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Woo yeah, gotta keep clueless Bernie away from the Democrats. Imagine if he’d been the nominee? We could have ended up with President Trump!

Yvonmukluk said on November 26th, 2016 at 4:10 am

@Robin: Yeah nevermind all that talk about coming together, let’s get right back to refighting the primaries again. Congratulations, you get to feel smug. I’m sure all the people whose lives are going to get measurably worse as a result of this election are happy you get to get on a high horse.


Tennessee Williams once wrote, “We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. Yes, but oh! What a view from that upstairs window! What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see, then it DOESN’T MATTER that the house is burning down around us. It doesn’t matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!
–Tom Robbins


@Yvonmukluk: it’s not about being smug (although after reading Seavey slapping himself on the back for being *so much better* than his “fellow Americans”, my smug detector might need recalibrating. I mean, if you want to talk about high horses…)

It’s not living in the past, either. “Bernie would’ve won” is vital to remember if the Democrats want a future. They need to know that they can win with a platform of true economic and social justice.

“Coming together” (that is, silencing dissent) and sticking with the centre-right neoliberal bullshit that lost Hillary the election, means getting shellacked in 2018 and probably again in 2020.


@Robin: Bernie didn’t win. He completely failed to reach out to minorities that form a very large chunk of the Democratic coalition. The only reason his candidacy ever even looked competitive is that he had an edge in caucus states, which are undemocratic because they suppress turnout.

The idea that Bernie would have won the general is a cute idea, but one that isn’t well supported by any actual facts. (A couple of bullshit hypothetical polls are not meaningful).

The ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd were stupid when they threw a temper tantrum at the Democrat primary, they were stupid when they said they wouldn’t vote for Hillary no matter what, and they are stupid now.

Ideological purity is asinine.


@Dasz: Yeah I bet Bernie wouldn’t even have won Florida! Lucky we got Hillary instead who did a bang up job of turning out the Democratic coalition OH WAIT.

Christ almighty. Just look at a map of the states Bernie won in the primary, and the states Clinton lost in the EC that cost her the election.

She lost to a game show host. A game. Show. Host. Now we can retreat into the fantasy of “well a Trump victory was inevitable because EVERYONE BUT JOHN SEAVEY IS RACIST”, or we can look at the voters who didn’t turn out for Hillary, and see what policies they’d be on board for. Hint: it’s not the TPP.


@Robin: We can also look at the voters who didn’t turn out for Bernie, but did turn out for Hillary.

Bernie didn’t win the primary because he didn’t convince the Democrats to vote for him. Bernie’s success in the primaries, except for one state, hinged on caucuses suppressing voter turnout. Hillary got 2 million more votes than him.

Hell, most voters don’t pay attention to the election until the conventions. Why are you so convinced that made up bullshit about a self described socialist would hurt Bernie less than made up bullshit about Hillary hurt her? Conversations about hypothetical elections that didn’t happen aren’t productive, and your whole bit is really self-absorbed.


Hillary had zero chance of winning. Bernie had more than zero, it’s hard to gauge how much he would’ve had, but Hillary was doomed from the moment she decided to run on a platform of “vote for me if you want things to stay exactly the same as they are now”.

I’m holding fingers crossed that Trump actually hurts America to the point that Republicans lose face, because that’s the only chance Democrats have of ever holding the office again. God knows they’re not going to learn any fucking lessons from this defeat. Just going to double down on the arrogance and the belittling of the white vote.


@krrp Slight problem with that I think. Trump might hurt America, but will the voters realize that and remember it in the next election?


It’s like the United States pulled the political version of committing suicide.


@JCG This is what worries me – the Democrats go with the “well Bernie would’ve lost too!” narrative (because it lets them off the hook for choosing the worst candidate ever). Then they double down on bullshit Third Way-ism, fellating Wall Street and exporting jobs, because hey, Trump’s just got to fuck up so bad we’ll coast back in in 2020, right?

Except if Trump somehow doesn’t completely crash the economy, or even if he does but his supporters double down on *him*, then I guarantee you the DNC is going to start wondering – should we maybe walk back our support for trans bathrooms a little? Or treating undocumented immigrants like humans? After all, as long as we stay one micron to the left of Trump on social issues, the Dem base is still going to vote for us, right? And “ideological purity is asinine”, you know. Then we’re all fucked.

@William Kendall: Hahaha Castro not only outlasted every president who tried to bring him down, he outlived the fuckin *USA*

Sean Martin said on November 26th, 2016 at 5:01 pm

@krrp: “but Hillary was doomed from the moment she decided to run on a platform of “vote for me if you want things to stay exactly the same as they are now”.

You might have a point if she’d actually done that. Any honest one sentence summary of her position would be “Vote for me if you want to continue to progress we’ve been making for the past 8 years.”

But, like every other “Bernie would have won” declarant I’ve run into, you’d rather distort reality to have something to rail against than deal with what actually is.


@krrp The Democrats did win two out of the last three (and have now won the popular vote in six out of the last seven) I think you’re exaggerating a hair with “ever hold the office again” no matter how much it sucks that we lost this one.


What’s really sad is that there are conservatives who opposed him. Who believed that he would make it impossible for actual conservative polices to go through and not his white nationalist BS.


Two years. Sane people have to work pretty damn hard over the next *two* years, because midterm elections are when the worst representatives in the House tend to get in.

As bad as things are going to be in the executive branch, as bad as they’re likely to become in the judicial, it’s *nothing* compared to the clownfucked shitshow that the legislature has become, and that could be just barely put on the road away from disaster if for once people would take the midterm elections seriously and show up to vote for someone other than the angriest, dumbest candidates who have a (R) after their names.


And can I just remind the “Bernie would have won people” that this may have been an election that was weighted towards the Republicans regardless of how awful a candidate Trump was? For instance, eight great years under Clinton, and his successor still couldn’t get elected. And you can make fun of Al Gore all you like, but he still represented a continuation of policies that worked well and benefited the country. And he was rejected, in favour of someone barely qualified for the job.

We may just be in a pattern of “Dem-Pub-Dem-Pub” forever and ever, regardless of the people involved in any election.

Christian Hansen said on November 26th, 2016 at 7:48 pm

I think one of the biggest problems that has come about from this election that wasn’t brought up in your post but is readily apparent here in the comment section is that the Democratic Party is running around with it’s head cut off, fumbling around trying to figure out what the game plan going forward for 2018/2020 is.

When we all assumed Hillary was going to win, it was smooth sailing: she would win her term, cement some good works that Obama laid the groundwork for, go on into a second term and solidify our Supreme Court to protect progressive advances for decades to come, and then we would push Kaine or O’malley or Warren or some other sympathetic progressive white person for 2024.

Now? Now we have people like Robin saying we should go over to Bernie (or Bernie: The Next Generation, given how long 4 years is and how old Bernie is) and play against the Republicans for disenfranchised rural whites, others saying we should “rally” together around plan A (not Hillary: she will never be president, but rather the aforementioned sympathetic white people), and then we have John here saying that we should promote candidates that not only speak to, but directly reflect the Democratic Party’s diverse base, to which I respond: who exactly would that be?

Because keep in mind the fact that the Democratic Party was so set on surfing the Clinton Third Wave into the sunset that Hillary Clinton has been the presumed “It’s her turn” nominee since 2008, and that only didn’t happen because another candidate who was a better campaigner, speaker, and heck all-around politician came up and showed her up. Barack Obama had a rising star moment that he capitalized on, flipping the script (ultimately for the better IMO), but for what is becoming more and more obvious not for the long term.

My point is that we can’t wait for Barack Obama’s (or heck, Bernie Sanders if you want to look at it that way) to come out of the woodwork and save the Democrats; we need to find them, promote them, give them a voice and let people know we want them to be our leaders. That is, if Democrats can even get so far as to unify around a strategy less vague than “Stop the Republicans from blowing up the world!”

And @idu, taking back Congress in 2018 is what I consider the longshot best case scenario, given that the vast majority of seats up for election are Democratic ones, meaning that we have to play a “perfect game” so to speak. Given that we lost to a man so vain he gets into twitter feuds, so dumb he speaks at a 7th grade level, and so bigoted that the KKK feels that he would do a good job representing their interests, compounded with the confused, finger-pointing mess the Democrats are right now, I am not confident for 2018.


@Sean Martin: If you think that rural and rust belt counties have seen any “progress” over the last 8 years, then *someone* sure needs a reality check. David Wong in Cracked (of all places) had a very good article about what rural America is going through and what their mindset is (link above), it’s well worth a read.


Nickname aside what is wrong with Jame Mattis? I only ever hear good about the man. But I haven’t really been paying that much attention


and an Attorney General who was deemed too racist to become a judge. By Reagan.

No, Reagan nominated him to the bench. He was deemed too racist by Charles Mathias Jr. and Arlen Specter.

@Robin: The notion that Trump’s support is correlated to economic distress has been repeatedly debunked. His primary base had an average annual income of over $70,000 per year. The binding ideology of his support was white nationalism.

Certainly some people voted for him because they really wanted his ridiculous lies about bringing back factory jobs to be true, but the last 8 years have shown how clearly rural white voters refuse to understand their own economic interests. ACA was a huge boon to rural hospitals, for instance, as well as rural people, but they just voted to dismantle it (as well as Medicare and Social Security, if Paul Ryan gets his way).


@Sean C: It’s not just about who voted for Trump, though, is it? Trump’s raw vote count was pathetic. It’s about who *didn’t vote* for Clinton – and given her collapse in the Rust Belt, yeah, it looks like it was the rural poor that stayed home, because Clinton’s platform had fuckall to offer them besides the same grinding impoverishment.

Also – try that “Our policies totally would benefit [ethnic/socioeconomic group], but they keep voting against us! They’re just not willing to help themselves, probably because of their culture or something!” with any group other than rural whites and see how it sounds.


Robin, people say that about other groups all the time. I’ve seen conservative pundits explain how blacks and Jews will someday wake up and realize the Republicans are where its at but the Democrats have blinded them to what’s in their best interests.


@Robin: I don’t think it was just the rural poor that stayed home, though. Her numbers in Detroit were pathetic, for instance, at least compared to Obama. A better performance there would have probably saved Michigan.


@Robin: Clinton’s platform did, in fact, have quite a lot to say about trying to find ways to replace declining industries by encouraging new types of business growth (particularly in alternative energy). But that wasn’t what voters wanted to hear; they preferred to believe a charlatan promising to wave a magic wand and bring back the 1950s, which will never happen, obviously.

And it’s an objective fact that red states rely heavily on federal government safety net programs, and yet elect politicians who are committed to dismantling those programs. In the past, Democrats have saved those voters from the consequences of their own actions. That may not be possible this time given consolidated Republican control of the legislative process and the radicalized nature of the caucus, and there’s nobody to blame but the voters themselves for that.


“Why are you so convinced that made up bullshit about a self described socialist would hurt Bernie less than made up bullshit about Hillary hurt her?”

The answer simply put is that no one ever questioned Bernie sanders motives, and certainly not his cencerity. People may question his politics but no one was saying he was a phoney. Enter Hilary Clinton: a walking scandal factory that never told a perponal truth unless it was drug out of her kicking and screaming. CLinton was a badly flawed candidate, which is what trump needed to win. One of the real tragedies here is that Joe Biden choose not to run. He could have saw trumps curmudgeon and raised him a punch in the face.
However, that being said Sanders and Trumps base message are not that far apart, he was a much harder target for trump to hit.


Another thought: someone mentioned upthread that Dems are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Where are we seeing this from the actual political class, as opposed to us armchair warriors? My news feeds are dominated by Trump news. Only really major Dem news I’ve seen is Dean calling Steve Bannon a Nazi. Even the recount stuff is dominated by Jill Stein.

If the Dems are disorganized now, they at least have Trump’s shenaningans to cover it until they decide on their next move. And they can also take comfort that I’m pretty sure the Republicans are as surprised as they are. I mean, up until the election most of the news on the Republican side was how they were going to obstruct Hillary (saw one story where they were planning on trying to block the Supreme Court nomination for five years, for instance).

I mean, it is much easier to deal with pleasant surprises than with unpleasant ones, but I’m sure everyone’s game plan has been thrown off.


With regard to caring for others who might be targets, I think George Takei said it best on Twitter.

“First, they came for the Muslims, and I said ‘Not this time, motherfuckers.'”


@Sean C: Where were all those wonderful alternative-energy jobs going to be created though? Same places all the new jobs got created in the last 8+ years: in the cities, and the barriers to rural-urban migration are huge. And any assistance that comes tends to come in the most clueless, ham-fisted, culturally insensitive way possible. Check out the David Wong article I linked above, or Arlie Hochschild’s “Strangers in their Own Land” which came out this year.

Or double down on “why don’t those fuckin’ hicks know what’s best for them like I do?” and enjoy your eight years of Trump.

@Grazzt: I think we’re seeing the divide in the Dems with the fight over who’s going to be the DNC Chair. Which I think is one thing all us armchair warriors can actually agree on. You want more POC representation in the Democrats? Support Keith Ellison. You want a genuinely progressive, redistributive platform? Support Keith Ellison (Bernie does). So simple!


@Robin: Divide is different than chicken with it’s head cut off, though. Some serious debate needs to be had, but it doesn’t mean that the Dems are any more frazzled than is justified, given the situation. The people who want the Dems to lose will exaggerate the divide, more than is justified. They did it during the election. They will continue to do it as long as they feel it gives them votes.


I hear you, John. I’m Canadian, but I have a lot of friends and family in the U.S. It’s hard to believe enough people were dumb/desperate/nihilistic/racist enough to give Trump their vote, and yet here we are.

Let me offer up a bit of hope. Six years ago, voters here in Toronto elected Rob Ford as mayor. His win was just as stunning as Trump’s victory; though he sat on council for 10 years, Ford did nothing in that time but scream about wasted tax dollars and star in mini-scandals (like the time he screamed at people who looked like “furriners” at a hockey game and denied it the next day despite video evidence of him being there).

Like Trump, Ford was the unintelligent son of a millionaire with an unimpressive business resume, but he packaged his strung-out-Chris-Farley-as-Tommy-Boy look as “authentic” and sold himself as a “straight shooter” who would bring business solutions to city hall. (He also not-so-subtly sold himself as the perfect way for “Ford Nation” — barf — to stick it to the “downtown elites” who denied the suburbs what he said they deserved, never mind the fact he voted against everything and anything that would have seen more services delivered to residents across the city.) Nobody gave his campaign much hope, but he had the good luck to run against an establishment candidate who had trouble connecting with voters (sound familiar?), and his “stop the gravy train” catchphrase resonated with the kind of voters who didn’t want a lot of fancy talk from politicians.

You might know about the crack stuff, but long before he became an international joke it was clear Ford was in way over his head. He took off work early to coach football, his own people didn’t know where he was and couldn’t reach him for hours at a time, his office was full of ideologues and high school buddies who had no clue how to run a city, and for all his talk about government waste an auditor’s report found very little fat in the budget to cut.

The beginning of the end happened when he invited citizens to make depositions about what services to cut, and a sobbing 14-year-old girl begged him to leave the libraries alone. Faced with someone he couldn’t bully or write off as an “elite,” he couldn’t help but come across as heartless, and he pretty much left cost-cutting alone after that (to be fair, all the crack smoking/drunk driving/staff assaulting/inviting women up to his office after hours/hanging out with criminals/getting recorded hurling racial epithets for every racial group also took up a lot of his time).

The point is, this too shall pass. Ford did a lot of damage that Toronto is still dealing with, but it’s still standing. And the one good thing that came out of Ford’s reign of error is that it made a lot of people realize they were taking a lot of things for granted, that sometimes you have to fight for the things that matter. That’s what Americans who care about their country need to do now: push back at every level, and fight to keep the hard-won gains made by past generations.

And like Molly Ivins said, have a laugh while you’re doing it. Because one thing I learned dealing with people who supported Ford is they HATE people with a sense of humor about politics. Mainly because having a sense of humor is the one thing they can’t do, no matter how angry or resentful they get.


@Robin: And again, Clinton had plans for trying to revive industrial areas, but those plans weren’t as appealing as “I’ll bring back the good old days”, which, spoiler alert, will not happen.

I’ve read that Cracked piece. It’s out of step with the actual sociological evidence relating to Trump’s supporters.


@Mitchell: So you’re saying that Trump will die soon?

Christian Hansen said on November 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm


“Chicken with its head cut off” was definitely hyperbolic on my part, but then again it’s very easy to fall to hyperbole given the series of “It could never happen!” events that just transpired.

Leaving that aside, my larger point was the the Democratic party had a very set gameplan with a set candidate for the next 8 years and beyond. Now, not only do we not have the candidate anymore, but it has become incredibly apparent that the gameplan was inherently flawed in some way that requires a shift, a shift that is in part represented over the conflict over the DNC chair. More than that however, I feel there is a divide in how we move forward. Do we try and play for disenfranchised whites? Do we double down on our principles and our minority constituents? Now, these are definitely more armchair warrior concerns, but politics is a bottom up affair I believe, just look at Obama and Bernie and Trump. The direction we head forward ideologically is going to determine whether we win in 2018/2020 or not. And believe me, I definitely want us to win 🙂

Asher Elbein said on November 29th, 2016 at 3:43 pm


This sums up my feelings on the matter pretty handily.

“Which would I choose, if I thought I had to either fight racism or fight poverty? I don’t know, if both your children were hanging off a ledge and you could only save one of them, which would you let die? If you could cure cancer but the cure killed all the pandas would you do it? Who would win in a fight, Jaws or the Ghostbusters? It’s an asinine, juvenile question, bullshit dorm-room sophistry, an empty bit of moral posturing wrapped up in virtue signaling and the smug self-satisfaction of those for whom political questions are entirely academic. Please. Save your absurd hypotheticals for Reddit or conversations with your weed dealer. Here on planet Earth we have actual problems to worry about.

The supposed political conflict is also no conflict at all. How do you get the white working class to vote for your politicians? Show them you care about their problems and will work to help solve them. How do you get the support of a diverse electorate? Show them you care about their problems and will work to help solve them. A huge part of politics is simply being able to credibly say to voters that you hear them, that you take their problems seriously, that you acknowledge them as problems. Bill Clinton, as odious as I find him, was masterful at this. And Barack Obama has been even better, appealing to both diversity and economic populism effortlessly, and to the effect of two huge electoral victories. I don’t pretend that he’s delivered on either real diversity or real economic justice, but his political messaging synthesized both easily. It’s not complicated. Yes, yes we can. Si, se puede. The example of the current president completely undermines the notion of a conflict between these values. That suggests that those who claim there is a conflict are really just trying to prevent any substantive economic reforms. That’s all that’s happening here: some people who consider themselves liberals or progressives out of inertia and cultural comfort are butting up against their fundamental political conservatism and are acting out about it.

Up from below. For universal rights or against them. In support of egalitarianism or in support of the vicious inequalities of “meritocracy.” These are the conflicts. If you’re a conservative who thinks that black people in poverty in Detroit deserve it because of a supposed culture of dependence, you’re my enemy. If you’re J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, and you think white people in poverty in the Cincinnati suburbs deserve it because they don’t take initiative in their own lives, you’re my enemy. If you’re Donald Trump and you think undocumented immigrants deserve to be kicked out of the country, you’re my enemy. If you’re some wealthy liberal aristocrat writer, sneering down at the rubes and condemning them to misery because you’ve decided they’re all bigots, you’re my enemy. People deserve their suffering or they don’t. I say they don’t. That’s it, that’s all there is.”


@Christian: One other question the Dems should be asking that I don’t think nearly enough people are bringing up: should they continue to focus on a top down approach, or try to start winning on a state level? Lots of their problems stem from the fact that Republican state legislatures and governors are using their clout to make it harder for Dems at the federal level (say, North Carolina’s voter suppression laws).

It may not be an issue of reaching new voters, so much as pushing more funds and focus down ticket.


@Asher Elbein: The problem with that line of reasoning is that it assumes people rationally evaluate what their best interests are, dispassionately weigh the plans of the candidates to see who is most sympathetic to their interests, and then cast a vote in favor of the person who will improve their lives.

Which is frankly ludicrous. Look at abortion, for instance. There’s a pretty sizable evangelical voting block in America that will never, ever, under any circumstances vote for a pro-Choice candidate. As this election has proved, it literally does not matter if the other guy is a serial adulterer, sexual predator, and a fraud on a massive scale. It doesn’t matter if they know that Hillary Clinton’s plans will be better for them, economically. They are not prioritizing their personal well-being, they are prioritizing the lives of the unborn and they vote on that score. “Show them you care about their problems and will work to solve them” means working to make abortion illegal.

Now that particular group of voters wasn’t going for Obama either, but the overall point still stands. People do not necessarily rank their priorities the way you think they do, and just standing up and saying, “Hey! My economic policies will be good for you personally!” is not some sort of magic tonic that the Democrats can use to win. Because both sides say that, they say it at equal volumes, and the actual work of improving people’s lives through better economic policies is for the most part chancy, subtle, and involves years of fighting against entrenched interests with control of a vast propaganda machine.

Or to put it another way, you know what would really improve the lives of most Americans? Stronger unions. Do you know what most red state voters see as a tool of oppression, corruption, and economic devastation? Stronger unions. Economic pragmatism runs into Republican propaganda like putting a log through a stump grinder, and it’s naive to think otherwise.


@Sean C.: Come on, Hillary had zero credibility on any kind of investment in rural America. Or rather she *would* have had zero credibility, if she’d ever bothered to show up in rural America and sell them on it.

And holy shit, if I had a nickel for every liberal who clung onto that “$70,000” factoid to convince themselves that all Trumpists (as opposed to just some of them) were goose-stepping skinheads…Alexander Zaitchik made what I thought was a very salient point on Chapo Trap House last month, which was that yeah, some Trump supporters are well-off, but they’re still members of communities, and they’ve seen those communities fucking gutted, so economic factors are still very much on their minds.

@Asher Elbein: That piece was so fucking great. Is it me or has there been an explosion of writing talent on the Left in the last few years?


@John Seavey: What are you basing any of that on? Seriously, what? Last thread it was your “honest and personal feeling”, do we have some facts this time?

Like unions. “Republican propaganda” may be carrying the day for now (although a majority of Americans have always supported unions), but it’s been helped along by Democrats, who don’t give a shit about unions (ask the AFL-CIO about the TPP) and take their support for granted. If the Dems can muster up a real, honest-to-God pro-organised-labour candidate (for a fucking change) that’s going to turn right around.

And “fighting against entrenched interests with control of a vast propaganda machine”? That’s exactly what Donald Trump – a lunatic game-show host – just did, and he blew the whole Republican Party up inside a year. The Left can do that to the Democrats too, and without compromising on abortion (like Hillary was willing to do) or whatever.

Seriously, read Arlie Hochschild’s “Strangers in their Own Land”. Read Alexander Zaitchik’s “The Gilded Rage”. Both of them came out this year. Learn something about the people you’re being so condescending to before you start bloviating.


Trump didn’t fight the Republican propaganda machine, he fucking appropriated it. Republicans have been saying for literally two decades now that government insiders are untrustworthy, that blacks and Mexicans are stealing your jobs, and that Muslims are dangerous threats to the American way of life. Trump just turned the volume up to 11 on each and every one of those statements and ran with them. Not a single Republican could successfully rebut Trump, because the substance of his positions was the same as their own. They were reduced to saying, “Well, he’s just being very indecorous about it all,” and given that they’ve also spent twenty years whining about ‘political correctness’, that wasn’t ever going to get traction.


There we go again with the idea that Trump’s only – or even major – message that people responded to was the bigoted one. Because they’re all RACISTS, and they can’t be bargained with, or reasoned with, or feel pity, or remorse, or fear, or vote Democrat.

(Which not coincidentally lets the Democrats off the hook for picking literally the worst presidential candidate ever.)

Trump called out Wall Street too. He called out free-trade agreements and corporations who export jobs. I don’t recall any of that being part of Republican propaganda, and the Republicans – shit, pretty much the entire US mass media – demonized him for it, and now he’s President-Elect.

Of course he didn’t *mean* any of the crap he said about Wall Street or anything else, but if someone comes along who *does* mean it – and fights for social justice too – there’s no reason they can’t pull off the same upset Trump did. And they’ll have an audience, including among rural whites. Seriously, read the damn books.


Look. I know you deeply want to believe that espousing an essentially classist message is going to lead to a great victory, but if that worked, Sanders would be the nominee. He couldn’t even beat Hillary, who is not particularly well-liked or trusted by the Left.

(Cue me smiling and nodding while you tell me that the system was rigged for Hillary and the fix was in and Bernie did so well despite his lack of name recognition because of his message.)

Doesn’t matter. His message wasn’t strong enough to beat name recognition and a political machine, and the Republicans had that too. Appealing to class consciousness is not going to work as a short-term strategy, because class consciousness has been so thoroughly scorched that it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Again, as I keep saying and you keep ignoring because for someone who argues that everyone needs to be more understanding and less doctrinaire, I’ve never seen someone come into a discussion with a bigger chip on their shoulder and a more steadfast refusal to listen to anything anyone else is saying, I’m not saying that you have to write off rural America. I’m not saying that you have to write off white America. I’m not saying that these people are racists. I am saying that for the purposes of the 2020 election, you have to make your decisions for who to run and how to campaign as though significant sections of rural white America are inaccessible (and yes, racist), because a) the practical differences between a red state voter who is racist and a red state voter who isn’t racist but who votes for a man who dog-whistles about putting Muslims in camps is pretty much nil, and because b) it will take probably decades of steady, patient, one-on-one work with each and every red state voter, connecting with them on a personal level and getting them to forge a deep and meaningful connection between the vote they make and the consequences for people who matter to them on a personal level, and 2020 is going to hit before that happens let alone 2018.

Two strategies. A short-term and a long-term. For the short-term, inspire the Obama Coalition to turn out with a big, powerful message that bypasses rural America because rural America ain’t turning out in 2020 for Bernie, Hillary or probably even Cory Booker. Long-term, use the power of government obtained through that coalition to improve the lives of rural white Americans and show them, through tangible and personal connections, what they get out of it.

But the latter part has to be long-term, because the Republicans are always going to be there to explain that the good stuff came from that tax cut they gave you four years ago, and the bad stuff came from giving government handouts to minorities.


It’s not so much that I’m ‘ignoring’ you man, it’s that I keep waiting for you to cite something supporting these theories of yours and you got nothing.

Like seriously, “class consciousness has been scorched”? Reuters did an exit poll on election day and 72% of respondents said “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful”. Zaitchik talks about interviewing veterans in biker bars who gave him an analysis of the Iraq War straight out of Noam Chomsky. Trump’s whole deal was talking about how he was going to get back at the economic elites! He was talking about Wall Street bankers rigging the economy! He was basically giving FDR’s “I welcome their hatred” speech word for word! Class consciousness is alive and well, it’s just that the Democrats have been too utterly craven to capitalize on it and whoops, a demagogue got there first. Never mind, we’ll get ’em in 2018 with the same old centre-right horseshit, it’ll work this time for sure.

Talking to Republican voters “one on one” and “patiently” explaining the consequences of their votes? That is literally ‘natural consequences’ training, it’s what you do with *toddlers*. One element of Trump’s support we haven’t touched on is that he represents (in Wong’s words) a “brick through the window” of what they perceive as an elite class who can’t talk about rural Americans without sneering condescension, and you’re not doing anything to disabuse anyone of that perception.

Yeah, Bernie lost. And yeah, it was rigged (why do you think they’re looking for a new DNC Chair in the first place)? The Democrats were better at slapping down their insurgent than the Republicans were. But he got further than anyone thought he could, and now the Clinton machine isn’t in the way, if the Democrats stay on board with economic justice, the next candidate will get a lot further.


I’m sorry, would you like me to go out and find my own biker to back me up? Cherry-picking a vague statistic and citing anecdotal evidence doesn’t exactly set you apart as an example of intellectual rigor, here.

Especially because “I think that Wall Street is full of greedy fat cats” is about as close to class consciousness as “I really like video games” is to computer programming. Class consciousness isn’t just an awareness of economic inequality, it’s an understanding of the idea that standing together with others of your socio-economic stratum and acting as a bloc gives you leverage and puts you on an equal footing with wealthy employers. And yeah, after almost fifty years of right-to-work laws, charter schools and other union-busting measures, I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to take a lot more work than can be done in four years to just bring all that back in the face of incredibly entrenched opposition. You say “The Democrats should have fought harder for unions” as though that’s a solution rather than a description of a problem. Or, even more accurately, an attempt to shift blame.

Because fundamentally, that’s what your arguments seem to boil down to, every single time. You seem less interested in advocating a course of action and more in relitigating a failed one in a light that makes you look better. And as I’ve said, I find that kind of activity pointless and exhausting. You want to talk? Talk about who you’re putting up in 2020. Because all you’ve done so far is tell everyone how if we’d just listened to you, everything would be great, and that really sounds like it’s more about making you feel better about yourself than it is about solving any problems.


“It’s more about making you feel better about yourself,” says the guy who just wrote off half of his countrymen as irrational yahoos rather than admit his side fucked up.

One anecdote isn’t much, no, but it’s one more datapoint than you’ve offered. And if you want a shitload of evidence about how rural America got screwed, check out Hochschild like I said.

Oh, a course of action? I’m glad you asked. Get Ellison in as DNC chair instead of that Big Pharma lobbyist Dean. Run a platform of true economic and social justice – single payer health care, real support for organized labour, breaking up the big banks, infrastructure spending. Plow a ton of cash into every local race in every county and state the Dems can – rather than starve the local parties to fund vanity presidential runs – and maybe win back some of the *900 seats* they lost under Obama. The odds will still be stacked against them in 2018, but with luck by 2020 they can mount a real campaign with, say, Warren or, depending on how well he does in the DNC, Ellison again.

Pie in the sky, maybe, but I think they’d at least be able to clear the bar that Hillary set when she lost to Richard Dawson’s character from The Running Man.


Well one thing the democrats could try that is radical and happens to be the truth is admit that we are essentially the military industrial complex that we were warned about 50 years ago and vow to reverse that trend. Our military defense spending is wildly out of control and it’s more or less crippled efforts in things like infrastructure and education. Slimming down that single beast would accomplish a lot but your never gonna see it happen because no one wants to be perceived as weak on national defense. A lot of things like single payer and infrastructure reinvestment because a lot more feasable when 75 cents on every dollar isn’t going to defense.


@Sly: Defense spending could actually be one way to get infrastructure development through in the short term. There’s a precedent – the Highway Act’s full name was the “National Interstate *and Defense* Highways Act” after all. The Army Corps of Engineers built the Bonneville Dam and cleaned up after Katrina. (They’re also building the DAPL, but there you go.)

Just say “climate change threatens national security!” and watch the levees go up.


@Robin: “One anecdote isn’t much, no, but it’s one more datapoint than you’ve offered. And if you want a shitload of evidence about how rural America got screwed, check out Hochschild like I said.”

I love that your argument boils down to, “You’re nothing but a snooty, out-of-touch elitist who doesn’t take the time to pay attention to working class Americans! You should read the same books about them that I have, then you’d understand them like I do!” (To say nothing of the extremely telling ‘your side’. You know I voted for Bernie in the primaries, right?)

I normally don’t do this ‘argument from authority’ crap, but since you asked, I’ve got plenty of friends and family in the Deep South. For that matter, the demographics of my home state means that you only have to drive about twenty minutes to hit deep pockets of those white rural Americans you’ve read so much about…and they only have to drive about twenty minutes to commute to work here. I get plenty of white rural American viewpoints on a daily basis, believe me.

I’ve done doorknocking in Michelle Bachmann’s district–you want to talk about ‘talking to red voters and getting to understand their concerns’, I’ve physically done it. And I can tell you right now, these are folks who literally think that single payer will kill them. Actually, physically end their lives because they’ll have to go on a six-month waiting list every time they went to see their new, government appointed doctor who won’t be as good as their regular doctor because nobody will study medicine if they can’t make money at it.

When you say, “Hey, let’s vigorously promote single-payer as the new Democratic selling point! We can fight through that misinformation if we just try hard enough to calmly engage with working-class Americans!”, it is a sign to me that you’ve apparently never had an actual conversation with a real conservative, because you can’t calmly engage on a topic that people are convinced is a matter of their literal physical survival. The flight-or-fight reflex kicks in. They’ll continue to talk to you, but the instant you say something that translates in their mind as, “I want to see you dead,” engagement pretty much stops. You cannot rely on engagement and rational discourse as a tool for effecting immediate political change with a group of people that see your policies as a threat to their lives. Not because “red voters are irrational yahoos”, not because “red voters are racist”, but because people think differently when they’re scared. And the Republican Party has spent a long time making people scared for that very reason.

Now that said, I don’t think we have no points of agreement–I’d support Keith Ellison for DNC chair, I’d support him for Senate if we didn’t already have two very fine Senators already, I’d support that man for President if he decided to run. He’s fucking amazing. I also support the idea of pushing harder on the downticket races, although it’s not as easy as just throwing money at them. The reason the Democrats lost so many seats over the last 15 years is, in no small part, because we lost a bunch of Blue Dog style Democrats who had the “D” after their names but voted with their constituency’s interests, which were more often Republican. Those seats aren’t coming back by being more progressive or spending more money, because the people in those districts never really wanted a progressive there.

Which brings us back to the main problem–you keep telling everyone else that they need to listen to red voters, engage with them, understand their needs and not simply write them off…while trying to give them something they manifestly and vocally don’t want and aren’t interested in because you assume you know their needs better than they do and they’ll surely come around to your point of view if they just shut up and read your favorite books. Until you get past that, you’re going to spend a lot of your time screaming at everyone you discuss politics with and wondering why it is that people can’t just be rational.

While, you know, simultaneously complaining that Hillary voters spend too much time insisting that everyone else is irrational. 🙂


You object to using anecdotes to support my point, and and your counterpoint is…an anecdote. About doorknocking, the single most useless way to push an issue ever. Great.

Getting away from anecdotes: take single payer. Republicans are against it, sure, *if you call it single payer*. Rephrase it, like Gallup did, to “replacing the ACA with a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans”, and Republicans only oppose it 41% to 55% – not great, but hardly insurmountable. So yeah, the messaging is going to have to be more nuanced than “KNOCK KNOCK HELLO I AM FROM THE DEMOCRATS DO YOU LIKE MY FIREFLY T-SHIRT? LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT SINGLE PAYER” but it can be done.

“Your side” doesn’t mean Hillary voters. It doesn’t mean activists with a focus on social rather than economic justice, although the Dem establishment is doing their very best to frame things that way. “Your side” means everyone who thinks the Dems just need to stick to the centre right and GOTV more, maybe run a POC candidate here and there. It means everyone who thinks Hillary was a progressive or electable candidate instead of a Kissinger-courting shitheel. Because “your side” thought Hillary had it in the bag (Blue Texas!), and you were fucking wrong, and when someone is that wrong about something they need to take a look at what *else* they could be wrong about. Not double down on everything, including what Those People in Those States believe, regardless of how many personal anecdotes they’ve racked up.

One hundred years ago this year, Rosa Luxemburg said our choice was socialism or barbarism. “Your side” said “Nope, there’s a Third Way! Suck off the banks and throw the people a bone now and then! We got this!” That just blew up in your and everybody’s faces. Now we get to see what barbarism looks like, and there’s only one way out.


“Your side” continues to mean, from what I can tell, “everyone who doesn’t passively accept my point of view”. Because again, for someone whose complaint is that other people don’t listen, you sure do ascribe opinions to other people that they don’t hold, haven’t expressed, and are watching you espouse on their behalf with polite bewilderment.

Also, for someone who keeps insisting that you can change hearts and minds with rational discourse and avoiding labels, you sure do keep coming back and saying the same thing while instantaneously dismissing everything anyone else says as a meaningless quibble.

Also also, for someone who insists that they’re not about shifting blame, but about finding solutions, you’re still spending an awful lot of time telling everyone how much you wash your hands of the Clinton campaign and its sins.

Basically, I still haven’t seen anything that says this isn’t just about making yourself feel better by making everyone else feel worse. And all I can really do with that at this point is pat you on the head and patronizingly say, “Yes, dear. Everyone is stupid except you.” Because that appears to be, ultimately, what you want to hear.


When I dismiss something, I can at least come up with a poll, or a statistic, or *gasp* an anecdote to back it up. All I’m getting back is “nuh-uh” and punditry.

I mean sure, if I was on a platform where anyone was watching, I’d be about changing minds and building solidarity. But I’m in the comments section of a guest post on an abandoned funnybooks blog, so fuck it, I’m just saying what I think.

And seriously – seriously – you stood up a week before the election and said “Actually, Hillary Clinton is a very good candidate”. Then she lost to a WWE Hall of Famer. Take your lumps, man.


Damn straight I said Hillary was a good candidate. She was a lousy campaigner, but I think she would have made a good President. There’s an old saying, “Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I’m going to fight for the best deal I can get, but I’m not going to turn down someone who’s spent her entire life working for progressive causes in favor of Magical Space Jesus just because my candidate lost in the primaries. Hillary Clinton, in the run-up to the election, deserved full-throated advocacy because she was the best choice available. There’s not a doubt in my mind about that and there never will be. That doesn’t mean she was the best choice ever, or that she was my favorite candidate, but Jesus fuck. How fucking stupid do you have to be to look at the fucking Trump trainwreck we’re getting right now and still think it was a good fucking idea to sabotage the only candidate who had a meaningful chance of winning?

I have had all these arguments before. Fundamentally, I am sick and tired of progressives arguing it is better to lose with a great candidate than to back one who won’t give you everything you want, because you know what? We’ve all seen how that works over eight years of Dubya, and I don’t need a repeat on steroids. You want a fight, there are plenty of people who need someone to fight for them. You want to throw an temper tantrum about whose fault it all was? Do it in someone else’s fucking living room.