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US Politics: Show Trials & Tribulations

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1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

Hard to argue otherwise.

And yet, for conversation's sake, I can't help but remember one of Michael Moore's books in which he took a bunch of surveys showing that Americans were far more "left-wing" than politics tended to show (I'm aware he probably did some cherry-picking, I read that a decade ago).
Yet, a good example of that might be Warren's wealth tax, which in some polls gets the support of around 75% of registered voters (or at least 70%).
There's a strand of letist scholarship arguing that on economic issues populations are much more left-leaning than it seems and that politics quite simply do not reflect the will of the people because the culture war keeps emphasizing non-economic issues.

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that almost everyone here leans left on cultural as well as economic issues... ;) 
As I said, this is just for conversation's sake.

 

Funny you should mention Michael Moore. I've always been a Democrat, but in the 90's when I was in my early 20's I had some conservative views. And one of the things about that is conservative attacks on Democrat/liberal figures are more likely to be effective. In particular if you are young and naive. I definitely thought Moore was a left-wing loon, various attacks on him, combined with me disagreeing with some of his positions at the time, worked on me.

So, I read an interview with Moore somewhere in 2019, where he was speaking his views. And I was like, wow, he's just a regular liberal. 

Edited by Martell Spy

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3 hours ago, Raja said:

Why do you think that makes you queasy? Not trying to be an ass, I'm genuinely curious.

When pollsters call and ask me if I identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, I always say Independent though I am a registered Democrat and don't anticipate ever voting for a Republican again. 

There used to be a really big part of American culture that identified "straight ticket" voting as being unreasonable and even semi-fanatic and where the ideal was to vote for "the person, not the party." With today's polarization the logic behind that no longer really works, but for those of us over the age of 50 who were raised with that ideal it's emotionally hard not to want the days where that attitude worked to return. I totally understand where Biden is coming from in his wish to do "bipartisan" things. Emotionally that's what I want too, though logically I realize in the present world it's probably a pipe dream.

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The term Liberal is still a dirty word in many parts. Very easy to paint someone like Michael Moore as un-American. Too many still feel that to be conservative is to be normal. One of many reasons I nervous about the increasing possibility of a Sanders nomination.

Incidentally, I loved Moore in the 90s. Still enjoy hearing him but my enthusiasm has cooled in recent years.

 

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1 hour ago, Martell Spy said:

 

Funny you should mention Michael Moore. I've always been a Democrat, but in the 90's when I was in my early 20's I had some conservative views. And one of the things about that is conservative attacks on Democrat/liberal figures are more likely to be effective. In particular if you are young and naive. I definitely thought Moore was a left-wing loon, various attacks on him, combined with me disagreeing with some of his positions at the time, worked on me.

So, I read an interview with Moore somewhere in 2019, where he was speaking his views. And I was like, wow, he's just a regular liberal. 

Yep. Kinda similar for me.

I was pretty conservative around the late 90's, early 2000's and probably would've voted for Bush in 2000, if I was old enough to vote at the time. And I really, really did not like Moore back then, despite knowing next to nothing about him other than that he didn't bow down and worship the hallowed gun. I really wish I would've given him a fair chance back then as it very likely might've saved me a few years of being a total fucking chud. 

Still, even without Moore, all it took was a good 8 years of conservative incompetence and lunacy to turn me into a liberal. I guess the Bush presidency did have at least one upside?

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Hope I didn't miss this catching up on the thread now, but Tom Edsall (NYT, limited clicks) has a column today that not only gets into this question of when does one become more liberal or conservative but also touches on that one I linked earlier about political hobbyists.  

It may be depressing reading as it suggests that (wo)man's natural state is to inch towards conservatism and easier but not necessarily correct shortcuts/mental heuristics.  

On that political hobbyist thing upon reflection I'd echo what I think @DMCsaid that, yeah, it's really just another name for political junkie, and that these people (I'm one) are not necessarily great villains or "ruining politics" like that headline said.  Sure, compared to the very invested activist they can be painted a certain way.  But contrast this to the enormous portion of Americans that do not even fucking vote or the guy who in the Bush v. Gore controversy said "there's no difference between the parties" and thought that saying was a sign of political wisdom.  

Compared to all of that the political junkie isn't so wretched a creature.

 

Edited by Triskele

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Worth a separate, double-post:

I am pessimistic beyond belief about this impeachment situation and Trump and the GOP and all of it and think we are in "if you were planning on having kids why are you not reconsidering?" territory.  

That said, Schiff is so the fucking man, and I would in no way roll the dice on having anyone else be in the roll he's in right now.  How he stays so on top of it with the facts while presumably not sleeping is incredible, and while I've got nothing against someone like Nadler there is just no comparison in the optics.  

If we all go down it will not be because Schiff failed us.  It will be because it turned out that we had already lost on 11/8/16 which I feared that we had at the time.  

Edited by Triskele

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5 hours ago, Ormond said:

There used to be a really big part of American culture that identified "straight ticket" voting as being unreasonable and even semi-fanatic and where the ideal was to vote for "the person, not the party."

Yeah, I think this was really over sold a bit. When you consider the amount of time required to gather all the information required to vote for the "right person", its actually pretty rational to make the mental shortcut to vote for a party, which is mostly in aligned with your views. It saves time and costs.

It's kind of like what's in the behavioral economics literature where people often using "rules of thumb" to make decisions, rather than trying to gather all the information to be perfect optimizer. Gathering all the necessary information is time consuming and costly, so it makes sense to use a "rule of thumb" instead.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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3 hours ago, Triskele said:

Hope I didn't miss this catching up on the thread now, but Tom Edsall (NYT, limited clicks) has a column today that not only gets into this question of when does one become more liberal or conservative but also touches on that one I linked earlier about political hobbyists.  

It may be depressing reading as it suggests that (wo)man's natural state is to inch towards conservatism and easier but not necessarily correct shortcuts/mental heuristics. 

Well sure, humans are animals after all, so it follows that we're not exactly spontaneously generous toward others in material terms. But that we instinctively lack empathy in some situations does not exclude the fact that we instinctively have empathy in a whole lot of other situations. Such stuff is actually incredibly complex and I don't think anyone should attempt to simplify it.
It's relatively easy to write an article focusing on the research that points toward instinctive lack of empathy, but the reverse is perfectly possible as well.

On top of my head I'd say this article does not factor in-group/out-group feelings well. In other words, it almost forgets once a given human group has been established empathy between individuals of that group is likely to skyrocket. And because humans are social creatures we only exist within social groups to begin with. One of these propositions is particularly telling: "I would/wouldn’t want foreigners, homosexuals or people with AIDS as neighbors." Now reverse the proposition and ask something like "Will you support them if one of your neighbors turns out to be homosexual, have AIDS, or be an undocumented immigrant" and you'll likely get very different results.
Humans are collaborative animals and develop incredible empathy within the context of collaboration (even very superficial collaboration). But that requires an initial connection of sorts. If you ask questions based on notions and concepts that underline differences to begin with you're indeed likely to get answers that focus on those differences. "Would you help a foreigner?" and "Would you help a neighbor/colleague/acquaintance that happens to have a different passport?" will yield very different results.
And this article focuses on race and immigration... "Race" as a specific concept (i.e. with very specific definitions for each "race") being an artificial construct to begin with. It wasn't long ago that Irishmen were discriminated against because they supposedly didn't have the same values as other Americans... Immigration being a process involving multiple factors. Again, ask someone if they'll help an undocumented immigrant and ask them if they'll help someone who's lost their home and had to flee their country because of war and you're likely to get different answers.
There's also something odd about the way the article seems to define "liberal" and "conservative." Liberalism seems to be defined as the opposite of tribalism, and a liberal someone who wouldn't have any "fears and concerns" about immigration. I'd say that's moving the goalposts a bit. Liberalism can be many things, but I don't think it is the belief in a universal brotherhood of man just yet (or has American liberalism really reached that point? I'm genuinely curious). Sure, it's what we desire eventually, but hoping studies to show this as an instinct is an absurd expectation. Given how recent universalist ideologies are (in the history of our species) it's an incredible achievement that so many people would already reject tribalism on principle alone. Shift the perspective of the article a bit, keeping most of the quotes, and you can argue that Trumpism is more of a temporary setback in our evolution than something that is "deeply ingrained" in ourselves. Imho.

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6 hours ago, Triskele said:

Hope I didn't miss this catching up on the thread now, but Tom Edsall (NYT, limited clicks) has a column today that not only gets into this question of when does one become more liberal or conservative but also touches on that one I linked earlier about political hobbyists.  

It may be depressing reading as it suggests that (wo)man's natural state is to inch towards conservatism and easier but not necessarily correct shortcuts/mental heuristics.  

On that political hobbyist thing upon reflection I'd echo what I think @DMCsaid that, yeah, it's really just another name for political junkie, and that these people (I'm one) are not necessarily great villains or "ruining politics" like that headline said.  Sure, compared to the very invested activist they can be painted a certain way.  But contrast this to the enormous portion of Americans that do not even fucking vote or the guy who in the Bush v. Gore controversy said "there's no difference between the parties" and thought that saying was a sign of political wisdom.  

Compared to all of that the political junkie isn't so wretched a creature.

 

 

That was interesting, but some of it, especiallythe Chait stuff, chafes, but that's to be expected.  Here's what he said about tribalism:

Quote

[tribalism] is not a mindless and eternal “us versus them” mentality. It is a set of psychological adaptations that make people respond to threats and intergroup competition with an urge to band together, enforce loyalty to the team, and guard boundaries or territory

This is, actually, functionally the same thing as a mindless and eternal "us vs them" mentality, Jonathan.

It especially doesn't make any fucking sense when applied to a lot of politics today, like arguing against universal healthcare.  The argument against it is literally "we are afraid to share what we have, even though we won't actually lose anything".  That's us vs them in a nutshell.  Same goes for immigration or progressive taxation.

On the political hobbyist/junkie stuff... I'm not seeing why one of those is a more offensive thing to be, but also 100% agree that it's a real thing.  Arguing about stuff on the internet might change some votes, but its not a substitute for, or the same thing as, actually working to make stuff happen.  Not sure why this is such an unsettling idea.  

Biggest takeaway, for me  assuming the author's model of conservative/liberal is correct, with liberals being less committed to their positions, or more likely to abandon them when stressed/distracted, is that the best way to avoid these conservative outcomes is mandatory voting.  As in if we had mandatory voting (cough cough @Ser Scot A Ellison), we'd be able to create a much more 'liberal' world.

Edited by larrytheimp

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39 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

Biggest takeaway, for me  assuming the author's model of conservative/liberal is correct, with liberals being less committed to their positions, or more likely to abandon them when stressed/distracted, is that the best way to avoid these conservative outcomes is mandatory voting.  As in if we had mandatory voting (cough cough @Ser Scot A Ellison), we'd be able to create a much more 'liberal' world.

Unless mandatory vote is paired with a none of the above option with teeth it is simply requiring the populus to endorse the candidates pre-selected for them without an ability to reject that slate and require a new slate be presented to them.

I say that as someone who volunteers as a poll manager.  Voting is important enough that it be presented in such a way that people who vote have genuine choice.  Not a requirement to pick the least bad option or face legal/criminal sanction.

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15 hours ago, DMC said:

I really don't get why a bunch of y'all (didn't mean to pick on you Maith, just the most recent post about it) are acting like Hillary's attack on Bernie means it's a mistake, or that she's a bad politician, or that it hurts the Democratic party, or that it demonstrates she's a bad strategist.  Hillary isn't a politician anymore, she's a retired politician.  As such, she is naturally going to feel less constrained about "what's good for the party" than when she was trying to lead it - further, I strongly suspect in her mind she feels like the party abandoned/betrayed her (and Bill) over the past 4 or even 12 years.  So strategically, all she wanted to do was hit Bernie and figure out the best time to do it.  I'm honestly not sure if she had control over when these comments were leaked, but right before voting starts seems like pretty damn good timing to me, if your goal is to get revenge on Sanders.

Anyway, point is Hillary is a wild card and has nothing to lose.  I don't think her criticisms will have much of an impact at all, and I'm sure that's why she feels free to insert own invective during the primaries.  Like I said, I don't think it's a problem until/unless she's still doing this once someone wraps up the nomination.

I don't think that Clinton is a bad politician, but everyone has their blind spots.  If Clinton's goal was to damage Sanders then this is totally the wrong way to do it.  While there is a portion of the Democratic base that remain loyal to Clinton and care what she has to say, that group has essentially no overlap with potential Sanders voters in 2020.  In contrast, there is a portion of the Democratic base that are pretty sick of the Clintons and the way they do politics, and that group is likely to be well represented amongst potential Sanders voters.  Thus, Clinton highlighting the differences between herself and Sanders is likely to do as much harm as good. 

Now I suppose it's possible that Clinton is all out of fucks to give, and just wants to speak her mind, and that's fine.  But if she actually wants to maintain political influence (and I suspect she does), then this is not helping the "nominate someone other than Sanders" cause. 

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14 hours ago, DMC said:

The ideological spectrum is significantly shifted on this board, or particularly in these threads.  Here, I'm a "moderate" perpetuating white male privilege.  In the real world, I'm a dyed in the wool liberal.  

I think a big part of it is what are the most important aspects of being a liberal/leftist/progressive to you. For a lot of Americans who are extremely online, its various social/cultural values. And if those particular values that they care about aren't as important to you, its very easy to get accused of being a centrist or moderate (or, in the case of Twitter conversations, a fascist).

 

Now personally, I finished transitioning from a nationalize everything socialist to a center-leftist several years ago and I've been fine with it. Though I also maintain the elitist attitude of "Everyone is so fucking dumb all the time. Let's just give all the power to the RAND Corporation and a handful of other technocrats and call it a day."

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9 hours ago, Triskele said:

Worth a separate, double-post:

I am pessimistic beyond belief about this impeachment situation and Trump and the GOP and all of it and think we are in "if you were planning on having kids why are you not reconsidering?" territory.  

That said, Schiff is so the fucking man, and I would in no way roll the dice on having anyone else be in the roll he's in right now.  How he stays so on top of it with the facts while presumably not sleeping is incredible, and while I've got nothing against someone like Nadler there is just no comparison in the optics.  

If we all go down it will not be because Schiff failed us.  It will be because it turned out that we had already lost on 11/8/16 which I feared that we had at the time.  

I was reading today that some significant percentage of voters (didn't specify left or right) felt that if you know you can't get the votes to impeach, then why do it at all? I find this incredibly frustrating as these are likely the same people that believe in swift "justice" for people of color and the poor.

To me, this just emphasizes how cultural hegemony has been such an effective tool of the elite. 

Edited by Simon Steele

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1 hour ago, Maithanet said:

I don't think that Clinton is a bad politician, but everyone has their blind spots.  If Clinton's goal was to damage Sanders then this is totally the wrong way to do it. 

What would be the right way to do it?  In terms of trying to influence the public, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any other way she could go about it, so honestly curious.

48 minutes ago, Fez said:

Though I also maintain the elitist attitude of "Everyone is so fucking dumb all the time. Let's just give all the power to the RAND Corporation and a handful of other technocrats and call it a day."

Heh, yikes.  I got an old friend that works at RAND, and uh..that sounds like quite the dystopian premise.  In terms of your first graph, yeah, it's the internet which amplifies any small differences into outrage.

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6 minutes ago, DMC said:

What would be the right way to do it?  In terms of trying to influence the public, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any other way she could go about it, so honestly curious. 

She needs to take the messenger (in this case herself) into account.  If she wants to air her dislike and frustrations from 2016 with Sanders, do it through back media channels so that it isn't so obvious that this is a Hillary ClintonTM message.  Yes, it probably wouldn't get as much attention, but if you have an actual case to make, then making it through intermediaries might allow people to assess it for its value, rather than dismissing the messenger. 

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9 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

She needs to take the messenger (in this case herself) into account.

I agree that putting her name on any criticism has the potential to backfire due to the current mood of the Democratic primary electorate towards her and Bill, but there's no way to know whether/how much she has done back channeling - that's why it's called that.  Like you said, in terms of gaining attention, the media is going to react far more to "Hillary actually said ______" than "close sources say Hillary said _____."  She obviously wanted to make her objections clear.  Again, if that's her goal, then I think this was a better method than, say, going on cable news or holding a press conference and expressing her beliefs in such a way.  Leaks from a forthcoming documentary is about as subtle a way you can get to position take publicly, which plainly was her intent.

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She also said her focus was on defeating Trump, so none of this actually helps with that.

Just a comment about the CNN poll, its clearly an outlier. I think though that with 6 points separating Biden and Sanders nationally, thats not so many standard deviations apart (particularly with primaries). If you look at enough polls, some few of them may end up showing Sanders leading (and some with Biden as a blowout). As 538 points out, the state polls have not been as kind to him. Still, things are very much in flux and a few points here are there could make things very interesting.

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4 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

Just a comment about the CNN poll, its clearly an outlier. I think though that with 6 points separating Biden and Sanders nationally, thats not so many standard deviations apart (particularly with primaries). If you look at enough polls, some few of them may end up showing Sanders leading (and some with Biden as a blowout). As 538 points out, the state polls have not been as kind to him. Still, things are very much in flux and a few points here are there could make things very interesting.

Seeing primary polls all over the map is actually a good thing.  It indicates that the pollsters aren't herding towards the general consensus and instead accepting what their weird data actually says.  Primaries are hard to poll and the race is volatile.  We should be seeing weird outlier polls where Sanders is ahead and where Sanders is in third.  And we have. 

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26 minutes ago, DMC said:

Heh, yikes.  I got an old friend that works at RAND, and uh..that sounds like quite the dystopian premise.  In terms of your first graph, yeah, it's the internet which amplifies any small differences into outrage.

If I had to boil down my political philosophy these days, it would probably be "militant technocrat."

I think governments at all levels (federal, state, local) can and should do a lot of good for the people they serve. However, after working with governments at all levels for a decade now, I think they are mostly pretty terrible at actually serving people. Some of it has to do with a lack of funding, but there are a lot of more entrenched issues that can't be solved with more funding. Things like lack of vision, inability to be flexible, unwillingness to coordinate with other agencies, having to change direction every time new political appointees come in so that longterm projects rarely are completed, staff unwilling to put in the necessary work, etc.

Now not every agency is like that, and even at the worst ones there's still a handful of talented and deeply dedicated staff, but these problems are far too prevalent. And the proposed solutions never work. There's some really good contractors and consultants out there, but there's also a lot of terrible ones, and they are all often expensive. Public-private partnerships and privatization efforts never seem to work either, and often result in a ton of corruption happening.

Republicans aren't wrong when they say the government is often wasteful and inefficient. The problem is that they aren't saying that in good faith; they just want to cut funding, which never helps. That only results in the same problems happening in a smaller pool of money so even less good is available for the people being served. Potential solutions, like radical reorganizations and changes in workforce structures, are never accepted because Republicans don't really care about fixing the problems they just want to make cuts. And because the Republican alternative is even worse, its led to Democrats defending a status quo that is so problematic already.

My ideal solution, which of course will never happen, is let actual experts take over, give them real power to enact changes, and sit back and see what happens. But since that won't happen, I gravitate towards politicians that at least won't make things worse by either 1) cutting funding (so Republicans are out) or 2) wanting to replace functional private structures with what the government currently is (so the far-left is out).

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7 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

She also said her focus was on defeating Trump, so none of this actually helps with that.

She may think so.  If you think Sanders would be a terrible nominee in the effort to beat Trump - which clearly she does - then shouldn't she speak out about that?  I mean, isn't that just rational?  Y'all are acting like Hillary has some critical distance from how people perceive her and should thus behave strategically from there.  While that's a great thing to try to do both politically and just, ya know, in life, it's not usually how people - including politicians - behave or make decisions.

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