How to Lose an Election that You Should Win in a Fucking Landslide

by Daniel A. Kaufman

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To his credit, Joe Biden has been running a brilliant campaign…by not running one. Other than for a brief moment at the Democratic National Convention, one rarely ever sees or hears from the man, which is ideal for two reasons: first, Biden can barely put together a coherent sentence and comes across as a doddering old fool, which isn’t a great advertisement when one is trying to get elected to the most consequential position in the country; second – and relatedly – there is no reason to get in the way of the vulgar degenerate in the White House as he lurches from one disaster to the next, vomits and shits his way across every broadcast television and cable news station, and generally makes a horrible spectacle of himself at every possible moment. When you are running against a guy who jokes about banging models during a press briefing on a pandemic and you are barely articulate yourself, the best campaign is no campaign at all.

Now, readers will know that months before the 2016 election, I was predicting that Trump would win, despite the fact that virtually all of my liberal and progressive compatriots were convinced that this was impossible. I sensed a profound annoyance on the part of the public with the Democrats’ obsession with questions of identity (especially race and “trans”). I thought that we were seriously underestimating how unappealing a person Hillary Clinton really is. And I believed that we were failing to see just how much we had lost the sympathies of the people in what had until very recently been solidly Democratic, Labor-dominated parts of the country that also happened to be crucial to an Electoral College victory. I made bets to this effect and won quite a bit of money.

This time around (pre-Covid-19), I was concerned that history was going to repeat itself. A Democratic primary in which the loudest, most visible candidates belonged to the party’s social-justice and socialist wings was worrisome, especially given the cringey antics to which they seemed prone, as when Elizabeth Warren announced that a trans child would select her Education Secretary and described black trans women as the “backbone of the Democratic party.” (Fuck the 15 million dues-paying members of labor unions.) And while Joe Biden, the most moderate Democrat in the field (at least, of those who had any chance of winning), came out on top in the end, he had been so brutally savaged by his competitors that I was convinced he would be little more than a bloodied, reeling target for Trump, who could simply replay footage of Biden’s fellow Democrats calling him a racist, a sexual harasser, and all the rest ad infinitum. Once again, I warned my liberal and progressive friends not to take the election for granted…and proceeded to lay bets.

But then came Covid-19. Trump, as one would expect, not only mishandled the pandemic, but did so in a spectacular fashion, drawing constant attention to his mismanagement through daily press briefings, the watching of which felt like bizarre hallucinations rather than news.  Americans, already frightened by a dangerous virus that could be spread entirely asymptomatically, now found themselves terrorized on a daily basis by their President who made it abundantly clear not only that he would do nothing to protect them, but that he would do everything he could to put them in greater jeopardy and in as terrifying a manner as possible. Rather than bolster the confidence of the nation he is supposed to lead, he played the role of its greatest demoralizer.

I found myself beginning to think that Trump might actually lose. With the exception of the Cro-Magnon set, people really seemed to be going off the man. More importantly, there appeared to be an emerging and widespread understanding that “Fuck you!” votes are simply too dangerous in presidential elections; that at any time, a nation may find itself in a situation that requires serious, competent leadership, the absence of which may be catastrophic; and that no matter how stupid and annoying metro-hipster-Social Justice types may be (and they are and more so), electing a deranged grifter and demagogue to the presidency is not the way to deal with them. And I continued to feel this kind of guarded confidence as the civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd got underway and Trump mishandled it as badly as the coronavirus.

But as the rioting and looting and vandalizing of public monuments continued and as cities largely run by Democratic politicians “defunded” and dispirited their police forces, resulting in large spikes in violent crime, vandalism, and petty theft, my confidence began to erode. The Democrats needed to get out in front of this. They needed to reassure voters that they can be trusted with public order and safety; that they love the country no less than their Republican opponents; and that unlike Trump, they have the decency, good sense, and backbone to stand up to their own lunatic fringe. What we got instead was a Democratic mayor of a major city confessing his racism and begging forgiveness from an angry mob (who did not grant it); the cringe-inducing spectacle of Democratic congressmen and women donning African garb and kneeling on the floor of the capital; medical and health authorities assuring everyone that it’s just fine to spread Covid-19 at massive rallies, so long as it is in the name of anti-racism; and progressive intellectuals and academics justifying rioting and looting and vandalism as noble anti-racist exercises.

I find myself feeling the same way that I did prior to the electoral catastrophe of 2016, but with everything turned up to 11. The annoying, manipulative identity-soaked performances now have terrible, tangible consequences in the form of destroyed property and livelihoods and in blood. Trump’s histrionics about “burning cities” and “crime waves” are being made credible. The feckless cynicism of the Democrats is on full display for everyone to see. The relentless assault on public manners, common decency, and common sense in the name of a Higher Virtue appears unending.  And the worry that Joe Biden is too weak and confused to prevent the crazies from having influence within his administration seems truer with every week that passes.

This is how you lose an election, my friends. And the infuriating thing is that we should win it in a fucking landslide.

77 comments

  1. Afraid I’ll have to agree. The protests are legitimate; but they needed to be organized. not mobbed; they should begin in the morning and let everyone go home by dark; they should be be carefully monitored by the organizers to maintain pandemic protocols and also to better control the two disruptive elements, opportunistic smash and grab criminals on the one hand, and stupid ‘intelligent’ young people who spray-paint and burn, believing their in a revolution on the other. There is a revolution going on here, but it is Trump’s revolution; and police showing favoritism toward rightist militias tells us that we are on the verge of catastrophe if we do not participate and support practical political strategies and tactics, rather than pie-in-the-sky gesturing. Being on “the right side of history” is only satisfying if your side actually wins historically. It’s possible that there would be another revolution down the years, to overthrow Trump’s authoritarian plutocracy. Maybe those inheritors can come up with a stronger constitution, and develop a stronger sense of civic duty. Or maybe we’ll just fragment onto warring regions.

    It might be said that I am simply doom-mongering; but as I drove through Batavia NY this week-end, a decidedly Trumpist enclave, I realized the real problem is that, while it is correct to say that ‘Trump is not Hitler,’ a lot of his followers want to be Nazis; they want the regimentation of behavior and symbolism; they want that power and the ability to act violently against hated others; they want some powerful leader to reassure them that the very emptiness of their lives is the content of life itself. For them the universe was created as a battlefield – not between ‘good and evil,’ but between ‘us and them.’ They want a ‘final solution.’

    The mainstream media – including more left-leaning outlets – do not see it; they are now locked into a ‘Reality TV’ election mode, just as Trump wanted them. For all the fact-checking and punditry take-downs, they have normalized and legitimated this monster. They have provided him with the daily stage and broadcast he craves.

    The Democrats also largely do not see it. I was surprised and pleased to see this week that Pelosi finally ‘got it’ about the debates – they shouldn’t happen. Biden should not debate someone the Democrats have rightly indicted as a criminal. It doesn’t make sense, and it will be a pathetic shit-show, much as the ’16 debates were. But Biden’s people want to play ‘conventional wisdom’ with the least conventional president in history. It doesn’t make sense.

    I don’t know that Biden can’t pull it off. The Democratic Convention was beautifully done, and did what it needed to do. But despite being a nauseating wash of lies, fear and idol-worship, I suspect the Republican Convention did what it needed to do as well – reassure Republican voters on the fence that they could still trust Trump, despite his utter lack of any agenda other than his self-glorification. But in a fragmented culture filled with empty lives, that might just be enough.

    Biden should have come out of the convention swinging. But they’ve decided to play ‘conventional wisdom’ and start the major campaign after Labor Day – just like Clinton. While Trump has been campaigning since 1/20/17. It’s not too late. Biden is old, but he is a fighter; at some point he could still take the gloves off and swing away. And at some point he can – and I think he will – make a case to the working class in the Rust Belt that the Party as a whole hasn’t figured out yet. But I don’t see a ‘Blue Wave.’ On the contrary, I see a lot of ticket splitting among those fence-sitting Republicans who agree that Trump is no longer tolerable, but who want a Republican Congress to hold Biden in check. That’s bad for all of us, because a McConnell-led Republican Party is just another Trump waiting to strike; and a weakened Democratic Party would end up pushed to the left and losing the next off-year election. Basically The government would just wobble around without direction

    However, two good things come of a Biden presidency, even with a McConnell Congress: Repair of our relationships with our foreign allies, and leadership teams dealing with the Pandemic and the economy in the Executive. But the decision concerning the ‘future of America’ now seems indefinitely delayed.

    Given my age and health, that would not be a bad thing for me. At least I would not have to see America slip into it’s own peculiar brand of fascism under Leader Trump.

    I stopped posting at my own blog, no sign of it, because the kinds of writing I wanted to do there no longer made sense in Trump’s term as president. Reading Dan Tippens’ recent articles, I was concerned that such discussions would no longer make sense should Trump be re-elected. Under fascism, one doesn’t discuss the possibility of a more just society; one discusses survival of any sense of justice at all.

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  2. What you liberals need to understand (and this is coming from someone who always considered themselves liberal until the past year) is nobody gives a crap about how obnoxious Trump is. Who gives a AF if he makes vulgar jokes? When the democratic party is standing behind literal rioters and murderers? Making excuses for the riots, minimizing them, and even disbanding the police in some places?
    Democrats are trying to burn the whole damn country down. And that is why I’m voting Republican for the first time ever this November.
    Republicans ARE concerned about the riots. Democrats want to pretend they aren’t happening.
    That is my immediate concern. I don’t give a shit about anything else. And most of the other first time Trump voters feel the same.
    Every person who has defended themselves from the violent rioters, including that couple who protected their own house with guns, has been spun by the liberal media into racist terrorists. You guys think people can’t see the truth, but we can, and we don’t want to live in this world that liberals are trying to create. I do not want to live in a world where riots can break out at any moment, a world where if I defend myself I’m a racist, a world where as cities burn, liberals call it anti-racism and reee about getting rid of police.
    I really hope some of you guys will think about what you are doing. Y’all scaring the fuck out of people. You scared me into a damn Republican.

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    1. “histrionics”-30 people have died. This blatant lying you are doing is part of the reason I’m voting for Trump. the avergae liberal is doing exactly what you are doing-LYING! I live in one of those cities that was on fire! You can’t tell me it isn’t real 😦

      All you guys have to do is say “I support the protests and condemn the rioters” but for some reason you can’t.

      It’s fucking terrifying. With average liberals acting like this, I feel like I HAVE to vote for Trump.

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      1. I was talking about Trump‘s rhetoric before the pandemic and rioting. The article very clearly expresses serious concern about the current rioting and looting. I find this a very odd reading of my essay.

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    2. I’ve been mugged at gunpoint twice. And I don’t think anyone is more anti-rioting and looting than I am. I think these people should be arrested and dragged off to jail.

      But to suggest that Trump is not a menace to the country, in the wake of our experience during this pandemic and civil unrest strikes me as unserious. Two things can be true at once: Trump is a menace and must not be re-elected; the Democrats are craven and cowardly and are capitulating to their worst elements and are likely to blow the election.

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    3. “And that is why I’m voting Republican for the first time ever this November.” – Just turned 18? first time voter? Because this is very typical Trumpist rhetoric.

      I applaud your interest in books; your Incel commitments are a little worrying though.

      Maybe the world just isn’t as scary a place as you make it out to be. I was a child in Rochester during the riots of ’64. It seemed scary enough, and the media played it up big. But the world didn’t come to an end, and the United States continued to thrive.

      Much more dangerous is a ‘President’ who has no respect for law, no commitment to his oath to the Constitution, no concern for the people of America – *all* the people of America – he supposedly represents.

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  3. I’m already planning on how to spend the 50 dollars we bet. Seriously, I’ll ask you to give them to something we both consider to be a good cause.

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      1. If I win (and I still believe that Biden will win), I’ll donate the money to the Electric Agora, with the understanding you’ll try to recruit a first class woke contributor.

        My theory is that Clinton lost because, as you point out above, she was a terrible candidate, absolutely without charisma and that many people didn’t bother to vote because all the polls and the pundits said that she would win anyway. It just wasn’t believable that the United States of America would elect a vulgar gangster (more vulgar than the gangsters in the Godfather or even in Good Fellas) as president. This time, whether or not Biden is senile, no matter what Warren said about trans women, whether or not you like AOC, those people who didn’t bother to vote for Clinton are going to turn out and vote for Biden because Trump is horrid, incompetent and not worthy to be president of the worse banana republic around.

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  4. One particularly sad aspect of this is that democratic politicians are debasing themselves to curry favor with demographic (young people) that doesn’t even vote in large numbers.

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  5. I don’t understand the attitude of blame in this screed. There is a large minority of this country (a majority in your state) that will stick to our mob boss president regardless of his incompetence and malignity. The Democrats could have nominated Jesus effing Christ and he’d still be losing in Missouri. Yes, the riots are pushing the fearful back to the supposed “law and order” party which (now more obviously than ever) is neither. Where’s the blame for the people who are willing to abandon everything their “good book” supposedly tells them for fealty to a crime lord? Do they have no agency?

    Some of the rioting is *obviously* the result of right wing assholes showing up to make things worse and a few anarchist types who just like chaos. This is not the fault of Joe Biden or anyone associated with him. Democratic leadership in Madison has been quoted in the press expressing alarm about the consequences of the Kenosha riots for November.

    We evidently have, in many places in the country, police forces that are sympathetic to or even functionally allied with the gun toting conspiracy theory loons. The aftermath of *yet another* horrifying murder or maiming of an innocent black man by trigger happy police ends up working out nicely for them. When the shit flies at midnight, they’re going to make sure that it looks as bad as possible — let the rioters smash glass and burn stuff down for the cameras and it’ll help the top mobster (even if a bunch of that stuff is being done by the cops’ allies). “Nice community you’ve got here. Shame if something bad were to happen to it. Make sure our budget for military hardware keeps going up and no one tries to do anything – however feeble – about our bad actors and maybe some of your stores won’t get busted next time. Plus our union won’t campaign for your opponent.”

    Yes, some of the performative identity stuff is annoying to the non-woke and probably unsuccessful at getting votes anyway. But it’s a tiny sideshow to the mayhem being stoked by unaccountable militarized police murdering black people over and over again.

    To survey this scene of horror and criminality by people with power, money and guns, plus the ability, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, to block people from voting, and blaming some Democrats’ wearing kente cloth once for the outcome seems a little misguided.

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    1. I don’t understand the attitude of blame in this screed.

      = = =

      There is no “attitude of blame.” I want to win the election, and I’m explaining why I think the Democrats are in the process of losing it. And it should be clear to anyone from the piece that I consider Trump to be a serious menace.

      It might be worth considering your post here in light of the earlier one by jyvurentropy. When I contemplate both of them side by side — he says I am biased against Trump and you say I am biased against the Dems — it tells me I’ve got it just about right.

      Oh, and you are wrong at the beginning. Trump is very, very easy to beat.

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  6. “Biden can barely put together a coherent sentence and comes across as a doddering old fool”

    And Hilary Clinton was near death’s door. Endorsing currently hobbled rightwing talking points probably won’t win us an election either.

    “Elizabeth Warren announced that a trans child would select her Education Secretary and described black trans women as the ‘backbone of the Democratic party.’ (Fuck the 15 million dues-paying members of labor unions.)”

    Warren’s rating from the AFL-CIO is practically 100%. Biden’s more like 86%, among the lowest of the Democratic candidates (still solid enough). Her campaign also had a more robust, full-throated position on labor. He still obviously stands head-and-shoulders above Trump here, which is one of countless reasons why her and the AFL-CIO are enthusiastically endorsing him. Cherry-picking statements to stoke centrist grievance in a currently unified party probably won’t win us an election either:

    “And while Joe Biden, the most moderate Democrat in the field (at least, of those who had any chance of winning), came out on top in the end, he had been so brutally savaged by his competitors that I was convinced he would be little more than a bloodied, reeling target for Trump, who could simply replay footage of Biden’s fellow Democrats calling him a racist, a sexual harasser, and all the rest ad infinitum.”

    A pretty hysterical account of the primaries. Every election, primary candidates exchange body blows and people predictably complain of hobbling and a failure to protect the prospects of the candidate they favor most in terms of their politics and prospects of winning. The party is unified behind Biden. Relitigating the primaries and attempting to reinflame those divisions as opposed bolstering that unity probably won’t win us an election either.

    “But as the rioting and looting and vandalizing of public monuments continued and as cities largely run by Democratic politicians ‘defunded’ and dispirited their police forces, resulting in large spikes in violent crime, vandalism, and petty theft, my confidence began to erode.”

    Upticks in crime began before any of the few cities that have pursued defunding, and it’s taken place in place where this hasn’t been pursued, including in Republican-run cities. When we don’t have a good hold on why crime has been decreasing for the past two-decades and when we’re in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic throwing a hugely stressful confound into the question, baselessly shifting the blame for this to Democrats probably won’t win us an election either.

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    1. The reason Hillary Clinton lost in the EC is because she lost in former Labor strongholds. The Democrats’ electoral weakness — due to the concentration of their voters in major metro areas — is the ongoing result of their diminished support from the Labor rank and file that has been going on since the 1970’s.

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      1. And? How does that justify misleadingly stirring up “fuck you to labor” shit against the Sanders-Warren wing, the most staunchly pro-labor wing of the coalition? The party is unified. Far as I can tell, they get the importance of this election far more than you do right now.

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          1. Zac,
            My remark on Stonewall had nothing to do with whether it was a good or poor model of protest. My point was that in the decades since, gay men and lesbians adapted their social behavior more generally to the society around them – they assimilated into it; and I think in healthy ways – without losing the edge of their commitment. That’s in the nature of practical politics and real, abiding social change.

            I never said Biden didn’t or shouldn’t support trans rights; I said that it was a matter of emphasis and priorities. Again, practical politics should never play all or nothing, if the goals are winning elections and social progress. ‘All or nothing’ is regressive by nature; we could always lose and end up behind square one.

            I stand by my reading of Chicago ’68. I was a Nixon youth at 13; but by 1972 I was a Yippie. We thought Nixon was an aberration; he wasn’t. We thought if we could cause the right amount of chaos, the American people would wake up and revolt; that was nonsense. We didn’t vote – and found ourselves without a real voice by 1974. All we ended up doing was glorifying cynicism – and no one does cynicism better than the right-wing of the Republican Party.

            I vomited it all up as a punk-rocker and became an Anarchist. I didn’t vote, I thought it was all a joke. But by the mid-’80s, after so many ex-hippies and even ex-Yippies voted for Reagan, and after listening to the endless whine of “consensus socialism” debates yet watching other Anarchists jockey for position individually while disregarding social norms, it became apparent that, despite the wide variance in theories, there was really no way to distinguish differences of behaviors or attitudes between Anarchists and Libertarians – both of whom were equally ineffective politically. I had to rethink my whole political perspective. By 1990 I had become, as I remain today, a Deweyan social democrat with the hope for a renewal of a New Deal Democratic Party. What Democrats truly need is not a Bernie nor a Biden, but a new FDR, a savvy pragmatist and inspired rhetorician, who would undoubtedly disappoint idealists, but capable of effecting real, enduring social and political change.

            While it is true I have gone somewhat afield from your comments, I am not “projecting” upon you. I am offering counter-narratives to suggest a different way of seeing the issues you raise. Elizabeth Warren is a great senator and would have made a good president; but her decision to tack left of Bernie was disastrous, She probably would have torn Trump to shreds in debate; but her decision to do the same to Bloomberg was a mistake, and probably cost some of his donation dollars – perhaps millions. And the puritan notion that Democrats shouldn’t accept donations from millionaires is utterly bogus. For one thing, that doesn’t stop the Republicans from doing so; for another, a politician can accept aid and even service from the rich without losing his or her political identity; Negotiation and compromise are not surrender if they are done well and smartly. At any rate, the point is that her campaign just proved that Warren wasn’t ‘the woman of the hour;’ and we need her in the Senate anyway.

            Politics isn’t a horse-race; in a healthy representative democracy, there is no finish line. Sadly, Trump and his fans want there to be one; they want Trump to have already crossed it. That’s why, whatever our differences, we have to work together to win the hearts of Americans in the majority – preferably the vast majority – of Electoral College precincts. I think many think that if we lose, there would be another chance, and normally that would be the case. With Trump, I’m not so sure. Why take the chance?

            I’m to the left of Dan; but I agree that the notion of pushing the whole of the Party to the left risks losing moderates – among independents, fence-sitting Republicans, and even perhaps some Democrats. Being a ‘big tent’ means that we aren’t ideologically pure. The Republicans have such purity now – see what they are doing with it. It’s not anything I look for anymore.

            If you disagree with Dan or myself, or some other Democrat or Biden supporter – say, Lincoln Project Republicans – say, ‘I disagree, give your reasons as flatly and non-aggressively as possible, then let it go. Why quarrel? we’re in this together.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Zac,
          I think it’s important not to miss the bigger pictures here. For one thing, the unions were largely broken by Reagan decades ago. They’re still important, but no longer decisive.

          But it the plain fact is that one cannot appeal to American workers and to Woke Culture equally, at the same time. Practical politics requires prioritization. Trans-Woke culture represents probably less than a percent of the population; it has fascinated and overwhelmed the media, but it is not anything working people give a damn about.

          Gay rights were won over a long time through difficult effort, aided, painfully, by the HIV/ Aids crisis. It is doubtful that the rioters at Stonewall back when, pulled by magical telephone booth to the present day, would recognize an America where gay marriage is possible; indeed, it is doubtful that such an America is what they wanted. Along the way, gays and lesbians had to alter their own attitudes and behaviors in order to make ‘coming out’ safe enough that the phenomenon appeared so wide-spread that working people had to accept that their sons and daughters would speak out and ask to be counted. There just isn’t any similar pathway for trans-Woke culture. It’s ultimate success would be increase in tolerance; but this isn’t achievable by demanding special status. At any rate, there just isn’t enough sons and daughters to persuade their working parents to agree to such demands.

          So the practical appeal should be to support increased tolerance, while emphasizing commitment to working people and their culture. I wrote that Trump’s people “want to be Nazis” (not that they are Nazis); that is, they are looking for a regimented focus for their angst and frustration. This is what has to be deflated, disempowered, yet also mollified. They have to be persuaded that the inclusivity of a representative democracy (which is what they really resent) need not threaten them or their chosen communities. The easiest way to do this has always been through offering a labor-intensive economic agenda. This was somewhat modified by de-industrialization and Reaganomics, which pole-axed the hope of job-security in favor of small-business initiatives; now neither Party seems to offer job-security, even though this is what American workers want most of all. At any rate, the Republicans offer jobs, but can’t deliver; the Democrats have difficulty communicating their ability to create jobs, even though this is obvious on analysis. Perhaps it’s because the jobs they offer, such as in “Green New Deal” programs, seem obscure and unfamiliar; as did the emphasis on high tech employment back in 2009.

          However, back to the point: a merger between Civil Rights activism and working class interests came close to realization by the end of the ’70s; de-industrialization wiped it away. A merger between working class culture and Woke culture is hardly even imaginable; yet Progressives keep chasing it down Alice’s rabbit-hole. And yes, unfortunately, there is a danger of a Bernie blow-back:

          ““A choice between Biden and Trump is no choice at all,” said Nick Brana, 31, national coordinator of the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP), which has nearly 100,000 members. “The Democrats and Republicans have made it clear that they will always choose profits over people. So we’re going to replace them.”” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/29/demexit-peoples-convention-leftwing-alternative-democrats-republicans While the article later quotes Bernie organizer Nina Turner: “Turner, a former Ohio state senator, does not believe there will be a significant leftwing rebellion against Biden in this year’s election. “The majority of progressives, including ‘Berniecrats’, voted for Secretary Clinton in 2016 and I see that same thing happening in 2020,”” This luke-warm ‘gosh, if we have to,’ attitude is not energizing. Talk like this may be legitimate – *after* this election, after the Trump dragon has been driven from its cave. Right now all it does is persuade people not to vote. As does the stupid hijacking of peaceful protests into blazing riots.

          When the hippies rioted in Chicago, 1968, they did so under the bizarre illusion that the Democratic Party could not lose, and thus needed a violent wake-up call to reform the government. Hubert Humphrey – the only real socialist to ever run for the presidency (really! read his books!) – lost to Richard Nixon, thus initiating the march to triumph for the right-wing of the Republican Party.

          Never try to out-wit history; it always sneaks around and kicks us in the ass. Better to improve incrementally and reform as possible, then to lose everything in a mad dash for Utopia.

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          1. Hullo, EJ

            Yeah, unions have been broken for a while, but I’m not clear on how that changes anything I’ve said. Does that mean it’s accurate or politically wise to say Warren is even implicitly sending “fuck you’s” to unions? Is there point of trying to drub up intra-party animosity over a forgotten quote from a candidate whose voters have broken for Biden at 99%? If you think that showing support for trans people is automatically that kind of nose-thumbing deal-breaker, then I regret to inform you that Biden has a page on his website giving his support of trans rights. But then I don’t think people blowing this or cherry-picked quotes out of context proves some equal and irreconcilable appeal to trans and workers. For those paying attention, appeals to workers and Americans generally dominated the various candidates’ platforms and speeches. For those not paying attention, I’d wager that the vast majority have either forgot or never heard this random Warren quote. He could win. He could lose. I don’t see his position on trans rights being the lynchpin. Dan might want to keep bringing it up, but that’s his hobby horse, not mine.

            As for the other commentary, I’m also a little at a loss to how you see it connecting to my posts. I feel projected upon. OK, Stonewall isn’t a sustainable model for protest. My impression of it is that it was a spontaneous and justifiable response to police abuse and exploitation at gay bays in NYC. I don’t think it was ever intended to be a sustainable model for protest. I certainly agree that looting and vandalism is counterproductive and I’m all about gradual sober-minded change. I also just realize how easy it is warning against rightward spin can end up just being rightward spin and how that can seep into the national consciousness and the historical memory. I’d point to your characterization of the Chicago ’68 riot as a the fault of the protesters, for instance. I made a handful of points about what I considered unproductive or poorly put in this essay. I’d rather those be addressed more directly than being used as a springboard to bemoan “the dismal tide”.

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          2. I’m not aware that the hippies rioted in Chicago in 1968. What I recall is a police riot, ferocious police repression against largely peaceful, albeit militant, demonstrations. Sure, maybe a couple of kids threw rocks at the cops or broke a window, but that’s not a riot. I’ve seen real riots and they’re full of looting, arson and massive vandalism.
            I suggest Norman Mailer’s book, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, about what happened there.

            What the hippies were protesting about was the war in Vietnam. Humphrey, socialist or not, had been LBJ’s vice president and LBJ had escalated the war and had lied and lied and lied about what was going on there. Humphrey had never withdrawn his unconditional support for LBJ’s war policies.

            So here we have a bunch of kids who will soon be drafted and sent to fight and die in a senseless, bloody and completely unjustifiable war, full of war crimes committed by the U.S. (napalm, My Lai, etc.). Humphrey for them means Viet Nam and they’ve seen high school or college classmates drafted and killed in that pointless conflict.
            Was Nixon worse about Viet Nam than Humphrey? Who knows? LBJ lied about Viet Nam as much as Nixon did and there is absolutely no reason to see Humphrey as different than LBJ.

            Besides that, Robert Kennedy, a peace candidate and a genuinely charismatic figure, had been assassinated just a few months before. So the kids were (I wasn’t there, but I have friends who were) angry and justifiably angry at the Democratic Party establishment, which Humphrey personified.

            Sometimes there’s a right to scream.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. s. wallerstein,
            That’s the standard common narrative, and there is some truth in it. Mayor Richard Daley was a scumbag and approved police strategies and tactics that were bound to lead to and enact violence. However, one major organizing party of the protest was the Youth International Party (Yippie) and they could very well have coined the phrase “our brand is chaos” – we weren’t that interested in “peace and love.” “Jerry Rubin told a friend “This is fantastic and it’s only Sunday night. They might declare martial law in this town.”” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Democratic_National_Convention_protest_activity – From their perspective, the riots were street theater and in themselves made a revolutionary case.

            Hubert Humphrey’s defense of Johnson’s Vietnam policy was, sadly, really an act of cowardice: Johnson threatened to destroy Humphrey if he made public his own objections to that policy. And Johnson still carried considerable weight in the Party nationally, especially access to donor cash. However, besides being a socialist, it should be remembered that Humphrey had long been a staunch advocate of Civil Rights, a defender of union labor, who worked tirelessly for de-nuclearization and, despite early antii-communist activism, reduction of Cold War tensions. Would he have been better than Richard Nixon? Is that even a question? But the whole point of the protestors in Chicago was not only to express justifiable anger over the war; it was to make the revolutionary case that the Democratic Party was no better than the Republicans, but under the assumption that the Democratic Party would remain in the White House. Why protest at “the Democratic Party establishment” otherwise – they didn’t protest at the Republican Convention! And who won the election? It may have been good street theater; it was bad politics; and that remains true in the protest difficulties we face today. Spray painting graffiti is not politics; burning cars win no votes. The revolutionary dream of the Yippies remains a dream, and eventually one awakens and gets back to real work. When Abbie Hoffman finally came out of hiding, he did so to participate in fairly mainstream environmentalist activism in regional politics.

            The choice facing any protestor of an evident injustice, to scream, or to change things. The latter requires politics, persuasion, compromise. The former only requires a healthy set of lungs – and acceptance of the inevitable realization that people can actually choose to stop listening.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. What you say is true, but you’re talking from the perspective of 52 years later and from the viewpoint of someone who I calculate is in their 60’s.

            No one at age 18 or 20 makes the kind of political calculations that you and I can make in our old age (I’m 74). To everything there is a season and the season for protests (which weren’t really riots) is being young. Let me point out that LBJ ran as the peace candidate against the warmonger Goldwater and that 1964 was the first election that people could vote at age 18 (before that it was 21), so many of the kids at Chicago had voted for Johnson who promised peace and delivered war. And as you point out, Humphrey was incapable of breaking with LBJ, whatever his intimate feelings: politics is about public discourse, not about your intimate thoughts.

            So we (although I wasn’t there) didn’t calculate the consequences of our actions and that’s how people are at that age. In fact, I’m a bit suspicious of young people who over-calculate the consequences of their actions. From what you say above, you went through your wild youth and that’s part of the learning experience that goes into making you the older, but wiser person who you now are. There’s a certain value in learning from experience, instead of blindly copying what your parents tell you to do, so more power to the kids in Chicago in 1968.

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          5. I wrote my last reply very rapidly while waiting for a woman friend who was late. So let me elaborate a bit.

            There are several values in question here. One is the right of kids who are going to be drafted and sent off to be killed in an unjust war to scream and hopefully, to learn from their days of screaming that politics is not about screaming.
            Another is the value of electing a good president.

            1968 was not 2020. Nixon was not Trump and still less Hitler or a proto-fascist. Humphrey was not Martin Luther King or FDR: although Humphrey may have had decent convictions, he supported an unjust imperialist war for 4 years as LBJ’s vice president. He seems to have been a weak man, without political courage. And if the U.S. did not rule the world, Humphrey could have been tried as an accomplice to war crimes.

            I’ve always believed that Nixon was no worse than anyone else: he just got caught. If you look at the Checkers speech (available in Youtube), you’ll see that Nixon simply was not a good liar: he did not have full control of his facial expressions unlike skillful liars such as Obama or Reagan. Nixon once went to argue with protest demonstrators in the middle of the night: Would Trump have done that? Would Reagan have done that? Would Clinton have done that? Would Obama have done that? Only someone who has a commitment to reasoning would have done that.

            Nixon did some bad things: we all know that. He also ended the draft, pulled the U.S. troops out of Viet Nam, and reached out to China. So the Nixon administration was not a total disaster. He did not destroy the welfare state as Reagan and Clinton did. By the way, I have not never been a Republican or voted for the right either in the U.S. or here in Chile. I’m solidly on the left.

            2020 is not 1968 and Trump is a total disaster. That is, the importance of beating Trump today trumps the right of kids (and adults) to engage in crazy protest movements, to scream and to scare middle class voters into voting Republican, even if those crazy protest movements are the first or second step in a long journey towards wisdom.

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          6. s. Wallerstein,
            a reasonable response. One correction, not a ‘gotcha’ but certainly with some irony attached: The first year for voting at age 18 was 1972. The Amendment was signed by Nixon, who supported it because he believed that the majority of 18-21 year olds would vote for him – and he was right, and the Dems who viewed the Amendment with the rose-colored glasses of a left-leaning ’60s’ “Youth Rebellion,” sucker-punched themselves again.

            Personally, even back then I didn’t think it was a good idea; but of course I was in a phase where I didn’t think there were any good ideas in American politics. Now I’m more experienced – and I still don’t think it’s a good idea. What do kids know at 18? Back then I was horny, high, and haughty. But I could tell the difference between Duane Allman’s guitar playing and that of Dickey Betts.

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          7. I just replied to you above, but no, kids 18 could vote in 1964. I know because I turned 18 in 1964. Unless that was just in some states, such as New Jersey where I lived.

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          8. EJ,

            “While it is true I have gone somewhat afield from your comments, I am not ‘projecting’ upon you. I am offering counter-narratives to suggest a different way of seeing the issues you raise.”

            I appreciate your personal story. It’s interesting and illuminating. I’m sympathetic to Dewey, though frankly, I’ve imbibed most of him ingested through the Putnams. That said, I’m still unclear about how you see a good deal of your post responding to me. You say it’s a counter-narrative to my post, but what do you see as my narrative here? I’m not endorsing riots and I’m not poo-pooing gradualist politics. I took specific issue with several points in Dan’s essay. You may be sympathetic to the overall sentiment of Dan’s post, but riffing on an overall sentiment isn’t necessarily a response to those counter-points.

            “I never said Biden didn’t or shouldn’t support trans rights; I said that it was a matter of emphasis and priorities. Again, practical politics should never play all or nothing, if the goals are winning elections and social progress. ‘All or nothing’ is regressive by nature; we could always lose and end up behind square one.”

            Then it’s good that the supposedly all-or-nothing candidates have gone all-in for Biden.

            “I stand by my reading of Chicago ’68.”

            I’m cool standing by the Wright Report and ultra-radical Walter Cronkite. It can still be true that the riots redounded against the cause of the protesters even if the primary instigators and worst actors were the police. That didn’t happen earlier this year, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening indefinitely. This isn’t because I think Chicago ’68 is the true course of history though. It’s because I’m not so sure that history has a course.

            “Elizabeth Warren is a great senator and would have made a good president; but her decision to tack left of Bernie was disastrous, She probably would have torn Trump to shreds in debate; but her decision to do the same to Bloomberg was a mistake, and probably cost some of his donation dollars – perhaps millions. And the puritan notion that Democrats shouldn’t accept donations from millionaires is utterly bogus.”

            Warren didn’t tack left of Bernie. She tried to position herself as the coalition consensus candidate tacking right of him and left of the other candidates, which didn’t prove durable, since the hardline left coalesced around Bernie and the remaining vote ended their flirtation with her because they were spooked by the electoral viability of MFA. We can quibble about whatever other minutia of her failed campaign, but I’m not sure there’s a lot of profit in it. Is she a “fuck you to labor” candidate? No. Is that kind of divisive accusation at all helpful right now? No. That’s needlessly spitting in the eye of people in your own coalition who’ve shown the grace to hunker down and compromise for the greater good. You can preach to us about compromise, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think we understand its importance.

            “I’m to the left of Dan; but I agree that the notion of pushing the whole of the Party to the left risks losing moderates – among independents, fence-sitting Republicans, and even perhaps some Democrats. Being a ‘big tent’ means that we aren’t ideologically pure. The Republicans have such purity now – see what they are doing with it. It’s not anything I look for anymore.”

            Well, the party has already been pushed to the left. That’s clear from Biden’s platform. Most voters probably don’t know this because most people don’t follow politics all that closely, because they’re judging Biden largely based off his political persona rather than an itemization of his latest positions, and because the center is always fluid. As is, I’m deeply tired of a two-dimensional breakdown of the political spectrum based off where people happened to sit during the French Revolution. It leads to moments like Dan in the comments saying basically, “We’ll I’ve got this guy to the left of me, and this guy to the right, so I must be Goldilocks.” That’s the how the bears end up eating you. I mean, we can look at this all at a generic left-right level and say, we have to be center, because Republicans are just right and “ideologically pure” but that just drowns out so much. Are they ideologically pure? I think we’ve witnessed the hallowing out of ideology among the Republicans. There are zombie reflexes and some characteristic posturing, but they essentially abandoned a platform in favor of Trump after he spent the last four years showing how quickly they’re willing to abandon whatever principle they claimed to uphold. This is about will to power at this point, and that will is primarily a shrinking but still cohesive demographic.

            “If you disagree with Dan or myself, or some other Democrat or Biden supporter – say, Lincoln Project Republicans – say, ‘I disagree, give your reasons as flatly and non-aggressively as possible, then let it go. Why quarrel? we’re in this together.”

            Why are you telling this to me? I’m not the one who needlessly started a quarrel where there was none. I’m fine with the Lincoln Project et al. doing their thing. Hopefully it helps. This essay made some points I didn’t see being helpful at all, so I made my point. Whatever happened at Stonewall won’t change that.

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          9. s. Wallerstein,
            “An amendment to a bill extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (H.R. 4249) expanded the right to vote in national, state, and local elections to citizens 18 years and older. *Previously, designating the voting age was the jurisdiction of the individual states.* Despite signing the bill (P.L. 91-285) in June 1970, President Richard Nixon issued a statement questioning the constitutionality of the amendment, saying, “Although I strongly favor the 18-year-old vote, I believe—along with most of the Nation’s leading constitutional scholars—that Congress has no power to enact it by simple statute, but rather it requires a constitutional amendment.” This set the stage for a review by the Justice Department and a decision by the United States Supreme Court. In August 1970, the Supreme Court, in Oregon v. Mitchell, was asked to review the voting age provisions of the law. The Court decided that the law was valid for federal elections, but not at state and local levels. To avoid the complicated and costly voting procedure established by the Court’s decision—separate elections for national and state and local contests for most states—Congress scrambled to pass a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age. The proposed 26th Amendment passed the House and Senate in the spring of 1971 and was ratified by the states on July 1, 1971.” https://history.house.gov/Records-and-Research/Listing/c_016/ * New York, where I was raised, was a 21 year old state.

            Also: “I’ve always believed that Nixon was no worse than anyone else: he just got caught.” I just don’t buy political cynicism anymore. Politicians are people, and their ethical standards and behaviors vary. If we believe all politicians are monsters, then however unwittingly, we help open politics to real monsters. And that, by the way, is for me a key explanation for Donald Trump’s coming to power: As himself a pathological cynic (he does what he does because he thinks all presidents did it and got away with it), he has benefitted from a cynicism that has spread and deepened since the ’50s, profoundly and poisonously. I had a teacher in high school who remarked that regardless of how corrupt the local government was, regardless of the occasional corruption of even national politicians, the government as a whole had long been trusted to enact policies, no matter how mistaken, that it’s leaders believe were in the national policy. (I think thuis really started with Teddy Roosevelt). But the ’60s and Nixon changed all that. Since then the one thing the left and the right seem to agree on is how corrupt the national government is. Well, that’s how Trump makes his case – ‘everyone’s corrupt, so you might as well vote for the one who admits it.’ This is all just wrong. If we cannot have leadership that sees itself as acting in the general best interest, then representative democracy is a waste of time – Trump’s other case, which he will make more clear in his second, third, or fourth term (according to his fans.) We have to be able to approach politics with pragmatism but also with commitment, to be able to judge the difference between degrees of misjudgment. We have to find some way to rebuild trust in the very notion of government again, or all is lost. And the opposite of representative government, in as crowded and complex a world in which we live, is not anarchy, but autocracy.

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          10. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “cynic”, but I use the word to refer to a “hard-nosed skepticism” about people’s motives and honesty and yes, in that sense, I’m a cynic.

            No, I don’t believe that all politicians are alike, but I tend not to believe in them. Do you want me to list the lies of the U.S. presidents beginning with JFK (the first president I was politically aware of)? I haven’t even lived in the U.S. since 1977, but I am aware of how intellectually dishonest they tend to be. Could any of us have an intelligent and honest conversation about politics and about ourselves of the kind you and I are having now with any of them?

            Let´s look at it this way. If a high school kid will lie to get a minimum wage job frying burgers at McDonald’s, it seems evident that people will lie and lie and lie to get the most powerful and prestigious job in the world, President of the U.S.

            That being said, I am quite able to distinguish Barack Obama from Donald Trump politically, ethically, spiritually and intellectually. Trump is the worst U.S. President in my lifetime.

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          11. Zac,
            well, all right, we’ll just have to disagree on a number of points. I do think Warren tacked to the left of Bernie; and although Biden’s agenda was tilted left-ward, I think voter’s are going to trust him to walk a middle-road. Obama was painted as a radical by the Republicans, but it didn’t work; by 2012 it was obvious to everyone (outside of the Fox bubble) that he was middle-of-the-road. That was a mild disappointment to me; but events have since played out that, as the first African American President, he probably made the right choice. I work with a number of right-wind; and they haven’t yet forgiven history for Obama’s race – Trump isn’t the only one who’s obsessed with Obama. How much worse would this be if he had been more to the left than he was?

            I went on as long as I did in my responses, because I’m trying to bring all my scattered thoughts on this choatic and dangerous moment together. Sorry for using your comments as a sounding board, but also thank you for provoking this from me.

            ““If you disagree with Dan or myself, or some other Democrat or Biden supporter – say, Lincoln Project Republicans – say, ‘I disagree, give your reasons as flatly and non-aggressively as possible, then let it go. Why quarrel? we’re in this together.”

            Why are you telling this to me?”

            Well, yes, on review it’s really a general comment and not very strongly phrased. I’m used to Dan’s occasional caustic edge, and avoid nit-picking, because his general arguments are so strong. His argument here is still on the money; and I fear that over-sensitivity to side-remarks will only lead to misunderstanding. .

            That said, I think that some of the side-remarks in your own response make important points worth thinking about.

            Liked by 1 person

          12. EJ:
            “I went on as long as I did in my responses, because I’m trying to bring all my scattered thoughts on this choatic and dangerous moment together. Sorry for using your comments as a sounding board, but also thank you for provoking this from me.”

            I see. I was thrown because I was unsure of the context, how I fit into the conversation. Appreciate the clarification.

            “Obama was painted as a radical by the Republicans, but it didn’t work; by 2012 it was obvious to everyone (outside of the Fox bubble) that he was middle-of-the-road. That was a mild disappointment to me; but events have since played out that, as the first African American President, he probably made the right choice. I work with a number of right-wind; and they haven’t yet forgiven history for Obama’s race – Trump isn’t the only one who’s obsessed with Obama. How much worse would this be if he had been more to the left than he was?”

            He should’ve hired Bill Ayers as his chief of staff.

            “That said, I think that some of the side-remarks in your own response make important points worth thinking about.”

            Thanks. I think your points about the curdling of the sixties into cynicism are worth heeding, though Wallerstein may be right that there will always be a heedless element to the younger and more motivated actors in upheavals like this. Relevant to both, one of my favorite historical documents of the period would have to be Chris Marker’s A Grin Without A Cat.

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  7. gods it’s kind of fascinating reading educated people being utterly clueless about why they lost in 2016 and in 2020. My elderly libertarian-republican mother predicted Trump at the republican debates! She said “he sounds like a normal person; people are sick of politicians..” Daniel you and Brian Leiter rant about Trump, but people either love him as a person or don’t care how he talks because 1) the economy was good and they trust him to make it good again 2) we’re not in a foreign war/nation building 3) Black and Hispanic people are prospering financially 3) Bostock delivered by a conservative court secured LGBT rights at the workplace 4) Trump supports Title 9 being restricted to natal women. 5) Coronavirus : it’s wordwide, regular people blame China not Trump. 6) Working class people’s incomes are risiing under Trump, he is trying to bring back manufacturing from China. 7) the riots and destruction scare the pants of normal people.

    I’m voting for Trump, happy to. The old republican party and democratic party are the same; in league to big business. Bezos and Gates are their masters. the current republican party is now a populist party. If centrists Democrats were smart they’d join and shape the new party. I’m an Independent. I don’t get my identity from a tribal/party affiliation. You all need to wake up. The world has changed. If the Democrats had really wanted to win they would have Mark Cuban as a candidate…Regular people hate and despise politicians

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    1. False presentation, Meredith; unpersuasive to anyone who knows history and facts.

      Just as a side comment, forget ‘racist’ or ‘ignorant’ or ‘deplorable;’ is it just not possible for Trumpists to face reality or speak about it honestly?

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    2. Some thoughts on your points, following your order.

      1) We’re in the worst recession since The Great Depression. This is due to COVID, and exacerbated by Trump’s disastrous response to COVID. See: our hugely divergent per-capita death rates as compared to other first world countries. But hey, even if you don’t believe he made things worse, tell me this. What’s his plan to address COVID? If he’s going to save the economy, supposedly he has one. He needs one.

      2) It’s only a matter of luck that we’re not currently in a war with Iran during a global pandemic. You aren’t voting to avoid foreign wars. You’re voting to continue rolling the dice.

      3) We’re in the worst recession since The Great Depression and Black and Hispanic communities are being hit harder by COVID.

      uhhhh, also 3) Yes, I’m sure there are a lot of Bostock voters.

      4) Well, I’m worried about these Bostock voters and these Title IX voters clashing.

      5) Last I checked, Trump has somewhere around 60% disapproval on his response to COVID. If “regular” people doesn’t mean most people, just the people who surround and agree with you, well, not interested. In the French Revolution they also had a lot of creative ways of arguing that they were speaking for the general will, even if that will didn’t constitute the actual sentiments of most of the nation.

      6) We’re in the worst recession since The Great Depression. How has he helped our manufacturing? Giving a massive tax cut to corporations, millionaires, and billionaires? Performative populism, confirmed cronyism.

      7) Trump certainly thinks that disorder benefits him, and he’ll continue to stoke disorder as long as he can. Most people get that he’s not a figure of stability and will never bring stability, but I guess it is a novel campaign line to argue “Elect me so that I can stop the things that happened under my watch and that I’ve proven totally incapable of addressing under my watch.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Covid and ‘disorder’. We were told to wear masks and socially distance. Since May progressives have been engaging in mass rallies and protests during a global pandemic. Democratic candidates encouraged this. And now anarchism and violence.

    Normal people blame the progressives and Democrats and the Republicans will happily replay all the video of the mass rallies and ‘Death to America’ crowd chants before election day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No.

      Look, as I said in the essay, I’ve laid bets with a number of people that Trump is going to win the election. I did the same prior to 2016. So I’m the wrong person to take this up with.

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  9. There is always a need for people to interpret election outcomes based on their ideological sympathies. Trump didn’t beat Clinton due to any magical qualities, Clinton simply ran a shit campaign. As several memoirs describe instead of reaching out to swing voters in flyover states, she went after middle class republicans. Unfortunately her campaign team didn’t understand the extent to which the media had fractured along partisan loyalties. Most Republicans were now consuming their view of the world from Fox and even more batshit-crazy sources. This caused resentment among working class voters and had the effect that in the Mideast there was enough of a swing towards Trump to win the election via the Electoral College.

    Biden will win or fail depending on how he deals with those same swing voters. The fact that Biden won the primaries by winning over predominantly working class counties that Sanders won in 2016 is encouraging. It shows that working class voters are after stability and are sick and tired of Trump’s antics. Things might have been funny when deranged liberals were acting like hysterical children, but now the state of the country is too dire to leave it’s future to a simple minded clown. The US is economically a disaster area. Too much unemployment, a homeless crisis looming, infrastructure falling apart, endless riots. If Biden can convince swing voters in flyover states that he represents economic stability he will win them over.

    The real problem is if Biden thinks going rightward is going to net him a lot of conservatives at the expense of the left of his party. Unfortunately the epistemic bubble of most conservatives will not allow Biden to be presented as anything else as some Stalin/Mao hybrid. As for the hysteria of SJWS, it’s only in academia and social media that this SJW freakshow takes centre stage. Most people know nothing about it nor care. I suggest US citizens should be a lot more concerned about the right-wing authoritarian attempts attacking basic civil liberties such this https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/appeals-court-temporarily-halts-protections-journalists-legal-observers/story?id=72688755

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amazon, Apple etc all the big corporations support the Democratic party and BLM. As Brian Leiter rightly put it, they do this so there that no real systemic change is instituted. Are any Democratic candidates working on making these mega corporations: Walmart, Amazon pay real substantial taxes? Are they working on making sure they are unionized? That Look at the horrible plight of Amazon warehouse workers during Covid. What are their plans to have Apple and other corps stop manufacturing in China and bring these jobs to the U.S.?

    And fyi my libertarian-Republican mother was ready to vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016, me too.
    I bet plenty of working people would have voted for him as well.

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    1. Wow, I truly applaud your key-word-search and patch-work approach to melding rhetoric you think might actually prove appealing here. Leiter, Bernie, gargle about corporations – you almost sound as if you’re informed enough to have something to say here. Clever.

      Unfortunately, you’ve already posted comments here, Meredity (or whatever). So your new or ongoing efforts will be judged informed by those, and remain unpersuasive accordingly.

      BTW, have taken up that bet with Zac? would love to know how that turns out!

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  11. Do we judge sincerity by our own insincerity Mr. Winner? You descend to the ad hominem/feminam as you have no argument. This old lawyer and 2nd Wave feminist knows.Trump and Bernie had similar trade plans. There were and are popular as they remain outsiders, hated by both party regulars. Regular people today hate politicians – this is why Hillary lost and Biden will loose. Rinse and repeat
    Mark Cuban would have been a winning choice for the Democrats.

    As for Zac; Zac! I happen to be an Edomite Princess, I have a fortune of 20 million euros standing in my bank account in my country but unable to access it. If you’re willing to advance me 10,000 euro I will be able to secure it and I will share half of my 20 million with you. Just email me here with your paypal ready for the details!

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    1. You really shouldn’t have included that remark to Zac; it goes to strengthening the suspicion that informed my comments to you (and to jyvurentropy), which is that I don’t think liberals, or even traditional conservatives, can have reasonable discussions on real issues with Trumpists at this point. What that means for public discourse going forward, I have no idea.

      I wasn’t criticizing you, but your rhetoric, which I consider lacking substance and manipulative. (I did applaud it as clever, however.) But perhaps since your language seems to be an obscuring cloud of unfounded charges, false “facts,” confused references and contradictory positions, perhaps my remarks have been ad hominem/feminam after all, since your rhetoric is all we can know of you. However I point out that I have not been insincere – I sincerely believe that further discussion with you would be a waste of my time. And probably of yours as well. After all, you have your own reality, and you are welcome to it.

      However, be well, remember to mask to reduce the chance of Covid, and say hello to your socialist-supporting libertarian-Republican grandmother, I would like to hear from her some day. (No, that is insincere, sorry; I really wouldn’t.)

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  12. I’m afraid the only thing I agree with in this essay is its conclusion. Democrats should by all accounts win this election in a landslide, yet will likely snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But then again, maybe that’s the whole plan? After all, Pelosi and company. raise millions off the fear of Trump. And why not? It’s a great racket: pretending to oppose the Bad Orange Man while simultaneously passing all his legislation. Not that it matters who wins anyway, since both parties believe in the same underlying ideology. It’s all kabuki theater.

    Anyway…on to my quibbles:

    First, the Democrats aren’t “obsessed with questions of identity (especially race and “trans”), they are obsessed with the symbolic rhetoric of identity politics. The Democrats don’t give a rats ass about actually existing racism or transphobia. They will simply say anything to appear as if they do.

    Second, the Democratic Primary, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, did not feature any candidates from the “social justice and socialist wing”. Elizabeth Warren isn’t from that wing at all as she proved with her flip flopping on all social justice and progressive policies. Again, there’s a difference between mouthing some words and actually putting forth and committing to policies.

    Third, Biden isn’t a moderate Democrat, he’s a moderate Republican. Whatever daylight exists between the parties, Joe would seem to fall on the far right of the ledger. Joe “shoot ’em in the legs” Biden wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that sent hundreds of thousands of people (mostly black) to prison for trivial offenses. Biden has a long rap sheet of horrific polices which include his support for the war on drugs, support of the Iraq war, support for segregation (he was best buddies with racists Strom Thurman and Jesse Helms) and his support of US coup attempts in foreign countries. Biden has also wanted to cut social security and medicaid for decades. He instigated draconian consumer credit legislation that made it extremely difficult for low income families to discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy. and made it impossible for students to do so. Biden also voted for the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. In fact, Biden has supported almost every piece of Republican-led legislation in the Senate since he was elected to that branch. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Hearings on the Clarence Thomas appointment to the SCOTUS, Biden even sided with the Republicans in their smearing of Anita Hill and her testimony. Relatedly, Biden and Trump are almost identical in their treatment of women. While Trump brags about grabbing women by the pussy, Biden, according to his accusers, actually does it. By temperament, if not by voting record, Biden is a Republican. In reality, a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). Last year, Biden told a group of high rolling donors that “nothing will fundamentally change” if he becomes President.

    Fourth: Police forces aren’t “dispirited”, they are now an emboldened, full-blown, occupying military force, openly and wantonly murdering people — almost as if to taunt Black Lives Matter and anyone else who dares to question their absolute power. Whether it’s running protesters over in the streets, shoving elderly people and pregnant women to the ground, slashing the tires of protesters, kidnapping peaceful protesters off the streets, declaring ‘riots’ where there are none, savagely beating prone protesters while telling them to stop resisting, maiming protesters with rubber bullets to the face, refusing medical treatment to injured people, giving aid and comfort to a white nationalist who just murdered two people, and just straight up executing people….they aren’t even trying to hide it now.

    Fifth: If you don’t like riots, pretty simple: tell the blue terrorists to stop murdering people. Decades of peaceful protesting against police brutality and racism have done absolutely nothing to reform or stop the problem. Riots work. They focus the mind. They make the news and make people pay attention. In fact, riots have accomplished more towards any kind of police reform in the last three months than decades of candlelight vigils and “thoughts and prayers”. A few cities are now even testing the waters of defunding their police. Incidentally, there was nothing in your link to the NYT article about Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey “confessing racism” or “begging forgiveness”. As for looting, it is certainly understandable during a pandemic when most people are suffering through an economic collapse. Look around you…people are fed up with the whole rotten system in general. They’ve stopped believing in it. And as long as few politicians are willing to do anything about the underlying problems except pay lip service, and as long as mobs of cops keep killing people, the direct response of mobs of rioting and looting will continue. The calls for “law and order” ring ever more hollow now as cops and governments continue to ignore their own laws, along with the constitutional rights of people.

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    1. Biden may well be a moderate Republican (an extinct species), and I have no use for him as a human being or a political figure. I neither identify with nor admire him

      However, Chomsky, a man whom I identify and admire, points out that Trump is so toxic that U.S. voters should vote for Biden, independently of whatever their opinion is of him. There are several videos in Youtube where Chomsky states his reasons and if you aren’t convinced by Chomsky, you’re probably not going to be convinced by anyone.

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      1. I will grant that Biden would be a more polite and statesman-like figure than Trump. But that is a pretty low bar, and most of the current administration’s policies would remain the same.
        Chomsky’s splitting of hairs isn’t very convincing. His advice of who to vote for, coming as it does from a self-proclaimed ‘anarchist’, is actually quite amusing.

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        1. My sister is a lifelong environmental activist in New York State and she insists that Trump’s environmental policies are much more destructive of the environment than those of Obama. I assume that you care about the world your children and grandchildren will live in.

          I live in Chile. In 1989, the first Democratic election at the end of the dictatorship, all the opposition to the dictatorship united behind Patricio Aylwin, a centrist politician, maybe even a bit right of center as you say Biden is.
          What’s worse, Aylwin had urged on and supported the 1973 coup against democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende and backed the dictatorship during the first year or two before swinging to the opposition.

          Aylwin ran against Pinochet’s own finance minister Hernan Buchi, who was more neoliberal than Milton Friedman and had backed all the dictatorship’s crimes. Even the Communist Party (Chile has a sizeable Communist Party with about 5% of the vote) and the MIR (Left Revolutionary Movement) ended up endorsing Aylwin, not out of love for him or his policies, but to get Pinochetismo out of the La Moneda Palace (the presidential palace).

          Aylwin won the election and as they say in Chile, he could have been worse. He didn’t rob (unlike Pinochet), he didn’t disappear anyone, he set up a Truth Commission to investigate the crimes of the dictatorship, he faced down two bluff coup attempts by Pinochet (Pinochet still commanded the army, but since the Air Force and the national Police were no longer with him, the coup attempts were bluffs, but they could have turned ugly and they didn’t, thanks to Aylwin.)

          Trump of course isn’t Pinochet, although he is more incompetent than Pinochet, and Biden isn’t Aylwin, but the historical parallel seems pertinent.

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        2. Joe Smith:

          “I will grant that Biden would be a more polite and statesman-like figure than Trump. But that is a pretty low bar, and most of the current administration’s policies would remain the same.”

          I, too, am deeply concerned about Biden’s plan to continue hobbling our response to a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, denying and exacerbating climate change, attacking voting rights, stacking the courts with rightwing judges, politicizing once non-partisan wings of government, and overall hastening our authoritarian drift.

          Thanks for continuing the leftwing tradition of suicidally short-sighted infighting.

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          1. Dan:

            “Well, it seems to me that we all have our views, here, of what the best strategy is for the Democrats, you included. Maybe you should stop ‘infighting’ with us?”

            You talking to me? I was criticizing Joe. He sounds like a Communist in late Weimar Germany confident he can just wait for the next election.

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  13. “Relatedly, Biden and Trump are almost identical in their treatment of women. While Trump brags about grabbing women by the pussy, Biden, according to his accusers, actually does it. ” Thank you for saying this Joe. It’s heartening to see a male stand up against the constant sexual harassment of women. Oh that Andrea Dworkin were still alive!

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    1. I don’t believe many potential Trump voters read the Nation.

      I don’t see why we should curb ethical speculation about what is justified or not just because we’re in an election year.
      I’m not saying that I agree with the article: I’d have to give it more thought, but it seems that ethical speculation should tests limits.

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        1. One of the purposes of ethical speculation is to test limits. That’s one of the reasons people read Nietzsche: because he tests limits: what’s the value of great art (Beethoven is his favorite example) compared with compassion? This author is doing it about looting: I’m not claiming that she’s Nietzsche, but the question is worth pondering.

          After reading Nietzsche and thinking about what he claims about a while, I generally return to more conventional ethical postures and I’m sure that I would about looting too.

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          1. I am talking about the practical effects in the actual world. The Democrats do not need to be associated with defenses of looting, and they are being so-associated. If they lose the election, it will be because Trump runs on law-and-order.

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          2. I defend the freedom of ethical speculation whether it’s Roger Scruton defending fox-hunting and claiming that homosexuality is unnatural against the woke mob or whether it’s this woman defending looting.

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          3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/01/street-battles-unrest-us-election

            Money quote:

            “Already Republicans are capitalizing on progressive statements that echo the kind of soft-on-crime rhetoric that led to Democrats losing elections in past decades, including calls to defund the police and the claim that looting is a form of protest, or reparations, or (in the words of the author of a recent book) a “joyous and liberatory” communal celebration. And Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway has boasted that “chaos and anarchy” boost the president’s re-election odds, since voters presumably will favor the stronger and more authoritarian leader – much as they did in the last days of Weimar, one might add.”

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          4. I think there is a perverse thought that is popular in certain Left wing quarters, that it would be better if Trump won the election, as that would advantage its position within the Democratic party.

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          5. People should practice what they preach if they’re public figures. Pelosi should have used a mask. I got my hair cut last week after 7 months without a hair cut, and I never took my mask off nor did the hair cut woman take hers off.

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          6. I finally read the Nation article. I was really turned off by her defense of looting small businesses.

            Beginning last Octuber, there was a huge protest movement in Chile, which began as a movement against a subway fare hike and grew into a mass protest movement (one day there were literally more than a million people demonstrating) against the system. There was a lot of arson and looting, but almost always they hit the big chain stores (Walmart, for example) and did not touch small businesses like grocery stores, non-chain pharmacies, and even liquor stores, which are generally small businesses. They even spared my local bookstore, while they completely trashed and looted a chain convenience store (like a 7-11) beside it. So the author might look into the fact that looters in some situations do not go after small businesses, which is completely unjustifiable.

            By the way, as a result of the protests (which included looting of supermarkets, etc.), the Chilean ruling elite got so scared that they yielded to a key demand of the protest movement, a new constitution to replace the 1980 constitution, drawn up by the Pinochet dictatorship. In October we will vote to see if we want a new constitution and if we do, in April 2021 we will elected a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution, which will then be ratified by another referendum in 9 more months.

            So looting at times has positive effects, although I’m not claiming that it does today in the US. The woman interviewed seemed just plain stupid to me.

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  14. I’m surprised that The Atlantic piece about Osterweil and looting hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    Also, The New Yorker published a more substantive interview than the sycophantic NPR interview. (And even this interview is full of disingenuous, non sequitur, borderline-self-contradictory, or even incoherent answers, which don’t receive enough – or any – pushback for clarification, or even basic meaning, by the interviewer.)

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    1. By the way, Osterweil gets another thing wrong. A owner-run grocery store isn’t capitalism, according to Marx at least. Capitalism according to Marx involves the exploitation of labor, of extracting a surplus value from the workers. The market per se isn’t capitalist and it’s obvious to anyone with a sense of history (as Marx has) that the market predates capitalism by thousands of years and that exchanging a product for money does not constitute exploitation, just an exchange.

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      1. Well, Marx’s definition of capitalism involved both the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of labour. Marx wasn’t actually against capitalism per se; he admired it in fact, as he witnessed the incredible dynamism within it, which overthrew feudalism and led to immense productive capacities. Marx wanted the proletariat to seize and harness those productive forces for themselves along with everyone else, so that the spoils could be distributed more or less equally.
        Marx’s problem was that he never elucidated a way for a workplace to operate without exploiting labour. Workers simply taking over a factory does not eliminate the need for schedules, production quotas, oversight, and the authoritarian division of labour into managers and workers for the sake of efficiency.

        You are correct, money and the market precede capitalism by thousands of years. Many of the California indigenous peoples, for example, used money in the form of shell bead disks. Speaking of looting, it also goes back thousands of years when hunter gatherers raided each other’s encampments to steal horses, women, slaves, and food. But unlike modern industrial societies, they did not loot within their own tribes (societies), because that would be harming and depriving their own people….like when corporations and Wall Street recently looted the treasury for trillions of dollars which otherwise could have gone to help ordinary people suffering through the economic collapse. Nobody talks about that unfathomably massive amount of looting. So why doesn’t that looting seem to hurt Republicans?

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  15. Hmm… I don’t see the logic behind which comments can be replied to and which cannot, but since I cannot reply to several specific comments, I have a couple more observations:

    1. “Accelerate the contradictions” has a long history on the Left, to which this blog post gives a solid basic introduction.

    2. Luckily – and, granted, it’s still early – but Trump’s “Law and Order turn” hasn’t seemed to help him.

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