Home / General / Chomsky on the Voter-As-Consumer

Chomsky on the Voter-As-Consumer

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Granted, in terms of his lefty credentials Noam Chomsky is no Jill Stein or H.A. Brogan deBragman. But his recent piece on the voter-as-atomistic-consumer model beloved by blowhards all over the intertubes is very well-turned indeed:

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

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  • DrDick

    Indeed. This is something I learned in my 20s and have diligently applied since, voting in every election since 1972. If your values demand you only vote for a “perfect candidate”, regardless of the potential consequences, you need to reexamine your values.

    • I do believe that Chomsky intended the phrase “if in a contested ‘swing state'” to be far more significant that most of the commenters on this board will acknowledge.

      • ploeg

        Chomsky probably did intend so, although he acknowledges the possibility of working for change within the Democratic Party. And if there is such a possibility, one might decide that it is better to pursue such a possibility than it is to work outside the Democratic Party.

        • Heron

          And if those of us not in swing states don’t vote, then how will our states ever change? I mean yeah, it’s more than that(it’s activism, it’s recruitment, its all that stuff), but this whole “if you’re not in a swing state voting doesn’t matter” stuff is literally self-defeating. How does he think Virginia or Florida became swing states?

      • brewmn

        I don’t. I think he just acknowledges that it’s probably irrelevant.

        • Right–I think its pretty clear that a shorter Chomsky here is “if you want to piss away your vote on hobbits or unicorns please only do so where enough other people are willing to take up the slack that its irrelevant. That would be deep red or deep blue states. Everywhere else? Suck if the fuck up and Vote Blue.”

          • rea

            Peregrin for Thane in ’13 (F.A.)!

      • sharculese

        The thing is, I don’t Chomsky is correct to add that qualification.

        In 2012 I was living in DC. I figured, “I can vote for whoever I want and Obama will still win the District.” And then I remembered that, even if the vote total doesn’t decide the winner, it gets talked about, and every vote added to that total further legitimizess Obama’s victory.

        If Hillary wins the electoral college in a blowout but underperforms in California to the benefit of the Greens, you think that won’t get talked about?

        • Philip

          The Man With the Magic Orange Possum is polling at 27% in California, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it to be honest.

          • sharculese

            Which is exactly my point. I don’t think enough people look at that and think “he can never win here, so I can vote my conscience” for Trump to win the state. What I’m saying is that enough people might think that that Hillary performs significantly worse than a Democrat usually does. If that happens, it becomes A Narrative.

            • Philip

              Oh, I meant that I think he’ll be blown out so badly in CA that it will be hard to build that narrative. Which won’t stop Freddie from trying, but a Clinton win with 75% of the vote wouldn’t stop Freddie.

              • DrDick

                Reality has never stopped Freddie from wanking.

            • Cf Brexit. There were loads of post referendum interviewee where the voter said “I didn’t think Leave would win so I voted Leave as a lark/protest!!”

              It’s like herd immunity. We can tolerate a fair number of defections because others pick up the slack. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get immunised. On the contrary!

              • tsam

                Yes, and popular vote is a thing–even if it’s just a way of conveying the magnitude of a win.

              • econoclast

                These people didn’t show up in post-Brexit polls, so I think every single one of them appeared on TV.

                • I would t be at all surprised if they were an insignificant fraction of the vote, but it still suggests that taking a fuck it attitude toward the intended outcome of your vote is unwise.

                • JohnT

                  Unscientifically, 1-2 out of the 20 people I discussed their vote with claimed to have this or similar ‘thinking’ going on that day, and the same applies to friends who talked to similar numbers (non overlapping friendship groups, but similar demographics.) If pushed I would guess that they were 2-4% of the vote, which was too many.

                • Craigo

                  2% the other way alone would have been a tie.

          • postmodulator

            The Man With the Magic Orange Possum is polling at 27% in California,

            There it is again.

          • los

            The Man With the Magic Orange Possum is polling at 27% in California, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it to be honest.
            and even Johnson (LP candidate) won’t get half of Trump’s bluestate votes.
            Green bluestate votes will be an even smaller fraction of Clinton’s.

        • LosGatosCA

          I completely agree with you, sharculese.

          A perfect example could have been 2000, if Gore had not initially conceded when he was too stupid to know that absentee ballots in CA would deliver the popular vote to him or even the state of the count in Florida actually was (too close to call).

          If he had waited 24 hours, California could have been seen as the tipping point FOR Gore and the whole complexion of the Florida recount would have been different outside of Florida itself, i.e. less pressure on Gore to simply go with his earlier concession, more pressure on the Bushes to allow extended time for the recount, more scrutiny on the process (no Brooks Brothers riot/intimidation acceptance/indifference.

          Of course, none of that would have saved those 3300 butterfly ballot votes for Buchanan intended for Gore in Palm Beach County. But the whole positioning between Gore and Bush during the disputed recounts would have been significantly different.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          That’s precisely why I voted for Obama when I lived in the District. That was 2008 — he won with, I believe, 93% of the vote. We sent those 3 electoral votes flying over to him.

        • ploeg

          The main thing is building coalitions to win on all levels. You might choose to preserve ballot access for the party of your choice, if the party of your choice is actually worth a damn in your locality. If not, you might decide that your time is better spent building bridges with the local representatives of the major party, which is best done without a Jill Stein sticker on your car.

        • JB2

          My thinking is that, the larger the popular vote margin, the easier it will be to do away with the filibuster for SC nominees.

          • LosGatosCA

            Yes.

            Plus the larger the popular vote victory margin is the greater the likely impact on the down ticket races.

            Democratic Party members need to be dedicated to turnout, turnout, turnout.

        • Dilan Esper

          If Hillary wins the electoral college in a blowout but underperforms in California to the benefit of the Greens, you think that won’t get talked about?

          “Talked about” does not equal “harm the left”.

          Most likely, such “talk” would have zero effect- does anyone even remember now that Bill Clinton won with 43 percent of the vote in 1992? It was a big topic of conversation at the time. If it did have an effect, though, it could be a positive effect from the standpoint of the left just as easy as it is a negative effect.

          • sharculese

            Dilan you know I was six in 1992, right?

            But there’s one huge difference between then and now, and it’s the huge ballooning of the number of news channels and websites in need of things to talk about. If Hillary underperforms in deep blue states or, God forbid, loses the popular vote, that’s what will be talked about.

            You might be right, it might not amount to anything. But why take the fucking risk?

            • efgoldman

              If Hillary underperforms in deep blue states or, God forbid, loses the popular vote

              Well, yeah, if she loses the popular vote, we are all toast in myriad ways. But if she wins CA or MA or NY, etc with 55%-60% or more, and the asshole Stein picks up 2% in each, which would be a remarkable achievement, nobody except political junkies will care. The fact that said junkies have more and bigger megaphones than ever before is not relevant.

              • eh

                If Hillary loses, many of us will have to deal with what has apparently been delusional behavior.

            • Dilan Esper

              You might be right, it might not amount to anything. But why take the fucking risk?

              I’m not sure there even is a risk. It’s just as plausible to me that the left denying Clinton more than a narrow victory could result in efforts to shore up support with the left between now and 2020.

              Nobody knows what the effects are of all the “talk”.

              And no, I didn’t know you were six in 1992. I literally don’t know that much about you (though I’d like to know more :) ).

              • rea

                It’s just as plausible to me that the left denying Clinton more than a narrow victory could result in efforts to shore up support with the left between now and 2020.

                Oh, God, now he wants to heighten the contradictions.

          • postmodulator

            does anyone even remember now that Bill Clinton won with 43 percent of the vote in 1992? It was a big topic of conversation at the time.

            Most specifically Dole mentioned it on election night, and used it as his justification to the media to be obstructionist. But since then the GOP has demonstrated that they’ll be obstructionist anyway.

            • LosGatosCA

              Perot got 19% of the popular vote in 92 and 8% in 96. Zero electoral college votes.

              What difference did that make in terms of legislation during the 90’s?

              Very little. Republicans are going to do what Republicans are going to do:

              Stand athwart progress, equity, and decency and yell ‘Stop’

              the 94 midterms set the tone for the political climate that followed – everything else just helped build a convenient narrative to explain predetermined strategies.

              Tax cuts, safety net evisceration, ecological/economic raping, etc.

              • los

                What difference did that make in terms of legislation during the 90’s?
                Very little.

                Does anyone remember Perot’s electoral influence? Maybe limited to one year of receding memory in editorials?
                Also, I thought Perot was consdidred approximatly centrist, thus no matter assumed influence of an assumed “large” Perot vote, that % might induce more compromise, but no “polar” shift in the legislation.

                Republicans are going to do what Republicans are going to do
                and destroy democracy, rather than obey democracy.

            • Jestak

              I remember that too, specifically Dole saying he was going to be speaking “for the 57%.”

        • njorl

          If Trump comes in third in CA people won’t be talking about how badly Clinton did there.

        • cs

          From the perspective of someone who thinks Clinton is the lesser evil but still evil, a Clinton win with an unimpressive popular vote might be the ideal scenario.

          • The Temporary Name

            Not sure how that would help. Enthusiasm for Democrats would help down the ticket, where the laws get written.

            • farin

              I suppose it makes sense if you’re a Romney-ish voter whose ideal candidate is far to HRC’s right and not insane.

        • rewenzo

          If Hillary wins the electoral college in a blowout but underperforms in California to the benefit of the Greens, you think that won’t get talked about?

          Chomsky is talking to people who view Hillary Clinton not as a person that they want to be President but as the lesser of two evils. To expect these people to vote for Clinton so that Clinton can not only win but win with an advantageous narrative is too much. It’s like asking them not only to vote for Clinton but to be happy about it.

          Form the perspective of the reluctant Clinton voter, Clinton winning California but only narrowly due to a surprisingly strong show by the Green Party is the best of both worlds. Trump is not elected and, to the extent Clinton feels pressure, she feels it from her left flank.

          (This does not absolve such voters if they vote for the Green Party downticket, which would help deliver Congress to the Republicans.)

          • LosGatosCA

            I hope you aren’t operating any heavy equipment.

            • cpinva

              when I was but a young sprout, I got high pretty much on a daily basis, and I enjoyed it. however, even at my highest, it would just never have occurred to me to not vote for Carter, or to vote for Reagan. anyone who thinks HRC is the “lesser of two evils”, is just too stupid to even be taken at all seriously. yeah, like FDR, as compared to Hitler & Stalin, was the “lesser evil”, but still evil. Christ, what ignorant assholes those people are.

              if you think I’m being too harsh, tough shit. I’ve watched, for the past 25 years, as the GOP/conservative/ratfuckers/tea bagger propaganda machine has demonized both Clintons, with the collusion of the mainstream media, based on nothing more than the proud stupidity of those who want Donald “I never saw a deal I couldn’t fuck up!” Trump to “Make America Great Again”, as though somehow we’ve turned into some third-world, pre-industrialized country, in the past 8 years.

              the wanton ignorance/racism/misogyny/xenophobia of the Confederate Party should be stomped on mercilessly, tossed into a deep pit, had quicklime spread on it, concrete poured on top, then filled in with dirt. it’s the only way to be sure.

              those people who express admiration for such as Dr. Stein, for her idiotstick “purity”, and refer to HRC as evil, but the lesser of two, should be solidly punched in the face and kicked, as hard as possible, in the gonads. this, to try and ensure their stupid genes don’t repopulate the next generation. they shouldn’t be treated nicely, they haven’t earned it. they should be treated as the stupid people they’ve shown themselves to be.

              oh, and by the way, HRC could win every electoral vote, and 99.99999999999999% of the popular vote, and Mr. DeBonehead will still declare her as just barely taking the election, and the republicans will still treat her presidency as illegitimate, it’s what they all do. take back congress, and who gives a flying fuck what they think.

      • twbb

        My problem with the swing state proposal is that while we can’t let Trump win the electoral college vote, it’s also important that he doesn’t win the popular vote. The only way to really defang the toxic white supremacist vote is to make it clear that a candidate that shares those values will be thoroughly humiliated.

        • sharculese

          I used California as an example, but the national vote is an important part of it, too.

        • Karen24

          And this is even more important in cases like Texas which we can call for the Republicans today. Pushing the Dem vote above 45% here will get the attention of the national party and help to delegitimize the white supremacist vote. (And it is my firm belief that Georgia is a feasible target this time.)

          • sharculese

            I voted for Obama in Georgia in 2008 for just this reason. I will vote for Hillary here for the same one.

            • Karen24

              I read somewhere that Trump is actually polling at zero among African Americans in Georgia. Romney did quite a bit better against Obama.

          • efgoldman

            Pushing the Dem vote above 45% here will get the attention of the national party and help to delegitimize the white supremacist vote.

            Isn’t the state Democratic party mostly moribund in those states except for little blue islands in cities and college towns?

            • Karen24

              Yes, but the cities are pretty dark blue. The R’s still dominate due to the suburbs.

              • skate

                And the cities are big.

      • addicted44

        I think the boundaries of what constitutes a swing state will not be very obvious this election.

        Also. Down ballot.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        I don’t think that really matters. The important point is here is that splitting the vote to benefit Trump isn’t a good idea. And this is targeted at people who aren’t enthusiastic about voting for Clinton or Democrats generally. So it’s a pretty narrow argument.

        Now it so happens that if I were a US citizen and so could vote, my state is possibly the most solid blue in the union, so Chomsky’s narrow argument wouldn’t apply to me. In that case, my refusal to vote for Jill Stein would be based not on a fear of helping Trump win Vermont, but rather an aversion to supporting anyone who peddles false equivalencies, normalizing Trump and risking a Trump presidency, all for the sake of getting enough votes to get public funding for the Green Party.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    But why vote for the lesser evil?

    Write in CTHULHU/SITHRAK!

    • David Hunt

      Cthulu (sort of) won in 2000 under another name and was re-elected in 2004. He is no longer eligible to be President.

      • DRickard

        That was actually one of the lessor avatars of Nyarlathotep; Cthulhu is still eligible for office.

        • David Hunt

          I will accept the judgement of someone versed in the lore. I’ve only sort of whistled as walked by the Lovecraftian graveyard.

          I will note that I used to see “Cthulu/Yoggoth – when you’re tired of voting for the lesser of two evils” buttons every election but stopped seeing them after 2000. It seemed to me there was a general consensus that there was no longer any point.

          • q-tip

            Yoggoth (I think it’s usually spelled “Yuggoth,” but after all it’s a name that no human tongue can really pronounce properly, so whatevs) is a place.
            The buttons probably had “Yog-Sothoth” as Cthulhu’s running mate? Which is actually kinda weird because there are indications that Cthulhu may be a priest, and Y-S is almost certainly a god. On the other hand, Cthulhu’s got the name recognition. Plus it might be a Bush-Cheney kind of deal. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            • Philip

              The “Why vote for the lesser of two evils” stuff was Cthulhu/Dagon in 2012, I remember.

              • Tyto

                Yep. The 2016 slogan is “No lives matter.”

              • q-tip

                Ah, thanks! To me, Dagon would be something like the Mike Huckabee of the Mythos – consistently underperforming, and once the primary’s over you forget he’s around. But he does have a few frog-faced diehard supporters who keep hope alive.

                Wouldn’t choosing a non-aquatic running mate be the smarter move for Cthulhu, though? I think Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, would balance the ticket. (Limbaugh?)

                I’m gonna say Sarah Palin is Ithaqua the Wind-Walker and Trump is Azathoth.

                • I think Shub-Niggurath, Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young

                  Kids these days…

                • GeoX

                  You know, if “Shub-Niggurath” had been created by someone who WASN’T a really, really virulent racist even by the standards of his time, I’d believe that the name could just be a really unfortunate coincidence. But…

        • DrDick

          Cthulhu was the VP during that administration.

      • Karen24

        No, Vice Presidents can run for President after their terms end.

        • Philip

          +an uncountable number of tentacles which exist in a non-Euclidean configuration

    • polyorchnid octopunch

      Oglaf ftw!

  • Steve LaBonne

    Oh noes, the neoliberal goon squad got to Chomsky! Only HA and Freddie can save us now! (I kid, Chomsky is no idiot and has been saying this forever.)

    • Scott Lemieux

      Which has always been one of the major problems of Freddie’s belief that when you disagree with him you disagree with The Left.

    • J Alfred Press

      No, you’re right. No need to try to play it off as a joke. Chomsky used to have some cred, did some good underground work, but he’s sold out hard. It’s like when Bad Religion dropped Stranger Than Fiction. Heck, the biggest single was a song they’d already put on two previous albums! I was so mad. What a betrayal! And now Chomsky? Why I can’t even.
      (Freddie has always reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Skinner tries to smooth talk Ms Krabappel by saying “I’ve always admired your ability to be personally offended by broad cultural trends.”)

      • postmodulator

        It’s like when Bad Religion dropped Stranger Than Fiction. Heck, the biggest single was a song they’d already put on two previous albums!

        What album besides Against the Grain?

        • solidcitizen

          I’m guessing s/he means All Ages, but that came out a year later.

          • postmodulator

            Live versions don’t count, either.

            • solidcitizen

              More of a greatest hits album with some live versions.

        • vic rattlehead

          Great or greatest Bad Religion album?

          • postmodulator

            I’d probably say greatest. “Anesthesia” was my favorite song for a while in high school and I still listen to it at the gym.

          • solidcitizen

            I’m a Suffer guy, but Against the Grain is great.

    • Anna in PDX

      Heck it’s not just Chomsky either. I am Internet friends with Intercept author Jon Schwarz (from his Tiny Revolution days) and his “sane evil people” is the one I always trot out for my stupid purist friends. He is no “neoliberal”.

      ETA: In case this reads funny I am specifically responding to the parenthetical in your comment.

  • kped

    I was never idealistic, so I never thought like these people. It’s always struck me as bizarre that seemingly intelligent people can’t make the distinction that Scott and now Chomsky make here, but it’s so obviously correct.

    The DeBoer’s and Bragman’s and Sarandon’s and Stein’s are all quite stupid. I mean that honestly and sincerely.

    BTW, read Boners new piece…it’s comedy gold.

    Which wouldn’t be a big deal if the aggression this all engendered wasn’t so intense, if there wasn’t such menace lurking in these guys, the Hillary Men. When I look at someone like this, I say to myself “this is someone who wants credit.” And it’s that credit-seeking that leads to the intense anger towards people to his left. He says to himself, I’ve come all this way far over, as a white dude, and there are still people attacking me for not being left enough. How dare they? Where’s my prize?

    This is pure projection. This from the man who was desperate for a pat on the head from Sady Doyle years ago for his feminism. This is a pathetic man.

    • kped

      Eh, got to the end and he said he just invented that crude stereotype, so I’ll have to let him off the hook for this!

    • Jay B.

      This is what I’ve never gotten about some of these third party runs — their candidates SUCK. And I don’t mean because I disagree with them (even if I do), but from an actual political way. Stein bitching about the DNC as an overtly political organization is idiotic — and likening them to Russia on top of it. It’s a thing a really shitty candidate would say. She’s a shitty candidate. Nader was a shitty candidate.

      • twbb

        Gary Johnson seems perfectly competent, though I would not vote for him because he’s a libertarian and unlike a lot of Bernieorbusters I recognize that libertarianism is the opposite of what Bernie advocated for.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          I certainly would love to know what Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party’s plan to overcome income inequality is. Considering that in general the Libertarian response is along the lines of, “if you didn’t want to be poor, you should have founded your own company” or something like that.

          • twbb

            Libertarians tend not to see a problem with income inequality at a fundamental level, though they will argue that a lot of poverty is driven by the welfare state.

            • CrunchyFrog

              Right. The reasons most Libertarians are basically near-Republicans is that they believe hard in the free market fairy princess to solve everything but national defense and the police.

          • If you can’t break up the banks, vote for the guy who wants to repeal all banking regulations; if Hillary wants $12 min wage and not $15, vote for the guy who want to repeal the min wage; if you can’t have universal single payer; vote for the guy who will abolish all government health insurance; if I can’t have my magic pony, fuck you all you’re all a bunch of losers.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              Seriously. I am tired of people getting seduced by the issues that the Libertarians are good on, which are important issues — ending the surveillance state, reigning in police abuses (to an extent), skeptical toward war, etc. — but then the other half of their platform is to allow corporations to run amok across the face of the planet, waging the same kind of Hell that they say they want to stop from the government. It is an incoherent ideology.

              • Matt McIrvin

                It is fairly coherent if you accept their set of axioms about which kinds of power are legitimate or illegitimate. These axioms are completely nutty, however, and they’re incapable of understanding why they’re not self-evident.

              • njorl

                Libertarians believe oppression should be privatized.

                • Woodrowfan

                  I am so lasting that!!!!

                • Lost Left Coaster

                  Well-said!

                • weirdnoise

                  The invisible hand wears an iron fist.

              • LosGatosCA

                I certainly would love to know what Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party’s plan to overcome income inequality is.

                LL- No such plan exists. Developing such a plan is not seen as necessary in any way, shape or form by libertarians. Inequality does not impede a (usually) wealthy libertarian from exercising their full privilege.

                I am tired of people getting seduced by the issues that the Libertarians are good on,

                LLC – If by people you mean Republicans, I understand your point. If you mean non-pothead non-Republicans, I don’t.

          • Jim in Baltimore

            Or, as Herblock put it into the mouth of Goldwater, “‘If you had any initiative, you’d go out and inherit a department store.'”

        • Jay B.

          Oh, I agree. I’m actually surprised he doesn’t have more traction. I think Libertarianism is a hopeless joke and empty-headed besides — government imposes on our freedoms, but corporations don’t, even though corporations would somehow be tamed because FREE MARKET, even though we will have no regulatory state to rein them in at all. — but he seems like a good enough candidate for people who believe in all that bullshit.

          • lunaticllama

            When discussing politics with libertarians (thankfully not that often), I always like to make the argument that corporations are creatures of state regulation just like any other government regulation such as the minimum wage. Most states didn’t have corporate charter statutes until nearly the end of the 19th century (NJ and DE were the first in, I believe, the 1890’s.) I ask if they support abolishing corporate charter statutes and corporations as legal entities, because of the obvious affront to our freedoms. Reactions have varied quite widely to say the least.

            • Matt McIrvin

              A few of them will actually insist that they want to eliminate limited-liability corporations. It’s not what they usually emphasize, though.

              • lunaticllama

                I have gotten a few that said they would eliminate corporations as well. I guess they envision some sort of idyllic land of small businesses, but at that point, they are really just fantasizing about a completely new organization of society.

                • postmodulator

                  The libertarians with really consistent beliefs are really minarchists, who, yes, are imagining a pretty revolutionary change in society. They are also nearly all bugfuck insane. The last one I got into it with was furious that people voted, because he didn’t consent to be governed by the winner of the election.

                  (Was his job dependent on tax dollars? Of course his job was dependent on tax dollars. So still not all that consistent.)

                • Matt McIrvin

                  They often have an overt contempt for democracy, supported with quotes from Robert Heinlein.

              • twbb

                Libertarians tend to want to offload regulatory structures to private tort and contract law, while simultaneously trying to weaken private tort and contract law.

            • Stephen Reineccius

              My father-in-law likes to bill himself as a hard-core libertarian. We have a good laugh about this often. He wants to get rid of “federal reserve notes” so badly that he gave my husband and I our wedding gift in silver coins.

              • LosGatosCA

                A shotgun and gold bullion for your 10th I’m sure.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Libertarian plan for inequality:
          1) Why aren’t you people working harder?
          2) And for longer hours?
          3) repeat 1 & 2

          Libertarians are the Dalai Lama of money: they feel pain and empathy for money. People, not so much. To them, poverty is not an injustice. The injustice is taking the money of winners and giving it to losers. Basically, everyting’s fine! Except for any regulation or spending that makes the rich and powerful inconvenienced.

          The working conditions in these two pieces are an example of things that libertarians don’t give one fucking whit about:

          https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/07/07/the-horrible-things-i-saw-driving-a-van-packed-with-prisoners#.Oq74Zg1z3

          The longer, journalistic article:

          https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/07/06/inside-the-deadly-world-of-private-prisoner-transport#.8Ecp84pf8

          • Rob in CT

            Propertarians.

        • Dilan Esper

          Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are unusually well qualified for third party candidates. (That’s not an endorsement- just a statement of fact.)

          But really, that’s not something third parties can be blamed for. We live in a two party system, which means third parties are rarely going to get candidates with a lot of experience.

          In the end, unless you are going to repeal the First Amendment and abolish third parties, they are going to be on the ballot and run candidates, and they are likely to have less conventional qualifications.

          On the other hand, it isn’t as though the Republican nominee this year is qualified either.

          • postmodulator

            I’ll give you the unusually well qualified, and that’s probably entirely down to the Trump nomination. Put it another way: Gary Johnson is the first third-party candidate in my lifetime who would probably not completely screw up the presidency out of incompetence, if he were to somehow win.

            • Matt McIrvin

              Screwing it up out of libertarian ideology though…

              • postmodulator

                Oh, sure. By incompetence I am literally confining myself to things like Paul LePage passing bills he thought he was vetoing. Nader would have done stuff like that. Perot would have done stuff like that. Gary Johnson probably wouldn’t.

        • If I was a Libertarian I would be happy about having Gary Johnson as my candidate. He’s a credible, principled politician even though he’s wrong. Everything Trump is not.

          • twbb

            No, Trump’s wrong too.

      • cleek

        Stein bitching about the DNC as an overtly political organization is idiotic

        Stein wouldn’t be the hero to dozens of idiots were she not idiotic.

      • sharculese

        Stein has two problems. The first is that she has a penchant for bombast and eye-catching stunts, but she doesn’t have the resources or logistical skills to pull them off, so everything she does ends up looking sad and desperate.

        The second is that she’s a moron.

        • los

          sad and desperate
          /trump tweet

    • Rob in CT

      Pure projection. FdB shares more with wingnuts than he would ever know/admit.

      • kped

        True, but on this one i erred, he says at the end it’s a caricature (although it is one he truly does believe given everything else he has said, in this instance, he at least pretends he doesn’t).

        But he is the king of projection. If you criticize a Bern-or-Bust person on the grounds that Chomsky or Lemieux does, he goes with the non-sequitur “you hate the left”. Which is nonsense. People mocked PUMA’s for the same reason the mock Berners, and PUMA’s were not anywhere near the “left”. We mock the petulant, childish special snowflake attitude. Not where they fall on the political spectrum.

        Having said that…Freddie does truly hate liberals. Everything he writes is dripping in contempt for them. We are vile appeasers and neoliberal hacks to him. So I think it makes him feel better about his hatred to attribute that to his critics. I don’t criticize him for being “leftier” than me. I criticize him for being a fucking idiot and not being able to argue a point without tripping over his own dick.

        • TM1

          Does he really think we give a shit if he labors under the delusion that the Democrats are a “center-right” party? That we’re not “lefty” enough for him?

      • TM1

        The people that tend to cite and retweet him are conservatives. Someday he’ll be a Fox News Liberal.

    • wjts

      Christ, what a shitty writer.

      • TM1

        Remember: Freddie actually teaches rhetoric and writing IIRC.

        • Rob in CT

          This fact is one thing that makes me wonder if academia may really have some things to answer for…

          • efgoldman

            if academia may really have some things to answer for…

            Academia has lots to answer for, not least what it costs.

    • sam

      My favorite is the twitter example he pulls from, where a guy is basically writing something castigating the (obviously male) asses shouting down people like that awesome 102-year-old lady the other night, and a woman jumps in to sea lion all over him about “erasing her”. HE WASN’T TALKING TO HER. If that’s the best Boners can come up with?

      Hint: If you’re not the asshole shouting down 102-year-old ladies? This guy’s not talking about you and you don’t need to “defend” your existence.

      • Aexia

        It’s kind of like how we can’t criticize Trump’s racism and misogyny because that would be erasing Omarosa.

        • DW

          Oh, wait… Is that’s what this is about? I read the exchange Sam mentioned and was thoroughly confused about who was coming from where. Rephrasing it in the way you did makes its bugfncking insanity much clearer.

    • MAJeff

      What the everloving fuck?

  • Merkwürdigliebe

    The basic moral principle at stake is simple: not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Well, that all depends. The 28% that Hold America Hostage – and many more of our fellow citizens – thought it very important that King Ronnie made America feel good about itself. (With healthy doses of violence dispensed overseas, among other things.)

      • Philip

        It made a certain part of them feel very good indeed.

  • Rob in CT

    Yggy’s case for Clinton:

    http://www.vox.com/2016/7/28/12308198/hillary-clinton-speech-dnc

    It’s longer than a typical Yglesias piece, and I think better for it.

    • Turangalila

      Good piece, but I do actually hope she gives a decent speech and keeps it short and focused.

  • West

    I voted Anderson in PA in 1980, my first presidential election. My parents went through the roof, and over time, I came to regret it and no longer forgive myself. Haven’t made that mistake again.

    I just looked up the #s on Wikipedia to refresh my memory. If 100% of Anderson voters had been shifted to Carter, Reagan still would’ve won PA. But the margin would have been damned tight. If you assume the other three left of center candidates (Consumer, Socialist Workers, and Communist!) had all been shifted to Carter along with us Anderson voters, then Carter would’ve beaten Reagan, but ONLY if you left the Libertarian voters untouched. Shift the Libtards to Reagan, and Reagan would’ve won PA, by a whisker. So I could hide behind these numbers and say it didn’t matter, except if Anderson had not been in the race, the dynamic would have been a lot different. I for damned certain would have voted Carter if Anderson was not in there.

    What goes around comes around. I have two daughters voting in the presidential election for the first time this year (one has voted in off-year elections before). One is clearly partially susceptible to the anti-Clinton argument, under the influence of certain persons who ….. ’nuff said. I think I’ve got her convinced to go Clinton – made some good progress last night. At least we’re in MA, where it ought not make a difference. But still, I hear my father laughing at me from the great beyond, and all I can do is laugh along.

    • shawn k

      I hear you. I voted for Barry Commoner in 80, my first presidential election and have sworn off 3rd party votes ever since. Now I have some nephews who are hard core Bernie or Bust types. I’d be more annoyed at them if I didn’t see myself in the mirror.

      • Brad Nailer

        So did I. I always wondered who the other one was.

        • los

          So did I. I always wondered who the other one was
          the guy in the mirror, of course

    • Matt McIrvin

      If you look at the evolution of national polling in 1980s, it looks like Anderson was not a spoiler but did serve as a kind of gateway drug for Reagan. A big chunk of Carter’s support went immediately to Anderson when he declared as an independent, then those voters trickled gradually over to Reagan as the months went by. But I doubt anything specific to the election campaign could have saved Carter.

      • I think I voted for Anderson in the primary, but Carter in the general. It was my first ever vote and I really didn’t know anything at all. Carter was too southern, too religious, too judgy and preachy for me. I still have an almost visceral reaction to his voice even though I have come to love and respect him since he left office.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Anderson had run as a Republican in the primaries, so Carter wouldn’t have been an option in that primary.

      • West

        If you look at the evolution of national polling in 1980s, it looks like Anderson was not a spoiler but did serve as a kind of gateway drug for Reagan. A big chunk of Carter’s support went immediately to Anderson when he declared as an independent, then those voters trickled gradually over to Reagan as the months went by.

        Interesting, that’s not how I remember it. At least, this was not the case for me: if Anderson had dropped out, I’d have gone back to Carter, no chance I was voting Reagan. I can not recreate my thinking for sticking with Anderson. It was confused (and on more fronts than just this one).

        But I doubt anything specific to the election campaign could have saved Carter.

        This I agree with fully, and my thinking hasn’t changed over time.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Anderson did retain some support in the end, but his final share plus Carter’s was less than Reagan’s; the rest of Carter’s majority had flipped Republican.

        • JustRuss

          ’80 was my first election. Carter had really been tarred as a loser, between the Iran debacle and his issues with Congress, which had much fewer lunatics back then. Plus the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, post-oil shortage albatrosses (albatri?) hanging around his neck.

          Anderson was baggage-free and seemed like a good guy. I don’t recall if I voted for him, but I did consider it.

      • efgoldman

        I doubt anything specific to the election campaign could have saved Carter.

        Yes, something that some of our leftish colleagues refuse to admit. “Has been B grade actor” and all.
        Two-term governor of CA. That’s a pretty good foundation whether you liked him or not (I hated him).
        Economy in the crapper, primaried by a leader of his own party (Ted Kennedy), hostages in Iran and rescue attempt failed – no chance at all.

    • MyNameIsZweig

      If it makes you feel any better, Anderson won the mock election in my Michigan fourth grade classroom that year. By a landslide.

      • West

        This burden has been lifted from my psyche.

        Thank you.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      That things are close — or might be closer than you realize — is a reason to vote, and then, when you do, a reason to vote carefully.

      The Bush/Gore recount in FL got me mad not just at the hijinks of the usual greedy, grabby assholes, and not just the voting rights deniers and the games they had played when preparing the ambush before November, but also mad at the dopes who might have voted Gore but stayed home because of the usual excuses of the apolitical or the lazy. I know there were more than 300 or 1,000 of them in FL that election day.

      • Matt McIrvin

        The frustrating thing about Florida is that it was so close that many, many things could be blamed as “but-for” causes of Bush’s win. One defense Naderites had was that the vote shares of even smaller candidates than theirs could have flipped the election, like one of the fringe socialist parties. And then there were the Jewish retirees who accidentally voted for Buchanan because of the butterfly ballot, and whatever effect the ham-fisted felon disenfranchisement list might have had, and and and…

        • Aexia

          They do love to bring up all the “Democrats” that voted for Bush. Love the implication that Gore should’ve pandered harder to conservative Dixiecrats in the panhandle.

        • twbb

          The Bernieorbusters and the Steinists are already setting themselves up to avoid the blame for a Trump win; that if their votes throw the election to Trump that it was Hillary’s fault for “not convincing them.”

          • farin

            It’s amazing how closely they echo the language of domestic abusers: “You shouldn’t have made me hurt you.”

    • Rob in CT

      Well, I rather embarrassingly voted Libertarian in 1996 and Green in, gulp, 2000. Both in CT so my youthful idiocy didn’t do any real damage. But still, ugh.

  • Sargon

    This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative.

    This is a really interesting point. People often say things like, “Oh, the Democrats can just use the threat of Trump et al to get lefty votes without actually moving left,” or more annoyingly, “something something politics of fear something something.” But here, Chomsky is suggesting that this mechanism comes into play much more strongly after a Democratic loss than before one. This is, I think, in direct opposition to most of the “let’s show the Dems they need the left by sitting this one out” arguments one hears, and it might be beneficial to emphasize it more.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I’ve come to recognize that those “politics of fear” retorts basically amount to “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME”. It’s probably best to move on when you get that.

      • Anna in PDX

        Yeah and half the time they are defensively responding to something that was not even directly addressed to them. It’s very “if the shoe fits” as far as I am concerned.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Part of that may be that the lion’s share of support for third-party fringe left candidates is in very blue states, but the trouble they can cause is down to marginal differences in swing states. The majority of their supporters have gotten used to the idea that their vote doesn’t matter anyway, so it can be used in a primarily expressive fashion.

          Especially if they’re in California, which, even though it’s got the largest bloc of electoral votes in the entire country by far, is both (today) a very predictable state, and one where the polls close after most people have figured out who’s going to win the election.

        • Matt McIrvin

          …Also, there are times when I’ve been talking about this and thinking of Bernie liberals who are voting for Stein, but the people who actually give irritated responses are Gary Johnson libertarians who would never have voted for any Democrat anyway.

      • IS

        It’s why I think the campaign song for the BoB/Stein crowd should be The Lonely Island’s “Threw It On The Ground.”

        • BiloSagdiyev

          You can’t trust the system!

          • IS

            I’m an aduuuuult!

      • Joseph Slater

        Like so much on that side of things, the “politics of fear” critique is usually made by people who have relatively less to fear from a Trump presidency.

    • delazeur

      I think we were just talking in the last comment section about how after the 2004 election people concluded that Democrats needed a staunch anti-abortion candidate to win 2008.

      • Anna in PDX

        I know people here hate this phrase, but I think this is a good example of how the Overton Window really works. Usually you can’t move it quickly by choosing new terminology but it is still true that over time it moves and what was politically difficult becomes more feasible and vice versa.

      • Matt McIrvin

        I mentioned that, and, to be fair, it was not a common sentiment. And the Dems didn’t actually move right.

        But, yes, there was this idea that Democrats needed some kind of appeal to hardline white cultural conservatives who were upset about abortion and gay marriage. The softer Amy Sullivan version was that Democrats vaguely needed to have a better story on “faith”.

        • Jay B.

          Ugh. Amy Sullivan. I really hated that bullshit.

          • Matt McIrvin

            As liberal Christians with a religious focus go, I really prefer Fred Clark’s take; though he hates the situation, he’s extremely skeptical that attempts to meet the religious right halfway will ever solve anything.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              I’ll be danged if I can find it on the google image search, but back in the 90’s or so, maybe very early 2000’s, was a very fine Oliphant cartoon, an official being told that some gentlemen had come to talk to him about the funding for PBS, but it was just a mob of angry gorillas with hatchets pouring into the office.

              “Let’s meet them halfway” isn’t always prudent or wise.

        • witlesschum

          There’s a blast from the past. I wonder if she’s still singing that song someplace?

          • Matt McIrvin

            Yeah, I think she has a Twitter account at least.

  • ploeg

    Points 6 and 7 are also worth considering:

    6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.

    7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it. They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.

    I don’t think that Chomsky would take these the way that I do, but it seems to me that, if you’re going to vote for a candidate that is certain to lose, you’d better have a good reason to do so, even if you’re in a nominally “safe state”. For example, ballot access is a commonly given reason for voting Green, but if your local Green party isn’t doing jack squat and has no prospects of doing jack squat in the future, support of the Greens gives you a warm feeling but nobody notices. Might as well build bridges with the local Democrats and discourage your friends in “swing states” from voting Green.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I know, who cares about ballot access for the Greens? I would need to see someone actually make a case for how having the Greens on the ballot is beneficial in any way to anyone except for the handful of Greens who somehow make a career out of crawling out every four years to give interviews on Fox News about how Hillary Clinton sucks.

      • D.N. Nation

        I have….we’ll say less-than-gently, admittedly….asked my local Greens in Atlanta why they should contort themselves to support Jill Stein, who is a bad candidate and a bad progressive and a bad person in general, and whether or not fealty to her and other bozos is a good argument for having the party on the ballot. I am looked at like I have four heads.

        Think of it this way. If you went to Athens on any home game Saturday in the fall, and had a petition calling for Todd Gurley II to be on the statewide ballot for, eh, whatever, I’m sure you’d get a ton of signatures just because. How is that any different than MUST SUPPORT JILLY? (If anything, Todd’s less of a ranging asshole. Chill dude. Love him. I’d vote for ya, Todd.)

      • ploeg

        If you live in an effectively one-party state such as Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Democratic Party is as bad as Loomis describes it to be, you might be driven to get some sort of alternative going. But even there, you need to put some thought into what you’re trying to do and evaluate how it’s working. Even in cases where some Greens win seats in the state legislature, they typically aren’t the majority and must work with Democrats to get anything done.

    • efgoldman

      For example, ballot access is a commonly given reason for voting Green, but if your local Green party isn’t doing jack squat and has no prospects of doing jack squat in the future, support of the Greens gives you a warm feeling but nobody notices.

      We are talking about an infinitesimally small percentage of voters here. They will not make a difference in the EV of any state. None. At. All.
      Once again we’re conflating the universal availability of bigger and louder megaphone (the intartoobz) with any actual political power.

      ETA: But Stein and the Berniebro dead-enders are still ignorant, self-centered assholes.

      ETA2: We shouldn’t call her “Dr Jill” lest she be confused with Dr Jill Biden.

  • I wrote in Bill Clinton in 2000 (my first election) and will probably write in Obama this year to protest the vileness that is the 22nd Amendment. (It’s okay, I live in Michigan.)

    • Rob in CT

      I mean, I get that MI is pretty safe, but this isn’t really any different than voting for Jill Stein, is it?

      • If I thought that I wouldn’t do it. And if I lived in Florida or Ohio or any state that had voted Republican in my adult lifetime, I wouldn’t do it either.

        It is a protest vote, but it’s for a Democrat I think far better suited to the Presidency than Clinton. And the 22nd Amendment is Republican authored disgrace.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Okay. I guess my question is, why bother going down and voting at all? It’s not like the person who reads your write-in is going to have their mind blown.

          • Well, I vote mostly straight Democrat down ballot, so there’s that.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              Okay. Yeah, that’s a pretty good reason.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                It might also give Sean Hannity something to get mad about, or Bill O’Reilly a stroke, so that might be a fun reason for a few hundred people to do it.

                • Woodrowfan

                  who will know? When I work at the polls we don’t report who write-ins votes are for. We just report “there were x write-ins.”

                  Note; this is for the individual “protest” write-ins. Were there an organized write-in campaign we’d report who they were for. But the individual votes, no.

        • witlesschum

          As much as I agree about Obama, the 22nd Amendment and all term limits, I think blog comments are a far better place to make this statement. I’m gonna mark the thing for Clinton and try to make sure as many others as I can convince do so also.

          Michigan is probably safe, but why even mess around with this where no one’s gonna see it?

          • gmack

            Right. In the great constellation of voting behavior, this particular act is comparatively innocuous. However, you would have significantly more effect on challenging the 22nd amendment by, say, writing a letter to various political leaders and encouraging others to do the same. Or by starting a blog on the subject, or writing letters to the editor.

            • efgoldman

              you would have significantly more effect on challenging the 22nd amendment by, say, writing a letter to various political leaders

              I think Michelle Obama would kill BHO or anyone who seriously suggested it – and no-one would even charge her.
              Do you want to kill him?

              The amendment was a response to a historical event that occurred exactly once, in an incredible time in our history. No president before or since even tried for a third term, let alone a fourth. Obama will be only the 14th president to be elected twice and serve out the full eight years.

              • Matt McIrvin

                On the other hand, Barack himself clearly would like to run again. It’d be a quandary but, yes, Michelle probably has the veto.

              • gmack

                Heh. I personally have no interest whatever in the 22nd amendment. My only point is that advocating for the repeal of that amendment by writing in people who aren’t qualified for the office is, well, let’s be generous and call it an idiosyncratic model of political influence.

    • brewmn

      Yeah, this is pretty stupid. Plus, Michael Moore has repeatedly assured me that Michigan is Trump Country and is part of his smoothly-paved road to the White House

      • Anna in PDX

        God that Michael Moore article. It was awful. What is up with him? I have been a fan for many years. He must be really depressed these days to write that.

        • Moore is a guy whose heart is in the right place, but whose ego places him at the center of everything such that perspective isn’t his strong suit. The white working class people he cares about in Michigan have been screwed over for 40 years, and Trump is the first candidate who’s got them riled up since 1984.

          Trump will do better with them than Romney, I’ve no doubt of that, but the offset losses among college whites, women, and every kind of minority will overwhelm that. Obama won MI in 2008 by 17. I don’t think Clinton will quite get there, but I’ll be stunned if she wins by less than 10.

          • so-in-so

            Moore is a guy whose heart is in the right place, but whose ego places him at the center of everything such that perspective isn’t his strong suit.

            I guess we are lucky he is running third party, sounds like he would fit in.

          • Linnaeus

            Union voters still matter in Michigan, too. That will cut into Trump’s appeal to non-college educated white voters.

          • Barry_D

            “The white working class people he cares about in Michigan have been screwed over for 40 years, and Trump is the first candidate who’s got them riled up since 1984.”

            White, right-wing Michiganders get riled up for every election.

        • JMV Pyro

          Trump’s the evil mirror universe version of the populist, white working class emphasizing candidate that Moore always wanted. The man is so convinced that that sort of thing is a sure winner he’s scared out of his mind.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Michael Moore is not big on the systematic collection of empirical data.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          I used to be a fan, but he shoots from the hip too much and focuses on silly, not-very-entertaining stunts. I think his opinion of his audience is, frankly, too low.

          • Scott Lemieux

            I’ve said this before, but I’m still pissed off that, given a large audience to watch an anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War movie, he spent so much time wanking on about the imaginary Afghanistan pipeline.

    • so-in-so

      I assume this is a joke, as surely nobody would get the point of that protest (not that anyone ‘gets’ protest votes anyway).

      Which should be obvious, but nobody wants to understand. If you are a BoBer who votes Trump, or Stein, how in R’lyeh does ANYBODY know you didn’t just prefer the person you voted for?

    • Karen24

      I feel obligated to note that Michigan is not California and that Obama himself considers Clinton as the extension of his administration, so please reconsider. If not, we will reminded to be sure and show up at the polls on November 19.

    • Please don’t write in someone just to make some kind of statement. Speaking as someone who has worked the polls for several years this is incredibly insulting and difficult to deal with. At the end of the night we have an enormously difficult task to do rounding up, counting, accounting for every ballot, making sure everything is perfect. One of the things we have to do manually is total up and write up every ballot that has a stray/unreadable/written in candidate. One year some fucking moron wrote in “Lizard People” instead of Obama or Kerry (forget which election it was). We are rushing to get everything docketed and ready then we load the boxes into a police car and take them to headquarters where everything is read and tallied. its just so demeaning and insulting to make people do this extra step—which happens after a day that runs, almost without a break, from 7 in the morning to 9 at night plus whatever time it takes to handle the extra issues like tallying the various kinds of ballots (the inspector does not get a shift, we just work the entire day without a break).

      • Speaking as someone who has worked the polls for several years this is incredibly insulting and difficult to deal with.

        That’s a fair point. However:

        1) I’m not writing in “Lizard People” or Mickey Mouse, I’m making a valid, if very tiny, point. (Also, I am always very careful about my penmanship on that.)

        2) My weird little precinct has almost no voters in it. I just looked it up, grand total for 2012 was 467. 2014 was only 151. I vote enough that I’m friendly (if not friends) with the people there (we’ve got a primary on Tuesday where the total votes will almost certainly be <40), and they aren't haggard. They spend a lot of even general election days reading books and were nice enough to ask after me when I didn't make it until a half hour before the polls closed this spring.

        3) The rest of my ballot is fill-in-the-bubble.

        I wouldn't want to stay up counting Lizard People votes either, but that's not what I'm doing. If I was voting in one of those precincts you see on the news with lines out the door, I probably wouldn't do it. As it is though, I like my little protest.

        • Gee Suss

          A protest that no one will see nor notice. Did you even read the article?

        • Aaron Morrow

          I know the Electoral College matters, but the popular vote difference is going to be what everyone focuses on afterwords.

          Please consider helping Clinton get over 50%, as your protest vote will not count and thus not make your Very Serious Point.

        • efgoldman

          I’m not writing in “Lizard People” or Mickey Mouse, I’m making a valid, if very tiny, point. (Also, I am always very careful about my penmanship on that.)

          This is just pure bullshit ego by you.

        • Woodrowfan

          no one will know but the 2 election officers who see the ballot. Sticking a bumper sticker on your car that says “Re-Elect Obama in 2016” will be seen by hundreds more people. Hell, going out on your front lawn and yelling “I wish I could vote for Obama again!” would be a more effective protest than a write-in.

      • kped

        …but….he wants to protest! Who cares if only some earnest volunteer sees it, it matters!

        • Moondog von Superman

          … and if the only impression it makes is a really negative one, on that earnest volunteer.

          • Ronan

            But then for that earnest volunteer who takes offence, there is another who finds it amusing and it helps break the monotony.

      • Aexia

        The recount in the 2008 MN Senate race turned up someone who wrote-in “Lizard People”. It took off from there as a meme so I’m sure there were lots of copy cats in 2012.

    • rea

      Christ. I don’t know why anyone thinks that MI, with Republican control of all 3 branches of state governmen, is a sure thing for the Democrats

      • Like all states, it has its quirks. The entire state House is up every two years, but the state Senate has 4-year terms that are only up in non-Presidential years. The same is true of the governors office. So the electorate that brought us Rick Snyder and the Flint water fiasco is very different than the one that voted for Al Gore by 5 points, John Kerry by 4 points, and Obama by 17 and then 10 points.

        The state Senate has also been gerrymandered like you wouldn’t believe. The Democrats haven’t controlled it since (I think) 1984, even though voters routinely award Democratic state senate candidates hundreds of thousands more votes. The 2006 Democratic wave, for example, took down just a single Republican state senator. That was one of the bitterest disappointments at the state level of my lifetime.

        The reason Michigan is safely blue at the Presidential level while having a solid Republican state government is structural. They tried to ratfuck it by changing electoral vote apportionment to per-Congressional district, but that (mercifully) flamed out.

        • J Smith

          Fellow Michigander here, delurking. Don’t–just don’t. What you propose will have no effect on the 22 amd. Pointless from that angle. And MI needs every Clinton vote we can get.

      • Matt McIrvin

        It might not be the safest state, but it’s not currently polling like a swing state. Pundits like to spin fantasies about Trump carrying both Michigan and Wisconsin, because of local Republican wins and vague ideas that Great Lakes Rust Belt states should be winnable, but there’s no evidence that it’s happening.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          We have solid evidence – aka the result of the primary vs the previous polling – that polling in Michigan is all kinds of fucked up and CANNOT be trusted. We cannot rely on Michigan to be a “safe” state.

          • J Smith

            Exactly

    • The Temporary Name

      (It’s okay, I live in Michigan.)

      Please consider my level of panic.

  • shawn k

    Chomsky as the voice of reason. Up really is down this time round.

    • Loofah

      Amazing that one of the top philosophers of the 20th Century can speak reasonably…

  • Matt McIrvin

    Chomsky has actually been saying similar things for some time, if I recall correctly. Maybe not in such detail.

    • Gee Suss

      I would like to see any evidence of this. I seem to remember him being in Nader’s camp in 2000.

      • Rob in CT

        “For some time” could easily mean the last 15 years. Which gets us back to 2001.

        Anyone who had any brains learned from the 2000 election.

        • Gee Suss

          Touché.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Even in 2000, didn’t he specifically say that people should vote for Nader in blue states and Gore in swing states? This is a vague recollection of mine and may be wrong.

        • Gregor Sansa

          I vaguely corroborate you on that.

          • Scott Lemieux

            That’s what I thought too.

    • mds

      Yup. At the time of the PPACA’s passage, he also correctly noted that it was marginally better than the status quo. So he’s been a neoliberal DLC sellout for a while now.

      Remember how all those leftier-than-thou types were so outraged by the unrelieved awfulness of Obamacare, long before “Bernie or Bust” was so much as a twinkle in their assholes? I would guess that the Venn Diagram of “PPACA is worse than nothing” and “Clinton is still a Goldwater Girl” is pretty close to a single circle, aka an integer representation of their IQs.

      • Aexia

        Yeah, I think all of the “KILL THE BILL” ACA crowd went for Bernie.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Remember how all those leftier-than-thou types were so outraged by the unrelieved awfulness of Obamacare, long before “Bernie or Bust” was so much as a twinkle in their assholes?

        That was pretty much when FDL and Naked Capitalism permanently broke.

      • JMV Pyro

        Oh there’s no question that they’re the exact same people.

  • calling all toasters

    Last call for the what-Hillary-has-to-say-tonight-to-earn-my-vote articles!!!!!

    • (((Hogan)))

      “This will not be a fit country for decent people to live in until the blood of the rich runs in torrents down Wall Street.”

      • calling all toasters

        “GOP delenda est”

        • (((Hogan)))

          “I will rescue the peoples of the cities! I will restore the tablets of destiny!

          “Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light! Sit at my right hand until I make of your enemies your footstool! Trump shall be your footstool!”

          Or words to that effect.

    • junker

      Not only will I oppose the TPP, I will oppose the concept of trade itself.

    • Jay B.

      “To all those who booed before, during and after their fart-in, I understand…You are everything I am glad I’m not. Alinsky would have puked on you. Hail Satan. Hil out.”

      • Matt McIrvin

        Not sure hiring Sarah Silverman as speechwriter was the best idea.

    • witlesschum

      “Here are the three dragons I’ve hatched.”

      • Gregor Sansa

        Nah. Clinton’s way more of a Mance Rayder than a Khaleesi.

        • wjts

          One of the smart Tyrells.

    • MyNameIsZweig

      “I accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.”

    • Alex.S

      “Fuck it, we’ll do it live!”

      “Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.” Oh wait, Biden already did that one.
      — “Growing Strong”?

      “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

      • efgoldman

        “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

        I didn’t know she spoke Welsh.

    • The Temporary Name

      Democrats have not yet had the willpower to use drone strikes on corporate boardrooms.

    • Rob in CT

      Part of me wants to quote Galadriel, but I’m so sick of the “she wants to be Queen” stuff I can’t do it.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Don’t worry, it’s been done.

        • Rob in CT

          Oh, I have no doubt. None at all. Sigh.

          MyNameIsZweig speaks for me on this.

    • Moondog von Superman

      “References to doing things ‘backwards and in heels’ will be outlawed.”

      • Gregor Sansa

        “Unless you’re talking about Bill.”

    • Gregor Sansa

      “He which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart.”

  • Mike in DC

    Depending upon the scope of the definition, up to 20 or so states are swing states. If you define it as a state where the partisan lean is less than 10 points, it would include most states.

    • Its like the heisenberg uncertainity principle, or something.

    • ploeg

      Certainly Chomsky’s position requires some amount of thought about the possibilities of obtaining a desired result.

      Edit: To wit…

      It is surely the case that some of those endorsing [Lesser-Evil Voting] are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment. Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Look at Chomsky, trying to get people to think about history rather than just read their Facebook feed and rah rah everyone who says Hillary sucks / Bernie 4 life.

        What an uphill but worthy battle.

        • Anna in PDX

          Yeah, that’s why I continue to love him. He may be frustrating to us establishmentarians, but he is always trying to make people think and not just go for the easy feel good response.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            You say “not just” as if he ever went for a feel good response! : D

  • Gregor Sansa

    It’s all well and good to be right as Chomsky is and this blog is (ad nauseam). But right or not, we will never fully win the War on Purism. It will always be a temptation, especially to the young, whose cynicism is still uncalibrated.

    So why not use a voting system where it’s less of a fucking menace?

    Usually when I name just one superior voting system, it’s approval voting. That’s because it’s dead simple and gives most of the benefits. But in terms of de-fanging purism, it is still flawed. Somebody whose vote must align with the Elements of Harmony, the person who’d vote for Stein in plurality, would still feel slightly dirty voting for Stein and Clinton equally. It’s much less of a problem, but not fully solved.

    Which is why, when I have time to mention another single-winner voting system, I bring up Majority Judgment or SODA. The former allows you to give Stein an A and Clinton a D and still have your vote carry weight if needed against Trump’s median F grade. The latter forces a Stein to to make a fucking choice and explicitly declare whether she prefers Clinton or Trump, and then when she loses, lets her transfer (well, share) her votes to the predeclared preference. In either case, even the relatively extremen pony-wanters can’t fuck it up for the rest of us. In fact, they become rather cute and even helpful.

    So the question is: would you rather be right about how stupid and destructive they are, or would you rather live in a world where they’re not destructive at all?

    I know which I prefer.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I’ve wondered if systems that require ranking candidates would even cut the mustard with these clowns. They’re kind of like the Little Sisters of the Poor who argued that even checking a box on a document to register a religious objection to providing employee birth control, so they could get it in some other way, was moral complicity.

      • Gregor Sansa

        First, a quibble: MJ requires rating, not ranking. The distinction ends up being important in voting theory; often ranked systems like IRV lead in practice to more strategy than rated systems like MJ, because they’re subject to Arrow’s Theorem. But that’s inside baseball.

        Now, the actual response: Obviously, for any degree of crazy, there is some set of voters past that degree. But that set would be smaller with approval voting than with plurality, and smaller yet with MJ. SODA’s a bit stranger; what matters in that case is not the craziness of the voter but the craziness of the candidate, but at least candidates have to preregister their craziness, and presumably any Green candidates who would say “If I don’t win I’ll give my votes to Trump” would lose most of their support thereby.

        I think approval is probably good enough, but if not, I’m pretty sure that MJ or SODA are.

    • Dilan Esper

      Gregor, I’ve said this before, but without necessarily agreeing on all the details, I think you hit the nail right on the head in terms of the way forward.

      We have a first amendment and that means we will have third parties. But we have an electoral system where it is close to impossible (though admittedly, not QUITE impossible) for third parties to ever win an election. So what we have are spoiler third parties.

      And spoiler third parties, however many posts Scott wants to post on this, appeal to some portions of the electorate. And not just on the left– some righties this year are certainly going to vote for Johnson.

      So whining about voters exercising their right to value their vote differently than you do only gets you so far. What you really need to do is think about how the system could be different given that voters are going to sometimes be attracted to third party candidates.

      • Dilan Esper

        By the way, to answer my own question, I think New York’s cross-filing system has a lot of merit.

        In that system, the Green Party, for instance, would have the choice of endorsing Hillary Clinton, in which case all votes on the Green line would go to her, or nominating Jill Stein. That, in turn, gives politicians an incentive to cut deals or otherwise make themselves attractive to the ideological third parties.

        Passing a statute making cross-filing legal, or obtaining a court decision that rules prohibiting cross-filing violate the First Amendment (as they deprive the Greens of the opportunity to endorse the Democratic Party candidate if they wish to), could be a significant improvement to our system.

      • sharculese

        Dilan, for the millionth time, nobody contests your right to value your vote differently, so don’t contest our right to tell you the way you value your vote is irrational.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Stein votes are irrational, but in this case, Dilan’s not contesting anyone’s right to say that, but merely agreeing with me that it would be nice if we made it so they didn’t have to be.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      Why not just have range instead of approval then?

      Let the purity ponies give Stein a 10/10, Hillary a 5/10 and Trump a 0/10.

      Or whatever their ranking is. Those who truly can’t stand voting for them equally can make their preference known.

      Of course, that doesn’t account for the fact that a lot of stupids will still rank Clinton and Trump as equally bad.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Quibble: these days we call it Score, not Range.

        Actual answer: Score is awesome if everybody is equally strategic. But if some people are strategic (scoring everyone 10 or 0) and others aren’t, the unstrategic ones get hosed. Probably a bad idea.

        Majority judgment is a hair less awesome if everyboty is unstrategic, just as awesome if everybody is strategic, but way more robust to an inhomogeneous mix of strategic and unstrategic voters. In the end, that makes it easier to vote effectively; most people can simply not worry about strategy (for themselves or for their less-plugged-in friends).

      • Matt McIrvin

        Where’s the box for MINUS INFINITY?????

        • Gregor Sansa

          I know you’re kidding. But actually it’s a good question. That’s precisely why you need to use medians (Majority Judgment) rather than means (Score). To signal that you’re not adding things up, the ballot has grades rather than numbers. And so the F is equivalent to MINUS INFINITY.

  • Emmryss

    And if reason had anything to do with it, that would be that. (If reason had anything to do with it, Chomsky’s statements — all but self-evident — would hardly need stating) But it doesn’t. So where do we go from here?

    • Nubby

      To the liquor store, obvs.

  • Jon_H11

    My dad is odd Bernie-or-Bust type (with a disturbing Trump-curious streak) who I think is leaning towards Stein. I’ve found that hammering Trump on his “Blue-Lives-Matters” BS and tax cuts to make Paul Ryan blush has just about pulled him out of the abyss.

    • D.N. Nation

      Your dad’s a nut. Time to find him a nursing home.

      These types need to learn consequences.

      • Jon_H11

        I’m seriously considering having this talk with Mom.

      • Rob in CT

        Many of us have relatives who are “nuts” in this sort of way. Telling us to put them on ice floes or whatever isn’t remotely useful.

        Figuring out how to get through to them is useful (unlikely as that is).

        Jon’s dad is better than my mom, for sure. She’s a total anti-taxes zealot. Nothing penetrates that. It’s like unobtainium armor. She’s not in need of a nursing home, or psychiatric care. She’s perfectly sane *except* for politics.

        • The Temporary Name

          Telling us to put them on ice floes or whatever isn’t remotely useful.

          Absolutely. The ice floes are getting rare.

  • lawtalkingguy

    http://fusion.net/story/331188/john-lewis-heckled-at-dnc/

    Bernouts are truly despicable scum. The next time when ‘progressives’ run an outside candidate and wonder why black people arent voting for them they ‘ll have to look back on things like this. I’ve seen Republicans try harder to win black votes.

    • Katya

      Yeah, heckling John Lewis to show how progressive you are is…one idea.

  • Gwen

    Chomsky is one of those people who are interested in social progress and doing the bare minimum needed to prevent it from being sidetracked.

    I respect that, but when one asks “what is best in life”, my answer is: “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.”

    This isn’t Fun Fair Soccer. Let’s run up the score mercilessly.

  • vic rattlehead

    Chomsky’s the man. He’s been a public intellectual and activist for going on 50 years now. He made a brief turn into becoming a crank around the turn of the century, but came back from the brink. If he’d never done anything else in his life besides co-author Manufacturing Consent (which I think is much better than any of his stuff on foreign policy) he’d still be one of my heroes.

    I’m glad he wrote this piece-I’m sharing this with a lot of my more far left Stein Curious friends, among whom Chomsky has a shitton of cred that is not easily dismissed. I respect the fact that he could have easily developed a cult of personality around himself like some lesser people who shall not be named (as some people seem to want to do) but resisted

  • Calming Influence

    It’s a strong argument, but I’m not convinced that Chomsky has fully taken into account my fee-fees. Plus TPP is bad and stop the drone war and Goldman Sachs.

  • Pingback: More Arguments for Supporting the “Lesser Evil” in November – People and other Commodities()

  • Turangalila

    Back in 2000, when I was a Naderite hoping naively to build a viable 3rd party in spectacularly non-swing Maryland (and thus personally responsible for the deaths of millions), there was an attempt by some online (such as it was then) to try and arrange “vote-swap” pledges between Dems in solid blue states and Greens in swing states, to increase Nader’s national total while minimizing the spoiler risk, thus trying to prevent disaster while also trying to stop or slow the real rightward trend in our politics.

    It never amounted to much; obviously it would have been both impossible and illegal to actually verify some stranger’s vote far away. I don’t think Ralph or any of his prominent surrogates ever so much as mentioned it. I was already a Green voter in a state that Gore won comfortably – I think I sent an email to some of my friends & family and the only response I got was confirmation that my brother would be voting for Bush the Lesser.

    I wonder though if this could be slightly more effective in today’s social-media-hyper-connected-thingy. Personally I think Stein is an odious charlatan, and in no way the equal of (c. 2000) Ralph, but I might be willing to hold my nose and pull the lever for her in NY if I could be confident that made it 0.0000001% less likely for Trump to win, say, Florida.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I remember somebody setting up a website to facilitate this. Since it was still the dawn era of the Web, I doubt it was that widely used.

  • Sly

    People who agree on something in 2016: Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg, Noam Chomsky, and Bill Kristol.

  • N__B

    Good news! The Bernouts aren’t the dumbest people at the convention.

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