidence.

      • Brad says:

        CH: I’m not sure if you’ll see this since I’m very late to this thread, but kudos on updating. Respect++

    • That’s not even mentioning the highly visible political violence directed against conservatives, with the mainstream media cheerleading for said violence.

      Examples? My impression is that the mainstream media are generally negative on Antifa riots and the like, even if perhaps less negative than they should be.

  54. nkurz says:

    Maybe identifying as anti-immigrant before Trump just meant you thought there should be a little better border control, but now you think it means you want a wall and mass deportations, plus you think all Mexicans are rapists.

    We talk here about avoiding strawmen, and this feels like one.

    Are there really a significant number of people who consider themselves “anti-immigrant”? I’d guess there are lots of people who are against illegal immigration, a fair number who think the rules for legal immigration should be stricter, a few who might go so far as to call themselves anti-immigration, but I’d be surprised if those who “identify as anti-immigrant” are a large enough group to be influential.

    Following this up with “all Mexicans are rapists” makes me think this is intended as a caricature, but other than the illogicality, I don’t find much support for that reading in the text. Am I wrong? Is there anyone present here who self-identifies as “anti-immigrant” without qualifiers? If so, could you explain your position? If not, can this phrase be avoided in the future?

    • I don’t think Scott is saying people actually believe “Mexicans are rapists”. I think Scott is saying the way people interpret the phrase “anti-immigrant” has changed while their beliefs haven’t.

      So, for instance, maybe Alice supports a little better border control and formerly identified as “anti-immigrant”. Now, her interpretation of what “anti-immigrant” has shifted to “thinks all Mexicans are rapists”, so she no longer classifies herself that way.

  55. DragonMilk says:

    Anecdotally, I personally know of no Trump supporters who have turned away. If anything, they’re digging in their heels.

    Republicans who never really liked him anyway may slightly shift, but I imagine most of the trend as the charts show above is from non-Trump supporters.

    So he’s not winning converts, but there’s still a minority opinion who supports him strongly.

    • jw says:

      Trump supporters are either digging in their heels, or hiding.

      Those hiding are getting more an more pissed that if they are found out, it has become a near certainty that their lives will be destroyed.

      This creates an extreme amount of resentment. The left is sowing the wind here. The backlash that may be coming isn’t a leftist one. The leftist “backlash” has pushed well beyond what is acceptable, and people are getting really pissed off, but have not yet crossed the threshold to bite back against the violent lefties.

  56. idontknow131647093 says:

    Is it irony when you try to hide “culture war” issues by relegating them to hidden threads and then make a 100% culture war incitement post?

    Asking for a friend.

    • Randy M says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but comments on Scott’s threads aren’t intended to be “no culture war” but rather stick to the topic at hand while adhering to the comment policy. For example, see nearly every comment on this thread.

      The front page open thread is intended to be free of culture war topics.

      • idontknow131647093 says:

        Right, but the “topic” of this thread is basically just a wide ranging set of graphs and discussions that encompass all of international polity.

    • quanta413 says:

      Yes.

  57. Well... says:

    What makes you so sure Trump actually wants the things it seems like he wants prima facie?

    His whole life he’s been pretty left-wing, on social stuff at least. To me it seemed pretty obvious he was putting on the “I’m against immigrants and I’m vaguely courting white right-wingers” act merely in cynical pursuance the Sailer Strategy, which worked and got him elected.

    Suppose you wanted to raise America’s support for illegal immigrants, women, etc. Isn’t doing what Trump did probably one of the best ways to do that?

    • Statismagician says:

      I believe this falls pretty firmly under ‘extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.’ It’s an interesting thought, anyway.

      • Well... says:

        Wasn’t Trump’s own sudden claim, in 2015, 69 years into his life, to be a champion of various right-wing causes at least as extraordinary?

        • Statismagician says:

          Only if you think there’s ever been a deep commitment to any particular political ideology at work. I think the parsimonious explanation is ‘hypocritical self-aggrandizing businessman does something hypocritical for self-aggrandizement.’ On the other hand, I’ve never met the man, so perhaps there are hidden depths.

    • DragonMilk says:

      I literally thought he was a Democratic agent sent by Hillary to destroy the Republican party…

      …until he won.

      • Well... says:

        Why does winning mean he didn’t destroy (or isn’t still successfully destroying) the Republican party?

        • DragonMilk says:

          It just means that he wasn’t personally sent by the Clintons since they personally were negatively affected.

          • Well... says:

            Oh, hah. Right. Well, you could argue that but it’d mainly be for fun. Also even if you want to say they sent Trump, it’s hard to say their plan went off without a hitch (which would have been Trump winning the election but the Clintons’ favorability going up as a result), because I’m pretty sure it didn’t. The emails, the B.o.D.s, etc…

    • Joseftstadter says:

      Trump has never been “left-wing”. He has consistently held positions that until this election were considered “cranky old man” kind of politics that had no strong constituencies on either the right or left. For example, Trump seems to have always believed in tariffs and protectionism, going back to his attacking the Japanese in the 1980s. He has consistently been alarmist (and arguably racist) about crime, at least judging by his public stance on the “Central Park 5”. Trump’s position on social issues like abortion or homosexuality are probably driven by expediency. He seems to have no strongly held moral or ethical beliefs, so probably has a hard time caring about those issues. In Trump’s world you are either winning or losing. Allowing illegal immigrants in is “losing” because it is a sign of weakness. I don’t think Trump thinks any more deeply than that.

      • Well... says:

        I agree in general but I think if you look more closely you see it’s not quite that simple. If he merely thought allowing illegal immigrants in was losing, he’d have cared more about whether illegals were employed in his hotels. And maybe he’d have married an American beauty queen instead of a foreign one. So clearly he has different standards for “winning” and “losing” depending on the scale/context, not to mention who he thinks is looking.

        Which ties back to the fact that there isn’t really a coherent ideology you can say he had, and certainly not a right-wing one. I say he was rather left-wing because some of the important things he supported in the past happened to be left-wing things, and he failed to really align himself with the right until recently (and I think Conquest’s Laws can fairly be applied to people, right?).

    • mtl1882 says:

      I had hoped this might be the case – that strategy is not unheard of. I don’t know if I’d say that he fabricated his immigration stance, but I do think he could have used it to win and then backed off it.

      I know people don’t take his books seriously, but I don’t believe they could be replicated by a ghostwriter not in close discussion with him. He uses this strategy over and over again, but he sets it up and spins it in a way so that it isn’t really hypocrisy or lying–he just ends up in a different position. He kind of lets the enemy hang him or herself or get stuck in a trap. Then he reframes the issue. He could pursue immigration reform in a constructive way. So far he has mostly disappointed me. It’s clear he was far more associate with liberal beliefs for decades; that being said, the way the lines are drawn are not reflective of reality, and certain right or populist ideals have also been embraced by him for a long time. He can use both to come to a constructive solution, which is different than a partisan victory. I was hoping that his independence would allow this, as I believe many Americans are questioning their party affiliations, and are looking for a more constructive option that doesn’t hold them to what a specific party thinks the issues and positions are.

      It’s not looking good so far, although I really thought he’d take that approach, at least at first. I don’t mean he’d cave and become moderate and looking for friendly, safe deals. But he loves turning tables, surprising people, driving hard deals, playing people against each other – predictable partisan politics aren’t a fun or interesting enough game for him. He was never a particularly narrow, unmovable guy – he liked new fields, new arguments, pushing limits. He was ruthless, but not rigid. The intense opposition and investigations may have derailed this, but there’s also a good probability that I was naive and he didn’t intend have any intention to be constructive. I do think in some ways the failed healthcare reform was constructive–he didn’t talk in circles about it to allow them to kick the can down the road and evade responsibility. Then it became clear they didn’t have the goods. This was a good thing, not a mere partisan failure. Without some mythical alternative to the ACA constantly dangled before us, we can focus on other things – actually coming up with a workable alternative, or realizing that the ACA is currently good enough. Disparaging it constantly without anything else to offer was, to put it mildly, irresponsible. If Trump’s hard-charging style forces us to confront some of these issues, it will be a good thing. We have to choose, and not get distracted by nonexistent easy alternatives.

      I know this sounds crazy, but I’ll confess it has been my hope since late 2015. While he may have strong feelings on immigration, his history, I do think he likes to see underdogs succeed, and appreciates eccentrics, and we need some of that as well. He likes to suddenly praise people thought to be his enemies. I would like to see him pursue that more, and he has done it, it just doesn’t get much coverage. It helps us break the partisan mindset. He is not predictable in the way people insist. His exchange with Bill O’Reilly shortly before the election was interesting.

  58. Marklouis says:

    Seems almost silly to try to poll such a complex issue under the guise of a single word: “immigration.” I literally have no opinion on “immigration.” I would take 100% of the legal, educated, hard-working, non-criminal people who want to come here. I would take almost none of the rest (except perhaps legitimate asylum seekers…i stress legitimate). Where does that leave me on “immigration?”

    • jw says:

      Well I think the post tiptoes around the point that most lefties consider that OMG Trumpist!!!!

      Basically you’re evil for that nuanced take on immigration, racist!!

    • I would take almost none of the rest

      What do you have against hard-working, non-criminal, uneducated people? That would describe most of the early 20th century immigrants, who seem on the whole to have worked out pretty well.

  59. Frederic Mari says:

    “the left thrives by imagining themselves as brave rebels fighting an ignorant, regressive, hateful authority”.

    Do we? A long time ago (pre-1968), maybe. These days, often enough, we ARE the authority.

    It’s libertarians and alt-righters and neo-fascists who, these days, think of themselves as rebels. Regardless of the fact that Rs control all 3 branches of the government and have managed to gangrene most US states’ juridico-legal apparatus.

    • Scudamour says:

      This is an essential insight.

      Not sure how many here saw that video from September 2016 in Miami of Trump walking into a rally to the tune of the revolutionary theme from “Les Miserables.”

      The nominal Left has become the party of the elite — education from practically every public school to Harvard and Yale, the media, the entrenched administrative state including *the internal and external Federal intelligence services*…and most of the big capitalist corporations and their owners.

      Also, many of the biggest organized churches, synagogues, and mosques, those purveyors of opium to the people.

      Trump got support from Americans who, in European socialist literature from a century ago, would be called proletarians, workers and peasants.

      I think I might quibble with you on some of the implications of this insight (or maybe not so much), but it’s essential nonetheless.

    • John Schilling says:

      The fact that libertarians, alt-righters, etc, see themselves as rebels, doesn’t mean that the far left or even mainstream liberals don’t also see themselves as rebels.

      American culture has always been predisposed to see the rebels as the good guys and the good guys as the rebels, since 1776 (and see also 1977). People want to claim that mantle whether it is properly theirs or not.

      • Scudamour says:

        I agree with this.

        But here’s a little thought experiment for anyone reading this comment. On this forum, we’ve sometimes divided contemporary American culture and politics into “red tribe” and “blue tribe.” Answer this question honestly and quickly to yourself:

        Be honest with yourself.

        In which tribe are the elite?

        • acymetric says:

          Well, it is used as a pejorative. For red-tribers, the “elite” seems to mean highly educated and high-profile media/entertainment personalities (which trends blue-tribe). For blue-tribers, the “elite” would tend to be used to describe the wealthy (which trends red).

          So, depends on who you ask.

          • Statismagician says:

            +1. Attempted scissor question fails because both sides hear it in very different ways, and we all already knew which side we were on.

          • Scudamour says:

            …the wealthy (which trends red).

            That’s the stereotype, but I don’t think it’s nearly as true as it used to be, even at fairly modest levels of wealth.

            In any case, it’s certainly not true at the plutocrat level, where most of the wealth is. I’m thinking Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, Buffet, et cetera. The Koch brothers are libertarian, but they were anti-Trump. Even Michael Bloomberg is going back to being a Democrat.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Sure, but while the left would concede that Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, and Buffett are wealthy, they would not call them “the elite”. That pejorative is reserved for folks like the Kochs.

          • albatross11 says:

            Scudamor:

            Is there data somewhere about the political beliefs/leanings of the billionaire class?

          • acymetric says:

            @albatross11

            In my (brief) search, everything presented data in the super-rich in terms of donation amounts to parties, not in terms of number of people. That is certainly useful data, but doesn’t help with the question at hand here. If anyone can find actual population data on the political leanings of that group I would definitely be interested.

          • crilk says:

            @Scudamour

            >That’s the stereotype, but I don’t think it’s nearly as true as it used to be, even at fairly modest levels of wealth.

            I think it’s still true, but nowadays you’ve got extreme geographical sawtooth effects on top of that. Less than 10% of voters in Manhattan and San Francisco went for Trump. In DC it was less than 5%. Even if the rich in these places still vote disproportionately Republican, a substantial majority now votes Democratic.

            Consider Oakland, CA (where 4.8% voted for Trump) and its ultra-wealthy enclave of Piedmont (11.4%).

          • Brad says:

            Is an assistant professor of sociology at UPenn still paying off her student loans more or less elite than the college dropout owner of 7 car dealerships in the greater Cincinnati area?

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            Is an assistant professor of sociology at UPenn still paying off her student loans more or less elite than the college dropout owner of 7 car dealerships in the greater Cincinnati area?

            That is, in fact, on critique of “Elites”, that they are credentialed, not elite. The Assistant professor is more likely to sometime in the future be part of a presidential administration, or become a CNN contributor on random topics. The critique thereby says this is a bad choice to make as a society, because credentialism results in important teachings being left out of the public space (such as how to sell enough cars and manage people well enough to own 7 car lots).

            Indeed, probably even more importantly, the car guy probably knows more veterans that served in combat than the professor, and a major split in the US since Vietnam is that people increasingly have either quite a few vets in their social circle, or none. Thus, we have a foreign policy “elite” that interact with no military personnel below the rank of Colonel, and more typically only Lt. Generals +. This makes them much more interested in adventurism, less likely to understand the human costs, more likely to tighten the rules of engagement (thereby greatly increasing the chances of PTSD in soldiers), more likely to try and tinker with things such as basic training, and less likely to accept the accumulated wisdom of the enlisted ranks (currently this is manifesting most obviously with respect to gender integration and transgender issues in units, despite almost no one actually in a combat unit thinking those are good ideas).

          • albatross11 says:

            The assistant professor may one day become quite influential, but may also end up spending the rest of her life being an adjunct between four different universities to stitch together some kind of a living.

          • idontknow131647093 says:

            The assistant professor may one day become quite influential, but may also end up spending the rest of her life being an adjunct between four different universities to stitch together some kind of a living.

            And the car salesman might end up bankrupt as he leverages too hard to expand.

            I don’t see why we would care about either for this particular conversation.

        • veronicastraszh says:

          Lou Keep wrote an interesting take on this question: https://samzdat.com/2017/02/01/on-social-states/

    • LadyJane says:

      The fact that Republicans now control all three branches of government is pretty damning proof that liberals are not the authority. The liberals might have been the majority for two brief years, from 2009-2011, when they had the White House, both houses of Congress, and a supermajority in the Senate. Then we had six years of perpetual stalemate as neither side could get anything done, and since 2016 we’ve had outright domination by the Republicans. I don’t really see how conservatives can see themselves as the anti-establishment party. A decade ago, I could at least see the populists complaining that the Republican Party is too accommodating to the Democrats and doesn’t do a good job of representing their interests (much as modern progressives complain about the Democrats being spineless sell-outs). But they can’t even say that anymore, because the Tea Partiers and Trumpists basically control the party now. They’ve gotten their tariffs, they’ve gotten their immigration control, they’ve gotten the country out of trade deals, they’ve made it harder for women to get abortions, they’ve made life significantly harder for LGBT people in general, they’ve made it easier for businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, no one is coming to take your guns away. What more do you want? What are you rebelling against?

      • 0oQ3jS2o says:

        I would think that they could continue to make the claim that they are the “anti-establishment party,” with quite a lot of justification, until the Overton windows on those issues have permanently shifted in their favor and they feel like their ideology has made meaningful progress over the competing ideology. Regardless of whether they have won these victories now, if their positions keep being regarded as “bizarre” and “horrifying” and “fringe” and “to be undone immediately as soon as their power slips,” and if such a reverse would be inevitable, then they’ve stalled the establishment, not overcome it.

        This is especially true if they have good reason to believe that the Overton windows on many of those issues have been untenably shifted in favor of the aristocratic faction (“blue tribe”), even based on what “victories” they’ve allegedly earned. That is, they have to keep struggling to drag things back to “neutral.”

        A good example of this could be the “gun issue.” Your characterization of the issue is that they should be grateful that you are not going to steal their expensive personal property in a fit of pique… for now. (“No one is coming to take your guns away.”) But, of course, you might do it later. The overall debate, then, is still “they get a highly-mutilated version of the right to personal firearms ownership” versus “you take their stuff and laugh at them.”

        Thing is, though, there is what amounts to (or at least appears to amount to) an objective standard in the “gun debate,” since it largely focuses on the interpretation of a rather simply-worded Constitutional provision, with the only real ambiguity being whether to read a positive right into the “militia clause” or not.

        If you don’t read a positive right into the militia clause (the “left” supportable position), then you’re essentially left with the Heller decision — the “right to bear arms” as understood at the time of drafting applied to bearing arms in self-defense and to serving under arms in an armed force, and so no state or federal government institution can restrict you from bearing arms in self-defense (against criminals, against paramilitaries and secret police that must necessarily be used in order to effect any state tyranny, and what-have you) or from purchasing appropriate arms suitable for that purpose. (Everybody seems to be politely ignoring the latter bit for the transgender ban case, which in turn seems to reinforce that the window hasn’t even shifted to this point yet — though certainly these arguments would function as scissor statements if raised.)

        If you do read a positive right into the militia clause, based on militias being “necessary” (the “right” supportable position) such that the Second Amendment represents an actual devolution of some responsibility for national self-defense into the hands of popular militia, things get a little more interesting. Not only does this create an affirmative duty on behalf of the government to make weapons suitable for military service (i.e. whatever the Pentagon is buying these days, full-auto M4s and the like) readily accessible to the public, but also (in keeping with the other big positive right, the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel) might actually obligate the government to send military personnel to you, on your terms, to train and drill (“regulate”) your personal militia.

        Of course, it’s entirely possible that they might not be fully convinced that they themselves are the “establishment” until the overall debate involves an equally-untenable Red Tribe position — “republicanism requires stratocracy and all citizens must drill in the militia,” for example — even if it is not actually adopted.

      • LadyJane says:

        On fiscal/economic issues, the Overton window has been shifting rightward since the 80s, to the point where the Clintons and Obama were further to the economic right than most Republicans during the Cold War era. If Eisenhower came back and started proposing the same policies he’d implemented back in the 50s, he’d be run out of Washington by the Democrats for being too far to the left; his fellow Republicans would call to have him hanged as a commie.

        On social issues, the Overton window isn’t going to shift back, and will probably continue moving further left. 50% of the population supports trans rights, 65% of the population supports gay marriage, almost 90% of the population supports interracial marriage, over 95% of the population is accepting of premarital sex and contraception. People aren’t just going to change their minds about these things out of the blue, and the younger generations seem to be especially progressive on social issues. (Of course, any kind of social change could happen given a long enough time frame, but I’m talking about within the next few decades.) You can’t force people to change their minds, but if you win enough elections in enough districts, you can force through policies that the majority doesn’t support. You’re right that such victories will probably be temporary, but such are the drawbacks of unpopular sovereignty.

      • cassander says:

        @lady jane

        On fiscal/economic issues, the Overton window has been shifting rightward since the 80s, to the point where the Clintons and Obama were further to the economic right than most Republicans during the Cold War era. If Eisenhower came back and started proposing the same policies he’d implemented back in the 50s, he’d be run out of Washington by the Democrats for being too far to the left; his fellow Republicans would call to have him hanged as a commie.

        Eisenhower presided over a government with no medicare, no medicaid, no OSHA, no EPA, virtually no welfare, no food stamps, and a vastly less generous social security. It was a government that spent 10% of GDP and half of the federal budget on the military. It was, compared to the modern government or the 90s, cartoonishly right wing. Not even Ron Paul called for returning social spending to 50s levels when he ran in 2012.

        The right is NOT winning on economic issues.

        • LadyJane says:

          @cassander: Yes, LBJ hadn’t instituted any of the Great Society programs yet. But the Eisenhower era was also a time of 90% income tax rates on the highest earners and 70% estate tax rates, when the political influence of unions and labor organizations was at its apex. Eisenhower himself presided over one of the biggest federal budget increases in U.S. history, nearly doubling the budget to invest in jobs, education, infrastructure, and scientific research, while cutting the military budget – could you imagine a modern Republican doing all of that? Could you imagine the outrage from the economic right if tax rates were raised that high again?

          The Overton window in the U.S. was heavily slanted toward the economic center-left between the FDR era and the Carter Presidency. It was during the Reagan administration in the 80s that unrestrained neoliberalism became the prevailing status quo. Obviously that’s a simplified narrative, and it’s debatable how much Reagan himself was responsible (probably not that much), but the broad strokes of it are still very much true.

          @DavidFriedman: People can see themselves as all kinds of things, doesn’t make it true. Which of the following narratives do you consider more accurate, given the current political circumstances?
          1. Conservatives are rebels struggling against a liberal/leftist socialist establishment that’s dominated the government and the media.
          2. Left-liberals are rebels struggling against a right-wing corporate establishment that’s dominated the government and the economy.

          • cassander says:

            @LadyJane

            Yes, LBJ hadn’t instituted any of the Great Society programs yet.

            Yes, that’s my point.

            But the Eisenhower era was also a time of 90% income tax rates on the highest earners and 70% estate tax rates, when the political influence of unions and labor organizations was at its apex.

            top marginal rates tell you almost nothing about the progressivity of a tax system. For one, that top rate applied to an incredibly tiny fraction of earners, and an equally small share of their overall income, while the top rate today applies to a much larger range. Also, that tax code had much higher rates, but also many more exemptions. effective rates were, if anything, lower. The top 1% made 9% of income and paid 13% of taxes. Today the figures are 20% and 38%, actually more progressive.

            >Eisenhower himself presided over one of the biggest federal budget increases in U.S. history, nearly doubling the budget to invest in jobs, education, infrastructure, and scientific research, while cutting the military budget – could you imagine a modern Republican doing all of that?

            No, he didn’t. Spending under Ike rose from 76 to 97 billion, about 30%. And if you look at inflation adjusted dollars, spending actually went DOWN during his presidency. As for the military budget, it was 52 billion in 1953, and was 48 billion in 1960. that’s a 7%, which is not huge considering that a massive war ended in 1953, and that’s not counting the huge military impact of a lot of his nominally non-military R&D spending.

            As for modern republicans, bush presided over overall budget increase of about 2 trillion dollars to 3, not counting stimulus spending in 2009. He also doubled the budget of the department of education and passed a large expansion to medicare. And those increases are piled ON TOP of the increases that Eisenhower, and every other preceding president had already made. So yeah, I can see modern republicans doing that.

            It was during the Reagan administration in the 80s that unrestrained neoliberalism became the prevailing status quo. Obviously that’s a simplified narrative, and it’s debatable how much Reagan himself was responsible (probably not that much), but the broad strokes of it are still very much true.

            The neo-liberal wave had less impact in the US than in any other developed country. In part, this is because the US was already more neo-liberal than most, and in part because the US system is more resistant to change. Reagan did not fundamentally transform american politics, he transformed political rhetoric for about 20 years, and did some good work in a few areas, like interstate transit on taxes, but the vast majority of the US state remained unchanged.

          • PeterDonis says:

            Which of the following narratives do you consider more accurate, given the current political circumstances?
            1. Conservatives are rebels struggling against a liberal/leftist socialist establishment that’s dominated the government and the media.
            2. Left-liberals are rebels struggling against a right-wing corporate establishment that’s dominated the government and the economy.

            I don’t know DavidFriedman’s opinion, but I don’t think either of them are accurate, because I don’t think either conservatives or left-liberals are rebels. They are both trying to gain advantage within the system, not trying to rebel against it. I think the system as a whole is skewed more left than right, but I think the primary motivation of the “establishment” is to preserve its power and privileges.

            The most dangerous trend I see on both sides, though, is an increasing tendency to be willing to distort facts, if not outright lie, in order to advance one’s position. Trump is the most egregious example of this right now, but certainly not the only one, and it’s been going on for much longer than he’s been President.

      • The fact that Republicans now control all three branches of government is pretty damning proof that liberals are not the authority.

        To begin with, “control” is an overstatement. Republicans control the legislative branch, but only for another few weeks. They control the top level of the executive branch, but it takes more than two years to translate that into control of the branch as a whole. They control more of the judicial branch than they did a few years back, but by no means all of it.

        Beyond that, it’s possible for the struggling rebels to have a few victories but still see themselves as fighting against the odds.

  60. Pingback: Rational Feed – deluks917

  61. Incandenza says:

    I think this is mostly thermostatic public opinion, but I’m intrigued by the cases where public opinion seems pretty steady for a long time and only shifts noticeably post-2016 – e.g., on trade and maybe somewhat on immigration (though there seems to be a clear long-term trend in a pro-immigrant direction).

    • gbdub says:

      Trade seems like one where the “backlash” theory makes the most sense, since Dems, GOPers, and independents are all moving together.

      Maybe there were some folks pre-Trump who favored protectionism in theory, but flipped when they started getting worried about a trade war with China.

  62. Sniffnoy says:

    Hey, your “apparently contrary source” link goes to a Google Image search rather than to the actual source. The image itself is here: http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/shared/npr/styles/x_large/nprshared/201805/583493923.png

  63. gbdub says:

    The hard shift in Democrat positions makes it seem likely that at least some of this is partisan signaling and/or increased highlighting of Trump’s actions in certain areas. There have been a number of stories related to immigration where anti-Trumpers are shocked and appalled at Trump’s policies, but were ignorant of similar Obama actions or policies (e.g. previous and ongoing use of tear gas at the border, Obama’s deportation numbers, previous holding of asylum seekers) – some of that blame probably goes to the media, which is highlighting everything Trump does in ways optimized for maximum outrage. This is basically your option 4, but I suspect that the focus will go away again as soon as a Democrat is in office again. I’m less convinced this is a permanent shift in opinion. Yes yes yes the argument over media bias is an interminable one, but honestly I think it’s really hard to argue at this point that the CNNs and NYTs of the world are much more interested in holding Trump accountable for abuses of executive power than they were for Obama. I’m skeptical that this sudden revitalization of the press as opposition is going to last beyond Trump.

    I think you miss a potential flip-side of your option 3 – maybe the increasingly extreme opposition to Trump is pushing Democrats out of their party. Before you could be a “pro-immigration Democrat” just by opposing the wall and making occasional noises about a “path to citizenship”. Now “pro-immigration Democrat” means sanctuary cities, abolish ICE, and ignore immigration / asylum laws for anyone in the vicinity of a photogenic kid.

    Overall, could just be a reshuffling of the big tents as the key issues go from health care, taxes, and war to immigration, protectionism, and identity politics.

    • Randy M says:

      Centrist democrats moving Republican would show up as a progressive shift in both parties despite being overall a conservative shift for the country. For this reason, the charts would be more informative if the showed both positions of the parties, and the aggregate.

      Note that I’m doubtful that this is actually happening.

      • gbdub says:

        I’m not saying there was an overall conservative shift, I’m saying that people’s views probably held much the same, while immigration centrists could find themselves put off by the extreme rhetoric from the left post election, and stop identifying as Democrat.

        Probably not the largest effect, but it should probably be on Scott’s list.

  64. dalemannes says:

    I told […] conservatives not to vote Trump because he would cause a backlash that was worse than anything they might get from him.

    This is a weak argument. Don’t vote for what you want because there will be a backlash. Gee, should everyone vote for the opposite of what they want?

    • oppressedminority says:

      This is Scott’s actual advice:

      To Republicans: Vote for what you dont want to avoid a backlash against your side and create a backlash against your enemy. When Ds wins, there will be a backlash against Ds and everybody will want Ds out of power. And then all these anti-Ds will vote D to create an even bigger backlash.

      To Democrats: Vote for Democrats.

      • Aftagley says:

        You’re (deliberately?) misreading him: Trump is unique and is going to cause a massive backlash because the people who hate him REALLY hate him. Hate him enough to mobilize against him, hate him enough to make them care about issues they were previously ambivalent about.

        Scott isn’t addressing any average Republicans in this piece; most republicans don’t result in this level of backlash, but trump will.

        • ItsGiusto says:

          I agree that that’s what Scott is trying to say. I’m I’m not sure if it’s advice that people should take seriously. Every single Republican candidate is basically called Hitler during the time that they’re the face of the party, until a new one comes along. Do you remember how hated Bush Jr was, and John McCain was? This was then followed by them being treated like saints once others took their place. If you hang around lots of progressives, like Scott does and I do, they’re always going to be calling the latest Republican candidate the end of the world. And this is only getting worse with the rise of increasingly effective outrage machines in the form of the news and social media.

        • oppressedminority says:

          Thanks Democrat I’m sure your advice to Republicans is sincere and well-intentioned. I’m old enough to remember John McCain being compared to Hitler. And 4 years later, Mitt Romney was also compared to a nasty historical figure. You’ll never guess which one. (yes, you are correct, Hitler again).

          And in 2016, the Democrats used all their super-advanced Ivy league brain power and had supercomputers running the top AI software in the world to come up with the strategy to compare Trump to….. Hitler!!!

          so yeah, Trump is uniquely bad, blah blah blah. Thank you for your insight it’s truly mind blowing.

          • Cliff says:

            He’s right though. Democrats are always going to oppose Republicans, but opposition to Trump is much stronger than previous Republicans. Many Dems are now huge into politics, donating their time, etc.

          • Ghillie Dhu says:

            Just to be a gadfly, the law of diminishing returns applies to donations & political action as well. Perhaps Trump is actually enticing the Democrats to burn themselves out by overinvesting in the short term.

          • oppressedminority says:

            Yes but there’s really no point in voting for a RINO like Bush, McCain or Romney either. For Americans who (for obviously very racist and evil reasons) dont want their country “fundamentally transformed” and who dont want to become racial minorities, you have only one option and it’s Trump. There is no difference between a Clinton or a Bush/McCain/Romney.

          • gbdub says:

            I have sympathy for this point but it would come across better / clearly with a bit less FOX pundit snark.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Obama was also frequently compared to Hitler. I’m going to guess I could find a few comparisons of Hillary Clinton to Hitler if I cared to look. Some Republican hack wrote a book trying to make the case that liberalism is the same thing as fascism.

            The fact that it bothers you that someone somewhere compared McCain and Romney to Hitler demonstrates nothing whatsoever except maybe providing some insight into your personal biases.

          • Civilis says:

            Some Republican hack wrote a book trying to make the case that liberalism is the same thing as fascism.

            Do people ever bother to actually read books before commenting on them?

            [Added:] To emulate our host, this really deserves a more thoughtful response.

            I’m constantly astonished at the number of people that have no idea what their opponents arguments actually are, which makes civil discourse with them impossible. The ‘Republican hack’ that wrote the book in question is derided by the Trumpist right as a never-Trumper. One of the reasons he’s derided is that despite his opposition to Trump, he’s never going to be accepted on the left because of that book, which doesn’t say anything like ‘liberalism is the same as fascism’.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            @Civilis:

            Do people ever bother to actually read books before commenting on them?

            I didn’t read the book (it didn’t look very good). Here’s some quotes from the Amazon synopsis, though:

            Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism

            it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler’s Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.

            The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

            Based on that, I think I can be forgiven for –apparently mistakenly! — thinking the book might be about liberalism being in some sense the same as fascism. “Liberalism is the same as fascism” may be slightly too glib, but then I was trying to condense the message of the book to a six-word phrase.

            if you have a better six-word phrase, giving it would probably be a more useful contribution than this:

            The ‘Republican hack’ that wrote the book in question is derided by the Trumpist right as a never-Trumper.

            Goldberg’s opinion on Trump is not even slightly relevant to my argument (that conservatives also like to make Hitler comparisons).

          • Civilis says:

            Goldberg’s opinion on Trump is not even slightly relevant to my argument (that conservatives also like to make Hitler comparisons).

            Someone openly disagreeing with his party is unlikely to meet the definition of a political hack, which implies party above all.

            Based on that, I think I can be forgiven for –apparently mistakenly! — thinking the book might be about liberalism being in some sense the same as fascism. “Liberalism is the same as fascism” may be slightly too glib, but then I was trying to condense the message of the book to a six-word phrase.

            Reducing nuanced political opinions to bumper-sticker sized slogans to make simple, catchy arguments is one reason we’re in this mess. I have enough problems with people on the left reducing the opinions of the right to fascism (or even Nazism) to let a complicated, nuanced argument be simplified to ‘the right thinks the left is fascist’.

            “Liberalism is the same as fascism” shuts down the entire debate, by reducing both sides to opinions they don’t actually hold and aren’t up for rational discussion.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            @Civilis:

            Someone openly disagreeing with his party is unlikely to meet the definition of a political hack, which implies party above all.

            The question of whether or not Goldberg meets some exacting, rationalistic definition of “hack” does not interest me. If it makes you feel good, then assume I am appropriately chastised for mislabeling him as a “hack.” Either way, whether or not Goldberg qualifies as a “hack” is still not relevant to my argument.

            Reducing nuanced political opinions to bumper-sticker sized slogans to make simple, catchy arguments is one reason we’re in this mess.

            Reproducing Goldberg’s book word-for-word is not a reasonable approach. Obviously I must paraphrase it to some extent.

            Is whatever nuance I lose by paraphrasing relevant to the argument I am making? Let’s recall that the book is entitled “Liberal Fascism” and features a smiley face with a Hitler mustache on the cover, and that my argument is merely that conservatives also sometimes compare people to Hitler.

            So no — there is no reason to get into a lengthy discussion on the nuance of Goldberg’s book if I only need to mention it briefly in order to support the argument I’m making.

            “Liberalism is the same as fascism” shuts down the entire debate, by reducing both sides to opinions they don’t actually hold and aren’t up for rational discussion.

            But I didn’t argue that “liberalism is the same as fascism”, so it is clearly not me who is “shutting down the entire debate”. Instead, I argued that conservatives like to make Hitler comparisons too and used Goldberg’s book as an example.

            If you think it’s not fair to interpret Goldberg’s book as comparing liberals to Hitler, then you should probably get around to making that argument sooner or later.

            (You may also want to clue in the publisher, who clearly wants me to believe that the thesis of the book is “liberalism is the same as fascism”.)

          • mdet says:

            Thanks Democrat I’m sure your advice to Republicans is sincere and well-intentioned. I’m old enough to remember John McCain being compared to Hitler. And 4 years later, Mitt Romney was also compared to a nasty historical figure. You’ll never guess which one. (yes, you are correct, Hitler again) … so yeah, Trump is uniquely bad, blah blah blah.

            Yes, Democrats have regularly criticized Republican candidates for being idiots, bigots, etc. There may or may not have been more of it with Trump, but I won’t fault you for not trusting Democrats’ opinions.

            What made Trump different was that countless *Republicans* spent the campaign openly criticizing Trump, refusing to endorse him, discussing whether or not it was possible to restrain the “worst” parts of Trump once he was elected, etc. Nearly every newspaper that endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 declined to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, including many newspapers that hadn’t not-endorsed the Republican candidate in 30, 50, 100 years.

            Now, you also complain that the past three Republican presidential candidates before Trump were RINOs who were no better than the Clintons, so I imagine that the lack of endorsements for Trump doesn’t phase you. But note that Democratic candidates ALSO tend to be less partisan and ideological than many Democratic voters want, with many on the Left lamenting that electing Hillary would basically be the same as electing Bush. That’s because “Run / Endorse candidates that appeal to the median voter, rather than appealing to the extreme partisans and alienating everyone else” is general advice that applies to both sides. And indeed, Scott ends his post above by saying “People tend to overestimate the importance of turning out the base, and to underestimate the importance of not having everyone hate you” and explicitly linking to his blog post where he recommends this exact same avoid-backlash strategy for Democrats.

            So maybe don’t interpret Scott’s recommendation for avoiding backlash as if it applies to every Republican and no Democrats?

          • I don’t know what the arguments are in the recent book being discussed, but the claim that the First New Deal was in large part patterned on Mussolini’s fascism and that many of those involved were admirers of Mussolini is old and, I think, well supported. A little googling turned up a 1991 article on the subject from a Yale Law School professor.

        • psmith says:

          Well, sure, there’s not a lot of backlash against regular Republicans because they’re not meaningfully different from regular Democrats.

          Is there a nativist/populist politician that Scott thinks wouldn’t cause a backlash? Would be a bad idea to vote for purely on merits? If not, it’s mighty hard to read this line of argument as anything other than an attempt to enlist the meta level in object-level propaganda.