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The Party Left Me And Other Complaints of the Voter-As-Atomistic-Consumer



Freddie deBoer has made his quadrennial Dramatic Exit from the Democratic Party. Are the unexpected success of the Sanders campaign, the fact that a very brief period of unified Democratic government produced a collection of progressive reforms with fewer than five equals in all of American history, and/or the facts that the Democratic candidate will be running on the party’s most progressive platform in decades encouraging signs? Nope — as we know, for Freddie politics is supposed to be the instantaneous boring of wet tissue paper, and if you don’t fully succeed the first time you play you should take everybody’s balls home and destroy them.

Before we begin, it’s worth noting at the outset that deBoer repeatedly frames this as a dispute with the “Sanders campaign.” But of course it is not. It is a dispute with “people who will not support the Democratic candidate for president, despite the many horrible foreseeable material consequences for the most vulnerable people in America that would flow from a government controlled by Trump and a Republican Congress.” Bernie Sanders has repeatedly said that despite their real differences Clinton is vastly preferable to any Republican and that defeating Donald Trump is a critical imperative for anyone on the left. deBoer is against Sanders and most of his supporters here, not with him. It is also worth noting that this is not an ideological dispute; it is not about FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE TO YOUR LEFT. Noam Chomsky believes that swing-state voters should support the leftmost viable candidate in general elections; Tom Friedman, conversely, shares Freddie’s view that there really needs to be a third-party candidate that agrees with him in every detail because coalition-building should be obsolete for today’s consumer.

Anyway, most of this very long piece is just a list of ways in which Hillary Clinton is to Freddie deBoer’s right, which is of course neither here nor there in terms of the question the general election presents, i.e. is “she substantially better than Donald Trump?” This has all of the problems that “dealbreaker” arguments always have. It is worth noting, however, just how threadbare some of his “dealbreakers” are, and how nutty the theory of politics they’re connected to is:

I am opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidency because I find that, despite the way her supporters claim her as some sort of champion of social liberalism, she has in fact had to be dragged to progressive opinions on social questions for years. She was publicly opposed to gay marriage up until that point where it became untenable for a Democrat to be so. Her previously-mentioned support for the crime bill and welfare reform demonstrates a failure to understand where social problems come from. Her squishiness on abortion concerns me. In general, her stance on social issues frequently seems defensive and motivated by political concerns rather than principled.

Hillary Clinton is running the most aggressively pro-reproductive-justice campaign of any major party candidate in history, and it’s not close. She doesn’t merely favor the restoration of Roe v. Wade; she favors ending the Hyde Amendment, and has made the explicit case that barriers to abortion access disproportionately affect poor women. Is this celebrated? Nope; deBoer remains concerned about her “squishiness” on abortion because of disagreement on a single issue. He is, however, not so concerned with reproductive rights that he thinks it’s at all important that Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and/or Anthony Kennedy be replaced with justices who support the restoration of Roe rather than its overruling. Why, it’s almost as if his real concern is not the reproductive rights of American women but finding any possible pretext to declare himself too good for the Democratic Party. (Note the Catch-22 deBoer is setting up for the Democratic Party here, his preemptive refusal to ever take “yes” for an answer. Even as the Democratic Party is shifting to the left, it’s still never worth supporting, because if you have to move to the left it doesn’t count.)

But worse than that is that the conception of politics here is absolutely ridiculous. Of course Hillary Clinton is in part “motivated by political concerns.” That’s what politics is. Trying to get people in positions of power to move in your direction is why ordinary people engage in politics. Drawing sharp distinctions between “principle” and “politics” when dealing with leaders of large brokerage parties is making a category error. Hillary Clinton will nominate judges who will restore Roe v. Wade, and she will veto any bad abortion regulations a Republican Congress would put on her desk. What mixture of principle and prudence motivates her is completely irrelevant.

Three presidents can be plausibly said to have greater records of progressive accomplishment than Barack Obama: LBJ, FDR, and Lincoln. Were these men, as deBoer suggests they must be, consistent left-wing ideologues, men who were committed to consistent left principles who did not concern themselves with practical politics and never had to be “pushed” from the left? Er, no. Good God, no. They were practical men. They were not ideologically consistent. They had progressive records in large part because of the organized pressures from the left placed on them. Lyndon Johnson had a voting record in the Senate that makes Hillary Clinton look like a Wobbly. Did civil rights and labor groups follow deBoer’s advice, refuse to work with him and support him, and seek to throw the election to Goldwater in the hopes that a REAL ally could eventually control the White House? No, they did not, because they understand politics as deBoer does not. And the result was arguably the most progressive domestic policy presidency ever. The Emancipation Proclamation was a compromise motivated in large measure by political expediency. So what? Who wants political leaders who disdain politics, who aren’t responsive to their constituents?

And it’s amazing that deBoer would bring up same-sex marriage, which constitutes about ten own-goals for his worldview. The national right to same-sex marriage was created through a path that deBoer repeatedly assures us can never work. Did the LBGT community leave the Democratic Party because Democratic leaders continued to nominally oppose same-sex marriage? No, they did not. They recognized that politicians who can potentially be pressured to adopted your favored positions are better than those who cannot be. They also recognized that what presidents do is a lot more important than what they say. Bill Clinton nominally opposed same-sex marriage when he took office, and so did Barack Obama when he took office. And yet, the four Supreme Court justices they appointed were all in the Obergefell majority. And the four first choice Republican nominees all dissented. And it’s also worth noting that the swing vote that lead to victory, Anthony Kennedy, was on the Court because a lot of liberal voters held their noses and voted for Democratic senators like Howell Heflin and Richard Shelby and Sam Nunn, who were a good sight less than ideal but were still with the party on some key issues like “should Robert Bork be confirmed to the Supreme Court?” Same-sex marriage is a perfect illustration that the White House is generally where changes end, not where they begin. And it’s also an excellent illustration that you don’t walk away from the political coalition that’s closer to your interests because you don’t win immediately.

He continues, in vain, in this vein:

I reject the insistence that it’s my responsibility to vote for Hillary Clinton out of support for the “lesser evil” because the lesser evil argument contains no coherent argument for how change occurs. The lesser evil is not good enough; lesser evilists never articulate a remotely compelling vision of how one proceeds from the lesser evil to the greater good. Politics is a form of negotiation. The lesser evil argument compels us to concede to our negotiation partner (the candidate we are meant to support) our only source of leverage (our vote) before receiving any concessions at all. You might try this in any other form of negotiation and see how well that works for you. Promising to vote Democrat no matter what ensures that Democrats have no reason whatsoever to actually improve as a party. And as long as Republicans are in a death spiral, “better than the Republicans” is a designation that simply gets worse and worse over time. Lesser evil thinking is a road that has no ending and inevitably leads to the bottom.

deBoer attacking other people for lacking a “coherent argument for how change occurs” is…astounding. There’s a reason why this argument operates entirely at an abstract level, with no historical examples. This is because history has continually and decisively refuted deBoer. Voting for Johnson, as we’ve discussed, was a classic “lesser evil” vote in the sense that he means it. So was FDR, given the many compromises the New Deal had to make with the white supremacist faction of the party. So was Lincoln, an incrementalist on an issue of the utmost moral urgency. Major progressive reforms are almost always the result of lesser-evil voting and coalition-building, and are virtually never the result of dramatic flounces out of the coalition, as the same-sex marriage movement shows. Did movement conservatives take over the Republican Party by voting third party if they didn’t win? They did not. They try to get their candidates elected in the primaries, they won some and they lost some, but they kept pushing. It’s not complicated, but it works. As a theory of political change, it’s perfectly coherent. deBoer’s isn’t even a theory; it’s a retrospective justification for his belief that he’s too good to form any political association with people on the left he deems not left enough. Let’s say enough of the left agreed with deBoer to successfully throw the election to Trump. Do you think this would be good for the American left? That it would increase their influence? The whole idea is nuttier than a warehouse full of fruitcakes. It’s a ridiculous idea in theory that has an extensive record of failure in practice.

Refusing to support Hillary Clinton from any point on the democratic left and trying to persuade others not to do so, although this election presents one of the widest gaps between the parties of any presidential election in American history, can mean one of two things. One is that all of the horrors that would flow from at least four years of a President Trump almost certainly joined by 4 years of a Republican Congress are a price worth paying to “punish” the Democrats (note: it is not Democratic leaders who would actually bear the brunt of the punishment, but people of much less privilege). This is a monstrous position, in my view, given that the horrible things are certain and the speculation that the bad things would lead to better things implausible in the extreme, but if it’s your position at least own it. Conversely, you could privately believe that Sanders is right that President Clinton would be significantly better than President Trump, and you don’t actually want the latter to happen, but you feel comfortable publicly trying to persuade people not to support Clinton because you’re confident it will be ineffectual. In some ways, this is even worse. I mean, at least “heighten-the-contradictions” is an ethos. “I refuse to support Hillary Clinton as long as I’m sure I won’t matter” isn’t “principle”; it’s “utter wankdom.” If that’s your position, why bother writing about electoral politics at all? Just write in the only person who could ever be worthy of your vote — yourself — if you bother to vote at all, and be done with it.

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  • Amanda in the South Bay

    I’ll wager that his first right wing writing gig as the token leftist will be alt-right.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      someone who makes the jump from “liberalest liberal who ever liberaled” to “token liberal who appears in conservative media” would certainly have no right to criticize anyone else’s lack of intellectual coherence

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        He hasn’t yet (AFAIK) but it’d make sense, since he never criticizes conservatives or conservative ideas. He’d be very useful for the alt right crowd.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I like to think he’ll end up like Dick Diver in “Tender is the Night”, practicing medicine in smaller and smaller towns in upstate New York (or in deB’s case malpracticing politics in lesser and lesser-read venues) until he just disappears

          • sharculese

            Ah, you mean Kausing it.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              much more apt reference- I had managed to forget all about Kaus

              • rea


                • sonamib

                  Can someone be famous for falling into oblivion?

          • Casey

            Or Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley

      • efgoldman

        As soon as I saw a long screed about Freddie, and looked at the length, I said to my ancient self: life is too short. tl:dr. Who gives a shit what the most boring man on the intarwebz says about anything? Whatever it is, it’s wrong, whiny, boring, endless, and self-serving. I don’t need 11(!) paragraphs of Scott’s finest fsking to tell me that.

    • Bruce B.

      His generation’s David Horowitz.

  • Joseph Slater

    This is so good. . . .

  • D.N. Nation

    I took a spin around Bernie dead-enders’ twitter feeds this past week. Most are that Gawker-ish stew of snot and snark, full of hot gotchas on center-left pundits in lieu of a relevant agenda. (in other words, they quit.) A few — all white and male, of course — were tough guy shit-talkers, vaguely pledging violence against the nebulous “neoliberals.”

    Freddie, though. Freddie. That guy’s on a completely different wavelength. The neediness in everything he says. It’s not just that HRC is to his right, it’s that HRC and her supporters aren’t telling him how great, smart, and oh so vital he is. This pleading is constant. It’s pathetic.

    You give him more credit than he deserves with lengthy smackdowns like this. Fuck Freddie. Who cares what he thinks?

    e: Just look at the schtick he has on his Twitter profile! Bruenig got canned for being an abusive twit on Twitter, so therefore Freddie’s under attack! You’ll never get to HIM, neolibs!

    • a_paul_in_mtl

      “You give him more credit than he deserves with lengthy smackdowns like this. Fuck Freddie. Who cares what he thinks?”

      I don’t particularly care what Freddie DeBoer thinks, and I doubt that Scott L does either. The reason for taking down people’s arguments is because they are arguments that other people make or that other people could allow to persuade them. Sadly, it is rarely good enough to assume that all the people reading bad arguments will understand how bad they are without some sort of explanation. Therefore, bad arguments need to be refuted.

      • D.N. Nation

        In retrospect, that was worded to be arguing with Scott more than it was the “you’re a joke, Freddie” that was intended.

      • ThusBloggedAnderson

        Weirdly, though, there are people who follow & agree with FdB.

        And others, like DeLong, who actually engage him as if he were worth talking to.

        He’s not. He is dumb as a brick. He is too stupid to matter. (Like McArdle.)

        Pointing that out is worthwhile, if not done weekly.

        • brad

          It’s one of those very odd things that does happen, yes. Like having a seemingly normal convo with someone who then mentions having loved Atlas Shrugged.
          You’ll see it here sometimes, “Freddie is being hyperbolic, but he does have a point when he says…”.
          I blame tote bags.

        • Pseudonym

          Quantity has a quality all its own.

        • vic rattlehead

          He is really, truly dumber than dogshit. I mean, I haven’t read a single blog entry that even *approached* coherence.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Right. It’s not about him. Lots of people believe this kind of thin in whole or in part, and it’s worth explaining why it doesn’t make sense.

        • efgoldman

          It’s not about him.

          You may not be. He most definitely is.

  • FMguru

    That picture combines like three different LGM obsessions in one (Simpsons, entitled/magical thinking, and battleships).

    • Hogan

      And beer.

      • And Freddie. Like D.N. Nation says, why give him the bandwidth? He’s fucking nobody, this is a waste of electrons.

        • Cash & Cable

          I just sent this rebuttal to someone who brought up Freddie sua sponte yesterday and praised his dramatic rejection of Hillary Clinton. So this isn’t a complete waste of effort.

        • kped

          Well, he’s bragging to Loomis on Twitter that he is published in newspapers and magazines, and is working on a book deal, so I think he’s visible enough that take downs like this are appropriate.

          • His level of self-regard is amazing.

          • Phil Perspective

            Well, he’s bragging to Loomis on Twitter that he is published in newspapers and magazines, and is working on a book deal, so I think he’s visible enough that take downs like this are appropriate.

            Andrew Cuomo had a book deal too. And sold all of like 300 books. For a sitting governor!! While FdB might be obsessed with Loomis it seems like the feelings are reciprocated since Loomis/Lemieux write about him so often.


            Does he mean finishing the book? Or just signing the contract? What?

            Anyway, ridiculous.

          • He’s still ten years younger than Loomis so he has that going for him.

          • Pseudonym

            Of course he also claims to be ashamed of the same places he’s bragging about being published, since nobody and nothing else could ever approach his greatness.

            • wjts

              Part and parcel of his, “I’m just a humble graduate student* nobody with a humble blog who ONLY HAPPENS TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT HUMBLE GRADUATE STUDENT NOBODY ON THE WHOLE GODDAMN INTERNET AS YOU CAN SEE BY THE MANY PLACES I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED” bit.

              *I am given to understand that he has graduated.

              • He’s just a humble graduate student with a huge… ego.

              • Scott Lemieux

                The only thing more neoliberal than not engaging with Freddie is to engage with Freddie.

                • Pseudonym

                  The only thing more neoliberal than not engaging with Freddie is to engage with Freddie get blocked for trying to engage with Freddie.

                • kped

                  Pseudonym, you only get blocked if you are a nobody without followers, he can’t leverage a twitter war with you for his own benefit.

        • Scott Lemieux

          See above. The post is not about him; it’s about how political advances occur.

          • MDrew


        • vic rattlehead

          He’s fucking nobody

          Hey now, let’s not drag his sex life into this.

    • YRUasking

      If only he said he was going to fry a horse instead of a buffalo.

  • petesh

    This is an excellent takedown that of course applies a little more widely, though I suspect the other deserving targets would say, “Freddie? Dont confuse me with that idiot.”

  • I think your last paragraph is exactly right. I doubt he thinks even his blog posts matter and I doubt, whoever he “supports,” he’d vote against the Democrat in a swing state. But he has a right to self-expression and he needs to “express” that he’s better than Clinton and most Democrats are.

    Either that or he’s using a definition of “left” that no one else does and just trying to get attention for his views by using it.

  • cs

    dramatic flounces… same-sex marriage

    I guess this juxtaposition was not intentional?

    • rea

      FdB explained, a while back, that gays were doing it wrong–not enough dramatic flounces these days. He knows all about being gay–his dad used to teach theater.

      • All the other gays are just corporate sellouts and posers.

  • sharculese

    I’m not going to click through, but I’m curious – what’s the issue that makes Hillary Clinton an unacceptable squish on abortion?

    • rea

      Maybe “safe, legal and rare”? (Although really, that was more an expression of support for sex education and birth control than anything else.)

      • brugroffil

        It one point during her Senate run, she said that she could potentially “work with” Republicans on a constitutional amendment that would bar late-term abortions, but it was pretty big and I think the fair assumption would be that that would come with an explicit constitutional guarantee for open access to abortion up until that point.

        It’s less than ideal, as is her “safe, legal, and rare” phrasing, but as Scott points out, she’s being strongly against the Hyde amendment for a while and continues to be. It’s just an excuse for de Boer, and I had a leftier-than-thou friend try the same argument.

        • Dilan Esper

          I would make an even more full throated defense of Hillary on abortion than that.

          Yes, she and Bill said “safe, legal, and rare”, and I know some (but not all) pro-choice advocates hate that phrasing. But name me one POLICY difference she or Bill has ever had with pro-choicers? As far as I can tell, the Clintons are completely down the line on abortion– support for federal funding, appointing Supreme Court justices, promotion of family planning overseas, no gag rules, no TRAP laws, clinic defense laws that are as strong as the Constitution allows, etc.

          As you all know, I am not the biggest Hillary Clinton fan, but on this issue, she’s basically unimpeachable.

          And given that– I would really say even to feminists, so what if she sometimes has said “safe, legal, and rare”? The reality is that good family planning and sex education policies (which she supports) will make abortion somewhat less common anyway, and the pro-choice position isn’t to maximize the number of abortions, but to maximize women’s reproductive freedom. And the other reality is even if you don’t like what she says, her actions, which are what count in the end, have been consistently pro-choice.

          There are issues where Hillary is highly problematic from a left-wing perspective. Abortion is not by any stretch of the imagination one of them.

          (As a P.S., there was a time, back in Arkansas, when Bill Clinton (not Hillary) flirted with pro-lifers by sending out a letter bragging that he was the most pro-life candidate running for governor that year. But he clearly did not stick with that view when he got elected President, and his wife has been steadfast as well.)

      • efgoldman

        Maybe “safe, legal and rare”?

        Did HRC say that? I remember Clenis saying it as a campaign mantra in the 90s, but when did she?

      • tsam

        I always took “safe, legal and rare” as safe, legal, and easily accessible birth control, proactive and aggressive education, empowerment of women and girls–thus making it rare.

        I never had an issue with that statement, even if it’s being a bit mushy–it works if you apply good techniques to help women and girls avoid the need for an abortion, but protect them if they do.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I mean, I prefer her rhetoric now, but on what actually matters — the policy — as Dilan says she’s always been unimpeachable.

  • LWA

    (Because my mind is still on guns…)
    I do see a strain of laziness and privilege by people in politics, who demand instant gratification and magic solutions, the political equivalent of the One Weird Trick that will bring about the promised utopia, preferably without the drag of actually doing boring stuff like precinct walking and compromising with assholes, and getting into the weeds of city council elections and county central committees.

    I’m thinking of how the conservatives have played the long patient game and have no trouble getting their folks to fixate on state textbook commissions and school boards, in service to the cause.

    So it is with gun regulation, where there is a lot of handwringing about why there is nothing that can work NOW.

    • Matt McIrvin

      A lot of that was born specifically of frustration after Sandy Hook: if the mass slaughter of kindergarteners in school didn’t lead to any significant changes (except for the worse), we must just be done here. Nothing’s going to work at all and we might as well give up.

      But sometimes minds get changed in a gradual, cumulative way.

  • Denverite

    The front pagers are on a roll today. Good job, Scott.

  • deBoer is a blithering idiot. And I say that as a unicorn riding Bernie supporter.

    You don’t like everything that Clinton stands for or she’s not as liberal as you wish she could be? So f’king what. Grow up. When she’s the president, she’ll have to make deals with someone, and I’d rather that someone be the leader of a Democratic majority in the Senate and not a Republican one. So put your hemp-cloth hanky back in your pocket and go vote to expand the liberal caucuses in the Senate and House.

    • sharculese

      He’s not even a hippie. For years his avatar was the broiest bro-selfie I have ever seen.

      • kped

        He still uses those on his webpage. Always with a constipated expression to show his sincerity and earnestness.

        • i8kraft

          And his lack of moral fiber.

          • Stag Party Palin

            Damn. Granola with moral fiber – I’d buy that.

  • Murietta

    Oh my God. I love this post so much I want to fucking marry it. I have a bunch of dead-enders on FB who need to read this stat. So I’m gonna go stick this in their faces right now.

  • a_paul_in_mtl

    I’m curious. When exactly did Freddie DeBoer ever sully himself by associating himself with the Democratic Party?

    • YRUasking

      He didn’t. He just announces he’s leaving every 4 years.

      • ThusBloggedAnderson

        Yes, much as I had to send Scarlett Johansson another letter last week reminding her that if she keeps not calling me, we are *through*.

  • WabacMachinist

    Closely related to the “heighten the contradictions” argument is “the worse things get the better they get” argument. In other words, the worse things get for other people (economic deprivation, loss of civil liberties, etc.) the better things get for my political aspirations. No accident that it was Lenin who came up with this idea. A disastrous war, millions dead, catastrophic inflation, near-famine in the big cities–good news for Lenin & Co.!
    So it’s worth asking “things get better for whom?”. Who would benefit in the end from a Republican Congress and Trump in the White House? Would it “pave the way” for a Great October Socialist Revolution? I strongly suspect that people who toy with this idea are the sort of political dilettantes who at bottom simply don’t care about possible outcomes because–they think–none of it really has to do with them. Well maybe, but then again maybe not. To paraphrase what another Russian revolutionary (Leon Trotsky) said about war, “you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you”.

    • Lev

      Lenin is an inaccurate comparison: it’s not as though he could do much about anything in Swiss exile, and when his time came he actually did something. Freddie would never have led the October Revolution, he would have just written pamphlets about how Alexander Kerensky and Leon Trotsky weren’t left enough.

      • so-in-so


    • Murc

      I’m not going to defend Freddie in any way, but there is in fact some evidence to suggest that “the worse, the better” actually does sort of happen. We don’t get the Obama legislative majorities without the disastrous Bush years, and we don’t get the New Deal without the Great Depression. It can even be argued that we don’t get the Johnson legislative supermajorities and the willingness of them to pass a lot of sweeping legislation without Kennedy being shot; Johnson rode Kennedy’s a corpse a long, long way in Congress if I recall correctly.

      However, the flip side of it being a real thing is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will embrace leftism in time of crisis. It just means that in time of crisis they’re willing to sign on to radical change and actually give reformers (or revolutionaries) the power they ask for in order to enact those changes. This has had less-than-optimal outcomes in Germany, Russia, China, and a lot of South American countries over the years.

      It’s also, shall we say, morally suspect to wish for bad things to happen in order for good things to happen. I understand the impulse, I do. It’s like living in an apartment with a leaky roof and your roommate insists there’s no reason for you to both to save up and fix it; he just keeps a bucket underneath it, and even tries to sell you on his pro-bucket ideology. You start fucking wishing the damn roof would just cave in, because then he’d have to agree to fix it.

      And maybe he does. Or maybe he sides with the crazy people living in the woods who insist that houses are a conspiracy. Now you’ve got no house at all.

      There might be a sort of stark utilitarian value in arguing “better five years of sharp pain followed by healing than five decades of less pain with no healing ever in sight.” But you’d better be really fucking sure about that. You’d better be more sure about that than you’ve ever been about anything and willing to put your own ass on the line, because you’re fucking with peoples lives there.

      I’ve yet to come across anyone making that argument convincingly from the left in modern America. I just… haven’t.

      • tonycpsu

        It’s really problematic if you’re making these kinds of utilitarian arguments from a position where you’re exceedingly unlikely to be among the first up against the wall. Big Media Freddie has a lot less to lose under a Trump presidency than a lot of the people he’s willing to put in harm’s way.

      • so-in-so

        It ought not be someone else’s pain your talking about, either.

        If FdB were going to experience the future Trump administration as an undocumented worker, maybe his views would be less awful.

      • Rob in CT

        We don’t get the Obama legislative majorities without the disastrous Bush years


        You need shit to actually get really bad for this to happen. Iraq!, The Sequel + The Great Recession. The Great Depression. Shit like that. Anything less disasterous and you don’t get the wave election(s) you need (so you need to heighten the contradictions some more, I guess).

        • I don’t believe this at all. But putting that aside, the problem is that there’s no reason to think “things being bad” means that they will go your way. The Tory’s won their majority because of austerity! And that leads to the Brexit referendum which looks increasingly like it will lead to Brexit.

          I mean, I expect some regression to the mean, which is already going to distort our perceptions.

          • McAllen

            The other thing is that even things do go your way, the bad things still have lasting effects. Iraq helped us get Obama, but it also normalized torture and mass surveillance, destroyed the US’s international reputation, gave us ISIS, and, of course, killed a lot of people.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Right. And even if Trump did lead to a Democratic wave in 8 or 12 years, a lot of the damage — starting with a firmly Republican Supreme Court — couldn’t be easily undone.

          • Rob in CT

            True. Though if you’re the party out of power it’s more likely than not that it will go your way. We’ve seen it many times.

            Still, hoping for a pile of bad shit to happen so you can win elections and then get your personal magic pony sold out by neoliberal hacks again is both morally awful and fucking stupid.

            Because a pile of awful shit will have happened, and the liberals eventually elected (plus the sort-of-liberals who will no doubt be elected with them) will have to deal with it (“Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job”).

            • True. Though if you’re the party out of power it’s more likely than not that it will go your way. We’ve seen it many times.

              Well, maybe? Sometimes they just go on, cf the Tories.

              • Rob in CT

                Oh, certainly there aren’t any guarantees.

                But Austerity in Britain wasn’t really a calamity. It was bad policy, certainly. To my mind, though, it fits in the category of “bad, but not so bad as to drive a wave election.”

                But hang on. Labour was in power until 2010, no? They were the in-power party when the shit hit the fan. You’d expect the Tories to benefit from that and, hey, they did.

                • But hang on. Labour was in power until 2010, no? They were the in-power party when the shit hit the fan. You’d expect the Tories to benefit from that and, hey, they did.

                  You mean by not securing a majority in spite of a decade or so of Labor rule? You know, having to form a coalition government?

                  And now, we seem likely to leave the EU…

                • Manny Kant

                  Just like Scotland was likely to become independent?

                • I just want to add something that was inchoate before.

                  I think it’s largely unproven that wave elections follow calamity. And we certainly don’t know *what degree* of calamity is required to get a given wave. The closest we have are models that predict vote share based on economic indicators some months out.

                  In 2006, we had a *large* number of factors which contributed (including congressional scandals and candidate incompetence, cf. George Allen).

                  Now, to be clear, I do think that calamity can drive political change, but it’s not clear that it can reliably drive it in the direction you’d want and it’s not clear that it’s a net gain (over the mid to long haul).

            • ColBatGuano

              Still, hoping for a pile of bad shit to happen so you can win elections and then get your personal magic pony sold out by neoliberal hacks again is both morally awful and fucking stupid.

              Or you can go the Republican way, where you actively work to make bad shit happen so that you can win a wave election. Obama just failed to oblige by not being a fucking moron like W.

          • mongolia

            This doesn’t even take into account how much Alito and Roberts have impacted the country post-Bush, and just how much damage a right-wing court would do if they get to replace AS/RBG/SB/AK. If Gore were president, and able to replace O’Connor and Rehnquist, we might not have Dodd-Frank, PPACA, ARRA, etc., but then we also likely don’t have 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, 2008 meltdown, etc., and welfare restrictions likely would have mattered less since the economy would be better run at the macro level. Plus, less space to incubate the crazies on the right, since they’d be playing more defence, sort of like how leftists and centrist Dems had to cooperate more in the lesser Bush era to try to win some damn elections.

      • Dilan Esper

        It’s also, shall we say, morally suspect to wish for bad things to happen in order for good things to happen.

        It’s not that simple. My favorite recent example was the 2000 Peruvian presidential election. Huge numbers of Peruvians spoiled their ballots, allowing the brutal quasi-dictator and crook Alberto Fujimori an easy reelection. However, as a result, he came in with no legitimacy and was toppled within a year.

        This sort of thing CAN happen. And there are plenty of people who engage in exactly the sort of “voter as atomistic consumer” behavior that Scott hates in a protest against injustice. Other examples that HAVEN’T worked include Palestinians elected to the Kinesset and Sinn Fein members elected to the House of Commons who don’t serve because they refuse to take the oath. They are definitely hurting their constituents in the short term. But is anyone on this blog going to tell them not to do it?

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          Well, Fujimori being toppled had more to do with rampant illegality (electoral fraud, and unconstitutionality) in the election, and people boycotting it had to do with the fact that people, aware of this, reckoned that it would be better to deny the process legitimacy than it would be to try and vote someone else in since the fix was in in any case. It wasn’t a case of “voter as atomistic consumer”.

  • Manny Kant

    A super leftie friend of mine who shares De Boer posts on social media literally has a policy of writing in himself for all offices.

    • FMguru

      And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled.

  • KCGunner

    Bravo. It’s really incredible someone could be as dumb as Freddie, but here we are.

  • Lev

    I blame all of this “I reject the lesser of two evils” junk on The West Wing. Which was, truth be told, a fine television show that was nevertheless around 95% wrong on how politics work. I don’t think there was a single lobbyist character over the course of the whole show, for example. It was the poster child for Green Lanternism, which as we’ve come to know is one of Sorkin’s own beliefs.

    Also, the post-Sorkin part of the show was almost a send-up of the whole thing, where you had a Rheeist, pro-life Democrat beating a conventional one because he was more inspirational. That actually happened.

    • junker

      My wife is obsessed with watching the West Wing and as a result I have seen most of it several times, but I still spit out my drink whenever I see the scene where Santos lectures the abortion right’s activist for not being sufficiently ashamed of advocating for abortion, and we’re meant to cheer for that.

    • There are a lot of ills of today’s political discourse that you can lay at the feet of The West Wing (though also a lot of good things: we wouldn’t have Parks and Recreation, or The Good Wife, or Hamilton, without it). But this one particular flaw is not one of them. On the contrary, it was far more common for the show’s characters to condescendingly explain to activists and low-ranking politicians about realpolitick and the necessary compromises that come when you’ve actually got power instead of just talking about it. Take, for example, Josh lecturing his girlfriend, who works for NOW, about tolerating an odious compromise in a women’s issues bill so that the whole thing can pass. Or Toby rolling his eyes at a bunch of loud, smelly, incompetent anti-globalization activists until he finally breaks out and yells that “FREE TRADE ENDS WARS!” I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of the dead-enderism we’re seeing is rooted in a reflexive reaction to seven years of a show told from the perspective of a privileged white guy who loves telling you that you need to stop being so loud about the things you care about, because this is how real politics works, honey.

      (About the Santos/Vinnick storyline, I always felt that the point the show was trying to make was that Vinnick had good principles, but was too weak-willed. In the end, he always let his party pull him where they wanted him to be. If anything, it was a counterpoint to the notion that politics is about personality, because both he and Santos were people who would govern more from their party affiliation than their personal beliefs.)

      • djw

        (though also a lot of good things: we wouldn’t have Parks and Recreation, or The Good Wife, or Hamilton, without it)

        ???? I can kinda-sorta see an argument here about Parks and Rec, although it feels like a stretch, but what on earth does TWW have to do with The Good Wife or Hamilton?

        • All three are stories about politics that center process, and that take as a given that the audience is willing and indeed happy to parse complex and nuanced issues of protocol. Unlike other lawyer shows, the lawyers on TGW rarely win cases because of their sweeping oratory, or even a surprise witness or piece of evidence, but rather because they’re better able to game the system and figure out its rules.

          As for Hamilton, it wears Sorkin’s influence in almost every scene, but even if that weren’t true, Miranda has spoken repeatedly about how much of an inspiration TWW was for him while writing the show. Hell, when he and the cast were at the White House, he got Daveed Diggs and Christopher Jackson to shoot “Cabinet Battle #1” with him as a walk-and-talk.

          • Hogan

            Are there stories about politics that don’t center process?

            • tsam

              Let me tell you about a young boy, the son of poor immigrants….


          • q-tip

            Unlike other lawyer shows, the lawyers on TGW rarely win cases because of their sweeping oratory, or even a surprise witness or piece of evidence, but rather because they’re better able to game the system and figure out its rules.

            Agree with the larger point, but as a loyal GW watcher to the bitter end I think “rarely” is way too strong a word here. They pulled out surprise witnesses and evidence all the damn time, thanks to Kalinda and the other investigators whose names I didn’t bother to learn. (I think the last one was “Jason?”)

      • Manny Kant

        Wasn’t Vinnick the Republican? Russell is the conventional Democrat.

  • lahtiji

    Did movement conservatives take over the Republican Party by voting third party of they didn’t win? They did not. They try to get their candidates elected in the primaries, they won some and they lost some, but they kept pushing. It’s not complicated, but it works.

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    It’s not running someone at the top of the ticket who you believe is going to solve every problem, right every wrong, and usher in your vague hopes of political revolution. It’s running someone for city council, it’s running someone for county commissions, it’s running someone for state legislatures. This is how you amass power.

    That’s why the specter of Trump in the White House, with a Congress full of true believers a few blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue, is so frightening. They’re ready. They’re always ready.

    • ArchTeryx

      Yes. The one thing that reactionary movements have in common, pretty much throughout history, is a will to power. Power that very often or not is used simply for its own sake, to amass and lock in ever more power. In that respect, We The People are not exceptional at all.

      Things like screwing over or even just exterminating the poor, scapegoating, and all the rest of it are just extensions of the will to power.

      “There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

    • Bruce B.

      This is a thing that genuinely depresses me sometimes.

      I was 16 when Reagan was elected the first time. I grew up in LA County, so I’d seen Orange County Republicans gain power at just about first hand. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, there was a lot of talk about how they and their ilk had gotten influence by the step-by-step seizing of authority from the ground up, and how liberals needed to do the same.

      I’ll be 51 when this year’s election happens. And how much has anyone capable of acting done about this bit of (correct) popular wisdom?

      I appreciate ActBlue. I donate to them several times a year, and talk them up when reasonable opportunities arrive. But they absolutely need some company out there, and particularly others networking in support of local candidates. That should have been well underway by the time the ’80s ended. As it is…?


  • John F

    what Freddie DeBoer thinks

    I literally would not know DeBoer exists if not for the sporadic attacks on him here at LGM, why so much spite and bile directed at someone so inconsequential?

    • kped

      have been published in places like Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The New York Times, Politico, Playboy, Full Stop Quarterly, Vox, Salon, Talking Points Memo, N+1, Jacobin, Pacific Standard, In These Times, The Week, The New Inquiry, Quartz, The Huffington Post, and others.

      He’s published a lot. And as someone said above, it’s more that these idiotic arguments are prevalent on the internet left in general, Freddie is a good way to take it down since he is visible and stupid.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        part of me wants to ask whether buying classified ads in the personals section counts as “published” but that is probably a bit much

      • Phil Perspective

        FdB was published in Playboy? Proof, please!!

        • kped

          It’s from his website.

          Does Playboy have a letter section like Penthouse?

          • Halloween Jack

            “I never thought this would happen to me, but there I was, in the primary campaign…”

        • Are you sure you want to see his centerfold?

      • JustRuss

        Freddie is a good way to take it down since he is visible and stupid.

        Everybody needs a purpose in life, I guess.

      • Pseudonym

        Were any of those pieces he published about anything other than how liberals are doing leftism wrong?

        • kped

          Let’s see..

          New Republics: https://newrepublic.com/article/122938/college-students-have-forgotten-how-fight-system

          (college kids not doing protest right…has this great quote:

          As I got older, I began to see their abundant failings alongside that magic, and particularly in regards to their politics—their hypocrisy, their fickleness, their alienating righteousness.

          Yeah…that’s as far as I’ll dive, but I’m going to guess that it’s all a variation of “everyone is doing it wrong”

          • And Freddie is the leading expert on alienating righteousness.

            • kped

              “college kids, they’re not even good at alienating righteousness…if only they asked me to teach them”

      • ThusBloggedAnderson

        Now I wonder if Harper’s just plucked some idiocy of his for the “Readings” section.

        But they’ve been pretty bad themselves about joining the Irrelevant Superleft.

  • tonycpsu

    It’s tragicomic to watch Freddie be unable to rebut these arguments after having so many years to come up with something. I used to think this blog was too hard on him, but after seeing the same blatant falsehoods repeated (he’s actually doing Nader trutherism again in his Twitter feed today!) and not bothering to acknowledge the ways in which his claims are at odds with the historical record, I don’t think it’s possible to be too hard on him. He’s no longer a good faith participant in the public dialogue, and he deserves every ounce of scorn he receives.

    Plus, he’ll tell you it makes him stronger, so I guess we’re all doing him a favor.

    • wjts

      I think it was sharculese who wrote something to the effect that watching Freddie argue on the internet is like watching a man who has fallen into a nest of fire ants flailing around on the ground and screaming, “Puny ants: your venom only makes me stronger!”.

  • sibusisodan

    If my memory doesn’t fail me, didn’t Mr deBoer say that the Emancipation Proclamation was his chosen example of solving a problem in one fell swoop, rather than being all incremental and compromisey?

    It was a rather epic piece of self-refutation.

    • Hogan

      I think he just said “emancipation,” which is even worse.

    • kped

      No, it was social security and mediare. And then a historian chimed in and said “actually, those were incremental for x, y and Z”, and then Freddie blocked him because facts have no value!

      And that same day, he tweeted that the radical left passed (and i’m not kidding here, this is what he said) employment laws without the help of anyone!!! Like…they formed a union and that changed child labor laws or something. Honestly, it was the most historically wrong thing I’ve ever read. All of those labor laws needed elected officials to pass them, hell, including a lot of very conservative racist southerners. To say that it was the radical left with no help is just bash your head into the wall wrong.

      • Scott Lemieux
        • sibusisodan

          Thanks for the link. Turns out that Freddie thought ‘Abolition’ was his example of non-incremental change, so if I could edit my statement above appropriately, I would.

        • kped


          “The socialist left completely transformed the working world in the first half of the 20th century and did so without Democrats”

          There it is, I linked it in that thread!

          I mean…is his book going to be any different from Jonah Goldberg’s non-historical drivel?

          • Scott Lemieux

            “The socialist left completely transformed the working world in the first half of the 20th century and did so without Democrats”

            Ummmm…what? The Wagner Act? The Norris-LeGuardia Act? What the hell is he talking about?

            • kped

              I know! It was so absurd, I couldn’t believe he said it!

              Also…the working world? The sweatshops and child labor factories all over Asia and South and Central America must still be waiting for those leftists to fix things for them.

              He wasn’t just a “little” wrong about that. He was wrong about literally every word in that sentence.

            • What the hell is he talking about?

              I fear—I very much fear—that he is talking about the noble experiment of which Lincoln Steffens so memorably exclaimed “I have forgotten the future, because it didn’t work!”

            • wjts

              What the hell is he talking about?

              To be Scrupulously Fair, there were very few Democrats in, e.g., the Russian Revolution or the MacDonald and Attlee governments.

        • That exchange is so cartoonish that it’s a comedic cliche:

          ALICE: “How about some casserole?”
          BOB: “I’ve never liked that casserole! It’s disgusting! Carol hates that casserole too, she knows the score.”
          ALICE: “Carol had second helpings.”
          BOB: “She never did have good taste.”

  • kped

    The reason Freddie is so OK with advocating throwing elections to the right is because he’s a keyboard revolutionary. He’s created elaborate fan-fiction in his head of how the revolution will go once things get bad enough, him in the lead, chanting “Wolverines!!!!” as his merry band of bearded leftists take control of the means of productions from the evil liberals (liberal is the term for everyone to the right of Freddie, which is everyone).

    By saying nothing will change without a revolution, you don’t have to care about the consequences of anything else.

  • Stephen Frug

    What’s amazing is that not only does the “don’t throw the general election” idea have a “coherent argument for how change occurs”, the Sanders campaign actually embodies it. The problem with Nader, as has been said repeatedly by this blog among many other places, is that he ran as a spoiler, rather than, say, in the primaries (which is, as the OP notes, how Conservatives drive Republicans further to the right). Sanders actually ran in the primaries… and Clinton moved to the left on a bunch of issues in response (as well as in response to the other key ingredient, ongoing pressure from other groups like BlackLivesMatter, Fightfor15, etc). It worked! If we did the same thing for lots of down-ballot races, it’d work better. The theory of change is working. It’s just a long slog, is all.

  • smhten

    The lesser evil argument compels us to concede to our negotiation partner (the candidate we are meant to support) our only source of leverage (our vote)

    To me, this gives the game away. If your only source of leverage is your vote, that means you’re not doing anything else to work to implement the policies you claim to favor. You’re not, for instance, working at the local level to register voters and promote candidates for local races you deem appropriate (which is the first step to doing so at higher levels). You’re not organizing around issues – the issues you claim to care so much about – to pressure politicians to enact legislation you favor. You’re not doing ANYTHING except voting, which is the bare minimum.

    To get more leverage, you have to work for it. And actually, writing a widely-read blog CAN give you more leverage, at least a little. Frederick Douglass and William Garrison started newspapers to get the word out, and getting the word out matters, not least because it also helps with organizing. But as the end of your piece points out, Freddie isn’t interested in leverage, he’s interested in Freddie. If he actually cared about the policies that he claims will keep him from voting for Clinton, he’d be doing a hell of a lot more than just withholding his vote.

    • i8kraft

      Exactly right.

    • But but but Freddie’s lifelong work is the Noble Cause of Liberation, and no mortal force (uppity women, insufficiently gay people, safe spaces, etc.) shall divert him from this sacred calling, nor shall his pen sleep in his hand until he has built Jerusalem in his own mind!

      • sonamib

        That’s a remarkable imitation of Freddie, but I do prefer the original quote :

        Now– from my angle, what you could do is actually engage your self-critical process and become a better advocate for your ideas. Or you can censor, and flip out, and continue to police your space against any kind of constructive criticism. Meanwhile, I will engage in the ethical project of my life, which is the project of liberation, a project which I do not and will not ever ask for anyone’s permission to undertake.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Right. Somebody on Twitter asked me what the harm would be in organizing a Green presidential vote in New York. The answer is that “you’re wasting time and resources you could be using to, say, get Zephyr Teachout elected.”

  • bobloblaw57

    TBF his next blog entry did amuse me about that smooth kobra guy a lot of people are retweeting

    • tonycpsu

      Total nutpicking, though. Freddie does fine when he drops down a few intellectual weight classes, which makes Twitter a perfect venue for him since he can ignore the substantive criticisms and jump all over people like that bigoted ass.

  • Nick056

    This was a confusing exchange to read, because while Freddie’s ideas are dumb, the point of his post was a reply to Amanda Marcotte, whom Scott doesn’t even mention, and his problem is with the idea that the Sanders campaign was a refuge for dudebros hoping for a white, old savior. He’s saying that even if his reasons not to vote Clinton are wrong, they are not a pretext for discrimination. So pointing out that his ideas are wrong seems beside the point.

    • Rob in CT

      It’s besides Freddie’s point. Not Scott’s.

      • Scott Lemieux

        It’s besides Freddie’s point. Not Scott’s.

        Exactly. What a bizarre comment. Indeed, Freddie’s obsession with questions of motivation are a major part of why his theories of politics are wrong, so why would I care about his dispute with Amanda?

        • Nick056

          After reading Freddie’s Twitter reaction to you, it’s pretty clear my complaint above IS baseless.

          Freddie wanted substantive engagement rather than insinuations about being racist, sexist, etc., and then complained about “the obsession” with him when you … Gave him what he asked for. It’s Trumpian in its wilfull special pleading.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Freddie deBoer, a one act play:


            [substantive engagement]




    • Hogan

      He’s saying that even if his reasons not to vote Clinton are wrong, they are not a pretext for discrimination.

      And he goes on to say, at some length, that those reasons justify him sulking in his tent instead of trying to keep Trump out of the White House. Marcotte was just the jumping-off point for this iteration of that argument.

  • Pseudonym

    For someone who claims to be against identity politics, it’s telling that deBoer focuses on nothing so much as establishing his own identity (or more accurately, brand) as the One True Leftist™.

    • kped

      Nah, he once said there are probably a few people to his left. Dozens even.

      • Pseudonym

        Well, his brand is the Leftist, not the Leftest. The people to his left are also Doing It Wrong, but like the people who are actually right-of-center, Freddie’s not going to spend any of his time criticizing them.

    • Scott Lemieux

      As I say in the post, everything about his politics is identity politics in the pejorative sense. Choosing abortion as one of your Hillary dealbreakers shows that the point of the exercise is not “how do we get major lefty transformation” but “No viable national political party could ever be good enough for me to be part of it.”

      • Pseudonym

        Thanks for writing this. It’s unfortunate that these posts will feed Freddie’s narcissism, but his bad ideas need to be refuted because some number of people still take him seriously (though none as seriously as he takes himself).

        —An objectively despicable person

  • Davis

    This has been pissing me off since the Left helped Richard Nixon get into the White House. They hated Humphrey. Instead we got Kissinger, tens of thousands more Americans dead, hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese dead, Cambodia, and Pol Pot.

    Thank you, Scott, for this post. It’s what keeps me reading LGM every day. Keep up the good work.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Thanks to everyone who said nice things.

  • sleepyirv

    There’s nothing like Progressives’ love for self-destruction to follow their most wildly successful project (moving Obama to the left on a lot of important issues during his campaign and in the White House) by simply giving up because they’re angry.

  • politicalfootball

    Near the top of the long list of things that I find vexing about de Boer: His proud refusal to represent other people’s arguments accurately:

    He quotes Marcotte:

    What you’re seeing is a huge drift in the party, away from having our leadership be just a bunch of white men who claim to speak for everybody else. We’re moving to a party that puts women’s interests at the center, that considers the votes of people of color just as valuable as the votes of white people. Unfortunately, some of the support for Sanders comes from people who are uncomfortable with that change and are looking to a benevolent, white patriarch to save them.

    Then he offers this ridiculous interpretation of her very clear language:

    I quote this merely because it’s typical of a huge number of attacks on the Sanders candidacy and his supporters: it asserts that both are motivated not by sincere policy differences but because of moral pathology, and in particular the desire to oppose the interests of women.

  • altofront

    So FdB pens a tedious screed taking a prominent feminist to task while congratulating himself on his greater political enlightenment. Nice to see so little’s changed over the last ten years.

    • Hogan


  • Scott Lemieux

    Here’s some excellent Bijan-bait from the self-appointed conscience of the American Left.

    I always love this cycle. Freddie complains about how liberals refuse to engage with him. Someone engages with him, entirely substantively, and then he and his friends are all “why do you write about nothing but this humble graduate student nobody?” But, hey, I wouldn’t want to actually try to defend this stuff on the merits either.

    • I love how Conor Kilpatrick equates “being an unreconstructed asshole” with “being an acceptable leftist.” Meanwhile, what actual work has he ever done on any policy question?

      • Scott Lemieux

        What’s doubly hilarious about this is how much of his Twitter feed is devoted to how much we piss him off, only with no actual substantive argument attached. As always, projection is a hell of a drug.

        • Substantive arguments? From Conor Kilpatrick and Freddie DeBoer?

          Don’t you understand that a true leftist just yells a lot about how “neoliberals” like you and I are VERY MEAN to them?

          The greatest embarrassment about Jacobin is not the Merle Haggard hit piece. It’s that Kilpatrick is the #2 person there. He offers nothing but personal slander.

    • Pseudonym

      This from someone who apparently spent half the day talking about a “woke gator tweet”?

      • Scott Lemieux

        Hey — those HOT TAKES are building socialism!

        So, combining the points, I guess Conor is saying Freddie is less worthy of engagement than some random person’s “woke gator tweets”? Well…I guess I can’t really dispute the point.

      • rea

        “Woke gator tweets”?

        Quite insensitive, given the news from Disney World. Some people will politicize any tragedy.

    • I’m glad I missed that.

      30%!!!!! REALLY?!?!?

      Why 30%? People pick such weird numbers.

      And Freddie claims to not have read the blog in 2 years! Is that plausible? I see that the Objectively Despicable comment is from May 2014, so it’s possible he’s not commented since then.

      One thing I find tremendously amusing about these sorts of folk is that they rarely, in my experience, acknowledge the good. So whatever you think about the posts about Freddie, what’s not to celebrate about the the This Day In Labour History posts, if you’re on the left?

      Whereas when a pundit with a stupid bete noir (cf Chait) says something sensible, by and large the front pagers here are happy to acknowledge that.

      Taking things so very personally is a bad move.

      • Pseudonym

        On the other hand, I can’t remember any good Freddie pieces, so tu quoque…

        Freddie and Connor seem to be part of a clique of lefter-than-thou types whose main engagement with neo[sic]liberals to their alleged right involves more personal dislike than substantive discussion. For all LGM’s focus on Freddie, these posts engage with his ideas and relegate the admittedly entertaining personal mockery to a sideshow.

      • Rob in CT

        He absolutely has commented on LGM in the past 2 years. He popped up in a dead thread not long ago (well, maybe late 2015, I forget exactly) to, of course, whine.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Also, he just happened to follow people on Twitter for the first time immediately after someone pointed out in comments here that he was so narcissistic he didn’t follow anybody. I’m sure it’s a coincidence.

      • djw

        Don’t forget this, from March. (And the post wasn’t remotely about him, of course, but to him it was.)

        I suppose I’m willing to believe he doesn’t actually read the posts, just whines about them.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Hahahaha, I forgot about that. Freddie could teach seminars in protesting too much.

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          The piece mostly wasn’t about him, but there was a comment at the end referencing him in a somewhat snarky way. DeBoer got his comment in remarkably quickly (first one in, no less) for someone who has supposedly paid no attention to this blog in two years.

      • kped

        Let’s be real, socialist Freddie has never posted anything as worthwhile as the posts about child labor and supply chain injustice.

        He is totally useless as a thinker and member of the “left”. He will likely never write anything as important as “out of sight” which deals with issues he should actually care about, given his socialism. But he’s not really a socialist. He’s a preening internet jackass who is more concerned with building his brand (that of the preening internet jackass) then actually accomplishing anything that he claims to care about.

    • kped

      and then he and his friends are all “why do you write about nothing but this humble graduate student nobody?” But, hey, I wouldn’t want to actually try to defend this stuff on the merits either.

      Also, they sure like to mock ages, don’t they. Freddie is my age I believe, so not far from 40 himself, but what’s with the constant “they’re in their 40’s” talk. Like…who cares? Isn’t Sanders 90-something?

      It actually shows who is acting like a child.

      • Nick056

        People were making fun of Chait going bald. As if it were a point. I guess the idea is, people over 40 are too invested in the system to understand socialism, man!


        • kped

          Yeah, the bald thing annoys me, or calling Christie fat…that’s stuff we should be above. “He can’t be president, he’s bald”. Well, that is a great moral failing, so I understand. And Christie’s weight is more important than his general asshole-ness.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Since Chait linked my piece, my @mentions have become unreadable. Every time an egg tweets “LOL Chait your a bald neoliberal” Freddie and several other people like it, so it’s multiple mentions apiece. It’s a real Algonquin round table.

    • Nick056

      Yes, this. I’m repeating what I wrote above, but it’s pretty clear that Freddie doesn’t want substantive engagement and isn’t prepared to defend his policy preferences or approach to political organizing. He wants to whine that no one will engage substantively with him and doesn’t know what to say when it actually, you know, happens.

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