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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14781 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-February-17, 05:12

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-February-17, 04:31, said:

Since Democratic voters seem to be very concerned about electability, I wonder if there has been much discussion about the various candidates' chances of winning again in 2024?

Bernie does it quite good in head-on-head polls vs Trump, but he will be very old in 2024, and besides, it is obvious that he has a lot of promises to backtrack on. Or am I seeing this wrongly?


The electability concern is more important in 2020 because of the perceived danger of Trump. In 2024 the Republican candidate may be less awful, and in any case the incumbent president doesn’t have to run again. If Bernie Sanders wins 2020 and his health is not so good in four years, perhaps he will choose to endorse someone else (maybe his VP) instead.

Head-to-head polls early on are not great anyway (often they are more about name recognition) so polling 2024 now is pretty unreliable.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#14782 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-17, 08:45

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-February-17, 04:31, said:

Since Democratic voters seem to be very concerned about electability, I wonder if there has been much discussion about the various candidates' chances of winning again in 2024?

Bernie does it quite good in head-on-head polls vs Trump, but he will be very old in 2024, and besides, it is obvious that he has a lot of promises to backtrack on. Or am I seeing this wrongly?

Sanders' supporters tend to be younger. The younger the voter the less concerned they are with electability and the more they care about alignment of issues. To cut a stereotype, younger voters naively want the perfect candidate should they be elected whereas older voters are more jaded and pragmatic and reckon that a flawed candidate in the WH is better than a perfect candidate that loses. If a Primary voter's main concern is electability then they were probably not voting for Sanders even in 2020, so the question about 2024 is probably not going to come up too often.

Now if Bloomberg starts to challenge the front runners, or if Biden gets his campaign back on track, that may well change. Not so much for Sanders though - his support is just cut differently.
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#14783 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-17, 09:06

View PostStevenG, on 2020-February-17, 04:51, said:

The way things are going, Trump will win in 2020 and 2024.

After which Jr. will inherit the throne?

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#14784 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-17, 13:36

From Did Biden Scare Off Our Next President? by David Leonhardt at NYT:

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More than four years ago, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign, many progressives were hoping Elizabeth Warren would run. Only after she passed on the race — evidently deciding that Hillary Clinton was too strong to be beaten — did a less prominent progressive enter: Bernie Sanders.

Last year, a different version of this scenario happened, this time in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Mitch Landrieu, Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg, among others, skipped the race, at least initially. Much as Clinton had scared off potential candidates in 2016, Joe Biden did so in 2020.

By now, the lesson from this history should be plain. If you want to be president of the United States and have an opportunity to run, you should not let another candidate keep you from running in the primaries.

Campaigns are too long and uncertain. And the odds of winning the presidency are never particularly good. Every Democrat to be elected president in the past half century — Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — started as a long shot, as did a couple of Republicans (Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan).

As the political adviser David Axelrod once told Senator Obama: “History tells us that candidates more often win by running early than by waiting their turn. The risk is not in running too soon. It’s in running too late and missing your opportunity.” Or as Axelrod told me last week, paraphrasing the old second baseman Eddie Stanky: “No-risk baseball is second-division baseball.”

With the current campaign mired in uncertainty, I think some Democrats and pundits are missing this lesson. Instead, it’s become common to talk about the damage that Biden supposedly did to this field. I have had a version of the thought myself: that Biden was strong enough to prevent other moderates from emerging without being strong enough to win the nomination himself.

But the early voting suggests that this analysis is more wrong than right. The problem wasn’t Biden. It was the way other Democrats overreacted to him. They committed a classic error of presidential politics, believing that campaigns were more predictable than they are.

Biden, after all, finished fifth in New Hampshire, with less than 9 percent of the vote. That’s not enough to crowd out anyone. Sure enough, he has not prevented Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of a small city, from becoming a serious candidate. Nor has Biden kept Amy Klobuchar’s once-moribund campaign from getting a new life. He hasn’t even kept Tom Steyer — Tom Steyer! — from surging in the South Carolina primary polls.

Imagine what this race might look like if other candidates had not taken a pass, delayed their entrance or dropped out early. South Carolina, the next primary (after Nevada’s caucus on Saturday), would be especially significant. Biden’s once huge lead there is shriveling — yet now there is no obvious alternative, especially for many of the state’s African-American voters.

Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans whose soaring speech on Confederate statues gave him a national profile, could have been a strong candidate in South Carolina. If Bloomberg — who’s second among black voters nationwide, according to the Quinnipiac Poll — hadn’t been scared away from South Carolina by Biden, Bloomberg might have made himself the clear moderate front-runner. He also could have reduced the perception that he was taking shortcuts.

Or imagine if Cory Booker or Kamala Harris, instead of quitting the race, had adopted a version of John McCain’s 2008 strategy. Like them, McCain entered the race as a potential front-runner, only to struggle. Far back in the polls and with little money left, he stripped down his campaign to the essentials and kept on running. McCain was making a bet on the unpredictability of politics. He won the nomination.

I’m not saying any one of these outcomes would have been likely this year. I’m saying that the field could have been bigger and stronger than it is and that Democrats shouldn’t have been so bashful.

A candidate doesn’t even need to win the nomination for a long-shot campaign to pay off. Reagan set up his 1980 win by taking on an incumbent president, Gerald Ford, in 1976. Warren might be the front-runner today if she, rather than Sanders, had taken on Hillary Clinton four years ago.

So what does this lesson suggest about the rest of the 2020 campaign?

Don’t jump to premature conclusions — or premature despair, if you consider Trump a threat to democracy. I think that Sanders, for instance, could be a problematic nominee, given his self-identification as a democratic socialist and his stances on fracking, immigration and health insurance. But I also think it’s silly to say he has no chance to beat Trump.

It wasn’t so long ago that people were claiming that the other moderates had no chance to beat Biden.

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#14785 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-18, 15:02

From the Editorial Board at WSJ:

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Virginia has long been a presidential battleground, but with Democratic control in Richmond it’s moving swiftly to shed its swing-state status. Last week the House of Delegates passed a bill that aims to do an end run around the Electoral College.

Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Virginia would award its 13 delegates to the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide no matter how he performed in Virginia. The compact goes into effect once states worth 270 electoral votes (a majority) have signed on. If Virginia ratifies the compact, that would bring the number to 209.

The remaining 61 would be a steep climb, but getting there isn’t out of the question as the legitimacy of the Electoral College becomes a partisan issue. A Democratic statehouse sweep in 2020 could put 270 within reach. Once the compact became active the lawsuits would rain down, and let’s hope the Supreme Court would provide clarity before the compact throws an election into chaos.

Our view is that the compact is likely unconstitutional, but that’s not the only reason to oppose it. Choosing Presidents by plebiscite could make the general election for President look like the Democrats’ Iowa caucuses. The winner-take-all Electoral College is a barrier to regional and third party bids. A national popular election would invite many more candidates, and the results might regularly not be known for days after Election Day. It could also deepen polarization as less populous regions are passed over because getting out the vote in large urban areas is more efficient.

Virginians might also heed self-interest. The state has turned blue in large part because of the growing number of gentry liberals surrounding Washington, D.C., but the socialist candidate currently leading the Democratic field doesn’t cater to that constituency. The Old Dominion could be competitive in a changed 2020 map, and a potentially decisive state may want to think twice about giving up its influence picking the President.

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#14786 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 09:01

Guest post from Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

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Donald Trump is at it again, using his constitutional power of the pardon lawlessly as a way to reward, as the New York Times put it, “a who’s who of white-collar criminals from politics, sports and business who were convicted on charges involving fraud, corruption and lies.”

For a president who sometimes wants to be treated as if he opposes corruption, it was yet another sad case of excusing or even embracing it. Once upon a time — for all recent presidents up through Barack Obama — pardons were carefully screened by professionals, and presidents would avoid any hint of partisanship or self-dealing. Now, in the deprofessionalized Trump administration, crooks send their representatives to Fox News to get the president’s attention.

I argued the case for the lawlessness of Trump’s approach to pardons long ago. Yes, an action can be both constitutionally authorized and also lawless.

I will add a couple of points. A lot of analysts on Tuesday committed the #cleverfallacy — assuming that Trump’s actions had some sort of complex rationale to them. While it’s always possible, the best explanation for Trump’s actions is his lack of impulse control. He wants what he wants, and he treats the presidency as something he won that allows him to do stuff he wants. Pardons are great for that, because they’re the closest thing to an absolute power the president has.

The other point? Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of former Democratic governor of Illinois Rod R. Blagojevich produced immediate criticism from Republican members of the House from that state. Politico’s Jake Sherman was not alone in sneering at such reports: “But if you’re Trump, you know that Rs are going to fall in line behind you either way. So why not just do what you want?”

But the problem here isn’t Republicans falling in line. In fact, it’s a pretty big deal for five Republicans to put out a statement criticizing a same-party president. And yes, it comes on top of Republican senators pushing against the president over war powers, and against his pick for the federal reserve. And after Republicans in both chambers of Congress having no interest at all in defending his budget proposal, which is (as usual) dead on arrival. And after his own attorney general rebuked him publicly and then was reported to be considering a resignation.

No, the problem here is one of many in the media setting a ridiculous bar for what counts as Republican dissent against Trump — so that unless congressional Republicans are willing to remove him from office or leave the party over his behavior, we’re told that their pushback just doesn’t count.

It is true, of course, that in many cases Republican criticism has been muted, or in other cases sharp criticism isn’t matched by votes. But same-party dissent is unusual, and it usually counts as news. To dismiss such things because they won’t push Trump out of office or because they seem insufficient giving the provocation is to give Trump a huge advantage over other politicians who are subject to endless rounds of “party in disarray” stories any time they receive same-party criticism.

It must be tempting to go darker. Bernstein's impulse control is admirable.

So Barr is left with resorting to ploys to create an illusion of integrity as if that were possible? You hate to see it.
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#14787 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 10:00

View PostStevenG, on 2020-February-17, 04:51, said:

The way things are going, Trump will win in 2020 and 2024.

To emphasise where things stand to any Dems in the room, dodgy Donald's approval rating at 538 is currently at its highest level since March 2017. Despite everything that has gone on in the last 3 years. And with a self-declared democratic socialist standing at the top of the primary polls, followed by a Republican wearing blue make up - both 78 years old. As a European supporter of America providing a long-term positive influence on the world, my hopes are not particularly high right now. I wrote a few pages back that Dems cannot afford to miss the point that voters are telling them. Sadly it looks very much as if that is precisely what is going to happen. You pretty much have 2 weeks to get it right. After that momentum will make it difficult to switch course. The rest of the democratic world is holding its breath waiting to see what happens.
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#14788 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 10:10

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-February-19, 10:00, said:

To emphasise where things stand to any Dems in the room, dodgy Donald's approval rating at 538 is currently at its highest level since March 2017. Despite everything that has gone on in the last 3 years. And with a self-declared democratic socialist standing at the top of the primary polls, followed by a Republican wearing blue make up - both 78 years old. As a European supporter of America providing a long-term positive influence on the world, my hopes are not particularly high right now. I wrote a few pages back that Dems cannot afford to miss the point that voters are telling them. Sadly it looks very much as if that is precisely what is going to happen. You pretty much have 2 weeks to get it right. After that momentum will make it difficult to switch course. The rest of the democratic world is holding its breath waiting to see what happens.



Who or what would you consider "getting it right"?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14789 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 11:47

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-February-19, 10:10, said:

Who or what would you consider "getting it right"?

Ideally someone that will win. But this was my take on that.

I am honestly not sure if any of the remaining candidates has what it takes to win. None of them seem to be in a position to show themselves to be strong candidates all of the time. Biden has been the biggest disappointment so far and his poor performances are compounded by a chronic lack of money. If at some stage he drops out then I would expect moderates to condense around Buttigieg or Klobuchar. If he stays in for the long haul, I honestly believe we will get 4 more years of America's image and reputation being trashed around the world. I hope I am wrong on this.
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#14790 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 13:03

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-February-19, 11:47, said:

Ideally someone that will win. But this was my take on that.

I am honestly not sure if any of the remaining candidates has what it takes to win. None of them seem to be in a position to show themselves to be strong candidates all of the time. Biden has been the biggest disappointment so far and his poor performances are compounded by a chronic lack of money. If at some stage he drops out then I would expect moderates to condense around Buttigieg or Klobuchar. If he stays in for the long haul, I honestly believe we will get 4 more years of America's image and reputation being trashed around the world. I hope I am wrong on this.


Thank you.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14791 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 13:04

wow, this is fairly outrageousl

Daily Beast reports that:

Quote

LONDON—A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14792 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 17:27

From The Audacity of Hate by Thomas Edsall at NYT:

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Karl Rove had a novel idea for how to organize President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

He and the chief campaign strategist, Matthew Dowd, decided on a “base strategy.” They reallocated the bulk of the campaign’s media budget to focus on social conservatives instead of on moderates — a decision predicated on the fact that the swing, or persuadable, share of the electorate had shrunk from one in five voters to less than one in 10. The most effective use of campaign funds, the thinking ran, was to invest in turning out more of the millions of white right-wing voters who needed to be motivated to show up at the polls.

The result was a shift that year from a traditional centrist strategy to an emphasis on anger and fear, a shift that turned out to have profound long-term consequences.

Campaigns in the past had relied on activating resentment and hostility, of course, but the re-election drive for Bush in 2004 was the first to make this the centerpiece of a mainstream presidential effort.

American politics were irrevocably transformed, polarization strategies became institutionalized and the stage was set for the explicit racial and anti-immigrant themes dominating Donald Trump’s campaigns for election and re-election.

Three major events over the next 10 years bridged the gap between the White House campaign of George W. Bush and the White House campaign of Donald J. Trump.

The economic meltdown of 2007-9 devastated faith in the American economic system and in the nation’s elected leaders — especially the Republican establishment.

In the midst of stock market losses of $2 trillion — a 40 percent plunge in the value of the Dow Jones — the country was hit by a catastrophic mortgage crisis, with nearly 10 million Americans losing their homes to foreclosure sales, according to Marketplace.org:

The effects of the subprime mortgage crisis are not only still being felt today, they have indelibly changed the way Americans view homeownership and the way we live.

In 2008, the country, reeling from economic chaos, elected Barack Obama — the brainy president of the Harvard Law Review and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago — as America’s first black president.

A second response to intensifying fears, however, was the emergence of the Tea Party, which mobilized racially and financially apprehensive whites who felt abandoned by the Republican leadership.

Hostility to Wall Street, costly bailouts of banks, brokerages and the auto industry, played a role. But as the financial crisis played out, immigration and struggles over school integration compounded this unease.

Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard and a co-author of “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” told Mother Jones:

This was definitely a movement of people who are anxious about racial changes in the country, anxious about immigration, and were, in some cases, also Christian conservatives who felt very passionately about homosexuality and abortion and having laws against those.

Skocpol, who spent many hours talking with Tea Party members, added that veterans of the Tea Party movement “are the core of the most adamant of Trump’s supporters.”

The Tea Party changed what it was permissible to debate openly in contemporary politics. Within a few years, it enabled Trump to further erode the norms of political combat and more openly instigate partisan conflict based on racial and ethnic antagonism.

Under Trump, coded rhetoric like Reagan’s “welfare queen” and Nixon’s “silent majority,” was — and is — no longer coded.

Trump’s sudden emergence as a political player began in 2011 with his championing of the birther movement, promoting the false allegation that President Obama was born in Kenya.

In March 2011, as he contemplated a run for the presidency, Trump began to claim in television interviews that Obama

doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me — and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that where it says “religion,” it might have “Muslim.” And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.

Trump directly challenged the political calculations of Republican leaders who argued after Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012 that the party needed to make inroads among Latino, Asian and African-American voters.

Sean Trende, an election analyst at RealClearPolitics, Vox reported, “offered a different diagnosis: Romney’s real problem was ‘missing’ white voters who didn’t show up to vote,” and Trende was proved right: As the 2016 primary battle progressed, “those voters” were “no longer missing.” Trump had found them.

Trump didn’t just find the missing white voters. He found the voters who most strongly objected to immigration, responding positively to such survey questions as:

“Immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care” and “It bothers me when I come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English.”

More than any of his competitors for the nomination, Trump understood the underbelly of the white Republican electorate. Not only did he understand it, he was ready and willing to go where no other presidential candidate would venture.

More than anything, Trump intuitively understood how polarization, and with it, the intense hatred among legions of Republican voters of liberal elites and of the so-called meritocracy could be a powerful tool to win elections.

Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at Brookings and the author, with Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, of the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” was blunt in his assessment of the broad contemporary political environment.

Partisan polarization has become hard-wired in the American political system and is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. Our constitutional system is not well matched with our current party system. Partisan asymmetry makes it even worse. The GOP has radicalized into an anti-system party that does not accept the legitimacy of its opposition and enables a slide toward autocracy. Very dangerous times for American democracy.

It is an environment in which negative campaigning, on TV and on social media, has become the instrument of choice, not a tool, but the beating heart of political partisanship.

Two political scientists, Gaurav Sood and Shanto Iyengar, describe this shift to antagonistic campaigning in “Coming to Dislike Your Opponents: The Polarizing Impact of Political Campaigns”

Negative ads are especially effective in increasing partisan affect. A strong negativity bias influences information processing, making people more likely to attend to negative rather than positive appeals.

The rise in hostile views of the opposition candidate, the two authors argue, “is not primarily due to learning about real ideological positions of the candidates and the parties.” Instead, they write, the more likely explanation is that the effectiveness of these campaigns is in reminding “partisans about the negative traits of the out-party candidate, and positive traits of her own party.”

Sood and Iyengar see the use of divisive campaign tactics increasing in the future:

It is likely that as a consequence of the data revolution, and burgeoning social scientific research, campaigns will learn to target individuals better, and will be able to deliver more “potent” messages to them.

In this climate, penalties for intraparty dissent are quick and brutal. Take a look at what happened to Justin Amash, of Michigan, once a Republican in good standing, one of the founders of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who was sent to political purgatory (and eventually exile from the party) after he suggested that Trump had committed impeachable offenses as president.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it,” Douglas Ahler, a political scientist at Florida State University, emailed in response to my inquiry, adding:

When you take today’s urban-rural divide, couple it with the most engaged citizens’ tendency to live in echo chambers, and add accelerants in the forms of identity politics and misinformation campaigns, you have a house waiting to go up in flames.

“We identify three possible negative outcomes for democracy,” the political scientists Jennifer McCoy and Tahmina Rahman of Georgia State and Murat Somer of Koç University Istanbul, wrote in their 2018 paper, “Polarization and the Global Crisis of Democracy.”

The three negative outcomes, according to the authors, are gridlock; democratic erosion or collapse under new elites and dominant groups; and democratic erosion or collapse under old elites and dominant groups.

With few exceptions, political scientists are pessimistic about both the short- and long-term prospects for amelioration of hostile partisan division. It is probably best not to take comfort in experiments that reveal that, under certain circumstances, it is possible to lessen polarization.

Ethan Porter, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, for example, wrote me that his work with Thomas J. Wood, a political scientist at Ohio State, shows that

when factual misinformation is corrected, people tend, on average, to be made more accurate. People are hardly invulnerable to factual corrections; on the contrary, whether Republicans or Democrats are exposed to corrections of their partisan leaders, they generally respond by becoming more accurate.

In practice, however, the rise of newspaper fact-checking would appear to at least partially achieve the goal of correcting misinformation, even as the rise of mutual hatred between Democrats and Republicans has accelerated.

Similarly, Joshua Kalla and David Broockman, political scientists at Yale and Berkeley, argued in their January 2020 paper “Reducing exclusionary attitudes through interpersonal conversation,” that “exclusionary attitudes — prejudice toward outgroups and opposition to policies that promote their well-being — are presenting challenges to democratic societies worldwide,” but, what they describe as “non-judgmentally exchanging narratives in interpersonal conversations can facilitate durable reductions in exclusionary attitudes.”

But, it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of circumstances under which Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, or Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump, would “non-judgmentally” exchange “narratives in interpersonal conversations.”

Nate Persily, a professor of law and political science at Stanford, wrote me that the most significant damage resulting from negative partisanship and polarization is

that the normal methods of accountability in a democratic society cease to apply. It used to be that people, regardless of party, believed government statistics about the employment rate and other metrics of progress and national well-being. Now, our interpretation of the basic facts of whether we are going in the right or wrong direction is dominated by whether expressing such an opinion is consistent with that which would advantage our tribe.

This extends to the legitimacy of elections, Persily continued, adding that

trust in the electoral process is now contingent on who wins. That is, losers will cry ‘fraud’ and consider the president illegitimate, even if the election is well-run. This is the kind of dynamic we see in the developing world and unstable democracies. It is a recipe for disaster.

Alex Theodoridis, a political scientist at the University of California-Merced, argued that instead of being an aberration, polarization may now be the norm, the default political environment:

Many look back fondly on the middle part of the last century when political party, ideology, and a host of social categories were not strongly aligned the way they are today and, thus, partisan polarization was far less pronounced.

But, he continued,

it is more likely that that bygone era was the aberration and today’s hyperpolarization is what we should expect in equilibrium. In other words, we probably ought to accept the current state of affairs as the new normal. The mutual dislike and distrust between Democrats and Republicans is likely to persist without a dramatic party realignment.

In fact, nothing would make Trump happier than to have Theodoridis’s belief that polarization is the new normal or to see Persily’s warnings of lost legitimacy proven true. Trump thrives when the climate is chaotic and disruptive and he is the prime example of lost legitimacy in American politics.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14793 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-19, 23:02

From Building A Better Warrenism by Will Wilkinson at the Niskanen Center:

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After her fourth-place finish in New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren’s prospects look shaky. She’ll need to put up strong numbers in Nevada and South Carolina if she’s to mount a Super Tuesday surge that puts her back in serious contention for the Democratic nomination. It’s possible, but for now the odds look long.

Whether she manages to catch fire or flames out in two weeks, there are important lessons to be gleaned from Warren’s campaign, the agenda that drives it, and the debate around it. I believe we’ve misunderstood Elizabeth Warren, because we’ve misunderstood Warren-ism. This is largely due to the stultifying limitations of our conventional ideological categories, which pit “left” against “center” against “right” and “socialism” against “capitalism.” The candidate herself is partly to blame: She has defined herself, and has specified the policy details of her agenda, too much in the impoverished terms of our creaking political categories.

A “Bedford Falls for All” agenda

Having looked carefully at Warren’s history and “plans,” I’m convinced that her defining aim, “big structural change,” is mainly about the vigorous reassertion of (small-r) republican popular sovereignty over our common institutions against their corruption by corporate venality. Elizabeth Warren doesn’t want to nationalize manufacturing, seize the wealth that capitalists have stolen from workers, or radically level the distribution of income and wealth to align with some abstract ideal of distributive justice.

As far as I can tell, what Elizabeth Warren wants is the kind of democracy and market economy she thought we had when she was a Republican, but was scandalized to discover we didn’t have, thanks to the undue influence of self-dealing moneyed interests in the policymaking process.

Because the American republic is, in fact, in the midst of a spiraling crisis of corruption, there is more than a whiff of radicalism in a reform agenda focused on rooting out graft and restoring popular sovereignty. But Warren’s program is animated by earnest devotion to sturdy procedural ideals — fair elections, the rule of law, equitable and responsive political representation, and clean public administration— not left-wing ideology. It aims to realize a homely republican vision of America in which equal democratic citizens of every gender, color, and creed can vote their way to a system that gives everybody a fair shot at a sound education and a decent wage sufficient to raise a family in a comfortable home without becoming indentured to creditors or wrecked by the vicissitudes of capitalist dislocation.

This is more Frank Capra than Fidel Castro. Warrenism is not hostile to capitalism. It’s hostile to the forces that have turned our country into the United States of Pottersville. America never was Bedford Falls, Capra’s idealized American town in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Not for everybody, at any rate. Not by a long shot. But that’s at bottom what Elizabeth Warren wants: Bedford Falls for All (if we can imagine that multicultural mega-cities count as versions of Bedford Falls, too), brought to you by the uncorrupted democratic will of the American people, in all its varied splendor. That’s not a left-wing vision. It’s just an enormously appealing vision, at once liberal and republican, that taps straight into the main vein of our political culture’s idealized self-conception.

The trouble is, Warren has muddled her pitch and stepped on its populist appeal by proliferating detailed “plans” for every conceivable issue and progressive constituency in a misguided attempt to dig into Bernie Sanders’ left-wing support. The stirring vision of a multicultural “Bedford Falls for All” America, which I see as the moral heart of Warrenism, has been obscured by a haze of technocratic detail. Meanwhile, “big structural change” has been made to seem more contentiously ideological and bureaucratically suffocating than it ought to, neutralizing the energizing, nonpartisan populist appeal of Warrenism’s core agenda: the restoration of meaningful democratic control over the institutions that shape our lives.

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The basic structure of America’s democracy and market economy is broken, and our system is sliding ever deeper into lawless corruption under Donald Trump. An effective agenda of “big structural change” that brings our common institutions under meaningful popular control is urgently needed. It’s crucial to get it right, because the future of our republic really may turn on it.

However she fares in the remainder of the race, we should be grateful to Elizabeth Warren for showing us the way. If she falters, we should want Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg or even Michael Bloomberg to pick up her broken spear. But this is more likely if the radical core agenda of Warrenism is attached to a more moderate policy agenda — and a simpler, more focused, less managerialist message — that can command a level of support equal to the challenge of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump’s charismatic, anti-elitist, wrecking-ball clarity.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14794 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 06:42

View Posty66, on 2020-February-19, 17:27, said:

From The Audacity of Hate by Thomas Edsall at NYT:

I disagree with quite a lot of this. I see extremism as a symptom, not the cause. If history teaches us anything it is that people turn to extremists when they get desperate. The financial crisis and fears about asylum-seekers were the drivers of that but for me the underlying cause is simply that the people have lost faith in politicians that are perceived to be more interested in retaining their privileged position than in helping the country or its population. If strategists take away from Trump's win that the way forward is to tack to the extremes and "energise the base" then they are failing in their jobs. The appeal of dodgy Donald is that he is an outsider from political circles and projected an image of getting stuff done, in particular things that would be good for regular people and bad for the political elite. Republicans should be wary of falling into the same trap as the British Conservative party in the mid 90s and 00s, holding out at the margins while their opponents occupy the middle ground.

On the Dem side there are similar traps. To me Buttigieg sums up the whole she-bang. When he goes out and talks about getting stuff done with youthful enthusiasm there is an almost immediate response from the public in polling data. Then he follows up with trying to look "presidential" and comes across as a smarmy, polished fully paid up member of the political elite. There are similar beefs to be had with every candidate. What they need to remember is that vacating the middle ground is very rarely a winning strategy but regardless of whether they stand in the centre or far to the left, what is important is not so much specifically what they will do so much as convincing voters that they will actually do something meaningful. Not just talk about it but actually follow through.

Given that politicians consistently score lower on trust surveys than used car salesmen, that is no easy task. As I have already written, my instinct tells me that none of the 3 older candidates are in a position to instill that level of trust in voters. And if they cannot then they will not win. Of the 3 remaining younger candidates, Warren lost pretty much all of the trust when she failed to answer basic questions about her central policy piece. I think she is done. The 2 younger moderates are the ones I am watching. As already mentioned, Buttigieg is running a fine campaign but he seriously needs to sell the young dynamic change-catalyst angle rather than trying to shore up on his lack of experience. When he does that he just looks like A.N.Other politician. For Klobuchar it is similar. First of al she is a woman, which sadly is still a serious disadvantage in American politics. That with her lower starting base score in polling means she gets less spotlight and fewer chances to shine. When she is shown though and talks about what she wants to do I think she comes across well. What I dislike about her is, for example, when she talks about her electoral record. That again emphasises her place as a member of the political elite and, quite frankly, who cares? More seriously though, she comes across to me as more of a care manager than a dynamic instrument of change. In the end I think that will hold her back from making serious inroads but perhaps she can yet prove me wrong there.

In any case, to me the lessons from dodgy Donald's election, and even from the Democratic primary season so far, are plain to see. If strategists are seeing the same thing and concluding otherwise then I have to wonder. Given that Trump's course to re-election is pretty clear at this stage, drawing false conclusions now can only hurt Dems. I fear really that far from being just an isolated article, the basis for it runs deeper in Dem thinking and that the direction is more towards appealing to elites and revolutionaries than to "normal" people. And if that is the case then I do not think it matters too much who gets to put their name down as the candidate.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#14795 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 09:02

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-February-20, 06:42, said:

I disagree with quite a lot of this. I see extremism as a symptom, not the cause. If history teaches us anything it is that people turn to extremists when they get desperate. The financial crisis and fears about asylum-seekers were the drivers of that but for me the underlying cause is simply that the people have lost faith in politicians that are perceived to be more interested in retaining their privileged position than in helping the country or its population. If strategists take away from Trump's win that the way forward is to tack to the extremes and "energise the base" then they are failing in their jobs. The appeal of dodgy Donald is that he is an outsider from political circles and projected an image of getting stuff done, in particular things that would be good for regular people and bad for the political elite. Republicans should be wary of falling into the same trap as the British Conservative party in the mid 90s and 00s, holding out at the margins while their opponents occupy the middle ground.

On the Dem side there are similar traps. To me Buttigieg sums up the whole she-bang. When he goes out and talks about getting stuff done with youthful enthusiasm there is an almost immediate response from the public in polling data. Then he follows up with trying to look "presidential" and comes across as a smarmy, polished fully paid up member of the political elite. There are similar beefs to be had with every candidate. What they need to remember is that vacating the middle ground is very rarely a winning strategy but regardless of whether they stand in the centre or far to the left, what is important is not so much specifically what they will do so much as convincing voters that they will actually do something meaningful. Not just talk about it but actually follow through.

Given that politicians consistently score lower on trust surveys than used car salesmen, that is no easy task. As I have already written, my instinct tells me that none of the 3 older candidates are in a position to instill that level of trust in voters. And if they cannot then they will not win. Of the 3 remaining younger candidates, Warren lost pretty much all of the trust when she failed to answer basic questions about her central policy piece. I think she is done. The 2 younger moderates are the ones I am watching. As already mentioned, Buttigieg is running a fine campaign but he seriously needs to sell the young dynamic change-catalyst angle rather than trying to shore up on his lack of experience. When he does that he just looks like A.N.Other politician. For Klobuchar it is similar. First of al she is a woman, which sadly is still a serious disadvantage in American politics. That with her lower starting base score in polling means she gets less spotlight and fewer chances to shine. When she is shown though and talks about what she wants to do I think she comes across well. What I dislike about her is, for example, when she talks about her electoral record. That again emphasises her place as a member of the political elite and, quite frankly, who cares? More seriously though, she comes across to me as more of a care manager than a dynamic instrument of change. In the end I think that will hold her back from making serious inroads but perhaps she can yet prove me wrong there.

In any case, to me the lessons from dodgy Donald's election, and even from the Democratic primary season so far, are plain to see. If strategists are seeing the same thing and concluding otherwise then I have to wonder. Given that Trump's course to re-election is pretty clear at this stage, drawing false conclusions now can only hurt Dems. I fear really that far from being just an isolated article, the basis for it runs deeper in Dem thinking and that the direction is more towards appealing to elites and revolutionaries than to "normal" people. And if that is the case then I do not think it matters too much who gets to put their name down as the candidate.


I strongly agree with your first three sentences. However, I think that the desperation you describe is what is driving Bernie's campaign. Beating Trump will require a huge voter turnout. Of all the candidates, only Bernie and Warren appeal to a FDR-like program of relevant change that actually addresses problems of the disenfranchised. Whether that is enough to bring out youth voters in sufficient quantity is unknown, but at the same time running a status-quo rehash candidate, hoping to get a few disgruntled Republicans (who support Trump 88%) and conservative independents to vote Democrat seems a losing battle from the start.

What is clear by national polling is that the middle ground is that ground proposed by Sanders and Warren; but it is framed by the reporting of it as wildly liberal and impossible.

The world has much to fear from the U.S.A., as it is being held hostage by a minority party intent by any means to hold onto party, led by a deranged megalomaniac head of a criminal enterprise who in 3 short years and aided and abetted by a willing Senate has co-opted the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Supreme Court.

This is how most democracies die - slowly, and from the ballot box.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14796 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 10:32

Mick Mulvaney explained to folks in the UK the view of US Republicans concerning the budget deficit:

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“My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party,” Mulvaney said at the Oxford Union to a group of several hundred people.

Republicans were not concerned when Reagan exploded the deficit. Not concerned with the deficit when Bush I was president. Concerned with the deficit when Clinton was president. Not at all concerned when Bush II exploded the deficit again. Extremely concerned that Obama reduced the Bush deficit too slowly. Pleased as punch that Trump has blown the deficit through the roof.

The reasons for the change of heart are that deficits boost the economy, so they help to elect Republicans to office. But the deficits are not sustainable, so when the Republican mismanagement blows up the economy, the Democrats are elected to clean things up. It did not work this way before Reagan: From Truman through Carter, every administration worked successfully to reduce the national debt, which had ballooned during WWII.

All Republican politicians today understand this fraud completely, but count on the votes of fools to stay in power. Now, though, the Trump deficit takes this stupidity to a whole new level. Eventually the Democrats will have to do some heavy lifting to clean this up -- while listening to the yapping of hypocrites about the tax increases needed to fix what they themselves have done. What a godawful, but predictable, mess. I'm hoping some of the fools that support Trump wise up, but I'll believe it when I see it.
The growth of wisdom may be gauged exactly by the diminution of ill temper. — Friedrich Nietzsche
The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists — that is why they invented hell. — Bertrand Russell
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#14797 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 14:22

Edsall’s main point is that emphasizing fear and hate in election campaigns has worked well for Republicans and that whatever used to provide a check on hyperpolarization in their party has vanished.

Dems success in 2018 showed that favorable changes in demographics and a centrist strategy like the one Rove & Co abandoned can beat fear and hate. But that strategy is not exactly front and center at the moment. And even if it reemerges in September, it may not be enough to beat Trump and his ilk in a decent economy. If Republicans win in 2020, will they credit their success to the economy and change their playbook? Why would they? And if they lose, fear and hate will be the only playbook they know which is a good reason to think Edsall is right when he says we should expect more hyperpolarization, not less.

Edsall's suggestion that politics were "irrevocably transformed" in 2004 feels like an overbid. Irrevocably transformed until Republicans come up with something better, which they have not given any indication they want to do or know how to do, sounds right though.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14798 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 14:23

View PostPassedOut, on 2020-February-20, 10:32, said:

Mick Mulvaney explained to folks in the UK the view of US Republicans concerning the budget deficit:


Republicans were not concerned when Reagan exploded the deficit. Not concerned with the deficit when Bush I was president. Concerned with the deficit when Clinton was president. Not at all concerned when Bush II exploded the deficit again. Extremely concerned that Obama reduced the Bush deficit too slowly. Pleased as punch that Trump has blown the deficit through the roof.

The reasons for the change of heart are that deficits boost the economy, so they help to elect Republicans to office. But the deficits are not sustainable, so when the Republican mismanagement blows up the economy, the Democrats are elected to clean things up. It did not work this way before Reagan: From Truman through Carter, every administration worked successfully to reduce the national debt, which had ballooned during WWII.

All Republican politicians today understand this fraud completely, but count on the votes of fools to stay in power. Now, though, the Trump deficit takes this stupidity to a whole new level. Eventually the Democrats will have to do some heavy lifting to clean this up -- while listening to the yapping of hypocrites about the tax increases needed to fix what they themselves have done. What a godawful, but predictable, mess. I'm hoping some of the fools that support Trump wise up, but I'll believe it when I see it.


I would think by now you would understand that what the Republican party specializes in the the creation and promotion of faux crises. Be it budget deficits, national debt, immigrants, Muslims, their own government, elites, insiders, outsides, sidewinders, windsurfers, surfing the internet, or simply brown people everywhere, the Republic party in unison, along with their well-orchestrated media echo chamber, pound out daily the same false dichotomy that it is Us v Them.

They have no interest in governance, only power. Their very reason d'etre is to divide, by any means necessary.

(And please, as a special aside to PassedOut, please understand that I speak of the Republican party, not conservatives as a whole, and certainly not about you.)
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14799 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-February-20, 16:30

View PostPassedOut, on 2020-February-20, 10:32, said:

Mick Mulvaney explained to folks in the UK the view of US Republicans concerning the budget deficit:


Republicans were not concerned when Reagan exploded the deficit. Not concerned with the deficit when Bush I was president. Concerned with the deficit when Clinton was president. Not at all concerned when Bush II exploded the deficit again. Extremely concerned that Obama reduced the Bush deficit too slowly. Pleased as punch that Trump has blown the deficit through the roof.

In other words, Republican politicians at the national level are Trump level liars and hypocrites, and have no shame in repeating discredited lies.

Not only about the debt, but it's the whole theory of the tinkle down economics. IE Let the richest people in the country accumulate all the money and when they take a whizz and some of that whizz tinkles down their leg and fertilizes the ground, it is good for the average person . Somehow end this will end up stimulating the economy so there is a massive improvement for everybody down the line.
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#14800 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-21, 03:38

View Postjohnu, on 2020-February-20, 16:30, said:

Not only about the debt, but it's the whole theory of the tinkle down economics. IE Let the richest people in the country accumulate all the money and when they take a whizz and some of that whizz tinkles down their leg and fertilizes the ground, it is good for the average person . Somehow end this will end up stimulating the economy so there is a massive improvement for everybody down the line.

Trickle down economics is not as bad a theory as some on the Left proclaim. The idea that the more hands money passes through from creation to expiry, the more wealth is generated is sound. And so is the idea that $1000 spent by a rich person will on average pass through more hands than $10 each from 100 poor people. The problem comes from the disconnect between money given to rich people and their spending patterns. If you provide $10 to a poor person they will almost certainly spend 100% of it quite quickly. But the rich person receiving $1000 has already bought everything they need so they are much more likely to use that extra cash for investments than spending. That in turn means that the $1000 ends up passing through very few hands on its way through the system, providing the opposite effect to that being desired. So yes, trickle down economics do not really work but the reasons are a little more complex than your pi$$ analogy.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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