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Against the Voter-As-Consumer And Politics-As-Soap-Opera

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For reasons previously stated I disagree with several of the assumptions about the direction of the Democratic Party that underlie Adolph Reed’s essay on the 2016 election. But in this context, that’s not important — indeed, it makes his unsentimental argument about what voting can and can’t accomplish all the more powerful:

By contrast, Jill Stein and Greens typically proceed from a quite different view of electoral politics, one that has much more in common with bearing witness or taking a personal stand on principle than with seeing it as an essentially instrumental activity. The Greens’ approach generally, and Stein has shown that she is no exception, is that all that is necessary to make a substantial electoral impact is to have a strong and coherent progressive program and to lay it out in public. That view is fundamentally anti-political; it seeks to provide voters an opportunity to be righteous rather than to try to build deep alliances or even short-term coalitions. It’s naïve in the sense that its notion of organizing support reduces in effect to saying “It’s simple: if we all would just…” without stopping to consider why the simple solutions haven’t already been adopted. This is a politics that appeals to the technicistic inclinations of the professional-managerial strata, a politics, that is, in which class and other contradictions and their entailments disappear into what seems to be the universally smart program, and it has little prospect for reaching more broadly into the society. And Stein and her followers have demonstrated that this sort of politics is tone-deaf to what a Trump victory would mean, the many ways it could seriously deepen the hole we are already in. I get the point that Clinton and Trump are both evil, but voting isn’t about determining who goes to Heaven or choosing between good people and bad people. Indeed, that personalistic, ultimately soap-operatic take on electoral politics is what set so many people up to be suckered by Obama. (And does anyone really believe that a President Trump, who routinely spews multiple, contradictory lies in a single compound sentence, would actually block the Trans Pacific Partnership or retract the imperialist war machine?)

This opposition to voting as consumerism and politics as soap opera is beautifully put. One striking thing about the vast majority of the #NeverHillary crew is how quickly they retreat into “vote for Stein: it won’t make any difference whatsoever!” when challenged — they live in a deep blue state, Trump is going to lose anyway, Economics 101 tells you that your individual vote doesn’t matter, etc. It’s an argument that’s almost too lazy and self-regarding to refute itself. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of heighten-the-contradictions, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

I’ll let these grafs speak for themselves:

Often enough, the “never Hillary” stance is blinded by a demonization of Clinton that frankly seems irrational. In fact, it is difficult to imagine that it is often not at least tinted with sexism. From the standpoint of fealty to Wall Street and corporate interests, or for that matter imperialist bloodlust, she’s no worse than Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, or Bill Clinton. Some of that tendency to demonize her reflects the high emotions generated during the campaign among some of the Sanders faithful, as well as perhaps a reaction to having their outsized dreams dashed. It is understandable that in the high intensity of the campaign activists could be swept up in exuberance about possibilities. But even though winning the nomination and then the presidency was the primary objective all along, from the very beginning it was a longshot because the deck was stacked against the insurgent campaign. That’s what challenging entrenched power means. Making the race as close as it became was an important victory, one that encourages optimism about movement-building possibilities. I fear, however, that some of the exuberance tended to slide into seeing the campaign as a messianic crusade, or to see it as a social movement itself. (That’s the reason I never much cared for the “political revolution” slogan; it too easily left room for the impression that struggling to advance the campaign was tantamount to making a revolution. It wasn’t; it wasn’t even close to generating a revolutionary movement. It did create conditions that, with considerable focus and effort, could facilitate the sustained political organizing and action necessary to influence the terms of national political debate.)

To the extent that for some people Bernie v. Hillary became a Manichaean morality play, it simply repeated the wrongheaded good guys/bad guys understanding of politics that has underlain feckless left electoralism for more than a generation. And this points up an important limitation of the critique of lesser evilism. There is a significant difference between, on the one hand, making pragmatic choices in given instances among a range of more or less undesirable options that are available and, on the other, defining, as a matter of course, what we want only in terms of what we think can get. The former is what we have to do in life generally, across the board, as an artifact of living in a society in which we as individuals cannot define the matrix of options solely to suit our preferences or desires. The latter bespeaks a defeatist orientation, a politics with no rudder and one that flies in the face of what it should mean to be a left. Lesser evilism, that is to say, is a structural problem not an individual one. It is a pathology of opinion-shaping institutions—unions and others—that refrain from attempting to intervene in shaping the matrix of options and the terms of political debate. Only if one accepts, as many Greens do, a civics-text version of democracy in which it is the actions of free-agent citizens that determine the political agenda is it possible to assume that individual electoral statements can have any impact on the drift of lesser evil politics. An analogy with environmentalism may sharpen this distinction. My scrupulous attention to closing the refrigerator door or turning off lights whenever I leave a room may permit me to feel righteous in my commitment to curtail environmental degradation. They have absolutely no substantive impact on the phenomenon, however. Worse, as Andrew Szasz has argued forcefully in Shopping Our Way to Safety, my righteous behavior, especially if I convince others to adopt it, can fuel the dangerous illusion that I am doing something meaningful and relax my sense of urgency to demand structural reform.

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  • “vote for Stein: it won’t make any difference whatsoever!” when challenged — they live in a deep blue state, Trump is going to lose anyway, Economics 101 tells you that your individual vote doesn’t matter, etc.

    Such comments have always seemed like an obfuscatory way of saying “The outcomes of elections are not determined by the votes cast therein.”

    • Dilan Esper

      Well they are not determined by individual votes. Individual votes are like Reed’s example of personal energy conservation- no effect at all except as personal expression.

      • politicalfootball

        Yeah, the quoted bits are very good, except for that part. It’s a pretty weak analogy.

        To the extent the analogy fits, it’s because as an individual it is desirable to engage in behavior that you want to you want to see generalized.

        Jill Stein/Gary Johnson voters want people to disregard the need to build coalitions. They want their sympathizers to individually commit to electoral inefficacy.

        The Trump voters — a fringe group until recently — are shockingly close to putting their guy in the White House because they are committed to being effectual as a group.

        • efgoldman

          Jill Stein/Gary Johnson voters want people to disregard the need to build coalitions.

          They think that people who seek or hold political office are sullied by being politicians and shouldn’t be.

        • Dilan Esper

          Jill Stein/Gary Johnson voters want people to disregard the need to build coalitions. They want their sympathizers to individually commit to electoral inefficacy.

          And to be clear here, for all my trolling on this subject matter, I don’t disagree with this at all. I think this IS the fundamental, true critique of most third party voters. (Not all of them– there IS some coalition building that is done on the far left, but for many third party voters the calculation seems to be nothing more than “vote for the third party and I will get a magic pony”.)

          But that’s a different critique than “OMG, if you don’t vote for Hillary, Trump will take over and everything will go to hell!”. No, if you don’t vote for Hillary, she’ll still win and the Republic will survive.

          • cpinva

            ” but for many third party voters the calculation seems to be nothing more than “vote for the third party and I will get a magic pony”.)”

            for the bulk of them, as near as I can tell, the reasons are:

            1. a protest vote against the establishment evils.
            2. they are true believers.

            and there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those positions, whether or not you agree with them.

            what really bothers me is the HRC as “wicked witch of the west” characterization. a meme created and built up by decades of work from the “liberal”/conservative media/republican party. whenever I ask someone who claims she should be in jail, or is evil incarnate why they think that, what I get in response is almost a word for word republican/conservative/tea party talking point, with little to no regard for the truth.

            • Richard Gadsden

              I’ve heard exactly one person present a case that isn’t pure talking point, but that was a hardline Iraq War position (ie “every soldier who went to Iraq should be in prison for the rest of their lives”). Of course, the failure to immediately withdraw from Iraq in 2009 without regard for consequence means that he thinks Obama should be in prison too.

              When you’re dealing with someone who suggests that there are 15 million people who should have life sentences, then the rest of the conversation is a bit pointless.

      • njorl

        Every vote contributes to the statistical analysis of voter demographics which inform potential candidates of who could win future elections.

        • politicalfootball

          That’s exactly how I see it. I think it’s very important for voters to repudiate Trump and endorse liberalism in this election.

          If Stein gets, say, 10% and Trump loses by 1%, the electorate and potential candidates will conclude – correctly – that Trumpism is a viable political stance.

          • Joe_JP

            Where would someone like Evan McMullin fit?

            Say you are a conservative but despise Trump? Both personally and because you think he poisons the brand (can just be one). What do you do?

            Anyway, having two purposes appears to be key to your conclusion. If it was just advancing liberalism, it might be a win even liberalism is split between two people and Clinton wins by a narrow margin. Over 50% going to the Green and candidate with a liberal platform.

            The concern here is “repudiating” Trump and that would require a sizable margin of defeat. Many will see Clinton only winning by 1% and that is basically a crapshoot. Still, if Trump is defeated by a sizable margin, it still would be so even if the sizable margin comes from third candidates with 10% coming from Greens at that.

          • Dilan Esper

            That’s exactly how I see it. I think it’s very important for voters to repudiate Trump and endorse liberalism in this election.

            You destroy your own argument with the “endorse liberalism”. Why isn’t an election where Hillary wins by one vote with Jill Stein getting 8 percent of the vote not a much bigger endorsement of liberalism?

            Voting for Hillary may arguably be necessary, but it’s still an endorsement of Clintonian centrism. That’s just an unavoidable reality of the situation and one Green gets at in his piece that Scott links to.

            • Dalai Rasta

              Why isn’t an election where Hillary wins by one vote with Jill Stein getting 8 percent of the vote not a much bigger endorsement of liberalism?

              That’s not the way the media will represent it, because the horse race must be run at all costs. Like it or not, the MSM’s take will be what becomes common wisdom.

            • cpinva

              “Voting for Hillary may arguably be necessary, but it’s still an endorsement of Clintonian centrism.”

              if, by “Clintonian centrism”, you mean being willing to negotiate to get what you want, I fail to see that as a bad thing. in fact, pretty much all of politics in Democracies work that way. the presidents history tend to regard as the best (barring extraordinary circumstances during their terms in office) all tended to operate this way.

              the main problem a Pres. HRC is going to face, as did Obama during nearly his entire two terms in office, is an obstructionist Congress, should the republicans maintain control over even one of the two houses. any non-republican president is going to have this same problem.

              • bender

                If you look at what happened to John Boehner, even a Republican President is going to have a problem passing legislation. Maybe not as much of a problem with appointments.

            • tsam

              Voting for Hillary may arguably be necessary, but it’s still an endorsement of Clintonian centrism.

              No it’s fucking not. Where the hell do you people come up with the idea that you have to agree with politicians on all of their positions? Who the fuck is dumb enough to agree with ANY politician on all of their positions? If you think any politician isn’t going to disappoint you a bunch of times during their time in office, you’re insane. Bernie Sanders would have all us liberals all up in fits the first time he did his job by signing a bill that Republicans smeared their grubby little shit stained paws all over. These politicians can be as idealistic as they want. The realities of working with Congress will wipe those out in the first 100 days

    • AlanInSF

      It’s never been the case in recent elections that “symbolic” (or a more derogatory adjective of your choice) voting in deep blue states is instrumental, or that the election outcome is determined by the votes of the people who do so. Obviously if a lot more people did it, it would be, but at present there isn’t the tiniest chance of that happening.

      On the other hand, you have to honestly ask yourself, “Do I really want the person I am symbolically voting for to be get elected to this office?” That’s why, when I cast my meaningless protest vote against Diane Feinstein every 6 years, I always write in Scooby Doo.

      • efgoldman

        I always write in Scooby Doo.

        I can’t believe you do that!
        Scooby is a closet rightist. Lassie is the obvious choice.

        • piratedan

          Timmy says that Lassie has his vote…

          • Ahuitzotl

            .. from the bottom of a well. Kind of an compelled endorsement.

    • “Economics 101 tells you that your individual vote doesn’t matter”

      No raindrop thinks it’s responsible for the flood.

      • EliHawk

        And no one taxpayer builds an aircraft carrier.

      • PohranicniStraze

        No special little snowflake thinks it’s responsible for the blizzard.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I have seen the argument made that you can feel safe voting for Stein because Hillary is going to electronically rig the election anyway.

  • junker

    I think it’s also worth noting that the Green party platform isn’t exactly a well-considered set of progressive policy ideas that are worth endorsing even if you subscribe to the voter-as-consumer model.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, the additional problem with voting Green is that Stein is a ridiculous crank — if you’re voting for her it’s hard to insist that you will only vote for the perfect candidate, unless you personally are also a New Age, Farage-curious crank.

      • EliHawk

        As with countless other great left hopes (Sanders, Obama, Dean, Nader) it’s not the actual perfect candidate that matters, but the idea of the perfect candidate.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          This.

          It’s the whole Mr. Smith Goes to Washington myth, that the voters are moral and agree about what should be done, and the problems is the immoral, corrupt politicians who refuse to listen to them.

          It’s incredibly obvious in this election that Trump voters and Hillary voters have little in common besides being carbon-based life forms.

          • AlanInSF

            Ralph Nader would at least have prevented 9/11 with locking cabin doors. That’s one more solid policy idea than Jill Stein has put forward.

            • Didn’t locking cabin doors doom that flight in Europe, where the suicidal pilot took a whole planeload with him, when the other pilot stepped out to use the restroom?

              • Hush, you!

              • brugroffil

                Helmut,

                At least on Southwest flights, it’s standard procedure for a flight attendant to enter the cockpit when one of the pilots leaves to use the restroom. Another flight attendant will also stand up blocking the forward lavatory.

                Not sure if it’s an airline standard or a us standard or what, but I’ve seen that same routine at least half a dozen times.

                • erick

                  Was gonna say the same thing, if that isn’t the official policy it is an easy fix that should be.

          • cpinva

            “It’s incredibly obvious in this election that Trump voters and Hillary voters have little in common besides being carbon-based life forms.”

            I remain unconvinced that Trump supporters are carbon-based life forms. please provide a citation.

            • Ahuitzotl

              just set one alight and examine the residue. Obviously you’ll need to conduct this experiment for yourself.

      • NorthernInvader

        I haven’t looked at her all that carefully but it struck me that she was pandering to the new age types, for their support, rather than believing their BS herself. In that respect she’s even more disguxting than if she actually believed that crap.

      • Manny Kant

        Note that Stein, as crazy as she is, is actually less crazy than the Green Party platform, which is completely bonkers.

        • efgoldman

          Stein, as crazy as she is, is actually less crazy than the Green Party platform

          She’s also ::gulp:: less crazy than the Angry Circus Peanut.
          I guess that’s like the surface of the moon being less cold than 0 degrees K.

        • Gareth

          You really have to wonder about an environmentalist party endorsing Traditional Chinese Medicine.

      • tsam

        Yes, the additional problem with voting Green is that Stein is a ridiculous crank — if you’re voting for her it’s hard to insist that you will only vote for the perfect candidate, unless you personally are also a New Age, Farage-curious crank.

        Let’s look at the vote as a message concept.

        If you vote for Clinton, you’re part of the group that told Trump and his dirtbag supporters to take their authoritarian fascism and shove it up their asses.

        If you vote for Stein, you’re part of the group that is telling Hillary Clinton to take her center-left positions and shove them up her ass.

        If you’re struggling with this choice, you’ve already shoved your own head up your own ass.

        • N__B

          What about if I vote for HRC and send a bunch of singing telegrams to Trump, Stein, etc?

          • The Temporary Name

            You’d send excellent singing telegrams. I urge you to do this.

            • N__B

              I just tried to warp the Beatles into “You’re a Loser” but couldn’t quite get the meter.

          • tsam

            I am so down with telegrams, singing or otherwise. tsam = telegramsam.

            • wjts

              Before I say, “My main man!” I need to ask: T. Rex or Bauhaus?

              • tsam

                Bauhaus. I actually had no idea it was a T. Rex cover until someone asked me that same question.

                Bauhaus is one of my nostalgic favorites from my 80s Punk/Wavo days.

                Nice job getting the reference–not many people know that song from either of those bands.

                • wjts

                  My main man!

                  (I didn’t know it was a T. Rex cover, either.)

          • Ahuitzotl

            singe-ing telegrams?

      • MDrew

        What is it with this claim about perfection?

        People who don’t want to vote for Clinton don;t feel that way because she’s not perfect; they feel that way because they feel she’s not good enough to vote for. Below some minimum standard. All Stein would need to do is be above that standard, whatever it is.

        Now in my view, yeah, in this case she’s probably further below – she’s a crank,a nd should be a non-option for most people (more than are in fact supporting her). But this isn’t generalizable; a different leftist third-party option could be entirely viable in a different election. Regardless, though, that person doesn’t need to be perfect to attract votes legitimately: the Democrat needs to be unacceptable, while a third-party option is acceptable, nothing more. I realize you’re declaring that not the case by fiat in this case (and in this case I agree), but in fact in a free democracy people end up getting to have other opinions. And no one (among erstwhile Dems; lets leave committed Greens aside for a moment since we’re not really talking about them) is (well, very few are) expressing the opinion that they’re voting for Stein because she’s perfect, while Hillary’s fault is that she’s just slightly shy of perfection. They’re going to an candidate as flawed as Stein because they think Clinton falls far short of the standard of acceptability. This is pretty basic, and the “perfection” claim is a really extreme and gratuitous distortion.

        Hell, even Bernie’s supporters didn’t think he was perfect.

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          OK, how about “ideal candidate” instead of “perfect candidate”?

          What Scott is talking about is the idea that I, as a voter, should only vote for someone who is so close to my own personal political philosophy as to be an ideal candidate – to vote for anyone else would be a backslide into “lesser-evilism”. This is a common argument made by Stein supporters, Bernie or Busters, etc. For instance, I came across someone on social media who declared “We wouldn’t be in this mess (Clinton vs. Trump) if only everybody voted for whoever they really wanted”. I pointed out that in fact we were “in this mess” because critical masses of people actually wanted Clinton and Trump. But there are people who really believe that if only people felt free to vote for their ideal candidate, everything would be peachy, and that’s why we should all vote for someone who fills our hearts with joy.

          It is true that, as you say, they also make the argument that Clinton is “unacceptable”, although often enough the basis for this argument is “anyone who falls too short of my ideological ideal is simply unacceptable, end of story”, so Clinton and Trump are equally unacceptable, and we should all vote for our ideal instead.

    • AlanInSF

      That’s always been my quarrel with the Greens. In terms of candidates, political organizing, and governing strategy they’ve never seemed serious.

      We had a Green supervisor in SF for several years and he was fine, but he had no path to any further political advancement when he was termed out, so he left politics. Greens need to figure out how to get themselves elected to something more than a strictly local office before we can even begin to take them seriously at the presidential level.

      • Matt Gonzalez. He was Nader’s running mate in 2008.

      • efgoldman

        In terms of candidates, political organizing, and governing strategy they’ve never seemed serious.

        Of course they’re serious. They seriously believe in the Magick Purity “They’ll See We’re Right” Faerie.

      • (((Hogan)))

        Matt Gonzalez? He wasn’t termed out; he ran for mayor and lost.

      • TroubleMaker13

        That’s always been my quarrel with the Greens. In terms of candidates, political organizing, and governing strategy they’ve never seemed serious.

        I live in California, a pretty left-leaning state. As such, you’d think the Greens would be active here since there ought to be a receptive population. I mean, if they can succeed anywhere, right?

        This year, 2016, all 80 seats in the State Assembly, and half of the 40 seats in the State Senate are up for election. Let’s take a look at how many Green candidates are running for these seats. Oh, look: NONE. Statewide, at all levels of government, for all offices in contention, 21 total candidates.

      • ASV

        The path is simple: Join, overwhelm, and take over local Democratic parties. Run in Democratic primaries. Stop running against Duverger’s law. Movement conservatives figured this out 50 years ago.

  • Downpuppy

    I underlain the sun too long yesterday & burned my feckless left electoralism, but otherwise, what could possibly go wrong?

  • Srsly Dad Y

    Powerful. But I had to look up “technicistic,” which seems to be academese for “technocratic.”

    I realized I would never be an academic when a professor friend of mine started to explain her “position” on something, but stopped and corrected herself, “or actually, my positionality ….” Wha.

    • DAS

      A friend of mine, who is also an academic, and I like to speak/text each other as if we phenomenologists being too literally translated from the original German. Or shall I say

      In conversation havingness with a friend, whose beingness the identity of academicness envelops, speakingness or textingness exploring the linguistic construction-having-ness of phenomenologists we have.

      • brad

        Heidegger was a damn Nazi.

        (I know.)

        • AlanInSF

          “-istic” would describe the sort of solution you’d like to see applied, and “-ocratic” would refer to the people you’d like to be in charge of finding a solution. I guess.

          Academics in many cases need to be more precise than normal people, and create what looks like jargon to the lay-person but in fact has a very useful and clearly understood meaning to those in the field.

          OTOH, people in every walk of life, and especially those where erudition confers status, are prone to using words or constructions that sound high-flown but are meaningless or even wrong (“postionality” would be both), and empty suits are wont to mask their vapidity in empty buzzwords.

          • brad

            Was that really meant as a response to me?
            Cuz I was an academic and know all that, and also that even in jargony fields the necessity and amount of jargon used is much debated and occasionally even mocked.
            Sometimes it’s necessary, and sometimes it’s a means of throwing shit at a wall and hoping no one notices you didn’t really have a target.

            • Loofah

              those neologistic nominalizations all too easily become extramanual

        • DAS

          Have you encountered the experientialness of being in the state of forgetfulness of Husserl?

          • Scott Lemieux

            Sartre was a fucking frog who copped it all from Husserl and Heidegger.

          • brad

            I have read him, in theory.

  • a_paul_in_mtl

    “vote for Stein: it won’t make any difference whatsoever!” when challenged — they live in a deep blue state, Trump is going to lose anyway, Economics 101 tells you that your individual vote doesn’t matter, etc.”

    In fact, what I have noticed about #bernieorbust and now #neverhilary arguments is that most of them seem to rest on the assumption that voting has no meaningful impact on real-world outcomes at all- that it is, in effect, nothing more than a meaningless charade. Which leads to an obvious question: if you really feel that way, why vote at all? So that the Green party gets funding to continue participating in the meaningless charade?

    • Dilan Esper

      A lot of leftists I know never vote.

      • pianomover

        A lot of people I know never vote.

        • I tried to find some studies that would clarify this, but failed. Most of what I saw was too coarse grained on what a leftist was or focused on marginal voters (typically because poor).

          Without some clear definition of “leftist” (which Dilan never offers) it’s not going to be easy to pick out their voting behaviour.

          I’d guess however that principle driven non-voting is pretty rare.

          • a_paul_in_mtl

            There are people on the left who don’t vote out of principle – anarchists, for example. However, the vast majority of non-voters, I am almost certain, aren’t particularly left-wing.

            • delazeur

              I would have expected that generally the further out into the wings you go the higher the voter turnout, until you get to the serious fringe (anarchists, sovereign citizens, etc.) where it drops again.

              • I think it depends on whether it correlates with other factors for voting e.g., wealth, education, etc.

                The interesting cases would be where ideology beat back the other pro-voting factors. I can believe it happens, but I don’t know if it would in any significant way. And you’d have to think a bit about people who wouldn’t vote then dress it up as principled.

            • There are people on the left who don’t vote out of principle – anarchists

              There’s variance there, cf Chomksy.

              However, the vast majority of non-voters, I am almost certain, aren’t particularly left-wing.

              The literature suggests that marginal voters, being poorer and more likely to be part of marginalised groups, tend to vote more left, which explains (supposedly) why turn out favours the left.

              • ASV

                They tend to vote for Democrats (when they vote), but for the purposes of this question that definitely doesn’t make them “left.” I think the only way this whole supposition is correct is if we’re talking about the kind of “leftists” that see “liberals” as they primary enemy.

                • (Note that many of these studies are multi-national.)

                  Yes, I’m pretty sure that Dilan-leftist is partly defined by “hating Democrats”. But that still doesn’t quite get us to “non voter” (since you can vote for Greens, or, back in the day, CPUSA). I suspect we just don’t have data.

              • a_paul_in_mtl

                True, some anarchists argue against voting for ideological reasons, but not all do.

                I would say that less “conservative” voters are generally less likely to vote, so the “non-voter” does skew somewhat left compared to the average voter, especially in mid-term elections. It would be a mistake to conclude, however, that non-voters generally don’t vote because none of the candidates are true leftists and that a more “left-wing candidates” would benefit from increased turnout.

                For instance, I supported Bernie Sanders, but some of his supporters claimed that the primary was being rigged by the DNC engaging in tricks to reduce turnout, which, of course, would automatically hurt the more left-wing candidate (Sanders). As far as I can tell, what the evidence actually suggested was that while Sanders did boost overall turnout by bringing in some people (especially younger people) that might otherwise not have voted, higher turnouts were generally not to his benefit. He actually did best in caucuses, the reason being that his voters were generally more highly motivated. Also, minority voters tend to vote less and they were 1) more likely to go for Clinton and 2) more likely to be dissuaded from voting by obstacles that were mostly put in place by (mostly Republican) state and local governments.

            • While I’ve always considered labels inadequate to describe something as complicated as political views, I have identified primarily as an anarchist since roughly 2005. I have also voted in every presidential, congressional, or gubernatorial election for which I have been eligible to vote since 2004, as well as most of the local elections. There are certainly some anarchists who refuse to vote, but it is by no means all of us. The way I justify it is that state coercion will go on regardless of whether I vote, so it’s incumbent upon me to do what I can to ensure that it’s as benign as possible. “Heightening the contradictions” is bullshit, as anyone who lived through the 2000 election should be able to tell you by now. If I want anarchy or even libertarian socialism to occur in my lifetime, the control of information needs to be decentralised enough that the general populace will be able to get a clear picture of what things are really like. That won’t be allowed to happen with Republicans in office; instead, media consolidation would inevitably be allowed to progress further and you could very likely say goodbye to the internet as we know it.

              I also have only ever voted for third parties or independents only in cases where no Democrat was running or in cases where the Democrat was polling worse than an acceptable independent alternative – i.e., for the Senate race against Rubio in 2010, in which race Crist was polling better than the Democratic candidate, who was such a non-entity that I’ve forgotten their name, and also in a state election in which the lolberts fielded a candidate and the Democrats, due to the incompetence of the Florida Democratic Party, didn’t; naturally, my vote for the lolbert was a protest vote – or in open primaries where only Republicans were running (in this case, the purpose was to try to keep tea party wackos out of office). I briefly considered the idea of voting for a third party in 2012, but Romney’s “47%” remarks quickly put the nail in the coffin of that idea. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever of that happening this year even if Clinton is polling at 90% in Florida the day of the election, because Drumpf is simply that dangerous. To be honest, barring a major political realignment, the Democrats are going to continue getting as many votes as I can throw them indefinitely, as imperfect as they are.

              So basically, my stance on voting generally aligns with Chomsky’s. And, to be honest, a lot of the other anarchists I’ve spoken with also vote. There are certainly anarchists with philosophical objections to voting, but it’s by no means all of us.

            • Richard Gadsden

              I would expect that the biggest group of people who don’t vote out of principle are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

              Incidentally, the people who are politest about saying “no” when knocking on their door about politics are, in my experience, the JWs – presumably because they are modelling the behaviour they would like to get from people not interested in their religious door-knocking.

      • JMP

        “Leftists” is more like it; if people claim to be liberals but then don’t actually go out and try to help elect actual left-leaning politicians then they’re not really that liberal, just like the fake liberal assholes voting for Stein.

        • pianomover

          Since only about 60% of the population of eligible voters have actually voted in the last few presidential elections and only 40% in the off years I would say there is a good chance that that half the people you know/meet haven’t voted.

          • Stag Party Palin

            Your point is somewhat diminished by methodology. The average of 60 and 40 is 50, but those who “have actually voted” are still 60%.

    • Scott Lemieux

      In fact, what I have noticed about #bernieorbust and now #neverhilary arguments is that most of them seem to rest on the assumption that voting has no meaningful impact on real-world outcomes at all- that it is, in effect, nothing more than a meaningless charade. Which leads to an obvious question: if you really feel that way, why vote at all? So that the Green party gets funding to continue participating in the meaningless charade?

      Exactly. And, of course, the Econ 101 argument Dilan has already made above really won’t for you if you’re writing about your voting preferences for public consumption and urging other people to share them.

      • MDrew

        Okay. But if you’re not?

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          If you’re not, no one is really going to argue with you. How you vote is your own business until you start making arguments for it in publ

          • MDrew

            Lovely dynamic this sets up.

            • MDrew

              The reality is that 3, 4, 5% (her blue sky max) voting for Stein just don’t matter much, whether they talk about it or not. And the individual votes don’t matter at all – whether they talk about it or not. People here need to get a grip.

              • Scott Lemieux

                Yes, Jill Stein’s 2016 campaign will be the only third party campaign from the left ever so there’s certainly no need to debate the efficacy of vanity voting.

        • Scott Lemieux

          But if you’re not?

          No. I am arguing that people should see voting as a collective enterprise rather than THINKING LIKE A FREAK.

    • SNF

      They won’t vote. Most third party support only shows up in polls and social media. Come election day that support evaporates.

      My suspicion is that many third party supporters do not intend to actually vote, but saying so outright isn’t culturally acceptable.

  • petesh

    Last week I attended a “report from the Democratic Convention by a Bernie delegate” at a local (relatively progressive) Democratic club, many of whose members had indeed supported Sanders in the primaries. Standing in front of a life-size cut-out of Hillary Clinton and standard Democratic posters, he chortled about booing all mentions of Hillary, even booing Bernie. Then he announced a multi-location (2000 places across the country, IIRC) meeting on Wednesday, to be addressed by Sanders via video link, about next steps in the Revolution.

    He seemed taken aback by comments from the floor that the attitude to Clinton at the Convention and in his remarks were disrespectful to the point of sexism, and began to burble in response about how terrible it felt to have been cheated out of the nomination. I objected to this, partly on the grounds that it was unpersuasive, and asked if the new organization would be working for the Democratic candidate in this election.

    He stumbled and said that nothing had been decided.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      I got invited to one of those meetings too and might go out of curiosity.

    • Dilan Esper

      Can we stop with the sexism allegations. These people would take the same positions if Bill Clinton was the nominee.

      When Nader voters voted against Gore, or Henry Wallace voters against Truman, was it sexist?

      To some Hillary supporters, ALL opposition to her is sexist.

      • tonycpsu

        These people would take the same positions if Bill Clinton was the nominee.

        So it’s dirty pool for someone who personally witnessed these remarks to characterize them as “disrespectful to the point of sexism”, but you’re comfortable assuming, without hearing them, that they could not have possibly been sexist?

        • Dilan Esper

          I’m saying the “sexism” thing is being thrown around way too much.

          If someone calls Hillary a “bitch”, sure, sexist. If someone holds her to a double standard, sure, sexist.

          But protesting at the convention? Haven’t any of these people seen footage of the 1968 convention? Interrupting and shouting down and not listening to speakers is a longstanding political tactic and has nothing to do with gender.

          And yes, I do think a lot of people who are personally invested in the woman president thing are seeing sexism in what are really banal political attacks that the left would launch on any centrist.

          • tonycpsu

            I’m saying the “sexism” thing is being thrown around way too much.

            The fact that you’re responding to a specific accusation of sexism that someone witnessed in person is at odds with this attempt to describe it as a more general critique of sexism allegations and talk about the convention.

      • petesh

        I was doing my damnedest to report straight-faced. The two women who (politely and carefully) raised the appearance of sexism both started the year as Bernie supporters (one switched to Hillary mid-primary, the other may well have voted for Bernie, I’m not sure). I was mostly focusing on the observable fact that the guy making the report was taken aback. He was obviously living in a very tight little bubble, and clearly expected his offensively critical stance to be welcomed in an audience of paid-up party members.

        I regard that as blocking yourself into a cul-de-sac and wondering why more folks don’t join you.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        Dilan, I have seen a lot of the memes posted by #neverhillary and #bernieorbust people and seen their arguments, and what I come away with is 1) Yes, some of the antipathy to Clinton is sexist and 2) A lot of what is not overtly sexist nevertheless vilifies Clinton for stuff that other politicians seem to get a pass on.

        • NorthernInvader

          While I am no fan of either of the Clintons I am appalled at some of the lengths the anti-Hillary crowd goes to. I wonder how many of them realize they are doing the GOP’s dirty work for them? For 30 years they have been relentlessly attacked and vilified by the GOP’s henchmen. That’s about the length of time most of the #neverhillary / #bernieorbust crowd have been alive. Think about that for a moment – all their lives they’ve heard what crooks and murderers they are – it’s the Big Lie and they are the victims.

          • It’s not just the GOP’s henchmen; the mainstream media does it a lot too. A lot of it is certainly sexism, but we also can’t forget the the Clinton Rules. They’ve even suckered in some ostensibly left-leaning people.

            • Ahuitzotl

              It’s not just the GOP’s henchmen; the mainstream media does it a lot too

              I rather thought the mainstream media are the GOP’s henchmen, at least most of the time.

      • veleda_k

        Can we stop with the sexism allegations.

        As soon as society stops with the sexism.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        “To some Hillary supporters, ALL opposition to her is sexist.”

        Possibly. But I hope you would agree that there is considerable ground to cover between that position and its polar opposite, which is that none of the opposition to Hillary is sexist.

        Allow me to provide an example from a member of Bernie Sanders Facebook group who no doubt thought of himself as highly evolved and progressive. He said that the problem he had with Clinton becoming President was that, as a mainstream, establishment candidate, she was unworthy of the honor of being the first female President.

        To his credit he did back off when I pointed out how sexist this line of argument was, but it is telling that he needed to be told this in the first place.

        • Scott Lemieux

          And as Reed says, it’s hard to divorce sexism from the discussion when people who voted for men with indistinguishable records like Kerrey without significant objection consider Clinton History’s Greatest Monster.

          • sergiol652

            “cough!”Doug Henwood”cough!”

            • Scott Lemieux

              He wrote a 200-page hatchet job about John Kerrey in 2004, right?

              • Pseudonym

                No, that was about Bob Kerry.

      • Can we stop with the sexism allegations. These people would take the same positions if Bill Clinton was the nominee.

        ….

        To some Hillary supporters, ALL opposition to her is sexist.

        Wait, so we should stop with sexism allegations, no matter what the grounding, because for “some Hillary supporters” all opposition to her is sexist?!

        And, of course, sometimes sexism isn’t the cause of something but inflects it. Lots of liberals who hurl sexist insults against Ann Coulter and Sara Palin are going to be opposed to an Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin figure regardless of their gender. That doesn’t make those attacks non-sexist.

        • cs

          I think there is some talking past each other going on here – different sides of the discussion are using different definitions of what it means for opposition to Hillary Clinton to be sexist.

          What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him. (Maybe imagine if the candidate were Bill Clinton’s brother rather than his wife.) So the fact that some people who oppose Hillary Clinton express themselves in sexist ways is (arguably) not directly relevant to the question.

          • tonycpsu

            What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him.

            This is just another way of saying that sexism cannot possibly be a motivating factor for someone to oppose her, and neither you nor Dilan have provided a shred of evidence for it. Given what we know about how sexism affects everything else in society, I believe the burden of proof is on you guys to explain how it’s just not possible that sexism is a factor.

          • Solar System Wolf

            If Hillary Clinton were a man, all else would not be equal. Therefore, it’s impossible to say whether the same people against her now would be against her then. I tend to think not. And opposition expressed in a sexist way is still sexist, regardless of whether that individual would have supported her otherwise.

            It’s impossible to quantify, just as it’s impossible to quantify how much opposition to Obama is due to his race. We know it’s some, however, especially when people make it easy by using sexist/racist rhetoric. I’ve heard progressives call Clinton a “slut” and a “whore,” then deny that these are gendered insults. I’ve heard the same people then say she couldn’t keep her man happy and that’s why he cheated on her. So does she put out too much, or not enough? It’s so hard to keep track.

          • SNF

            You might as well say that racism has nothing to do with anti-Obama hysteria on the right then, though. They would’ve had a meltdown over any Democratic president.

          • royko

            What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him.

            I think there would be opposition even if she were a man, but I do think there would be less of it. So while I think there are a number of factors driving opposition to HRC, sexism is one. It’s just my opinion, of course.

            But I think a lot of the sexism going around (particularly on the Left) in this cycle is not overt. It’s not “Wimmin can’t be Pres’dent! Stay in the kitchen!” type sexism. But her gender has influenced the narrative that has built up around her, particularly that of a lying, scheming, power-hungry politician.

            All politicians lie, to some extent. All of them exaggerate. All of them are ambitious and power-hungry. And they all cut deals to advance their personal goals. All of them at that level have pretty big egos. You’re not going to get a lot of saints going after the White House. Sure, arguments can be made that she’s worse than Bill Clinton or Al Gore or John Kerry or John Edwards or Barack Obama. But they aren’t nearly as strong or as self-evident as a lot of her opponents seem to think. All of those politicians committed the sins she’s accused of. Whether or not we’re willing to overlook them has a lot more to do with our overall disposition toward these people, and a lot of that gets tied to how we view powerful women as opposed to powerful men.

            (I leave out Saint Bernie because it’s simply easier to stay pure when you’re willing to stay on the edges and not even pick a party. But now that he’s tainted by the sin of endorsing HRC — which he was excoriated for — maybe he’s taken his place as well. Another scheming politician, willing to cut deals.)

            So, yeah, I don’t think the sexism can be thrown out, even if there’s a segment of the Left that would have opposed just about anyone who could have captured that nomination.

            • SNF

              It’s really bizarre how many people I see who say they don’t want to vote for Hillary because they don’t feel comfortable voting for a politician who is a liar.

              It’s just such a blatant double standard.

          • I think there is some talking past each other going on here – different sides of the discussion are using different definitions of what it means for opposition to Hillary Clinton to be sexist.

            I’m disputing that the notion of sexism that you hold here is the whole story. Dilan says to cut out allegations of sexism simplicitor and the comment he was critiquing clearly attacked the manner of opposition not the fact of opposition.

            What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him. (Maybe imagine if the candidate were Bill Clinton’s brother rather than his wife.) So the fact that some people who oppose Hillary Clinton express themselves in sexist ways is (arguably) not directly relevant to the question.

            I mean, this surely isn’t generally true? You don’t think that being a woman costs her with some voters? I mean, maybe, but I’d expect some pretty strong evidence.

            But even if I grant that, it doesn’t get you to my point not being germane. If the sexism is primarily in the manner, it’s still worth calling out.

          • JMP

            “What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him”

            But that is quite simply not true; the opposition from “leftists” would definitely not be as numerous or vitriolic where Hillary Clinton a man, as you can see from how so many of the attacks on her – including those from those who claim to be progressive – have been really, really misogynist. There’s no way a man with the exact same mainstream liberal record as Hillary Clinton would get the same nasty attacks and hatred that she gets.

          • a_paul_in_mtl

            “What I think Dilan means (and myself, since I more-or-less agree with Dilan on this point) is that if Hillary Clinton was a man, all else being equal, the same people who are against her would still be equally against him.”

            Depends on what you mean by “equally against”. Sure, I can imagine that if it had been Joe Biden against Bernie in the primary a lot of people would be unhappy with Biden winning. But I don’t see that there would have been anywhere near the same level of personal animosity and vilification directed at Biden. It has been common to see Clinton referred to as “Hitlery”, “Shillary” and the like by self-styled progressives, few of which would dare do anything similar to President Obama (right-wingers are another story).

            • Gregor Sansa

              Hillary measures her words and chooses her battles more than most people. Sexists turn that into “biggest liar evah” in a way they wouldn’t for a man. Some of the second-hand haters aren’t sexists but the hate itself is still tainted.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Dilan, I agree that not all opposition to her is sexist, but are you really claiming that none of it is?

        I note that a recent survey shows that a majority of men think that there’s no sexism in America now. This, like the way that a majority of whites think there’s no racism, just shows how blind these people are.

        PS- I’m a white guy, I just pay attention to what people who aren’t white guys say about their experiences.

        • LosGatosCA

          PS- I’m a white guy, I just pay attention to what people who aren’t white guys say about their experiences.

          How can we believe you are a white guy if you say you pay attention to people who aren’t white guys?

          • JR in WV

            I’m a white guy too, and I try to pay attention to a broad spectrum of people. Even foreigners!

            But this is just another anecdote, isn’t it? I’m voting for, contributing to, and working for Hillary Clinton, who seems to me to be a very likable and competent candidate, especially for a white gal.

            ;-)

      • JMP

        Can we stop it with the sexism denialism? A lot of opposition to Hillary Clinton is sexist, and whenever anyone points that out, some of her detractors lie and claim that people are calling all opposition to her sexist, even thought that never has happened. It’s the same thing we’ve gotten with the anti-Obama crowd lying and claiming that supporters call all criticism of him racist.

        It goes the same way every time, 1. there’s a sexist attack on Hillary Clinton, 2. people point out, “hey that was really sexist”, 3. some idiot goes “how dare you call all criticism of Hillary Clinton sexist!” even though that did not happen at all. It’s a dishonest rhetorical trick to actually and defend the misogyny directed at Clinton by trying to shut down discussion of it.

        • Bingo. Its a very typical form of derailing to switch from a particular accusation “this criticism is sexist” to “oh, come now, not ALL criticism of Hillary is sexist.” No one is arguing that all criticism of Hillary is sexist. Dilan’s imaginary Hillary supporters are not evidence of anything but Dilan’s own fantasy life. But even if an individual supporter did assert that “all” the criticism of Hillary was sexist, in their opinion, so what? On what basis does Dilan have the right to challenge that? Its their fucking opinion, based on the kinds or forms of criticism that they have heard. It proves nothing for Dilan to assert that he hasn’t heard those criticisms, or that those criticisms aren’t representative of the kind of criticism he is talking about.

          • JR in WV

            People who are sexists can and do make non-sexist sounding criticisms of women, in order to show that not all criticism of women is sexist. Does anyone think that all the hate for the Clinton Foundation, which feeds poor children and treats aids victims, is not sexist? Because it is.

            I think even lots of criticism of Bill Clinton is sexist. But I’m a member of the Democratic party, so I wouldn’t accept criticism of any Clinton as valid.

            Travelgate, well, they were at-will employees.
            Filegate – the files were eventually found and turned over.

            I’m gonna stop now, this is tedious. Work hard for the election of Hillary Clinton, or be willing to live under the power and control of a Nazi regime. It’s that simple.

            • JMP

              But I like the irony how your examples of supposedly valid criticisms of the Clintons are all completely invalid – “travelgate” and “filegate” were in fact both completely debunked a long time ago, and involved no wrongdoing at all, and the Clinton Foundation in fact is and is a charitable organization that has helped a lot of people and all the claims that it’s some kind phony charity slush fund have been proven to be complete lies.

              Note that these are debunked conspiracy theories – these attacks no one has called sexist, because while stupid, they are not misogynist. But please, keep lying and claiming that people call non-sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton sexist even thought that has never happened in order to defend the very many misogynist attacks on her!

              • Anna in PDX

                I … Think that you are both on the same side, here.

        • Breadbaker

          An easy indicator is the current trending headlines about Juanita Broaddrick. Let’s say that everything alleged is true and Bill Clinton (who, like Malania Trump, is not only not running for President but is constitutionally ineligible to be President) did everything that is alleged. The people trying to discredit Hillary make claims about how she supported Bill and perhaps said bad things about each of his alleged conquests.

          To be blunt, accusing a wife who lived through her husband’s infidelities and worked to keep her marriage alive by (since she was a public figure, she did not have the usual rights of the spouse of an accused rapist, i.e., relative anonymity) supporting him is to deny her the right every other accused rapist’s spouse gets. And it is sexist to say that her job was to help his accuser. Her job was to deal with her marriage.

          • Dilan Esper

            I think trashing Bill Clinton’s accusers was inexcusable, marriage or no marriage.

            There’s legitimate ways to try to save your marriage, but that wasn’t one of them.

            • (((Hogan)))

              I keep hearing that she did that, but I’ve never seen the evidence.

              • tsam

                I heard she killed Vince Foster. That’s good enough for me.

              • So one of Hillary’s longtime friends wrote a memoir, and in said memoir she quotes Hillary in private as referring to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon”. I’ve heard people honestly try to use this as evidence both that Hillary was involved in smearing Lewinsky and that she is not a friend of women. This sometimes is combined with an argument that Hillary should have defended Lewinsky from the nasty way the media was treating her.

                The lack of empathy involved in that argument is frankly incredible. I think Monica was treated in a shabby way by Bill and in a loathsome, sexist way by society at large. Hillary, too, was treated in a loathsome, sexist way in the aftermath of the revelations. But the tapes suggest that Lewinsky initiated the relationship, actively pursued it, and was frustrated that it wasn’t more emotionally intimate. Of course Hillary despised her.

        • Morbo

          This is exactly how Republicans try to quash any suggestions that antipathy to Obama is caused by racism, by the way. They like to claim that Democrats call any criticism of him at all racist. With that straw man in place the actual racism toward him can be dismissed in their world. In the unlikely event that some people actually think all opposition of Obama is racist, it doesn’t mean we should ignore the actual racist elements.

          • JMP

            Yep; it’s a subset of the way the brave defenders of bigotry always invoke the specter of “playing the race/gender card” by claiming that there’s a lot of false claims of racism and misogyny, even though that’s not the case, in order to defend very real instances of racism and misogyny and ludicrously claim that the bigotry involved does not exist.

      • Bruce B.

        There is a lot of sexism in left-wing bashing of Clinton, just as there’s a lot of racism in left-wing bashing of Obama, and when we have an out LGBTQI candidate there’ll be a lot of homophobia in the left-wing bashing of them. Almost nobody is bigoted in precisely one (1) way, but many bigots do recognize – just like the rest of us – who is apparently black or not, female or not, etc., and adjusts the slurs to suit.

    • Murc

      Then he announced a multi-location (2000 places across the country, IIRC) meeting on Wednesday, to be addressed by Sanders via video link, about next steps in the Revolution.

      They’re gonna be disappointed if they think that’s what will happen, because ever since the primaries ended Sanders has been either de facto (before he endorsed) or explicitly (after) stumping for Clinton. When he speaks it isn’t about how to take down the Democratic Party, except inasmuch as they’re some anti-establishment boilerplate in there, it is about beating Trump.

      • petesh

        Yeah, I might have gone just to see but it happens to be my partner’s birthday, and there are limits to my stupidity.

      • a_paul_in_mtl

        Sanders is, in fact, promoting an initiative whereby he is supporting progressives running for office, especially on the local level. He is, of course, also supporting Clinton for President.

    • JMP

      I do love how some of these folks are sill calling more people voting for the other candidate “cheating”. No, your messiah lost a free and fair election there, get over it.

      • petesh

        Yeah, that dude was offended because someone from the stage at the convention referred to Clinton as “the nominee” before the formal vote had been cast. “Incredibly disrespectful” was the phrase he used. I didn’t call him on it (too trivial) but “welcome to the big leagues” was what I was thinking. Gee, a brush-back fastball, whodathunk!

    • efgoldman

      I objected to this, partly on the grounds that it was unpersuasive

      And almost entirely on the grounds that it is arithmetically impossible.
      The dead-enders are as factually challenged as RWNJ Republiklowns are. Damned good thing there aren’t a whole lot of them.

  • Sebastian_h

    Now I think that Stein is an obvious loon, but just so I grasp the argument, if you happened to believe that Stein is more correct than Clinton, and that Clinton is better than Trump what exactly would be wrong with voting for Stein in California?

    • Murc

      If the Greens get a certain percentage of the vote they get federal funding and also start getting invited to debates and suchly, which massively increases the chances they’ll get to act as spoilers.

      It is true that if the Greens ever manage to accrue something like ten or fifteen percent of the vote, as opposed to the current sub-five percent, the Democratic Party will probably start looking to co-opt some of their positions. But getting to that point is likely to involve unacceptable risk of throwing elections to Republicans.

      • Scott Lemieux

        the Democratic Party will probably start looking to co-opt some of their positions.

        The Democratic Party is already moving substantially to the left although the Green Party has been a nonentity. Wingers completely took over the GOP with no third party wankery at all.

        • Murc

          Yes? Go on?

          What you say is completely true, but I don’t see how what you said contradicts what I said. Unless you mean it as a corollary rather than refutation.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Yes, a corollary. The matching funds argument makes no sense because there’s more effective, less downside means of changing parties available.

            • And, again, in this day and age of massive fundraising from small donors, the idea that matching funds is a rational goal is exhibit one about How These Folks Don’t Have A Clue.

              Ballot access and debate access might be more reasonable. But again, there’s a bit of chicken and egg going on there. Tiny parties want debate access because they think they can achieve breakout via national exposure. This seems unlikely.

              I mean, the fact that Stein is having very little luck getting Sanders supporters shows that it’s not easy to pull people by mere marginally better ideological fit. Well, being a pretty epically bad candidate probably doesn’t help. But still!

              • Gregor Sansa

                Right. If the greens get 5% of the vote, they get 35 cents per vote received. If you as a voter really believe that they could do great things with this money, then give them a couple of coins and then vote for Clinton.

              • Manny Kant

                I don’t think that Stein actually is a better ideological fit than Clinton for the large majority of Sanders voters.

            • AlanInSF

              True that. It’s a waste of organizing effort, going after matching funds instead of trying to get more Greens (non-vaxxers, hopefully) elected to local and state office, and eventually getting a few of them elected as caucusiong-with-the-Democrats Senators, where, like Joe Lieberman, they might have some actual influence.

              The Tea Party worked because they won the damn elections.

              • efgoldman

                The Tea Party worked because they won the damn elections.

                And they started from the bottom – school boards, city councils, etc.
                They also were quite aware of the influence some previously moribund boards (i.e. the Texas board that controls textbook purchasing) could potentially have.
                By the time Dick Armey’s astroturf Tea Party went public, the pieces were already in place.

            • Exactly. Every single effort the Green Party makes is a waste of effort at best and counterproductive at worst until either (1) support for the Republican Party collapses to the point that there is a realistic chance for a new party to overcome its vote share, or (2) the United States adopts a voting system that is not subject to Duverger’s law. Until either of these cases occurs, the more vote share they receive, the larger chance they will have of playing spoiler. And Drumpf may be an objectively terrible candidate, but support for the Republican Party has come nowhere near collapsing yet.

        • Right. If you really want to pull the Democratic party to the left, primary the DINOs. And the Sanders campaign in fact succeeded in pulling HRC to the left. That will only matter after January 20 if we have a bluer congress and an organized movement to do to the Dems what the Tea Party did to the Republicans, that she knows she needs to fear.

          BTW there is a historical model, the Non-Partisan League. Of course back in those days you could support candidates of either party who were preferable. Not many opportunities to do that nowadays.

        • Phil Perspective

          You’re hilarious. Moving left on social issues? Sure. Anything economy related? Laughable.

          • You apparently haven’t been paying attention. You can read all about HRC’s positions on the issues here.
            Specifically about the economy here, although there’s more including debt free higher education, rebuilding infrastructure, higher taxes on wealthy tax relief for the rest of us, strengthening social security, even Medicare buy-in for 55 and up which is the camel’s nose of single payer under the tent. I’m not laughing.

            • wjts

              If your political instincts were as keen as Phil’s, you’d realize that in her super-secret heart-of-hearts she doesn’t actually believe any of those things. That’s the only rational basis by which you can evaluate a candidate.

              • AlanInSF

                I can buy Phil’s supposition, which I suppose he’s supposing, that Hillary has not shown herself to be a paragon of progressivism. But no serious argument can be made that the Obama/Clinton party is not more progressive than the Carter/B.Clinton party.

                • JR in WV

                  Not to mention the solid fact that the Obama/Clinton party is far more realistic AND progressive than the Trump Tea Party.

                  Trump is an honest businessman, but he is still a businessman, after all!

                  I’m trying out that code button, wish me luck!

                  Woot!! That worked great!

              • Solar System Wolf

                Yes, it was great the way Bernie pulled her to the left, except when she goes to the left no one believes her and everyone knows she’s a lying turncoat. It makes me think that maybe there was no point to Bernie running at all, if people won’t take yes for an answer.

              • efgoldman

                in her super-secret heart-of-hearts she doesn’t actually believe any of those things

                On the way back to the White House from the inauguration, she’s going to pull off her mask, Mission Impossible style, to reveal…
                [wait for it!]

                Zombie Reagan!!!

                • Bruce B.

                  “And I would have got away with it if it weren’t for you cynical disbelieving leftists!”

              • Scott Lemieux

                If your political instincts were as keen as Phil’s, you’d realize that in her super-secret heart-of-hearts she doesn’t actually believe any of those things. That’s the only rational basis by which you can evaluate a candidate.

                Also, Wall Street has long been clamoring for a massive expansion of Medicaid.

            • catclub

              even Medicare buy-in for 55 and up which is the camel’s nose of single payer under the tent.

              Huzzah for that. My model is lowering the eligibility age every year, plus auto-enrolling newborns. I also would like a pony.

              • N__B

                I’m all for the public option, but I draw the line at offering coverage to ponies.

          • JMP

            It’s hilarious to point out things that are completely true!

            • catclub

              Tom Friedman asking for a sensible Republican to back his favorite list of policies, only to have every Democrat reply that Obama already backs 95 % of them, and no Republican backs any of them. But we need a sensible middle.

          • sharculese

            This has been your periodic reminder that Phil is an ignorant child who doesn’t bother to find out what Democrats actually stand for because it would interfere with his ability to pitch substance-free hissy fits about how much better than them he is.

            • Stephen Reineccius

              Pitching Substance-free hissy fits is how I got everywhere I have in life. That and participation trophies. #millennials

              • Yabbut how’s your grip strength, punk?

              • veleda_k

                I just take selfies. That I attach trigger warnings to.

        • Phil Perspective
          • Anna in PDX

            OK so the centrist pro-Israel guy donated to Clinton and that makes everything he does “the face of Clintonism”? Why, did Clinton actually weigh in on the race? As far as I can see she has not. This seems silly and counterproductive to give his behavior that label.

            • Scott Lemieux

              The fact that the Clinton campaign picked a known asshole to emulate Donald Trump shows that Hillary Clinton is running on a right-wing platform. Hard to dispute that logic.

              • Manny Kant

                Correction: the fact that a known asshole has told the press that he’d be happy to emulate Donald Trump for the Clinton campaign, though they have not spoken to him about it at all, shows that Hillary Clinton is running on a right-wing platform.

          • Matty

            I knew what that Corey Robin one was going to be even before I clicked on it (although I think selling it as “Clintonism is action” rather than “some things that are deeply wrong with South Florida local politics” is overdoing it). The Yousef Munayyer one is a short entry in the genre “odious people find HRC less objectionable than Trump, would like to keep getting invited on talk shows.”

            • Murc

              And it seems worth nothing that despite his deep-seated loathing of Clinton (and to be fair, Robin’s screeds against her are better-reasoned and better-researched than many) Corey will still vote for her in November.

              • Anna in PDX

                I like Corey Robin a lot. I do not think the Twitter format does him any favors.

          • ColBatGuano

            Your arguments are less than compelling and not very chewable.

          • Manny Kant

            Robin has really become an unconscionable hack. Or maybe he was always an unconscionable hack?

    • Scott Lemieux

      You can see my longer comments at the link. But tl;dr, what would be the point of voting for Stein in California? What would it accomplish other than saying you think voting is a consumerist affectation rather than part of a collective political choice? If you’re only willing to vote for Stein if it has no chance of changing anything, why not just write yourself in or not vote at all?

      • so-in-so

        The only upside would be if the Stein voter also voted for the Dem candidates down ballot, given that I doubt the Green Party has provided a full slate.

        OTOH, if the Stein voter is a real “purity” voter s/he probably votes Stein and then leaves the down ballot blank; that’s worthless.

        • In the recent Wisconsin primary, there wasn’t a single Green candidate in about a dozen local races. Not one.

        • Considering how primary elections are done here, there won’t be any Green down ticket pretty much anywhere. Stein will be the only one on the ballot.

        • Manny Kant

          That’s an upside for why we, as Democrats, should prefer Stein voters to non-voters. It’s not an argument for why any particular person should vote for Stein.

      • Sebastian_h

        I fully agree that the tea-party take over approach is more likely to work, but I don’t agree that a strong Green Party showing in California or other safe states would have “no chance of changing anything”. It might signal that the Democrats had to take them seriously for cases when the Republicans run non-ridiculous candidates. I wonder if you’re being overly reductive. They are only willing to vote for Stein IN THIS ELECTION in states where Trump can’t win. But they are signalling that they don’t have undying fealty to the Democratic Party for every possible election forever and ever amen.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          I’d agree with you more if the Green Party was running non-ridiculous candidates, but they aren’t.

          Also, this argument misses the fact that the Tea Party, for all of its faults, didn’t start by running a candidate at the national level only. They started at the bottom and built up to nominating Trump.

        • Shantanu Saha

          What it signals to me is that those Green Party voters aren’t interested in promoting or voting for progressive Democrats for office. They’re fine with relatively right-wing Democrats of the Andrew Cuomo type, the ones who get much of their support from Republican voters who know their wackaloon candidates have no prayer of being elected and want to have a nominal Democrat that is as friendly to their interests as possible. When those Green Party voters and interests press their case against the Cuomos of the world, the response is “then why didn’t you vote for me? These other people DID vote for me!”

        • If this worked it would be be first time, I’m pretty sure.

          First, they’d have to make a big showing. Then they’d have to show that they were willing to enter into a coalition ever. If all these Green voters won’t join with black folks then they won’t go very far in the Democraric party and I’m very cool with that. Unreliable voters don’t get strong accommodation from a party.

          Finally, the democrats would have to see them as more attractive than moderate unreliables. I don’t see that happening.

          Historically, even the reform party had almost no influence and Perot was in the debates and hit double digits and even the 20s routinely.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Can you cite some cases of this actually working?

      • njorl

        From a propaganda standpoint, it might be more harmful to Republicans if Trump comes in third in California than if Clinton beats him by 40 points.
        But that would be more of a sign that Republicans should change their ways, not Democrats.

      • The Lorax

        Maybe you like mooching and free riding off the herd immunity of blue California?

      • MDrew

        why not just write yourself in or not vote at all?

        And? Why?

    • Happy Jack

      Voting for third parties is stupid. There’s no reason to encourage stupidity.

      Besides, there are plenty of low information people out there. They’re not smart enough to understand the nuances of voting third party.

      If they live in a swing state, if they hear talk of voting third party they may think it’s acceptable. Best to nip this in the bud.

    • cleek

      take it as given that either Trump or Clinton is going to be the winner, and nobody else; so you go through the pros and cons of both Clinton and Trump and you find that Clinton fits your positions better than Trump and you would be truly upset if Trump wins. but, you feel confident that your state is going to Clinton even if you don’t vote for her. so you don’t.

      what you are then is a freeloader.

      you’re counting on the actions of everyone around you to keep you safe – even though some of those people may be holding their noses to do it. some of them might be compromising their principles to avoid the terrible outcome. but you won’t do that. you’re counting on other people to bring about the only one of the plausible outcomes that you desire while you, at best, do nothing to help, and at worst, make it easier for the other outcome to happen.

      it’s not much different than people who refuse to vaccinate because nobody in their town gets measles these days. you’re counting on other people to keep you safe while you avoid doing your part.

      • CD

        +1

      • Scott Lemieux

        Very well said.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Reminds me of the people who don’t join a union in the states that permit it, yet enjoy the benefits that the union negotiates.

        Often this is expressed as a moral choice – “union leaders are corrupt”, as if management, or frankly anything else in this world involving human beings, was never corrupt.

      • catclub

        what you are then is a freeloader.

        you’re counting on the actions of everyone around you to keep you safe – even though some of those people may be holding their noses to do it. some of them might be compromising their principles to avoid the terrible outcome.

        herd immunity. Vaccinations. Why ever would Jill Stein be vaxxer curious?

        +2

      • upstate_cyclist

        +1
        No more free-riding, whether its in union or governmental representation.

      • cs

        This comment seems to be motivated by some kind of resentment, rather than any rational argument. OK, someone is being a freeloader in that sense, but why does that bother you? (Assuming for the sake of argument that the non-voter is not having a meaningful effect on the final outcome, which would be a different discussion.)

        • Vance Maverick

          Your parenthetical isn’t really a different discussion. The key question is whether my vote for Stein increases the risk of a Trump presidency. The increase will be infinitesimal in many situations but not all (Florida 2000).

        • You don’t see why discouraging free riding isn’t a good idea?

        • djw

          cleek doesn’t claim it bothers him/her, specifically. He calmly and dispassionately describes how such a mentality fits a standard understanding of freeloader.

          I find it difficult to believe you’re actually in need of further elaboration, examples, etc. in order to understand why many humans find it bothersome when their fellow humans avoid participation in a collaborative project, all while planning to reap the benefits of that project.

          • cs

            This comment (by djw) clarifies my thinking on what I mean by resentment. I think the usual understanding of a freeloader implies that the freeloader actually creates some additional burden on the people who are doing the work. But in this case the people who do the work of voting have exactly the same burden whether the freeloader votes or not. So the usual reasons to resent the freeloader don’t really apply, unless you are resenting someone just because they (in a sense) got something for nothing.

            Anyway the bottom line for me is that just like choosing which candidate to vote for should be based only on the voter’s preferred outcome, choosing to vote or not to vote should be based on the voter’s preferred outcome. The only good argument against non voting is that it increases the chance of a bad outcome, not that it makes you a freeloader or whatever.

            • I think the usual understanding of a freeloader implies that the freeloader actually creates some additional burden on the people who are doing the work. But in this case the people who do the work of voting have exactly the same burden whether the freeloader votes or not. So the usual reasons to resent the freeloader don’t really apply, unless you are resenting someone just because they (in a sense) got something for nothing.

              Not individually no (certainly not in all cases). In traditional tragedy of the commons examples, the marginal cost of any one instance of freeloading is essentially zero. The problem comes when enough people try to take advantage of the opportunity that you collapse the system.

              And sub catastrophic freeloading can incur costs, eg like the need to increase turnout or advertise in safe wish states. This aren’t as operative this year, right now, but as people have pointed out HTC running up the score is likely helpful to countering the delegitimising campaign we know is coming and to rise the chances that the Repjblicans reform.

              • cs

                OK, nobody is reading this thread anymore, but I think your second paragraph is not a contradiction to what I said. There are good arguments against not voting (such as what you mentioned) but those arguments consist of listing specific harms, not in calling people freeloaders. If not voting actually had no negative consequence (other than that the non-voter was relying on fellow citizens to do all the “work”) there would be no reason to criticize it.

                Also I think the tragedy of the commons is a bad example for this pointless argument, because that is a case where everyone equally participates in taking something for free, whereas calling someone a freeloader in this sense implies that they are taking stuff while other people are working for it.

              • djw

                In traditional tragedy of the commons examples, the marginal cost of any one instance of freeloading is essentially zero. The problem comes when enough people try to take advantage of the opportunity that you collapse the system.

                Exactly. cs’s definition of freeloader is just bizarrely wrong. Consider two examples:

                1. A group project in a class has five dilligent, hard-working members. A sixth is added but contributes nothing, but because of the group grading scheme, gets the same A the other students earned. The assignment didn’t change when he joined the group, so the others did no additional work.

                2. A woman gives three of her co-workers, who live in her apartment complex, a ride to work everyday. No formal carpool argreement is discussed or arranged. Two of the three women regularly contribute gas money; the third never does. She creates no additional burden–she mets them at the car so it’s no effort to include her in the ride.

                Perhaps we live in different linguistic worlds, but in the one I’ve spent 40-odd years speaking English in, both of those people would be uncontroversially labelled freeloaders, despite creating no additional burden. This is all despite the fact that their activity we call ‘freeloading’ creates no additional burden.

                • cs

                  Your examples prove that my definition of freeloader wasn’t right, but they don’t refute my larger point I think.

                  If the rider paid for gas or the student did some work, they would be making things better for the others in the group. So the point remains that the freeloader imposes some cost on the others, relative to the situation in which the freeloader pulled their weight.

                  In the voting example, in contrast, the welfare of the voter doesn’t change at all if the non voter votes or doesn’t.

                • xq

                  Yeah, a better analogy would capture the relevant aspects of the voting in safe states case: 1) there is a finite amount of work to be done 2) any excess is wasted 3) there are volunteers who are happy to do sufficient work to more than exceed the need 4) this work will benefit the entire group. None of tragedy of commons, vaccinations, and djw’s examples meet these conditions, but (I would argue) voting in safe states does. Under these conditions, are non-contributors genuinely considered freeloaders?

                  It’s hard to think of a great analogy. I can think of some social situations which meet these conditions; e.g., a group holds regular social gatherings at homes of group members, some members are more eager than others to host and so do so much more than their “fair share.” IME undercontributors in this system are not generally considered freeloaders. In general, these conditions often hold in cases where the work is both low burden and has signalling value to compensate. Voting is such a case.

                • so-in-so

                  Heck of a lot of “work” to justify not voting, or voting for a useless nobody, because of “feelings”.

      • The Lorax

        And cleek beat me to it. Exactly.

    • politicalfootball

      A California Stein voter has two potential goals:

      1. Strengthening the Green Party at a national level to the point where it can help the Republicans and
      2. Lessening the victory margin (or increasing the defeat margin) in the popular vote for Hillary against Trump.

      People who want to do these things are within their rights, just as Trump voters are, but decent people will be entirely justified in their disdain for Trump and Stein voters.

      • DAS

        But how is lessening HRC’s victory margin a good thing? If the press would report the total “left leaning votes” vs “right leaning votes” (assuming that you can even break down votes in that way — does the fraction of votes that Johnson will receive from stoner Bernie Bros count as “left leaning” or “right leaning”?), then votes for Stein would count as “Clinton would have gotten a bigger margin had she gone even further to the left”.

        But that’s not how “even the liberal media” parses things. E.g. in 2000 there were clearly more votes (even ignoring the votes that weren’t counted and people that weren’t allowed to vote because of GOP shenanigans) for liberal/left candidates than for conservative/right candidates, yet the media reported the election as if it were pretty much a tie that Bush slightly won.

        So if Trump were to FSM forbid win … the story would be “Trump wins! The American people have spoken and they want Trumpism!” not “more people voted for Clinton/Stein than Trump and many Johnson supporters are actually Bernie Bros also too … so even if Trump won, this is still a left of center country”. And even if HR Clinton wins, it’ll still be “Clinton won … but not by much” rather than “Clinton + Stein won big”. So what’s the gain for liberal/left politics by taking away votes from Clinton?

        • (((Hogan)))

          But how is lessening HRC’s victory margin a good thing?

          It isn’t. pf is saying the Greens have bad goals.

          • DAS

            I’m sorry if I’m not clear. I’m agreeing with pf. and highlighting how the goal is bad.

        • efgoldman

          But how is lessening HRC’s victory margin a good thing?

          Your being all rational and logical n’shit.
          If Greens were rational and logical (in the US) they wouldn’t be Greens.

    • DAS

      Immanuel Kant wants to have a word with you. He says it’s categorically imperative that he address this question.

      • (((Hogan)))

        As a prolegomenon to any future punditry.

        • Gee Suss

          This comment section. You all are the best.

        • The Lorax

          Though this transcendental deduction of the a priori categories of neoliberalism I shall demonstrate apodictally that Hillary was responsible for everything I don’t like about Bill’s administration.

        • N__B

          Mini__B is quite pro-LEGO men.

      • Manny Kant

        Hey! Hey! Hey! What’s with the what now?

    • tsam

      what exactly would be wrong with voting for Stein in California?

      What in the FUCK?

      Again: Popular vote matters. Nobody gives a shit about your personal feelings about Hillary Clinton. Just vote for Clinton and work on Congress, state and local politicians.

      Why is this so difficult to understand? I know you all hate Hillary and for the most part don’t even know why, but fucking get your act together. We have a country to run here and your little schemes to send messages to nobody are counter-productive and stupid.

      • so-in-so

        Not to mention, as Scott points out, Stein is narcissistic crank who appears to like both Trump and Putin better than HRC. Evidence that she is somehow a better candidate to vote for is seriously lacking. If she had an equal chance of winning with HRC, I still wouldn’t vote for Stein!

        • tsam

          Even taking Stein out the equation, you have two people who are effectively “on the ballot”. One is a subhuman piece of shit, the other is not (despite all the pathetic attempts to paint her as one). This whole idea of voting 3rd party or someone not on the ballot is purely stupid and useless. I have a couple of good friends who are stuck in this fuckery loop, and im quickly running out of patience with it. It’s seriously time for these assholes to get their shit together and do the right thing.

    • JMP

      What exactly would be right about it?

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    One of the things I liked about the Reed piece is that it argued against the GP’s notion of what voting was for rather than simply insulting potential Stein voters. Smart, well meaning people can make wrongheaded political choices. And the best way to change those choices — and to discourage others from making them to — is to argue argainst them, rather than calling them infants, “bros,” or whatever other political epithet you prefer.

    • JMP

      If someone plans to vote for Stein, then they are not smart and well meaning people.

  • piratedan

    maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m getting really tired of folks stating that Hilary Clinton is somehow evil or malicious or overly ambitious…

    From what I can see…. I think she’s human, and sometimes has regrettable optics….

    her biggest offenses appear to be…

    She was in charge when some folks were murdered in the midst of on ongoing civil war in Libya. Somehow, the repeated requests for additional funding for boosted security didn’t matter (especially so when rejected by the GOP). Nevermind the fact that people working overseas in US Consulates have been attacked in multiple locations over the years, some of them in countries that aren’t even in the throes of civil wars.

    Took money for speaking engagements from certain Wall Street companies, never mind the she also gave speeches for money at other companies, and we can ignore that she would be sought after for speaking engagements because of her political background.

    Voted in support of the Iraq war, based on the say so and presentation of facts from a Republican administration. Suggested that we bomb the crap out of Quaddafi’s forces when he was attempting to use his armed forces to protect his position in the midst of a civil war. Why this is egregious when the same folks apparently want boots on the ground in Syria is beyond me.

    and her e-mails, following the same procedure that her predecessors followed in order to handle the day-to-day work is somehow a crime that cannot be tolerated even when its been documented that the NSA told her to pound sand in regards to setting up a government “approved” system to handle her needs.

    and she stayed married to the horndog she is apparently in love with, even though he got a hummer from a willing intern.

    somehow, I simply am not able to buy into the idea that she’s evil

    • wjts

      Voted in support of the Iraq war, based on the say so and presentation of facts from a Republican administration.

      What rankles here is that if I, as a moderately well-informed private citizen, was able to come to the (correct) conclusion that the case for war was built on an assemblage of half-truths, lies, and PNAC fantasies, then Clinton should have been able to do the same. I suspect a whole lot of folks feel similarly.

      • twbb

        It was pretty clear at the time that Bush was just implementing a PNAC/neocon obsession that pre-dated, but used as a pretext, 9/11.

        I am going to guess that most Democratic legislators at the time knew that as well, but they were both terrified of “looking weak on terror” and figured even if it went badly it wouldn’t be so bad that it would hurt them politically down the road.

        • CP

          I am going to guess that most Democratic legislators at the time knew that as well, but they were both terrified of “looking weak on terror” and figured even if it went badly it wouldn’t be so bad that it would hurt them politically down the road.

          That’s basically my guess as well.

      • cleek

        I suspect a whole lot of folks feel similarly.

        i do.

        but, i also think it’s reasonable to assume that Senators do not see exactly the same info that we see. they were probably shown a scarier presentation than what we saw. also, it’s much easier to criticize leadership than it is to lead. so i can’t say how i would’ve voted in the same situation.

        • Phil Perspective

          … but, i also think it’s reasonable to assume that Senators do not see exactly the same info that we see.

          Really? So how do you explain former Senator Bob Graham? He’s not some hippie that a lot of people here like punching.

          • CD

            +1.

            Always sobering to read this list: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/senaterollcall_iraq101002.htm

            This was much worse than the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. It was an open endorsement of aggression – an unprovoked attack on another country.

            • (((Hogan)))

              As opposed to . . . the Gulf of Tonkin resolution?

              • CD

                OK, maybe “worse” rather than “much worse.” The distinction: G of T did not authorize invading and occupying a sovereign nation and overthrowing its government. It was phrased in terms of defending S. Vietnam, which remained the declared war aim of the U.S. government. I think you can argue that the latter was more damaging to international law norms of non-aggression.

                • efgoldman

                  G of T did not authorize invading and occupying a sovereign nation and overthrowing its government.

                  Even though we did invade, tried to occupy, and in fact threw over at least one government (my memory is not so good).

                • tsam

                  Even though we did invade, tried to occupy, and in fact threw over at least one government (my memory is not so good).

                  Where overthrow means organize the murder of Diem, yes.

                • Manny Kant

                  wasn’t the use of force resolution worded in terms of upholding UN Resolutions for the disarmament of Iraq? I don’t see how that’s a more unworthy cause on paper than defending the noble government of the Republic of Vietnam.

          • cleek

            do you really find it hard to believe that Senators have access to information that they can’t share with the public?

            • cleek

              (which isn’t to say the information she saw was necessarily correct or wasn’t been presented in a misleading way by the Bush admin … just that what we saw might not be exactly what she saw)

              • CD

                was necessarily correct or wasn’t been presented in a misleading way

                exactly. You refute your own argument very nicely.

                Of course they

                have access to information that they can’t share with the public

                but that is not because the information is better or illuminates some special layer of reality hidden from ordinary people. The

                can’t share with the public

                part is simply a result of regulation and law. You can “classify” any damn thing. Most of it is newspaper clippings and gossip, supplemented when needed by tendentious argument masquerading as analysis — but classified analysis, mind you.

                • cleek

                  You refute your own argument very nicely.

                  i’m not sure you know what my argument is.

                  i’m talking about why she came to a different conclusion than the public did. the OP implied that we all had the same info. i’m saying we don’t.

                  i’m not saying she had better info or that the classification system is awesome. just that she probably saw different stuff than we did. and that might have been a cause for her to see things differently.

                • CD

                  that she probably saw different stuff than we did. and that might have been a cause for her to see things differently.

                  If that’s your argument, you really cannot be serious. “Different” is minimally defensible in the sense that you can always make something new up and classify it, so yes of course, there are probably some fine details of Bush admin lies that Senators saw that we still don’t know about. But the Bush admin’s mendacity was so transparent, and the relevant facts so amply known and documented, that this cannot be a defense of that vote. Take some time to think about the implications of your argument in terms of craven acquiescence to whatever a President wants to do.

                  It’s also hard not to mock your charming naivete around

                  came to a different conclusion

                  like this is people dispassionately examining a dossier and drawing a conclusion. This was a highly politicized push for war.

                • efgoldman

                  i’m talking about why she came to a different conclusion than the public did.

                  At the time, the majority of the public (as opposed to the majority of LG&M readers) came to the same [wrong] conclusion.

          • Shantanu Saha

            Did you vote for Kerry in 2004?

            If the answer is “yes,” put that perspective in your trap and smoke it.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              Voting for someone is not the same thing as being uncritical of them. I voted for Kerry in 2004; I will vote for Clinton in 2016. Their Iraq votes made/make me hold my nose while voting for them and contribute to my sense that I was (and am) voting for the lesser evil.

            • Don’t bother. Whenever I say that people just say things like “sure, I voted for him, but my fingers were crossed and I never liked him anyway.”

        • Gee Suss

          We should never, ever forget the Iraq War vote. No rationalizing of it, no “yes, but”-ing about it. Clinton, as well as a whole host of others, got it wrong. They have to live with that and we should always remember it. A yes vote doesn’t preclude anyone from holding office, but they must be watched and reminded.

          • CP

            This didn’t used to be complicated or controversial, at least on the liberal side of the aisle, until the last year or so.

            • Perhaps because the consequences of taking this moronic position to its logical conclusion weren’t so obviously catastrophic.

              • CP

                Right, right. We’re all totally going to cost Hillary Clinton the election. Not because we’re refusing to vote for her, mind you. Apparently any criticism of any decision by her, in any corner of the Internets, is going to bring about the Trumpocalypse. Glad we cleared that up.

          • Manny Kant

            This seems silly to me. Bush started the Iraq War, and he would have started the Iraq War no matter what Congress did (he certainly had no need for a congressional vote at all), just as he started it no matter what the UN did. He certainly would have started the Iraq War no matter what the bulk of the Democrats in congress did, since virtually all Republicans were going to vote for it and there were enough hawkish Dems like Lieberman and Miller that it goes through no matter how Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry vote.

            The Resolution wasn’t an important substantive step which allowed the war to happen. It was a political trick the Bush administration used to put political pressure on vulnerable Democrats.

            That’s not to say that getting it wrong bears no moral weight, but I don’t think it really bears any more moral weight than the opinion taken on it by people who aren’t in congress.

            What it shows, I think, is a political miscalculation. A vote against the war would not have hurt Clinton’s re-election in 2006, and it would not have hurt her presidential campaign in 2008. By 2008, it probably would have helped her. Her vote for the war was some combination of misjudging the actual morality of the case for war, which is problematic, but more so of misjudging the politics – thinking that voting for war was the “safe” option, when in fact it was the morally correct choice to oppose the war which would have also been politically beneficial.

            I’m not sure what I’m saying here. I think basically that I don’t think Clinton really bears moral responsibility for the war in Iraq, but that I do think that her misjudgment in supporting it – whether for political or principled reasons – is worrisome. But certainly not disqualifying, and for me at least, not even particularly troublesome in an election where the alternative is Donald Trump.

      • so-in-so

        I pretty well knew they where lying too; initially thought MAYBE the Congress got more detail in their briefings. Know better now.

        I suspect it was as much a political decision, that a recently elected Democratic woman Senator could kiss her career goodbye if she voted against that particular bill. A situation not faced, for example, by Ted Kennedy. It isn’t an admirable position, certainly, but probably not evil either.

        • Sebastian_h

          That was Clinton acting as a free-loader in the terminology of the Jill Stein in California type vote, right?

          • TroubleMaker13

            Not really– no evidence she was expecting other D’s to carry the anti-war vote to a win. It’s more like “lesser-evilism” where she calculated that war would win regardless of her individual vote, so she chose not to burn political capital in opposition.

            • Manny Kant

              Right, except that, as I note above, that was a political miscalculation. If she’d opposed the war, she’d probably have been elected president eight years ago.

        • CD

          I’d just add that those of us who opposed the Vietnam war encountered this argument all the damn time. You got into an argument with a war supporter. You met all their points. At which point the war supporter said well, you have me on the observable facts, but surely the President has access to secrets that justify his actions.

          • efgoldman

            At which point the war supporter said well, you have me on the observable facts, but surely the President has access to secrets that justify his actions.

            I started out as a supporter of the Vietnam war, but had turned 180 degrees by 1968-69.
            But up to that point of history, and especially less than 20 years after WW2, yes, the government was generally believed/believable, for all the reasons you’d guess.
            Of course LBJ, and especially Tricksie Dicksie Nixie, changed that forever. “Secret plan” my ass.

      • piratedan

        yup, I can sympathize with that and yet, a very small number of folks from inside the government voted against it. Not sure if there were other pressures or arguments that were brought to the discussion within the halls of government itself, I can’t say. It’s always been my biggest issue with her. I will admit that there’s a certain deference given to those in authority in many cases (although thankfully the GOP has illustrated why we can’t allow that anymore).

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yes. I don’t think Hillary Clinton is “evil” and I don’t think she’s the largely reactionary figure Reed does, but stop making excuses for the Iraq War vote.

        • CP

          This.

        • Shantanu Saha

          I’m not making an excuse for the Iraq war vote. But if it wasn’t disqualifying for Kerry, it should not be disqualifying for Clinton, twelve years later.

          • Mayur

            I don’t see anyone on this thread making the case that the Iraq war vote is “disqualifying” for Clinton, just that she should rightfully be held to account for it. I honestly think that vote made Kerry a weaker nominee than we needed in 2004, even though I did GOTV and voted for him.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        What rankles here is that if I, as a moderately well-informed private citizen, was able to come to the (correct) conclusion that the case for war was built on an assemblage of half-truths, lies, and PNAC fantasies, then Clinton should have been able to do the same. I suspect a whole lot of folks feel similarly.”

        You’re decidedly in the minority. Most people, even Democrats, supported the war initially. And the media certainly did.

        I salute your perceptiveness on this issue. But if we stop supporting every Democrat who voted the wrong way on the war, we’ll remove most of the Democratic Senators and Representatives who were in office back then, and we need them to form a majority.

        PS- sorry, can’t figure out how to edit my blockquote error.

        • wjts

          But if we stop supporting every Democrat who voted the wrong way on the war, we’ll remove most of the Democratic Senators and Representatives who were in office back then, and we need them to form a majority.

          Agreed, in that I don’t want the Senators and Representatives who voted for the war purged from the party forever at any cost – Clinton’s Iraq vote is not a reason to vote for Trump any more than Kerry’s Iraq vote was a reason to vote for Bush. But, all else being equal in a primary election, I’ll always vote for a candidate who opposed the war over one who supported it.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            We’re no longer in a primary election. We’re in a *general* election, and there are still a lot of folks declaring that Clinton is evil and they won’t vote for her because of her Iraq vote.

            • efgoldman

              there are still a lot of folks declaring that Clinton is evil and they won’t vote for her because of her Iraq vote.

              I believe that the actual number of those people, like the actual number of irredeemable Berniebots, is inconsequentially small, but their intartoobz megaphone is very large and loud.

              • CP

                Lord, yes.

                If I had any fears about the NeverHillary “Berniebro” diehards being a major exodus of formerly loyal Democrats, they were cured when I checked out the protests at the Philadelphia convention. No one whose protest sign reads “Eat Your Pheasant, Drink Your Wine, Your Days Are Numbered, Bourgeois Swine!” was ever a reliable Democratic voter in the first place.

                • Manny Kant

                  Yeah, I walked around FDR Park and City Hall and the protesters, at least, were pretty universally Generic Far Left Protesters who have never voted for a Democrat.

            • wjts

              Yes. Those people are dumb.

        • tsam

          I don’t know how anybody ever supported that war.
          1) Sanctions on Iraq had been ongoing for 10 years and were widely reported to be doing a lot of damage.
          2) Throughout the 90s, Clinton had decimated Iraq’s SCUD arsenal, their air force, and wiped out all of their military capabilities. This was widely reported and not a secret.
          3) Hans Blix was unequivocal in his reporting that there was no evidence of a WMD program that posed any kind of threat to the US or anyone else
          4) The rest of the world (except for the Blair administration) knew and said the intel the Bush administration used was fabricated and/or cherry picked to support their narrative.
          5) If you made it past Colin Powell showing the UN pictures of choo choo trains and telling them they were mobile chem weapons labs without figuring out that the whole sales pitch was a giant load of shit, well…I don’t know what to tell you.

      • CD

        The Iraq war vote is an indelible sin, both because, as you say, the case was obviously built on lies and because there was a chance that active and principled opposition could have stopped it.

        That’s why I supported BHO over HRC 8 years ago, even though on economic policy he ran to her right. I caucused for Sanders and would’ve been happy to have supported someone with BHO’s profile.

        With an HRC presidency we may have an LBJ problem: progressive domestically, murderous abroad.

        All that said, I agree with the OP that much of the rhetoric around HRC is misogynist. In her actions and positions she is a pretty standard Democratic politician. But people are much more comfortable with morally flawed men.

        • Shantanu Saha

          But did you vote for Kerry in 2004?

          • CP

            If you’re going to repeat that over and over, it’d be helpful if you at least clarified if you meant primary or general.

          • CD

            In the general election, yes of course.

        • Pat

          But people are much more comfortable with morally flawed men.

          That’s the issue right there.

        • Scott Lemieux

          The Iraq war vote is an indelible sin, both because, as you say, the case was obviously built on lies

          Yes.

          there was a chance that active and principled opposition could have stopped it.

          Nah.

          • wjts

            In Principle*, had all fifty Senate Democrats plus Chafee and Jeffords voted against it, that might have done something to stop it.

            *In Principle is Scrupulously Fair’s older sibling.

            • so-in-so

              Stopped the AUMF, not necessarily the war.

              • wjts

                Hence the gently sarcastic capitalization of “In Principle”.

      • DAS

        A lot of folks feel similarly. But a majority of voters, even in “blue” states/districts, were taken in by Bush & CO fear mongering.

      • Junipermo

        I did not vote for HRC in the 2008 primary for this very reason. She and every other elected official who voted for the AUMF was wrong, categorically, catastrophically wrong, period.

        But that was then, and this is now. We are now choosing between a candidate that at least knows where Libya is on a map, and one who has openly pondered why we don’t use nukes as a first strike.

        The way to hold HRC accountable for her foreign policy now is to change the direction of the party toward a less hawkish stance by electing more and better progressive Democrats in Congress. But that won’t happen by refusing to vote for HRC now because she was wrong about Iraq 13 years ago.

        Obama drew his line in the sand on Syria, but as you can see, we are not flying over there and bombing it today. There was no appetite amongst voters to do such a thing, and Congress made sure everyone knew that, so it didn’t happen. There’s no reason to think that HRC won’t be similarly constrained should she get any more wrong ideas about involving us in more wars that aren’t really necessary.

        • wjts

          The way to hold HRC accountable for her foreign policy now is to change the direction of the party toward a less hawkish stance by electing more and better progressive Democrats in Congress. But that won’t happen by refusing to vote for HRC now because she was wrong about Iraq 13 years ago.

          Oh, agreed. Clinton’s Iraq vote is not really germane to the 2016 general election. (I think it was extremely relevant in the primary, obviously.)

          • Junipermo

            We agree then!

            Well, we disagree on one point. I think Clinton’s vote for the AUMF is a valid reason to have voted for Sanders. But I voted for HRC in this year’s primary for one simple reason: I didn’t think Sanders could win the general election, and that a Trump presidency would be so catastrophic on so many levels that I felt I had to vote for the candidate best positioned to make sure that never, ever happens.

            Fortunately, the politics around war and peace (and so much else) has changed over the years, and the Democratic party is more progressive than it was twenty years ago. So, all HRC’s flaws and too hawkish views aside, I am optimistic that her actual foreign policy initiatives as president will be more restrained.

        • Gee Suss

          This x1000

        • JR in WV

          Obama drew his line in the sand on Syria, but as you can see, we are not flying over there and bombing it today.

          But we ARE bombing ISIS/ISIL/daesh in both Iraq and Syria today, from USN Aircraft Carrier Groups in both the eastern Med and in the Persian Gulf.

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think record numbers of bombing sorties are being flown from at least two US Carrier Groups, also including the French carrier Charles de Gaulle.

          Prof. Farley, is this correct?

      • The Lorax

        Read Hillary’s statement from the Senate floor. She was voting for strength in negotiaton, not war. Maybe she was naive in not seeing the evil the Bushies were. But she didn’t “vote for the Iraq War” as many put it.

        • wjts

          Read the legislation that she voted for, “Authorization for
          Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002
          “, née “H.J. Res. 114”:

          SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
          (a) AUTHORIZATION.—The President is authorized to use the
          Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—
          (1) defend the national security of the United States against
          the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
          (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council
          resolutions regarding Iraq.

          She absolutely voted for war with Iraq.

    • cleek

      right on

    • Owlbear1
    • Philip

      She’s part of the US establishment, and by that alone is associated with a lot of genuinely evil people, and has to work with them. I would guess that taints her for some people. I mean, I’m not exactly thrilled with her talking up Kissinger.

    • bender

      “she stayed married to the horndog she is apparently in love with”

      I have no idea how she feels. I think she stayed with him after the first infidelities because they make an effective couple to promote their careers. Being the governor’s wife and then First Lady was functionally equivalent to putting her spouse through medical school. Bill has honorably reciprocated by supporting Hillary’s first Presidential run, making up with Obama so she could get the Sec of State appointment, and fundraising for her current campaign. This being the United States and not France, Mrs. Clinton does not have the option to take a lover while she remains in the public eye.

      • CP

        Yeah. The “she stayed married to the horndog she is apparently in love with” criticism is easily the most ridiculous accusation thrown at her. At least most of the conspiracy theories are things that would be concerning, if they were true. How she handles her marriage is absolutely none of anyone else’s business.

        Of course, people thought it was their business in the late nineties, and it’s apparent that we haven’t progressed that much since then.

        (This is the kind of thing that always brings to mind Jed Bartlett’s moment when he finds out that a potential Supreme Court nominee had an abortion –

        “Before or after…?”
        “After 73, it was legal.”
        “Are we discarding anyone else for legal activities?”
        “Not yet.”
        “Tonsillectomy? We down on surfing this year?”)

        • Gareth

          But of course they would discard people for certain legal activities, like protesting outside an abortion clinic.

          • (((Hogan)))

            protesting outside an abortion clinic.

            Yes, that well-known medical procedure.

      • Solar System Wolf

        And anyway, it’s no one’s business but theirs. I don’t need her to get divorced to placate some idea of how women should conduct themselves. If she had gotten divorced, then that would be spun against her too.

        • Plus, for all we know, the Clintons very well may have an open marriage. It’s not as if they’d be likely to advertise such a fact; that would very likely also be spun against them in 2016, let alone in 1998. I honestly find it perplexing how many people don’t even consider this to be a possibility.

    • efgoldman

      her biggest offenses appear to be…

      That she is an actual politician, and a damned good one.

  • Cheerful

    I find this argument so convincing I am always curious about the reasoning of those not convinced. The comments to the article, for as long as I was willing read them, seemed to be along the lines of

    1) there are some things Hillary does that are so evil that supporting her in any way is a sin full stop. For example she continues to deal with Saudi Arabia even though they bomb nice people in Yemen.

    2) she really is worse than Trump because Trump occasionally makes vague noises about pursuing a less hawkish foreign policy in between other vague noises pointing in the opposite direction.

    The first view seems to imply a purity towards politics that’s hard to sustain. The second a credulity that would seem askance in a reasonably bright 10 year old

    • Philip

      I’m not convinced that 1 is totally implausible in the abstract. I can at least imagine a world where the Democrats tacked right rather than left in the late ’00s, and where we ended up with a pro-life, “family values” warmonger (not a Clinton hawk-lite) economic “moderate” running against, I dunno, Jeb!. I’m not sure I could bring myself to vote for that hypothetical Democrat.

      • Shantanu Saha

        But this is exactly what the left-wing purity ponies have been arguing about Clinton for a year or more.

        • Philip

          I think 1 is obviously wrong on the facts of this election. That doesn’t mean it’s totally, universally wrong in principle. I understand the argument against dealbreakers, but I can come up with unlikely-but-not-impossible hypotheticals where I really might conclude the Democrats were a lost cause and it was time to leave.

          • Junipermo

            Would you mind elaborating on that? I have a hard time seeing that for myself, but perhaps there are some things that I just haven’t considered.

            • Philip

              The tldr of it is if, rather than what actually happened in the late ’00s (and through the rest of Obama’s presidency) where the Democrats have moved consistently left, they had swung right to try to reclaim “the middle.” A true center-right candidate, with all that that implies in the US right now, would be very hard to vote for. And if the Democrats’ response to the Bush years had been “we need to be more conservative!”, the damage of losing a few elections trying to establish a new left-of-center party to supplant them might be worth it, because the gap between a Democratic and Republican administration would be smaller. The harm minimization calculation would change.

              But even setting aside the practical matters, I just…don’t know how, at this point, if I could bring myself to vote for an anti-Roe, anti-gun control, pro-boots-on-the-ground-in-Syria, anti-gay marriage candidate because they weren’t quite as bad on the economy. Obviously, this is a very alt-history party, but it’s not outside the realm of the possible directions we could have gone, just the likely.

          • so-in-so

            Consider what JEB would most likely be like in your alternate world, or at least would sign from the crazy right-wing congress. As long as we have the current GOP I can’t personally imagine a possible “deal breaker” candidate on the Democratic side.

          • TroubleMaker13

            I understand the argument against dealbreakers, but I can come up with unlikely-but-not-impossible hypotheticals where I really might conclude the Democrats were a lost cause and it was time to leave.

            But where would you go? Even in your own example; some alternate reality where the D candidate was truly “worse” than the R in some comprehensive, meaningful sense; why would you not then vote for the R? What do you possibly gain from abstaining or voting for an irrelevant spoiler candidate?

            I just can’t see how the “dealbreaker” argument is ever supposed to make sense.

            • Philip

              Basically it would be a situation where D and R presidential candidates were *actually* similar, except for a less conservative D on the economy. At which point the harm from a real third party challenge from the left (i.e. not the Greens) would be much less than it is in the real world, because the Democrat would only be better than the Republican on a few issues anyway.

              • TroubleMaker13

                Sorry, I don’t mean to be obtuse, I just don’t get it. If the D is only better than the R on a few issues (or vice-versa for that matter), why would that negate the value of those few issues? You still have a meaningful choice in the space of actual outcomes.

                This seems like saying that we should be indifferent between payouts of $100 and $101 because they’re basically the same. Why wouldn’t you go for the $101 every time?

                • catclub

                  Why wouldn’t you go for the $101 every time?

                  In cases where it takes more than $1 worth of effort to distinguish which is worth $101.

                • Philip

                  The problem with the challenge-from-the-left model is that it almost certainly will throw a few elections to the Republicans, even if it eventually succeeds. But if the parties were more similar, that might be worth it if it meant having a properly center left-to-left party fairly quickly. It’s not worth it now because a Republican administration would be so much worse than a Democratic one, not just mildly worse, so working within the party to keep it moving left is better.

                  Think of it as “$100 vs $101 now, but $100 may get you another $20 later, too” (the hypothetical), and “$-100 vs 100 now, and $-100 might later get you $120” (what we actually have, being very very very generous to the Greens)

                • djw

                  Think of it as “$100 vs $101 now, but $100 may get you another $20 later, too” (the hypothetical), and “$-100 vs 100 now, and $-100 might later get you $120”

                  But in a world with political conditions conducive to the set of outcomes this hypothetical describes, the interest groups/voters/politicians on the moderate left and points leftward must surely be fewer in number and/or more incompetent and organized than they are in our world. In such a scenario, what reasons would there be for optimism that an “organize a new left party” would be likely to be successful in a few election cycles? If I’m understanding your hypothetical correctly, the assumption that “operation build a new left party” is very likely to be successful in the medium term. That kind of optimism seems unwarranted, particularly given the kinds of political conditions likely to produce the circumstances of your hypothetical.

                • Shantanu Saha

                  Apparently, if the $101 has Clinton’s face on it, the $100 with Trump’s face is preferable.

            • JR in WV

              “But where would you go?”

              Spain, France, Portugal, The Netherlands… Costa Rica, Belize, well, you get my drift.

              If this country has a ruling Nazi party and a going along to get along party afraid of both the Nazi party and its own shadow, maybe it is time to find amnesty somewhere else with a better political climate.

          • nixnutz

            The interesting thing about this election is that Republicans really are facing that situation. I think Johnson will do well and I’m not sure the people who vote for him are wrong but I can’t understand anyone who thinks the situation is symmetrical.

            • Philip

              Although for them it’s character more than policy (Trump is mostly bog-standard Republican on policy, he’s just not as good at hiding what he means).

      • The Lorax

        Jeb! Is pretty conservative.

  • NewishLawyer

    I once made a really sarcastic comment on a friend’s facebook feed about how Stein supporters viewed their votes as a matter of showing how pure and good they are.

    The comment was liked by a Stein supporter who followed with “voting for Trump or Clinton would make me sick”

    Ultimately, voting as a form of purity or consumerism is a form of privilege because people who do so are often socio-economically privileged enough (and white enough) to survive a right-wing regime unscratched. They might also benefit from GOP tax cuts.

    I do think that a lot of people from the tail end of Generation X and the Millennials were very unconsciously influenced by the right-wing Clinton derangement of the 1990s and don’t realize it. This seems to me to be a big source of “I just can’t vote for HRC” from the remaining Bernie or Busters.

    But in the end, there are always going to be people who view voting as a way of proving goodness/purity and I am not sure what can convince them otherwise.

    • wjts

      The comment was liked by a Stein supporter who followed with “voting for Trump or Clinton would make me sick”

      Well, who knows what kind of cooties you might catch from a voting machine. They feed on the stuff in chemtrails and vaccines, you know.

    • djw

      I do think that a lot of people from the tail end of Generation X and the Millennials were very unconsciously influenced by the right-wing Clinton derangement of the 1990s and don’t realize it.

      It’s been revealing just how true that is over the last year. It’s interesting–the smearing of Obama really only worked with the core demographic, but the smearing of Clinton sort of permeated out into the larger culture. I suspect that’s a consequence of some combination of a) a more partisan environment, b) the impressive lack of anything approaching a ‘scandal’ in the Obama administration, and c) a decrease in the effectiveness of the various media outlets and networks that propagate GOP smear campaigns.

      • sibusisodan

        the impressive lack of anything approaching a ‘scandal’ in the Obama administration

        When I stop to think about this, it’s kinda amazing. None of his predecessors managed anything like as good a record.

        • djw

          Even if I’m blessed/cursed with an unusally long life, I don’t anticipate living to see this again.

      • NewishLawyer

        Other issues include how much one forgives and/or hates Bill Clinton for:

        1. DOMA

        2. Welfare Reform

        3. NAFTA

        4. Any other triangulation “neo-liberal” thing he did to deal with and/or hurt the GOP.

        I know a lot of people from my generation who are very militaristic in never forgiving Clinton I for any of these issues without realizing the political realities of the time. HRC seems to get blamed by proxy for the sins of her husband.

        • sibusisodan

          “Clinton repealed Glass-Steagal!”

          “You do realise that it passed with veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress, so Clinton didn’t really have a choice about it?”

          “Clinton repealed Glass-Steagal!”

          • LeeEsq

            Clinton did have a choice. He could have vetoed it in protest and made Congress past it over his veto. This would have been a bad and pointless in my opinion but a lot of people really love this sort of futile pointless veto to make sure the President’s heart is in the right place.

            • efgoldman

              a lot of people really love this sort of futile pointless veto to make sure the President’s heart is in the right place.

              A lot of people really love that the house has voted to repeal the ACA about 9000 times, too.

              Purity ponies are equally dumb on either end of the spectrum. It’s just as the RW ones really want to hurt people.

          • NewishLawyer

            Pretty much

        • cleek

          5. DMCA
          6. Sonny Bono Copyright Act

          • B. Peasant

            7. DADT

            • rea

              DADT, of course, resulted when, as essentially the first major initiative of his administration, he tried to allow gays to serve openly in the military. He got his ass handed to him, with Democrats in the Senate leading the charge. DADT was the best he could do, and it was, in theory at least, better than the old system, under which there were undercover agents investigating people to see if they were gay.

              A lot of the Bill Clinton parade of horribles are similar. For example, some form of welfare “reform” was inevitable at that time. He tried to take control of the issue, by proposing it in more moderate form than the Republicans would have enacted, left to their own devices. Liberalism was fighting a rear guard action in those days; had been since ’68.

              • nixnutz

                Thank you, I always found it annoying when people would talk about “overturning don’t-ask-don’t-tell”. I know it was just shorthand but it really obscures the history and it’s far from clear that there was a better way to end the kind of witch hunts that were going on before.

                • B. Peasant

                  Yeah, I’ve actually seen someone try to argue that because Bill signed off on DADT 20 or so years ago, it means he was an evil person then, and something something Hillary bad now.

                  It’s a perfect example of the kind of thing NewishLawyer listed up.

              • bender

                I think Clinton knew that many people regarded him as a draft dodger, and that undermined his confidence in standing up to the military brass. It was a given that he would meet resistance. A President with a service record, not necessarily a war hero but just someone with military experience, would have known when he was being fed BS and would have been more able to stand firm.

      • dr. fancypants

        I largely grew up in the Clinton era, and graduated high school in ’96. Even by the time I graduated college, I was still a political naif (I did not “get” politics at all back then), so I definitely did not think critically about political reporting during the entirety of the Clinton years.

        Against that background, the constant barrage of “scandals” definitely made a mark on my political consciousness. I was aware enough to know there were these things that “serious people” were making a fuss about (Whitewater, Vince Foster, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, etc.), without having the canniness to filter out the bullshit. Even though I voted for Hillary, I still notice the vestiges of attitudes developed in my formative years–in the back of my mind, some part of me still thinks of the Clintons as corrupt.

        I suspect I am not alone in this experience.

        • NewishLawyer

          I graduated high school in 1998. By that time, I thought that the Gringrich right were a bunch of hypocrites who were constantly going after Clinton just to go after Clinton. I knew about Gingrich’s multiple marriages but the first political book I read was “Rush Limbaugh is a big fat liar and other observations” by Al Franken. I was 15 or 16 when I read the book.

          • dr. fancypants

            Yeah, I’ll readily admit I got way too far up my own asshole at that age. I held generally liberal positions, but genuinely believed that politics didn’t need to be so nasty, if only everyone could be rational and see where there was common ground. (In other words, I thought everyone just needed to be like me.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, I voted Nader in 2000.

            • efgoldman

              genuinely believed that politics didn’t need to be so nasty, if only everyone could be rational and see where there was common ground.

              Actually, when I was that age (graduated college in ’68) politics generally worked that way, with the notable exception of Vietnam.
              All the civil rights laws passed with the active support of Northern and Midwestern Republiklowns.

              • JR in WV

                I graduated H S in 1968, and my parents were integrationist socially liberal Republicans. My mom finally stopped voting for Republican presidential candidates in the 1990s over their anti-abortion platform. Dad never did, even as the Republican’s became twisted and evil.

                I have never voted for a Republican, ever, and I think I can safely say I never will. Around here they call that “being a yellow dog Democrat”: I’ll vote for that yellow dog over there before I’ll ever vote for a Republican!

  • SausalitoSurfer

    I have lost patience with voters in “safe” states who figure it is OK to “vote their conscience”. I was/am a strong Bernie supporter. In a better world, I would be able to vote for a better candidate than Hillary Clinton but that isn’t my choice. I will be voting for her because she is the only candidate running for president this year who might possibly be influenced from the left.

    The “vote my conscience” crowd is counting on me and millions of other Californians to do what they can’t bring themselves to do.
    Screw them and their sanctimony.

    • SausalitoSurfer

      Slight correction: “…the only candidate with a chance of winning…”

    • Kubricks Rube

      I reject their framing of what voting your conscience looks like. As Clay Shirky wrote, “your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.”

  • djw

    I’ve been silently following with some amusement a few facebook threads about this piece, in which moderate CDS sufferers (who endorse it) and more acute cases (who are deeply offended by this neoliberal sellout’s deployment of the politics of fear) are tearing each other apart.

  • brad

    And of course the top rated comment there is a #neverHillary type who frames it as whether or not we want war with Russia. And says it’ll thus depend on the “wisdom” of Putin to avoid one if she wins.
    I can’t even snark about stupidity that offensive. The murderous former spy dictator who uses homosexuals and other sexual minorities, and many other lefty friendly marginalized groups, as convenient targets of distracting hatred and has invaded… 3-4? countries in recent years is the hope for peace. Insofar as he might not respond to Hillary doing… something in Syria to hinder him in propping up a borderline genocide level murderous regime.

    Who the fuck are these people?

    • Philip

      Among the long list of terrible things about the Trump campaign, the pro-Russian “Left” coming back out into the open is up there.

      • JR in WV

        No, that’s about the only good thing about the Trump campaign. We need to know that there are deranged left-wing people, just as it is good to know there are deranged right-wing people.

        At least none of the deranged left-wing folks are potentially going to be elected President soon.

      • ASV

        Also possible that’s the pro-Left Russians.

    • TroubleMaker13

      The Putin apologetics of the #neverHillary scene really give the game away. “Purity” my ass.

    • Pat

      Who the fuck are these people?

      Russians? Or people being paid by Manafort on their behalf?

      • brad

        I’d like to believe so, but in the end I just can’t believe anyone, anywhere would pay someone like slothrop or ghostship for their efforts. There really are potentially useful idiots like that out there, apparently.

        • efgoldman

          There really are potentially useful idiots like that out there, apparently.

          They have always been out there, but they formerly communicated with mimeographed 4-page newsletters stapled together and handed out on street corners to dozens of people.
          Those of us who spend a lot of time and effort on the toobz have to remember they are not representative of real life. They are representative of people with the time and energy to spew pixels out in multiple places all day, self-selected.

          • brad

            I don’t mistake them for numerous, I simply despair of their sheer existence.

          • rea

            they formerly communicated with mimeographed 4-page newsletters stapled together and handed out on street corners to dozens of people.

            The Nation is put together a little more sophisticatedly than that, and back in ’14 was praising Putin and asserting that occupation of the Crimea was a legitimate response to US aggression.

    • JMV Pyro

      Who the fuck are these people?

      Unfortunate victims of a little thing called second-option bias.

      They figure out at some point that the US isn’t necessarily a force for good and justice in the world, but they still ultimately want to see things as a morality play between the forces of good and evil. So they assume that Russia can’t be all that bad. After all, they’re working against the perfidious American Empire. Russia Today being made to pander to these types of people doesn’t help

  • LeeEsq

    The concepts of voter-as-consumer and politics-as-soap-opera seem inevitable in a wealthy developed country that places a lot of emphasis on individual autonomy. We know that wealthier people can withstand bad political leadership more than non-wealthy people. As a country gets more affluent, your going to get more people relatively immunized from disastrous political leadership and more likely to vote for what makes them feel good. Similar voter-as-consumer behavior seems to inflict other wealthy democracies.

    The voters that perceive themselves as under siege are more likely to revolve around the person they think offers the best choice for their tribe. We see this with both Clinton and Trump supporters. Both sides perceive themselves as not being able to stand a loss and act accordingly. Its the people who think they will personally be alright under either that are going for Johnson or Stein.

    Most of the dedicated support for Clinton and Trump also come from people who identify strongly with a large group. White men for Trump and people of color, women, or LGBPT people for Clinton. You vote who is good for your group. As group identity becomes weaker, people are more likely to behave as consumers when voting.

    As for politics-as-soap-opera, people always liked political drama and scandal as a type of entertainment. The wealthier a society is, the more scandal it can handle.

    • MDrew

      Lee (hi from over there!),

      Can you elaborate on what would even be the distinction between voting-as-individual and voting-as-consumer? Is voting-as-consumer anything other than just failing to vote-as-group in some way?

      I’m unclear if Lemieux and his followers are saying there is a difference potentially there or if the are identical; I am unsure if you are. But your point about group identity and its breakdown seems right on the money here to me either way.

      I just wonder if that’s really all we’re talking about when we (they) talk about voting-as-consumer. Because that terminology lost me from the get-go, and never managed to get me back on board with it. I never really felt like I knew what was being referred to.

      • LeeEsq

        If I’m reading Scott correctly, voter-as-consumer means something like your voting for what you think is good for your soul and what makes you feel better regardless of the actual impact of your voting choice on the wider society. Its acting like a consumer because somebody could prefer Pepsi over Coca-Cola even though both are cola drinks with only slight discernible difference between. The same thing happens with consumer voters, they vote for you makes them feel personally better.

  • DAS

    all that is necessary to make a substantial electoral impact is to have a strong and coherent progressive program and to lay it out in public.

    How do the Greens figure this is gonna work exactly? Even in an age where they can put this program on the internet, and everyone who is interested can find it and read it, how do they get people interested in reading this program?

    How do they convince people that this program on a website/piece of paper is practical? How do they convince people, convinced by decades of exposure to “even the liberal media” that this program is “affordable” and will not destroy but rather will enhance economic prospects for everyone and not just “those people”? How do they assure people that regulations won’t kill the economy and that progressive taxation won’t break their bank accounts? How do they convince politicians that there are votes to be gained in forming a coalition with the Greens and/or adopting their program?

    The way you do these things is being working from the bottom up. Getting out the vote. Having high profile primary victories for progressive candidates in a major party (i.e. the mirror-image version of how the Club for Growth yanked the GOP right-ward). Maybe even having the Greens win an election or two — and winning an election in a college town or other place that can be spun as a nest of hippies doesn’t count.

    However, the Greens and their fellow travelers seem largely unwilling to take these steps. I don’t blame them — I’m too lazy to take those steps too. But unless you are willing to take those steps, you won’t get results.

    And to the extent that young, idealistic people have actually put in the hard work to effect change, it has made a huge difference actually. There are many reasons to be disappointed with Obama, but he has indeed accomplished a lot after being handed a very bad deck. And we wouldn’t have had as progressive of a Democratic platform in this election cycle if Bernie Sanders’ didn’t lead such a credible campaign. But the Green party doesn’t seem to want to build on that work, they want to undermine it by decreasing the number of votes for the Democratic party with that liberal platform? How is that anything but counterproductive?

    • Junipermo

      Perhaps this overstates it, but I really attribute a lot of this problem to a failure of education about history and politics in this country. Too many people seem to literally not understand how our government works, or the history of how progressive changes have actually been made.

      Take the ending of Jim Crow. For a lot of people, the civil rights movement was: one day, a random lady named Rosa Parks decided to not to leave her seat on the bus, next minute MLK Jr was giving the “I Have a Dream” speech, and then the next minute LBJ signed the CRA. This very surface view of history ignores what actually happened, the long years of compromise that black voters (in the North) had to make by joining a Democratic party filled with southern segregationists, until a large enough coalition of progressive Democrats in Congress was enough to help push the CRA over the finish line. There wasn’t time to worry about purity then. Black voters–the ones able to vote–had to make pragmatic decisions about which party would be the most likely vehicle to help realize the ultimate goal of the end of segregation.

      If people understood how change actually happens, how long it takes, and how much unfortunate compromise must be made along the way, maybe they’d be less likely to fall for the Jill Steins of the world.

      • DAS

        For a lot of people, the civil rights movement was: one day, a random lady named Rosa Parks decided to not to leave her seat on the bus, next minute MLK Jr was giving the “I Have a Dream” speech, and then the next minute LBJ signed the CRA.

        You forgot that people were singing uptempo gospel music in the background while all of that was happening, but otherwise, IMHO, that is exactly how most people were taught about and how they understand the civil rights movement.

        • JR in WV

          When I was a kid, we saw people being attacked by police dogs, hit with barbed wire whips, fire hoses. People wearing suits and ties were beaten unconscious and jailed, for being black and asking to register to vote.

          Civil rights workers were murdered and buried in a dam with a backhoe.

          Little girls were murdered in their church by a KKK bomber.

          I saw these stories on CBS news in fuzzy black and white, with static. It was unbelievably horrific, and is why I know there is still secret hateful racism all over the Republican party.

          Not too many real racists in the Democratic party, which you can tell just by watching a few hours of the Democratic National Convention, which was a pretty good example of a rainbow coalition. Thank god!

          • The Temporary Name

            Everyone has a little in ’em. I know what side I like, but they’re not infallible and neither am I.

      • SNF

        A big part of it is how we focus so heavily on narratives of individual righteous people. Most people think that the president is responsible for almost everything that happens.

        I think that most people intellectually know that Congress exists, but they don’t actually believe it on an emotional level. People think that the way our system works is that we pick a president, the president has complete power to do anything they want, and if you don’t approve you just vote against them next time.

        If you mention things like separation of powers, people will dismiss it as something that the president can will away if they’re willing to work hard enough.

        Because of all that, people put a ton of emphasis on making sure they “trust” the president, and don’t pay any mind to how much power each party has in the government. Even when the latter is the thing that makes the most difference.

  • TroubleMaker13

    I particularly appreciate this from Reed:

    Elections are much more likely to be effective as vehicles for consolidating victories won on the plane of social movement organizing than as shortcuts or catalysts to jumpstart movements. In this respect one of the most interesting features of the Sanders campaign was that its objective was partly to encourage movement-building.

    I don’t think this point gets enough attention in these discussions, particularly WRT the “Green Party success will pull the Democrats to the left” rationale. Jill Stein and the Greens have done nothing to build a real movement, much less make any kind of real showing in off-year elections.

  • AdamPShort

    “It’s naïve in the sense that its notion of organizing support reduces in effect to saying “It’s simple: if we all would just…” without stopping to consider why the simple solutions haven’t already been adopted.”

    This reminds me of something that i think Gar Alperowitz said about Israel. He said “there are only a few possible solutions and they are all dead simple. The reasons those solutions can’t be implemented – that’s the complicated part.”

    I think this idea that all that is needed is to think up solutions, neglecting the hard question of why those solutions aren’t implemented, underlies a lot of intractable problems.

  • Joe_JP

    I get the point that Clinton and Trump are both evil, but voting isn’t about determining who goes to Heaven or choosing between good people and bad people.

    I am annoyed when we are supposed to be upset that Obama does not act like a saint, yes, even if he said really idealistic things when he ran for office that that fatuous can quote. Hillary Clinton is not evil. George Bush is not evil. etc.

    “Good” and “evil” tends to be simplistic and even then sometimes people (in both parties) are stuck choosing not so great people since on balance the alternative is worse. But, this election seems a tad different (even if the overall discussion is correct) in that Trump is REALLY bad. This is true even if you insert some alternative who would advance the same basic policies.

    This is one time when I can see someone who otherwise would support his party’s policies to say “no way.” OTOH, I guess, they are likely to suggest that electing him would be in the long term bad interests of their party too. It isn’t just that he is a horrible person. But, if some people’s vote turn on that alone this time around, it seems somewhat acceptable.

    • JR in WV

      Anyone that thinks Hillary Clinton is evil when compared to Donald Trump is raging insane or a stone fool.

      I don’t care how well framed their arguments are, how well written their essays are, they are crazy, or stupid. Or evil themselves, I suppose. Hillary didn’t cause the Iraq war, or even enable it. She may not be quite an innocent bystander, but by no means was she evil in that circumstance.

      Her state, that she represented, was attacked, and the President told her constituents that we needed to attack our enemies. What was she supposed to do in the situation? The fact here is that President Bush was an evil, fraudulent war-monger, for his own secret evil psychological reasons. We know this now beyond any shadow of a doubt.

      That was not nearly as clear-cut when that vote was taken.

      Trump, on the other hand, would invade another nation just for profit, or aid Russian invasions for the same trivial reasons. That’s evil. Being suckered by a psychopath is unwise, not evil. Voting for an obvious psychopath like Trump, that’s evil.

      • Matt McIrvin

        Sign of the times: The most vehemently #NeverHillary person among my non-right-winger online acquaintances has switched from insisting that we need to elect Trump to create the final crisis that will sweep away the corrupt political system, to saying that Trump is working for the Clintons.

        • Anna in PDX

          I have seen this exact same progression. The golf picture of Trump and the Clintons makes a frequent appearance alongside that particular conspiracy theory.

  • Anna in PDX

    I have been meaning for a while to write an essay about the role of a citizen and how it is different than the role of a consumer. It would also describe the duties of a citizen and what duties are as opposed to rights.

    This ties in to the points made in this article but extends beyond voting to other things that citizens (in my opinion) should do:
    – pay taxes (and not just grudgingly but because it is a public good to have things like roads, education, etc)
    – serve in juries
    – serve in national service (not necessarily the military)
    – (perhaps more of a choice/right than a duty) object to things that are not good for the country (up to civil disobedience in some instances)

    • JR in WV

      Well said! Good job!

      When we bought our little woodland farm, the annual property tax to support the schools was $11 a year. Mrs J went to the assessor’s office and insisted they raise our taxes. We don’t even have kids, but she wanted to educate the children in our poor rural county.

      And I’ve been on more juries the past 35 years, OMG, that’s sometimes really hard. The child abuse was so worse than the 2 murder trials!

      Although Mrs J was on a civil trial jury that was actually pretty amusing… TL;DW, but they awarded 50% of what the insurance company offered to settle what was actually a pretty trivial damages case. So that worked out pretty well.

      • Anna in PDX

        Thanks! You are obviously clear on the role of a citizen. I have actually not served on a jury yet. I was overseas until age 37. I was summoned twice by Multnomah County when I lived in Egypt! (My mom had to go down to the court house and explain why I was not going to show up!)

        I would probably be stricken from the juror pool if it was about child abuse, because I would not be very objective. Gosh that must have been heartbreaking.

  • nixnutz

    I wrote about a half-dozen replies that I deleted because they were either redundant or I couldn’t quite make the argument I wanted to. No great (or small) loss but I was wondering, on seeing it for the umpteenth time, what is that meme? Is it a movie scene, should I recognize those folks?

    • dr. fancypants

      Request seconded. Google image search fails me on this one (probably because of the text overlay).

    • Anna in PDX

      It is a guy who makes YouTube tutorials on how to be new-age. He has one on veganism, etc. he’s very funny.

  • MDrew

    it won’t make any difference whatsoever!” when challenged — they live in a deep blue state, Trump is going to lose anyway, Economics 101 tells you that your individual vote doesn’t matter, etc. It’s an argument that’s almost too lazy and self-regarding to refute itself.

    So then is it likewise self-regarding not to vote on the theory that it doesn’t matter?

    (As a digression, are we really this committed to this notion that voting on behalf of oneself is totally beyond the pale? By all means, voting with civic or altruistic intent is a good, but I’m not sure I buy that voting on the basis of one’s own interests is that contemptible. We’re all here trying to get by and we don’t condemn each and every action we all take day in and day out that are 99% self-interest motivated. Is voting so different? Altruistic actions are in general more laudable, but we generally don’t condemn looking out for oneself in the world. I think this applies to voting, especially in the case pf people without huge fortunes who have already taken care of the looking-out-for-self part of life pretty well.)

    But regardless of your feelings about taking actions with regard to one’s own personal interests almost making the quoted view self-refuting. In fact, your feeling in that regard doesn’t refute that view on the impact of an individual’s vote. So are you saying there actually is a refutation that’s on point (since your feelings about self-regard are actually completely irrelevant)? Care to share?

  • (((Hogan)))

    OT: Evan McMullin has announced his ingenious plan to with the presidency: party like it’s 1824.

    It’s good to have a plan.

    • Joe_JP

      Stopping Trump is really the point & to let conservatives feel good about themselves if they can’t vote for Gary Johnson because on a few issues he isn’t conservative enough.

      Actually winning is not something many of those who support his campaign should take seriously. You might have to pretend you do, but I question if even Evan McMullin (didn’t realize he was only 40) really takes that seriously.

  • Gregor Sansa

    I’m coming late to the thread and I don’t have the time to post my usual argument that this discussion would be enriched by mentioning voting systems. The linked article is great and 100% true; but it would still be an easier sell if supporting a lesser evil didn’t mean “favorite betrayal” in a voting sense; that is, if the voting system didn’t make it feel like a lie and like giving up.

    On my way back home from the Hugos; I’ll write something about what happened there when I get back. Short version, as has already been noted: it was good.

    • Yay!

    • Anna in PDX

      So glad that in the case of the Hugos, voting reforms saved the day.

    • rea

      The best novel award goes to N.K. Jemisin, about whom Vox Day previously said:

      Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not.

      • so-in-so

        So I guy I understand likes posing with a big sword considers himself more advanced in civilization?

        Dare I assume he has come out for Trump?

        • wjts

          No links, but yes, he has been an enthusiastic and vocal Trump supporter.

      • wjts

        Venereal Disease, despite his utter certainty that he has mastered the biological sciences, never remembers that the genus is always capitalized in binomial nomenclature. From one of his other ravings, I recall that he also cannot spell “Homo neanderthalensis” correctly.

  • PJ

    Well, good … I guess. So many Bernie stans cited Reed often enough that I honestly thought he was gonna run with the whole “Nothing Left” argument to the logical conclusion of not voting at all (also, he was actually an organizer for Sanders).

    But methinks his argument in this essay is different from Meyerson and Goldberg less in kind than in degree. Like NOW he’s got sufficient awareness of how far off the deep end the conservative opposition is. Which … *sigh* … whatever man.

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