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The Politics of Narcissism Drooling Idiocy

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Dumb and Dumber (Screengrab)

Walker Bragman is back — and perhaps being paid actual cash money — to give some takes so hot they could be sliding down a mountain in Hawaii:

I strongly believe that Hillary will kill the momentum that has been generated over the last eight years by Barack Obama, the first liberal (not progressive) Democrat to be president in years–and that will do more damage to the Democratic brand than four years of a Republican president would do to the country.

Omitted: any domestic issue on which Clinton is to the right of Barack Obama. Reason for omission: there isn’t a halfpence worth of difference between them. Also, the distinction between “liberal” and “progressive” is entirely useless, and the next good political argument to rely on the word “brand” will be the first. (To make “brand” arguments in the wake of the 2010 midterms is…special.)

If the New Deal taught us anything it’s that unprecedented sweeping government action can happen quickly. FDR achieved significant reforms within the first hundred days of his presidency.

Yes, who can forget FDR just ramming legislation RIGHT DOWN THE THROATS of a Congress controlled by conservative Republicans. Bernie would be able to do exactly the same thing in 2017, but Hillary wouldn’t. even. try. Thank you for this very pertinent history lesson.

After some nonsense about how the country could use a lot of Katrinas because this will make things better based on airy heighten-the-contradictions speculation with somewhat less content than the Underpants Gnome theory, we get to the uniquely risible stuff:

The argument I keep hearing is “the SCOTUS is up for grabs in 2016 so we must vote Hillary if she gets nominated.”

As I said, but did not elaborate on in my first piece, this is more true for 2020 and 2024. Let’s assume we live in a world where Hillary has won the primary, and angry progressive’s didn’t turn out for her in the general so she lost. It is true we might lose Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 82-years-old, somewhere between 2016 and 2020. However, there is nothing to suggest that any of the other justices approaching retirement (Scalia, Breyer and Kennedy) will step down with her. The other justices are all in their late 70s. Scalia, the second oldest at 79 years of age, has indicated that nothing short of dementia will lead to his resignation. Justice Breyer announced in September of this year that he will retire “eventually,” indicating nothing imminent.

Where to even begin?

  • The fact that Breyer has no immediate plans to retire makes it unpossible that it could happen!
  • Remember the assumption about “angry progressive’s (not liberals!)” not turning out for when he gets to the assumption about how Democrats will retain the Senate so no harm, no foul if we get President Cruz.  Yes, you’re right that this makes no sense.
  • I would like a copy of Bragman’s theory that incumbency is a presumptive disadvantage in a presidential election so I can volunteer to teach a grade 8 civics class and give it an F.
  • Bragman’s “no big deal” scenario involves a Republican president replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  This means that on most politically salient issues the median vote on the Court will be John Roberts, who a couple high-profile defections aside votes 95% of the time with Sam Alito — the most consistently reactionary justice since World War II — in 5-4 cases.  Well, if that’s it what’s the big deal?  A Roe overruled here, an Obergefell there  — it might hurt  you but it won’t hurt Bragman, so really who cares.

Let’s head to the finish line:

As H.A. Goodman has previously written, this race is really about sending a message to the DNC and to the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who served as co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president) over their perceived shielding of the front runner from criticism.

The jokes pretty much write themselves on this one — I mean, dealbreaker arguments are bad enough when the chosen issue is of first-rank importance. But, yes, the biggest victim of at least 4 years of unified Republican rule would be Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Also, to state what should be painfully obvious, insurgent campaigns cannot expect the support of the party establishment. Tea Party Republicans don’t take their ball and go home because party elites don’t support their favored candidates.

And the punchline:

I cannot implicitly support this kind of undemocratic action from DNC by casting my ballot for someone who, if you take away the name and party affiliation, is essentially a moderate Republican.

It would take a wisdom far beyond my own to determine which is the most idiotic of these arguments. “Cast your general election vote based on the number of debates in the primaries” is stupid indeed, even by the standards of voting as consumerist onanism. But calling Hillary Clinton a “moderate Republican” — which would have been idiotic in 1972 and is light years beyond idiotic in 2015 — tops it. Rarely is such a colossally ignorant argument delivered with such self-congratulation.

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  • dmsilev

    As H.A. Goodman has previously written,

    Does Salon have an illicit cloning operation that we need to know about, or is it simply a captive (in)breeding program?

    • Gwen

      Also, Ben Spielberg now.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-spielberg/hillary-clinton-is-better_b_8848632.html

      “If Hillary Clinton ends up winning the Democratic nomination for president, some Bernie Sanders supporters will vote for her anyway. I can respect that decision. While the differences between Democrats and Republicans are often overstated – to give just two examples (there are many), the same people advise Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz on foreign policy and Hillary Clinton is at least as cozy with Wall Street as most Republicans – there are some real and important reasons to worry about a Republican White House. The Supreme Court and heads of agencies are, in my view, the biggest concerns in this vein. I’d have low hopes for Hillary Clinton’s appointees but no doubts that they’d be better on balance than those offered by a Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.

      “Yet I will not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. While I understand the lesser-of-two-evils mentality, I disagree with it; most of Clinton’s policy positions are unacceptable to me. If Sanders loses the primary, I will probably vote for Jill Stein.”

      • Gwen

        I think ultimately you can’t argue with these guys, they’re committed to Anybody-But-Hillary dead-enderism.

        • kayden

          I don’t recall this happening in 2008. Was there a large contingent of “progressives” who were vowing not to vote for President Obama and claiming that there was little difference between him and his Republican opponent? I just don’t recall that happening. I don’t understand why we’re seeing this against Secretary Clinton. Bizarre!

          • No, but there was plenty of it in 2012.

            • Malaclypse

              In 2008, people still remembered exactly what having a Republican President meant.

              • Gwen

                Yeah, I would have sold my mother to ensure Barack Obama’s victory.

                But I never threatened to vote for McCain, and that was McCain, who is mostly sane so long as he stays away from the Big Red Nuke Button.

                • efgoldman

                  McCain, who is mostly sane

                  Grandpa Walnuts in early-stage dementia is more sane than any of the klowns un the klown kar.

                • StarryGordon

                  It seems reasonable to suppose that neither your single vote nor the sale of your mother would affect the outcome of a national election. Therefore, a discussion based on single votes as if they did have a deciding effect seems somewhat fantastical. It might be more reality-based and perhaps even more interesting to speculate on what a single vote does do, and to whom or what.

                • DrDick

                  StarryGordon

                  It might be even more interesting to know what your point might be, but that way lies madness, so I shall not pursue it.

                • ColBatGuano

                  would affect the outcome of a national election

                  If no one votes, the outcome will be exactly the same!

                • StarryGordon

                  Usually, discussions like these are conducted as if a great deal — a material great deal — depended on how the participants vote. Will they compromise and vote for the tainted one, or vote for the hopeless angel, or stay home? Yet it doesn’t actually make any difference what they, as individuals, do. The outcome will be the same as if they voted for their dog. Therefore, why vote for someone you don’t like, or who represents morally reprehensible values, like war-mongering or subservience to Wall Street? If you’re going to vote (or contribute money, or proselytize) you might as well enjoy yourself.

                  If this be madness, make the most of it.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yet it doesn’t actually make any difference what they, as individuals, do.

                  I always loved how pretend leftists don’t understand collective action problems, in exactly the same way libertarians don’t.

                • StarryGordon

                  Collective action is great, but you don’t actually have a collective in any coherent sense.

                • Malaclypse

                  you don’t actually have a collective in any coherent sense.

                  Thank you very much for illustrating my point so very perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better example.

            • Scott Lemieux

              I didn’t think Salon could find two dudebros who made worse arguments on behalf of this position than Stiller and Sirota, but here we are.

              • kped

                They have 3 of these guys now, all totally interchangeable, writing the same article, now quoting each other in their near identical columns (not quite identical, the other two morons don’t link to Youtube videos, thank whoever you pray for for that.)

                • Matt McIrvin

                  I’m still just wondering why the hell Salon is doing this. I guess “clickbait” is a good enough answer.

          • dmsilev

            Not “progressives”, but there was the PUMA movement. Which was more of a laughingstock then anything else, but they did exist.

            • kped

              But they weren’t given a prominent voice. They had their own little sad corner. This is HuffPo and Salon, two huge platforms (we can ignore the quality of them for now…just saying they have large reaches).

            • The PUMA’s were all college Republicans, their first priorities were drinking and trying to get laid, politics were always a distant third.

            • Matt McIrvin

              Some of the PUMAs actually were self-described progressives who insisted that Obama was way to the right of Hillary Clinton. Wasn’t that the beginning of the anti-Obama line at Firedoglake?

              • Scott Lemieux

                And Corrente.

          • brewmn

            There was a large PUMA contingent on the blogs. One of my favorites was fond of repeating incessantly that Obama was going to be “the most conservative Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter.”

            How big that contingent was in real-life, I have no idea.

          • Ahuitzotl

            No, but I think there was a noticeable contingent of misogynists loons ‘progressives’ vowing not to vote for Hillary then, too

        • DrDick

          They are delusional loons who have never visited reality. I am not a fan of Hillary, but I will vote for her before I would vote for a Republican, a third party loser (which is the the same as voting Republican), or not voting.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          They are. That is why we will lose next year. I have been saying this for months.

      • the same people advise Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz on foreign policy

        Wait, Hillary Clinton considers the people she trusts on foreign policy to be James Woolsey, Elliott Abrams, and John Bolton? News to me.

        • masaccio

          https://theintercept.com/2015/12/18/beacon-global-strategies/ Beacon Global Strategies advises Cruz, Rubio and Clinton.

          • Warren Terra

            This means the people advising them overlap, not that the people advising them are the same.

            And it’s not entirely surprising that on any given issue centrist or affectedly-centrist people would seek to advise both sides. The problem is with the position of the American “center” on many issues, including whether we should bomb various people.

            • DrDick

              There really is a large overlap on foreign policy matters among the policy elites right now.

              • joe from Lowell

                I supposed I can agree with “large,” because there is always going to be a considerable amount of agreement, but that overlap is smaller now than it has been since before Pear Harbor.

            • Pseudonym

              And Samantha Power listens to Henry Kissinger. I’m not a fan of that, but it doesn’t mean we’re secretly bombing Cambodia.

      • Why doesn’t he just vote for himself or does he think that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between himself and Hillary also?

      • Warren Terra

        most of Clinton’s policy positions are unacceptable to me

        This is a pretty incredible statement. I haven’t looked into it, but Im guessing that on most issues Clinton’s policy positions aren’t actually a million miles away from Sanders. There may be exceptions, even hugely important ones – but Spielberg claims “most” would fall in this category.

        • God damn, that’s some serious stupidity.

        • DrDick

          It makes perfect sense if you realize that he only cares about one or two relatively obscure issues nobody else is interested in or where his views are out in the ozone.

        • joe from Lowell

          I haven’t looked into it, but Im guessing that on most issues Clinton’s policy positions aren’t actually a million miles away from Sanders.

          That’s the great irony – Bernie Sanders isn’t Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich. He uses the word “socialism,” but he’s not outside the range of mainstream Democratic opinion on anything. He supports the war against al Qaeda and the war against ISIL. He supported the sanctions on Iran.

          Seeing the foreign policy distinctions between the two used as a deal breaker requires some very selective memory and some very detailed, fine-grained mapping of one’s eternal principles.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Ah, but you’re assuming that Clinton’s *stated* policy positions (which are similar to Sanders’) are her *actual* policy positions.

          To the Clinton-hater, Hillary is the greatest liar to have ever existed. Any time she takes a position the hater agrees with, he believes her to be lying, and that her actual position is to the right of GWB or at least to the right of Kasich.

          Yes, it’s that bad.

    • I did a quick search on him and was the opposite of shocked to find that last year he wrote this:

      I’m a Liberal Democrat. I’m Voting for Rand Paul in 2016. Here Is Why.

      • Captain Oblivious

        I don’t think any of these guys have any clue what “liberal” means.

        • “Rebels” against the upper-middle class Republican parents by smoking a joint now and again.

      • N__B

        Here Is Why.

        I have dain bramage!

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          sure that isn’t bromage?

          either way, a curse

          • N__B

            bromage

            Cue the sirens: frenchman spotted at twelve o’clock!

            • Warren Terra

              dain bramage sounds like it should be closely related to Head Cheese.

          • Schadenboner

            What’s that, a wizard who doesn’t dump-stat STR?

            • Ahuitzotl

              clearly CHA instead

            • Docrailgun

              Considering the most useful wizard is probably now (5th edition) a High Elf Fighter (Eldritch Knight), probably CHA is a better dump stat, as Ahuizotl mentions.

        • Lee Rudolph

          I have dain bramage.

          It’s a curse.

      • kped

        HA! Goodman also had the same article in HuffPo. I’m now convinced they are the same person.

        • Scott Lemieux

          In fairness, AFTICT only HA! is a Paul supporter. I presume Bregman also finds Brietbart Unmasked entertaining and informative.

      • DrDick

        He seems unaware that the second statement negates the first.

  • Docrailgun

    How do people like this get writing gigs at all? Do you need a degree to get hired to write garbage like Bragman does or do you just need to be in the right place at the right time?
    It reminds me of the people who squirt Gatorade into the mouths of NFL players – I’m sure you need a degree in Sports Medicine to get hired for that job too.

    • Captain Oblivious

      If it’s any consolation, they’re probably not making a lot of money doing it. The life of an article writer has, with rare exceptions, never led to riches, and the ones who have made a lot of money have usually done so from bestselling books.

      • Ahuitzotl

        true, but after you’ve written the article once, changing the headline, possibly the byline, and maybe cutting the odd paragraph is very quick and easy, leaving you plenty of time for an actual job as well.

    • Dilan Esper

      Um, without starting another tiresome debate about the merits of Scott’s position, because there’s a whole bunch of people who don’t agree with Scott’s position?

      I mean, how does Ross Douthat get writing gigs? He’s wrong about a whole bunch of things. Or George Will? Or Charles Krauthammer? Well, the big reason is because people disagree with me and agree with them about a number of major issues.

      The belief that one should always vote for whichever of the two major party candidates is closer to your position, full stop, is a belief that is very much contested. Now, there are better and worse arguments in favor of the position Scott rejects, and honestly, a lot of the stuff he writes on these issues I actually agree with (for instance, he’s totally right that Supreme Court appointments are a huge and relevant difference between the parties).

      But it’s easy to see why people write this stuff- a lot of people, especially on the left, agree with it. You can either explore the reasons why they agree with it, and what the real contours of the debate are (I think it comes down to the fact that there are big philosophical differences between leftists and liberals, just as there are between liberals and conservatives, but it might be something else as well), or you can assume everyone who disagrees with you on this is stupid. Scott’s interminable posts on this fall into the latter category.

      • James B. Shearer

        But it’s easy to see why people write this stuff- a lot of people, especially on the left, agree with it.

        Depends on what “it” is? A fair number of people think it is good idea to threaten to withhold your vote from your party’s nominee (in order to extract concessions). A much smaller number think it is a good idea to actually withhold your vote on election day. So are articles like this a real threat or just posturing?

        • efgoldman

          Depends on what “it” is?

          Also depends on how many are in “a lot of people.”

          • Malaclypse

            And what “on the left” means, most importantly.

      • People write this crap for the narcissistic children in their lives such as themselves and like minded narcissistic children. Why do people masturbate?

        • No offense to masturbation intended.

          • efgoldman

            No offense to masturbation intended.

            Too late. The high dudgeon has already taken over.

            • N__B

              high dudgeon

              Someone has a good opinion of himself.

            • Warren Terra

              If your dudgeon remains high for more than four hours, consult your psychiatrist.

      • altofront

        I mean, how does Ross Douthat get writing gigs? He’s wrong about a whole bunch of things.

        Yeah, but this guy isn’t even wrong. I don’t think it’s too much to expect a basic level of political competence from political writers, whatever their political beliefs are. I’m a regular reader of Hot Air, for example, because when they’re talking about the Republican horserace they take the underpants off their collective head and make pretty cogent arguments. Hell, Jonah Goldberg is sometimes worth reading when he’s talking about Republicans. Bragman (really?) is allegedly a liberal, but he knows almost nothing about liberal voters.

        • efgoldman

          I don’t think it’s too much to expect a basic level of political competence from political writers

          Why? We don’t expect sports competence from sports writers (as pointed out here often). A horse race is a horse race.

      • Gregor Sansa

        OK, Dilan. You’re right. There are circumstances where you shouldn’t vote for whichever of the two major party candidates is closer to your position. For instance, you shouldn’t vote for them if:

        – The Joker has told you the locations of two people in deathtraps, and you only have time to save one of them.
        – The two candidates are only different on a few issues, AND control of a branch of government is clearly not in the balance, AND the major party candidate on your side is clearly worse than the average incumbent from their party. AND you have a well-organized plan to take back the party next election, AND you have a good excuse for not having used that plan in the current election (perhaps because The Joker told you the locations of two people in deathtraps).
        – The candidate who is further from you on most issues is actually closer to you on one key issue.
        – You are using an improved voting system. For instance, in SODA, you could vote for somebody you liked even better than the lesser evil, and then if that person couldn’t win they could still transfer your vote to the lesser evil.
        – Your spouse is running for the office as a third party candidate, and if they don’t get at least two votes they’ll divorce you.

        • I think you have covered all plausible scenarios except the ticking time bomb scenario but I don’t think liberals are allowed to use that one.

          • Ahuitzotl

            please – liberals are more technologically advanced and use electronic counters for time bombs.

        • efgoldman

          You are using an improved voting system.

          Gregor, knew it was you before I even glanced at the nym.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I think it comes down to the fact that there are big philosophical differences between leftists and liberals

        An explanation that remains transparently wrong, starting with the fact that most of the people making this argument are liberals-not-leftists.

        • Bernie Sanders disagrees with him on that point which would make Bernie not a pure enough Sander’s voter for him but then Bernie was always a sell out to “The Cause.”

        • I skimmed Dilan’s post (because I’ve read too much of him recently to do any more than that) but is he seriously hauling out the “liberals vs. leftists” canard again? This is painfully irrelevant. Sanders is not a leftist.

          • Scott Lemieux

            And what’s particularly funny is that his investment in this issue centers around the campaign of Ralph Nader, a not particularly left-wing legalistic liberal.

            • Schadenboner

              Ralph Nader, a not particularly left-wing legalistic liberal.

              You misspelled “toxic narcissist” in this sentence. Might want to fix that.

              Thanks!

          • I skimmed Dilan’s post (because I’ve read too much of him recently to do any more than that) but is he seriously hauling out the “liberals vs. leftists” canard again?

            It depends on what you mean by “seriously” but yes. I don’t think it will ever die.

        • I know this was a throwaway by Dilan, but I’ll reiterate that Dilan has never actually made an argument, or even a full claim, about this difference. Putting aside the nonsense about priori, if there is a differences between liberals and leftists that would produce a defensible difference in appropriate voting behaviour it has to be either:

          1) on policy, that is, a leftist must prefer on policy grounds a current republican to any available democrat on net; I trust that to state this is to make the refutation obvious; it’s very hard to see any leftist goals than any current republican remotely tries to advance even if you take the “left meets right at the extremes” view

          2) on tactics/strategy, ie leftists would need to be committed to a heighten the contradictions line; I don’t see why leftism commits you to that, many liberals seem to buy it, and most people arguing that are liberals anyway; plus, it’s stupid. If leftism commits you to that then leftism is just daft.

          3) on moral grounds, ie a clean hands approach to politics or expressivist view of voting; I don’t know any traditional (certainly no Marxist) leftist philosophy that goes the purity route. There could be some such theory (obviously there are some people who make this argument, but not on leftist philosophical grounds afaict). I think that such views are pretty obviously immoral as well as not being particularly leftist.

          I think it’s pretty clear that there’s no unanimity in leftist thought on these points. Even heighten the contradictions as strategy isn’t universally held (as it’s obviously stupid most of the time). So I conclude that the distinction between leftist and liberals, to the degree that there is a coherent, large enough distinction, just has nothing to do with this debate.

          • DrDick

            I am a fucking leftist (socialist), but I am also old enough and intelligent enough to know that voting third parties is a really dumb move (I have done it in my youth). I strongly support Sanders, who is one of the very few candidates ever who I largely agree with, but I will vote for Clinton, whom I really do not like on several levels, over any other available candidate because I am not brain dead or a masochist.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              aside from not being brain dead or a masochist, you’re also not a sadist. I mean, let’s face it- on some level the HA Goodmans *want* other people to suffer

            • And sure, you could be an outlier. Or their could be various strains of leftism. But Dilan has to make an argument here rather than repeatedly asserting this silly slogan and then accusing everyone else of not understanding leftism.

              In some early versions, he claimed that leftists historically were different (which again, does not determine their policy, moral, or political ideas *now*…there can be convergent evolution!) and that they thought the American state was wholly illegitimate and wanted to see it destroyed (which may be, in some sense, true, but usually there’s some idea of what should replace it; a Republican paradise is not a typical leftist outcome!). Even to the degree the latter is true, to that same degree nearly everyone in this debate is not a leftist, certainly not most Bernie or Nader supporters.

              I mean…C’mon Dilan. I can’t see that there’s remotely an argument you can make here because, afaik, all the facts are against you, but you have some obligation, generated by repeated repetition of repetitive condescending repeating, to at least sketch a case. No, a repeated assertion of your claim doesn’t count.

              • Bijan, you are reliably one of the most interesting and useful commenters here.

                • Pseudonym

                  +2

                • Malaclypse

                  Plus the patience of at least a dozen saints, at least three of which even existed.

                • Thanks all! You are very kind.

          • Pseudonym

            Yeah, I’m still waiting on learning which set of “priors” it is that justifies voting for Nader and enabling Bush the Lesser.

          • Gregor Sansa

            This list is much better than mine was. But it’s still unsatisfying to me.

            In your numbering:

            1) preferring Republicans on policy: you’ve destroyed this one.

            2) tactics/strategy: “Heighten the contradictions” (HTC) is where you deliberately make things worse so that you can say “I told you so” later and everybody will see how smart you were. It’s never worked and it never will. But I don’t think it’s the only possible tactical argument for not voting a lesser evil.

            There’s also the game theory argument: a hardline strategy can sometimes work in a repeated game even if it wouldn’t in a one-shot. This is in theory not so narcissistic as HTC, but only if you actually write out a game tree and see that it works. If you do so, you quickly realize that this only possibly makes sense after you’ve already organized a coalition that is on the verge of taking over. In practice, however, the people like Dilan are too lazy and self-centered to do either the big-tent organization that would imply, or even to do the careful analysis it would take to see that implication.

            In other words, this could in theory be the true leftist position, but only if leftists did a much, much better job recruiting and organizing.

            3), the purity argument, is also not entirely crazy in theory, but in practice universally bullshit. Having a clear line in the sand beyond which you won’t vote for somebody can be moral, or it can be a useful part of the game-theory tactics I spoke of above. But if you’re taking this position, you have to be very, very clear about what the line actually is, and then apply it impartially and consistently. You can’t give Nader and Sanders a pass because you identify with them. You can’t be constantly shifting the goalposts, or include “preshifted goalpost” clauses, both of which Dilan does.

            We all agree that Dilan is a facile nincompoop, but I for one wish he wasn’t, because if he had a tenth of the brains Bijan has, this could be an interesting debate.

            ….

            ETA: You know, I could do this. I could write an anti-Hillary screed that is wrong without being risible, by leaning on the game theory angle. And I could probably make it at least a little bit clickbaity. Do you think I could get it published in Salon?

            • Malaclypse

              Do you think I could get it published in Salon?

              HuffPo, maybe, but only if you include sideboob.

            • This list is much better than mine was. But it’s still unsatisfying to me.

              To be clear, I just intended to articulate the categories, not all possible leftist arguments *within* each category.

              Of course, Dilan thus far has made claims about actual motivations, which constrains the possibilities. For example, there are, as you mention, possible tactical or strategic arguments other than a pure HTC. For example, “spoil in select, mostly harmless locals” is a possible approach that isn’t bonkers. Flexing your muscles in a situation that doesn’t wreak much havoc overall, but demonstrates your power and will is not utterly insane. Of course, you need the power and the will and to bring something to the table.

              I don’t see that being distinctively leftist, though.

              Consider other cohesive groups in the Democratic coalition, say, blacks, hispanics, or GLTB+. These groups are varyingly reliable members of the coalition (and increasingly so). Arguably, each of them has gotten some crap from the party as a whole. But it’s hard to argue that the party as a whole is, on average, taking any of these groups “for granted” such that their substantive interest of being in the coalition is too low to justify reckless behavior.

              Indeed, the Democrats (as a whole) are better both positively (i.e., in their attempts to future key policies for each group) and negatively (i.e., the Republicans are horrible to all these groups).

              It’s hard to see how “leftists” are in any different position. Indeed, less so, since each of those subgroups might share *some* policy thoughts with even the current Republican party. It’s hard to see how leftists have anything in common policywise.

          • Ahuitzotl

            leftism is just daft

            at least on the implicit definition on offer. I’ll stick to being a socialist, thanks.

      • I found this post of Scott’s really unsatisfying, and without Dilan I wouldn’t have been able to put my finger on why. The big problem here is that Scott is assuming that Bragman is wrong, without producing any evidence or argumentation to make his case.

        • Perhaps you should have imagined Eugene Debbs in a thong while reading the post. I found Scott’s post very satisfying.

          • “no evidence or argumentation” was supposed to be the tell.

          • efgoldman

            Perhaps you should have imagined Eugene Debbs in a thong

            Eew. Perhaps not.

          • Schadenboner

            Eugene Debbs in a thong

            …go on.

            • BigHank53

              I’m holding out for Kropotkin in fishnets.

              • Ahuitzotl

                I can offer you Taft in a bathtub

        • Robert M.

          Bragman’s argument falls into the category where merely restating it is refuting it. But okay, let’s set that aside.

          The article relies on:

          (1) Mischaracterizing Obama.

          (2) Mischaracterizing HRC.

          (3) Making extremely shaky actuarial assumptions about the Supreme Court.

          (4) Inverting the lesson of the New Deal. (Yes, “FDR achieved significant reforms within the first hundred days of his presidency.” That’s probably a good reason not to hand the Republicans all three branches of government for a minimum of two years.)

          (5) Underestimating the value of incumbency.

          (6) Overestimating the value of “heightening the contradictions”-style voting patterns. (The problems with the Bush 43 administration could not have been more obvious in 2004, but he was re-elected.)

          I could actually go on, but… honestly, you should just see the previous time Lemieux addressed this same argument in response to a Salon article. Or the time before that.

          EDIT: Here’s your post: ===>
          And here’s my head: O

          Sorry.

        • JMP

          We waste evidence or argumentation refuting such a self-evidently stupid and wrong point?

      • BubbaDave

        But it’s easy to see why people write this stuff- a lot of people, especially on the left, agree with it.

        I figured it’s because a lot more people disagree with it but will click the links to hate-read the article. Scott’s clicks to read and eviscerate, Joe Brogressive’s clicks to read and nod sagely: they all count the same in the great clickbait game.

      • I mean, how does Ross Douthat get writing gigs? He’s wrong about a whole bunch of things. Or George Will? Or Charles Krauthammer?

        None of those people spend half of every one of their articles citing their own YouTube videos.

      • DrDick

        They get those gigs because they are over privileged white gits with degrees from the right schools and do not offend the Very Important People. Much like yourself.

      • Pseudonym

        Le sigh.

      • Scott Lemieux

        there’s a whole bunch of people who don’t agree with Scott’s position?

        [cites omitted]

        The fact that Salon has to resort to barely literate people with an understanding of American politics that wouldn’t pass muster in a junior high civics class to make the case strongly indicates otherwise.

      • Docrailgun

        I assume they have blackmail pictures of the hiring editors. It’s the only way that Douchehat could keep his job.

        I mean, how does Ross Douthat get writing gigs? He’s wrong about a whole bunch of things. Or George Will? Or Charles Krauthammer?

        • Pseudonym

          Douthat puts a respectable (if eminently punchable) face on ideas that don’t deserve respect. It’s a valuable service to some people.

      • Barry_D

        “The belief that one should always vote for whichever of the two major party candidates is closer to your position, full stop, is a belief that is very much contested. ”

        Yes, and so is global warming.

        for both issues, one side’s arguments on the topic are more likely than not to be full of sh*t and quite dishonest.

  • Vance Maverick

    As H.A. Goodman has previously written, this race is really about sending a message to the DNC and to the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who served as co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president) over their perceived shielding of the front runner from criticism.

    This really is amazing. Which is worse — that he believes he knows what the election is “about”? that this point turns out to regard a party functionary rather than a political issue? or that even so, he can’t quite bring himself to affirm that the offense in question is real rather than just perceived?

    • ColBatGuano

      If it was a real offense he’d have to do something really terrible. Oh, wait….

    • brewmn

      There might be good elections in which to “send a message” to the Democratic establishment.

      One which would result in the election of the most extreme rightwing Republican president in our lifetime, and give him a Congress dominated by extremist Republicans committed to appointing young, ideologically extreme justices to the Supreme Court, is not one of them.

  • Roger Ailes

    Where do I get in on the wagering that people in their late 70s will live five more years? I could clean up.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Look, if you announce that you intend to keep your job, incapacitatation and death are therefore impossible, at least as long as a Republican is in the White House. Ask this scientician.

      • Robert M.

        Nine out of ten scienticians agree: overweight, splenetic octogenarians are never surprised by negative health outcomes!

        For bonus stupidity: have any of these clowns considered that in their preferred 2020 scenario, we’d be running a less experienced candidate with policy preferences further to the left of the median voter against a Republican with all the advantages of incumbency?

        • Captain Oblivious

          SATSQ: No.

        • efgoldman

          have any of these clowns considered that in their preferred 2020 scenario, we’d be running a less experienced candidate with policy preferences further to the left of the median voter against a Republican with all the advantages of incumbency?

          Purity ponies never get facts, logic, or historical precedent get in the way of their temper tantrums.

        • In these people’s fantasies, the majority of eligible voters are secret socialists who will be drawn to the polls by a sufficiently muscular, turgid candidate.

          • ColBatGuano

            This is what my Facebook page tells me. Also, cats.

            • Ahuitzotl

              Bill for President. Again.

      • kped

        He also said Anthony Kennedy won’t retire if Hillary wins because he wants a Republican to replace him…

        …so, he admits a Republican will likely get to replace RBG, giving the R’s a 6-3 majority. And he admits that Kennedy will likely only hold on to keep a Dem from appointing his successor…so doesn’t that mean in his logic, Kennedy retires if President Cruz is in office? And doesn’t that give Republicans two new, young Judges to maintain their huge (3 votes is huge on a 9 person panel) majority for 20 or so years? Hell, Scalia is 79, he likely retires to, giving them 3 fresh faces. God help us if Breyer passes away. He is 77, turning 78 before the election.

        I mean, in one 4 year term, you can completely transform the Supreme court and basically put it out of reach for a generation. And that’s OK! So long as we teach the DNC and DWS a lesson!

      • Words matter!

    • Pseudonym

      Did years of the LGM crew putting Võ Nguyên Giáp in their death pool teach you nothing?

  • Nobdy

    Does Bragman think that becoming a Supreme Court Justice makes you a Highlander*? Because Scalia’s 79 and not exactly in Patrick Stewart physical condition. Even if he never intends to retire there are plenty of actuary tables that suggest that 4 years might be a lot of time for him…

    *I know they are immortals, and thst only Connor MacLeod was the highlander because he was Scottish even though he spoke with Christopher Lambert’s weird accent, while Sean Connory was the Spanish Ramirez even though he sounded like Sean Connory. I know that.

    • Malaclypse

      That said, watching Notorious R.B.G take off Scalia’s head with a katana whilst atop a rooftop would be worth the pirce of admission.

      • N__B

        It’d be even better if she did it wth a spork.

        • Noted.

          .

        • Robert M.

          “Why a spoon, cousin?”
          “Because it’s dull, you twit. It’ll hurt more.”

  • patrick II

    Accepting for the sake of argument that Hillery is indeed a moderate Republican is Bragman asserts, I would still vote for her long before I would vote for any of the insane or incompetant candidates running in the Republican primary now.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Right. I would, without any hesitation, vote for the actual Richard Nixon (let alone Fantasy Left-of-Obama Richard Nixon) over any possible Republican nominee in 2016, so even if the characterization is right it would be irrelevant.

      • Captain Oblivious

        Same here.

        All two-party elections are always about the lesser of two evils, because politicians (including Sanders) are never pure and holy (Sanders is VERY bad on gun control, e.g.) Sometimes the gap between evil and not-so-evil is not as wide as we would like — it’s a pretty narrow gap between, say, Cruz and Nixon, but Nixon would still be the lesser evil.

        In the case of Hillary vs Random 2016 GOP candidate, the gap is huge, it is obviously huge, and anyone who can’t see this is either an idiot or not paying attention or trying to rationalize his misogyny.

        • efgoldman

          Nixon would still be the lesser evil.

          Hated Tricksie Dicksie, but he was a hell of a politician.

      • I’d vote for that RINO Reagan over any of these Bircher wanabees.

    • Murc

      Accepting for the sake of argument that Hillery is indeed a moderate Republican is Bragman asserts

      A lot of people still seem to be stuck in a time period in which it was possible for someone like Hillary to be a moderate Republican. I remember one of the jokes you’d hear aimed at her husband from the left was that he was “the best Republican President since Eisenhower.”

      The thing is, while narrowly true (someone with Hillary’s positions could have existed in the Republican Party in the seventies and eighties IF they’d gotten into it in the fifties or sixties) that time was already passing by the time her husband was elected a quarter-century ago. Were guys like, say, John Chafee (to pick an example) still around? Sure. But they were a dying breed, only still around because of political inertia.

      To characterize her positions now as being those of a moderate Republican now is disingenuous. It’s a clever debating trick; you try and capitalize on the toxicity of the Republican brand among liberals by labeling her a Republican… using an ancient definition of Republican that, if it still applied to any significant part of that party’s elected officials, would cause liberals to have a much higher opinion of them than they do.

      I have a lot of problems with Hillary and a lot of disagreements about the lesser-evilism promoted on this blog. But if people are going to take a run at her, their arguments need to be rooted in facts. It’s entirely possible to put together an argument about withholding your vote from her that is wrong without being risible. It may even be possible to put together one that is right… but it seems like if you begin with fundamental misunderstandings of the political situation, or if you do understand it and are lying about it, you’re unlikely to get there.

      • It’s entirely possible to put together an argument about withholding your vote from her that is wrong without being risible.

        As is the case so often, a low bar blocks many a pundit.

      • kped

        It’s entirely possible to put together an argument about withholding your vote from her that is wrong without being risible.

        I’m not sure there is a way to do that, given the actual stakes.

        • It’s an interesting challenge.

          The simplest way is to straightforwardly embrace something wrong and/or evil. It’s not risible to be misogynist, for example, it’s just wrong and evil.

          But other than that, it’s hard to see.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Simple, and one I’ve encountered: climate change is going to destroy the US as a political entity in fairly short order. Therefore choices & policies chosen in the meantime are essentially trivial, rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, as the saying goes: thus the cost of indulging your actual preferences is very low to nil.

          See, wrong, but not initially risibly ridiculous, until you interrogate the assumptions inherent (like, in the long run we’re all dead anyway, so nothing we do matters, and noones suffering matters. right. jolly god, have a seat on Bench W)

  • kayden

    Anyone arguing like Bragman is either cold hearted or an undercover Republican. The consequences (all negative) of allowing a Republican President to slip into the White House are insurmountable. You have to be completely clueless to not see how dire a Republican Presidency would be to minorities, women’s rights, the LGBT community, immigrants, labor, foreign affairs, etc.

    • Ahuitzotl

      either cold hearted or an undercover Republican.

      tautology

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        Not really. There are cold-hearted folks on the left as well as the right.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    1. The skies are dark with chickens coming home to … do the purity dance.

    2. Wait, Scalia’s not already demented?

    • N__B

      1. I never thought that the Funky Chicken would have 21st century political currency,

      2. If I understand the linguistic rules of negatives, then yes, Scalia is mented.

      • dmsilev

        But is he gruntled?

        (my computer’s spellcheck actually accepts that as a real word. Who knew?)

        • N__B

          But is he gruntled?

          I’m not going to be the one to peek under his robe.

        • BigHank53

          accepts that as a real word

          If you think that’s funny, go look up what a “gruntling” actually is. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work.

  • Tybalt

    My favorite part is where he says this election is REALLY about sending a message to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and then doesn’t even know what the message is.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The message is “fap fap fap fap fap fap fap fap.”

      • N__B

        In general, this is a message I approve of. In this case, not, which shows how perverse these people are.

    • Captain Oblivious

      The average voter has no fkn clue who DWS is.

      • No truer words have ever been spoken about me.

        • cpinva

          Brendan behan thanks you.

    • djw

      The overriding obsession with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all-powerful malevolent overlord, doesn’t get anywhere near the mockery it deserves.

      • Captain Oblivious

        Another powerful woman. See my comment below.

        • UserGoogol

          Maybe to a point, but I’ve heard plenty of people whine about her out of proportion to her power away from the context of the Sanders campaign and for that matter by women.

          I think the bigger issue is just a sense that liberals could totally win in all districts if they just had resources behind them. Since Debbie Wasserman Schultz is at least theoretically in charge of the campaign resources of the party, she’s an easy target for that sort of anger. Especially since people contrast her with an idealized version of Howard Dean and the 50 State Strategy.

          • EliHawk

            I do wonder how much the DWS hate is people who were big Dean guys vs the establishment and are still nursing their grudges 12 years later. The whole “50 State Strategy” worked like gangbusters when Bush was at 30% approval in fucking Mississippi, but seems less likely to work now for some reason. Must be DWS’s fault.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              Given that most of the Sanders fanatics I know were also Dean supporters in 2004, you may be on to something there.

          • cpinva

            I’m still trying to figure out who this all powerful DWS is, that she is able, all by herself, to keep HRC from any criticism whatsoever. must be the hair.

        • djw

          Oh, most definitely.

  • Brien Jackson

    insurgent campaigns cannot expect the support of the party establishment.

    It really cannot be said enough that the true motivation for people like H.A. Goodman, Matt Stoller, et. al is the burning desire to feel like they own the Democratic Party, and have all of the other constituencies in the coalition recognize them as such.

    • Captain Oblivious

      I think it’s more likely that they’re a bunch of center-left white dudebros whose repressed neuroses and anxieties about female power are getting surfaced by Hillary’s candidacy.

      • Robert M.

        Your hypothesis and Brien’s appear perfectly compatible to me. Indeed, it seems as if yours would be very likely to generate his.

        • Captain Oblivious

          Agreed. Whatever animates “brogressives” is clearly complex.

          • Ken

            Complex, a complex. Whatever.

            (If you’re looking for examples of how an article can make a difference…)

      • Brien Jackson

        I don’t think so; this brand of wankery extends all the way back to at least the 2004 election and Dean’s defeat.

      • If only the Democrats would compromise and find a female candidate with a penis, we could solve this problem. Who is with me on this? I already have zombie David Broder on board and I’m sure he could talk David Brooks into mild acceptance . . .

        • ColBatGuano

          a female candidate with a penis

          So that’s what they meant by the Third Way.

    • keta

      I think Bragman is looking to make a career in politics, and this whole “Sanders or nobody” shtick is his way of showing off his lily-white bona fides.

      Also, he grew up in the East Hamptons, so his tolerance of rich interlopers of all stripes is understandably low.

      I’m not excusing his ridiculous, callow posturing, more just trying to suss out why he’s so goddamned obtuse.

      • Colin Day

        I’m not excusing his ridiculous, callow posturing, more just trying to suss out why he’s so goddamned obtuse.

        Would you say that Bragman’s angle is 179°?

      • cpinva

        “I’m not excusing his ridiculous, callow posturing, more just trying to suss out why he’s so goddamned obtuse.”

        I’m going with the Occam’s Razor approach, he’s just stupid.

    • Matt McIrvin

      You know, I think I was assuming from the use of initials that H. A. Goodman was a woman. But he’s a dude! ALL IS EXPLAINED!

    • I think that’s a little off. Their burning desire is to feel like they are the true keepers of the Democratic Party’s conscience, forever more pure than whoever happens to be winning the party’s votes or whatever. If it ever came to pass that all the other coalitions came around to their way of thinking, they’d be satisfied for, like, a week, then find some new schism that’s deathly important that separates them from the compromised party establishment.

      • EliHawk

        I wonder how much of that dates to 2004, and the myth that Dean, who couldn’t win a single primary outside of Vermont and folded like a cheap suit when Kerry got his mojo back in Iowa, was “really” the choice of the Democrats.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “FDR rammed home a lifetime’s worth if progressive legislation in 100 days.”

    “LBJ got everything he wanted by his jawboning mastery of the Senate.”

    “JFK’s first official action was creating the Peace Corps”

    “Nixon was an environmentalist – he created the EPA”

    There’s a coherent world view in there, it just hasn’t passed high school civics. I think maybe they think Congress just writes up a bunch of different versions of bills – like, every possible one – and then leaves them in the Oval Office, and a President’s job is to decide which versions he wants to sign.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Great Man theory, combined with Green Lantern.

      • efgoldman

        Great Man theory, combined with Green Lantern.

        Before next November, we’ll have a tome from some of these idiots expounding on the Great Green Lantern Theory(tm) and predicting the election on that basis. It will, of course, be hailed as the next great political discovery, and be laughably wrong

    • tsam

      maybe they think the president writes the bills and signs them on their own.

    • cpinva

      I believe JFK’s first official act was giving the go ahead to the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion scheme, birthed under Eisenhower.

  • keta

    So, when Hillary defeats Sanders in the primary, and Sanders urges his supporters to get behind the Democrat nominee, to do the necessary and install a Democrat in the White House, will these petulant little minds actually heed the advice of their chosen savior?

    That little moment will be the true tell.

    • That will be the the day that they determine that Sanders was never really the one.

      • Matt McIrvin

        I think some of the PUMAs did circle around to being anti-Hillary after she signed on.

    • Some of them, at least, will pretend none of this has happened.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      As I’ve said elsewhere, these folks were Anybody But Clinton long before Sanders announced. (Draft Elizabeth Warren, Draft Sherrod Brown, draft *anybody*). They hate Clinton more than they like Sanders (and they *do* like Sanders).

      Although I would like Clinton to choose Sanders as her running mate, just to see how many of them have aneurysms.

  • Why look. Someone threw out this perfectly good straight line.

    Scalia, the second oldest at 79 years of age, has indicated that nothing short of dementia will lead to his resignation.

    • Docrailgun

      Didn’t Heller already reveal his dementia?

      • mikeSchilling

        There was only one catch and that was Catch-9, which specified that a concern for the state of one’s mental processes is a sign of a healthy intellect.. Scalia is demented and could be led to resign. All he had to do was ask and as soon as he did, he would no longer be demented and would stay on the Court.

        Or did you mean some other Heller?

    • Scott Lemieux

      Gracious of him to concede that the next president will get at least two nominations…

  • Ken

    I think the idea “people have to suffer to make them appreciate life” was expressed much better by the serial killer in the Saw movies.

    • Captain Oblivious

      Of course, it’s always other people who have to suffer.

      • Ken

        Of course. Those arguing for suffering already appreciate life and need no moral correction.

      • kped

        To these guys, suffering is an abstract concept. “Sure, you will lose your health care, but we swear, once Bernie Sanders browbeats the Republican house and Senate, they will pass single payer out of shame, because the people!”

        It’s all really fan fiction. And it gets clicks.

        • Cheap Wino

          Congratulations, you’ve found a point where Walker is consistent! He believes RBG is essentially a lock to make it through the 2020 inevitable Dem winner just like he’s confident Joe(sephine) average American needing healthcare will just put their life on hold until Superprogessive Candidate swoops in to save the day.

          Or, all politics is abstract. Amiright?!

        • EliHawk

          See also, the current state of the Labour Party these days.

  • werewitch

    You were doing pretty well, Scott, until you made a horrible devastating cosmos-altering severe critical error in the very last sentence:

    Rarely is such a colossally ignorant argument delivered with such self-congratulation.

    Such colossally ignorant arguments are *always* delivered with much self-congratulation. Always.

    So much so that self-congratulation is a solid indicator of colossal ignorance, in cases where the writing is too ambiguous/obscure to be evaluated directly.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I concede the point!

  • Gregor Sansa

    there isn’t a halfpence worth of difference between them.

    Oooh, well ahnt we posh, now. P’raps I’ll just toodle meself off to Buckin’ham Palace, ask the queen if she ‘as a “hhhalfpence” fer measuring the difference between Barahk Obahma and Hllary Clinton.

    It’s a ha’penny, yeh silly git.

    • Spare us the bellend codswallop.

      • ColBatGuano

        Oh, that’s minging.

    • N__B

      It’s a ha’penny,

      Five mills.

      • Proof N__B is right and Gregor is wrong.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_UZWnpEX1g

        • efgoldman

          Proof N__B is right.

          N_B is always right. He’s an engineer, after all.

          • N__B

            Fuckin’ A bubba.

        • N__B

          A client went bankrupt three years ago. We have not pursued a claim, but I guess our outstanding invoices got processed in the bankruptcy proceedings and we’ve received two checks, one last month and one this week, totaling $1.39. We’ve been paid approximately one mill on the dollar.

    • keta

      “It’s not how you say it, it’s how you shove it.”

  • Pingback: Circus Maximus MMXVI: Dance this mess around | AbsurdBeats()

  • For me, when the Democratic primary comes around in California, I’m likely to not vote for any of the candidates for the President. The reason? By the time the California primary comes around, my vote won’t matter at all. It’s really nice that both parties think that the biggest state in the country shouldn’t matter at all in the primaries.

    I will vote in every other thing on the ballot.

    • cpinva

      maybe 2000 had too much of an affect on me, but I remain of the opinion that every vote does count, and failing to vote is just as good as voting for the other guy/gal. I honestly have no interest in re-visiting bush 2001-2008.

      • StarryGordon

        In 2000, your vote made a difference if you were on the Supreme Court.

        Anyway, as I recall, in that election Gore was supposed to be the interventionist/nation-builder/imperialist, and Bush the non-interventionist. In other words, at least one and maybe both of the major candidates were portrayed as having the opposite of his actual intentions, and your so-powerful vote would have to be cast in ignorance of its effect (if you cared about such issues).

        • Malaclypse

          Yes, if you paid no attention at all to Bush’s record as governor, or policy proposals, you might end up thinking he’d be to the left of Gore. But only an idiot would fall for that.

          • StarryGordon

            I doubt if many people thought Bush was to the Left of Gore on anything. However, in 2000 there seemed to be two kinds of Right on offer, the more aggressively imperial — remember ‘We think it is worth it?’ — and the less aggressively imperial, as represented by such as Dub, who supposedly disparaged ‘nation-building’. Of course, this was a mistake, fostered by the kept media, but what other information did most people have? There was, at one time, an older conservative tradition of isolationism; it was the liberals (Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson) under whom mighty wars were engaged in. There might have been some public memory of that.

            Not that it matters. Except for certain excursions into unusual stupidity, American imperial policy has been pretty consistent since World War 2 and continues to be today.

      • I’m talking about the primary only, not the general election. I will definitely vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

    • kped

      TV producers would beg them to keep this schedule. If California came first, we’d actually have a pretty firm grasp of who was going to actually win, and that would ruin months of TV advertising and debates! Better to keep it to unrepresentative, tiny states.Those penthouse suites don’t pay for themselves.

    • Mrs. Gump

      And it’s an improvement from the June dates we used to have!

      • The 2016 California primary is on June 7.

  • joe from Lowell

    I don’t know this particular writer, but I’m having trouble believing that he’s spent the past six years lauding Barack Obama’s liberal governance and the “momentum” it has brought to the Democratic “brand.”

  • Solo Law

    Shorter Prof. Lemieux:

    “You are a drooling idiot if you don’t employ my policy preference ranking or value system, and don’t vote for the Democratic Party candidate who is marginally better than the GOP candidate (i.e. marginally left of the policy preferences of Republicans). Moreover, if you don’t LOTE vote (the only rational and “liberal” calculus by which one’s vote is cast because I says so), then you’re not a liberal and/or a nihilist in addition to being a drooling idiot.”

    How’s that LOTE calculus working out for the majority of the American people across almost every policy arena going on the last 45 years or so? Standard of living and wages? Pensions? College or health care affordability? Housing affordability? How is it working out for union saturation?

    Maybe it’s that some of us believe you aren’t diagnosing the problems, much less solutions, correctly. Maybe some of us see voting more in line with the recently deceased Prof. Sheldon Wolin’s worldview or understanding of American democracy (or lack thereof). Maybe we rationally believe, based on significant evidence, that we aren’t going to LOTE vote or incrementally work our way out of our problems by voting for the Hillary Clintons of the world just to keep Donald Trump or Herr Cruz out of the Iron Throne–not because they aren’t different in meaningful ways, but because they are nearly identical in too many other meaningful respects.

    Maybe our problems are simply too broad and deep, too imperative and far too impactful on the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people to not think bigger and expect better–or at very least expect more than de jure equality for some formerly marginalized minorities and a little better access to not very affordable health care in America. Maybe the problem is a flawed Constitution that needs some “radical” overhauling or maybe it’s an antiquated fundamentally anti-human intrinsically flawed neo-feudal economic worldview. Maybe it’s necessarily a combination of the two. Maybe Prof. Sheldon Wolin understood “the problems” better than you think you do? And maybe he understood your Lemieux’s LOTE Voting-Crumb Sandwich’s For The Few Calculus is arguably facile BS.

    Voting merges into a fluent process whose illusory connection with the demos is prolonged by the periodic election of senators and representatives and by the continuous commentary manufactured by the media. The result is an illusion of perpetual political motion launched initially by democratic elections. Meanwhile a parallel politics of process—legislative, administrative, judicial, and military—flows continuously of its own accord. Electoral campaigns are preserved as the lessons that consultants huckster. For the demos they are soon forgotten. It must now get its politics vicariously and passively through the pronouncements of television oracles, talk-show babble, and the political burlesque hustled by the pundits.

    But hey I’m sure your scholarship and CV put the dearly departed Prof. Wolin’s ideas and arguments to shame. But I doubt it.

    Rituals, “such as elections and coronations,” eviscerate the citizen of modern self-governance and inscribe their shriveled bodies into the postmodern “political economy.”

    “The citizen is shrunk to the voter: periodically courted, warned, and confused but otherwise kept at a distance from actual decision-making and allowed to emerge only ephemerally in a cameo appearance according to a script composed by the opinion takers/makers.”

    Maybe you should bone up a bit on your Wolin canon before you go around calling everybody who doesn’t agree with you a drooling idiot.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The Democratic Party candidate who is marginally better than the GOP candidate

      See, this is just horseshit. Clinton is not “marginally” better than Cruz or Trump or Rubio. She is far better on countless issues of importance to anyone on the left.

      Maybe the problem is a flawed Constitution that needs some “radical” overhauling

      The Constitution is indeed a major barrier to progressive change, as I have repeatedly argued. It’s lefties-than-thou voters who are less likely to understand this. At any rate, since throwing elections to Republicans does precisely nothing to change the Constitution, it’s beside the point.

      The Wolin quotes are just a non-sequitur; they’re as good an argument to not bother voting for Sanders as Clinton.

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