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Chait and Socialism

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Above: Why Jonathan Chait Can’t Sleep at Night

Jonathan Chait can sometimes provide good political analysis and he’s certainly right about Delaware. But his primary take on the 2016 Democratic primary is that Marxism is back and it threatens it all. So it’s been embarrassing column after embarrassing column about this “issue.”

Chait for instance thinks that we are now debating whether Marxism works, a system he can only identify with Stalin. Uh, OK. I guess I wasn’t aware that was what the Sanders campaign is really about, but whatever. And he’s VERY CONCERNED that people read Jacobin and so has to remind us that liberalism is awesome and socialism is the BIG EVIL. I mean, in the New Gilded Age, how could one think liberalism isn’t working anymore?!? Now, I’m not really saying that, but the idea that liberalism has been this great movement over the last 50 years is pretty ridiculous given its often feeble response to the economic, social, and racial problems of our time, especially compared to an increasingly aggressive and voracious conservatism that has pulled the nation far to the right. Of course, this all gets to Chait’s real issue–which is that some lefties were mean to him when he was in college and he can’t get over it.

Last night, Chait took the crazy to 11:

Obviously, some people will always be inclined to use threats to their right to speak as an excuse to advocate outrageous views. But other people like the idea of rebelliousness and standing up against censorship, and the more convincingly any movement can depict itself as the victim of censorship, the more successfully it will recruit those attracted to this form of rebellion. In the 1950s, McCarthyist repression lent American communists the allure of the forbidden. Rather than being seen as pawns of a murderous dictatorship, communist sympathizers acquired the glamour of rebellious independent thought, and pride of place on the front lines of a cultural struggle on behalf of Americans aghast at McCarthy.

Um….. What?

Does Chait know anything about the history of communism? The 1950s? The 1950s were a hellish time to be a communist. Does Chait know nothing about the blacklist? About homosexuals being driven out of government for supposedly being susceptible to communism? About people losing their jobs and their livelihoods? About Ethel and Julius Rosenberg being executed?

And when since has being a communist been glamorous? Not even in the 1960s, when actual CP membership was still looked down upon by the new left. Vague support for Ho Chi Minh or Che Guevara was real enough, but usually reflected dissatisfaction with current U.S. policies than a desire to bring state-sponsored socialism into the United States. There were exceptions and, yes, the 35 people who made up the Weather Underground were real people who wanted to violently overthrow the U.S. government, but that’s no glamorous communist life, nor were they seen so at the time.

Chait’s fundamental problem here is that he defines himself as the holding the farthest left acceptable positions. Anything to the left of him is not a position, it’s a crisis. It’s a threat to liberal democracy. Not only is this completely ridiculous, it’s myopic. For someone paid to write about politics, it would be nice if Jonathan Chait actually knew something about the role protest plays in politics. You need a far left critique to provide a push and pull to the rightist forces constantly seeking to destroy the social safety net, bomb brown people, bolster racism, and hand over riches to the wealthy. But Chait worries far more about scary socialism than conservatives, even though the latter are a real threat and the former a figment of his imagination.

What’s worse is how Chait is seeing the Bernie movement as the revival of Stalin and Mao. This is just patently absurd. We are in a moment where “socialism” is a fuzzy, happy-go-lucky social movement that will make things better for us all through the state fighting inequality. Granting free college tuition is not in the same universe as show trials. Yet for Chait, this is what he sees. And that’s just pathetic and sad.

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  • humanoid.panda

    As a former Israeli, I’d say this one upside of universal conscription: at least, if your psyche gets permanently malformed, its because you’ve been subjected to a warping institution, not because of this one time you were shouted down in a dorm debate.

  • efgoldman

    I honestly don’t understand how some people get to write widely distributed opinion pieces concerning things they know nothing about, and get paid for it. Yet it’s endemic.

    • And New York Magazine just signed up Andrew Sullivan, so I guess it’s a business model.

      • JonH

        Chait to Sullivan: “I’m getting the team back together. There’s Commies afoot.”

    • Origami Isopod

      Because it’s not about the facts, it’s about serving the narrative. Pap like Chait’s makes the sorts of liberals savaged by Phil Ochs, as well as fans of Bill Maher, feel better about themselves.

    • DrDick

      Encyclopedic ignorance seems almost a job requirement for much of our commentariat.

  • Origami Isopod

    Y’know, I’d have just re-used the same image you used in the last post.

  • arnoldLayne

    Just wait until you get to read Solchaitnizyn’s letters from the gulag that President Sanders will surely condemn him to…

    • Heh

    • njorl

      It will be an old Hawaiian leper colony, the archipelago gulag.

      • cpinva

        at least they won’t freeze their asses off. if they’re real lucky, there might well be lots of fruit growing there.

      • Belle Waring

        THIS DESERVES MORE STARS. Like, any stars, say, if it were possible to award stars in WordPress.

      • Jordan

        That didn’t seem so bad in the simpsons episode.

        • jamesjhare

          ELECTRIC.NEEDLE.HUT

  • So I guess Chait watches clips of protestors getting beat up by the police and thinks Gee that looks like fun!

    • max

      I saw write something a couple of weeks ago about how he was opposed to the Iraq war. LOL…wut.

      For somebody opposed to the war in Iraq he sure was keen to keep it rolling.

      max
      [‘Marty Peretz Lives Again!’]

      • NonyNony

        The thing about Chait is that when he’s gonna be wrong, he’s gonna go BIG.

    • “I want to listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra and watch footage of cops beating up hippies”

      Grandpa Simpson

      • KadeKo

        In reply to the original post my brain went straight to:

        “For those of you too young to remember the 60’s, here’s our stock montage.

        What a shrill, pointless decade.”

    • So I guess Chait watches clips of protestors getting beat up by the police and thinks Gee that looks like fun!

      It actually sounds like he’s pissed that all those protesters are taking the easy way out. I guess as opposed to getting a prestigious job whining about them in a widely-read magazine.

  • BGinCHI

    Shorter Chait: Blacklist is the new Black.

  • Dilan Esper

    Chait’s fundamental problem here is that he defines himself as the holding the farthest left acceptable positions. Anything to the left of him is not a position, it’s a crisis.

    This is right, but it is not unique to Chait.

    I’ve pointed this out on threads here before, but many of the liberals who hate Bernie voters / Nader voters / any other sort of leftist who wants to overthrow or revolutionize the American system don’t fundamentally understand that leftists aren’t just slightly more intense liberals (and thus are people who should just shut up and form coalitions with liberals). It’s a different ideology that rejects liberalism.

    There are plenty of people farther left than me whose positions I nonetheless consider acceptable, plausible, reasonable, and non-extremist. Indeed, I think they deserve a voice.

    The ironic thing about Chait is he is standing up for liberal principles of tolerance (which have some real value, even against the critiques of leftists about power and speech) while at the same time writing off the left as undeserving of the same tolerance that he demands the left gives to his ilk.

    • Oy, I let the first one pass, but here you fell into your old error.

      I’ve pointed this out on threads here before, but many of the liberals who hate Bernie voters / Nader voters / any other sort of leftist who wants to overthrow or revolutionize the American system don’t fundamentally understand that leftists aren’t just slightly more intense liberals (and thus are people who should just shut up and form coalitions with liberals). It’s a different ideology that rejects liberalism.

      And the number of people who make this error, esp. in these threads, is zero.

      The argument isn’t that everyone to the left of democrats share policy preferences in general. But that just about everyone to the left of the American centre either 1) prefers Democratic governance to Republican chaos *a lot*, or 2) has a stupid theory of political strategy (i.e., heighten the contradictions), or 3) has a stupid and evil theory of political responsibility (i.e., clean hands).

      If you *do* prefer Republican governance to Democratic *on the merits*, you are either a nihilist or a Republican. I guess there can be nihilistic leftism, but they aren’t the people arguing to avoid voting democratic.

      It’s hard to imagine a very coherent leftism that was clean hands that wasn’t very strange. That sort of atomisticness is pretty outlierly. (Not entirely, but I don’t know that Thoureauianims is particularly left. There’s some quietist leftism, I guess. Most most leftism is pretty activist and at least encourages solidarity.)

      So, usually we’re left with a mishmash of 2, 3, and a panoply of other delusions (cf the “active boycott” of the Brexit vote).

      Liberals can critique that without thinking that they share a policy agenda per se with “leftists”. Hell *leftists* can do so.

      There are plenty of people farther left than me whose positions I nonetheless consider acceptable, plausible, reasonable, and non-extremist. Indeed, I think they deserve a voice.

      Ah, here’s your hint that their votes are uncritiqueable. Sigh.

      • sonamib

        (cf the “active boycott” of the Brexit vote).

        I remember the Greek communist party doing the same thing during the referendum on the Troika agreement. Because why use an opportunity to make your voice heard when you’re given it? Jesus, those people have a really strange theory of politics.

        I mean, look at Chile, when Pinochet called a referendum on whether he would stay in power, thinking that he could game it and win. Of course the left purists in Chile wanted to boycott the referendum, but in the end, a huge internal campaign combined with international oversight meant that he lost the referendum, and was forced to recognize the result.

        • For what it’s worth, that rejectionist quality in some leftist movements is certainly not rooted in Marx, or even in Lenin, both of whom believed that communist revolutionaries needed to work within as well as against bourgeois political structures and organizations. Complete rejection of bourgeois institutions was more of an anarchist concept until the era of the New Left.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yep. And don’t get me started on the Peoples’ Front of Judea.

            Young Fidel Castro approached the Communist Party in Cuba, with his ideas for nationalist rebellion. They said the time wasn’t right.

    • Francis

      Shorter Verbatim Dilan: Many people don’t fundamentally understand [some point]. I do.

      geez, Dilan, it’s your overwhelming modesty that makes you so attractive as a commenter here.

      • And if you knew the full history of this particular silliness, you’d laugh even harder.

        My recollection of the first instance is that he insisted that liberals couldn’t critique leftists for throwing elections to republicans because leftists had different historical antecedents (or “priors”). When confronted with the possibility of convergent evolution he blah blah blahed. When asked for examples of Nader supporters (much less voters) who would like to smash the US constitution…well…you can imagine the crickets.

        This current version is a *little* less obviously bonkers (I guess he’s refining the message), but still is notably lacking in either specifics or evidence.

        • brad

          Not just crickets, if pressed hard enough he’ll start putting awful opinions in the mouths of whoever he’s arguing with so as to have excuse to dismiss them. This is a very inside reference, but I once saw Dilan claim Joe from Lowell must have been in favor of invading Iraq.
          He does put on a good show, gotta give Dilan that much.

          • Well, as he tried to gaslight me, I’m less entertained.

          • I once saw Dilan claim Joe from Lowell must have been in favor of invading Iraq.

            For the sexual thrill, no doubt.

        • sharculese

          Wasn’t the historical priors thing slothrop, not Dilan?

          • Recently it was Ktotwf, but here’s the original Dilan on priors. A lot of people joked about Ktotwf being a Dilan sock because of it.

            • sharculese

              I had forgotten about ktowtf and now I’m having terrible flashbacks.

              Also I think that thread happened in the period where I was detoxing on politics by just playing a lot of Elder Scrolls instead.

    • Hogan

      Bernie voters / Nader voters / any other sort of leftist who wants to overthrow or revolutionize the American system

      You realize those are largely disjunct sets, right?

      • Brien Jackson

        And also note that the “revolutionary” policy goals of the Sanders campaign are….extremely widely shared by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her voters!

        • Captain Oblivious

          If Sanders is a marxist, so was FDR, LBJ, HHH, and a lot of pre-Reagan Democrafts.

          Sanders is a classic liberal Democrat in just about every respect. It’s not even clear why he’s embraced the socialist label. I think what really bothers the Chaits of the world is not so much Sanders’ policy positions but that he talks about “revolution”. This scares them. But all he’s really doing is advocating for resurrecting the New Deal. He’s practically the second coming of FDR, minus the accent and charisma.

          Full disclosure: I’m all-in for HRC. Not defending Bernie here.

          • Needless to say, Sanders is very much not running as a Marxist. If he wants to characterize his left-liberal verging on social-democratic positions as socialist, good on him.

    • McAllen

      You’ve said that many times, yes, but unless I am mistaken you’ve never explained what leftist goal was advanced by voting for Nader.

      • Bootsie

        A powerful eight year gambit to make Republicans look bad, of course.

        Now if you’ll just step over the pile of Iraqi and American bodies, I’ll show you where Ralph Nader, Saint of the Deep, is hard at work writing his memoirs…

    • D.N. Nation

      I hate Nader voters because they stump for a fucking Cheney Industries sock-puppet who mistakes his own random sharts for astute commentary. Not because they are or feign to be to the left of me.

    • Brien Jackson

      Unrepentant Nader voters are, of course, very much NOT “to the left” of me, Scott, Erik, etc. They’re just assholes.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Hey! Just ’cause someone is an asshole doesn’t mean s/he’s not also to the left of you! ;)

        • Bruce B.

          Flanking bonuses…after dark.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Nader voters / any other sort of leftist who wants to overthrow or revolutionize the American system

      For the umpteenth time, the vast majority of Nader voters are liberals who voted for Kerry and Obama, not Marxist revolutionaries, and Nader himself is a quintessential liberal technocrat and not a particularly left-wing one.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Nader is like a liberal technocrat, but without the pizazz and sex appeal.

  • max

    But Chait worries far more about scary socialism than conservatives, even though the latter are a real threat and the former a figment of his imagination.

    SOCIALISM! It’s just like Norway! And you know those Norwegians, always killing and eating each other over their high marginal tax rates.

    Granting free college tuition is not in the same universe as show trials. Yet for Chait, this is what he sees. And that’s just pathetic and sad.

    Does he have a big button on that says ‘Ask Me About My Support for Free Trade with China’?

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to the moment when Bernie is officially declared dispatched, and suddenly it’s all ‘Hillary wears earth tones’ and ‘Can’t we all just listen to that nice Joe Lieberman’ time.

    Bout August, it’ll be ‘Let’s Reoccupy Iraq’ time and we’ll be hearing all about that Strange New Respect for Donald Trump. (‘At least he wants to bomb Muslims everywhere, unlike those damn hippies!’)

    max
    [‘Machine gun loaded, RPG to hand, missile battery warming up.’]

  • CP

    And when since has being a communist been glamorous? Not even in the 1960s, when actual CP membership was still looked down upon by the new left. Vague support for Ho Chi Minh or Che Guevara was real enough, but usually reflected dissatisfaction with current U.S. policies than a desire to bring state-sponsored socialism into the United States. There were exceptions and, yes, the 35 people who made up the Weather Underground were real people who wanted to violently overthrow the U.S. government, but that’s no glamorous communist life, nor were they seen so at the time.

    It’s an old trope on the right and the center that any new social movement they disapprove of that gets the slightest bit of traction – especially among youth – is just a fad, and that the younguns are only embracing it to make themselves rebellious, interesting, cool, hip, rad, and yes, glamorous. Prevents them from having to think over the possibility that there might be anything worthwhile in the new movement.

    Mix into that the tendency to project the word “communism” onto absolutely everything, and you get “communism is glamorous!” Chait, apparently, buys all this.

    • We all know that students only join the left because they want to get laid. Old liberals have let me know this for 50 years.

      • rea

        “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
        You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow . . .”

      • elm

        My father was a big hippie in the 60s. Was gassed by police in the Buffalo riots and all. Later in life he became a sor of latter-day Rockerfeller Republican. Eventually, he admitted he was a hippie only because he liked the music, liked to do drugs, liked the girls, and didn’t want to be drafted himself. He never agreed with the rest of the politics.

        I’m not saying my father was representative of the 60s era male leftists, but I suspect he wasn’t the only one like that.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          See also P.J. O’Rourke.

        • JL

          There are so much easier, not to mention safer, ways to get laid or find drugs than getting teargassed while risking getting thrown in jail or getting your teeth knocked in. I have to wonder about his strategy there.

          and didn’t want to be drafted himself.

          I’m going to guess that this was important.

        • Randy

          I think your dad was representative of a sizable segment of the new left. Many of them now will chuckle as they admit that it really was just a phase they were going through.

          I think my demographic–late baby boomer, too young to be drafted, certainly too young to go to Vietnam–has a tendency to mythologize the new left more than the actual former participants.

          • Brien Jackson

            I’ll be way more charitable and say that it was probably the case that being anti-Vietnam or opposed to the draft didn’t necessarily translate to broader liberal/leftist views.

            • advocatethis

              There were certainly people opposed to the draft who weren’t directly threatened by it who worked to subvert it. There were also people who were threatened by the draft and opposed it at least in part for that reason, but may well have also opposed it had they not been threatened. Many of these people supported or would support other liberal causes. Then there were those who were threatened by the draft who worked against it for purely selfish reasons. Others could potentially have benefited from their resistance, but that was just a by-produce of what was done strictly in their self-interest. These people are like the people (maybe they are actually the very same people) who oppose gay rights until they discover that their son/daughter is gay, and then start supporting gay rights, but no other liberal causes.

    • Vance Maverick

      Communists were somewhat glamorous in the 1930s, depending on the circles you traveled in. Maybe Chait is older than we thought.

  • DAS

    What’s worse is how Chait is seeing the Bernie movement as the revival of Stalin and Mao. This is just patently absurd. We are in a moment where “socialism” is a fuzzy, happy-go-lucky social movement that will make things better for us all through the state fighting inequality.

    Last night I overheard part of a conversation between a libertarian and a reactionary (both of my acquaintance) wherein they were complaining about socialism and wealth redistribution meaning that any money they had saved from their own “hard work” would be redistributed to anyone whom “the state thinks is deserving”. They were happy that “Bernie Sanders, even if he does get elected, is not going to be able to actually enact his socialist ideas”. And if he does “then everyone would just start spending whatever money they had saved, because if they didn’t, the state would just take their extra money away” (come to think of it … perhaps a little wealth redistribution like this would be quite a good economic stimulus rather than being a bad thing!)

    Anyway, it’s one thing when right-wingers of various sorts have some bizarre ideas of what socialists/wealth-redistributivists actually are after (somehow I don’t think Bernie Sanders is a “leveler”). But when an erstwhile liberal gets those kind of ideas? That’s, um, problematic, even for liberalism. Does Chait think it actually helps his beliefs gain traction if he positions them as the left edge of acceptable discourse? As Dilan Esper just pointed out, this phenomenon is not unique to Chait, but we see all sorts of liberals do this … especially those in the media identified as liberal. And we’ve seen what damage it does to discourse in this country: sensible policy solutions that have worked like gangbusters elsewhere as well as in the past in this country (e.g. the New Deal) have become too “radical” to be implemented even as we now need them more than we have in decades.

    • CP

      Anyway, it’s one thing when right-wingers of various sorts have some bizarre ideas of what socialists/wealth-redistributivists actually are after (somehow I don’t think Bernie Sanders is a “leveler”). But when an erstwhile liberal gets those kind of ideas? That’s, um, problematic, even for liberalism.

      It really fucking is. But this primary is bringing that sort of sentiment out with a vengeance, even among quite a few people who ought to know better.

      • Brien Jackson

        {Cites omitted}

        • advocatethis

          {Cites omitted}

          I’m not willing to say that such people aren’t out there; it seems likely that they are. But I haven’t run across any. I do keep running into the people, much discussed here over recent months, who don’t consider anybody to the right (or at least who they perceive to be the right) of Bernie Sanders, to be a true liberal.

          • brewmn

            Plus, the whole “or Bust” is almost wholly a Sanders supporter thing. The next liberal on the internet who says that under no circumstances will they vote for Sanders if he’s the nominee will be the first I have come across.

            • I have read more people charitably invoke the possibility of a “Hillary Or Bust”er in the context of rebuking “Bernie Or Bust”ers than I imagine there are actual “Hillbusters” out there.

            • Brien Jackson

              More specifically, I haven’t come across anyone who legitimately gets ANGRY at people for supporting Sanders, but I could probably find three dozen Sanders’ supporters to call me all kinds of fun names on Twitter just in the next hour.

              • JL

                The Clinton-supporter version is usually smug condescension.

                (That’s not meant to be some kind of sideways swipe at you. It’s literally that my observation of jerky Sanders supporters is that they’re more likely to be angry and my observation of jerky Clinton supporters is that they’re more likely to be smug and condescending, though I do see those reversed from time to time.)

                • Origami Isopod

                  This has also been my experience.

                • los

                  I’ve seen many pro-clinton twitterers who retweet GOP-type anti-Sanders silliness akin to ‘obama is a malaysian kenyan muslim terrorist’, though many pro-clinton twitterers do not.

                  It has been a little interesting to follow certain twitters from a large single NeverDrumpf thread, and find the twitters are ‘diversely’ pro-cruz, pro-clinton, pro-sanders…

              • MPAVictoria

                I have to say Clinton supporters attack me online quite a bit. I find them just as rude and WAY more condescending. Of course your mileage may vary.

        • {Cites omitted}

          Forgotten January and February, have we?

          Single payer sucks!

          Free stuff makes people lazy.

          Bernie Sanders’ gonna raise your taxes a trillion dollars to pay for socialist health care.

          Leave Wall Street aloooooooone!

          etc.

          Though, to be fair, virtually all of these arguments were pure campaign shilling, and the people making the arguments almost certainly didn’t mean them.

  • Linnaeus

    This is one of those “I’m disappointed in Chait” moments. I’m still trying to figure out why he’s channeling Arthur Schlesinger and conjuring up the Red Nightmare.

    This (from the third Chait link in the OP) is about as close to a reason as I can find:

    It seems impossible at the current moment to imagine Marxists exercising power at the national level. But it also seemed impossible to imagine New Deal–hating conservatives — then just a faction within a party — exercising national-scale power after their standard-bearer was routed in the 1964 elections. Yet, a mere 16 years later, their time had arrived. So, on the theory that it’s never too early to start planning the counterrevolution, it is worth reiterating that Marxism is terrible.

    This is a very flawed analogy. While conservative political power in the US has waxed and waned, New Deal-hating conservatives were never as marginalized as socialists and communists were. Frankly, it’s a joke to even suggest any kind of equivalence. Conservatives were “just a faction” in a party that just happened to be one of the two major parties in the US and those conservatives held elective offices at all levels of US government. Marxists certainly didn’t, if any were holding office at all. I can’t think of any.

    Conservatives also had important allies, especially in the business community. There’s no way a Marxist in 1964, or even now, could mobilize the kind of resources that conservatives did in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

    Then there’s state actions to consider, and again, there’s no comparison. A. Mitchell Palmer wasn’t rounding up right wingers, McCarthy wasn’t going after New Deal haters, and COINTELPRO wasn’t infiltrating the offices of National Review. Conservative organizations rarely if ever aroused the suspicion that leftist (even noncommunist) organizations did.

    Chait is being way, way too glib here, and it’s shoddy historical thinking.

    • CP

      While conservative political power in the US has waxed and waned, New Deal-hating conservatives were never as marginalized as socialists and communists were. Frankly, it’s a joke to even suggest any kind of equivalence.

      An insult more than a joke, considering the history of the far right versus the far left. There is no parallel between the way New Left activists were treated at the 1968 Democratic Convention, and the way Barry Goldwater or Strom Thurmond supporters were treated in 1964 and 1948. There is no parallel between the way students at Kent State were treated and the way segregationists at Little Rock were treated. There is no parallel between the gleeful, enthusiastic way the FBI and other federal authorities targeted the Black Panthers and other (even nonviolent) civil rights groups and the way they had to be kicked in the ass by no less an authority than the President to get interested in the Ku Klux Klan. There is no parallel in more recent times between the way Occupy Wall Street was violently broken up through nationwide coordinated action and the way the teabaggers have been allowed to run amok.

      Pretty much anyone making an analogy between far right and far left at least in this country is completely off base. The two movements have never been treated the same way, not by the “center” and the “reasonable” pundits who decide what’s mainstream and what’s not, not by the “moderates” on their side of the aisle, not by the other side of the aisle, and certainly not by the people with uniforms and nightsticks.

      • so-in-so

        You can’t stay in the League of Very Serious People if you don’t invoke “both sides do it, not a dime’s worth of difference” when presented with such an opportunity.

        • the League of Very Serious People

          Have your people talk to DC, quick. This could be a summer blockbuster!

    • NeonTrotsky

      There actually were a handful of leftists in elected office, most notably Vito Marcantonio who represented part of New York from the early 30s until 1950 with a break in the middle, amusingly as a republican for some of that time… But anyway your overall point stands.

      • Linnaeus

        Noted. After I wrote my comment, I figured there were probably a few at some point in the last 80 years or so.

    • sharculese

      I learned not to have those moments 2 or 3 years ago. At this point I’m surprised when he says something interesting.

  • Jake Nelson

    You know what drives me up the wall about Chait? That he’s paid (presumably) big money for this stuff. I’m ok with him as a random blogger – he’s really good on certain subjects, and not a bad writer, though a large chunk of his output is crap I’d prefer to scroll past and not hear about – but he is somehow a Serious Pundit, a Major Figure whose opinions must be heard and debated.

    I have seen nothing from him to justify him having a higher profile or more Serious Journalist cred than most of the random unpaid bloggers out there.

    • Origami Isopod

      You don’t become a Serious Pundit making big money unless you’re shoveling out the shit that our corporate masters want us to eat.

  • pzerzan

    Chait is brilliant when it comes to taking down conservatives. However, he feels some need to equivocate and go after elements of the left. However, for Chait, those elements are more than just elements-they are huge entities in the Democratic Party that are destroying it. Take one of his usual enemies-teachers unions. When ever I read one of his columns involving them, I get a sense he has a “world ends at the Hudson” point of view. Maybe teachers unions in NYC and the Acela corridor are as bad as he says. However, even if that were the case (which I doubt it is), they only make up a small fraction of teachers in this country. I don’t know the numbers but I think I heard most teachers don’t have a collective bargaining agreement. In many states, teachers can’t organize. So, it’s pretty clear that any nationwide problems we have with education have little to do with teachers unions and their contracts and are caused by other problems. Another problem with his war on teachers unions is Chait hasn’t explained who will take their place in the Democratic Party. Is he going to knock on doors and raise money to get Democrats elected? I doubt it. If you’re going to go after a major part of the coalition that is the Democratic Party, you better have a replacement lined up. So, with all this in mind, has coverage of the Democratic Primary doesn’t surprise me. It disappoints me (like I said, he nails the flaws with conservative philosophy) but it doesn’t surprise me.

    • ColBatGuano

      Chait’s take on education reform seems somewhat related to his wife’s employment as a charter school advocate.

      • Brien Jackson

        Chait is, basically, a really smarmy asshole with an overinflated sense of his white dude awesomeness. His positions on a lot of things these days mostly seem to be related to the times a lot of liberals and fellow liberal writers on the internet had the nerve to say he was wrong.

      • sharculese

        I think he just doesn’t like teachers. The piece that made me give up on him was post where he was straight up cackling with glee that professorial salaries might get cut. There wasn’t even the hint of a policy motive just “teachers might make less, awesome.”

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I don’t suspect he’s a fan of all of the other unions, either.

    • You can tell which states have the really strong teachers unions: they’re the ones (like Massachusetts or New Jersey) that have really good public schools.

  • JL

    Chaiters gonna Chait.

    “But other people like the idea of rebelliousness and standing up against censorship, and the more convincingly any movement can depict itself as the victim of censorship, the more successfully it will recruit those attracted to this form of rebellion.”

    Does Chait just not understand how ironic this quote is, coming from him? He thinks he’s talking about Communists here for some reason, but it sounds more like he’s talking about himself and his “Political correctness is oppressing me” compatriots.

    Does Chait know anything about the history of communism? The 1950s? The 1950s were a hellish time to be a communist. Does Chait know nothing about the blacklist? About homosexuals being driven out of government for supposedly being susceptible to communism? About people losing their jobs and their livelihoods? About Ethel and Julius Rosenberg being executed?

    And when since has being a communist been glamorous?

    I think this is the same weird mentality that causes so many people, probably including Jon Chait, to run around claiming that other people go to protests instead of spending that time on the speaker’s preferred tactic (usually electoral work) because it’s easy and glamorous and fun. It’s as though they think the risk of government or other persecution is like living a movie plot, and like actually living a movie plot is glamorous in the way that being a movie star would be.

    the revival of Stalin and Mao.

    In that case I’d better link to the Maoist International Movement movie reviews so that we can see what won’t be banned under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Also so that we can pee ourselves from laughing so hard at the Maoist International Movement review of Tank Girl. Which is even better if you do a dramatic reading of it.

    • McAllen

      Does Chait just not understand how ironic this quote is, coming from him? He thinks he’s talking about Communists here for some reason, but it sounds more like he’s talking about himself and his “Political correctness is oppressing me” compatriots.

      This is exactly what I thought of, too. This guy who’s spilled a lot of ink claiming political correctness is some dire threat has a lot of nerve claiming the left is exaggerating its oppression.

    • sharculese

      I clicked on the link because I was thinking, I really should have this bookmarked and apparently forgot that I already do.

    • xq

      Does Chait just not understand how ironic this quote is, coming from him? He thinks he’s talking about Communists here for some reason, but it sounds more like he’s talking about himself and his “Political correctness is oppressing me” compatriots.

      It’s not ironic–that’s his exact point. He’s bringing up Communists as analogy to Trumpist anti-PC types.

      • JL

        Huh? My point is that Chait is claiming that Communists liked to think of themselves as victims of censorship because that made them seem like independent thinkers, while in reality, Chait and the other center-liberal respectable “anti-PC” types like to think of themselves as victims of censorship because it makes them seem like independent thinkers. It had nothing to do with Trump supporters.

        • xq

          You pointed out that it that it sounded like he was talking about anti-PC types rather than Communists in the quote. And that’s not a coincidence–he was, in fact, talking about anti-PC types! If you want to say that Chait thinks he’s talking about far right anti-PC types but it is also true that rebelliousness against perceived censorship is a motivation of center-left anti-PC types, ok? That seems straightforwardly implied by his argument and I doubt he would disagree.

  • Murc

    Y’know, Corey Robin over at CT has written a few pieces over the past month or so about how the left has always been worried that liberals are going to sell them out to the right the instant their sensibilities are discomfited, and how this is an unhelpful dynamic.

    Chait is a grade-A example of precisely why leftists have that worry, and why they often view liberals as enemies rather than allies.

  • Ransom Stoddard

    Chait’s fundamental problem here is that he defines himself as the holding the farthest left acceptable positions. Anything to the left of him is not a position, it’s a crisis. It’s a threat to liberal democracy. Not only is this completely ridiculous, it’s myopic. For someone paid to write about politics, it would be nice if Jonathan Chait actually knew something about the role protest plays in politics.

    Agreed, and I think on his worst days Chait is like the inverse Freddie de Boer. (Not trying to draw a false equivalence: Chait is a consistently intelligent analyst of American politics, and de Boer is…not. An exceptionally bad Chait column is like the median output of de Boer.)

    Now, I’m not really saying that, but the idea that liberalism has been this great movement over the last 50 years is pretty ridiculous given its often feeble response to the economic, social, and racial problems of our time, especially compared to an increasingly aggressive and voracious conservatism that has pulled the nation far to the right.

    A fair take, but I think Chait would say the main problems in the U.S. come from the presidential system not allowing liberal/ left-neoliberal policy to be made in the first place, not the failed implementation of such policy.

    • sharculese

      Chait and Freddie actually have a similar issue though – deep down they’re constantly consumed by the fear that someone out there might be smarter than them.

      • DrDick

        And there are a very large number of people who are.

        • LosGatosCA

          Numbering in the millions, at least.

    • politicalfootball

      I think Chait would say the main problems in the U.S. come from the presidential system not allowing liberal/ left-neoliberal policy to be made in the first place

      Neoliberalism cannot fail. It can only be failed.

  • CP

    We are in a moment where “socialism” is a fuzzy, happy-go-lucky social movement that will make things better for us all through the state fighting inequality.

    Until very very recently, the “left”-most edge of the American political spectrum (on economics) has been people like Elizabeth Warren and Paul Krugman, whose unforgivable radicalism has been to point out that it’s possible to return to the sort of mildly taxed, regulated, and unionized society the New Dealers created without unraveling the space-time continuum. It might even be desirable.

    Within the last twelve months, Bernie Sanders has moved the needle a few degrees further to the left by pointing out that in fact, it might even be possible to adopt the social-democratic reforms enacted by most of our (still alive and kicking) allies during these same years, and still not unravel the space-time continuum!

    And for this, he belongs in the same category as Stalin and Mao! Of course.

  • brad

    So Chait was that guy in every class which has ever included any extended readings by Marx who had to raise his hand and say that authoritarianism totally disproves socialism, because Stalin, derp, so Marx is bad right?

    I think Chait’s problem with anyone to the left of him is he wants to feel like, to use a loaded term in a relatively non-mocking sense, the ultimate social justice warrior. It’s Freddie’s “this is what a feminist looks like” tshirt (and lecture). That those who actually suffer from the various forms of bigotry and discrimination he wants to feel like part of the solution to challenge his purity of intent offends his sense of being fucking special, and as an overprivileged white boy myself, goddamn will we whine when you do that to us.
    Instead of shutting the fuck up and listening.

    Geh.

  • SamInMpls

    Mattygelesias tweet: “Ur-neoliberal idea touted as blasphemous to neoliberals” Link to Laurie Penny article

    Chait replies: @mattyglesias also, I hope the True Progressives never learn of the carbon tax. It would destroy neoliberalism. Anything but the carbon tax!

    As Loomis said above, it’s a business model. I find some of the work that comes out of Ezra’s shop worthwhile but YMMV.

    • Brien Jackson

      Meh, Chait’s trolling at this point, but I think Yglesias is (snarkily) making a good point about how much of the divide comes from “leftists” basically talking out of their ass.

      • I don’t understand how UBI is in any way an identifiable “neoliberal” position, much less the “ur-neoliberal” position. Yes, Friedman promoted the negative income tax, which is a type of basic income system, but his plan was a flat tax with massive reduction of overall government spending, and the concept has more or less been abandoned by his later followers with any access to the levers of power.

        UBI is neoliberal from the perspective of the ’60s, where the alternative presented was an extensive services-based cradle-to-grave welfare state. It is by no means identifiable as such in 2016.

        • humanoid.panda

          I think UBI is neoliberal in the sense it seeks to basically give people money, and let them to do whatever they want with it, and let the market sort it out.

          • humanoid.panda

            But I think the bigger problem here is that neoliberalism means something in the American context (attempts to find to use the market for, theoretically at least, progressive aims), and something else entirely in the European (and academic sense (using the state to dismantle progressive institutions and force everyone into the market).

            • sharculese

              I have so long ago stopped trying to make coherent sense of how ‘neoliberal’ is used in the American political lexicon, except insofar as it denotes ‘people I want to assert are to my right.’

            • Yes, I think you’re right about that. I prefer to use “Chicago School” for the Friedman/Pinochet wing; the other style you’re referring to is just “liberals”.

        • Brien Jackson

          It’s “neoliberal” in the sense that the people/academics who, thus far, generally talk favorably about the policy idea would generally be called “neoliberals” by “leftists.”

  • Bruce Vail

    I’m curious whether anyone on this blog thinks New York is a worthwhile magazine and actually reads it on a regular basis?

    • nixnutz

      I had a subscription a few years ago. They have good features occasionally and otherwise awful rich people lifestyle crap so plenty of months I wouldn’t read anything in it at all.

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      I’m curious whether anyone on this blog thinks New York is a worthwhile magazine and actually reads it on a regular basis?

      If you actually live in New York City, the magazine publishes enough interesting NYC-specific stuff to (in my opinion) justify a subscription.

    • sharculese

      Vulture is a good pop culture site and not having to churn out eight blogs a day seems to have been a good thing for Ed Kilgore, so they have those things going for them.

  • Roger Ailes

    Imagine a boot accusing Chait of mansplaining – forever, while another, socialist boot kicks Chait in the balls – forever.

    He certainly does.

  • Nick056

    I think Chait deliberately trolls leftists quite a bit, and he gets obsessive about what he views as “PC” shibboleths on the left. (So much so that Yglesias has had to repeatedly tell him to stop tweet-haunting Yglesias’s own sarcastic tweets about the terror of the PC police.)

    That said, I think at his best Chait serves a valuable function and I don’t like it when he gets dismissed as simply never having gotten over mean kids at Ann Arbor. Occasionally liberals go a little overboard with ideological positioning around race, gender, etc., and I think it’s good to have someone to the left of Megyn Kelley or NRO engaging those issues. Chait is a little — shall we say — prone to viewing a whole range of opinions and jokes as microaggressions against him. But do we want to have proclamations like Amanda Taub’s piece on how “PC” isn’t even real simply not get any pushback from other liberals? I don’t think so, because the gravitational center of the country (and probably of the Democratic Party) is pretty much that PC is real. It’s at least worth talking about.

    • Brien Jackson

      I think the problem with Chait’s views on PC that, for whatever reason, no one will point out is that he says some really dumb/sexist/racist stuff and is incredibly prone to ‘splaining. The Coates dust up is easily the best example of such. And because he’s a smarmy, arrogant prick (not that he isn’t insightful sometimes but still) he chalks up people calling him wrong to “PC,” and now he’s taking to trying to bolster this position by proxy through nutpicking extremely egregious examples and overeager college kids to, in his mind anyway, tar his liberal detractors by extension.

    • brad

      The response to those who think PC is real has been counterproductive at times, but I don’t think the flaw is in being dismissive. It’s the lack of empathy, but that’s a very loaded thing to say when it’s someone engaging in an act of self defense that’s being called PC. Chait basically refuses to even consider putting himself in the position of those he’s dismissing, more or less because, as he seems to see it, they won’t do the same for him first.
      That’s bullshit, and granting someone a delusion (that this.. empathic closure is due to those being called PC) may make it easier to converse with them, but it’s a pointless conversation to have. Yeah, someone could be nicer to Chait and spoon feed reality to him for general benefit, but he’s a pundit. He gets the responses he gets.
      It leaves a gulf to be bridged, still, yes, but a constructive response requires work on both sides first. Chait gotta learn to listen.

    • JL

      There are plenty of people who are actually involved in social justice writing or other work – Katherine Cross, Julia Serano, Flavia Dzodan, Ngoc Loan Tran, Barry Deutsch, Miri Mogilevsky, Asam Ahmad – who have written, in some cases repeatedly, about the problems with people being toxic or overly posture-y toward each other in the name of social justice. Ta-Nehisi Coates doesn’t generally write about it per se, but he often pushes back gently on people he thinks are being unreasonable about this (e.g. earlier today on Twitter when he pushed back on someone self-flagellating about loving Infinite Jest and how maybe that made him a privileged asshole). One of the many reasons I would rather read those people’s thoughts on this subject than Chait’s thoughts, by a couple of orders of magnitude, is that they care about contemporary social justice work and want to improve it, while Chait wants to undermine it.

      That said, I think at his best Chait serves a valuable function and I don’t like it when he gets dismissed as simply never having gotten over mean kids at Ann Arbor.

      Chait at his best is fine, but Chait is never, ever, ever at his best when he is talking about anything related to “PC.” He’s completely unreasonable on the subject. I have no idea if people were mean to him at Ann Arbor, but I wish he would get over his current fixation with the fact that college students sometimes use terminology or have sociopolitical norms that he doesn’t approve of.

      So much so that Yglesias has had to repeatedly tell him to stop tweet-haunting Yglesias’s own sarcastic tweets about the terror of the PC police.

      I had missed that. That’s rather hilarious.

      • Nick056

        JL —

        Thanks for those links. I think you and I might be reacting pretty differently to, let’s say, current trends in either activism or current strains in thinking about social justice.

        Today I saw that tweet by Coates you mentioned, and while I (typically) appreciated Coates’s perspective, my overriding thought was, woe unto the ideology that makes a person fret about being “privileged” because he likes a DFW book. I’ll confess: I read a tweet like that and I think, “there is something going seriously sour with leftism,” which is admittedly an overreaction. But a couple months ago Roxane Gay caused a minor tweetstorm when she related, quite matter-of-factly, that she corrected a McDonald’s worker who asked if she wanted the boy or girl toy in her Happy Meal by explaining the insufficiency of the gender binary to this low-wage employee trying to crank out fry orders. To her credit, Gay was receptive to the pushback she got. But I read that and shake my head, and think that I simply don’t feel a strong connection to the righteousness of an ideology that expresses itself that way. There’s positive change and protections and increased understanding — and there’s a prominent writer harrying a minimum-wage employee for relying on a boy/girl distinction which needs corporate action anyway. It’s one thing to broaden the concept of privilege and another to all-but invert it.

        In a similar vein, there was a post at the Stranger blog last week about that Trillin poem in the New Yorker that gave me the same reaction. Not because it’s a good poem (it’s not) or because objecting to it on grounds of cultural insensitivity is per se unreasonable. But because that particular writer was actually unaware that Trillin might have been ironic in intent until the guy’s own former MFA prof pointed it out to him in a Facebook post. (Meanwhile the Stranger blog post was quoted approvingly in Slate.) And I just don’t want to belong to any club that doesn’t recognize even the potential for irony, since that deficit is a trait I pretty much associated with fundamentalism.

        So I think Chait can be a massively self-involved cock at times. (Bringing it back to Roxane Gay, she tweeted something disparaging about old white men after the Gay Talese thing, and he retweeted it with a “sick burn at Sanders,” because oh god how offensive she was being.)

        But! But. I don’t think that every voice of dissent toward some of the more misbegotten posturing in the activist community needs to come from people with bona fides in that community. I think that’s a recipe for incestuous critcism and in-fighting when there’s benefit to the occasional bracing appraisal from an outsider.

        • Brien Jackson

          But that’s the thing; there’s no real argument against the idea that some people get obsessively overwrought about lots of things, and that people like this aren’t “doing it right.” Chait focuses on shit like this because he wants to go nutpicking, ignoring that most SJW’s don’t think you should harangue the McDonald’s cashier for following the customer service script they get from management/corporate.

          • Linnaeus

            Yeah, it’s one thing to point that some people carry things too far, but Chait takes this too far, IMHO,and makes the issue out to be something worse than it actually is.

        • JL

          I’ll confess: I read a tweet like that and I think, “there is something going seriously sour with leftism,” which is admittedly an overreaction.

          Yeah, see, I read it and I think “How unfortunate that that guy was so worried about this; it sucks to feel that kind of insecurity whatever the reason” but I don’t think “Something has gone seriously sour with leftism,” because I spent large portions of my life in social-justice-oriented leftist groups, and it’s not some kind of social norm for people to go around suggesting that other people are privileged assholes for their book likes.

          In fact, I think that my cavalierness about this in general stems from the fact that interaction with the social justice left is not meaningfully different from interaction with other groups of humans, except you’re more likely to be asked for your pronouns and your racist/sexist/etc jokes will go over badly. Most people are very friendly and kind to each other and to others, and don’t want to embarrass others even when pointing out that they said something shitty. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a social justice meeting that had collaboratively-decided ground rules, where the rules didn’t include “assume good intentions” (which doesn’t mean “don’t tell people if they screw up,” it just means “assume that they meant well”). I suspect that people are a little more likely to be assholes in the kind of online spaces where people don’t know each other except as usernames, but that’s hardly unique to people on the social-justice-oriented left.

          But! But. I don’t think that every voice of dissent toward some of the more misbegotten posturing in the activist community needs to come from people with bona fides in that community. I think that’s a recipe for incestuous critcism and in-fighting when there’s benefit to the occasional bracing appraisal from an outsider.

          Someone outside of activism, but who shares my basic values, being critical is one thing. That’s someone where I have some confidence that they want me and similarly situated people to do well and to do good in our work, that they want it to succeed, that their critique, even if I don’t agree with it, is offered in good faith. I have no such confidence in Chait. I think he has contempt for anyone more than a little to his left and that at least to some degree he wants to undermine us. I think he wants to mock concepts that he doesn’t bother to understand but that sound strange to him (safe spaces, trigger warnings) in order to position himself as a more-“reasonable”-than-thou center-liberal.

          I only gave two links before because I didn’t want to get stuck in moderation. Here’s two more: Miri’s blog and Barry’s blog (in both cases, those are links to the whole blog and not a specific post).

          • Nick056

            Unfortunately I’m on my phone, so I can’t really do links — but I thought a striking example of social justice language ground rules going astray, or being counter-productive, involves a back-forth between Freddie and Angus Johnston from last year. The impression I get is that DeBoer is treated like a vainglorious troll and Johnston is treated like a serious and thoughtful voice of the SJ left. But last year after Chait’s PC piece, Johnston jumped in with a criticism of DeBoer that was … Remarkably uncharitable and unhelpful. He heavily suggested that while the phrase “you guys” isn’t necessarily offensive, it has the potential to offend and should be used gingerly, so he went at DeBoer for saying it.

            Johnston is not a nut. He is a gold-standard thinker on trigger warnings, from what I can tell. But his post off as desperately holier-than-thou. I’m sure you can find his post and the thread with some Googling. It doesn’t strike me as … Healthy.

        • Kazanir

          (Bringing it back to Roxane Gay, she tweeted something disparaging about old white men after the Gay Talese thing, and he retweeted it with a “sick burn at Sanders,” because oh god how offensive she was being.)

          I didn’t read this particular tweet of Chait’s that way at all — I read it as some high-grade trolling of Sanders supporters which sadly caught Roxane in the blast radius when she assumed he was being serious.

        • I’ll confess: I read a tweet like that and I think, “there is something going seriously sour with leftism,” which is admittedly an overreaction.

          It’s hardly a neurosis limited to leftism — there’s a reason the term “liberal guilt” exists. Some people are particularly prone to scrupulosity, and will fret about their adherence to one moral standard or another. Some worry about touching themselves improperly or sinning in their hearts, others worry about laughing at that problematic joke in 30 Rock. The only thing that’s really changed is that people are a lot more willing to talk about their anxieties in public fora today.

          • Origami Isopod

            Yeah, this. And then there’s right-wing self-flagellation, which…. isn’t very pretty.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              Doesn’t that depend on the color of the wetsuits and dildoes?

  • Tom Till

    You can take the boy out of TNR but you can’t take TNR out of the boy. Throughout the 1980s up to Peretz’s final relinquishing of ownership TNR held to a very specific mission, that of policing liberalism like the doorman at a nightclub. Only those TNR liked were allowed in and deemed acceptable to the TNR-defined liberal mission of laissez faire lite, a pared-down welfare state (“A hand up, not a handout!”), opposition to affirmative action and multiculturalism, and war against small, weak nations full of brown people. The doorman turned those away who were considered too leftish and thus unserious, a menace to Democratic electoral prospects, subversive, a Comsymp, anti-American, or even anti-Semitic. That Chait worked at TNR for a significant period of the Peretz era certainly accounts for his daffier ideas.

    Granted, I don’t find Chait nearly as offensive as the likes of Charles Lane, a genuine self-hating liberal who acts as though Sanders is Lenin en route from Switzerland. Chait has smart things to say about political economy, taxes, healthcare, and the size of government, and revels in skewering conservatives’ on a whole range of issues and ideas. Still, that doesn’t make his views on PC or paying college athletes any less ridiculous.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      That Chait worked at TNR for a significant period of the Peretz era certainly accounts for his daffier ideas

      I would actually phrase that the other way around, but otherwise, This.

      I did like Chait’s polemic on housecleaning and how the neater of two domestic partners is not objectively “correct” in that preference.

  • NewishLawyer

    1. The problem with socialism is that it means everything from Venezuela to Northern Europe and the NHS. My general observation is that many Sanders supporters are big on the welfare state but still believe in the profit motive. I don’t think they want Clause 4. I think if you pressed them hard enough they would still support the profit motive.

    2. The right will always go for Venezuela though when they talk about socialism.

    3. Chait believes in the Welfare State but he is old enough to have socialism equal the USSR.

    4. Vox had a chart and article on how many Sanders supporters don’t want to pay for his program. They might not even realize their taxes will go up because they are not the Kochs. I saw another thing on Vox where my old Salary would have been taxed at nearly 8,000 dollars more under Sanders. Since I live in the Bay Area, this would have crushed me. Now the high rents are not the fault of Sanders but they do make me need to think more about how much I can pay in taxes sadly.

    • Brien Jackson

      I don’t think there’s really any kind of socialist/leftist surge going on in the Sanders campaign’s success, really. They might be getting some (negative) media attention because of the BernieBro phenomenon, but most Sanders supporters I know are pretty normal liberals. I generally get the sense that for younger people it’s Sanders’ salesmanship and branding, for lack of a better word, that really sets him apart. This is DEFINITELY the case of the “free college” thing, where Clinton’s actual policy proposal is much better than Sanders’, but Sanders is very much rhetorically hung up on the “tuition free” sales pitch. If the Clinton campaign were a little bit better at this, and if Clinton herself were better at speaking in absolutes when selling her ideas, I don’t think Sanders would be all that close.

      • AMK

        If the Clinton campaign were a little bit better at this

        Lots of Sanders support is really just the latest iteration of Clinton fatigue. She’s smart and qualified and her progressive convictions are real, but the political skills are just not there. If they were, we’d be in President HRC’s last year with Senator Obama preparing to succeed her.

        • humanoid.panda

          I am currently exploring the exchanges, because my university health insurance expires soon, and I’ve found that, as reasonably young couple just above the cutoff for subsidies, the options are not that good, and if you add the premiums and deductibles to paying for college loans and trying to save something, that’s a bummer. This made me think about how, for people like us, the ACA didn’t do much (on the surface level: I know about all the other stuff, but most people don’t). Combine this the big Nytimes story today about how much the ACA did for minorities and immigrants, and I think you see something interesting emerge: immigrants and minorities tend to vote HRC and people who fit our profile are going for Bernie. In other words, much of his support is basically: “we had 8 years of Democratic presidency, and what did we get for it?”

          • humanoid.panda

            Now don’t get me wrong: mad props for people reacting with “everyone should have healthcare” instead of “why is the government taking care of moochers!” For all my criticism of the Sanders campaign, that is a massively hopeful sign.

          • Brien Jackson

            But again, a ton of this is just good branding on Sanders’ part. Even taking his ridiculous single-payer plan at face value, it’s going to entail not insignificant tax increases for most people, including new payroll taxes. So there’s really a meaningful cost here, but Sanders has glossed over that by saying “free healthcare” a lot in the same way he says “tuition free” a lot.

            • NewishLawyer

              True but I think the big issue with HRC is that she is too much into ex post facto micro-targeting.

              This article was interesting:

              http://www.vox.com/2016/4/14/11431150/hillary-clinton-check-splitting

              “Same goes for health care. She doesn’t want universal single-payer health care. She wants a new tax credit for people with high out-of-pocket health costs, new incentives to encourage states to expand Medicaid, and a public option. It’s not a program for everyone, it’s a program for Texas parents with incomes between 18 and 133 percent of the poverty level, because that’s who Clinton thinks needs help the most.”

              The thing about the Sanders is approach is that the benefit is immediate as opposed to ex post facto. Sanders seems like we would favor twice monthly GBI checks that work like a salary. Clinton’s GBI would come once a year, you would need to wait until after tax day for the benefit.

              • Rob in CT

                The thing about the Sanders is approach is that the benefit is immediate

                Depends on what you mean. People not currently able to access healthcare would be able to access healthcare. For them that’s an immediate, yoooouuuuge benefit, no doubt.

                Other things, not so much.

                For instance, the bending of the cost curve would take time. It’s one thing to say hey, we spend ~18% of GDP on healthcare and other rich countries spend ~12%. It’s another to think we can actually get to 12% quickly.

                Also immediate would be the tax increases.

                The potential big political advantage to a single-payer plan is that for the average person it’s relatively simple & easy to understand. You pay taxes and in exchange you get healthcare.

            • Rob in CT

              Obviously the key to “would Bernie’s plan be better for me financially” is the net of tax increases minus current premium, deductible, copay, and coinsurance outlays.

              How that nets out for a given individual or family depends on the details. I tried to sketch out how it would end up for my family and ended up deciding it was a net loss for us but how much of a loss is hard to pin down. In theory if you get rid of the tax deduction for employer-provided healthcare, wages should rise so an employee should recoup some of the money the employer is currently spending on insurance premiums (some b/c the company will at least keep the $ it’s no longer getting in tax savings). Add in one’s own (discounted b/c no longer tax deductible) direct premium payments, and there should be a significant income boost (which would be, of course, taxed at a higher rate than current rates). Sanders also proposes a free at point of service system – no deductibles/copays/coinsurance.

              [note that this assumes his numbers actually balance and I’m not at all sure they do – I think there is a strong case to be made that switching to a single-payer system will reduce costs but I think it’s equally true that those costs would be realized over time, not instantly]

              Now, “what’s in it for MEEEE!” is not actually my primary concern. It’s more about talking to other people similarly situated. People who have a decent deal now are easily scared.

  • sharonT

    Free Bob Avakian!

    OK, someone had to post it, and it might as well be me.

    • rea

      Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to pay to purchase him.

      • Hogan

        BOB AVAKIAN ISN’T FOR SALE

        Which is just as well.

  • My assumption is that Chait is implicitly agreeing with Andrew Sullivan’s recent claims that BLM and campus activism amount to “neo-Marxism”, “leftist intolerance”, etc. Other than their partisan background, there’s not much air between the two of them on subjects including, but not limited to, angry black people, angry young people, and teacher’s unions (they’re all Stalinist).

  • cppb

    So in summary, Chait is persistently bothered – haunted, one might say – by the spectre of socialism?

    I’ll see myself out.

  • Rob in CT

    So what you’re saying is that Chait needs a safe space…

  • politicalfootball

    Chait is really impressively incoherent. Here he is literally saying that Internet trolling is a great way to sway minds:

    The point is, as a simple matter of political arithmetic, they understood that provoking protests against their right to express themselves would add to, rather than subtract from, their base of support.

    It seems, Chait tells us, that “Cis” provoked liberals to unwisely say that Trump supporters shouldn’t speak. How did he do this? Per Chait:

    He fanned the flames by sending outlandish messages to left-leaning forums demanding they stop talking about r/The_Donald, which of course had the opposite effect.”

    So a Trump supporter wins by telling liberals not to speak, because it provokes them to tell Trump supporters not to speak, as Chait explains here:

    By provoking opponents to protest against his right to express himself, he attracted to his side people who were not originally inclined to support the substance of his opinion.

    Heads, Trump wins, tails liberals lose.

    I would like to suggest, without any irony whatsoever, that Chait needs to shut the fuck up.

  • pseudalicious

    Anything to the left of him is not a position, it’s a crisis.

    Great sentence.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Come to think of it, maybe those leftists were mean to him in college because he was being a weiner.

  • sean_p

    I’ve been reading these “OMG The Marxists are calling from INSIDE THE HOUSE” columns from Chait, and wondering where on earth this was coming from. I’m glad to see some commentary on this, which has gone mostly unremarked elsewhere.

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