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Voting as a Self-Affirming Consumer Choice, An Ongoing Series

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Three guesses as to who published an essay with this punchline, and the first two don’t count:

In a truly democratic system, we’d have more competent, diverse candidates. Voting no longer provides me the indulgence and satisfaction it once did. I feel it does more harm than good with our current political climate. If I vote for Clinton as a rejection of Trump, or vote for Sanders to dodge a Clinton vote, what duty am I actually performing? When I vote for a president I don’t support, I support a flawed political system. I refuse that system.

I suppose this is all self-refuting, but:

  • Just as I wish more people on the right endorsed the idea that vanity candidates were the optimal way of bully pulpiting the Overton Window on steroids, I wish more people on the right believed that not voting was a threat to the system and didn’t put so much effort into things like Shelby County, vote suppression efforts, and so on. Unfortunately, in this respect movement conservatives generally know what they’re doing.
  • I can understand preferring an electoral system that incentivizes multiple parties over one that incentivizes a two-party system. I do not understand the assumption that putting together coalitions ex ante rather than ex post is somehow antidemocratic.
  • On a related point, putting together coalitions ex post doesn’t in any meaningful sense solve the “lesser evil” problem. You might be able to vote for a candidate closer to your preferences, but to accomplish anything they would still have to formally or informally collaborate with the Lieberman For Connecticut For America Party. Adding an additional step to the process of coalition formation doesn’t somehow give you cleaner hands, although if you’re the kind of person who thinks that shopping at thrift stores is striking a major blow on behalf of Bangladeshi textile workers you might like to pretend otherwise.
  • The idea that not voting brings us closer to an electoral system in which you always get to vote for a viable candidate who agrees with all of your views is…missing many causal links. On the other hand, progressives not voting leads to horrible material consequences for many people.

I’ll outsource the rest to Schoenkopf.

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  • brad

    Snowflakes gonna flake.

  • rea

    “winning the popular vote” at a caucus is a strange way to put it.

  • Dilan Esper

    Voters don’t “put together coalitions” at all. Politicians do that. Voters just decide whether to buy the particular brand of dog food the system offers them.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Voters don’t “put together coalitions” at all

      Well, certainly the zero people who have ever argued that are wrong.

    • Greg

      But they can choose whether or not to join them. If you don’t like that accessing and using of the machinery of government requires you to eat dog food, your beef isn’t with the politicians, or even the political structure. It’s with all the people who don’t agree with you, but are still allowed to vote.

  • Bootsie

    If I vote for Clinton as a rejection of Trump, or vote for Sanders to dodge a Clinton vote, what duty am I actually performing?

    I dunno, “rejecting fascism” seems like an important and morally good duty to perform.

    • Keaaukane

      Even if it’s liberal fascism? Cuz I thought the author was Jonah Goldberg.

  • JG

    The clincher of the Wonkette article is great:

    Danielle Corcione would like to move to Narnia, so she can vote for Aslan, who is Jesus and stands up for Palestinians the right way instead of only doing it recently.

    • wjts

      Aslan is a neo-liberal sellout, and basically a Calormene with slightly more palatable domestic policies. I’m sick of these NINO* candidates – if Debbie Wasserman-Pevensie and other CPLC** hacks are going to make sure Real True Narnians like myself can’t vote for a legitimately progressive candidate like the Emperor-over-the-sea, then we should heighten the contradictions by either staying in our wigwams in the marsh or – better still – voting Jadis/Shift. Maybe then those stupid talking beavers will realize what’s good for them.

      *Narnian in Name Only
      **Cair Paravel Leadership Council

      • Karen24

        I want to buy and you and this comment a drink, and the favorite meal of your choice. In fact, based on this comment alone and my love of it, I am now obligated to help you move, even on a hot day.

        • sharculese

          I want to feed this comment all the Turkish Delight it wants.

          • tsam

            I want to roll this comment up and smoke it.

        • wjts

          Dang it. Moving day was a week-and-a-half ago. (It snowed.)

      • In Narnia, the richest kingdom in the world, only the 1% can afford magical healing ointments. Hard-working marsh-wiggles who burned their feet in defense of our kingdom have to order their magical healing ointments from Archenland — ointment that was made in Narnia in the first place! That’s why we need universal health care like our friends in Archenland.

        • wjts

          If Caspian X had devoted even a quarter of the energy to healthcare reform that he did to finding his dad’s missing pals, we’d have had single-payer ages ago. But so long as he was in the pocket of Dr. Cornelius that was never going to happen, and King Rilian didn’t even try.

  • Shygetz

    I do not understand the assumption that putting together coalitions ex ante rather than ex post is somehow antidemocratic.

    I guess the argument would go something like: given the largely centralized control of resources in the ex ante coalition, ex ante coalitions are incapable of the fluid movement of factions within the coalition that ex post coalitions are, requiring a granularity and stagnation in coalitions that do not reflect the will of the voters who elected the factions within the coalition.

    Then again, the Salon author’s overall argument is dumb–I have no idea where it comes from.

    • DAS

      I’d say ex post coalitions are better at reflecting specific aspects of the will of the voters who elected the factions within the coalition. Supposing we had a multi-party system and the Democratic Party was able to assemble a coalition with the Christian Democratic Party and the Socialist Party. The coalition would make everyone in the coalition happy enough in terms of economic policy (reasonable safety net and what not) but neither the Democrats nor the Socialists would be happy with the coalition’s lack of a coherent social policy (because the Christian Democrats would oppose the Socialists and Democrats on this). And similar issues would happen with other coalitions.

      At least with an ex ante coalition, since the coalition doesn’t know a priori which parts of the coalition are most important to its electoral success and by the time it knows which parts of the coalition it needs, there is that “granularity and stagnation” in the coalition, the ex ante coalition, for example, that is the Democratic Party would be sure to at least pay lip service to both social and economic liberalism.

  • I’ve never gotten an indulgence when I voted. I must have been asking the wrong pope.

    • Usually, I’m just happy to get out of the line and go on with my day.

      But then consumerism never made me feel warm and fuzzy generally.

      • I thought it felt fucking awesome to vote for the first black president.

        That isn’t why I chose him, but it was a nice little cherry on top. I can imagine a lot of people, in both 2008 and 2016, whose decision was heavily driven by the desire to get that hit of affirmation.

        • Hogan

          And like me, you’re old enough to realize you’re not going to get (nor are you entitled to get) that feeling every time.

          • I’m also old enough to realize that that feeling isn’t particularly important, and that consumerist self-affirmation isn’t a good reason to make a political choice anyway.

            But, yes, it was nice.

            • tsam

              It was less a self-affirmation for me than a feeling of leaving something good behind for my daughters. That’s been my thing since they were born.

        • I thought it felt fucking awesome to vote for the first black president.

          Sure did. And it was awesome that he was my clear preference.

          Actually, in general, when I vote, I like to think of all the people who struggled so hard to get the vote. I reflect upon those still without that right or for whom the right is precarious.

          I like the fact that by and large when I vote, I vote for people voting (among other things).

          That’s where I get my fundamental joy about voting.

          Solidarity is beautiful.

          • ChrisTS

            Perfectly stated, Bijan.

          • Ronan

            And it’s equally true that a lot of people refusing to vote are also doing it in the context of all those people who refused to vote on principle, in the past. And for all those they see excluded from contemporary politics.* Solidarity, for them, is also beautiful .

            *usual addendum that I always vote, the above isn’t a strategically sensible position etc

            • And it’s equally true that a lot of people refusing to vote are also doing it in the context of all those people who refused to vote on principle,

              Nope.

              And for all those they see excluded from contemporary politics.*

              Nope.

              Solidarity, for them, is also beautiful .

              People don’t, in the typical case (in any case?!), die so as not to vote.

              There just isn’t any symmetry beyond a facile structural one.

              I’m not sure why you would mock this in this way.

              • Ronan

                they do. I’ve known people who refuse to vote because they came from traditions that didn’t recognise the state’s legitimacy. We had a commenter here who was reluctant because of US foreign policy and the religious community he grew up in. I’m surprised this is controversial.
                For many it’s Another form of solidarity

                • they do. I’ve known people who refuse to vote because they came from traditions that didn’t recognise the state’s legitimacy.

                  What traditions?

                  We had a commenter here who was reluctant because of US foreign policy and the religious community he grew up in.

                  Sorry, who?

                  I’m surprised this is controversial.

                  Meh.

                  For many it’s Another form of solidarity

                  With whom?

                  And how is this even pertinent. We’re talking about people who refuse to vote because voting didn’t make them personally satisfied because they didn’t like the candidate. That’s not any sort of generalised I won’t vote because of a non-voting movement. (I mean, who? I’m generally curious. Thoreau comes to mind, but he’s just ‘clean hands’.)

                • Ronan

                  (1) my experience is old republicans(in the irish sense) also some anarchists do,afaik. Jehovah witnesses
                  (2) Nick (I hope he doesn’t mind me bringing his name into it)
                  (3) I was adding an addendum to your comment (and I wasn’t mocking Fwiw). I agree it’s not overly relevant to the OP , except to say the OPs “type” is not the only one

                • Ronan

                  I might take back “a lot”, though

                • djw

                  I might take back “a lot”, though

                  Probably wise.

                • I was wondering why I found it so irritating, Ronan. Part of it is that I was speaking for myself where as you spoke for others, clearly exaggerated your numbers. Plus, I spoke to explain how I feel about voting. It coudk potentially be read as a critique of those without a thrill of voting, but I mean pt it originally as positive. Ie here!s a reason to vote. You popping up with an under specified mirror image just feels contrarian.

                  So it made me rather grouchy.

                  I also get grouchy because the struggles of people to vote in spite of systematic violence against seems to dwarf struggles of non voters not to vote. Both in scale and severity. There are clearly have been places where voting was coerced or pointless (one party non secret ballot). But not casting a vote in a competitive secret ballot election isn’t an act of solidarity with most of those people. They wanted a real vote.

      • nixnutz

        The part I particularly like is seeing the folks volunteering to work the polls. Lots of African-American retirees, Muslim women in headscarves, it’s a good mix, like the post office if everyone was happy to be there.

        • I used to be a poll worker.

          I recommend it to everyone. It puts things in perspective, reminds you of what is really important.

          • INDEED!

          • Karen24

            My husband and I were election judges in the 90’s. I highly recommend it. (We once worked at a school board election. 12 hours on a Saturday to get 58 voters. In the runoff there were four. Four voters. All day.)

            • ChrisTS

              I’m not sure the parenthetical is going to persuade many people to volunteer. :-)

          • Captain Haddock

            It puts things in perspective, reminds you of what is really important.

            Namely, vote by mail.

    • John Selmer Dix

      To keep this religious analogy going, this line of thinking always struck me as very… protestant? Who gives a shit about the cleanliness of your soul? People who are “2Left2Vote” are usually the same people role-playing 1848 in their heads, but they don’t want to get their hands dirty by pressing a button on an (admittedly filthy) screen in a public library???

      • I guess? It’s so far from my idea of why one votes she may as well have written that she no longer gets chocolate flavored sunshine from voting.

        (Except I couldn’t have made a fantastic pun about indulgences.)

  • Murc

    You might be able to vote for a candidate closer to your preferences, but to accomplish anything they would still have to formally or informally collaborate with the Lieberman For Connecticut For America Party.

    I think the assumption is that those people will collaborate on the good stuff and refuse to collaborate on the bad stuff, as opposed to what we have now, where you have to fully reject or fully embrace the douchebag members of their own caucus.

    The problem there is that these days a lot of stuff is bundled together in big important must-pass bills, precisely to avoid that kind of highly individualized horse-trading. It’s why we pass budget bills as big huge things instead of a million small things, because that reduces the chances of people being able to say “no, I’ll only vote for the specific parts I want.”

    Having said that…

    It seems like for a lot of people, not affirmatively voting for people they consider, well, evil is actually very, very important. And it seems like that’s been important to a lot of people for a very long time; this isn’t a recent phenomenon.

    It might be a good idea to see how to work with that need rather than against it. It might be something that can just be ignored, but if it isn’t, accommodation would seem to be in order.

    • Shygetz

      Hear, hear.

    • Ahenobarbus

      It seems like for a lot of people, not affirmatively voting for people they consider, well, evil is actually very, very important.

      I understand this. I’d struggle to vote for someone I thought was evil, even if he or she were the lesser of two. But I tend to take to have a narrow definition of “evil.” Neither Clinton nor Sanders is evil.

      So maybe the problem is just that some people consider anything other than their ideal choice as evil.

      • Rob in CT

        Yes. The issue here is stretching “evil” way past anything remotely reasonable.

        • Jay B

          That’s right. Hillary is evil because of her husband’s crime bill (which Bernie voted for because of entirely right reasons because they were different), the Iraq vote, because she gave speeches for money at banks and, let’s face it, Benghazi — which was a result of her “hawkish” stance on Libya as SoS, a position at which I thought she was largely successful.

          I don’t support any of those things and her Iraq vote was particularly awful, as was Kerry’s and everyone else’s. I didn’t support the intervention in Libya and honestly didn’t believe in the crisis as it was being spun. But we are already out on the margins of “evil”, since it could have been, in fact, a necessity, lest thousands be massacred. The money, while unseemly, is so baked into our bullshit system, I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted — especially after the Republicans went out of their way to punish them and their friends financially with endless bullshit and impeachment proceedings. Her vote on Iraq didn’t and wouldn’t have changed a thing no matter how she voted.

          So tin-eared, for sure. Even actively negative on some counts. And maybe I’m rationalizing it all away. But at the same time, I’ll take Cruz at his word and the choice becomes a moral imperative. The Democratic nominee. I honestly don’t even believe the argument otherwise.

          • leftwingfox

            Absolutely.

          • RPorrofatto

            Exactly. I will never understand this willful ignorance of the meaning of political power and the consequences of giving it to the worst possible people. This isn’t about not voting for someone you dislike or disagree with, or who isn’t the unicorn of your dreams. In my fantasy world, I expect that even the most dim-witted concept of self-interest would cause any self-described Democrat to vote to deny a Reagan, Bush, Cruz or Trump the power to enrich their wealthy constituency, immiserate the poor, and maybe even cause the deaths of millions. That’s the only “anyone but” that counts.

            As an old fart, I can attest that you don’t necessarily pull the lever for a Mondale or Dukakis with enthusiasm, especially when it’s doomed to failure from the outset. But this election isn’t anything like those. Do these Salon writers live in a cave?

          • Hob

            There’s a young dude at my job who, as far as I can tell, considers himself a Libertarian (with the corresponding degree of denial about what lack of social services means for people who don’t have such nice jobs), is a genuinely fierce gay rights activist, is not (I think) a pacifist. And the last time someone mentioned Obama, his entire opinion on the subject was: “He’s a warmonger— fuck him!”
            I’m not sure if he’s ever voted, because no candidate can be pure enough.

            Yet he has contributed his support, to the point of appearing in TV commercials, for a Republican Congressional campaign— because the candidate was someone he knew, and even though they’re part of a movement that stands 1000% for all the evils he hates, he knows they’re not a bad person, it’s just politics.

        • JMP

          Yeah, the problem is that people say they won’t vote for anyone “evil” but use “evil” as if it meant “less than 100% perfect”.

    • so-in-so

      Also, the end of earmarks in Congress limited the trade-offs possible. That “bridge to nowhere” might be a waste of money, but if it got support for something really worthwhile from a recalcitrant fellow Congress critter; maybe it was money well spent.

      • DAS

        It’s interesting how we as a society were upset about a “waste of money” “bridge to nowhere” when that spending was necessary to get something important done, but we are A-OK with investors being paid profits, which also skims away money (if there were no profits to be paid, workers could be paid more or the product could be cheaper) that is effectively wasted because investors making a profit is necessary to get the capital needed to get something done.

        I know economists use the term “inefficiency” differently, but from my point of view as a biophysical chemist, both spending money on a bridge to no-where and paying out profits are inefficiencies (less than 100% conversion to useful work out for the energy — money — spent). And the second law tells us that you can’t actually have something happen without inefficiencies.

    • xq

      It might be a good idea to see how to work with that need rather than against it. It might be something that can just be ignored, but if it isn’t, accommodation would seem to be in order.

      I think there’s a trade-off in that if you design a system to appeal to high-information voters who know exactly what they want, you reduce clarity for low-information voters who need to decide which of the Clinton party, the Sanders party, the Lieberman party, all of whom have fairly similar messages on many things, best represent their views. The primary system seems like a pretty good compromise here–if you’re a Democrat but think Clinton is evil, you have an opportunity to defeat her in the primary. It’s not impossible, Sanders almost did it.

      • shah8

        At the end of the day, Sanders is the protest vote, a chance to vote no on Clinton, and not that much more. That he has gotten traction doesn’t really matter much, because at the end Sanders was never expected to win.

        What needs much more discussion is the primary system. Currently, the Democratic Party basically chokes off any serious contenders to preferred candidates now in a way that wasn’t really true ten to twenty years ago. The sheer mobbed up nature of Rahm’s reelection victory is an illustrative point. Or the congested system of the California Democratic Party. This anti-competitive shit’s gotta end–but the main way to do that is to somehow get the Republicans to stop being evil.

        • Goobergunch

          In California particularly we need to repeal top-two — the party’s got a good reason to want to avoid having lots of people on the primary ballot since it’s a recipe for having Republican vs Republican in the general election.

          • shah8

            hmph, hadn’t thought of that, yes…

    • Scott Lemieux

      I think the assumption is that those people will collaborate on the good stuff and refuse to collaborate on the bad stuff

      Except, of course, this cuts both ways. If you won’t support your coalition partners on their priorities why are they going to support yours?

      • Murc

        Didn’t say it was a good assumption. But, and this is just me, some people still seem to have a very… I’m not even sure what to call it. A view of politics where every piece of legislation is a very simple isolated thing limited in either scope or effect, and legislators all carefully stroke their chins before considering it, voting how they’re gonna vote, and then banishing it from their memory before moving onto the next piece of legislation.

        And it doesn’t work like that. It never has, really. Log-rolling is a thing, and a necessary thing.

        • efgoldman

          Log-rolling is a thing, and a necessary thing.

          Well, it’s one of those “norms” (like confirmation votes) that half of the system, the Republiklown RWNJ TeaHadis, now rejects. Takes two… etc.

          • Murc

            Part of the “problem” as it were is the easy accessibility of information these days. It’s very easy to see exactly what people voted for and when, which is fine, but part of our national mythology is that things like log-rolling are a form of corruption and ethically dubious even at best.

            So it is actually damn near impossible to say “Yes, I voted for that thing. It was dogshit. I did it to secure other peoples votes for this other thing that is awesome.” Because to a non-trivial number of people, what you just did is announce you’re corrupt.

            • so-in-so

              In other words, people don’t really understand the concept of Compromise. At least, that it might apply across multiple bills, not being applied only to a single piece of legislation.

              • cleek

                “compromise” is a dirty word. it’s what neo-[whatever] sellouts do in order to placate their real masters while subverting the Will Of The People on this, the most important issue of our time!

                getting 90% of a loaf is a sign of weakness and an invitation to a primary challenge.

            • sonamib

              In Belgium, we solved this problem by having the coalition partners sign an agreement that laying out their governing plan in quite a lot of detail. This does mean that coalition negotiations take months at best, but it’s a good thing to have an explicit compromise where people can see the trade-offs.

              Of course, some people do get mad that their party didn’t get every thing they wanted out of the agreement.

              • Murc

                Didn’t you guys recently just straight-up not have a government for like a year and a half?

                • sonamib

                  Indeed. Because the people demanded a change in the Constitution before any government could be formed. Changing the Constitution requires a 2/3 majority (plus a majority in both the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking caucuses), so it took a while to get everyone on board.

                  But hilariously, being without a government wasn’t all bad. The previous government continued governing in “current affairs”, which basically means maintaining the status quo. Because of that, Belgium was one of the last European countries to embrace austerity (it came on December 2011).

    • tsam

      Right–there’s a huge difference between being a craven asshole like HRC, and being plainly evil like every Republican I can think of. Conflating Clinton and the GOP buttholes is either being criminally uninformed or willfully ignorant and disingenuous.

  • Davis

    The Immortal TBogg:

    The Democrats don’t deserve my vote. They aren’t helping the left, why should the left help them?

    Let me see if I can explain it this way:

    Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie Baking Apple-cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar.

    You don’t live there.

    Grow the fuck up.

    • Gee Suss

      I have this bookmarked for September. I have some friends that are Bernie supporters who are demonizing Hillary and I hope, post-nomination, they grudgingly support her. If not I will be pushing them hard through flattery and then mockery.

    • lahtiji

      Your lack of inclusion of kittens reveals you as the monster you are.

      “the Fluffy Bunny Bund”

      This, however…

    • Murc

      To be fair, many liberals view leftists as merely being unreliable allies, but many leftists view liberals as actually being the enemy. And it’s hard to say they’re completely unjustified in that view, given the eagerness of many liberals (Chait, I’m looking in your direction!) to immediately become agitated and “very concerned” whenever the left starts getting feisty.

      I think it is important to understand that, because in that context what you’re doing is asking someone to support not just a candidate they consider “not ideal” but a candidate they actually consider opposed to them. They might be wrong in their evaluation of the situation, but from their perspective that’s what you are doing.

      And that’s a very big ask to make of anyone. It takes a lot of persuasion. It would be like asking me to support a Republican. Hypothetically possible? Sure. But they’d have to make a hell of a case.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        my take is that an unreliable ally is not *that* much better than an outright enemy. Makes me glad I only comment on blogs and not actually run for office, so that I don’t feel pressured to put time and trouble into working on people who are forever reminding me how willing they are to stomp off in a huff, because *principles*

      • To be fair, many liberals view leftists as merely being unreliable allies, but many leftists view liberals as actually being the enemy.

        Really? In any serious numbers? In these days?

        And it’s hard to say they’re completely unjustified in that view, given the eagerness of many liberals (Chait, I’m looking in your direction!) to immediately become agitated and “very concerned” whenever the left starts getting feisty.

        Eh.

        I think it is important to understand that,

        I hate to say this but this sounds rather like a cleaned up version of Dilan’s “priors”.

        because in that context what you’re doing is asking someone to support not just a candidate they consider “not ideal” but a candidate they actually consider opposed to them. They might be wrong in their evaluation of the situation, but from their perspective that’s what you are doing.

        This seems to be so vanishing few people as to be uninteresting. Is there *any* data on this?

        By which I mean, people who have a formed ideology by which liberalism is, in fact, essentially opposed to a recognisably left ideology. Can I get some examples?

        And that’s a very big ask to make of anyone. It takes a lot of persuasion. It would be like asking me to support a Republican. Hypothetically possible? Sure. But they’d have to make a hell of a case.

        Except this just ignores all the strategic logic. One is always voting for someone over someone else, in these cases. You’re telling me that you’d have qualms for voting for a self-identified, “Lincoln/Rockefeller Republican” over David Duke? Just because the former is a Republican?

        No one has articulated or even pointed to a specifically left ideology that this abstract description is true of that doesn’t reduce to:

        1) Mistaken evaluation of the outcomes (Democrats and Republicans are EXACTLY THE SAME)
        2) Crazy theories of political strategy (heighten the contradictions or losing forces Dems to the left)
        3) Clean hands narcissism.

        None of these are particularly left (we see all three on the right).

        So, please, point me to some of these leftists. Where I can read about this leftism?

        (Compare with the tussle between radical feminism and liberal feminism. Radical feminism often had some (often sophisticated) variant of 1-3 plus, esp. if separatist, a fatalism about large scale change (or, a theory of embryonic change…i.e., large scale change couldn’t happen without concrete work to build at least tiny examples of patriarchy free space, which sometimes is a species of poor political strategy and sometimes a strategy for personal and small group development).

        My take is that that’s all largely resolved for broadly liberal feminism. Radical feminism isn’t a very powerful force in feminism any more (afaict), partly due to internal problems (e.g., with racism and transphobia) and partly due to not building a broader political movement. Separatism is still theoretically interesting and informed the concept of safe spaces.)

        • ChrisTS

          Except this just ignores all the strategic logic. One is always voting for someone over someone else, in these cases.

          Bingo. I am thrilled when I can really get behind a candidate, but I don’t expect that experience all the time. Perhaps we should be sad about it, but it remains true that most often it is the person we absolutely reject who dominates our thinking.

          I actually think it is dangerous to believe that one must be wildly enthused about a candidate. It both leads us to develop an enthusiasm that might not be merited and to demonize others.

        • Joseph Slater

          Very well put, Bijan.

        • Murc

          Really? In any serious numbers? In these days?

          Dunno. I’ve met a lot of them, but I also meet a lot of people who are really seriously into the painting of scale-model miniatures, and that isn’t precisely what you’d call a giant voting bloc either. I don’t know the data on whether or not there’s enough of them to represent what you’d call “serious numbers.”

          This seems to be so vanishing few people as to be uninteresting.

          Possibly. I can just say that I, personally, have met a fair number of self-described independents who regard modern liberalism as either a potential or an actual enemy. I don’t know what their national numbers are like.

          You’re telling me that you’d have qualms for voting for a self-identified, “Lincoln/Rockefeller Republican” over David Duke?

          Is this hypothetical Republican actually a Republican in the tradition of Rockefeller and Lincoln, or is that a convenient label for them? Will they refuse to endorse the racism and neofeudalism of most other Republicans? Are they going to vote for Mitch McConnell/Paul Ryan for important congressional leadership positions? What’s their actual voting record like? Can you prove their “not a monster” bona fides?

          Because I’d need to know all that stuff, not merely that they’re “not David Duke.” Who, frankly, is 100% within the mainstream of the Republican Party; his only sin is saying the quiet parts loud.

          This is part of what would make it a really big ask.

          1) Mistaken evaluation of the outcomes (Democrats and Republicans are EXACTLY THE SAME)

          It’s possible to hold to a political viewpoint that doesn’t posit that Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same, but also says Democrats are “bad” and Republicans are “worse.”

          This isn’t necessarily right, but it can be coherent.

          So, please, point me to some of these leftists. Where I can read about this leftism?

          Off the top of my head? There’s wsws.org, which I used to read back in the day. (Steven Brust wrote for them occasionally and linked to them often from his literary blog.)

          Googling “socialist political blogs” or “radical leftist political writers” also turns up a bunch of stuff.

          More to the point, though, there do seem to be a non-trivial number of people for whom the Democratic Party and liberals in general are just… regarded as being “not of their tribe.” And when you ask people to throw their support to people they view themselves as being opposed to, that’s often a big ask.

          • NeonTrotsky

            Yeah, I’ve collaborated with some local environmental groups and other small groups that are remnants of occupy and the anti iraq war movement and there’s a pretty hostile atmosphere towards the Democratic party. But this is a group of maybe 30 people among a city of tens of thousands, so I’m not sure this is really a big group of people we’re talking about at all.

            • LeeEsq

              What amounted to the Further Left in the United States never really saw itself as part of the Democratic Party or really any party the way that Far Right saw itself as part of the Republican Party since the New Deal. The Far Right felt alienated during the 1940s and 1950s but decided to work within rather than without the Republican Party. A lot of the Further Left just distained electoral politics in general and the Democratic Party in particular.

          • sonamib

            It’s possible to hold to a political viewpoint that doesn’t posit that Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same, but also says Democrats are “bad” and Republicans are “worse.”

            This isn’t necessarily right, but it can be coherent.

            That’s perfectly coherent of course. And that’s all you need to vote for Democrats over Republicans. I mean, you only have to do it once every few years, and deciding who runs your country/state/city is pretty important.

          • Possibly. I can just say that I, personally, have met a fair number of self-described independents who regard modern liberalism as either a potential or an actual enemy. I don’t know what their national numbers are like.

            You’re telling me that you’d have qualms for voting for a self-identified, “Lincoln/Rockefeller Republican” over David Duke?

            Is this hypothetical Republican actually a Republican in the tradition of Rockefeller and Lincoln, or is that a convenient label for them?

            Dunno what that means.

            Will they refuse to endorse the racism and neofeudalism of most other Republicans?

            Nope.

            Are they going to vote for Mitch McConnell/Paul Ryan for important congressional leadership positions?

            Yep.

            What’s their actual voting record like? Can you prove their “not a monster” bona fides?

            Oh they are a monster. Just not as bad as David Duke. (And not more effectual really.)

            Because I’d need to know all that stuff, not merely that they’re “not David Duke.” Who, frankly, is 100% within the mainstream of the Republican Party; his only sin is saying the quiet parts loud.

            You’re indifferent between say Bobby Jindal and David Duke? You have no preference ordering amongst Republicans? (I mean, I prefer none of them to pretty much any Democrat, but clearly some are worse than others. If you had to vote for one *out of that bunch* you wouldn’t try to pick the least noxious?)

            This is part of what would make it a really big ask.

            It’s possible to hold to a political viewpoint that doesn’t posit that Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same, but also says Democrats are “bad” and Republicans are “worse.”

            But then you should easily vote for the Democrats, without a qualm.

            This isn’t necessarily right, but it can be coherent.

            You can’t get to indifference about the outcome (hence not voting) without making them too close. Otherwise, *esp* given the actual relative gap, it’s pretty much a no brainer.

            But anyway, this destroys your thesis, which that there are “leftists” for whom Democrats are “the enemy” and that this is a basic feature of their ideology. If they think there is no significant enough difference, that either they have a fucked up ideology, or they are mistaken. I would like to see some with the fucked up ideology.

            Let’s consider a hypothetical example, a silly Marxist might really believe in the advance of history through conflict and thus the more conflict the quicker to the final end state. Thus any attempt to “patch things up” only makes things worse.

            Ugh. Even that is just stupid strategy rather than valuing the end itself.

            Hmm. Ok. I still can’t think of one. I welcome some examples.

            So, please, point me to some of these leftists. Where I can read about this leftism?

            Off the top of my head? There’s wsws.org, which I used to read back in the day. (Steven Brust wrote for them occasionally and linked to them often from his literary blog.)

            Googling “socialist political blogs” or “radical leftist political writers” also turns up a bunch of stuff.

            I’ll look, thanks. But note that there needs to be a clash of values such that liberals are really as bad or worse than Republicans. Otherwise, they aren’t examples of the phenomenon in question.

            More to the point, though, there do seem to be a non-trivial number of people for whom the Democratic Party and liberals in general are just… regarded as being “not of their tribe.”

            Er…what? This is weird. Is this the same as “the enemy”? And your tribal affiliation is worth the suffering of millions? I just have trouble with this.

            And when you ask people to throw their support to people they view themselves as being opposed to, that’s often a big ask.

            But *why* do they oppose them. What’s the *policy value* that’s motivating them? How are these leftist values?

            If the analysis is just, “Some people have a label which requires them to posture as being opposed to democrats” that’s just narcissism, right?

            • Murc

              You’re indifferent between say Bobby Jindal and David Duke?

              If you can name something Duke would want to do and would be able to do that Jindal wouldn’t and couldn’t, I would be curious.

              If you had to vote for one *out of that bunch* you wouldn’t try to pick the least noxious?

              No. I wouldn’t vote. I realize this puts me on the wrong side of a lot of people here, but there does, in fact, come a point where someone is so bad I won’t vote for them even if they’re the lesser evil.

              But then you should easily vote for the Democrats, without a qualm.

              There are a great number of people who reject this line of reasoning. They’re not necessarily correct, but they exist.

              But anyway, this destroys your thesis, which that there are “leftists” for whom Democrats are “the enemy” and that this is a basic feature of their ideology.

              … I honestly have no idea how it does. There are leftists who view the Democrats as being the party of the liberal bourgeoisie, and view the liberal bourgeoisie as an enemy that needs to be swept away in the same way that conservatives need to be.

              That’s… that’s been a thing. It was a big thing during the 60s! It isn’t a big thing now but it exists.

              If they think there is no significant enough difference, that either they have a fucked up ideology, or they are mistaken.

              Yes? I don’t disagree with either of these?

              But note that there needs to be a clash of values such that liberals are really as bad or worse than Republicans.

              No. There doesn’t. You don’t have to think the Democrats are as bad or worse than the Republicans to regard them as political foes or, at the very least, sellouts always on the verge of allying with the right.

              And your tribal affiliation is worth the suffering of millions? I just have trouble with this.

              … you have trouble with this basic fact? The Republican Party’s entire campaign strategy is based upon the fact that there are a shit-ton of people for whom their tribal affiliation is worth the suffering of millions. Tribalism is a powerful thing!

              But *why* do they oppose them. What’s the *policy value* that’s motivating them?

              Irrelevant as regards the statement “asking people to support someone they have until this point opposed is a big ask.”

              It’s not an uninteresting question. I’ve talked to a fair number of leftists who oppose the Democratic Party because they view it as defending and upholding a market economy and capitalism in general, which in their view needs to be dragged out into the street and shot, for example. But that fact is irrelevant to the fact that asking people to support someone they oppose is a big ask. That’s not true just for politics, that’s true for everything.

              • If you can name something Duke would want to do and would be able to do that Jindal wouldn’t and couldn’t, I would be curious.

                Ok, this is a bit frustrating. Just construct your favourite case of a pair of Republicans, one of which is worse than another. Jeb vs. Trump. Cruz vs. Kaisch. Whatever.

                There’s no question that 1) they will both suck and suck hard and 2) they will enable evil as they’ll support other evil Republicans in their evil.

                You basically asserted that you have no preference amongst all republicans. If you could vote in a Republican primary for an uncontested general, you wouldn’t vote.

                That is there is an articulatable significant difference between the two in terms of (let’s say) lives lost and because they are both Republican — and you don’t vote for Republicans — you wouldn’t vote, even if your vote were decisive?

                I’m just trying to be clear here.

                No. I wouldn’t vote. I realize this puts me on the wrong side of a lot of people here, but there does, in fact, come a point where someone is so bad I won’t vote for them even if they’re the lesser evil.

                Ok, yeah, I think you’re wrong. I’m glad it won’t come up.

                But then you should easily vote for the Democrats, without a qualm.

                There are a great number of people who reject this line of reasoning. They’re not necessarily correct, but they exist.

                Ok, and I see how my prior comment mislead: Yes, this is true. HA Goodman comes to mind.

                Great, but that’s different than critiques of such people don’t get that they are leftists and that explains it.

                (Dilan goes further that we shouldn’t criticise those votes.)

                I don’t dispute that all sorts of anti-responsible voting people exist. I dispute that there are respectable leftist ideologies distinct from liberalism for which it makes policy sense to prefer Republicans over Democrats.

                All non-insane cases reduce, IMHO, to the three cases I list above. If someone says that they don’t vote Democrats because Democrats support abortion for everyone while abortion restrictions asymmetrically prevent poor woman abortions and favour rich women abortions and we like killing rich foetuses and hate killing poor foetuses…well, I guess that’s a kind of left view, but I feel confident that we wouldn’t want such leftists to be lumped into a “leftists vs. liberals” since that implies some sort of representativeness.

                I trust it’s obvious why the pro-abortion-for-rich people leftist isn’t representative.

                So, I think I understand typical non-voting leftists pretty well. If they are “liberals are my enemy and I don’t support my enemy” I think they are a variant of my 1. They don’t see the difference as significant to warrant voting for Dems.

                But anyway, this destroys your thesis, which that there are “leftists” for whom Democrats are “the enemy” and that this is a basic feature of their ideology.

                … I honestly have no idea how it does. There are leftists who view the Democrats as being the party of the liberal bourgeoisie, and view the liberal bourgeoisie as an enemy that needs to be swept away in the same way that conservatives need to be.

                How does not voting for Democrats promote this goal? Except via heightening the contradictions?

                If they think there is no significant enough difference, that either they have a fucked up ideology, or they are mistaken.

                Yes? I don’t disagree with either of these?

                Oh, ok? But then such leftist are just awful people. I say this as a leftist. If your leftism is such that you don’t give a shit about the people helped by the ACA or the destruction of NOLA, etc. they you are a terrible person and a terrible leftist. I think most leftists-not-liberals have values that make Republicans much worse than Democrats (esp. today’s Republicans). So I don’t see that there’s something about “leftism” as a whole that explains why leftists don’t vote for Democrats.

                Leftists do. Mistaken or crazy or narcissistic leftists don’t.

                (Pace those who don’t vote in “safe” circumstances but would in “swing” ones.)

                But note that there needs to be a clash of values such that liberals are really as bad or worse than Republicans.

                … you have trouble with this basic fact? The Republican Party’s entire campaign strategy is based upon the fact that there are a shit-ton of people for whom their tribal affiliation is worth the suffering of millions. Tribalism is a powerful thing!

                Sure…but that’s not a left perspective, is it?

                It’s not an uninteresting question. I’ve talked to a fair number of leftists who oppose the Democratic Party because they view it as defending and upholding a market economy and capitalism in general, which in their view needs to be dragged out into the street and shot, for example. But that fact is irrelevant to the fact that asking people to support someone they oppose is a big ask. That’s not true just for politics, that’s true for everything.

                Well, I don’t view it fundamentally as an “ask”. Voting is an action we have available to us. It’s either morally obligatory or forbidden or optional (in the US it’s not legally required). You need to determine which it is. With the current Republicans, with most leftists values, it’s an easy choice, afaict. People may not realise that for a variety of reasons, but I don’t think a reasonable interpretation of “leftism” as any whole gets us there.

          • Ahuitzotl

            I also meet a lot of people who are really seriously into the painting of scale-model miniatures

            Dont kid yourself. We’ve swayed every election since Pope Julius II and the ugly thats-not-purple-thats-mauve incident.

      • njorl

        Any leftist who considers liberals to be the enemy should logically pursue 1 of three courses: 1-Try to create a leftist majority, 2-Try to overthrow the democratic order, 3-Give up because 1 and 2 are utterly impossible.

        • Ahuitzotl

          4. Support the national socialists because they’ll defeat the liberals, the enemy, for you.

    • KadeKo

      Some quotemarks or breaks to show the uninitiated which lines are Tbogg’s and which are yours would be nice. And I’ve been on-board with this since it was new.

      • Mac the Knife

        Pretty sure that whole thing after “The Immortal TBogg:” is part of the original

    • Origami Isopod

      Not as pithy or as memorable, but Tony Kushner in 2003:

      Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this… The system isn’t about ideals. The country doesn’t elect great leaders. It elects fucked-up people who for reasons of ego want to run the world. Then the citizenry makes them become great.

      • lahtiji

        Yes, thank you. I knew I had read a more forceful statement of my own opinion that politics is not a purity contest somewhere before. Nihil sub sole novum, etc.

  • D.N. Nation

    Salon sucks.

  • gmack

    On a related point, putting together coalitions ex post doesn’t in any meaningful sense solve the “lesser evil” problem. You might be able to vote for a candidate closer to your preferences, but to accomplish anything they would still have to formally or informally collaborate with the Lieberman For Connecticut For America Party.

    As it happens, I was just on a dissertation committee for a dissertation that was investigating voter behavior in PR systems. What the student found is that there is in fact a great deal of strategic voting in PR systems. Through methods I won’t be able to reconstruct here, the author showed that voters tend not to vote for parties closest to them ideologically; they tend to vote for the party that is closest to them ideologically that has the most likely chance to be the coalition leader (it also turns out that Duverger’s law is probably incorrect too: PR systems also tend to have one or two dominant parties, in much the same way FPTP systems do).

    • Murc

      Through methods I won’t be able to reconstruct here, the author showed that voters tend not to vote for parties closest to them ideologically; they tend to vote for the party that is closest to them ideologically that has the most likely chance to be the coalition leader

      That’s not the question, though, in this context, I don’t think. The question is, among the people who aren’t doing that, are there a significant number who, if their ideological choice wasn’t available, would sit out?

      And if that’s so, then the PR systems are doing their job, which is increasing voter participation and getting closer to a true ideological sampling of the populace.

      … that is their job, right? That’s why you go to the effort of having a PR system, to ensure that the elected representatives as closely reflect the views of the populace as possible?

      • sonamib

        It would be interesting to know if the voting system has any influence on turn-out. Which of the FPTP, PR, majority rules, etc. systems have the highest turn-out? I’m not sure how to find reliable information on that. Maybe Gregor Sansa can help?

    • shah8

      This is, in effect, what underclass black and [email protected] voters are doing when they’re voting for Clinton, so far as I can tell.

      • ChrisTS

        Except many AA folks really do like Clinton and think Sanders is uncomfortable with race. So, there is undoubtedly some strategizing going on, but there is also real commitment.

        • shah8

          Frankly, though, I don’t really think so. Clinton’s victories were mostly through the turnout of reliable voters who are churchgoers and voters who liked the Clinton years. The enthusiasm, as determined by getting more politically detached people to the polls, including black people, was never that high.

          Black people who are well educated and above the median income are pretty much universally against Clinton, in my experience–because we remember better what happened and we view ourselves as having the agency to be more than conservative voters (small c conservative). Also, Clinton still does pretty poorly among younger minorities–who aren’t churchgoers or remember the ’90s well.

          And in the end, this sort of “black people like Hilary” is just too…glossing over the real feelings. Rahm, for example won because of the black vote over Chuy, and frankly, there was *never* much love for Rahm among black voters. It’s just machine politics and the deep cynicism between a white-led party, favored sons/urban ward guys, and the black/latino vote that gets crumbs for their votes, for all that they are herded to the right person most of the time–sometimes through incentives, like the schemes that go on in rural Mississippi, Louisiana that was detailed by Mary Frances Berry in her book “Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich”.

          • ChrisTS

            I only have info from my friends and people online.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Black people who are well educated and above the median income are pretty much universally against Clinton

            I…am going to need to see some actual evidence for that.

            • Hmm.

              Well I found this:

              Particularly among black voters, the results weren’t even close. Clinton won more than 90 percent of black voters in Alabama and Arkansas, according to exit polling. She also won more than 80 percent in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

              Check out the granular chart in this.

              Unless blacks above the median income did’t vote in Alabama and Arkansas (or aren’t well educated), I don’t think it’s likely that this claim is true of Super Tuesday states on Super Tuesday.

              (Obviously, shah8 was referring to “in their experience”. These numbers suggest that that experience is a bit atypical.)

              • shah8

                1) I did qualify it as being in my experience, and I am only speaking from that experience because it is quite striking how monolithic the Bernie vote among the people I knew online or in person. And that makes me question the narrative–either a split along class or education or whatever among black votes–I mean, I don’t have too many friends, but they are scattered among different histories and affinities. Of course what I say has limited value as evidence, and is mostly an incentive to look at the nature of “monolithic” black vote. Why is the vote so lopsided in a Democratic Primary? And I thought about it from my own experience. If you want to believe that this sort of process is all hogwash, then all the power to ya!

                2) Bijan Parsia, I cannot friggin’ find any polls that splits out the black vote on income and education. Or even age, like I thought I could. Can you? (so perhaps relatively poorly instead of absolute pretty poorly?) The chart above is just gender.

                3) Of course, wealth affects black voting in different ways, depending on local circumstances. So wealth definitely could make you more likely to vote for Clinton.

                4) I’m also acting this way because, so much of the time, black electoral processes are just totally corrupt, essentially run by bundlers who encourages people to vote the right way–and permitted by an apathy towards any actual gains that are possible. Many, if not most of these majority black communities are desperately poor and underserved, and under some pretty firm understandings about what they can expect from the political class. If they could vote for better roads and better schools and less pollution, you’d see a lot more engagement happening, and more diversity of political opinions. So far as I’ve ever understood black politics (which wouldn’t be the best, since I’m up in Cobb County), it’s always been about catering to the needs of the white supra-power structure and competing for the dollars that said power structure gives for work in black areas of the US. Say, the recent history of Memphis with Robert Lipscomb. In state and national elections, black people have always had a defensive-minded mentality vis a vis republicans, and who has had few chances to support people they view as like-minded.

                In my mind, it’s ludicrous to say that black people support Clinton at such lopsided rates (not that I didn’t think black people didn’t *like* Clinton, but simply the size of the disparity). Such lopsided voting patterns almost certainly has to do with institutional and other broad impact factors, rather than micro-factors such as personal affinity. It’s easy to see this for Obama, of course, but if you think that the lopsided vote for John Bel Edwards is because black people actually like him or think he represents their interests, then that’s a mistake. Defensive voting all the way, ESPECIALLY in the Louisiana context. OTOH, check out Donna Edwards these days, even with substantial black political support for her rival…

              • 2) Bijan Parsia, I cannot friggin’ find any polls that splits out the black vote on income and education. Or even age, like I thought I could. Can you? (so perhaps relatively poorly instead of absolute pretty poorly?) The chart above is just gender.

                I tried and failed. What I linked to is what I found, hence my having to go with overall totals.

                But if 90% of the black vote went HRC, then either most were below median and less educated, or a substantial number of highly educated, above the median blacks voted HRC (in those states). It’s not as good as cross tabs alas.

                (SC exit polls clearly have this information, but they don’t break down the black vote by income or eduction in the presentations I’ve found.)

                Sorry!

                ETA: I found one that broke it out by age:

                http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/super-tuesday-exit-poll-black-voters-play-decisive-role-clinton-n530021

                • shah8

                  Thank you. Much appreciated, now I know how hard this is to find.

                • Ok, I give up. This is some bullshit not giving within race breakdowns.

                • You’re welcome. Sorry I couldn’t do better.

                • Crap. Stupid network giving out.

                  I also found race + eduction but it didn’t break out blacks specifically:

                  http://edition.cnn.com/election/primaries/polls/NC/Dem

                  That seems to be “the standard” exit poll format :(

                • cleek

                  CNN gives race and education breakdowns on all their exit polls

                  ex. http://www.cnn.com/election/primaries/polls/wi/Dem

                  Clinton crushes Sanders in all non-white categories.

                • shah8

                  Cleek, CNN just breaks down minorities in one category, race and education, and Sanders loses by a lot less there…

                  /me shrugs

                  need moar breakdowns.

                • djw

                  Lack of granular exit polling is really frustrating.

            • Greg

              This particular black man with a degree from Stanford is extremely pro-Hillary.

  • lahtiji

    Does Corcione want a trophy for voting?

    (Long-time lurker, first-time replier. Replicator?)

    • Hogan

      Replicant.

      ETA: Gabba gabba we accept you.

      • lahtiji

        Gabba gabba hey!

        Take THAT Daughters of the American Revolution!

  • N__B

    I’ve already got my “NYC Votes: I Voted!” sticker. Praise me. More to the point…

    Voting no longer provides me the indulgence and satisfaction it once did.

    I find that voting begins slowly, becomes more urgent as I move forward in line, and ends with me happy, tired, and sweaty. Then I smoke a cigarette.

    • keta

      “Shall we do a little voting this evening, honeybunch?”

      “Sorry, I just pulled the lever a half-hour ago.”

      • Joe_JP

        we have scanners now … you insert the ballot into the machine … the sexual metaphor works better that way, perhaps

        • keta

          Always with “the machines” with you young’uns.

          • Summon Ted Cruz, the Vibratorsmeller Pursuivant!

    • Peterr

      I thought that voting stickers in NYC would say something like “Yeah, I voted. What’s it to yah?” or “NYC Votes: I #^$%@ Voted!”

      • wjts

        “Hey! I’m votin’ here!”

        • ChrisTS

          This might be an odd interjection, but it reminded me how surprised I have been seeing some photos of people voting around the country. Some of the arrangements are so ‘un-private’ I couldn’t believe it.

          One photo showed 4 people at a round table, their machines separated only by fairly low cardboard wings. A tall person could easily look over at the next person’s machine.

          Even here in Booneyland I get a solid booth with a heavy curtain and complete privacy.

  • the Lieberman For Connecticut For America

    for Godfuck’s sake

    party

    • N__B

      Party?

      Or par-tay?

    • Uhm, his party was called “Connecticut for Lieberman” and not “Lieberman for Connecticut.”

      Ask not what Lieberman can do for you but what you can do for Lieberman!

  • keta

    I refuse to watch a sports match unless my team not only wins, but does so in an honorable fashion.

    I refuse to read a book, watch a movie, or see a play that doesn’t have a happy ending.

    I refuse to participate in any discussion that does not see me win over everyone to my viewpoint.

    I refuse to engage in any relationship with another person unless my needs are completely satisfied.

    I refuse to leave my abode unless the world and environment outside accords to my standards of how it should function.

    I refuse to…ah, hell. Just fucking shoot me, already.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      I refuse to read a book, watch a movie, or see a play that doesn’t have a happy ending.

      There are people who actually do that, you know.

      • Murc

        Yes, and they’re quite justified in doing so, because some people find tragedies to be emotionally exhausting and upsetting, so why should they subject themselves to that as part of their entertainment.

        • Origami Isopod

          Agreed. Unless it’s assigned as part of a course (insert some disclaimer here about reasonable accommodations), nobody is obliged to subject themselves to entertainment that impairs their mental health. Your leisure time is yours to do as you like with. The rest of Keta’s list is fine.

  • Casey

    I would go vote tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear.

    • wjts

      This man says, “It’s gruesome that someone so leftist should care”.

      • Matty

        I want to sit around sadly and smoke cloves with both of these comments.

  • humanoid.panda

    Let’s make things clear here: Salon (with due apologies to the front pagers who get paid by it) is losing money and shedding workers. If republicans win the election, that will do wonders to its bottom line. Is that why it publishes all of these pieces? It’s not as simple, but it is noteworthy that Salon editors and ownership are among the thin sliver of Americans that won’t lose out in case of a GOP presidency..

    • Murc

      Salon publishes these pieces because this sort of contrarianism and/or urgent inside baseball wankery is what Salon does. They’ve been doing it for years.

      They’ve also been publishing a lot of pieces about Trump voters burning the GOP down, for example. That don’t make’em in the tank for Democrats.

    • Casey

      Salon has been operating at a significant loss for years and years. They lost about 4 Million dollars last year. Over the lifetime of the business they’ve taken over 100 million dollars in cash infusions from their shareholders. They’ve never been close to turning a profit, AFAIK. According to their 10K, they actually lost more money in 2015 than they did in 2014 despite dramatically increasing traffic.

      A GOP presidency ain’t gonna change that. The maddening thing about Salon is that it’s just some rich dude’s vanity project. They’re not doing clickbait for the money — they’ve actually done a pretty crappy job monetizing the site, IMO. The only reasonable conclusion to me is they do it because their rich benefactor, John Warnock, likes seeing high traffic numbers, so he can feel like a thinkfluencer.

      • shah8

        I prefer to think of him as Johnny Warbucks…

        Is that so wrong?

  • sam

    I got both a sticker and the smug satisfaction of telling the Bernie supporter who kept trying to shove campaign materials at me while I was heading to the subway afterwards that I already voted so he was wasting his time.

    (meanwhile, the nearby Hillary supporters, who actually noticed my giant “I voted sticker, just clapped at me and said “thank you for voting!”.)

    Brooklyn may have its hipsters, but the Upper West Side will forever have its politically engaged hippies who ALL stand around in Verdi Park.

  • Richard Gadsden

    On a related point, putting together coalitions ex post doesn’t in any meaningful sense solve the “lesser evil” problem. You might be able to vote for a candidate closer to your preferences, but to accomplish anything they would still have to formally or informally collaborate with the Lieberman For Connecticut For America Party.

    But then you can punish your lefty party by voting for a different one that promises not to do that, replacing the left-party with a new one every ten years or so.

    Look at Ireland, where exactly that has been done to first the Democratic Left, then the Greens and now the Labour Party.

  • Warren Terra

    In a similar vein, there’s the cri de coeur of Alex Pareene (wasn’t he previously at Salon?) at Gawker: The Gawker Endorsement: None of Them.

    Basically, he acknowledges that no sane person can support a Republican, complains the Democrats are both too unsuccessful and too compromised … and then, presumably by assuming underpants gnomes, imagines that the Democrats losing through widespread apathy will impel the birth of a newer, more liberal, more successful Democratic party.

    • Rob in CT

      Yes, Pareene used to be at Salon.

      • D.N. Nation

        I want to like Pareene more than his work allows me to, alas. Pieces like this are indefensible. At least the Hack List was aces. And at least Hulk Hogan will drop a leg on him, or something.

        My favorite Pareene moment was when he wrote a (theoretically correct, mind you) piece at Salon bashing Atlanta sports teams for moving to new stadiums. One of his big bits was that the Braves and the Falcons were saying screw you to African-American fans and leaving for the ‘burbs. This was true for the Braves. For the Falcons? Their new stadium is *literally across the block* from the old one. I informed him of this slightly important fact but received nary a response, and the piece went sans correction.

        Salon sucks.

    • tsam

      Well if Gawker says so, that’s good enough for me.

    • xq

      He seems to be saying (probably not with 100% seriousness) not to vote in the primary, which is a very different argument than not to vote in the general.

    • Scott Lemieux

      In fairness, I think this is sort of the political equivalent of Magary’s “why your team sucks” previews. It’s pretty clearly not meant as a literal call to not vote.

  • libarbarian

    Yeah, it’s like with charity. You are just contributing to sustaining a system that causes people to need charity to begin with.

    This person has gone full Objectivist!

    • ChrisTS

      Ugh. One of my seminar students was saying he agreed with Sanders that we should not need to be charitable, because the government should take care of all that. I said I agreed with the end game but wondered what we should do in the meantime when so many people do not get the help they desperately need.

      • ChrisTS

        I should note that this is also my husband’s refrain regarding charity. I won’t project on to Senator Sanders or my student (who is a good guy), but I know my husband. In his case, this is just a cheap, faux-Marxist, self-serving get out of jail card.

      • Joe_JP

        hard to see how the government is going to totally replace charity in every case even in a social paradise anyways

        Sanders Revolution parody … “charitable” isn’t even a word any more!

        • so-in-so

          This is the reverse of the GOP position, where all of the social safety net should be charity – like that ever happened long term.

        • ChrisTS

          Actually, our conversation started when they were talking about the elimination of ‘thank you’ in Skinner’s Walden 2.

      • Rob in CT

        I’d prefer that, frankly, but I recognize it for what it is: I don’t want to deal with it (donating to charity) and would rather bundle it with taxes and be done.

        • ChrisTS

          Some thoughts I have had about this:

          1) I’m not sure I trust my judgment as to where my support should be given (either cause or charitable organization). CharityWatch is good on some issues.

          2) I cannot determine whether governmental agencies or private charities have better records for effectiveness.

          I think the state should provide solid basics for all, but I do like selecting some favorite causes and making a personal donation.

  • Rob in CT

    I’ve got a friend. A self-styled socialist. To my knowledge, he never votes. The last time we argued about it was probably 2008, and his argument was a slightly more high-falutin’ version of “don’t vote, it just encourages them” (system is irredeemably corrupt, voting is consent, you should withhold your consent).

    Like lots of people, he’s smart and knowledgeable within his field. But his political analysis is just wacked. His wife (a fellow fairly standard-issue New England liberal) and I, arguing in tandem, couldn’t budge him. I gave up. Doesn’t matter anyway most of the time (they’re NY residents now).

    The difference between my friend and these people Scott keeps arguing with is that my friend isn’t publishing ridiculous political arguments online.

    • Cheerful

      I’ve noticed in arguments that like that, that there’s a whole lot of “you’re not the boss of me” that goes on – an assertion of power by withholding a vote despite others’ begging and pleading.

      But then a lot of politics is simple psychology on a grand social scale.

    • “Voting is consent” is such a ridiculous trope I can barely deal with it. Governments rely on the consent of the governed even if they are not democratic. The consent of the governed comes from obeying laws, paying taxes, using government services, and not rising in armed rebellion.

      By the time you’re considering voting, you’re already on the boat. Voting is for deciding where the boat goes, not whether you want to stay on it.

      • Origami Isopod

        Yes, this.

        “Voting is consent” reminds me of “Well, I never agreed to that ‘social contract,'” said by libertarians who drive on public roads, frequently went to public schools, and benefit from the commonweal in myriad other ways.

  • libarbarian

    Also, what the fuck is the “lesser evil problem”?


    Choosing the best of imperfect options isn’t a fucking “problem”: It’s a permanent life condition.

    Welcome to the Real World, Jackass!

    • ChrisTS

      That was great. Thanks.

  • LeeEsq

    Seeing voting as an individual consumer choice might just be inevitable in a highly individualized, atomicized society. When people are more likely to see themselves as part of a big community like Catholics, blue collar job holders, or Wall Street guys than they are more likely to vote in accordance with their group’s political preferences. When you see yourself as an individual first and foremost than voting becomes all about you and what you stand for as a unique individual.

  • Origami Isopod

    Lovely, the author is dismissing anyone who contacts her to disagree with her as mansplainers.

    • LeeEsq

      We will send you your membership card in the mail. ;).

    • MyNameIsZweig

      My god, she really is a special little snowflake, isn’t she?

    • I suppose writing an essay to be published on a widely-read website in exchange for money is a kind of “personal decision”.

    • Ahuitzotl

      this has been part #124351351 in why Twitter is both useless and evil

  • SamInMpls

    No. Not anyone. Just men of the internet. They (preferred pronoun) is “all about” sharing their work and is interested in feedback.

    • Origami Isopod

      Thanks for the pronoun correction.

      Their Twitter feed is not a marvel of clarity, I have to say. It looks like their main interest is in drumming up hits for their website. Which I guess doesn’t surprise me.

      • SamInMpls

        Not meant as a correction. Necessary for clarity.

        • Origami Isopod

          Either way it’s fine; I appreciate knowing a person’s pronouns.

  • wengler

    These posts have gotten more annoying than the Nader ones.

  • Brett

    You tricked me. I thought I was getting some more HA!Badman! goodness.

  • MDrew

    The idea that not voting brings us closer to an electoral system in which you always get to vote for a viable candidate who agrees with all of your views is…missing many causal links. On the other hand, progressives not voting leads to horrible material consequences for many people.

    So, we’re talking about general elections here, yes? Because it seems to me that voting in major-party primaries is something that affirmatively supports a two-party dominated system, and that withholding that vote, applying it outside of those parties, and using your energy to build structures outside of the major parties is what can lead to there being options (viable or not) to allow you to vote for people let’s say all of whose positions you can stomach.

    But that requires us to grant an important ethical difference between “not voting” and “not voting for a viable candidate.” Do we grant that? In primaries? In general elections? If we grant the validity of desiring options outside the major parties, is a primary vote for Jill Stein okay? Is a general election vote for Jill Stein okay? But isn’t that just he same as not voting? From an outcome perspective it is, isn’t it? In any given year? It only matters to the extent we care about seeing third parties or independent structures slowly, slowly grow and place a bit more pressure on major parties over time.

    I guess I’m not really clear what the equities being considered in this post are.

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