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The Shock Doctrine

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Allison Hantschel on the latest fusilade of dudebro wankery at Salon:

I love it when some comfortably situated jerkoff who will not suffer a single thing as a result of a Republican presidency likes to talk about using that Republican presidency to teach the rubes a lesson! Sure, I mean, some women might die from lack of decent health care, and some kids might starve if their food stamps get cut off, and some old people might just have to put on four sweaters and turn the thermostat down again, and a couple of bridges might collapse, and we might send another few goddam thousand kids to die in the sand, but hey, at least progressives will be proved right for once!

Is there a name for this genre of commentary? You know, like when a columnist wishes for poor people to learn from their poverty or imagines a natural disaster to inspire people with lots of awesome death? Or when a politician compares people on unemployment to stray animals who’ll return to the site of their handouts and breed? What do we call this particular rhetorical tic? I feel like it needs a name so we can see its practitioners coming.

Once and for all time, politics is not a game and its consequences are not imaginary for many, many people. Salon columnists may always have a job no matter who is in office, and let’s face it, so will I, but there are people who will not. Who will be fired, turned away from clinics, denied help, denied food, denied their rights under the law, as a result of decisions being made by voters. Real people, who have real lives. They’re not bargaining chits to be used to push a presumably somnolent country to some kind of spiritual epiphany.

Precisely. “We’ll show the neoliberal sellouts by putting the Republican in office,” particularly in the heighten-the-contradictions variant, is the lefty equivalent of “this town could really use a Katrina so we could bust the teacher’s unions.” It’s better in the sense that the desired ends are more desirable, and even worse because it has no chance of working even on its own terms — when “successful,” as in 2000, it achieves the downside but not the upside.

And the appalling callousness of the argument is also a crucial reason why it won’t work tactically. “We will hold out until the Democrats have presicely my position on pet issue(s) x(y)” won’t work because there are too many potential “dealbreakers,” and also because some of the “dealbreakers” would be net vote losers and/or unable to attract viable candidates. But the additional problem is that the subset of voters a spoiler third party or write-in candidate needs to consistently attract isn’t “people who place the highest priority on issue x the Democrats are neglecting,” but “people who place the highest priority on issue x the Democrats are neglecting and are indifferent to the massive amounts of avoidable human suffering a heighten-the-contradictions strategy would entail if it worked.” There are, fortunately, just not enough assholes out there for this to work. And the problem gets more acute since the ballot box can’t send carefully targeted and specific messages — there are almost as many issue priorities projected onto Nader’s essentially vacuous campaign as there were Nader voters — so most people won’t see their “dealbreaker” addressed by the party and will see their action created horrible consequences for nothing. It’s better for all involved if the gullible and the stubborn don’t have to learn the lesson the hard way.

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  • jsl

    Accelerationism.

  • Pseudonym

    But the additional problem is that the subset of voters a spoiler third party or write-in candidate isn’t “people who place the highest priority on issue x the Democrats are neglecting,” but “people who place the highest priority on issue x the Democrats are neglecting and are indifferent to the massive amounts of avoidable human suffering a heighten-the-contradictions strategy would entail of it worked.”

    That clause seemingly no verb.

    • I think all the verbs are there. It should probably be “the subset of voter for a spoiler…” and later “strategy would entail if it worked,” but the verbs are fine. In short, the problem is that the subset X isn’t people Y, but people Z.

      • Pseudonym

        Well something missing from, not positively what part speech was.

    • Barry_D

      ‘is’ ‘place’ ‘are’

    • N__B

      Verbs are a deal breaker.

  • MDrew

    So, should we expect to only two, or maybe more like three or four, more posts about this one opinion piece here after this third one in …maybe a little bit more than 24 hours?

    • Pseudonym

      I’d think it would get exhausting for the front-pagers to have to keep posting those strawman comments under the Dilan Esper sockpuppet. Do you think they take turns?

      • It’s a bot which is part of an experiment in the recognition of futility in online discourse. Essentially, we’re trying to determine the percentage of the online population eventually hits the “OMG someone is wrong on the internet *and it will be me if I don’t log off right now”.

        This far, it’s around 0.01%. But we keep trying!

        • gmack

          I think I’m in the .01%, but perhaps I just have different “priors.”

        • Pseudonym

          But Markov chain bots don’t have priors!

  • keta

    Well, see, the thing is that all this whining about Hillary from the bros is sucking up all the air from why feminists should really be attacking Hillary. Or something:

    The troubling thing about all the histrionic “Bernie Bro” allegations is not that they’re hurting Sanders’s campaign. (I don’t think the weak tea of progressive journalism has quite the effect on the electorate that writers and readers often assume.) The danger here is that in erasing left feminism, consciously or not, progressive media is pitting class against gender—making socialism (or Cold War social democrats, whatever) look sexist to feminists, and making feminism look fucking bourgeois to working people.

    And a vote for Hillary would be exactly like a vote for Thathcher or Palin. I shit you not:

    I’d obviously be pleased to see a politically decent woman president, and if Hillary gets the nomination, I’ll happily cast my protest ballot for Jill Stein from the safety of my blue state. (Truth be told, as a Cold War social democrat, Bernie’s already my “compromise” candidate anyway.) Obama’s presidency has not yielded much in the way of material gains for black people in America, and it’s hard to imagine what a symbolic feminist victory like a female president would guarantee for all but the most privileged of women. As it stands, I’d no more vote for Hillary than I would for a Margaret Thatcher or a Sarah Palin.

    It appears there’s just no end of people whose pet issues demand more consideration – no matter what the cost, dammit!

    • Snuff curry

      making socialism (or Cold War social democrats, whatever) look sexist to feminists, and making feminism look fucking bourgeois to working people

      Yes, the natural and inevitable tension between sometimes opposing political philosophies is obviously the work of false flag prog journalists, merely imagining (for pageviews and PROFITS!!1!) misogyny (and white supremacy, sometimes!) among the left and sullying the good name of White Feminism by associating it with such ickle things as racism and misogynoir and classism. Also, we have things “histrionic” and potential “woman presidents.” And jokes about the mere existence of your Roxane Gays and your Sady Doyles and intersectionality (ho ho ho). And something about being Oldsplained. And the hilarious suggestion that a “protest ballot” in a foregone state is the purer and surely more moral (non)choice than an infinite number of “symbolic” victories, or just… not… voting?

      • Scott Lemieux

        Obama’s presidency has not yielded much in the way of material gains for black people in America, and it’s hard to imagine what a symbolic feminist victory like a female president would guarantee for all but the most privileged of women.

        1)Who knew that no black people receive Medicaid or are gay or face unemployment discrimination or are affected by environmental regulations?

        2)You might think that “all but the most privileged of women” would be affected by, for example, who selects the next Supreme Court nominee. But Frost seems to exclude the possibility that things could get worse were Clinton to lose.

    • Manju

      Well, at least he didn’t go with Imelda Marcos.

      • Pseudonym

        I’d think she’d be a shoo-in.

        • petesh

          Boom!

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      It appears there’s just no end of people whose pet issues demand more consideration — no matter what the cost, dammit!

      1) What exactly is the “cost” of casting a vote for Jill Stein (or any other protest candidate) in a deeply red or deeply blue state? You don’t need to agree with Amber A’Lee Frost about anything to see this is not a demand that everyone withhold their votes from Hillary.

      2) The author of this piece (like Jane Hamsher before her) is a woman. Can we please drop the whole “bro” nonsense from our criticism of such absolutist silliness?

      • random

        What exactly is the “cost” of casting a vote for Jill Stein (or any other protest candidate) in a deeply red or deeply blue state?

        Depends on how many people do it.

        • Malaclypse

          In my deeply blue state, many people I know refused to vote for Martha Coakley. They all had real reasons for finding her record problematic.

          We now have a Republican governor, who jumped on the banning-refugees bandwagon the first day it became a thing. The MBTA may very well be crippled beyond repair by the time he leaves office. In countless ways, large and small, he’s making things worse.

          Baker won by 1.8%. Third parties got a hair over 5%.

          • mds

            The MBTA may very well be crippled beyond repair by the time he leaves office.

            Yeah, that’s potentially going to have some of the worst consequences, especially with a legislature willing to roll over for him on the issue. (BAKER: “The MBTA’s response to the snow crisis was wholly inadequate. Now pass this bill slashing MBTA funding even more with no debate.” LEGISLATURE WITH DEM SUPER-MAJORITY: “Okey-dokey.”)

            In an even remotely just world, Charlie “Engineered Dumping Big Dig Debt onto the MBTA” Baker wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near having authority over the agency. But at least now The Globe can repeatedly express their outrage over the decisions of the guy they endorsed.

            And don’t get me started on Bruce Rauner vs. the “uninspiring” Pat Quinn. Hey, with a strongly Democratic legislature, how much harm could Rauner do, anyway? … What’s that burning smell?

            • brewmn

              To be fair, the Democrats in Springfield seemed to want to get rid of Quinn as much as the Republicans did.

              I hope some day I figure out what Mike Madigan’s politics are. After all, he’s basically run Illinois state politics for thirty years without tipping his hand in that regard.

              • mds

                To be fair, the Democrats in Springfield seemed to want to get rid of Quinn as much as the Republicans did.

                Yeah, he’s pro-gun-control and wanted to retain the higher taxes that were keeping the budget from going the rest of the way over the falls. He won in 2010 despite being wildly unpopular, so I hoped he could beat out someone who makes Henry Clay Frick look unostentatious. Oh well, at least Illinois has newspaper staff currently tearing their hair out over the guy they endorsed, too.

            • Scott Lemieux

              And don’t get me started on Bruce Rauner vs. the “uninspiring” Pat Quinn. Hey, with a strongly Democratic legislature, how much harm could Rauner do, anyway? … What’s that burning smell?

              Second, some voted for Nader because they just weren’t inspired by Gore personally. Fine. But it should be obvious today that a candidate’s personality is one of the last things serious people ought to be thinking about. No one can survey the past 30 months and conclude, whatever the Democrats’ shortcomings, that there’s no difference between the parties. We would not have John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Gale Norton, the USA PATRIOT Act, this Trotskyist war in Iraq, two major class-war tax cuts — the list goes on and on (and on). And that’s only the stuff you hear about. In every agency of government, at every level, there are political appointees who are interpreting federal rules and regulations and deciding how much effort will really be put into pursuing federal discrimination cases, for instance, or illegal toxic dumping. These are the people who are, in fact, the federal government. The kinds of people who fill those slots in a Democratic administration are of a very different stripe than the kinds who fill them during a Republican term, and the appointments of these people have a bigger effect on real life than whether Al Gore sighs too heavily or speaks too slowly.

          • Arla

            That is a fair point, but I was under the impression Massachusetts was much less deep-blue for state/local elections than presidential ones.

          • Halloween Jack

            That also puts the lie to the whole “if we don’t vote for the centrist/insufficiently pure Democrat, the next time the party will nominate someone acceptable to us”, since Coakley had already run for and lost a state-wide office. Yes, the next person to run against Scott Brown was Elizabeth Warren, and she won, but Coakley didn’t go away, and she wasn’t turned away by the party.

            • Was there a candidate who might plausibly be nominated? There was a guy to Coakley’s right, a Kennedy machine guy no one outside Boston had heard of who everyone in Boston thought was a shoe-in, and one other guy no one had heard of. People with preferable politics don’t materialize out of thin air just by wishing for them.

      • politicalfootball

        1) What exactly is the “cost” of casting a vote for Jill Stein (or any other protest candidate) in a deeply red or deeply blue state? You don’t need to agree with Amber A’Lee Frost about anything to see this is not a demand that everyone withhold their votes from Hillary.

        The cost is the exact same as casting a vote for Stein in a swing state. Your vote is not going to decide the election in any event.

        So why vote at all?

        However, if you’re going to vote, a vote for Stein indicates a contempt for majoritarian politics – for the idea of building a coalition to win an election. The ideal endgame under your theory is that Hillary takes office with an electoral minority. With that outcome, you make your statement without giving up the preferred election result.

        But the statement – we are too pure for the rest of you contemptibe voters – sucks. The same contempt that you feel for the rest of us, we feel for you. When it comes to electoral politics, we are not on the same side.

        And, of course, the more success you have, the more politicians are going to listen to you and act accordingly. If Hillary can’t get your support against whatever monster the Republicans put up, she’s going to learn that your vote is unavailable, and she’ll look for persuadable voters.

        • Scott Lemieux

          However, if you’re going to vote, a vote for Stein indicates a contempt for majoritarian politics – for the idea of building a coalition to win an election. The ideal endgame under your theory is that Hillary takes office with an electoral minority. With that outcome, you make your statement without giving up the preferred election result.

          But the statement – we are too pure for the rest of you contemptibe voters – sucks. The same contempt that you feel for the rest of us, we feel for you. When it comes to electoral politics, we are not on the same side.

          Beautifully put.

          • Origami Isopod

            Agreed.

      • Scott Lemieux

        What exactly is the “cost” of casting a vote for Jill Stein (or any other protest candidate) in a deeply red or deeply blue state?

        What positive good is accomplished by it? If the best that can be said for a tactic is that it will be ineffectual, why take to public fora to do others to do the same?

        • There is also the idiotic assumption that voters will “learn better” after they vote a creep into office and he screws them. The voters will blame The Other: Gays, Women, Liberals, refugees (the latest scam)… anyone but themselves and the criminals they elect out of spite.

          Voting for Sanders won’t make Trump or Cruz win. If they win it’ll be thru some really nasty, illegal vote mangling. Plus a state Governor (cough/Florida) in the bag for the “winner”.

      • Origami Isopod

        The author of this piece (like Jane Hamsher before her) is a woman. Can we please drop the whole “bro” nonsense from our criticism of such absolutist silliness?

        Nah, because these are the women who suck up to the bros.

    • That piece was published at The Baffler, which is a different kind of “left” ISTM than Dissent’s or Jacobin’s. I’ll have to read the whole piece later. Based on what you quote, I don’t know what she means by left feminism. Is it feminism that supports the left, even if the left is dominated by men, or is it a kind of feminism that focuses on issues other left groups might not focus on? Does she really think Clinton is farther to the right than say Biden? Or wouldn’t she vote for him either? Is that part of Clinton’s wrong kind of feminism, or is she just saying she won’t vote for a woman just because she’s a woman? That makes perfect sense to me and it must be annoying to be lumped in with people who won’t vote for Clinton for other reasons.

      But I hope she’s not saying, as the quotes seem to suggest, that Clinton is the wrong kind of feminist and that’s why progressive men are supporting the right kind of feminist in saying misogynist-sounding things about her.

      • keta

        Please do read the whole piece. I was hoping for some insight from you and other women posters here.

        • A few points:

          I also am annoyed by the way “analysis” of pop stars is vacuuming up the energy of people who want to discuss feminism, and her clear enthusiasm for the election’s offering a chance to discuss substance is good.

          She is promoting a book of feminist criticism of Clinton and wonders why men are focusing on Henwood’s book and not intra-feminism debates. Which I see little problem with.

          The rest is largely complaints about women she calls “established,” who are supporting Clinton, and in many cases criticizing Sanders’s supporters.

          She’s a lot better at describing what she doesn’t like than what she does (Jill Stein, but why? she doesn’t say). She won’t vote for Clinton, AFAIK because she’s rich. She won’t vote for Sanders either, because he’s a “Cold War social democrat.” Luckily, she lives in a blue state, so she doesn’t have to decide.

          She talks about “class” but the only word that even kind of has to do with class in the article is “established.” Clinton is rich, and twenty years ago, when she didn’t hold office, her husband touted welfare reform.

          Which no Democratic candidate wants to roll back, which was centrist (not rightwing) at the time, and which Sanders does promise to roll back but won’t be able to, and even if he does, will leave us where we were in 1992 at best, which was not a good place, and she doesn’t want to vote for him either.

          And therefore anyone who says a lot of people on the left are behaving badly is a bitch.

        • Captain Oblivious

          (Woman poster here)

          Frankly, I found the article poorly written, rambling, and hard to make much sense of.

          What exactly is her premise? I think she was trying to write about three rather different issues here: (1) HRC would be bad for women; (2) Clinton supporters among prominent media feminists are ignoring/shutting out us Real Lefties; and (3) Clinton supporters among prominent media feminists are [perhaps deliberately] exaggerating/making too much of misogyny in the Sanders camp.

          My point being that lefty feminists don’t do their cause much good when they spew word salad. Learn to write. Decide what your premise is and stick to it.

          On the specific issues listed above, here’s my position:

          (1) HRC is far and away the least worst option of the candidates with a realistic shot at winning the general election. Suck it up and vote for her. Sanders does not have a realistic shot at becoming president. If you want to vote for him in the primary, fine, but voting for Jill Stein or any other protest candidate is dangerously stupid.

          (2) Stop writing like Camille Paglia’s lefty twin. Learn to write a proper essay format, learn to write clearly, and maybe you too can get a gig at major media outlet, and people will stop ignoring your word salad. This is a criticism I have of much fem-left writing. You’re not getting your message out in part because you are fkn tedious to read.

          Marcotte gets published because she writes really, really well, not because she promotes a particular strain of ideology. She’d be a successful writer if she were to the right of Ann Coulter.

          (3) Since when is calling out sexism a bad idea? Oh, I see — when it’s directed at your team.

          • djw

            (2) Stop writing like Camille Paglia’s lefty twin. Learn to write a proper essay format, learn to write clearly, and maybe you too can get a gig at major media outlet, and people will stop ignoring your word salad.

            She really is a terrible writer, which makes her stand out as the writing at Jacobin is generally pretty good. I would amend this to “Camille Paglia’s self-consciously millennial lefty twin.”

          • Origami Isopod

            Agreed.

            This Amber A’Lee Frost is a piece of work. See this essay she links to in which she Dear Muslimahs, or perhaps Dear Feminicidios, Rebecca Solnit.

            Then again, The Baffler is pretty awful all in all. Remember June Thunderstorm?

  • Murc

    The closest thing I’ve seen to a coherent moral case from the folks espousing “let a Republican wreck things up” is “letting the slow decline continue will, ultimately, lead to much more human suffering than a short, sharp shock which will wake people up to fixing shit before it is too late.”

    That moral calculus, however, is only correct if you have your priors correct. And one of those priors is “the Democrats are not appreciably better than the Republicans.” Which is grotesquely wrong.

    And in the specific context of Hillary Clinton… look. I get it. She was a prominent member of the first Clinton Administration, otherwise known as the period of time when the Democratic Party couldn’t get health-care reform passed but could hate on gay people, stomp on the poor, and deregulate the hell out of everything. Then she went on to vote for the Iraq War, and has always been deeply chummy with the banksters. You’ve got legitimate beef.

    But you know what? Even if the current Democratic frontrunner were circa 1992 Bill Clinton, and the Democratic Congressional caucus he would have were the circa 1994 class (running scared from Gingrich, still with a ton of unreconstructed southern fuckheads) they would still be so incredibly better than the Republicans it isn’t even funny.

    Please stop pretending she’s at all comparable to Dick Cheney. Your personal damage with regard to her has no place in this conversation. I have a certain amount of respect for “I cannot vote for this person in good conscience” but if that’s the line you’re going to take, you should be able to make your case without lies.

    • Woodrowfan

      what bugs me is all the “coronation” talk. She’s a smart, capable politician who spent the past eight years getting all her ducks in a row for this election, and I’m supposed to hate her for that?

      • Davis X. Machina

        It’s like sex. If it’s not spontaneous, it isn’t any good.

      • Pat

        The “she’s just pretending to be liberal” talk is also asinine. First of all, her Senate record is more liberal than most. Second, how exactly does the talker know exactly what’s in her heart? Third, if she publicly commits to supporting liberal positions, who cares if she once felt differently?

      • Origami Isopod

        She’s a smart, capable politician who spent the past eight years getting all her ducks in a row for this election, and I’m supposed to hate her for that?

        Well, you know, ambition is so unbecoming in a woman.

      • N__B

        I agree, but I’d argue for 14 years, since she ran for the Senate and performed well upstate by spending a fair amount of time campaigning there.

    • That moral calculus, however, is only correct if you have your priors correct. And one of those priors is “the Democrats are not appreciably better than the Republicans.” Which is grotesquely wrong.

      Noooo! Dilan has ruined this word forever!!!!

      But actually, if you are doing consequentialist reasoning, that’s not true. So long as the decline is coming and is significant enough, even rather good Democrats can be worse in aggregate.

      • Malaclypse

        Only if you have some rational basis for believing that heightened contradictions will result in improved conditions later.

        • N__B

          I swear that some of these people think they’re using Photoshop, and “increase contrast” makes everything look better and, anyway, you can ctrl-z when you need to.

        • Of course!

          My point is that the only condition you need for this reasoning is that “worse now means better later instead of much worse later”. You don’t really need that the Dems are no better *now* or even that they are no better later, just that however good they are there’s a much better later.

          With respect to climate change, for example, it’s pretty clear that a fair bit of pain now would be worth the coming catastrophe (e.g., less economic growth now is almost certainly worth avoiding a 3C rise).

          What makes these argument so risible is that the better outcome is wildly implausible.

          • Scott Lemieux

            And the other problem is with the assumption that the Obama administration has been a period of “decline” rather than “improvement,” which is obviously false.

    • DAS

      There’s yet another universal New Yorker cartoon caption to be found in your comment:

      “His/her moral calculus is off because his/her priors are not correct”

      It would be effective assuming New Yorker readers are familiar with Bayesian statistics. Is my prior correct?

    • twbb

      “That moral calculus, however, is only correct if you have your priors correct. And one of those priors is “the Democrats are not appreciably better than the Republicans.” Which is grotesquely wrong.”

      The big wrongness here in my view is that people don’t generally vote after multi-decade historical analyses. This idea that people will “learn their lesson” and apply it in the future is just inconsistent with thousands of years of human history.

      • Pat

        People vote based on the state of their wallet right now.

  • That Guy

    Say what now?

  • Ronan

    Ok Scott. We get the idea. How about instead of sitting it out peope wrote “fight the power ” on their ballot? Might that be effective ?

    • Warren Terra

      Ronan, if you somehow get a ballot you can do what you please with it. That is, unless my memory has failed me and you’re not in fact an EU citizen resident in Britain?

      • Ronan

        I’m looking to have my ducks in order In the event that I win the green card lottery

    • Manju

      Oh, now you’re just provoking another Sister Souljah Moment.

    • NonyNony

      You can do whatever you want with your ballot. Scott is pushing back against an argument being made that right now the best thing to do is apparently to throw a tantrum if Bernie Sanders isn’t the nominee for the Democratic party and encourage other people to do likewise. And that this will somehow be an effective tool for change, by some mechanism that looks a lot like the Underpants Gnome Theorem of Political Change.

      If you want Scott to stop making this counterargument, come up with an actual counter-counterargument to him that shows that this plan is a good one. An argument that is actually grounded in reality and takes into account the lessons of 2000 and the GWB presidency. I’ll put a marker down right now that it cannot be done. There is no way that this kind of temper tantrum politics works to bring about the change that the people agitating for it claim to want, which if true means that they’re either idiots or liars.

      (And if you want to use the Tea Party as an example of temper tantrum politics working – note that to a man they throw their temper tantrums in the primaries and then line up and vote for the Republican in the general. Every. Single. Time.)

      • Ronan

        What Scott is doing is trying to import Canadian political norms and French consciousness logic into an Anglo political culture . The two are not compatible. Either you wake up one morning thinking in French with a fucking moose head on your wall or your civilisation will collapse into feudal anarchy . Anglo political culture can not cope with French feudal consciousness

        • NonyNony

          WTF are you talking about? This response is either in code or is some kind of riddle.

          Can you decipher your riddle to explain to me how, exactly, this is a counter-counterargument to the idea that holding your breath until you turn blue and a Republican is in the White House because Democratic primary voters favor Clinton over Sanders is going to get more progressive action? Because your zen koan about French moose isn’t doing it for me.

          • Ronan

            All I’m saying is we should not mix mindsets. The voting logic of French Canada is NOT the voting logic of the United States. Quebec is not Wisconsin. America did not become the richest country in the world by copying french and/or Canadian political logical norms. It became great through gut instincts and every now and then saying “to fuck with this ” and throwing caution to the wind by voting in an actual lunatic.
            My two cents anyway

            • It became great through gut instincts and every now and then saying “to fuck with this ” and throwing caution to the wind by voting in an actual lunatic.

              Cites notably lacking :)

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              oh, I suspect Quebec and Wisconsin have more in common than you think…

              • DAS

                Cheese consumption? Cheese cutting?

            • Malaclypse

              The voting logic of French Canada is NOT the voting logic of the United States.

              Agreed. Lemieux should be appalled at writing about the US as if they had a parlimentary system.

              Wait, what?

              It became great through gut instincts and every now and then saying “to fuck with this ” and throwing caution to the wind by voting in an actual lunatic.

              Please to be naming the lunatics who made America great.

              • Ronan

                “Please to be naming the lunatics who made America great.”

                There are so many I wouldn’t know where to start ; )

                • Malaclypse

                  There is precisely one lunatic this could apply to – Emperor Joshua Norton I. Every other lunatic made things worse. And Norton never stooped to the democratic pretense of a mere election.

            • keta

              Uh, the voting logic of French Canada is NOT the voting logic of Anglo-Canada, either.

              And the voting logic of British Columbia is NOT the voting logic of Alberta.

              And…well, you get the point. I hope.

              • Ronan

                Yes. But the point is one of cognition , how geography, climate and language shape how you see the world. The grizzly of the great eastern forests, thd brutally cold Toronto winters, the “cest la vie” of the Quebecian French seperatist quarters . None of these are applicable outside the great north. The wild Canadian fur trappers and mountain dwellers ! A people apart

                • Malaclypse

                  Toronto is Quebecois now? THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!

                • keta

                  You drinkin’? You are, aren’t you?

            • Scott Lemieux

              The voting logic of French Canada is NOT the voting logic of the United States.

              What in the living hell are you talking about? Even if I grew up in “French Canada” this would make less than no sense. Denverite makes more sense after 8 barleywines during a Broncos game.

        • djw

          Ronan is not above a bit of trolling from time to time but it’s usually a bit more subtle than this.

          • Lee Rudolph

            By his fruits shall you know him; he seems to be counting a lot of coup, as the Autochthonous Canadians might put it.

            • keta

              I think you mean Amerinds instead of Canadians.

              History of borders, range of Plains Indians, etc. etc.

        • Is Scott even Canadian?

          • Lee Rudolph

            More odd Canadian, I think.

          • Ronan

            Jesus, I hope so after all of this

        • Anticorium

          Canadian political norms

          What Scott is proposing has jack-goddamn-shit-nothing to do with Canadian political norms, but what would I know, I’m just a Canadian who’s lived in Canada his entire life. It is the anyone-but-Hillary brogressives who are proposing a Canadian political solution to a centrist but left-leaning party that is not left-leaning enough for them, and if you can’t see that, you really don’t know very much about Canada.

        • Origami Isopod

          This is kind of beautiful. It’s a shame the quote thing in the page header got retired.

      • random

        The Tea Party Temper Tantrum Approach only works if you’re agenda is “stop any legislation from ever being passed” in the first place.

        • DAS

          I guess that would be a good shorter for my comment 8:43 AM. Much more eloquent than what I was trying to get at in said comment. In all fairness, I was typing that comment on my smart phone while standing in a NYC subway car.

  • Warren Terra

    “We’ll show the neoliberal sellouts by putting the Republican in office,”

    But do they realize that Ted Cruz has declared that if elected he will possess magical powers to alter reality by sheer force of his awesomeness?:

    Ted Cruz ✔ @tedcruz
    If I am elected President, I will direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS
    6:16 PM – 6 Dec 2015

    Now that really will heighten the contradictions …

    • djw

      Maybe he’ll lure Rumsfeld out of retirement, so he can write the necessary memos.

  • Alex, I’ll take “cutting off your nose to spite your face” for $500.

    • Or maybe “cutting off other people’s noses to spite other people’s faces.”

  • MattF

    It’s called ‘worse is better’. There’s some disagreement about whether Lenin ever actually said it. But the correct response is well known: “Worse is not better. Worse is worse.”

    • Scott Lemieux

      Hey, it worked out great in 30s Germany, amirite?

      • Malaclypse

        Ever notice that it is never attributed to either Karl Kautsky or Rosa Luxemburg? I wonder why that is…

  • Manju

    I couldn’t get past the opening quote of the Salon piece. Imagine approvingly quoting “Dow 36,000” as a preface to article about stock market investing.

    The dude’s entire premise is wrong.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, I noticed that too. Frank’s assumption that the Democratic Party is exactly where it was in 1994 animates all of his writing about electoral politics and it’s as silly as ever.

      • so-in-so

        The last date when he actually understood politics?

  • ddworak1

    This is the height of madness. With a majority in both Houses and the Supreme Court, it is more than possible, if not probable, that Republican regime would ensure its continued existence through any means-constitutional or unconstitutional. Facist regimes do not give power back because they tend to do away with inconvenient things like primaries and elections.

    • Woodrowfan

      nonsense, they’re temporary. go ahead, name a Fascist regime that lasted more than 40 years, 50 years max……

      • ArchTeryx

        And how many deaths did they cause in the interim? How many deaths were given to make them go away again?

  • Thrax

    From the Salon piece:

    But! If Hillary lost because progressives abstained from voting, it’s possible that Republican incompetence would be laid bare, and that they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years.

    Uh. Republican incompetence was laid plenty bare during the Bush administration. It’s been on display in Congress since the 2010 elections. Yet somehow those events have failed to usher in an era of permanent progressive dominance. It’s almost as if there are a lot of actors in the system who have an interest in justifying, excusing, or whitewashing Republican incompetence, and who won’t be going away any time soon.

    • Morse Code for J

      I myself was looking forward to another 30 years of John Roberts and Sam Alito in the majority for any and all constitutional questions brought before the Supreme Court. Be a shame if we ruined all that just to elect the first President with a vagina.

      • njorl

        You’re overlooking the possibility of a court in which Roberts is part of a liberal minority.

        • Thrax

          Just imagine how those contradictions would be heightened with a Thomas-Alito-Priscilla Owen-Jeffrey Sutton-Miguel Estrada majority, with Scalia and Roberts adding sixth and seventh votes when they care to! It’ll be great, I tell you. I mean, that majority, or something like it assembled from appointees of similar ages, wouldn’t be around more than 20 years or so; I’m sure they wouldn’t do any damage to progressive interests in that time.

          • Scott Lemieux

            I am reliably informed that after they overrule Roe v. Wade they will stop hearing cases, and the Democrat Party will no longer be able to blackmail the voters.

        • Morse Code for J

          I literally shuddered as I read this. Well done.

        • Thrax

          …and right on cue, here’s a Thomas and Scalia dissent from denial of cert, arguing that there’s a constitutionally protected right to own assault weapons.

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/12/07/supreme_court_assault_weapons_case_scotus_won_t_hear_challenge_to_ban.html

          (Roberts and Alito, notably, did not join.) If only this position had three more votes! The scales would fall from voters’ eyes then, I tell you what.

    • DAS

      If the GOP is incompetent at governing and runs the country into the ground, that just proves everything conservatives say about government not working to be true. And if a Democrat does get elected after that, said Democrat will have such a mess to clean up, which clean up will be so painful, that people will just hate on the Democrats cleaning up the mess and not the Republicans who made it.

      Also as the GOP continues to maintain power they can reinforce the system whereby you only need to prevent enough Democrats from voting to win a majority of votes in a majority of districts. I.e. Part of the GOP’s dominance is structural: they can exploit weaknesses in the way we do elections to maintain power even though they are a minority. And certainly voting for a third party candidate doesn’t change this structural advantage of the GOP.

      That being said: notice the writer is voting in a safe blue state?

      • njorl

        A lot of people writing these articles obviously hadn’t been born yet in 2008.

        • Pat

          That would explain the infantile logic…

  • DAS

    How much of the “it is better in the long run for us to loose now, remain ideologically pure and win big later” attitude of some on the left is based on Lenin and how much is based on the long term success of the right in taking over the GOP and winning presidential elections post Goldwater?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if someone here has facts and evidence bolstering an argument that the GOP, and even their party’s right wing, would have done even better had they not lost so big in 1964, but isn’t the conventional wisdom that going hard right and loosing with Goldwater actually helped the GOP in the long run? And don’t many on the left want something similar to happen with the Democrats?

    Of course, winning by loosing works for the right because the media has their back (and when the media didn’t, the right wing could work the refs and dismiss the media as liberal) and, as they don’t believe government can do any good, they don’t need to make a case that they would be good at government to win elections.

    • It’s true that without Goldwater’s loss in 1964, the Southern strategy of Nixon might never have come into play.

      But then Goldwater never really stood a chance. Kennedy was a wildly popular President when he was shot and the American people felt obligated to give his legacy — LBJ — the vote. In fact, it wasn’t until LBJ in his elected term started the Great Society social programs of 1965 that Southern Democrats started abandoning the party in droves (one could make the case that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the trigger, but that bill passed largely as an expediency in the wake of JFK’s assassination and the acknowledgement that the civil rights movement had reached a critical mass).

      It’s likely that, had the margin of loss been narrower, the Southern strategy would have played out anyway.

      • rea

        Kennedy was a wildly popular President when after he was shot

      • random

        but isn’t the conventional wisdom that going hard right and loosing with Goldwater actually helped the GOP in the long run?

        It’s true that without Goldwater’s loss in 1964, the Southern strategy of Nixon might never have come into play.

        No, Goldwater ran on the Southern Strategy (it just wasn’t explicitly referred to by that name until Nixon). Him winning with that strategy would have given you the same result only one election sooner.

        Pretty much any universe where the Democrats stopped being an explicitly white supremacist party is one where the GOP would have consolidated rural white voters by now. They didn’t get here because they lost one election in 1964.

    • chrisM

      Goldwater losing- in such a spectacular fashion- gave LBJ the huge majorities he needed to ensure passing a whole host of bills that the GOP has spent the past 50 years slowly hollowing out but never quite getting killed. I don’t think that even “Reagan and Nixon won, therefore it was worth it” could be balanced against how much the past 50 years of living under the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. put the Krazy Konservative cause back.

      • njorl

        Yes. That can’t be overstated.

      • DAS

        But having a bunch of progressive legislation doesn’t set back the Krazy Konservative(*) cause in the same way that Krazy Konservative legislation, executive decisions and judicial rulings set Progressivism back: Krazy Konservatism exists to push back against stuff and doesn’t believe government can do anything right, so it doesn’t matter what actually is done. OTOH, if you actually do care about government being able to get good stuff done, then having the Krazies in charge really does set you back.

        * my auto correct thinks I was trying to type Krang Kinsley votive … I think my auto correct might be on to something

    • politicalfootball

      isn’t the conventional wisdom that going hard right and loosing with Goldwater actually helped the GOP in the long run?

      This is conventional wisdom, and it’s probably wrong.

      Still, I’ll probably vote for Bernie because I think Goldwater had the right approach: Attempt to take over the party machinery rather than trying to sabotage the party.

      • Pat

        You should vote your heart in the primary. We all agree on that.

        Writing in Bernie in the general when Hillary has the D next to her name is the issue in question.

    • Scott Lemieux

      but isn’t the conventional wisdom that going hard right and loosing with Goldwater actually helped the GOP in the long run?

      I dunno if it’s the conventional wisdom, but it makes no sense. 1)The huge GOP losses in 1964 made the Great Society much more progressive that it otherwise would have been, and most of it has endured; 2)realignment was going to turn the South Republican no matter what. I don’t see how having Rockefeller lose less badly to LBJ hurts Republican interests; 3)even so, Goldwater was not a spoiler candidate; he was the Republican nominee.

      • Malaclypse

        Also, at the time, Reagan was seen as Goldwater’s heir, while Nixon was the boring old Establishment. So by their logic, there were 16 years in the wilderness, not 4.

  • With all due respect…and I say this as a Democrat who will vote for Sanders…why can’t we all just get behind whomever wins?

    Good grief. If Hillary wins, as seems likely, that means more Democrats voted for her than voted for Sanders (ignoring the super-delegate thing, of course). If you want Bernie to win, do your level best to encourage people to vote now, and if he loses, then the better campaign, the better candidate for the larger number, won.

    It’s not hard to get behind that. I voted for and supported Hillary in 2008. When Obama beat her, I closed ranks quickly.

    Unless you truly feel the Republican (or some other candidate) offers a better alternative, by all means, vote for him/her. That’s why I’m voting for Bernie and not Hillary this time around.

    Otherwise, please vote your social conscience and vote Democratic.

    • NonyNony

      Exactly. I also plan on voting for Sanders in the primary, but this idiotic notion that if he doesn’t win we should take our balls and go home and let the country slide into something worse than the GWB presidency is just stupid.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        I’m thinking it’s all kind of a ploy, to demonstrate how *committed* some of the Sanders people are and how, if the rest of us let them take the lead, they can help Sanders repeat Obama’s 2008 success- only *more* so

        • rea

          But you will note that Sanders himself has rather plainly indicated that he prefers HRC to any conceivable Republican. These dudes are more Bernie-bro than Bernie . . .

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            yes- but I’ve come to see these Goodman/Ryan-type articles more as efforts to cover their bet- and move Clinton left now- than actual statements of intent to throw the November election

            • Pat

              I see them as a group of whiners who are hoping to improve their chances of employment by writing clickbait.

    • mds

      Yup. When (yes, when) Sanders fails to beat Clinton for the nomination, what do you think he will be doing on Election Day? Ostentatiously sitting at home with his thumb up his ass, heightening the contradictions? Or do you think he’ll be casting a vote for Hillary for president?

    • politicalfootball

      With all due respect…and I say this as a Democrat who will vote for Sanders…why can’t we all just get behind whomever wins?

      This is certainly Sanders’ position. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t even think about voting for him.

      • Pat

        Sanders is a great guy with a lot of important ideas. Even if he loses the primary, he represents a lot of people and their concerns need to be incorporated into the party platform.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Half of Bernie’s supporters are literally “Anybody But Clinton”.

      I know these folks, they were the ones calling for Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown or, well, Anybody But Clinton to run long before Sanders announced. They *loathe* her. She drives them *insane*. (Literally in at least one case – one formerly normal young man of my acquaintance now believes that 9/11 was a CIA plot to destroy an office in Tower 7 that held evidence of some secret collusion between Clinton and Wall Street Bankers. He didn’t *used* to be a Truther, or into paranoid conspiracy theories.)

      And yes, they are HALF of Sander’s supporters. There was a CBS poll that actually asked Democrats if they would support Hillary Clinton in the event she were to win the nomination. 14% said they would refuse. Which was (and still is) roughly half of Sanders’ support. Sadly, they did not ask the corresponding question of what if Sanders was the nominee, I suspect his number would be almost as bad.

      14% of Democrats not voting or protest voting is more than sufficient to give the election to the Republican.

      Source for the poll: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-hillary-clinton-still-leads-democratic-race/

      (Yes, it’s a couple months old, but they don’t seem to ask that question regularly.)

  • Funkhauser

    Have we reached the point at which these tendencies are acknowledged as a feature, not a bug, at Salon?

    • Jean-Michel

      Yes, we have. Scott posted this in the last thread on the subject.

  • Arla

    I think you left out the best part:

    We tried that with Bush. Three thousand dead soldiers and a hundred thousand dead Iraqis and everybody and everything that is on fire in the Middle East called, and they’re glad you’re still alive to push this dumbass fucking oldmeme.

  • cs

    when “successful,” as in 2000, it achieves the downside but not the upside

    This is the key argument IMO. There’s nothing wrong in theory with a calcuclus that accepts some short term harm for a long term benefit, but only if there is a real chance of getting the benefit.

    On the other hand, one could argue that the strategy of voting for the best Democrat available isn’t working that well either, at best it is only slowing down the process of descending into a conservative-dominated dystopia. But I don’t know if I’m that pessimistic yet.

    • politicalfootball

      The best available choice is the only honorable one. You may fail – decent people do all the time – but history only judges you unkindly if (like Nader in 2000) you’re not making a serious effort.

  • so-in-so

    Maybe it’s even simpler. This is the “you can tune out the next year worth of politics, blow off voting and claim it was all part of a super smart political strategy instead of laziness” plan. Certain to appeal to a lot of Americans even if it doesn’t make sense. And they don’t care if it makes sense, because – did I say laziness?

  • Ken

    It somewhat reminds me of the Left Behind series, though I only know of it secondhand through Fred Clark’s slacktivist blog. But as Fred says, those books aren’t primarily meant to convert people to Christianity – they’re to gloat over how those who don’t convert will suffer through the seven-year tribulation before Jesus comes back and puts everything right.

  • Dilan Esper

    This is pure ad hominem.

    If Scott gets to make this argument, than lefties surely get to make the same argument– that Scott is willing to murder thousands of future foreigners, allow millions of Americans to die in the long term because of no government provided health care, and to allow millions of future Americans to be defrauded by the financial industry, because he is unwilling to create any incentive to force the Democratic Party to move to the left in general elections (primaries don’t count because they can always move back).

    He’s a heartless murderer who does’t care about the consequences of his actions, right?

    Look, we either keep this argument civil or we don’t have it. This post is disgusting. You may disagree with the left, but this is a pure short term / long term argument, which each side thinking they are serving the public good. Don’t be a douchebag about it just because people disagree with you about what their vote means.

    • Malaclypse

      This is pure ad hominem.

      Using your name when discussing your stupid argument is not what ad hominem means. I thought you might want to know so that you can not make this mistake in the future.

      • joe from Lowell

        You say ad hominem doesn’t mean “personal insult.”

        OK, fine. But that begs the question, what does it mean?

        • ajp

          Careful joe, that’s a slippery slope.

          • Malaclypse

            Laugh now, but when Hillary declares Marshal Law, you’ll regret not listening to Dilan.

    • politicalfootball

      Dilan, the validity of your point depends on it being, you know, actually valid. If Scott is promoting obviously disastrous outcomes, then it’s entirely appropriate to vilify him for it. Who could possibly argue otherwise?

      Or what Malaclypse said.

    • twbb

      The problem is that this idea of “forcing the Democratic Party to move to the left” makes no sense in either the long or short term. Most Americans are not on the left side of the spectrum, and no amount of passion or ideological purity will reshape the hearts and minds of people who quite clearly have indicated that they will vote moderate Democrat but will not vote liberal Democrat.

    • Scott Lemieux

      This is pure ad hominem.

      As has been noted above, this is part of the long intarwebs tradition of apparently not understanding what the term means.

      If Scott gets to make this argument, than lefties surely get to make the same argument– that Scott is willing to murder thousands of future foreigners, allow millions of Americans to die in the long term because of no government provided health care, and to allow millions of future Americans to be defrauded by the financial industry, because he is unwilling to create any incentive to force the Democratic Party to move to the left in general elections

      Well, you’re free to say this; it won’t bother me in the least because the argument is fucking stupid. (And your assertion that this is a debate between “leftists” and “liberals” is as dumb as it’s ever been. What’s particularly funny about this is that if it were a serious tactical argument rather than an irrational one about demonstrating one’s purity, the ideological positioning of the arguer would be irrelevant. If throwing elections to the Republicans would move the Democratic Party to the left, than anyone to the left of Barack Obama — i.e. pretty much everyone here — should theoretically support the strategy. You’re implicitly admitting you don’t believe your own bullshit by imagining this as a debate between “leftists” and “liberals.”)

      primaries don’t count because they can always move back

      Hahahaha, Jesus. I hate to tell you, but “Advocating a strategy that has been proven to work instead of a strategy that is foolish in theory and has an unbroken record of catastrophic failure in practice makes you a murderer” really isn’t going to sting.


      Look, we either keep this argument civil or we don’t have it.

      A classic case of civility being invoked to cover up for an argument that’s a loser. You don’t care to defend any of your assumptions irrespective of the tone of the post. You just make obviously erroneous bare assertions and run. I can certainly understand why you don’t think that discussions of consequences are permissible in arguments about electoral politics, but you can’t seriously expect anyone else to go along.


      You may disagree with the left

      To repeat, your ongoing tragicomic assertion that the not-particularly-left-wing liberal Ralph Nader and his mostly Kerry-supporting liberal voters represent “the left” isn’t fooling anybody.

      • Ben Murphy

        Didn’t Dilan also recently admit that he doesn’t consider himself part of “the left”? So why is defining “the left” so important to him?

        • Hogan

          It’s a handy stick strand of cooked spaghetti to beat Scott with.

        • Scott Lemieux

          After getting his ass handed to him in the threads in which he attempted to conduct a statistics and poker seminar, he’s stopped even trying to defend spoiler politics as a tactic. Every one of his interventions into these threads is just “Durrr, you liberals don’t understand the different priors of the left, durrrr,” and head for the hills. It’s all a bucket of wet horseshit he’s not even willing to try to defend beyond bare assertion, but it’s all he has.

    • ajp

      Scott is willing to . . . allow millions of Americans to die in the long term because of no government provided health care

      You’re right Dilan, it has been a while since you had your ass handed to you about the ACA. You take a ribbing like a champ, I’ll give you that.

      Let’s see, I’m trying to imagine what the logic could possibly be here…

      Step 1: Refuse to vote for HRC
      Step 2: President Cruz is inaugurated on January 20, 2017
      Step 3: ??????????
      Step 4: PUBLIC OPTION!

    • joe from Lowell

      Look, we either keep this argument civil or we don’t have it. This post is disgusting. You may disagree with the left, but this is a pure short term / long term argument, which each side thinking they are serving the public good.

      Nah, you just get sexually aroused by brown people not having their health insurance subsidized, you screaming hypocrite.

      Dilan wants to keep the discussion civil. Uh huh.

      • Dilan wants to keep the discussion civil. Uh huh.

        Yes! This is striking!

        • joe from Lowell

          In other news, Otto wants people to stop talking so much about where they live, and SEK has had it with your cat blogging.

    • This is pure ad hominem.

      I thought lawyer types were supposed to know critical reasoning at least through the classic fallacies.

      He’s a heartless murderer who does’t care about the consequences of his actions, right?

      But…this is the conclusion right? The argument is “Scott is willing to murder thousands of future foreigners, allow millions of Americans to die in the long term because of no government provided health care, and to allow millions of future Americans to be defrauded by the financial industry, because he is unwilling to create any incentive to force the Democratic Party to move to the left in general elections (primaries don’t count because they can always move back).”

      But ad hominem (even non-fallacious ad hominem) requires the negative judgement about the proponent to be a *premise*. I.e., because you are a Nader supporter, I conclude you must have intentionally wanted Bush to win. (And that could be rescued with reasonable evidence that most Nader supporters did have such intentions when voting in 2000.)

      So, I guess you could be claiming that it is an Internet ad hominem, i.e., an argument where somewhere in the expression or as a conclusion some insult is given (as Mal and Joe surmise).

      But this is some weak tea. “Gullible and stubborn” are the problem? Is the mere connection between voting to spoil and the spoiled fruits of your vote insult enough? And the ad hominem is *pure*?! I mean, there’s clearly an argument here *because you articulate something you believe to be an analogous argument*. In any case, you don’t seem to care about those terms:

      Look, we either keep this argument civil or we don’t have it.

      You definitely have no standing to call for civility. You don’t have much standing for rational argument either, but that’s a different point.

      Furthermore, you don’t control the discourse. So, we can easily have this discussion while not meeting your standards of civility. You might not participate, but, frankly, that doesn’t seem like we’d lose very much other than some mild entertaining nonsense. You don’t seem to grasp the structure of the dialectic much less argue interesting points in it.

      This post is disgusting.

      I see! Civility starts *after* your comment?

      You may disagree with the left,

      For all your posturing, it’s really sad that you keep this erroneous hypostatisation of your own imaginary categories.

      but this is a pure short term / long term argument,

      I don’t think “pure” means what you think it does. Plausibility and evidence matter.

      which each side thinking they are serving the public good.

      Republicans also think they are serving the public good. So? Wrong is wrong as you should be familiar with by now.

      Don’t be a douchebag

      Commence civility….now! Wait…*now*. No…*NOW*!

      about it just because people disagree with you about what their vote means.

      Oh dear. You had some hope of eventually having a point if you went expressiveist about voting (which you seem to have flirted with), but that depended on *not giving a shit* about the consequences. I presume here by “means” you mean “what consequences they expect”.

      If Scott gets to make this argument, than lefties surely get to make the same argument–

      I’m quite happy for people to make Scott’s argument.

      that Scott is willing to murder thousands of future foreigners, allow millions of Americans to die in the long term because of no government provided health care, and to allow millions of future Americans to be defrauded by the financial industry, because he is unwilling to create any incentive to force the Democratic Party to move to the left in general elections (primaries don’t count because they can always move back).

      But this is a really stupid argument. I mean, you added a bunch of extra stupid at the end, but even the core bit is massively dumb. In a short term/long term argument, the long termers are always at a certainty disadvantage. When you add wildly implausible benefits, well, you’ve lost. When you add farcical minimisation of the short term downside, you’ve moved into culpable ignorance.

      It’s strange that you take it so personally and that you let it completely trash all your reasoning. I presume your statistical confusions (note! we had a non-partisan stats person say that your causal theories are bonkers! are you deferring to their judgement yet?!) are driven by your need to absolve Nader voters…but why? It clearly isn’t working, in the sense of convincing anyone at all. All it does is make you look ever more kooky. And it’s not like you are advancing any sort of coherent theory. So what?

  • sibusisodan

    In the end, there is something that feels viciously self-defeating about voting with a defensive mentality.

    Just caught this from the end of the article. I really don’t know what to do with it.

    If you’re somewhere on the left, and you’re not aware that, most of the time, your best-intentioned efforts are going to fail – and that, when they do not fail, they will only partially succeed – how old are you?

    Voting defensively is about 90% of the game, right there. I don’t care whether that feels self-defeating, man.

    • politicalfootball

      This works on the Right, too, of course. As Trump demonstrates, there are a lot of Americans who found Reagan, Bush I and Bush II too liberal, too constrained by human decency.

      To the extent that they supported a third party candidacy by Pat Buchanan, they were acting against their own preferences. Anyone who isn’t an idiot – Buchanan himself, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich – understands this.

      One of the things that is often unremarked in these conversations is how the Bush II presidency moved the electorate. To pick one example, torture advocacy is now respectable in a way that is hard to imagine without GW-Cheney. Even taken on its own terms – as an effort at moral suasion – the Nader candidacy was a remarkable failure.

  • Brett

    I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here.

    We hate on the Naderites for throwing the election, but didn’t that set up the Democrats for electoral triumph in 2006 and 2008? I mean, if you want to take the “heighten the contradictions” idea, then electing Bush most certainly heightened the contradictions – by the time 2006 rolled around, almost everyone fucking hated the national Republican Party along with Bush, and the Democrats decisively won back both House and Senate. Then in 2008, they won it even more plus the Presidency – winning a dual-house majority in Congress that they hadn’t had in forty years.

    . . . Of course, then they lost it, and it required a lot of shit along the way to get to 2006. But it sort of worked, didn’t it?

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      there’s a difference between “making the best of a bad situation” and “making a bad situation worse because then it will fix itself” though isn’t there?

    • rea

      I’ll trade President Gore in 2000 for President Obama later any day. So would a lot of surviving Iraqis.

      • politicalfootball

        Not to mention many of the dead ones.

    • Hogan

      The people who talk about third-party candidates moving the Democrats to the left also tend to talk about Obama as “Bush’s third term,” so I don’t think they get to make this argument.

  • Davis X. Machina
    • Malaclypse

      I agree with him completely. Hillary is worse than a Republican because she drives a knife in our heart while Democrats always rally against a Republican. She is a judas goat for Wall Street.
      by The Voice In The Wilderness on Mon Dec 7th, 2015 at 01:46:56 PM EST

  • DrTandtheWomen

    God damn. Give it a rest Scott. It was cheap, weakly argued clickbait that served it’s function of funneling maximum eyeballs through Salon.

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