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Obstructionism Works

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MItch McConnell

Mitch McConnell’s Supreme Court blockade was not only a yooooge substantive win, it was a political coup as well:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a risk when he declared last February that the Senate would not consider any appointment by President Barack Obama to replace the recently deceased Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. McConnell risked making himself and his party look intransigent and dangerously irresponsible, blinded by hatred of Obama to the point of disabling a branch of government. He risked making voters angry at his party during an election year.

The risk paid off. Near as I can tell, Republicans paid no electoral penalty for this maneuver. Sure, they took some heat from the political media for it, but, like most other issues, it was quickly absorbed into the partisan divide. Conservative media sources claimed it would be inappropriate for a president to name a justice during his final year in office, other outlets noted there was precedent for it, and the Senate majority held fast to its position.

But there was a larger game being played here. McConnell’s move made the Supreme Court seat an issue for the presidential election. It motivated conservatives to stay on board with the Republican presidential nominee no matter who it was.

[…]

The Supreme Court vacancy changed all that. It informed key constituencies, particularly evangelical Christians, that there was far more on the ballot than Trump. The balance of the Court, particularly on such issues as abortion, was in play. Abandon the nominee, and Hillary Clinton gets to pick the next one, two, or three justices. Stand by the nominee, no matter how repellent, and you get to.

Of course, one question I can’t answer is why marginal liberal voters are less able to keep their eyes on the prize. People on the left seem much more likely to go through contortions to explain away the significance of the Supreme Court or argue that it’s BLACKMAIL to bring it up or whatever. I don’t get it.

I will say that there was a potential missed opportunity here. Barack Obama made at least one blunder that materially affected the election, nominating James Comey to head the FBI. His nomination of Merrick Garland probably didn’t. But if only as part of a longer-term project to focus liberal attention on the Court, it would have been nice to pick a nominee that Democratic constituencies would have a stake in. Instead he picked a nominee almost guaranteed to generate a minimum of attention. Given that his nominee was obviously never going to be given a hearing, politics were the only relevant consideration, and the politics of Garland never made any sense. But at least the Democrats will get credit for not playing “identity politics,” right?

Anyway, I still find the fact that people are seriously talking about Dems working with Trump after 8 years of watching McConnell prove that congressional obstructionism is a bill the president gets stuck with amazing.

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  • Brett

    I’m starting to wonder if liberal and left voters simply can’t be turned out well with fear – it just reduces turnout, makes them more fatalistic and less willing to participate. That would fit with the tepidity about protecting the Supreme Court.

    • jamesepowell

      I’m kind of curious about that too. If I were a honcho in the Democratic Party, I’d ignore pundits’ panegyrics of the white working class and spend time getting to know the people who don’t vote.

      • LeeEsq

        That includes many white working class people to. Getting people who don’t vote out to vote is something that every political strategist has been trying to do for a long time. They might be too apathetic for it to be worthwhile.

        • I’m starting to think increasingly that compulsory voting might not be the worst idea. Most of the people who don’t vote tend to think more like us. Of course, there could be a backlash if having to vote pissed those people off too much.

          • LeeEsq

            Since there are tens of millions of non-voters, I’m not so sure about whether more of them agree with us or not.

            • djw

              All the circumstantial evidence suggests they’ll lean in a D direction: non-voters are younger, poorer, and more Latino than the population as a whole. I expect the lean would be modest–they’re generally fairly apolitical. But at a minimum, it would ensure politicians are confronted with an electorate that present greater difficulties for trying to win with white nationalism than the electorate we have now.

              • Rob in CT

                they’re generally fairly apolitical

                And we know from long experience that motivating them to show up is hard. The effort should always be made. But we shouldn’t expect much.

                The Man in Black: “Get used to disappointment.”

          • Brett

            I’d be in favor of that. We require people to exercise their civic duty in paying taxes – why not require them to do the same for voting? Of course, we’d want to make it easy for them to do so, making the day a national holiday and so forth (or putting it on a sunday).

        • DAS

          But wasn’t part of Trump’s reversal of key states like PA simply a matter of a bunch of previously non-registered (often white, working class) voters registering and turning out to vote FOR Trump because Trump spoke to them?

          Are there really a bunch of “missing voters” looking for someone who has good ideas and the managerial skills to put them into practice? Or are the missing voters just waiting for someone “different” who speaks to their frustrations? Because if it’s the latter, I have a hard time seeing how any Democrat can do that as well as a fascist.

          • Because if it’s the latter, I have a hard time seeing how any Democrat can do that as well as a fascist.

            Obama did a pretty good job of it first time around, although of course reaction against the Bush years probably had something to do with it, too. Problem is, I don’t know of any Dem who can repeat that, no matter how bad Trump is. Perhaps someone can convince Michelle Obama to run in 2020.

            • DrDick

              Exactly. DAS is correct that the technocratic gradualism of centrist Democrats is not going to inspire them. However, those folks have only dominated the party since the 1980s. Kennedy and Johnson did an excellent job of motivating these voters as well. What is needed is a vision.

            • jam

              The other problem is the next Democratic candidate for President will face an opponent running on loud and proud bigotry with the FBI -following- orders when it fucks with the election rather than disobeying them.

              Milquetoast incrementalism isn’t going to defeat that.

          • LeeEsq

            My understanding was that while Trump got lower class whites out to vote for the first time, his victory was mainly because Republicans stayed Republicans and enough Democratic voters stayed out in key electoral states. You need to be very charismatic to get non-voters out to vote.

            • DAS

              Remember Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial margin. How many people who voted for Obama in 2012 didn’t vote for Clinton vs. how many voted for Clinton but moved out of swing states between 2012 and 2016? In particular OH and PA lost population in that time frame. Relatedly, how many of the people moving to FL were Republicans?

              Of the people who voted for Obama and didn’t vote for Clinton, how many were incorrectly removed from the voting rolls? How many faced long lines at their polling places and didn’t have time to wait? Trump voters are more likely to have time on their hands than Clinton voters, so long lines would benefit Trump, even if they weren’t concentrated in minority & urban areas.

            • jam

              It seems that being overtly bigoted works too.

              The political lesson I see from this election is that overt bigotry is not a political liability. Maybe we can’t yet estimate how great an asset it is, but it doesn’t appear to have a downside.

          • Jackov

            One theory is Trump attracted cicada voters – those who only turn out once every 16 years and therefore are in no databases. In this group there are two types: the first is attracted to celebrity/spectacle (the cast of Predator going into politics) while the second are those attracted to extreme causes – your secessionist or super racists if you will. The Trump campaign was a beacon to both groups.

            However, in the northern tier of PA while turnout in the boondock counties was up from 2012 the total number of votes was only a little over 2008. The big difference was while Obama lost these counties by ~20 and ~27 points, this year Clinton lost by ~46 points.

            At this point, I don’t know how you can determine if the results are due to a surge of phantom whites or a a collapse in Democratic support in fairly rural, Republican counties.

          • ThrottleJockey

            But wasn’t part of Trump’s reversal of key states like PA simply a matter of a bunch of previously non-registered (often white, working class) voters registering and turning out to vote FOR Trump because Trump spoke to them?

            No Trump didn’t grow the GOP electorate. He converted some white Obama voters while lots of other Obama voters stayed home.

            • Rob in CT

              That’s not really clear.

              It could be a combination of those things:

              1) Some O voters stayed home.
              2) Some O voters voted 3rd party.
              3) A few ever switched over to Trump.
              4) Some GOP voters went 3rd party (a handful probably even voted HRC).
              5) Some people came out of the woodwork to vote Trump, making up his losses from #4.

              This nets out to a narrow Trump win, just like the simpler version you proposed.

              • DAS

                I also suspect that if nobody moved between states in the time period from 2012 to 2016, Clinton would have won OH and PA (and possibly FL as well, depending on the demographics of those moving into FL) and thus won the electoral vote. How many reliably Democratic voters lived in PA and OH in 2012 but moved out (both those states had a net exodus of people recently) by 2016 and voted in a reliably blue (or red) state?

      • NewishLawyer

        There are tens of millions of people who don’t vote and it can be for a variety of reasons. We know that a lot of non-voters tend to be lower-income and/or on the younger side. This can indicate more likely to vote Democratic but not necessarily so.

        • Manny Kant

          The behavior of both Democrats and Republicans suggests that they both believe that higher turnout elections tend to favor the Democrats.

    • LeeEsq

      Democratic voters seem to respond better to optimism than pessimism.

      • Nick056

        The evidence for this is pretty strong. Bill Clinton wrote that a key organizing principle for his campaign was “future preference,” an idea that people are attracted to a message that credibly promises them a brighter future. It sounds very basic but capitalizing on it takes some thought. Even the fact that “Don’t Stop” was his campaign song feed directly into this framework. And although people now say that Obama stood for something quite different than Bill Clinton, his core campaign theme was always rooted in future preference: hope, renewal. Trump is an interesting contrast. He campaigned on renewal, too, but by implicitly saying that the past had been better than the present. This is a pretty core difference in how the parties use aspirational politics. In an environment where most people think the country is on the wrong track, that was probably a better concept than “Stronger Together” and the in-retrospect-ill-conceived “America Is Already Great.”

        • ThrottleJockey

          And let’s not forget “I’m with her” instead of the more populist “She’s with you.”

          • Nick056

            Don’t get me started. When Trump rolled out his line about calling that a “loyalty oath” and saying his oath was, “I’m with you,” I thought, of course that’s pure bullshit but it was also great politics.

    • Perhaps they’re not that excited to rally behind a party that has made a science out of appeasement.

      • Colin Day

        +1938

      • gkclarkson

        I think what we’ve learned is that there’s essentially no reward for bipartisanship.

    • Heron

      I think it’s pretty obvious that simply too many US Leftists morally object to the premises behind strategic voting. They simply won’t listen to arguments for it, and will cling to any theory of politics, no matter how ridiculous, to reject it. Too many view voting as an essentially self-contained act of moral declaration and also, for whatever reason, only ever apply their moral judgement to Dem candidates. I mean sure, they might concede that the Republicans are morally terrible(and it’s only a might; see Stein’s “both sides are bad” bs, and the post election excoriating of Clinton as a candidate by Sanders and his lot), but the moral terribleness of the Republicans is never judged enough, in itself, by these people to drive a vote, so as a practical matter their moral judgement only really applies to Democrats.

      There is another side to this though, which is that the Democratic party is still a “big tent” party. Like, Joe Manchin and the voters he appeals to are perfectly fine with queer and trans USians having restricted rights, with women not having legal control of their own bodies, and don’t get too worked up about police oppression of non-whites either. The likes of Chuck Schumer have never met a plutocratic, economically destructive bill they didn’t like and have consistently opposed the economic realism of folks like Krugman. And then there are the infamous “Reagan Democrats” to consider.

      White straight Dems in general are just far, far less reliably liberal and socially conscious than every other Democratic demographic. Bill Maher is an instructive example. Folks like him may strut about taking pride in and making a public spectacle of how “liberal” they are, but the minute you confront them with white privilege, the reality of US white supremacy, or the reality of female oppression, the minute you challenge them to see folks not like them as people, they get angry and defensive. There are a lot of white Dems like that, who really just don’t want to do the personal work necessary to fulfill the political ideals they claim to care about. What this all means as a practical matter is that there are blocks within the democratic party that are neutral at best and hostile at worst to issues of life-or-death importance to other blocks.

      • Rob in CT

        Suggested friendly amendment: instead of US Leftists, I’d say “D-leaners of whatever stripe” or maybe just “liberals.” This isn’t just about leftier-than-thous. There are plenty of wishy-washy liberalish types who just can’t be bothered to show up sometimes.

        • Heron

          Yeah, that’s true.

        • DAS

          I think, though, the phenomenon is strongest among both “leftier-than-thous” and “moderates”. In this election, I know more than a few moderates who either didn’t vote for Clinton or really held their nose and only voted for her because Trump was so horrible. If the race was Kasich vs. Sanders, they wouldn’t have voted at all.

          The thing about both the “leftier-than-thous” and the “moderates” of which I speak is that they tend to concentrate in “blue” states to begin with. So long as the electoral college remains in place, appealing to the special snowflakes on both the left and on the center is not as important as getting out the vote in swing states. And that may require giving people a reason to vote for the Democrats (which reason may turn off the moderates). But it also requires dealing more effectively with voter suppression efforts as well as just doing things like busing people to polls and making sure people can arrange their schedules to have time to vote.

          Another thing about moderates, though, is that no moderation on behalf of the Democrats is good enough for them, because they define themselves as “between the GOP and the Democrats, but maybe a little closer to the Democrats”. IOW, if the Democrats run a centrist, rather than saying “the Democrats have finally ran a candidate I agree with”, they would adjust their views to be slightly right of the Democrat and maybe just a wee bit more than slightly left of the Republican. While running to the left may very well turn off moderates (I do fear that if we run too much to the left of Clinton, we may very well lose CA and/or NY), running more towards the center doesn’t bring moderates in nor does negative campaigning which just turns them off.

      • Manny Kant

        The likes of Chuck Schumer have never met a plutocratic, economically destructive bill they didn’t like

        I don’t believe that this is even slightly true. Schumer can be bad, but he’s not invariably bad.

        • Heron

          I may have a slight tendency to histrionic overstatement. I just know he’s supported some Wall Street friendly stuff I really dislike, and opposed some pretty sensible stuff on the other side.

          • LeeEsq

            Every Senator from New York is going to have some fealty to Wall Street just like every Senator from the Great Plains and Mid-West will have fealty to agribusiness.

      • LeeEsq

        This gets a lot of the problem right but needs more fleshing out. Leftists inside and outside the United States seem to reject strategic voting. Steven Harper was able to govern with a minority in Parliament for years because the Canadian left divided itself among many parties rather than all get behind the Liberal Party. There are similar instances of Leftist purism in other countries like the Labor activists getting behind Corbyn and his platform even though its clear that the majority of the population do not like him.

        This Leftist purism isn’t limited to White American liberals in the United Stats. I believe that several BLM activists did not vote because both parties are the same or because the Democratic Party did not incorporate the BLM platform whole sale. The number of these activists were miniscule but it shows that purity voting is very attractive across the board.

        I think the problem is that many on the Left have an dualistic world view like many on the Right but the Democratic Party can not and will not indulge this dualism for many reasons. Its a big tent party consisting of everybody who can’t abide the Republicans so the Democratic platform doesn’t have enough wiggle room to be dualistic. The demographics of the Republican Party allow it to be dualistic.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Excellent points.

      • DAS

        the Democratic party is still a “big tent” party.

        But even as they become more ideologically extreme, the GOP still is a big tent party too. The difference is that if you are a Democrat, you believe that government can do constructive things, so the vision of the chief executive running that government that is gonna do those things matters very much to you. For too many Democrats, a chief executive that steers the ship of state not far enough or too far to the left is steering the ship of state in the wrong direction just as much as would be a chief executive who would steer the ship of state rightward or not steer that ship at all.

        OTOH, if you are a Republican, you ultimately don’t believe (federal) government can do much good anyway. So who cares if the President doesn’t plan to steer the ship of state in the exact direction you’d prefer. You don’t believe that anyone could steer that ship correctly anyway, so it’s not a big deal to you if the GOP candidate doesn’t even plan to steer the ship of state in a direction you’d like. So you get out and vote for the Republican because he’s better than that socialist/crooked/whatever Democrat.

    • pseudalicious

      I think there’s just not enough of us. I know we like to trot out how many liberal policies people agree with when stripped of the right-wing propaganda around them, but I think this election showed that no one cares about policy — people vote tribally and with their lizard brains. Our tribe isn’t big enough yet. Unfortunately, once it is, we’ll have shiny new voting restrictions to contend with.

      • rewenzo

        By all accounts (number of votes in the last 3 presidential elections), our tribe is already bigger than theirs.

        • ThrottleJockey

          This. Turnout was down overall. Clinton didn’t motivate the tribe enough. For lots of reasons.

          • DAS

            How do we know that the tribe wasn’t motivated enough? How many people would have voted if they were kept on the voter rolls or didn’t have to wait in lines that were too long or whatever?

            I guess you could argue that if people were motivated enough, they’d challenge being removed from the voter rolls or take a day off of work to spend time on line to vote or what have you. But in general, Democratic voters just have less spare time than Republican voters have.

            • ThrottleJockey

              That’s a fair counter but how much– quantitatively speaking–was voting obstructed in the swing states? Pennsylvania had its Voter ID law rolled back by the courts years ago. Were lines crazy long in Michigan? There’s ample evidence that millions of Obama voters weren’t satisfied with Hill. The head of BLM New York said he refused to vote for Hill. Eddie Gault, the Chair of the Princeton African American Studies Department refused to vote for Hill.

            • Lit3Bolt

              There’s also the fact that Hillary Clinton has been a demonized punchline for a generation.

              I know plenty of people (I live in TN) who have completely internalized the Hillary Hate. It was reflexive. It was reinforced. It was completely superficial but she was viewed as the “bad celebrity” while Trump, for some incomprehensible reason, was treated as the “new celebrity” who would “shake things up in Washington.”

              And then they will promptly ignore political coverage for the next 1400 days, and look at which candidate will benefit themselves personally, whether in an emotional or financial sense.

              • ColBatGuano

                I'm sure the next Democratic candidate will get completely benign and equitable treatment from the Republicans and the media.

  • BartletForGallifrey

    Garland should just go sit in the courtroom and rule on shit. He was selected by someone a majority of voters–in a free and fair election–picked, which gives him a lot more legitimacy than the tangerine.

  • Richard Gadsden

    Did McConnell prove that the President gets the blame for congressional obstructionism or that Democrats do?

    • BartletForGallifrey

      The President does when the President is a Democrat. If the President is a Republican, then the Democrats get the blame.

      • JohnT

        Given how rarely Democrats try to hard-obstruct, I don’t think that’s proven at all. They got more obstructive with Bush 2006-8, and the result was saving Social Security, reducing Bush’s popularity and increasing their own. Relentless obstructionism is the evidence-based strategy at this point.

        • Aaron Morrow

          Even better than that, Dems fought against Bush’s Social Security plan as early as Feb 2005, and were rewarded with both houses of Congress in the midterm elections of 2006.

          • JKTH

            The wars did that, though opposing SS privatization certainly didn’t hurt.

        • Rob in CT

          Right tactically, and right morally.

          I do have some concern about it being bad long-term, in that liberals are the ones who need government to actually work. But worrying about the long-term is no good if it hurts us in the here and now, given the threat that we face.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Did McConnell prove that the President gets the blame for congressional obstructionism or that Democrats do?

      The former.

    • ColBatGuano

      The answer is hidden in your question. It’s always “congressional obstruction” never “republican obstruction”. “Congress today blocked…” “The Senate today defeated the President’s bill to…”

  • Murc

    You know what, I would normally… normally… say that Trump won, and so he gets to govern, and if he puts up a Kennedy-style middle-of-the-roader (which he will not) we should allow that to come to a vote.

    Normally.

    That vacancy isn’t fucking his. It is ours. It came up when Obama had 25% of his term left to serve. Trump and McConnell want to fill it? Fuck that noise.

    If they want to fill it, make’em kill the filibuster to do it. Otherwise, they get nothing. They can pick the next one if a vacancy occurs during Trump’s term, and we’ll consider that one normally. But this one got stole from us, and so I say nobody.

    Also, weird-ass trivia that’s kind of crazy if true: I have a friend who has reporter friends with sources inside the Trump transition team (this anecdote already sounds super, super reliable, doesn’t it?) and apparently when they were spitballing the names of prospective nominees Trump actually said “You know what? I kind of think Obama would do a good job. He was a law professor, he was very very nice to me. He understands that you need power to be a good president. Yeah. I like this idea.” His handlers apparently nearly had heart attacks.

    This, of course, will not happen even if the story is true; his handlers talked him down and it was simply Trump letting his id speak without any real, rational, conscious thought behind it, as he does. It’s a sign of his mercurial nature more than anything else. But man, to have been a fly on THAT wall.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      They can pick the next one if a vacancy occurs during Trump’s term, and we’ll consider that one normally.

      My understanding is that means any vacancy after the first 100 days is automatically pushed to the next president.

      • I hereby support this principle for every future Republican president. They want to play hardball with us? Let’s play fucking hardball.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Including no fucking bipartisan appointments. We gave them Comey and they’re rewarding us with Jeff Sessions ffs.

          Totally off-topic, but if you’re using the parentheses on twitter, I’ve seen this retweeted quite a lot lately.

          • I’m not on Twitter (well, I have an account, but I’ve literally never tweeted). I can see how seeing people use the parentheses themselves could be upsetting to some people, but at the same time, if we don’t reclaim them, that gives them way more power. I’ll probably leave them on my nym here at least.

        • DAS

          Won’t work. How much negative press did McConnell receive for his obstructionism? Imagine how much negative press we’ll get in “even the liberal” media.

          • Schadenboner

            My worry isn’t the media concern-trolling. It’s that the Democrats don’t have the party discipline to actually pull it off, and the GOP has the disrespect for institutions to blow it all up if we actually managed to.

          • Scott Lemieux

            How much negative press did McConnell receive for his obstructionism?

            Who cares?

          • gkclarkson

            Obviously it didn’t make any difference, and didn’t push the needle one bit in an election. Who cares.

          • ColBatGuano

            How much negative press did McConnell receive for his obstructionism?

            Not enough apparently.

    • ThrottleJockey

      That vacancy isn’t fucking his. It is ours. It came up when Obama had 25% of his term left to serve. Trump and McConnell want to fill it? Fuck that noise.

      If they want to fill it, make’em kill the filibuster to do it. Otherwise, they get nothing. They can pick the next one if a vacancy occurs during Trump’s term, and we’ll consider that one normally. But this one got stole from us, and so I say nobody.

      Preach Brotha Merc! Preach on!

    • JohnT

      I’d probably add to this that Democrats should absolutely add Justices to the Supreme Court if they get full control in 2020. Most likely by that time the Court will lean 6-3 to the hard Republicans, and that simply won’t be a legitimate outcome of the last 9 months and Clinton’s winning the popular vote. All legal means to undo it should be deployed, and that would in that case include adding 4 liberal Justices to the Court.

      • JR in WV

        No, no. Impeach and fire the strong Republican justices, for failing to disclose their financial connections to their decisions, and failing to recuse themselves when conflicts of interest exist, as required by basic democratic decency.

        YOU’RE FIRED!!! Then replace them with actual judicious judges.

  • keta

    Indeed, knowing that the Republicans did this when they held the Senate under a Democratic presidency and paid no electoral price for it, Democrats would be self-defeating not to respond in kind. It’s very difficult to de-escalate in a polarized environment like ours…
    This norm violation seems to have paid off for Republicans in the short run. But there will be a long-term price for this maneuver that’s difficult to assess right now.

    Here’s my question to the legal minds here: what’s the long-term price?

    • Becker

      The long term price is likely what was hypothesized for a Clinton victory: no (judicial, and maybe other) appointments get through at all if the opposition holds the Senate.

      And maybe, eventually, we start seeing Presidents just declaring certain posts filled if the Senate refuses to act. There was some go-nowhere chatter about Obama doing so with Garland.

    • LeeEsq

      The long term price is that the American political system breaks down at the federal level at least because the norms that made it work no longer apply.

      • Do you think the Republicans really give two shits about that? Drowning the Fed in a bathtub is their stated goal.

        • NewishLawyer

          He didn’t say who would be paying the long-term price.

      • DAS

        For the nihilistic, neo-confederate GOP, breaking the federal government is a feature not a bug.

      • SatanicPanic

        That ship has sailed

    • Jackson87

      I think that there is a decent chance that 100 years from now, historians will point to that episode as the first concrete evidence that the American republic was doomed, its institutions no longer working as intended.
      A foreshadowing of the Trump shitshow, if you will.

    • gkclarkson

      I can’t think of any long-term price that hasn’t already become inevitable.

      It’s essentially a grim trigger.

      • gkclarkson

        To explain: Now that the GOP has established that obstructionism is essentially a strategy that has no downside, they will repeat it again and again and again whenever they are not in power. There is no strategy that can respond to this successfully except for responding in kind.

  • Breadbaker

    In a way, Antonin Scalia did more to elect Donald Trump than any (i.e., every) man alive. By dying, he turned the hypothetical possibility of a Democratic president putting a progressive majority onto the court into something far more than hypothetical. To conservatives, particularly pro-gun and anti-abortion conservatives who are single issue voters, that was all they needed to vote for Donald Trump, notwithstanding that he was and is just as repellent to them as he is to us.

    We Democrats are far more complacent about the Supreme Court. Few Democratic voters remember the world before Roe, and few understand the nuances of what the Burger, Rehnquist and Roberts courts have done to civil liberties. Shelby County is simply hard to describe. Citizens United was easier, but since it came down the Democrats have won the popular vote in two elections nonetheless.

    And Roe has always survived. It was written by Blackmun and joined in by Burger, after all. Stevens first, and then Souter were positive fails by Republican Presidents seeking a conservative voice on the court. O’Connor and Kennedy have gone to the lip of repeal, but would not drink. So a lot of Democrats just don’t get scared about the possibility of a President Trump appointing replacements for Kennedy, Ginsburg and Breyer.

    They’re wrong not to be, but that is how they seem to be.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      In a way, Antonin Scalia did more to elect Donald Trump than any (i.e., every) man alive.

      I am quite certain that if Ralph Nader hadn’t run a vanity campaign in 2000, we would not be where we are today.

      • I am quite certain that if Ralph Nader hadn’t run a vanity campaign in 2000, we would not be where we are today.

        You mean, if Nader’s message hadn’t resonated with enough voters to turn the election, we wouldn’t be here today. Nader had as much right to run as anyone else. It was the fact that voters turned out for him that Bush was handed Florida by the Supreme Court won Florida.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Nader had as much right to run as anyone else.

          I’ve noticed that third party defenders often use this line, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. For one, I’m not aware of anyone challenging his (or Jill’s, or Gary’s, or Vermin’s) *right* to run for president, so it’s a weird thing to jump to.

          But aside from that, if “It’s not literally illegal for me to do it!” is your go-to argument for doing something, you really might want to reconsider if the thing is worth doing.

          • But aside from that, if “It’s not literally illegal for me to do it!” is your go-to argument for doing something, you really might want to reconsider if the thing is worth doing.

            Until such a time as a two-party-only system becomes official policy of the state and federal government, then there will always be people out there who indeed do consider running on a ticket not sanctioned by the establishment parties as a thing worth doing. And you should be thankful for that, even if the election doesn’t go your way. Without the outlet of third parties, people would become even more disenfranchised, or be forced to turn to more radical means of getting heard.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              Until such a time as a two-party-only system becomes official policy of the state and federal government, then there will always be people out there who indeed do consider running on a ticket not sanctioned by the establishment parties as a thing worth doing.

              K. Why?

              And you should be thankful for that, even if the election doesn’t go your way.

              GTFO with this “doesn’t go your way” crap. This isn’t something “not going my way.” This is no longer even wanting Gore and getting Bush. This is fucking Nazis and an unstable man with the nuclear codes. People are going to die and you’re acting like one side lost a game of Monopoly.

              Without the outlet of third parties, people would become even more disenfranchised,

              I mean, if the Nader voters in NH and FL had voted for Gore, we would still have the VRA, so that’s literally incorrect, but okay sure let’s just use words to mean whatever we want.

              or be forced to turn to more radical means of getting heard.

              “Forced” my ass. How about they be “forced” to grow up. If they really wanted to be heard, they would get involved and move the party (as, incidentally, one B. Sanders did). They just want to throw a temper tantrum.

              • K. Why?

                Go ask them.

                GTFO with this “doesn’t go your way” crap. This isn’t something “not going my way.” This is no longer even wanting Gore and getting Bush. This is fucking Nazis and an unstable man with the nuclear codes. People are going to die and you’re acting like one side lost a game of Monopoly.

                No, I’m acting like I don’t think for everyone else. I agree that we’re going to shit, but until you are elected king, then people are going to do what people are going to do.

                I mean, if the Nader voters in NH and FL had voted for Gore, we would still have the VRA, so that’s literally incorrect, but okay sure let’s just use words to mean whatever we want.

                You don’t know that for certain. Gore could have been a 1-term president, and we could have ended up with Trump eight years early and no Obama.

                “Forced” my ass. How about they be “forced” to grow up. If they really wanted to be heard, they would get involved and move the party (as, incidentally, one B. Sanders did). They just want to throw a temper tantrum.

                Last time I checked, neither the Dems nor the Republicans have been political parties since the beginning. Nor will they be political parties forever. Both parties likely started as “temper tantrums.” Whatever replaces them will also start as a “temper tantrum.”

                • djw

                  Both parties likely started as “temper tantrums.”

                  You know, we actually have fairly extensive knowledge about the origins of these (and many other!) political parties. “History” is a thing! We know quite a bit about how the parties were built in the 1790’s and 1850’s, respectively. I wouldn’t characterize the organizing and processes that led to the formation and growth of either of these parties (or most others whose origins of which I have some knowledge) as a “temper tantrum” but if you’ve got an interpretation of the historical record to that effect, you should probably at least gesture to it, rather than declare this strange interpretation “likely.”

                  On the other hand, if I wanted to argue that Nader’s or the contemporary Green Party’s current strategy shares much of anything with the processes by which parties that come to contend for a role in governance, pretending party formation and growth is a great historical mystery, and we can only speculate about how it actually works probably is your best strategy.

                • To djw:

                  The internets tell me that the Republican Party started as a temper tantrum the ‘anti-Nebraska movement’ in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act back in 1854.

                  The internets also tell me that the Democratic Party owes it roots back to a temper tantrum opposition to the Federalists way back in 1792.

                  I might be going out on a limb here, but I would be surprised if the established power structures at the time didn’t consider either party to be cranks who should just get with the program. I mean, if only they had just stuck with trying to move the Federalists instead of foolishly creating their own party!

                • djw

                  Sure, if you label everything up to an including “shrewd organizing to take advantage of a unique, historically contingent opportunity” a temper tantrum, it’s a temper tantrum. Compelling, prescient analysis.

                • FYI, I was only using the phrase ‘temper tantrum’ in response to BartletForGallifrey’s use of it.

                • delazeur

                  FYI, I was only using the phrase ‘temper tantrum’ in response to BartletForGallifrey’s use of it.

                  Sure, that’s because the term is relevant to what the Greens did in 2000 and 2016. It’s not relevant to the formation of the two major parties, and wishing won’t make it so.

                • djw

                  FYI, I was only using the phrase ‘temper tantrum’ in response to BartletForGallifrey’s use of it.

                  Yes, I noticed the context and rhetorical effect you were going for. It would be convenient for your rhetorical purposes for it to be an equally plausible characterization of the Green Party’s approach to presidential elections and historically successful episodes of party-building, but that doesn’t make it so.

                • (((Hogan)))

                  I agree that we’re going to shit, but until you are elected king, then people are going to do what people are going to do.

                  And that includes BfG occasionally telling people that they’re doing stupid destructive shit.

                  I really love this particular bit of Naderite entitlement: I have every right to criticize your tactics, but it’s totalitarianism if you criticize mine.

              • Origami Isopod

                Co-signed entirely, BfG.

                “We should be grateful…” Kiss my entire ass.

            • djw

              Until such a time as a two-party-only system becomes official policy of the state and federal government, then there will always be people out there who indeed do consider running on a ticket not sanctioned by the establishment parties as a thing worth doing.

              Sure, and there will also always be who decide not to run because it might produce a worse outcome for their policy goals. While his voters deserve blame too, there’s good reason a sufficient number of them to not hand the EC to Bush would have voted for Gore, had Nader made that decision. All this handwaving–“not illegal” and “other people do it too” and so on–don’t give him clean hands.

              Without the outlet of third parties, people would become even more disenfranchised, or be forced to turn to more radical means of getting heard.

              This is a pretty dubious empirical claim. The notion that the 1-5% of the population that votes third party every 4 years would be taking up arms against the state or some such but for the opportunity to cast a meaningless protest vote is the sort of extraordinary claim that really requires some sort of evidence. It doesn’t fit particularly well with what we do know about the psychology and motivational structures of political participation generally.

            • Without the outlet of third parties, people would become even more disenfranchised

              Pet peeve: I don’t think “disenfranchised” means what you intend here.

              • djw

                It’s somehow not surprising that C.V. Danes thinks the relevant meaning of ‘disenfranchised’ refers to not feeling enthusiastic about one’s choices, instead of losing access to the ballot.

                • Except for those who were, you know, actually disenfranchised and fought to be included in the franchise not as Democrats or Republicans, but as members of third party movements.

                • Nick056

                  Do you think it’s kind of interesting that modern liberals both deplore the centrism of the Clinton era and deplore the selfishness of people who didn’t vote for the Democrat in 2000 because they thought the parties were alike?

                  N.B. When I heard people make the “they’re the same” argument in 2004 I had to restrain myself physically. But there is a certain implication here that of COURSE centrist Democratic policies are a terrible legacy for the party, but it is not merely strategically but morally unacceptable to vote third party out of disenchantment with that centrism. Speaking as someone who argued consistently for change-from-within lo those many years ago, I found that exhorting people about the duty to be a strategic voter sounded suspiciously like moral badgering about the duty to be a loyal partisan. And left-wingers don’t respond to that. Part of life.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  It’s somehow not surprising that C.V. Danes thinks the relevant meaning of ‘disenfranchised’ refers to not feeling enthusiastic about one’s choices, instead of losing access to the ballot.

                  This is the prevailing brocialist understanding of it. Also, if your guy loses, you were disenfranchised.

                  ETA: To be clear, I’m not calling CVD a brocialist. Just noting that’s their view of things.

              • Perhaps ‘disenchanted’ then?

                • Yeah, I think that’s the word most people are reaching for.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Perhaps ‘disenchanted’ then?

                  Elections aren’t supposed to be enchanting.

                • ColBatGuano

                  Disenchanted is a far different idea than disenfranchised. Really. I looked it up.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Sure he had a right to run. You also have a right to self-administer ketchup enemas.

          But if you’re saying that his message not resonating with voters would have substantively changed history, then you are actually admitting the factual point that him not running would have made that same change. And I don’t see you arguing with the adjective “vanity” either; and FSM knows it applies to Nader in spades.

          • Schadenboner

            You also have a right to self-administer ketchup enemas.

            Plz don’t kinkshame. :(

            • Gregor Sansa

              If I thought that was a kink that actual people had, I wouldn’t. But ketchup stings, not in a good way.

              • Jordan

                well, there’s the first risky google search of the day.

                • BigHank53

                  If you think there’s a good chance that you’ll become politically unemployed, you may as well have an entertaining dismissal letter.

                • Jordan

                  Now THAT is thinking on the positive side of things!

              • Bruce B.

                Compare and contrast with vodka enemas.

          • You also have a right to self-administer ketchup enemas.

            Don’t knock it til you try it.

            • Gregor Sansa

              I don’t.

        • djw

          deleted

      • Bill Murray

        well since Nader was the 5th largest reason Gore “lost”, so why always with the circular firing squad. I know it’s canonical at LGM that Nader is the world’s greatest monster but that isn’t based in the numbers.

        Without getting in to the perfidy of the Republicans, which is certainly the most important reason (and that somehow rarely gets mentioned at LGM), why not rail about the 150,000 Democratic Clinton voters in 1996 that voted for Bush in 2000? How was that Nader’s fault. Since it was so easy to blame Nader, this much more important reasons why Gore lost were overlooked and IMO led to Clinton’s loss for what are very likely similar reasons.

        Knowing why 16% of Clinton voters, voted for Bush could have been useful pointer on how to not lose similar voters in 2016. But instead the purity centrists decided it was much more useful to yell at people to their left to make themselves feel stronger in their own, different purity.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          well since Nader was the 5th largest reason Gore “lost”, so why always with the circular firing squad. I know it’s canonical at LGM that Nader is the world’s greatest monster but that isn’t based in the numbers.

          Without getting in to the perfidy of the Republicans, which is certainly the most important reason (and that somehow rarely gets mentioned at LGM), why not rail about the 150,000 Democratic Clinton voters in 1996 that voted for Bush in 2000? How was that Nader’s fault. Since it was so easy to blame Nader, this much more important reasons why Gore lost were overlooked and IMO led to Clinton’s loss for what are very likely similar reasons.

          Knowing why 16% of Clinton voters, voted for Bush could have been useful pointer on how to not lose similar voters in 2016. But instead the purity centrists decided it was much more useful to yell at people to their left to make themselves feel stronger in their own, different purity.

          Has anyone ever noticed that Nader (and Stein, one imagines) defenders always assume that acknowledging his contribution to the Bush presidency automatically means ruling out any other factors?

    • NewishLawyer

      This sounds about right.

      IIRC, Trump received one of the largest margins of the white, Evangelcial vote than any Republican candidate. Something like 81 percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/11/18/secular-voters-didnt-turn-out-for-clinton-the-way-white-evangelicals-did-for-trump/

      Some of the blue states that flipped like Iowa are whiter, older, and more evangelical than the rest of the Nation. The reason that Evangelicals came out in such droves would be the Supreme Court. They understand that this is there chance to cement it being conservative for another decade or three. They understand they will be long gone by the time these decades are older but they want to make their mark.

      So they were willing to go against some of their leadership and vote for the most non-Evangelical candidate that the Republicans put up in a long time.

      • witlesschum

        While white conservative evangelicals are generally pretty sophisticated in how they approach electoral politics, I don’t think they needed to any further incentive to turn out and vote against Hillary Clinton, who’s practically designed in a lab to get their goats. They might disapprove of Trump, but he’s still male and evangelical culture is massively sexist and they’ve been hating Clinton for as long as most of them can remember.

        • LeeEsq

          They are good at strategic and block voting.

          • Schadenboner

            And this is how (and why) they’ve essentially “solved” US politics.

            And why I don’t think we get to come back after this.

            And why I’m glad I have a RoR to Israel, a right to a spousal Green Cardski in Russia, and cousins in Canada.

            • gkclarkson

              The good news is that they’ll be mostly dead in 25 or so years.

              Whether it will be through old age or via drowning when their retirement homes in Florida are underwater is anyone’s guess.

  • anonymous

    Just because obstructionism works when Repugs are doing it doesn’t mean it works when Democrats do it. In fact it wouldn’t work.

    The problem is that the situations are not symmetrical. When Repugs do it, almost all Repug voters stand behind them. But if Democrats do it, a significant number of Democrats will criticize obstructionism.

    Meanwhile the media will hammer Democratic obstructionism far more than they did with Repug obstructionism. This is due to trying to “prove” that they don’t have a so-called “liberal bias”. The Repugs have hammered home this point so well that the MSM goes out of its way to “correct” for it.

    • Which is why we need to respond by correcting them in the opposite – i.e., correct – direction. As Stephen Colbert put it, reality has a well known liberal bias. Or as Ron Nasty put it, left is right, and right is wrong.

    • Just because obstructionism works when Repugs are doing it doesn’t mean it works when Democrats do it. In fact it wouldn’t work.

      So, appeasement does?

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Well it works out for the Sudetenland…

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Also the price of breaking our governmental institutions is asymmetrical. If the federal government simply ceases to function, that is not a progressive outcome. The result is that it’s a lot easier for the right to up the ante when it comes to obstruction and government dysfunction.

      • JKTH

        The federal government may cease to function in a normal sense just because Trump’s running it. We already got a preview of that about 11 years ago. Democrats blocking terrible legislation doesn’t necessarily undercut government anyways.

        • Jean-Michel

          For the federal government to “function” under Trump means bringing terror and misery to millions (if not billions) in the U.S. and around the world. I don’t expect Democrats to get this, but that’s where we’re at now.

    • Stephen Johnson

      Just because obstructionism works when Repugs are doing it doesn’t mean it works when Democrats do it. In fact it wouldn’t work.

      The problem is that the situations are not symmetrical.

      This is the key point to keep in mind – the situation is wildly assymetrical, though I believe the key difference is more going to be the public / media response more than support from the party bases. Plus the democrats are, I think, going to have a much harder time resolving the contradiction between being progressive-ish for electoral purposes while still maintaining the support of the moneyed interests.

      Intersting times!

    • CP

      Just because obstructionism works when Repugs are doing it doesn’t mean it works when Democrats do it. In fact it wouldn’t work.

      This.

      I’m not especially against obstructionism, mind you, but the whole “it worked for the right so we should do it” line of thought is terrible reasoning. Our voters are not the same, our parties are not the same, our relationship with the “establishment” is not the same.

      • Schadenboner

        Additionally, our policy objectives aren’t the same. We *don’t* want the entire goddamn world economy to collapse because we default on our debt. They *do* want this, or at least are nihilistic and cynical enough to not give much of a fuck, especially when they can just blame Obummers (and get away with it).

        Democratic obstructionism won’t work, and if it does work it still won’t work (because the GOP will nuke the filibuster) and even if it does work and they don’t nuke the filibuster it still still won’t work because we’re the ones who give a shit if the most vulnerable among us suffer catastrophe.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Obstructing Republicans doesn’t mean defaulting on the debt. Stopping Republicans from passing other legislation, OTOH, is right both tactically and substantively.

          • CP

            Yeah, this. I don’t expect us to be obstructing every last little thing. I expect stuff more like the Social Security fight in 2005, which the Democrats did very well in both morally and politically.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The claim that Republican presidents don’t get blamed for gridlock is just wrong.

      • gkclarkson

        Does it make any difference electorally though?

  • As those of you who have read several of my past comments will know, I’ve identified as anarchist for around ten years. My highest political principles have been opposition to authoritarianism, because I feel individual humans can’t be trusted with political power, and opposition to capitalism, which is pretty much implicit in opposition to authoritarianism I’m my definition due to the economic hierarchies implicit in it.

    The last month’s events have somewhat upturned my world view. It started with the election returns and then Castro’s death made me think long and hard about my worldview. I’m no longer a confident observer of the world. My view of human nature is as pessimistic as it’s ever been, but I’m no longer convinced that spreading the power out protects people either.

    Let’s be clear. Trump did not win this election. He stole it. The popular vote wasn’t even close and the only way he was able to “win” the electoral college was at best through restricting the franchise and at worst outright fraud.

    But I long had faith in democracy – anarchy is, of course, democracy taken to its natural conclusion. However, I’m no longer convinced that simply spreading power out is enough. You also have to protect the vulnerable. Democracies aren’t always good at doing that.

    I’m not sure where this is leading me. I still tend to be repulsed by authoritarianism. However, I think I’m coming to appreciate an increasing number of cases where I can acknowledge legitimate uses of political authority. Too bad Trump wouldn’t use any of them.

    Now might be a good time for Obama to declare that martial law the conservatives have always been convinced he was about to declare. (I’m only half joking. If he refused to turn power over to Trump, that might be better for the country in the long run. At least there wouldn’t be a chance of a nuclear war over a Twitter insult.)

    • I should add that, of course, our electoral system is terrible on many levels, starting with first past the post going on through our horribly extended campaign season and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the difficulty of many people in registering or being able to get to the polls (elections are on Tuesdays and it isn’t a national holiday) and ending of course with the electoral college. They all fucked us in the worst possible way this year and without any of those factors we might be having an entirely different conversation right now.

    • I’m no longer a confident observer of the world. My view of human nature is as pessimistic as it’s ever been, but I’m no longer convinced that spreading the power out protects people either.

      Here’s a cheat sheet on the human condition, in case you get lost:

      People are selfishly motivated.
      People are intellectually lazy (by design).
      Virtue is a learned behavior.
      Virtuous behavior requires both the carrot and the stick.
      The stick carries more weight than the carrot.

      If you want to know which direction humanity is heading, then ask yourself who is providing the carrot, and who is wielding the stick.

      • random

        The first rule points to why people sometimes decide to gang up and take the stick away from that asshole.

        Sure, they are just going to turn around and use the stick on each other / other people. But that one asshole no longer gets a stick, and that’s good enough for now.

        • Indeed. And he who has the stick gets to eat the carrot.

    • Pseudonym

      Anarchy is not democracy taken to its natural conclusion. Anarchy is denying the legitimacy of any form of collective action. It’s individualism (or, if you want to be rude, selfishness) taken to its natural conclusion.

      • Origami Isopod

        It can also be small collectives of people … who can be extremely oppressive to their more-vulnerable members.

      • Bruce B.

        Um, at a minimum, that depends on which kind of anarchism you’re talking about. Lots of anarchists are just fine with institutions for collective action that develop from the ground up and remain accountable to their members.

    • IM

      and then Castro’s death made me think long and hard about my worldview

      .

      Why?

      It is not an event, it is a piece of news.

      As Talleyrand said hearing of Napoleon’s death.

    • dl
    • 10-15 years ago I identified as an anarchist too. Easy position to feel good about in the Dubya administration. It was Hurricane Katrina that started pushing me the other direction, as well as reading Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, as well as, you know, being old enough to start observing how people thought and acted rather than imputing my own thought processes to them.

      I think a healthy skepticism of authority and hierarchy is always warranted, and I identify as a fervent egalitarian. But I’m also in favor of avoiding mass starvation, piles of mangled bodies, etc. and stable governments tend to help with that. Collective action is impossible without some form of delegation and organization, and as soon as you’ve created that structure you’ve created positions of authority.

      Just like electoral politics isn’t a means of personal expression, government cannot truly reflect one’s ideals or principles and still be effective. It is a practical tool. And, for that matter, it’s worth remembering that no government is created ex nihilo. Even revolutions have to fit a new superstructure on the existing patterns of the underlying society.

  • Brien Jackson

    On the blackmail bitching: It’s becoming an immutable law of humanity that the far left AND center right both hate the center left more than they hate the far right.

    • Gregor Sansa

      While the center left AND center right both enjoy bitching about the far left more than they do about the far right. Hippy-punching makes you cool; wingnut-punching makes you a hippy.

      • LeeEsq

        Has it ever occurred to you that people on the Center Left might criticize hippies because we considered your opinions and compared them to the evidence and think that the hippies are wrong? That isn’t hippie-punching, thats criticism. Its part of life. People who think you are wrong are going to tell you so.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Methinks…

          Accepting your framing that i’m a hip pie and You’re the Center Left: i have no problem when You criticize me to my face. It’s You criticizing me as the price of admission to the Cool Kids’ Clubhouse that i’m criticizing here.

          • Schadenboner

            Mmmmm, hip pie, lallllaaggghhhhh…

        • witlesschum

          Criticizing isn’t the point, it’s the form of criticism.

          If your criticism of someone else on the general left is pretty similar to what a conservative might say about that person, it’s quite possibly hippy punching. If you’re disagreeing on how to reach generally similar goals, it’s probably not.

          • LeeEsq

            I don’t think the Far Left and Center Left necessarily have the same or similar goals. There are some overlapping concerns but the ultimate vision is different.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        In my experience, the far right is full of people who believe awful and/or insane shit and who are never going to do the correct thing, whereas the far left is full of people who believe good things but refuse to do what’s needed politically to enact them.

        I don’t expect much from the far right. They’re deplorable people who believe deplorable things and I expect them to vote accordingly. The far left should do better, and their refusal to is therefore infuriating.

        • NewishLawyer

          I know plenty of people on the far left who I consider to be generally decent and kind but also believe in what I consider to be “insane shit.” The insane shit being that they think they can destroy the economy as it is and have everything work on farming and barter.

          They also like to deplore consumerism and money and possibly for good and kind reasons but it often seems to end up being “Wahhh! Why do people spend money on things that don’t appeal to me and not on things that I like?” Or without understanding how money makes transactions easier.

          My far left friends seem to want Kate the Knitter to exchange a sweater for food from Gretta the Grocer. They don’t seem to get that Gretta the Grocer might be all good for sweaters and that money makes the transaction easier all around. Kate the Knitter can sell her sweaters to someone who needs them and get cash and use that cash to buy food from Gretta the Grocer.

          The Far Left in my opinion is also interested in using politics to prove their moral purity than getting anything done as you note.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            I know plenty of people on the far left who I consider to be generally decent and kind but also believe in what I consider to be “insane shit.” The insane shit being that they think they can destroy the economy as it is and have everything work on farming and barter.

            Obama is a Kenyan Muslim.

          • Davis X. Machina

            The insane shit being that they think they can destroy the economy as it is and have everything work on farming and barter.

            This is the admittedly small fraction of DKos who in the depths of the financial crisis of 2008 were applauding the prospects of a complete collapse, since that would of necessity cause all of us to reject consumerism, lower our carbon footprints, and get to know each other better, building community through seed exchanges and practicing subsistence agriculture.

            Oh, and no bailout of Detroit. Better for the environment that way — smash the prevailing car-centric culture.

      • eclare

        I thought wingnut-punching made you a smug, latte-sipping elitist.

        • N__B

          We need to conduct a controlled experiment where we punch thousands of wingnuts and look for the reactions.

      • Brien Jackson

        Cites omitted

    • LeeEsq

      Thats been true since the mid-19th century even if trying to figure out who is Far Left and who is Center Left isn’t that easy these days as evidence by the thread on economic anxiety. The Far Left always hated Liberals/Center Left because they either believed in market economics rather than public ownership over the means of production or was at least came to peace with with market economics or because the Liberal/Center Left solution to marginalized groups was to incorporate them into the existing society rather than to over through the existing society. I.e. treating the LGBT people as ordinary people rather than smashing heteronormal society.

      • D.N. Nation

        Of course now you have Connor Kilpatrick adopting the wingnut line wholesale that you shouldn’t even really bother caring about LGBT rights because there just aren’t that many of them, which is either a pivot for the far left or just makes him a reactionary moron.

        • LeeEsq

          Kirkpatrick was who I was trying to remember above. Donald Trump said that the best way to improve race relations in the United States is through law in order and this means using the police to put non-Whites in their place. It was a blunt statement. The Democratic Party might not have adopted the BLM platform but their response is much more inclusive by an order of magnitude.

        • JR in WV

          My vote is for moron, totes morroni!

    • NewishLawyer

      The far left is far from revolutionary. I think the center left gets hated because:

      1. They are more likely to accept bourgeois values than not. These include really annoying things like delayed gratification that might or might not be possible for a majority. I grew up in a liberal, upper-middle class suburb. The constant drumbeat we heard was “Do well in school, get into a good undergrad, do well at undergrad, get into a good graduate/professional program, do well there, get a good job, and then you can move into a similar town like the one you grew up in.” We were the children of professionals and largely became professionals. Who these bourgeois delayed gratification values work for and don’t work for are mixed. The center left might believe in the welfare state but they also believe in the Protestant work ethic to varying degrees and the profit motive.

      2. The Center Left is more interested in tinkering with the existing system to make it more fair and accessible than taking it all down. Again, this is basically because the center-left is largely bourgeois upper-middle class professionals, not romantic revolutionaries. Tinkering at the margins and through the democratic process is more their thing than blowing things up. In the end we are still people who want places like Mill Valley or Brownstone Brooklyn to exist. The Far Left seems more interested in blowing up the existing society than making it better. The Far Left and Far Right have an attitude that is more “Epartier Le Bourgeois!”

      • Manny Kant

        The far left, such as it is, is also largely bourgeois upper middle class professionals!

        • Origami Isopod

          Yeah, exactly. Poor people are by and large not clamoring for revolutions in the street. They want stability because they’re the first ones to be harmed when stability disappears. It’s spoiled white rich or bourgie brats who’ll suffer the least if that happens.

          • LeeEsq

            This heavily depends on time and place but is generally true. The peasants in the Russian Empire wanted small-holds of their own while upper-middle class Bolsheviks wanted them to engage in collective farming. There are times when workers do get just as radicalized as middle-class intellectual revolutionaries but those are rare. Poor and working class people generally want stability and lower middle class or middle class lifestyle.

            • CP

              The peasants in the Russian Empire wanted small-holds of their own while upper-middle class Bolsheviks wanted them to engage in collective farming.

              Yep. Which gets to the flip side of “the far left are also upper middle class bourgeois” – the working class and poor, by and large, are also fine with “tinkering at the margins and through the [not even necessarily democratic] process.”

              The American working class was fairly radicalized in the early twentieth century, because things were just that bad, but when given the chance, most of them rallied to the Progressives and New Dealers, not the more out-there ideas of socialist and anarchist movements. And once most of their needs had been addressed through the system, many of them turned into ordinary, small-C (and often more than that) conservatives, who were often suspicious of further radical change.

              • LeeEsq

                Some elements of the American working class were fairly radicalized during the early 20th century but definitely not all of it. Most stuck to the Democratic or Republican parties just fine. The working class in European countries tended towards greater radicalization but this could take them to the Far Right and the Far Left.

                Russian peasants thought that Communist agricultural ideas would be the re-introduction of serfdom. They turned out to be right but they were serfs to Communist officials and city-dwellers rather than the Russian aristocracy.

                According to Robert Hughes in Barcelona, the Anarchists criticized the Marxists in the 19th century for not realizing that capitalism could turn working class into middle class people.

                • CP

                  Some elements of the American working class were fairly radicalized during the early 20th century but definitely not all of it. Most stuck to the Democratic or Republican parties just fine.

                  Though that brings in the additional layer of complexity that you could still find some space for radicalism within those parties – W. J. Bryan and Huey Long were both Democrats, though not the ones whose ideas won out in the end.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    People on the left seem much more likely to go through contortions to explain away the significance of the Supreme Court or argue that it’s BLACKMAIL to bring it up or whatever.

    Could we have some examples of these “people”? If nothing else, I’d like to know who to throw my shoe at.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      I could give you my twitter block list if you’d like. It’s about 80% Nazis and 20% people saying that shit.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Are any of the 20% actual leftists? Do they have any discernible influence?

        • BartletForGallifrey

          No true leftist, I’m sure.

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            My impression is that the left mostly lacks the staying-power for a fight. They usually don’t go along with the various bits of propaganda that the GOP comes up with, but somehow their protests and outrage fizzle out ineffectually.

            • Pseudonym

              The left, broadly and politically speaking, is inhibited by concerns like personal conscience and ideological rectitude and existential doubts. Unfortunately those can be liabilities in a purely practical sense.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                They also get easily distracted by the latest outrage, spend more time arguing with each other than fighting the GOP and seem to regard an actual plan as some sort of attempt to inhibit their freedom. At least, that’s my impression of the left-wing activists who get involved with movements like Occupy.

                • Origami Isopod

                  At least, that’s my impression of the left-wing activists who get involved with movements like Occupy.

                  Occupy funneled a lot of activists into future movements like Ferguson or Occupy Sandy. I would say that its veterans are less likely to be bickering online and more likely to be out there making a change. JL almost certainly could provide more detail on this than I could.

                  The left that BfG and Pseudonym are talking about are the Jackoff Bin types.

              • BartletForGallifrey

                The left, broadly and politically speaking, is inhibited by concerns like personal conscience and ideological rectitude and existential doubts. Unfortunately those can be liabilities in a purely practical sense.

                +[some creative number I can’t think of right now]

    • rea

      Could we have some examples of these “people”?

      One can tell that you do not frequent the Crooked Timber comment section.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Avedon Carol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avedon_Carol) repeatedly complained about anyone who brought up the Supreme Court as a reason to vote for Hillary, and called it “FUD”. (This was in Second Life, so I can’t point to any links.)

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        OK, but who really cares what Avedon thinks? I see no reason to believe that more than a tiny group of internet politics junkies even know who Avedon is. As for the Crooked Timber comments section – again, what influence do they have?

        What I am not seeing here is anything that shows that a significant number of reasonably influential or high profile leftists have pushed the views of which people are complaining here.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          That’s because there’s no such thing as an “influential or high profile leftist”. Seriously, how many people (outside Vermont) other than a tiny group of internet politics junkies had even heard of *Bernie Sanders* before he ran for President?

          The hard left is still fairly fringe in the US, despite their fever dreams.

  • cleek

    obstructionism works in the very narrow sense that the obstructing party probably won’t pay a price for it and may prevent a score by the other party.

    but it utterly fails at doing the very thing we elect people to do, which is to run the fucking country.

    obstructionism is just defense. and if managing the teams’ scoreboard is your main concern, it’s a good thing. if you think there’s more to elected office than partisan point scoring, you might think differently about it.

    • Pseudonym

      The other problem with obstructionism as a purely partisan matter is that it reinforces the Republican talking point that American politics just doesn’t work and we need to bow to the superior benevolent intelligence of our billionaire overlords instead…

    • timb

      Christ, this is well said. Democrats becoming obstructionists hastens the end of the arepublic. I’ll say it, since no one else can, the realignment of the 60-90’s created an ideological 2 party split which hadn’t occurred since the 1850’s and puts us directly in the path of gridlock followed by military coup, just like every other Presidential system.

      Democrats cannot be nihilists. They must govern. In the end, if they can’t beat the shrinking demography and shitstorm that will be the next 4 years, then they don’t deserve to win

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Democrats becoming obstructionists hastens the end of the republic.

        I think we have to accept that this phase of the republic ended in 2000 and that it died because its institutions weren’t up to snuff. Trump’s triumph over the majority is just closing the book on a badly designed system.

        • Despair

          The whole situation feels a bit “Prisoner’s Dilemma” to me, in that assuming obstructionism “works,” where works => gains political power for your side, the incentives are always to obstruct. If both sides obstruct, though, everyone loses (but the individual actors lose less than if only the opposition obstructs).

          If it were a standard Prisoner’s Dilemma, IIRC game theory has some potential solutions. However, in this case it’s asymmetrical, since the Republicans get more benefit in the “both obstruct” state, and the Democrats get more benefit in the “both cooperate” state, so I don’t really see a good solution (other than the destruction of the Republican party in its current form, and its reconstitution as a party that cares about governing well).

          • Rob in CT

            The whole situation feels a bit “Prisoner’s Dilemma” to me

            That occurred to me too.

            I don’t really see a good solution

            Me neither.

        • SatanicPanic

          This. GWB, McConnell and now Trump destroyed the idea that anyone has to follow the norms that made the country work. There is no putting that back together.

      • SNF

        What is the alternative, when “governing” means letting Trump do countless horrible things?

        There’s also a problem with asymmetry. If Republicans obstruct when out of power, and Democrats don’t, then only Republican presidents will be able to govern. As a result policy will just go to the right.

        I don’t know what the answer is, because our political system really doesn’t seem sustainable. But at the moment my main concern is getting through these next few years with the country intact.

        • CP

          What is the alternative, when “governing” means letting Trump do countless horrible things?

          This. Unfortunately, the plain fact is that what Democrats remain in Congress are now the only check on the power of teabagger/Trump era movement conservatism. Obstruction is, very often, going to be the only possible choice.

        • Scott P.

          If the system is not sustainable, what is the point of getting through the next few years?

          • SNF

            Preventing bad things from happening now is worth it on its own.

            I don’t know what will happen in the future. Maybe we’ll find a way out somehow. Perhaps we’ll reform our political system so that it’s sustainable, maybe something will happen to de-polarize the country. Or maybe things really will fall apart. I don’t know.

            But not knowing what lies ahead doesn’t mean it’s okay to let things fall apart now.

      • ColBatGuano

        Democrats cannot be nihilists. They must govern.

        How do they do that without control of single branch of the government? There is either obstruction or aiding Trump/Ryan with destroying everything. I’d rather take my chances on a possible failure than the guaranteed one.

    • SatanicPanic

      We elected neo-nazis to run our government. This is an emergency and I absolutely do not want the country to function well with them in charge. The trains running on time is a real danger to our most vulnerable people. This isn’t about electoral politics, this is about doing the right thing.

    • gkclarkson

      There’s a disconnect between what voters want and what candidates want. Candidates want to stay in power, not run the country.

    • JohnT

      Why are you talking about governing? If you are a Democrat your party aren’t the majority in either branch of the legislature nor will they be the executive. In any democratic country of the world they would self-evidently be the Opposition. For most of us this is normal partisan politics. All the opposition has to do is oppose.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        In any democratic country of the world they would self-evidently be the Opposition.

        In any other democratic country they would be in power, what with the winning more votes and all.

        • JohnT

          Not for the Legislature….

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Not true. See the Conservative Party in the last UK election. (Over 50% of the seats with only 40% of the vote.)

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    If your theory of human nature is true, C.V. Danes, how does virtue even get into the picture?

    • If you want insight on that, then a good place to start is Joseph Campbell’s four-volume work The Masks of God

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Perhaps you could give me your answer? I like old-fashioned comparativists as much as the next random internet person, but you are the person claiming to be a guide to human nature here.

        • Short answer, virtue is a codified behavior that is reinforced by society for the benefit of whoever is in charge. Some have histories that predate society and have been carried forward for thousands of years. The Golden Rule and all that. Some are relatively new, like acceptance of the right of all people to marry. Some are common across nearly all societies, like murder is generally considered bad no matter where you live. Some are not, like the belief in a strong safety net for the poor. And so on.

          • Colin Day

            Short answer, virtue is a codified behavior that is reinforced by society for the benefit of whoever is in charge.

            So being a guard at Auschwitz is virtuous?

            • From the perspective of the Nazi Party, it probably very much was.

            • Restate the problem this way and maybe it will be clear: I walk into a cafe in a foreign country I know little about. I ask, through my translator, who is the most virtuous person present. The people point at someone.

              I conclude that the person indicated is not a concentration camp officer. Correct or not?

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                Half the cafe asks what the weird foreigner is babbling about, the other half doesn’t even pretend to care and hopes you’ll go away.

                So, in sum, no, not clearer.

              • Colin Day

                In certain regimes, people might point to the concentration-camp commandant for their own safety.

  • Pseudonym

    People on the left seem much more likely to go through contortions to explain away the significance of the Supreme Court or argue that it’s BLACKMAIL to bring it up or whatever.

    People on the left still believe in the virtue of abstract principles even if they happen to oppose hardball politics. Abandoning that might be necessary, but I’m a bit hesitant to discard every political norm when in this era of numerical Republican supremacy nostalgia for norms might be our only hope.

    Remember that evangelical Christians don’t have any particular moral investment in opposing abortion, only a political one; they still oppose gender body-autonomy equality now the same way they opposed racial equality once and oppose LGBTQ equality today. It’s fundamentally (heh) an authoritarian and anti-liberal stance (cleek’s law), that’s all.

  • Shalimar

    Given that his nominee was obviously never going to be given a hearing, politics were the only relevant consideration, and the politics of Garland never made any sense.

    It was not obvious that his nominee was never going to be given a hearing. It was unprecedented for a nominee not to get a hearing. Garland was the wedge most likely to make their position untenable for Republicans, and it didn’t end up working. The only reason that gamble looks terrible in retrospect is because Trump will be picking the replacement rather than Clinton, which almost no one expected at the time.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      i think Obama made the mistake of trying to appeal to the mythical “reasonable Republican”, much as Clinton did in the election campaign. We now know that this strategy is definitively not a winner.

      • cleek

        if they wouldn’t do it for Garland, the GOP wasn’t going to give any nominee a hearing.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          The mistake was assuming that you could find the reasonable Republicans who would pressure the Senate GOP into .. well…being reasonable. Once Obama committed himself to tilting at that particular windmill again, well,the error was irreversible.

          • cleek

            what other choice did he have?

            he could nominate someone the left loved but wasn’t going to get a hearing. or he could nominate someone the GOP had already expressed a liking for, in the hopes of making them look bad in an election year.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              He could have nominated someone patently qualified, who would be obstructed by the GOP – and who could then have been held up as an example of Republican rejection of anyone who wasn’t a white man. If you can’t get Republicans on board, which was obviously the case, then rally your own base and fight like a complete bastard until the GOP runs for cover.

              • cleek

                fight like a complete bastard until the GOP runs for cover

                how, exactly?

                • MilitantlyAardvark

                  Well, for starters, take your case to the people. Hammer the GOP on it day in day out. Don’t sit back in the White House and wait for people to see how perfectly reasonable you are. Tour the damn country with Garland and a megaphone and the corpse of Elvis. Whatever it damn well takes to get the base fired up and ready to kick the crap out of the Greedy Obstructionist Pedophiles.

                • Rob in CT

                  Yeah, cleek is right on this, sadly. Nobody cared.

                  Well, scratch that. Nobody from the center to the left cared. The Right (the oh-so-moral evangelicals) cared, a lot, and as usual they showed up to vote.

                  ETA: barnstorming the country with Garland in tow… well, maybe? I doubt it but what the hell, who knows?

                • cleek

                  get the base fired up and ready to kick the crap out of the Greedy Obstructionist Pedophiles.

                  if the threat of multiple Trump-appointed justices couldn’t do that, i’m not sure a symbolic nominee could.

                • mds

                  if the threat of multiple Trump-appointed justices couldn’t do that, i’m not sure a symbolic nominee could.

                  Again, though, how many of the D-leaning nonvoters had any idea that this threat existed?

            • mds

              in the hopes of making them look bad in an election year.

              Which requires, you know, actually trying to make them look bad. How many D voters could have told you who Merrick Garland is? How many D voters even knew that SCOTUS is currently operating at less than full strength? Because I the R base was really, really aware of that 4-4 split.

              Garland is who you pick if you think that after some posturing, the Senate goes ahead and confirms him. Garland is who you pick to garner actual bipartisan support for a generally inoffensive center-left jurist whom you’d genuinely like to see on the Court. Garland is not who you pick if you are trying to make Republicans look bad.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                Right. Obama came up with a cunning plan, got nowhere – and then just let the whole thing sit quietly until Merrick Garland faded from the public mind entirely. What a waste of time that was – and how pathetically typical of the Democratic party in action/inaction.

                • jeer9

                  Right. Obama came up with a cunning plan, got nowhere – and then just let the whole thing sit quietly until Merrick Garland faded from the public mind entirely. What a waste of time that was – and how pathetically typical of the Democratic party in action/inaction.

                  This line of thinking is Monday morning QBing, hindsight is perfect nonsense and is deeply frowned upon at this blog. Unless you’ve got clear evidence that a better strategy would have worked, it’s just typical “we lost so here’s what we should have done” speculation.

                  There was no reason to believe Clinton didn’t have this election in hand and blaming Obama for more naivete than he already deserves re: Comey smacks of just-so criticism. The election loss was bad luck, pure and simple, plus MEDIA!

                • MilitantlyAardvark

                  The election loss was bad luck, pure and simple, plus MEDIA!

                  Well that’s really going to get us a long way towards victory next time. If you are dumb enough to believe this, maybe you should sit quietly and wait for the stars to align before you resume breathing again. See how that works out for you. We know that Obama’s cunning plan failed – and refusing to think about why and what might have been done differently is simple mental apathy and a refusal to think like an independent, self-respecting human being.

              • Joe_JP

                Garland is not who you pick if you are trying to make Republicans look bad.

                Why not? They blocked a compromise pick that they themselves said was okay. It underlines they are hacks.

                The country didn’t know about the vacancy and what was at stake? Fine. Complain about that not being emphasized. Garland would vote like Breyer. The guy who supported voting rights, gays rights, health care, etc.

                And, this was a fail of the party as a whole, though some DID talk about it. Maybe, they found out the voters didn’t care much. Don’t know. But, I would at least share the blame there.

                • Manny Kant

                  How exactly do the Democrats emphasize that? How are the Democrats actually ever supposed to get their message across? The Republicans have a whole alternative media universe devoted to getting out their talking points. The existence of that alternative universe also heavily influences the regular media universe, which finds itself compelled to talk about whatever Fox News is talking about, at least some of the time.

                  What tools do Democrats have to get their message across? There’s a fundamental asymmetry here that you guys are not reckoning with.

                • Joe_JP

                  What tools do Democrats have to get their message across? There’s a fundamental asymmetry here that you guys are not reckoning with.

                  The Democrats have access the media, are out there on the campaign trail, etc. They get their message across on various issues. This specific one was rarely promoted as compared to others. The courts could/should have been much more of a focus at the convention alone.

                  They very well might have determined, by polling etc., that this just wasn’t get much traction. IDK. But, it’s not like they are helpless. They manage to promote themselves repeatedly.

                • Manny Kant

                  Not completely helpless, of course, but Democratic messages have to be filtered through a not ideologically sympathetic media in a way that Republican messages do not.

                • cleek

                  How are the Democrats actually ever supposed to get their message across?

                  it’s just one channel, but Obama’s Facebook page had posts about Garland at least every other day for many months. and he has tens of millions of followers on FB.

                • TopsyJane

                  Not sure going to the country and saying “Hey, he’s another Breyer!” would have set the electorate aflame.

                  And why was there any need to use the nomination underline the not-terribly-compelling fact that party hacks are party hacks?

                  Obama got outplayed. It happens. Hope the party learns from it.

                • Manny Kant

                  it’s just one channel, but Obama’s Facebook page had posts about Garland at least every other day for many months. and he has tens of millions of followers on FB.

                  Which is to say, Dems did what they could to get the message out. It just didn’t really take.

        • mds

          Right, but MA is talking about the other way around, which is that if the GOP wasn’t going to give any nominee a hearing, then pick a nominee for whom that treatment is more offensive to the Democratic base. Picking a bland white guy praised and previously voted for by Senate Republicans doesn’t do that, especially when there was no major campaign follow-up. (On the D side, anyway. The R side had plenty of “Hillary will pick the next nominee, and that’s it for gun rights and Christianity.” But even that was accepting “no more nominees for sitting president” as the status quo.)

          Again, though, you had to expect that they were serious about “no hearings.” Which … fucking shitsmears like Grassley were saying practically from the moment Scalia died. But why should they have been believed? They approved Sotomayor and Kagan, after all. This ignored how different the calculus was over shifting the partisan composition.

          And above all, you had to expect a fair chance of Trump winning. I’m guessing the Obama White House didn’t really expect this election outcome, either.

          • Manny Kant

            One issue is that Republicans couldn’t have blocked hearings for Sotomayor or Kagan, because they didn’t control the Senate (and, indeed, the Democrats actually had a supermajority or close to it when both justices were nominated).

            I also just don’t think that the Dem base would have cared any more if it was Pam Karlan or Paul Watford not getting a hearing.

    • Manny Kant

      I also just have a hard time imagining that anything would have gone differently if Obama had nominated Pam Karlan. What exactly would have been different?

      • Joe_JP

        The usual suggestion is a younger woman or black person, a few court of appeals judges on top of the list. This allegedly would excite the base more, identity getting more excitement and attention. Net, I question how useful this would be.

        • Joe_JP

          Watford is tossed out there. Might excite blacks some, but how would that have moved the election much? Cuellar? I guess. But, not sure how much he was in the running anyhow. Again, probably would have been marginal.

          Someone tossed out why Breyer should excite. Guess he doesn’t to some people, though he was a loyal vote for a range of liberal decisions that should matter to people. Focus on the issues if nothing else.

          Anyway, I can see the argument the other way, but really seems a wash to me at best.

        • Breadbaker

          And don’t forget these potential nominees have agency, too. At the time, there was discussion about how these people might have been approached, seen the writing on the wall and the likelihood that being the stalking horse to get no hearings, regardless of who won the election, would mean they would never get to the Supreme Court, and said no (or signaled no). We don’t know whom Obama might have dangled this in front of.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I don’t think Karlan would have made much more of a political impact. Cuellar or Watford might have.

        • Manny Kant

          Well, it’s unanswerable now. I’m doubtfulit would have made any difference.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Entirely possible! But it was certain that Garland had no upside.

    • Scott Lemieux

      It was not obvious that his nominee was never going to be given a hearing.

      It absolutely was.

      It was unprecedented for a nominee not to get a hearing.

      If anything has characterized Senate Republicans under McConnell, it’s putting norms over the self-interest of Republicans.

      • Shalimar

        I disagree with the word “never”. It was extremely unlikely, yes. But there have to be some timelines out there where dead Scalia didn’t completely disappear as an issue between March and the election and more pressure was put on McConnell for his obstruction.

    • Colin Day

      It was unprecedented for a nominee not to get a hearing.

      According to this

      Supreme Court nominees

      nine nominees have received no action.

  • timb

    I’m A nobody on the Internet, but I still maintain that McConnell is the second best politician of the 21st-century. He understands the feckless media, the low information voter, and how the shape of the congruence of these two things allows you to allow others to craft your message.

    His short-comings are his Achilles: his own lack of charisma, his hatred of the average American, and his placing his partisanship over party. He is a classically Late Republic Roman, willing to see the nation suffer in order to advance his own ambition & goals.

    I do not want to be him or ape his tactics. Democrats should not be obstructionists

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      timb, has it escaped your notice that for all his “short-comings” Yertle has emerged victorious? Besides, if you think that obstructionism is going to be enough to stop Trump and his racist, misogynist rabble from raping America bloody, I have several very nice deals on bridges to offer you. Just don’t pay me in pounds or dollars. I prefer reliable currencies like the peso and the lira.

      • rea

        timb, has it escaped your notice that for all his “short-comings” Yertle has emerged victorious

        What is politics for? Is it just a team sport, and all that matters is if your rooting interest is victorious? Or is it about policies and principles?

        An inversion of Cleek’s law is not where we want to be. “Both sides do it” is a criticism of the Democrats, not a prescription for electoral victory. All copying the Republicans does is take away any reason for people to vote for us.

        So yeah, in the unlikely event that Trump proposes something good, he should get supported. And, some of the tactics adopted by the Republicans–like threatening default on the national debt, or shutting down the government–ought to be rejected out of hand as damaging to the country.

        And, you know, because Trump is a narcissist, susceptible to flattery, easily manipulated, and has few firm policy convictions, it is just barely possible that he won’t be a complete tool for Paul Ryan. Heaven only knows what he will do on a lot of crucial issues. If Paul Ryan tries to end Medicare and Trump opposes it, should our desire to wreck Trump’s presidency outweigh our policy preferences?

        Maybe we should be talking about what a splendid Supreme Court Justice Maryanne Trump Berry would make.

        • Manny Kant

          Maryanne Trump Barry would be an amazing SCOTUS Justice. Good genes.

          • q-tip

            “Barry?” Isn’t that a Kenyan name?

  • Rob in CT

    In other words, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

    It sucks. It really, really does. Democrats copying Republican obstruction tactics is not healthy for the nation, and further delegitimizing the federal government hurts liberals more than it hurts conservatives.

    Yet here we are – not only does it clearly work, we’re staring down the Trump Administration. The likelihood of halfway decent appointments/policy is close to nil.

    So I remain in the “not one vote!” camp.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      I’m over caring about good governance. There are Nazis at the door. We fight them off and take back power any way we can, and then we figure out the rest.

      • CaptainBringdown

        That’s where I’m at. A Trump presidency is a clear and present danger to the nation and to the world. The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Trump to be a one-term president.

        In addition to opposing him on every front, we need to lay traps and hand him enough rope to hang himself with. Not sure exactly what that would entail, but given his off-the-charts narcissism, incompetence and inexperience, better minds than mine should be looking for every possible way to bait him into his own undoing.

        • MilitantlyAardvark

          Turning the other cheek just gets you kicked in the ass again. Let’s not limp down that dead-end any more.

      • CP

        I’m over caring about good governance. There are Nazis at the door. We fight them off and take back power any way we can, and then we figure out the rest.

        This quote should be the screensaver of every Democrat from Congress on down to the lowest precinct captain from now until Trump and his GOP are gone.

      • SatanicPanic

        +11 million

      • Scott P.

        So who is the first person you are planning to shoot?

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Are you volunteering?

  • Matt

    It informed key constituencies, particularly evangelical Christians, that there was far more on the ballot than Trump. The balance of the Court, particularly on such issues as abortion, was in play. Abandon the nominee, and Hillary Clinton gets to pick the next one, two, or three justices. Stand by the nominee, no matter how repellent, and you get to.

    It also exposed the deep and total rot of all the parts of modern “conservatism”:

    * the Christianist wing, despite their constant moralizing, turned out in droves to vote for a thrice-married rapey bigot – exposing that their “morals” are and have always been about enforcing their will on others

    * the “business” wing, despite their constant insistence that “gubmint should be run like a bizness”, turned out in droves to vote for a serially-bankrupt conman – exposing that their “business sense” has never been anything more than “F U I GOT MINE”

    * the “strict Constitutionalmalism” wing of the party, despite their constant insistence that “the rule of law is paramount”, turned out in droves to vote for a man who’s proudly bragged about his dreams of committing war crimes and breaching the Constitution on literally the first MINUTE of his administration

    As we’re already seeing in places like the NC governor’s race, even defeating these weasels electorally isn’t going to be a guarantee. They need to be driven from every level of government.

    • Origami Isopod

      exposing that their “morals” are and have always been about enforcing their will on others

      I would tweak this slightly: Their “morals” are about hierarchies and the preservation thereof. Since they believe women should be subordinate to men, they did not ultimately have a problem with a man who is violent to them and who discards them when he feels like it. Their initial hesitation to vote for him was about aesthetics, not substance.

      • Rob in CT

        Everybody in their proper box. No fuss. No thinking required.

    • Despair

      I would additionally say that, in the same way that no one actually cares about States’ Rights, no one actually cares about “strict Constitutionalism” or “originalism” or whatever*. They care about getting their policies enacted, and if strict Constitutionalism is a convenient stalking horse they will be happy to use it.

      * With the possible exception of Clarence Thomas. IANAL, but I did read all of the Sebelius opinions, and IIRC his opinion was a short, insane**, but internally consistent description of “what the founders would have thought,” so I think he might honestly care.

      ** Insane in that this is 2016, so why should the founders hypothetical, imperfectly extrapolated opinions outweigh the subsequent hundreds of years of development of legal opinion?

    • CP

      * the “business” wing, despite their constant insistence that “gubmint should be run like a bizness”, turned out in droves to vote for a serially-bankrupt conman – exposing that their “business sense” has never been anything more than “F U I GOT MINE”

      When the history and PoliSci books are written for this era of American politics,* they really need to study the proliferation of self-cannibalizing elites – people whose model of leadership is based on the destruction of their own organization.

      In politics, obviously (where right wing politicians have for decades followed a blueprint of “drown the government in the bathtub”), but even in business, as you see with the number of CEOs who’ve run their companies into the ground, bailed out with golden parachutes, and moved right on to the next target. Say what you want about the robber-barons of the Gilded Age (and good Lord, are there ever things to say) but they wouldn’t have considered it sound business, or even something to shrug off, for their trusts to be run into the ground. They had the minimal level of professionalism required to at least look after their own business, even if it was at other people’s expense.

      It’s not just the voters who don’t care about policy. We’re increasingly in a post-governance era at all levels of society. People tell us that the only reason the 1% are trying to destroy the government is so that their own private empires can move in and rule. But even if that happened, the evidence suggests that they wouldn’t relate to those private institutions much differently than they do to the government right now.

      [* And hopefully, the books on said era won’t be a post-mortem on the United States or on American democracy].

      • Rob in CT

        Say what you want about the robber-barons of the Gilded Age (and good Lord, are there ever things to say) but they wouldn’t have considered it sound business, or even something to shrug off, for their trusts to be run into the ground

        Eh, quite of few of them acted like that (Daniel Drew, James Fisk and Jay Gould come to mind). There were others who actually built strong businesses. It was a mix.

        • CP

          Thanks for the correction.

          Am I off the mark in thinking that it’s still more of a norm today than it was at the time? I thought a lot of things about the modern economy made it easier to be that sort of transitional, hit-and-run CEO moving from target to target.

          • Rob in CT

            I really don’t know. But there was definitely some amazingly naked looting that went on in the 19th century. Railroad companies are the ones I know the most about (which isn’t a ton), hence the names I came up with straightaway. Those dudes strip-mined the Erie RR.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    this is mostly off the topic except for the bit where (some) Trump voters say they expect him to be more moderate on some things- like the ACA- than his rhetoric. that seems to be where obstructionism has potential

    they should have asked the Dems/leaners who skipped this election, “would you have voted if you thought the polls were wrong and Trump would win?”

    http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/adams-county-a-vote-for-barack-obama-then-donald-trump/article_b2914fce-a76c-5405-a687-608a75cd9269.html

    • Schadenboner

      What “I didn’t know brexit would actually PASS when I voted “leave”…” effect?

  • NewishLawyer

    Why didn’t we take a hint from Harry Truman and go after the “Do Nothing” Congress?

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      Because Americans already hate Congress and we are supposed to be the party that believes in governing. Because Republicans want Congress to do nothing other than obstruct and destroy.

      • jpgray

        Yeah also this – government failing to function isn’t exactly vindication for us.

  • jpgray

    Obstructionism Works

    Right Wing Authoritarianism Works

    Breast-beating punch-throwing obstructionism to the point of selfcontradiction would seem to work best with:

    1. A politics of fantasy grievances, marshaling support for meaningless exorcisms of various boogeymen (and boogeywomen) rather than having to sell/explain any discernible practical alternative

    2. A near-monolithic voter bloc on the “ideals,” with some selfish ends-justify-the-means worshippers of Rand/Mammon thrown in, rather than a precarious coalition of disparate groups who are immune to “what it’s really all about for all of you is this simplistic jeremiad.”

    3. Awesome monopoly of entire channels of debate thanks to media consolidation and virtual ideological empire over Chambers of Commerce and the barons of schlock

    4. Voter base primed to self-harming solidarity and contradiction immunity, as opposed to voters who make a virtue of self-doubt, circumspection, or individualistic navel-gazing/ennui

    I don’t think we’re cut out for aping McConnell’s particular path to political advantage.

  • NewishLawyer

    Depressing research on the illness in western democracy

    Mr. Mounk and Mr. Foa developed a three-factor formula to answer that question. Mr. Mounk thinks of it as an early-warning system, and it works something like a medical test: a way to detect that a democracy is ill before it develops full-blown symptoms.

    The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.

    If support for democracy was falling while the other two measures were rising, the researchers marked that country “deconsolidating.” And they found that deconsolidation was the political equivalent of a low-grade fever that arrives the day before a full-blown case of the flu.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/americas/western-liberal-democracy.html?smid=tw-nytpolitics&smtyp=cur&referer=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FkalkdDnlZ0

    • LeeEsq

      Globalization in its various forms, free trade and increasingly diverse societies, is causing liberal democracies to undergo a stress test. Different center left parties know that there are no easy answers to these problems and changes except to try to manage as best as possible as you go along while staying as true as possible to enlightenment liberal ideas. The electorate as a whole isn’t convinced by this. The Far Left can’t muster the voters because most people do not like or trust them. The Far Right has some very easy but wrong “answers” to the stress test of globalization and this is why they are doing well.

      • gkclarkson

        I agree with this.

        I also think the primary issue is demographic, in that there is essentially a dominant pre-globalization generation (Baby Boomers) that is most susceptible to the “easy but wrong” answers, because they have their personal values and ideas most threatened.

        I tend to think that the situation will solve itself once they start dying out in substantial numbers.

        • LeeEsq

          My general theory is that the electorate as a whole is always going to be susceptible to “easy but wrong” answers. A politician or political party isn’t going to win elections by saying “your concerns are valid, the issues are tricky but the best we can do is muddle through this by improvising as we go along and hope it all works out in the end.”

          • ColBatGuano

            Everyone likes “easy but wrong” answers. The test is whether they resist the temptation.

  • NewishLawyer

    Semi-OT: I’ve noticed that #NeverTrump or Trump critics tend to fall into two camps. There are the Trump Optimists and the Trump Pessimists.

    An example:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/jodyrosen/status/803601434885451777

    The Trump Optimists I know respond to this with a blithe dismissal and mock Trump as panderer in chief and think that Trump will soon be stopped by Congressional opposition, the Courts, the Constitution, etc.

    The Trump Pessimists I know respond to this tweet as more evidence that Trump is going to be a wrecking ball against Constitution, Democracy, Civil Rights and Liberties, etc.

    There are times when I think the Trump Pessimists are too hyperbolic and panicky to be an effective opposition. But the blase attitudes of Trump optimists are also off-putting to me because they seem to take nothing seriously and everything works out in the end.

    • MilitantlyAardvark

      What about the Trump bipartisanistas who think he’ll be an incompetent wrecking-ball?

    • CaptainBringdown

      Chait’s take is that Trump’s tweet was a rare example of an intentional, clever distraction on Trump’s part. I tend to agree. Trump’s also baiting protesters into burning the flag.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        To me it looks like another case of Trump defaulting to the hard right authoritarian rhetoric with which he is most comfortable. I don’t know whether he really does have a plan here or is just raging at random. My instinct is that it’s the latter.

        • CaptainBringdown

          Your interpretation is certainly the more optimistic one and I hope you’re right.

      • ColBatGuano

        Protesters should burn Confederate flags.

    • Manny Kant

      It seems to me that whether you should be a Trump optimist or a Trump pessimist should really depend on what opinion you hold of the rest of the Republican Party.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        That would turn me into a Trump alcoholist at best. And I don’t even drink!

  • LosGatosCA

    All you need to know about the difference between Republicans and Democratic approaches are these two things:

    1. Republicans NEVER appoint a Democrat to a Daddy job in their administration. Democrats do the inverse as often as not. See Greenspan, Bernanke, Gates, Comey, et al

    2. In 2000, Bush never conceded Florida even when the networks called it for Gore. The Republicans arrived in force to stop the recount, the Democrats went home for Thanksgiving, and their VP went on to endorse McCain just eight years later. Plus every mid term election. The will to win? How about the will to just show up?

    The Republicans never give up, the Democrats never go all in to win. Some exceptions to be sure but the Republicans understand the game they are in. The Democrats are just deer in the headlights most of the time wondering what just hit them.

    • Schadenboner

      I think the phrase you’re looking for is “deer in the taillights wondering what just hit them.”

    • liberal

      Agreed. I’m sick of this shit.

      We can’t control the vicious animals we’re fighting, but is it really too much to ask that our guys fight? Jesus fucking Christ.

    • Manny Kant

      1. Nixon appointed John Connally! Reagan reappointed Volcker. I think that’s it.

      2. Why on earth would Bush have conceded Florida on election night? That’s not actually how election night works. IIRC, the networks very carefully uncalled Florida before calling the states that would have put Gore over the top.

      • Colin Day

        Carter appointed Volcker. And wasn’t Connally already going over to the Rs?

      • Bill Murray

        was Volcker a Dem? He served in Nixon’s Treasury department

    • NewishLawyer

      I wonder if this is because the Democratic Party does just not attract many military types or FBI/CIA types.

      Jack Reed went to West Point. I suppose he could be a Defense Secretary.

      Who would be good Democratic picks for the CIA, FBI, and National Security? People who would be serious about civil liberties and criminal justice reform but would also garner public trust on going after real criminals and treating crime seriously. Cyrus Vance? George Gascon?

      • Manny Kant

        Leon Panetta was both Defense Secretary and CIA Director. We have Ash Carter at Defense currently. Clapper and Brennan don’t seem to have any clear partisan identity. We have had plenty of Dem National Security Advisers – Susan Rice, currently.

  • Joe_JP

    Why wouldn’t “Democratic constituencies” have a stake in having Scalia being replaced by someone on par with Stephen Breyer, who voted for gay rights, against the death penalty, for voting rights in Shelby, for campaign regulations, etc.?

    The idea from what I can tell is to put in some identity politics type, a woman or black person (a leading option there being younger but not much more liberal from what I can tell than Garland) to excite the base. I get the idea. But, you know, that on some level seems a bit shallow thinking on OUR side.

    But, not sure how much that would have moved the election much at all. It also would have gave the Republicans more of an excuse — here there simply was no excuse for obstructionism. Well, reasonable one. Garland shows they are corrupt hacks and the idea was Clinton would [at least could] win. He was a perfect placeholder there, unlike someone who would get stuck doing nothing for a year (such as a new court of appeals judge, who will be tainted as a loser if Clinton wanted to nominate him or her later).

    Finally, it was far from “obvious” to everyone that he wouldn’t get a hearing. People HERE were starting to suggest that after Clinton wins etc. he might get one. I’m not just talking about myself but one or more people who originally said otherwise. So, net, yes obstructionism won. But, I support the choice. Someone the left liked more might have even helped the Republicans some more without doing much for our side. More should have been done to push Garland.

    • Rob in CT

      This is my gut feeling on the matter too.

      Committed Dems like me and people I hang out with were aware of the SCOTUS issue and would list it as a reason for voting.

      But the people who only show up sometimes didn’t give a shit/where unaware. It’s possible that the Dems didn’t do as much as they could have to make noise over the issue, but I have very little faith that making more noise would’ve worked (also, I have zero doubt there were Dems repeatedly saying all we wanted them to say to no avail because the media didn’t cover it, or covered it on page 14, or whatever).

    • Scott Lemieux

      But, you know, that on some level seems a bit shallow thinking on OUR side.

      Well, you know, welcome to politics! (Although Watford would be a better nominee than Garland on every level.)

      Finally, it was far from “obvious” to everyone that he wouldn’t get a hearing

      It was entirely obvious, and the fact that people couldn’t see that is just bad for them. To deny the obvious required ignoring 1)McConnell’s completely consistent practices and 2)what McConnell was explicitly saying.

      • Joe_JP

        Well, you know, welcome to politics! (Although Watford would be a better nominee than Garland on every level.)

        He would be younger and all, but net, don’t know how more liberal he really is. Garland was good on some things there too. And, the Republicans would have had an easier time there, noting he was “divisive” the last time. Watford didn’t really excite me much & again you basically keep him off the court for a year & he’s tainted as a loser.

        Multiple people didn’t think it was “obvious” especially after the assumed Clinton win. I note you skipped the “everyone” part. Many things are obvious to some people. Anyway, one part of my argument not being true doesn’t change the whole thing. All the parts work together.

        As to politics, maybe it’s a lesson learned? You yourself repeatedly critique people not supporting imperfect candidates.

    • jam

      Why wouldn’t “Democratic constituencies” have a stake in having Scalia being replaced by someone on par with Stephen Breyer, who voted for gay rights, against the death penalty, for voting rights in Shelby, for campaign regulations, etc.?

      How many people did you meet that were animated about putting Garland on the Supreme Court?

      But, you know, that on some level seems a bit shallow thinking on OUR side.

      I don’t care about deep/shallow thinking. I’d like to win and have a country not run by Nazis.

      But, not sure how much that would have moved the election much at all. It also would have gave the Republicans more of an excuse — here there simply was no excuse for obstructionism. Well, reasonable one.

      The counterfactual is, of course, unknowable. We do know the strategy that they actually used accomplished zero.

      Garland shows they are corrupt hacks

      That motivated 0 votes. Nobody cared.

      Finally, it was far from “obvious” to everyone that he wouldn’t get a hearing.

      If you were able to read McConnell’s words it was pretty obvious.

      People HERE were starting to suggest that after Clinton wins etc. he might get one.

      People suggested that Republicans could hold hearings on Garland in order to prevent Clinton from appointing somebody younger or more liberal.

      The strategy seems to have produced concrete evidence that McConnell believes in obstruction and nothing else. It seems to have encouraged no support and been a waste of an opportunity.

      • Joe_JP

        How many people did you meet that were animated about putting Garland on the Supreme Court?

        The thing you quoted said they should have been since like Breyer he would protect things they care about. The average person has little opinion about the federal courts.

        It’s up to those who run these things to make it clear to them. You should be for that too if you want to stop the “Nazis.” Control of government involves supporting people who might not be totally exciting, but advances good.

        You say counterfactuals are hard but assume they did ‘zero’ good — how do we know this? Sounds like a counterfactual. It motivated certain people. I saw people talk about it and be upset about it if you want to use single data points. How the heck do you know it didn’t even “motivate” a single vote? Seriously, come on.

        People suggested that Republicans could hold hearings on Garland in order to prevent Clinton from appointing somebody younger or more liberal.

        Yes, as I said, people argued Clinton would win & the Republicans would see him as the best option. And, since he is basically a median vote & replaced SCALIA among other things, I thought that was fine myself.

        • jam

          The thing you quoted said they should have been since like Breyer he would protect things they care about.

          That’s not a reply.

          You can say they should have been animated about Garland, but in my experience they were not.

          Control of government involves supporting people who might not be totally exciting, but advances good.

          No. Control of government requires winning elections.

          You say counterfactuals are hard but assume they did ‘zero’ good — how do we know this? Sounds like a counterfactual. It motivated certain people. I saw people talk about it and be upset about it if you want to use single data points. How the heck do you know it didn’t even “motivate” a single vote? Seriously, come on.

          OK, you win. The strategy was perfect and worked perfectly.

          Just ignore exit polls showing Trump winning voters who thought the Supreme Court was Important, especially among those who thought it was “The Most Important Factor”.

          The Republicans made the Supreme Court opening important to their base. Democrats did not.

  • liberal

    I don’t understand the continued wilingness to overlook “our” agency in these matters.

    We’d be much, much, much better off if RBG and Breyer resigned immediately after Obama took office. They took a risk by not doing so, and now their gamble has failed. Instead of picking up one appointment, due to their absurd norm-busting, the Republicans will now likely pick up three.

    IMHO, RBG and Breyer are narcissistic monsters. YMMV.

    • Schadenboner

      [img]Why can’t we have both girl.gif[/img]

    • LeeEsq

      Judges tend to have a very high regard for themselves regardless of their politics. I can easily imagine this conversation happening on a Conservative site about the older Conservative Supreme Court justices when Obama entered office. Conservative judges are more likely to retire at the right time for political purposes than liberal judges but not that much more likely.

      • Joe_JP

        The system in place advances the principle that judges are supposed to be above partisan politics. But, generally, both liberals and conservative justices over the years timed their retirement with politics in mind.

        In recent years, the ones who did so seemed more liberal than conservative. And, other than Souter — who hated D.C. — the ones that come to mind (other than maybe Warren) tried to hang on, they didn’t retire early. Marshall didn’t retire in the last year of Carter’s presidency etc.

        RBG thought Clinton would win. Breyer retiring in his early 70s when Stevens retired at 90 assumes a lot.

        • rea

          RBG also, not unreasonably, believes that she will die when she stops working.

          • jam

            I’m starting to suspect the same. That I and my family will die soon after she stops working.

  • priceyeah

    You always make fun of people for adopting analyses of things like the 2016 election result that happen to align with their own political preferences. I get a whiff of that from your “the politics of Garland never made any sense.” Perhaps it’s unpropitious to advance this line of thinking when Obama’s methods so manifestly didn’t pay off but the rationale for what he was doing is perfectly clear in a context where HRC is an overwhelming favorite and also (big also) wins. She didn’t win, so there’s that.

    As much as I admire Obama, in a situation involving SCOTUS and obstructionism, his strategies have no backup. He thinks well I can use their obstructionism against them and that’s about it. It sometimes works. But yeah, McConnell was playing 12-dimensional chess here, and Obama wasn’t.

    • random

      McConnell wasn’t playing any sophisticated gambit.

      He and the other Republicans clearly indicated that they intended to keep engaging in maximal obstruction, even if they lost this election.

      This is just who these people are now. Sure it turned out to have strategic utility, but they would have done it anyway.

      • priceyeah

        I basically agree with this but I also think that McConnell was entertaining more possible outcomes than Obama. In other words, his scenarios folded in the possibility that Trump would win. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, notably, didn’t agree with that.

    • jam

      Perhaps it’s unpropitious to advance this line of thinking when Obama’s methods so manifestly didn’t pay off but the rationale for what he was doing is perfectly clear in a context where HRC is an overwhelming favorite and also (big also) wins. She didn’t win, so there’s that.

      It’s not good enough to assume your desired outcome and then act on that assumption. Nominating Garland didn’t touch the needle on the 2016 election. An empty Supreme Court seat was a political asset and one that Obama wasted.

      • priceyeah

        He had a different theory of exploiting that advantage than you and Scott do, that’s actually my point. Hindsight says Obama has the weaker argument, but not more than that.

        • jam

          His theory of exploiting that argument was weaker at the time as well. His theory seemed to be that McConnell’s promises to obstruct any nomination were a bluff and that he could make political hay out of a boring nominee.

          McConnell said he wouldn’t hold hearings and then he didn’t hold hearings.

          McConnell had been obstructing for years before that point. He obstructed ordinary business as minority leader and obstructed ordinary business as majority leader.

          His threat to not hold hearings was very believable.

          Nominating a boring judge for the empty seat was all downside and no upside for liberal causes.

          For the right wing, that supreme court seat was a hill they were willing to die on and it was also a political tool for them.

          The right wing was able to animate its base over abortion, gay marriage, and birth control.

          The Democratic base didn’t know or didn’t care about the prospect of a boring nominee who would merely secure those cases and rights.

  • jimpharo

    IOKIYAR — Only Dem Presidents are expected to do anything. Rep. Presidents are never responsible for anything.

    Or did you just arrive in the United States…?

  • Slothrop2

    Barack Obama made at least one blunder that materially affected the election, nominating James Comey to head the FBI.

    No. What happened was the Democrats nominated HRC as their candidate.

    It was not the “media,” either. You sound like the knuckleheads.

    • It is amazing to see these people who insist that an election result can always be explained by exactly ONE THING! Why nominating HRC was such a problem if “the media” and James Comey weren’t factors at all may take some explaining for the critical minded, but others live lives of simple faith and devotion to their chosen ideological creed.

      • Schadenboner

        There are many, many shitty factors in this shitty election result.

        However, as a Democrat there are a couple things that catch my eye that I can maybe do something about and those are: apparently poor voter outreach and mobilization (a party responsibility) and apparently poor canidate selection (again, a party responsibility).

        The GOP and the media’s 25 year hate campaign against HRC and Comey putting his dick in the fucking jelly and all the rest all anger me, but poor GOTV and poor candidate selection/coronationism are something that, in theory, I can do something about.

        • A couple of other things:

          Scott is right in this respect: unflinching, in-your-face opposition to Trump and the whole Republican agenda will 1) Help with mobilization in the future 2) Deny Trump easy victories 3) Ensure that responsibility for Trump’s disasters are held by him and his party alone and are clearly the predictable result of having a bunch of incompetent con artists with a noxious ideology in charge.

          Candidate selection, by contrast, is secondary. Not unimportant. The right candidate will be one who can deliver that message loud and clear. But the message the party wishes to convey must also be clear.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          However, as a Democrat

          JenniferLawrenceOkayThumbsUp.gif

    • ColBatGuano

      You sound like the knuckleheads.

      Coming from you, that’s quite a compliment.

  • Obstructionism works? It can. Does it, invariably? Who’d be saying that if the election had turned out differently?

    What is true is that there seems to be no political price for obstructionism. But had the Dems had won the White House and the Senate McConnell’s gambit wouldn’t be looking so brilliant right now.

    Therefore I am not inclined to say that, as a matter of principle, maximum obstruction is a winner. However, Trump’s agenda is going to be so terrible that I don’t see a reasonable alternative.

    • Joe_JP

      Few years back, the go all the way gambit hurt the Republicans, delaying winning back the Senate a cycle because it resulted in troll Tea Party types running in winnable seats.

      • random

        It wasn’t really a ‘gambit’, ‘going all the way’ is actually the default factory setting for conservatives. There’s no relationship between them winning/losing any given election and their level of obstructionism, they just automatically do it now at a constant level.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Picking bad candidates is different than obstructionism.

    • random

      I’m gonna keep saying this: McConnell’s obstructionism wasn’t a ‘gambit’, so much as just him being a Republican. These people are going to obstruct any Democrat as much as humanly possible, whether it helps them win elections or not.

      • I get your point there

      • Joe_JP

        These people are going to obstruct any Democrat as much as humanly possible, whether it helps them win elections or not.

        Mixed feelings. I think some Republicans care about winning elections.

  • Aaron Morrow

    I still find the fact that people are seriously talking about Dems working with Trump after 8 years of watching McConnell prove that congressional obstructionism is a bill the president gets stuck with amazing.

    While I think there are reasonable people who are unfamiliar with what Democrats were able to put together in 2005-2006, you’d think that professional writers would at least have an excuse for why that was a magical moment in time that can never be repeated.

    • kped

      Thank you…it’s not even in the distant past and people act like it’s impossible to happen again.

      Then again, with Trump talking about taking away the citizenship of people who burn the flag…who knows what the next elections could look like.

  • Dilan Esper

    You might not like Garland as a nominee with HRC losing, but he stood a chance of confirmation if she won. That was a big reason for the pick.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I actually don’t think so (at least if you mean in the lame duck.) But since he only would have been confirmed if Clinton won with a Democratic Senate and hence could have gotten someone younger and more liberal confirmed, this is an argument against him, not for him.

      • jam

        +1

        Nominating Garland was a waste of an opportunity that gained 0 support and 0 votes.

      • Joe_JP

        Hard to tell how much more liberal of a pick HRC would have chosen really. Would have been younger, yes. Garland being confirmed also avoided a major battle so she could focus her limited power and resources right out of the gate on other things. Next, Garland was a Clinton guy. Who’s to know if HRC wasn’t okay with it? And, if Obama actually wanted his own person there, chance of confirmation (if any) would be a reason to factor in. Anyway, perhaps better probably to say Garland was a good sacrificial lamb that made it easier to pick someone younger and more liberal.

        ETA: Him standing a chance is not something I recall DE saying when he was nominated.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Hard to tell how much more liberal of a pick HRC would have chosen really.

          It is extremely likely. Elena Kagan is basically your generic Dem nominee of the 2010s, and she’s quite a bit more liberal than Garland.

        • jam

          None of that matters if you don’t win the election. Trump won among people who said the Supreme Court was “the most important factor” in the election. That’s not a coincidence.

          My interpretation (based on that data and a priori knowledge of how they spread their message) is that Republicans made the SC important to their base on abortion, birth control, prayer in schools, execution, guns, etc… and spread that message through churches and their media.

          Democrats did not make the SC important to their base. I argued it to every occasional voter I was able to influence and every 3rd-party-curious voter, but obviously that’s not sufficient to win a national election.

  • kped

    Totally OT, but the President Elect just tweeted that people who burn the flag should spend a year in jail or lose their citizenship.

    Only the 2nd amendment counts!

    • Rob in CT

      In Trump’s America, nothing is off-topic.

      • kped

        What’s hilarious is that each and every needs to “both sides” this, mentioning that Clinton co-sponsored legislation to make it illegal in 2005.

        That has absolutely nothing to do with Trump today, but the media needs to add “balance” to THE PRESIDENT ELECT WANTING TO TAKE AWAY PEOPLES CITIZENSHIP!. And I guarantee you, as we speak, someone is on CNN or MSNBC bringing this very thing up to make Trump sound like a normal, mainstream politician for proposing this.

        • Rob in CT

          Clinton co-sponsored legislation to make it illegal in 2005

          Huh, I didn’t know that. Kind of silly thing to do, really.

          But if it wasn’t that, they’d find another “both sides” false equivalence.

  • AMK

    It’s not complicated. McConnell obstructed (particularly on SCOTUS) because he knows that’s what the GOP base wants, and the GOP would not pay a price at the ballot box for its tactics even if HRC won. How many of his voters in Kentucky are sitting around dissecting the virtues of his parliamentary tactics? He stood up to Obama at that’s it. They’re gonna vote GOP.

  • rewenzo

    I am not sure if Scott is correct that obstructionism would work for Democrats but I am getting tired of seeing the reason why it would not work being “the media hates us” or “IOKIYAR.” There’s nothing magical about the Republican party, and certainly not about a Republican party that lost the popular vote. They can be beaten. I’m so old I can almost remember when a Democrat was president. This preemptive giving up on any tactic because the media will magically make the Democrats look bad is sickening.

    My own two cents is that Republicans may be electorally better situated to take advantage of obstructionism because of the rural bias of the House and Senate and gerrymandering. At the end of the day, everything needs to go just right for the Democrats to capture the House, and everything needs to go wrong for the Republicans to lose it. Could be the Republicans can stomach high degrees of unpopularity because they have a softer landing.

    • CP

      I think it all goes together, what you say and what other people are complaining about. Put simply, the system is rigged to favor Republicans in a million ways (some of them deliberate decisions made centuries ago, some of them deliberate decisions made in the modern day, some of them because that’s just the way things are). It’s rigged because it’s set up to disproportionately represent rural and low population areas. It’s rigged because the people the Democrats represent tend to be poorer and thus both less likely to want to vote, and less likely to be able to vote. It’s rigged because the justice system disproportionately disenfranchises those demographics that tend to vote Democrat, both in blatant and direct ways (i.e. voter disenfranchisement laws or sudden purges that “misidentify” voters as felons) and in subtler ways (i.e. the disproportionate number of nonwhite people who are imprisoned for victimless crimes that middle class whites, and sometimes even poor rural whites, get a pass on, and the way that affects their political rights). It’s rigged because the existing “establishment” tends to weigh in on the side of Republicans in a million different ways, be it the rich providing funding and the media providing favorable coverage, or more brazen things like Comey’s recent move to throw the election to Trump. It goes on.

      It doesn’t mean you give up, your first paragraph is totally right about that – as 2012, 2008, 2006, and a number of previous elections show, this doesn’t make Democratic victories impossible. It does mean, however, that we face much more of an upwards battle in every election than Republicans do, because of the sheer number of handicaps we need to compensate for simply to be competitive that Republicans will never need to worry about.

  • rewenzo

    My thought re the Supreme Court. Obstruct the hell out of the pick, but don’t get too mad. At the moment, they’re just replacing Scalia. This represents a missed opportunity for Democrats, but the Republicans are not yet in a position to roll back the last 40 years until Kennedy or one of the liberals dies. (Which may also happen. That’s the time to freak out.)

    My sneaky plan is to wait until the Democrats control the government again and then add two new seats to the Supreme Court. This is legal “cheating” (violates the norm against court packing) to negate the effect of Republican “cheating” (violating the norm against letting the President pick a justice).

    ETA: I’m aware the obvious next step would be for the Republicans to add two new judges. The solution to this is to not let Republicans win elections.

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