The Left becomes a cult rather than gather support to oppose Trump

Summary: Much will depend in the next four years on America’s ability to resist Trump. The Left could play a large role, but its response so far suggests that it will not be able to. Two recent articles show why this seems likely. Also, see the fascinating rebuttal posted at Lawyers, Guns, and Money!

Left Wing politics

People often characterize a political movement by looking at the odd and foolish among them, and examine their reactions to events for insights to the movement’s core beliefs. That’s foolish. Instead look to the best of them. For examples on the Left, look at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. See Erik Loomis’ (Asst Prof of History at the U or RI) essay “Dumbasses of America“, which illustrates why the Left has lost so much of its influence in America, and might be unable to effectively resist Trump.

“The genre of “let’s talk to idiotic white voters who support Trump even though he will decimate their lives” is already more stale than bread baked on November 8. However, it does lead to the occasional special anecdote that truly sums up the stupidity of many white people.

Many of these “idiotic white voters”, or their parents, voted for Democrats in the past — and can again in the future. Turn to another post to see what the Left finds objectionable in them: “Trump Voters. Again.” by Beth Spencer (aka vacuumslayer, an an artist). She comments on “I’m a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here’s what I learned” by Sam Altman. Here are the excerpts from the interview, and Spencer’s comment.

“You all can defeat Trump next time, but not if you keep mocking us, refusing to listen to us, and cutting us out. It’s Republicans, not Democrats, who will take Trump down.”

Spencer: “In other words, “we’ll vote for someone we dislike and even find unfit for office out of spite.” INCREDIBLE.” Is it incredible that people will not vote for a party whose key people mock them and refuse to listen to them? No, it is not incredible. It quite natural. It’s politics.

“He is anti-abortion.”

Spencer: “It’s also a tacit admission that many Trump supporters are avid misogynists.” So against abortion = misogynist. But 40% of women believe abortion should be “illegal in all or most cases” — and 33% of conservative/moderate democrats, and even 12% of liberal democrats, oppose abortion. See the Pew poll for details. This is the kind of litmus test that fractures a political party, and makes it a minority party for a generation.

“He is anti-immigration. Note: This sentiment came up a lot. The most surprising takeaway for me is how little it seemed to be driven by economic concerns, and how much it was driven by fears about ‘losing our culture,’ “safety,’ ‘community,’ and a general Us-vs.-Them mentality.”

Spencer: “They’re racists and xenophobes.”  Just like FDR and his Democrats, who not only zeroed out immigration but also concluded the expulsion of a million or so Mexicans (including Mexican-American citizens) across the border.  A recent Gallup poll found 48% of Americans are dissatisfied with immigration levels (another 5% are dissatisfied and want more of it).

Especially note the people talking about preserving their culture. When did the Left decide that was a bad thing, even illegitimate? Why do Americans not have a right to defend their culture? Who gets to rule such things illegitimate? Certainly the Left gets to advance their cultural preferences, and is not shy about forcing them on others using government power.

Update: another example

Here is a sad example of incestuous amplification, people talking with like-minded people — believing that those who disagree with them are dumb or evil — so that their perspectives slowly drift out into space, Here is Scott Lemieux’s (instructor in political science, SUNY Albany) opening line in a post about Neil Gorsuch. Lemieux’s commentary is usually brilliant, but like so many on the Left he appears disoriented since Trump’s election. How many Americans outside the far-Left will find this reasonable, or even understandable? Is this effective politics?

“Hmm, let’s check in on the man the president installed by the FBI and the 19th century slave power chose to nominate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court:”

See other examples in the posts listed below in the For More Information section.

Update: A rebuttal at Lawyers, Guns, and Money!

Feel the logic at LGM: I’m a “clownish performative centrist”.  This is both juvenile and pretentious. Calling those who disagree with you a “performative centrist” is in-group jargon, even cult-like, with no meaning or logic to outsiders — demonstrating how the Left has become politically ineffective. If I figure out what a “performative centrist” is, I will put it on my business card. It sounds good!

Might this be the future of the Left in America? Click to enlarge.

The Economist: the Left in Europe
From The Economist, 2 April 2016.

Summary

This is the modern Left. Intolerant and absolutist. It’s their way or the highway. Disagreement with them means your views are illegitimate (e.g., racist, sexist) and you might be insane (e.g., xenophobic). It makes them look more like a cult than a successful political movement. They are a gift to the 1% and their servants in Washington.

This goes to the heart of our situation: both the Left and Right have become disconnected from reality — and turned on us in the middle (details here).  America might be facing the greatest domestic challenge since the Great Depression: Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this. How Left and Right respond to this will define American politics for many years to come.

The future of Left and Right in America?

Cult Meeting

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, about Trump and the new populism, and especially these about the Left’s reaction to Trump…

  1. Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.
  2. Can the Left adapt to the Trump era? Watch their climate activists for clues.
  3. The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President.
  4. The Left sees President Trump and goes mad.
  5. The Left steps across a line and embraces political violence.
  6. New research predicts a just and logical result to violent anti-Trump protests.
  7. See the Left’s mad response to Team Trump (they’re plutocrats, not fascists).

Recommended books about the weakness of the Left.

For a better understanding of our situation, see Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank and Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred by John Lukacs.

"Listen, Liberal" by Thomas Frank
Available at Amazon.
Democracy and Populism
Available at Amazon.

 

47 thoughts on “The Left becomes a cult rather than gather support to oppose Trump

  1. This article displays your ignorance of the left. I have seen the editor here frequenting other blogs, and I know for a fact that this site is aware of the gaping chasm between liberals and the left, yet it is apparently in the interest of this site to conflate the two. Furthermore, the left is gaining influence- see the recent town halls where Trump voters cheered for single payer. Also, it is worth noting that many on the left support strong immigration controls when there is a surplus of labor (including punishing those who hire illegal immigrant labor). Bang on liberals all you want, but you are not going to sit here and lay your criticisms at the feet of those on the left, who are are actually working to check the power and policy of elitist liberals who are the ones who have actually created a cult of personality within the Democratic party.

    1. Derek,

      Most of your comment is a rant, of zero content. But you raise two specific points subject to rebuttal with facts.

      (1) “This article displays your ignorance of the left. I have seen the editor here frequenting other blogs, and I know for a fact that this site is aware of the gaping chasm between liberals and the left…”

      Nice to hear from the Pope of Politics! Back in the real world, political terms have many meanings — there is no basis to say one is correct and the other wrong. When people speak of “Left” and “Right” as the two sides of the political spectrum, they are using the terms in their original sense. In the 1789 French Estates General those supporting the revolution sat on the left, those supporting the old regime sat on the right. The political doctrine of left and right have changed during the subsequent two centuries, but left and right continue to be useful shorthand terms to describe the political spectrum in two dimensions.

      (2) “Furthermore, the left is gaining influence- see the recent town halls where Trump voters cheered for single payer.”

      (a) That’s not a change. Americans have favored universal coverage for several decades, perhaps longer. In 1971 Richard Nixon proposed a form of universal heath care plan — opposed as not good enough by Ted Kennedy (details here).

      (b) Looking at a single issue tells us little. But congrats for ignoring the points I raise. Rant away, but they won’t go away.

  2. Worth mentioning here is that the “left” sold out Europe too. Syriza wouldn’t stand up to the EU and IMF, Social Democrats propose the same austerity solutions (frankly required by the euro), etc. Sure, if the left is not going to offer genuine policy solutions to the problems at hand, then they hand the election to the right.

  3. That first line of Scott Lemieux’s commentary reflects a common affliction among those on the left–namely a refusal to come to terms with the essential nature of who Americans are as a people. America is largely a nation of hustlers and narcissists who only get upset about a particular injustice when it affects them personally, as we’ve seen since the election. Otherwise, they are perfectly content to wallow in a cornucopia of consumer goods, forever distracted by mindless entertainment and their ever present electronic devices. Trump is a naked representation of the American id. He is who we are as a people once all the hypocritical “shining city on a hill” BS has been stripped away.

    1. “America is largely a nation of hustlers and narcissists who only get upset about a particular injustice …”

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Normally I ask for evidence to support such outlandish claims, but this is in tin foil hat territory. Best not to feed Karl’s delusions.

      Still, it’s an interesting example of an actual American trait: the belief that we’re exceptional. In fact we’re pretty much like other people. Better in some respects, worse in others. A day in any other nation will find that it has their share of narcissists. A hour in Bombay, Bangkok, Rome, or Rio de Janeiro will find more hustlers than you could find in all of Kansas and Iowa in a week.

  4. Seems to me that you’re arguing for a sort of “political correctness” where it’s rude to stubbornly insist that Trump is (objectively) a con-man, and that (objectively) the people who voted for him are a bunch of fools.

    I have no malicious intent toward Trump supporters, but I do not think that turning the entire country into a “safe space” for their brand of nonsense is the right way to go about rehabilitating them.

    1. Texas,

      “Seems to me that you’re arguing …it’s rude to stubbornly insist that Trump is (objectively) a con-man”

      Why would you say that? Since early 2016 I’ve said that he’s a liar and clown. Good point about being a conman. I didn’t think of that phrasing.

      ” it’s rude to stubbornly insist that …(objectively) the people who voted for him are a bunch of fools.”

      Why do you say “rude”? It is, however, politically ineffective — perhaps politically suicidal.

      “I do not think that turning the entire country into a “safe space” for their brand of nonsense is the right way to go about rehabilitating them.”

      That’s quite a misreading of what I said. Mocking people is bad politics. Appealing to their needs and fears with potentially effective policies — and reminding people what your party has done for them in the past — are proven tactics.

      I suggest you read some of Thomas Frank’s books. He explains this clearly and in detail. See the links at the end of this post.

  5. A reply to this post by Portia in a comment at Naked Capitalism

    About The Left (Fabius Maximus). “My way or the highway” or “we live under specific physical laws and need to take care of each other and the Earth”?

    As opposed to “I’m going to do what I want and make boatloads of money even if it kills the Earth, and we’re going to get raptured anyway and the Bible says the Earth is going to Hell, so what are you talking about, save the Earth and take care of each other??? Go and get saved, and then do what you want.”

    Or maybe “there is nothing after death, so why bother worrying about anything. eat, drink and be merry”.

    Demonizing The Left as a cult doesn’t help either.

    1. Portia,

      Your phrasing of US politics as strictly binary — good and evil — is exactly what I was pointing to at LGM. Saying those who disagree with you are evil is bad politics, a gift to the Republicans.

      “Demonizing The Left as a cult doesn’t help either.”

      Again you go with the religious thinking. You are validating my point that the Left has developed cultish tendencies.

      I point out specific statements and show that they are politically ineffective. It’s political mechanics, not church.

  6. Your graph by the Economist which includes “selected events” is striking in that it leaves out the “selected event” that is most pertinent to what you’re suggesting with it. Though I’m certain you’re being disingenuous and not abysmally naive, intolerance to opposing viewpoints had nothing to do with the decline in power of European social democratic parties.

    The percentage of the population that has ever heard of LGM and definitely this blog is infinitesimal. But huge numbers of people read publications like the NY Times, and Washington Post at least occasionally and watch CNN or Fox. All of these outlets had covered Trumps declarations of intent if elected and he’s certainly carried them out even if a great deal of voters deluded themselves into believing it all to be candidacy hyperbole.

    So yes, BREAKING NEWS!! Some blogs are snarky and some even denigrate the political opposition. This is especially true when your opposition supports a candidate based on the belief that he’s lying to everyone and won’t really do what he says he will. Some writers who are passionate about the current state of affairs can be a bit shrill.

    The fact, in my opinion, is that the vast majority of Trump voters fall in to a few categories.

    1. The good old fashioned tribalist Republicans who may make objections in the primary season but will always come around and vote for any cucumber with an R after his name in the general.

    2. That tiny sliver of truly independent voters who could be swayed by either side and decided, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, that giving a narcissistic blowhard like Trump a try might be just what the country needs.

    3. Possible democrat supporters who for whatever reason decided to stay home or vote Trump because they just really hated Hillary Clinton.

    Again, not all Trump voters, but the vast majority of them. You also have your neo-nazi’s, white separatists and the like and I’m assuming you aren’t suggesting a kindness outreach to them.

    You can forget about group 1. Those that experienced the Bush43 administration and didn’t realize their mistake will never do so. Group 3 could be back in the fold in the future but for the most part no one is castigating them though one could make the argument they are idiots. Group 2 voters require no such argument be made. Idiocy doesn’t describe their judgement and predicting how they’ll act in a future election is like trying to pick winning Powerball numbers.

    You say “Mocking people is bad politics. Appealing to their needs and fears with potentially effective policies — and reminding people what your party has done for them in the past — are proven tactics.”

    This election proved that is no longer true if it ever was.

    OK, now you can tell me how I’m validating your point as it would appear that in your mind just about everything does so.

    1. Dannasoft,

      “Though I’m certain you’re being disingenuous and not abysmally naive, intolerance to opposing viewpoints had nothing to do with the decline in power of European social democratic parties.”

      That’s a misread. I said thar the Left is becoming politically ineffective, and showed a graph from the Economist revealing a similar trend in Europe.

      “Some blogs are snarky and some even denigrate the political opposition. This is especially true when your opposition supports a candidate based on the belief that he’s lying to everyone and won’t really do what he says he will. Some writers who are passionate about the current state of affairs can be a bit shrill.”

      Wow. That’s quite a misread. I suggest reading the title of the post.

      “That tiny sliver of truly independent voters who could be swayed by either side ”

      Wow. A massive body of surveys disagree with you.

    2. Dannasoft,

      While I dislike reading your wild and crazy misrepresentations of a large swath of Americans, I truly would like to see you gain some real degree of influence in the Democrat Party. The Republican President who follows Trump will not look quite so crazy as long as you and your kind are in the pool for comparisons.
      I have a confession to make. I, like many who voted for Trump, do not like being called a racist and stupid. I really, really have a strong visceral dislike for you. Again, may you become part of the Democrat leadership.

    3. dave,

      I have spoken to a great many people who voted for Trump, including two in my family. You well express what a lot of them believe.

      As you note — and I so often have said — such people on the Left are a gift to Trump and the Republicans.

  7. Hey, Fabius? Small problem here: you forgot to make anything resembling an argument. The most obvious point you utterly fail to address is what influence LGM could ever have on anyone who voted for Trump. The answer is obvious: almost none whatsoever. Worse still, most of this piece just consists of quotations, as if you’re unwilling or unable to do any actual analysis. So this entire post is an extended exercise in wankery. This would embarrassing in a community college newspaper.

    The reference to FDR is absolutely idiotic: “OMG: 70 years ago the Democrats were racist!” You should have thrown in a reference to Robert Byrd to complete the piece de derp.

    And if you’re really too stupid to figure out what “performative centrist” means, you’re not worth talking to.

    Might I suggest you try thinking before you write? Limbic responses aren’t particularly helpful.

    1. DiTurno,

      “you forgot to make anything resembling an argument.”

      Why would I want to argue? With whom? This post gives observations and inferences (inductive reasoning). People will read and draw their own conclusions.

      “The most obvious point you utterly fail to address is what influence LGM could ever have on anyone who voted for Trump.”

      Did you read the post? Let’s replay the tape. Each quote I give…

      “illustrates why the Left has lost so much of its influence in America, and might be unable to effectively resist Trump.”

      The quote I list are examples of a widespread problem in the Left, which diminishes their political effectiveness.

      “The reference to FDR is absolutely idiotic: “OMG: 70 years ago the Democrats were racist!” ”

      You illustrate my point. When you declare almost everybody racist, you lock yourself into a political minority. Declaring opposition to be “racist”, rather than opposing it on objective grounds, is politically ineffective – but characteristic of the current Left’s tactics.

      “And if you’re really too stupid to figure out what “performative centrist” means, you’re not worth talking to.”

      “Performative centrist” is in-group bs jargon. Try using the term to ten people on the street, or even in a university cafeteria. People who speak — and think — like that are best possible political opponents Trump can have. Guaranteed ineffective.

    2. DiTurno,

      Short version: a symptom of a decayed political movement is that their rebuttals rest on schoolyard insults, such as “absolutely idiotic” and “too stupid” — and calling people names, such as “racist” and “sexist”. It shows they have lost any intellectual clarity and their roots in people’s needs, fears, and aspirations.

      They cannot speak intelligibly to outsiders, rendering them politically ineffective.

    3. I’m amazed that someone could type so many words and say…well, nothing.

      1. You failed to make an argument about how LGM could possibly influence any voters whatsoever. Your response to that is “So what?” Seriously?
      2. FDRs racism is absolutely irrelevant to 2017.
      3. Many Trump voters were and are explicitly racist. Trump himself repeatedly said explicitly racist things. Those are facts. Also, no one is declaring “almost everybody racist.” That’s idiotic even by the standards of hyperbole.
      4. I’ve never heard “performative centrist” before, so no, it’s not “in group bs jargon.” Instead, it’s a phrase that has an obvious meaning: you’re attempting to portray yourself as a “moderate” who can “transcend political divisions.” It’s performative because you really have nothing to say. I don’t mean that as an insult; it’s an objective assessment. You called “the left” a cult, then *literally* admitted you had no argument to support that. Your piece is a performance, designed to show the purity of your ideology while saying absolutely nothing.

      Here’s the problem, dude: this piece is a joke. You failed to pay attention to the most basic standards of logic and evidence.

      Stop performing and start thinking.

    4. Dituno,

      Your first point shows that not listening, so there’s no point to this.

      “You failed to make an argument about how LGM could possibly influence any voters whatsoever.”

      I made no such claim about the LGM website. I suggest responding to quotes, rather than responding to stuff you made up. Repeating what I said in the post, and in my first reply — Each of the quotes I gave…

      “illustrates why the Left has lost so much of its influence in America, and might be unable to effectively resist Trump.”

      Time will tell if my assessment is correct. It will go up on either the page listing correct predictions, or that listing wrong ones. I have been doing this since 2003; the first list is much longer.

    5. This wins the award for most obviously self-refuting comment of the month:

      “Short version: a symptom of a decayed political movement is that their rebuttals rest on schoolyard insults, such as “absolutely idiotic” and “too stupid” — and calling people names, such as “racist” and “sexist”. It shows they have lost any intellectual clarity and their roots in people’s needs, fears, and aspirations.”

      1. You decided to (conveniently) ignore the substantial comments i made.
      2. Saying that someone is “racist” or “sexist” is not name-calling. Bragging about sexually assaulting women is sexist, and more. Retweeting lies about African-Americans sent by a white supremacist is racist. I know those words hurt your feelings.
      3. Most importantly — and I can’t believe I have to say this — Donald Trump (going all caps here) WON THE PRESIDENCY WHILE CALLING PEOPLE NAMES ON A DAILY BASIS.

      Stop clutching your pearls and start thinking, you child.

    6. DiTurno,

      (1) “You decided to (conveniently) ignore the substantial comments i made.”

      Re-read my comment. See the text in quotes, with my reply below them?

      (2) “Saying that someone is “racist” or “sexist” is not name-calling.”

      Wow. Too absurd to deserve rebuttal.

      (3) “ragging about sexually assaulting women is sexist, and more. Retweeting lies about African-Americans sent by a white supremacist is racist.”

      Yes, racism and sexism exist. All the pejorative terms people use as insults have some real-world basis. For example, racism was baked into US society before the Founding. But, as many have documented, the Left has overused these — as attempts to delegitimize opposition, as an alternative to debate. This has diminished their political utility. The extreme examples are “fascist” and “nazi”, now used by the left as generic insults — devoid of any substantive meaning, as so of no political impact.

      (4) “Trump …WON THE PRESIDENCY WHILE CALLING PEOPLE NAMES ON A DAILY BASIS.”

      Yes, “while” but not “because”. As surveys showed during and after the election, Trump won by making highly specific promises about actions he would take as president — running under the theme “make America great”. Many people pointed this out during the election, as I did in these posts. As was (I thought) obvious, he had no intention of keeping those promises. But many people found them compelling.

      1. Trump wins because he says some sensible things which journalists can’t conceal.
      2. Trump says interesting things about foreign policy that scare our elites.
      3. What Trump means by putting “America First”.

      In contrast, Clinton’s ads were overwhelmingly policy-free — largely insulting Trump and claims about her virtue. Many warned about this during the election, as I did here: Clinton’s ads show her weak strategy: purely tribal, no content..

      Studies after the election have documented this. For example, see “Study: Hillary Clinton’s TV ads were almost entirely policy-free” by Jeff Stein at VOX, 8 March 2017 — reporting on a new study by the Wesleyan Media Project.

    7. I think you’re having trouble remembering what you wrote. Here, let me quote the very first sentence of your piece:

      “Much will depend in the next four years on America’s ability to resist Trump. The Left could play a large role, but its response so far suggests that it will not be able to.”

      In your piece, LGM is “the left.” So how could LGM “play a role” in “resisting Trump?” Because you’re wholly uninterested in making a clear and specific point, you never say, but the rest of your piece consists of nothing but chastising them for pointing out that many Trump supporters are racist morons. Will that in any way reduce the ability to “resist Trump?” No. Are Trump supporters reading LGM? No. Would LGM be more politically effective if they endorsed your centrist policies. No.

      So your entire piece is specious. The “cult” comparison is so absurd that I’ve ignored it, but it basically amounts to “LGM is more liberal than I am, and they make fun of racists and stupid people, so they’re a cult.”

      Again, the problem here is that you’re unable or unwilling to think.

    8. DiTurno,

      “In your piece, LGM is “the left.” ”

      No, LGM is not the Left. That’s a strawman; quite an absurd one.

      You have stated this claim several times, in increasingly bizarre forms. You have ignored my replies. Rant away. I’ve lost interest.

  8. Is it right to call the North American left a “cult”? Cults tend to have charisma, organization, unity of purpose, and a clear vision for the future. Calling the left a cult would seem to be a way of inflating its actual value.

    For those who would claim “left” as uniquely their brand, their parties are often so tiny that those groups we might call “cults” significantly outnumber them in membership. The left has long made a bargain with neoliberalism, and now it’s paying the price. That their inter-personal skills are confined to a limited range of shrillness, does not help them either.

    The momentum in the US is almost all on the right, which fortunately for the US is a considerably varied part of the spectrum when compared with Canada, capable of evolving to very different positions in relatively short order.
    .
    .
    Maximilian C. Forte is a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal. He posts at Zero Anthropology.

  9. (2) “Saying that someone is “racist” or “sexist” is not name-calling.”

    Wow. Too absurd to deserve rebuttal.

    Yes, because you can’t rebut it. Fail.

    1. Lordwhofin,

      You jest delightfully. But I’ll play along. The dictionary defines “name calling” as giving abusive language or insults without any supporting evidence. Q.E.D.

      Hence the easy with which both Left and Right attempt to deligitimize their political foes by labels — sexist, commie, racist, nazi, Hitler, etc. There are such people, which gives these terms utility. But overuse renders them ineffective.

      This overuse is both obvious and widely remarked during the past decade or more. Pretending not to see this is an example of the decay I mentioned upthread.

      “Short version: a symptom of a decayed political movement is that their rebuttals rest on schoolyard insults, such as “absolutely idiotic” and “too stupid” — and calling people names, such as “racist” and “sexist”. It shows they have lost any intellectual clarity and their roots in people’s needs, fears, and aspirations.”

  10. Oh dear…

    “People often characterize a political movement by looking at the odd and foolish among them, and examine their reactions to events for insights to the movement’s core beliefs. That’s foolish. Instead look to the best of them. For examples on the Left, look at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. See Erik Loomis’ (Asst Prof of History at the U or RI) essay “Dumbasses of America“, which illustrates why the Left has lost so much of its influence in America, and might be unable to effectively resist Trump.”

    Am I to understand that this blog considers Lawyers Guns and Money blog to be the “best” of The Left, and is this why the writer believes that these articles illustrate “why the Left has lost so much of its influence in America”?

    “Many of these “idiotic white voters”, or their parents, voted for Democrats in the past — and can again in the future.”

    I interpret this to mean that the writer is saying that If Trump supporters or their parents voted for Democrats in the past – a time when “Blue Dogs” were a force in the Democratic Party – we are supposed to believe that if only all “leftists” refrained from ever saying that their beliefs and behavior qualify as “idiotic” , these voters would then be open to returning the fold for old times’ sake. Forgive me if I am skeptical.

    By the way, does anyone want a clue as to why some of these people may have supported the Democrats in the good old days? Here you go:

    ““They’re racists and xenophobes.” Just like FDR and his Democrats, who not only zeroed out immigration but also concluded the expulsion of a million or so Mexicans (including Mexican-American citizens) across the border. ”

    So…if the Democrats ever did it, it wasn’t racist or xenophobic? Hey, so if we decided to intern all Muslims for the duration of the “War on Terror”, it would be wrong to characterize that as bigoted in any way because FDR did the same thing to Japanese-Americans during WWII!

    Or, as I suggested, this kind of history might help explain why people might have once supported the Democrats and still have rather bigoted beliefs.

    “note the people talking about preserving their culture. When did the Left decide that was a bad thing, even illegitimate? Why do Americans not have a right to defend their culture? Who gets to rule such things illegitimate?”

    Well, in a context where brown people (Mexicans and Muslims) and their culture is seen as threat to “us” and “our culture”, how bad or illegitimate that is depends, I suppose, on your feelings about white nationalist bigotry and xenophobia. It is instructive to consider Iowa Representative Steve King’s recent comments about civilization, culture and race to get a sense of that context. And if you counter by saying that Mr. King does not represent “the best” of what people mean when they talk about “their culture” being threatened by immigration, then by all means feel free to suggest an alternative.

    “Certainly the Left gets to advance their cultural preferences, and is not shy about forcing them on others using government power.”

    Indeed, I look forward to the next Democratic administration decreeing that henceforth all commercial radio stations will put my favorite indie bands in regular rotation.

    1. Paul,

      (1) “Am I to understand that this blog considers Lawyers Guns and Money blog to be the “best” of The Left”

      More precisely, I consider Erik Loomis’ among the best writers on the left. That’s a subjective assessment, of course.

      (2) “if only all “leftists” refrained from ever saying that their beliefs and behavior qualify as “idiotic”…”

      That’s only half of the problem. Open disdain gets no votes. The other half is returning the Left to its roots, as Thomas Frank and other recommend (details here), offering policies that make a difference to Americans.

      As surveys showed during and after the election, Trump won by making highly specific promises about actions he would take as president — running under the theme “make America great”. Many people pointed this out during the election, as I did in these posts. As was (I thought) obvious, he had no intention of keeping those promises. But many people found them compelling.

      1. Trump wins because he says some sensible things which journalists can’t conceal.
      2. Trump says interesting things about foreign policy that scare our elites.
      3. What Trump means by putting “America First”.

      In contrast, Clinton’s ads were overwhelmingly policy-free — largely insulting Trump and claims about her virtue. Many warned about this during the election, as I did here: Clinton’s ads show her weak strategy: purely tribal, no content..

      Studies after the election have documented this. For example, see “Study: Hillary Clinton’s TV ads were almost entirely policy-free” by Jeff Stein at VOX, 8 March 2017 — reporting on a new study by the Wesleyan Media Project.

      (3) “By the way, does anyone want a clue as to why some of these people may have supported the Democrats in the good old days?”

      Because they offered powerful policies that helped a large majority of Americans. Fighting inequality, building infrastructure (weird that the left let Trump seize this), etc.

      (4) “if the Democrats ever did it, it wasn’t racist or xenophobic?”

      There are legitimate economic and cultural reasons to oppose mass immigration. They have to be fought with facts and reason. Screaming “racist” and psychobabble in rebuttal is the fast track to future defeats.

      (5) “I look forward to the next Democratic administration decreeing that henceforth all commercial radio stations will put my favorite indie bands in regular rotation.”

      Continue to rant really loudly. Perhaps that will win elections. But I doubt it.

    2. “Open disdain gets no votes.”

      Fortunately, not everything we say publicly is crafted to get votes. Presumably the tone of disdain you yourself employ in your response to me is not designed to get my vote, nor that of anyone who agrees with me.

      “The other half is returning the Left to its roots, as Thomas Frank and other recommend (details here), offering policies that make a difference to Americans.”

      What are the “roots of the left”?

      Suggesting that the current left does not offer policies that make a difference to Americans could also be considered to be an expression of open disdain. More importantly, it is wrong. Are the things that Republicans are repealing or trying to repeal (like the ACA) things that have made “no difference to Americans’?

      “As surveys showed during and after the election, Trump won by making highly specific promises about actions he would take as president”

      – mostly terrible, but of course to say that is to engage in “open disdain”.

      “By the way, does anyone want a clue as to why some of these people may have supported the Democrats in the good old days?”…Because they offered powerful policies that helped a large majority of Americans.”

      I was referring specifically to people in what are now red states that used to be solidly Democratic. While many people across the country were brought into the Democratic fold by the New Deal,you know as well as I that the party had a segregationist wing until the 1960’s. The Democrats becoming the party of civil rights just happens to coincide with the time that many of these voters switched over to the Republicans, and I can assure you that that shift was not an expression of support for greater equality.

      “Fighting inequality, ”
      The Democrats “policy-free” platform has several measures to fight inequality

      “building infrastructure (weird that the left let Trump seize this), etc.”
      The Democrats also had an infrastructure plan. Funny how that didn’t grab the Trump voters,.

      “There are legitimate economic and cultural reasons to oppose mass immigration.”
      Which are?

      “They have to be fought with facts and reason”
      The left has been doing this. Funnily enough, pointing out that immigrants commit crimes at a much lower rate than native-born Americans and that it is logically inconsistent to accuse immigrants of both stealing our jobs and being a drain on the welfare state not only fails to puncture these myths, it gets us lectures for being condescending because God forbid that we should point out anyone’s ignorance…it just shows, of course, that we are out-of-touch intellectual elitists, since feelings are more important than facts, and prejudice is, after all, a feeling.

      “Screaming “racist” and psychobabble in rebuttal is the fast track to future defeats.””
      It is telling that pointing out in a rational argument that the arguments being made to scapegoat immigrant communities are, in fact, expressions of a bigoted form of nationalism is treated as akin to screaming “RACIST!” over and over again.

      “Continue to rant really loudly. Perhaps that will win elections. But I doubt it.”

      You must exist in a rarefied version of US politics, one in which disagreement is expressed wholly in polite whispers and murmurs, if you think the points I have made amount to anything even remotely resembling loud ranting.

      Again, fortunately, the point of my utterances is to express my opinion, not to win elections. I do not know if, or how, the “left” will gain political power in this country, but I am pretty sure it won’t happen by people like myself falling silent for fear of giving offense. Ideas are dangerous. Ideas are offensive to people. You cannot vet political discourse in the hope that limiting what people say will somehow allow the right people to win elections.

  11. Speaking of Scott Lemieux on LGM:

    “Here is a sad example of incestuous amplification, people talking with like-minded people — ”
    Talking with like-minded people in a public forum is “incestuous amplification”?

    “believing that those who disagree with them are dumb or evil”

    Although I cannot claim to be a mind-reader, my impression based on Scott’s writing is he does consider some perspectives and opinions to be dumb and evil, yes. However, I do not get the impression that he believes that all opinions with which he disagrees are dumb or evil.

    Is the author’s objection, then, that anyone ever characterizes anther’s opinion as dumb or evil- that it is wrong to ever do this?

    “How many Americans outside the far-Left will find this reasonable, or even understandable? Is this effective politics?
    “Hmm, let’s check in on the man the president installed by the FBI and the 19th century slave power chose to nominate for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court:”

    The moral of this tale, then, is “Don’t ever use expressions, concepts or arguments that most Americans will not readily understand or agree with…at least, never do so in public. It’s not effective politics”.

    1. And at this point, let us recall how this whole piece started:

      “Much will depend in the next four years on America’s ability to resist Trump. The Left could play a large role”

      How can the “left” play any role at all if it is not “effective politics” to be left-wing (to frame issues using non-mainstream or even controversial concepts) in public? How can the “left” play a role in opposing Trump when it is not allowed to call Trump’s politics bigoted, unhinged, a con – all terms that imply that his supporters are themselves being bigoted or foolish in supporting him?

    2. Paul,

      “How can the “left” play any role at all if it is not “effective politics” to be left-wing”

      The point of responding to quotes is to respond to the quote. Not give a quote, make up something weird — and respond to that. The increasingly weird misrepresentations in this thread of what I said is just validation of my point. You can’t respond to it, so you make up stuff and respond to that.

      A lot of this thread consists of people using the sophomoric tactic of taking what I said, appending “always” or “never” to it, and responding.

      Most of the rebuttals on this thread to what I said are demonstrations of the thinking that has led the Left to defeat in national and state elections during the past decade.

    3. Paul,

      “However, I do not get the impression that he believes that all opinions with which he disagrees are dumb or evil.”

      I never said such a thing. Life is about magnitudes and frequencies. The examples I gave are phenomena that have become too common, displacing far more politically effect perspectives. This is one reason for the continued Right wins at the polls during the past decades, so that they control Washington and a majority of States.

      “is the author’s objection, then, that anyone ever characterizes anther’s opinion as dumb or evil- that it is wrong to ever do this?”

      Use of strawmen is a sad sign of intellectual exhaustion. Try responding to what I actually said, not exaggerating to the point of absurdity.

    4. “The point of responding to quotes is to respond to the quote. Not give a quote, make up something weird — and respond to that. The increasingly weird misrepresentations in this thread of what I said is just validation of my point. You can’t respond to it, so you make up stuff and respond to that.”

      I was doing what is called ‘making inferences’. I was not alleging that you literally said that we cannot oppose Trump by being left-wing. I was alleging that what you did say ends up amounting to the same thing. I even explained why.. Perhaps I can clarify this explanation further:

      You say:

      This writer (Lemieux) says something that most Americans won’t instantly relate to

      I say:

      To engage in left-wing discourse necessarily involves engaging in discourse (concepts, expressions) that most Americans won’t instantly relate to. After all, most Americans are not leftists.

      Therefore, you to say that what Lemieux did is not “good politics” is to say that engaging left-wing discourse is not good politics

      You can say that my argument doesn’t work, but it is simply dishonest to claim that I was simply making stuff up.

    5. Here’s what you said:

      “Here is a sad example of incestuous amplification, people talking with like-minded people
      “believing that those who disagree with them are dumb or evil”

      Here’s what i said:

      “However, I do not get the impression that he believes that all opinions with which he disagrees are dumb or evil.”

      And you respond:

      “I never said such a thing. Life is about magnitudes and frequencies. .”

      I am glad that you did not mean to say that. This is why I asked the question.

      “is the author’s objection, then, that anyone ever characterizes anther’s opinion as dumb or evil- that it is wrong to ever do this?”

      You call this is a “strawman”, but unless you do believe this, merely saying that people in a public forum agree that certain opinions are idiotic or abhorrent says absolutely nothing on its own about the quality of the discourse, or even its “political effectiveness”. Yet that is a clear implication of your statement.

      Now, a point of order if you please: Again, this comes from making inferences from what you have said, not by claiming that you said things that you did not say. You use this line over and over again, I notice, claiming that people are making stuff up when in fact they are making reasonable inferences from what you have said. It’s a bad habit on your part.

      “Use of strawmen is a sad sign of intellectual exhaustion. Try responding to what I actually said, not exaggerating to the point of absurdity.”

      You want to watch your use of disdainful tones, lest you alienate the left as surely as you say we have alienated the right.

    6. As one of those people continuously called dumb and stupid by the likes of David Graeber, some things you have not considered, I am actually to the far left and anarchist.

      When I say Trump deserved to win and I hope he continues to win until all the arrogant SOBs stop being narcissistic self righteous arseholes and STOP abusing the weakest in society and sucking the 1% dick, it might be because I will vote Tory, No you don’t own me because I am disabled, No you don’t own me because I am female, No you don’t own me because I live in poverty.

      Actually I do understand the difference between messenger RNA and ribosomal RNA, just as I was capable of studying engineering and no dyslexia does not make me stupid and ignorant any more than it made Einstein stupid or ignorant or any more than it stopped my son being a scientist.

      Actually I do understand the arguments but I see the confirmation biases, the vile prejudice and bigoted perceptions you have of people like me. David Graeber was NEVER working class and he wouldn’t piss on us if we were on fire because he is just the same as the rest of them.

    7. I am in Scotland I did not vote for Trump I voted Yes for Indy, Yes to Brexit and I will vote Tory for the first time in my life, but I do understand why people voted Trump the left has abandoned ideals for smugness and elitism. Put themselves on the pedestal and not the ideal.

  12. To expand on part of my last reply:

    Maximus said:

    “Here is a sad example of incestuous amplification, people talking with like-minded people
    “believing that those who disagree with them are dumb or evil”

    I i said:

    “However, I do not get the impression that he believes that all opinions with which he disagrees are dumb or evil.”

    Maximumus responded:

    “I never said such a thing. Life is about magnitudes and frequencies. .”

    The implication of this response is that the problem is that Scott, or LGM in general, engages “too frequently” in characterizing opposing views as stupid or evil. The problem, of course, is that “frequency” is not demonstrated through the use of examples. The particular example used is seemingly supposed to overcome this obstacle by showing about the nature of its audience and therefore of the kind of discourse that goes on on the blog: the fact that Lemieux refers to the “18th century slave power” as a synonym for the Electoral College is supposed to be the kind of dig, both arcane and inflammatory, that will appeal only to the True Believers – or something of that nature (lest Maximus quibble with the exact specifications of that designation).

    But again, all that says is that here we have a sort of “in crowd” that isn’t representative of the general population, that generally agrees that certain opinions are stupid or wrong. And while that could be a problem for a site that was designed to engage in outreach to Republicans, the mere fact that leftists tend to agree that some of the things that they oppose are abhorrent or absurd says nothing, on its own, about the quality of the ideas and arguments they have to offer.

  13. The collapse of the left is a symptom of the collapse of Keynesian economics.

    Unfortunately for the right, supply side likewise has collapsed.

    So they both spout nonsense. Which begs the question, why single out only the left?

    And who will prevail? China, perhaps.

    1. Duncan,

      (1) “collapse of Keynesian economics.”

      You’re reading too many right wing blogs that prattle about faux economics. Keynesian models adequately prescribed the remedy for the 2008 crash, and predicted the result of the stimulus. This was their greatest test since the WWII stimulus blasted the US economy out of the depression (while WWII was blasting away the economies of Europe and Japan).

      (2) “why single out only the left?”

      Perry Mason would say that statement “assumes facts not in evidence”. I’ve written four-score posts about right-wing politics, plus more posts about their faux economics, their faux history, and the dynamics and likely result of the Trump years.

      (3) “And who will prevail? China, perhaps.”

      I see you don’t read much about China. They have a full roster of political and economic problems, much more serious than America’s.

    2. It is entirely too late in the evening for me to address the various points you have asserted other than state that the strange behavior of the left demands not merely a description but an explanation.

      Assuming that they are not collectively imbibing some hallucinogen, then there must be something in the general society that causes them to act such. And, if Keynesian economics is as fine as you assert, then why is it generally disregarded?

      Beyond which, I don’t read right-wing blogs; don’t know what faux economics may be, would presume that if right wing rhetoric is twaddle then the left should likewise be able to suffice with mere twaddle, and used the word “perhaps” with respect to China precisely because I am aware of its various problems.

    3. Duncan,

      “to address the various points you have asserted other than state that the strange behavior of the left demands not merely a description but an explanation.”

      I didn’t assert any explanation for the Left’s behavior. “Why” is usually the most difficult of questions. It’s over my pay grade. But we don’t need to know why to first see what the Left is doing — and to advise them to correct course. If I see you stepping into traffic, I yell “stop” rather than ponder why you are doing so.

      “if Keynesian economics is as fine as you assert, then why is it generally disregarded?”

      Other than in far-right circles, it the most commonly used economic model or theory used in the world today.

      “I would presume that if right wing rhetoric is twaddle then the left should likewise be able to suffice with mere twaddle”

      I have no idea what that means with respect to economics.

      “used the word “perhaps” with respect to China precisely because I am aware of its various problems.”

      My point was that your last statement was quite odd on two grounds. First, there are many nations in far better shape economic condition than China, including the US. Second, China is among the most intensive users of Keynesian demand management methods — so the “collapse” of the efficacy of K. economics would hurt them far more than most.

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