Home / General / If the GOP has gone completely off the rails, that means the Democrats have too

If the GOP has gone completely off the rails, that means the Democrats have too



Not long ago, another magazine asked me to recommend six books that explain something important about American politics. I chose six of my favorites that help elucidate the most important development of the last half-century in American politics: the Republican Party’s embrace of movement conservative ideology. No other major party in the advanced world rejects on principle any proposed tax-revenue increase, or denies the legitimacy of climate science, or opposes universal health care.

And now, the punchline:

I was told my list could not be published because it was too partisan — to be suitable for publication, I would have to swap out some of the books I chose, and substitute some that made the case that the Democratic Party had also gone off the rails, for the sake of balance. I replied that I could not make this change because I don’t believe that the Democratic Party, in its current historical period, has gone off the rails. That doesn’t mean I consider the Democrats flawless, just that they are a normal party with normal problems. It contains a broad range of interest groups and politicians. Sometimes one interest group or another gains too much influence over a particular policy, and sometimes its leading politicians get greedy or make bad political decisions.

The GOP right now is an abnormal party. It does not resemble the major right-of-center parties found in other industrialized democracies. The most glaring manifestation of this is Donald Trump, the flamboyantly ignorant, authoritarian Republican president-elect. But for all his gross unsuitability for public office, Trump also grows out of longstanding trends within his party, which has previously elevated such anti-intellectual figures as George W. Bush and Sarah Palin as plausible leaders of the free world not despite but because of their disdain for empiricism. And it had grown increasingly suspicious of democracy even before a reality television star with a longstanding admiration for strongmen from Russia to Tiananmen Square came upon the scene — which is why the “mainstream” Paul Ryan wing has so willingly suborned Trump’s ongoing violations of governing norms.

It is still fashionable to regard the two parties today as broadly symmetrical to each other — as, indeed, they once were for many decades. But that quaint notion has blinded many of us to the radical turn the Republican Party has taken, and which has brought the American political system to a dangerous point.


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  • In which my son the Libertarian tried to argue with me on Facebook just 10 minutes ago that 90% of Republicans are not racist and that the Democratic Party is, in fact, historically more racist than the Republican Party.

    I’m still trying to put the pieces of my head back together.

    • aturner339

      We teach (if perfunctorily) the period of American history in which the Democratic party was an avowed white supremacist institution. We do not teach what happened next leaving a vacuum for propagandists.

    • sigaba

      I read somewhere John C. Calhoun was a Democrat.

      Not many people seem to accept that the US parties aren’t very ideological and have positions mostly determined by history and contingency.

      However you can make the argument: The Democratic Party has always been the party that was skeptical of capital and whiggism. It is only a coincidence that from time to time skepticism of capital coincided with slave power and racist agrarian interests. I hesitate to describe Democrats as “populist” though they get that tag. They also have always had a strong interest in minority interests, considering Southerners were once a minority. I suppose Democrats are labeled racists because they support rights for minorities, and opponents of minorities are liable to say that even claiming minorities exist is a form of “identity politics.”

      Meanwhile the Republican Party was always fundamentally committed to the rights of capital. They opposed slavery for humanitarian reasons but have only been too happy to barter away minority civil rights when it got in the way of someone making money, or them holding office.

      • humanoid.panda

        Stephen Douglas,Grover Cleveland, Harry Byrd, Robert LaFollete and Jacob Javits say hi and stop imposing post 1965 ideological coherence on pre-1965 American history.

      • Basically, I asked if he meant by ‘historically’ to be prior to like 1800.

        However, I think Chait makes a better argument in his article. The Republican Party in its current incarnation is truly abnormal. The Dems may have their warts, but its the kind of warts that any normal Party has. The Republicans, on the other hand, are certifiably batshit crazy.

        • Nick never Nick

          Actually, he’s not even arguing that, he’s stating a fact — the article is about how our media universe is contributing to the problem by refusing, or being unable to, acknowledge it.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            And not just our media! Our outgoing President continues to refuse to acknowledge this. In his last press conference, he still drew a distinction between “normal” political disagreements (over budget size, taxes, etc) and things that threatened our basic values (e.g. attacking immigrants) as if this were an issue-by-issue division. We haven’t had “normal” political disagreements between the two major parties in this country for at least eight years (if pressed, I’d say they disappeared when Clinton was impeached). Pretending that we do serves no useful purpose. It doesn’t hasten their return. It just makes it harder for Democrats to win the very abnormal political battles of today.

            • Brad Nailer

              I’m beginning to think that Obama never really called out the Republicans because presidents are not allowed to use the words “motherfuckers” and “jerkoffs.”

            • JdLaverty

              I can’t believe it took this election for media outlets to even question the lazy-ass false equivalency that they called objectivity. 2011. Debt Ceiling Crisis. In violation of the fourteenth amendment republicans in congress refused to raise the debt ceiling. With some of these people it was a “unless you nix obamadeathcare”. Some refused to raise it under any circumstances. So, in essence, most of the gop caucus threatened to force a default and start the second great depression unless they got their candy. Some literally just wanted to break the world This was the situation, before and after. And what were most of the stories about? Optics, polling, and “winners/losers’ articles

      • tsam

        George Fucking Wallace was a Democrat running against Bobby Kennedy…

        FDR was a Democrat too. Also LBJ.

        • sigaba

          Instructive that Bobby would have cleanly defeated Wallace in the primary had it run its course.

          Wouldn’t you characterize LBJ, FDR, Kennedy, Wallace and HHH as “skeptical of capital”? At least more skeptical than Barry Goldwater or the Tafts?

          As far as I can tell, the predicate for a modern Democrat is acceptance of the New Deal, and the principle that the state has some mediating role between capital and citizens. Everybody on the list accepted the legitimacy of the New Deal, even Wallace. Even neoliberal Democrats today don’t assert that the New Deal was a mistake or a crime.

          Meanwhile the signature position of Republicans is that the New Deal was both a mistake and an unconstitutional power grab by the state. Hasn’t this always been their position? Republicans never accepted the New Deal, all that’s changed in the last 30 years is the lengths they’re willing to go to in order to dismantle it.

          • Eisenhower didn’t seem particularly hostile to the New Deal. Since 1964, though, I’ll agree that that has been the defining characteristic of the Republican Party.

            • Rob in CT

              Eisenhower specifically said that people who wanted to overturn the New Deal were cranks.

              But he appears to have been an aberration. Before and after him, they’ve thought it was awful (though they’ve been able to say this to each other without the public realizing it, and then campaigning dishonestly and not admitting it… because I don’t know why).

              • so-in-so

                He also warned us about the dangers of the Military Industrial complex. I’m sure he’d have been RINOed if her were still around to comment on the current set.

                • Rob in CT

                  I was under the impression that Republicans (the committed core, The Base) thought that at the time.

                • Hogan

                  [John Birch Society founder Robert] Welch wrote in a widely circulated statement, The Politician, “Could Eisenhower really be simply a smart politician, entirely without principles and hungry for glory, who is only the tool of the Communists? The answer is yes.” He went on. “With regard to … Eisenhower, it is difficult to avoid raising the question of deliberate treason.”

              • Because the media lets them get away with it, because the editors/owners largely agree with them.

            • sigaba

              On Eisenhower’s identification as a Republican:

              Both parties had courted him as a candidate–Truman personally asked Eisenhower to run as his successor as a Democrat. Ike had never voted in a presidential election and his final decision to run as a Republican may have had more to do with his relations with certain Dem politicians, and his conviction that the Democrats had become corrupt; after 20 years in government and running a very expensive war, Democrats owned a lot of scandals. For his own sake he claimed that he was a Republican because his father had been.

              Ike was utterly lacking in ideologically conservative qualifications, he only won the nomination after he promised to take Nixon on as a running mate.

              He of course integrated the Army, conducted an extremely aggressive clandestine foreign policy and initiated the largest public works and infrastructure program in US history, the Interstate Freeway System.

              • wjts

                It was Truman who integrated the armed forces, though Eisenhower did send the airborne into Little Rock and signed the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction.

              • Uneekness

                Wasn’t it some pretty extreme maneuvering at the GOP convention in Kansas City in 1952 that got Ike the nom over Taft? Would love to crank up the ‘what if’ machine to run a Stevenson v. Taft race…

                • Nick never Nick


          • tsam

            You opened with a musing on the political affiliation of an absolute monster from the Civil War era. That’s usually a key that indicates you’re about to wander off into irrelevance and try to make the case that both parties are the same today. I may have jumped early, but Calhoun is one of those examples (like the conversely aligned Wallace wrt to the platform of the Democratic Party in their respective time period) that is pushing the line toward Godwin style hyperbole.

            • sigaba

              I point out he was a Democrat not to actually make any points about Democrats. I guess what I was trying to say, with the snarky “I think I read somewhere” was that there’s an almost endless amount of historical trivia that a lazy person can use to prove that Democrats or Republicans are this or that. That’s usually how the motivated reasoner makes their epiphany.

              I dunno, was Calhoun any worse than Ron Paul?

              • tsam

                Oh I would say so. Right in the middle of the “state’s rights” and nullification crises in the run up to the war, he was pretty much the leader of the southern delegation that fucked everything up. His legacy is still making a mess of current legal doctrine. Ron Paul is just another crazy loudmouth with no real influence. He won’t have a legacy, except for a small portion of the 20 to 30 year old current generation who are Republicans that like to smoke weed, and they’ll turn into full blown Republicans soon enough.

          • EliHawk

            Well, Wallace didn’t run in the primary that year because he was doing his independent route (with the goal of extorting a Civil Rights rollback from whichever Dem/Rep wanted the Presidency). He ran in the primaries in ’64 (scaring various ‘favorite son’ placeholders for Johnson), ’72 (winning some Southern states, plus Michigan; he got shot a few weeks before the last round of primaries) and ’76 (where people thought Carter was just a stalking horse to contest the South from him, until Carter won Iowa, New Hampshire, and then whooped him in Florida and was on a glide path to the nomination.)

    • rea

      the Democratic Party is, in fact, historically more racist than the Republican Party.

      What does that even mean? Yeah, back in history the Democrats were more racist than Republicans. Does not have much to do with now.

      Historically, the Republicans favored war with Spain.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Yeah, back in history the Democrats were more racist than Republicans. Does not have much to do with now.

        Historically, the Republicans favored war with Spain.

        Are you sure that Republicans still don’t favor that? Hostility toward Spain was one of their presidential nominee’s positions as recently as 2008 — https://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/mccains-position-on-spain/?_r=0

        • Nick never Nick

          What is Trump’s position on International Popery, and Free Silver?

          One of the odd things about reading Orwell’s letters, is how much time he spent thinking about Catholic political parties.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            One of the odd things about reading Orwell’s letters, is how much time he spent thinking about Catholic political parties.

            Goes along with H.L. Mencken and his concerns about the political influence of Christian Scientists.

          • Mellano

            Trump is for a weak dollar, and a Free Willy.

          • LeeEsq

            I still maintain that conspiracy theories have their origins in British Protestant anti-Catholicism. There were several centuries from Elizabeth I to well into the 19th century where many British Protestants and their descendants were paralyzed by vague notions of the Pope somehow making them Catholic again. These conspiracy theories were remarkably like modern JBS type ones.

            • Nick never Nick

              I personally would argue that British Protestant anti-Catholic conspiracy theories have their roots in British Catholic Anti-Protestant conspiracy theories from the 14th century up to the reign of Henry VIII. But those are probably grounded in Norman English anti-Anglo-Saxon conspiracy theories; unfortunately preceded by Anglo-Saxon conspiracy theories about the dastardly Normans off the southern coast.

              Myself, I blame Pan paniscus.

            • rea

              Except that there were real conspiracies to re-Catholicize the UK by force. James II, Guy Fawkes, Mary of Scotland . . .

              • burritoboy

                Which real events were much later cynically weaponized as ways to oppress subjugated peoples or regions (the Irish, particularly) or used as clubs against internal political, ideological or religious rivals. That hint of the JBS wafts through the air again……

          • burritoboy

            It’s not at all odd: there were effectively three major conservative positions in Europe during Orwell’s time: remnant monarchism, fascism and christian democracy (i.e., in most countries, catholic political parties).

            Further, Orwell was very close friends with many Anglo-Irish – for example, his life-long friendship with Cyril Connolly, whose mother’s family owned a large castle near Dublin. And Ireland was of course run by a catholic political party for many years.

            • LeeEsq

              The Irish government and the Roman Catholic Church were very close but I don’t think any of the political parties were officially Catholic in the same way that the Christian Democratic Party was.

              • wjts

                When Article 44.1.2 of your constitution reads, “The State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens”, there’s not much need for an officially Catholic party.

                ETA: Though to be fair, I honestly don’t know if Fianna Fáil did call itself a Catholic party or not.

            • Nick never Nick

              No, I know — it’s just a reminder of how politics are so time-bound. We associate Orwell with things that are familiar to us, to read him worrying excessively about International Catholicism puts him back in his era and out of ours.

          • Hogan

            If I’d fought in the Spanish Civil War, I’d have thought a lot about Catholic political parties too.

            • tsam

              You would have expected their inquisition, though, right?

    • Morbo

      Coincidentally a talking point on Limbaugh today…

    • Bubblegum Tate

      Did he hit you with the Kermit-the-Frog-sipping-tea meme captioned: “I haven’t seem Democrats this angry since Republicans took away their slaves”? Because the “blacks are the real racists!” wingnuts fuckin’ love that one.

      • Bubblegum Tate

        Dammit, that should be “seen” instead of “seem.” Caught that too late to edit it.

      • so-in-so

        See, if you add up all the pre-Civil war Democrats, and the Blue dogs from reconstruction until the Southern Strategy took effect, and also all the minorities NOW in the Democratic parties (’cause they the REAL racists), the numbers favor the GOP, maybe, with a few fudge factors thrown in.

        Or, you just pretend the Democratic Party of 1850 is the same as it is today. Much less work. But remember that all AA people should the vote party of Lincoln, even though he was an awful tyrant who deprived people of their human property worked against state’s rights.

      • sigaba

        “I haven’t seen southerners this excited since Fort Sumter.”

    • Someone once tried to argue with me that of course the Republican Party were the good guys because Abe Lincoln freed the slaves and Ike sent in the National Guard to integrate the schools. I told him that was no doubt an excellent argument for voting Republican…in 1960.

      • mds

        I told him that was no doubt an excellent argument for voting Republican…in 1960.

        Which, ironically, would have meant voting for a racist piece of shit for President.

  • AdamPShort

    I really think the opposite is true, that one big problem that Democrats face is that the Democratic party has become the home of essentially ALL meaningful policy ideas, including many bad and/or contradictory ones.

    This isn’t really the fault of the Democrats; is a result of the fact that the Republican electorate has gradually pushed anyone with any reasonable idea about governing the country out if the party.

    Not sure what to do about it. It’s pretty bleak.

    • Historically, when idiocy of this magnitude captures a population, you have to let it run its course. Which means we still have a way to go down the rabbit hole until things get better.

    • Nick never Nick

      Yep, I agree — another way of putting this is that Americans are dividing, not by ideology (which is normal and healthy, when ideology is backed by interest in policy), but by intelligence.

      • xq

        That hasn’t happened. It really is ideology. Smarter people are even better at rationalizing their ideological views in the face of facts.

        • Rob in CT


          Intelligence isn’t wisdom.

          • Nick never Nick

            I would be fine with arguing that Americans are dividing politically along lines of wise/not-wise.

            Probably I should have said ‘anti-intellectualism’ instead of intelligence, you guys are right.

            • Rob in CT

              The anti-intellectual strain is definitely much stronger on the right, and growing stronger every year it seems.

              Also, authoritarians have increasingly ended up GOP.

              These are not good trends.

              • efgoldman

                The anti-intellectual strain is definitely much stronger on the right

                But it has morphed into willful stupidity.
                The fact free bubble has turned into an impregnable force field.

        • Right. I know some very smart people with some very stupid political views.

        • burritoboy

          No, it’s not really ideology either. Ultimately, it’s moral, it’s about character. It’s what is in your soul. It’s about stomaching “beating people up” as your principle of governance. And when I say stomach, for the vast majority of people, it really is on that gut-level.

          Some people found out about Abu Ghraib and were revolted. Some weren’t. It only had a bit to do with whether you supported Iraq War II. Some people saw John Lewis getting his skull cracked on the Pettus Bridge and knew that we couldn’t go on like that and pretend to be anything but fascist monsters. Others thought it was great.

          That’s your dividing line. It’s not intelligence, it’s not even wisdom. It’s good and evil.

          • xq

            I don’t think so. Partisanship is strongly influenced by your parents and where you grew up. I don’t think it relates strongly to innate moral character. All politics is identity politics.

            • burritoboy

              I’m not even sure it’s about partisanship itself, in the way you are talking about it. It’s been noted for a long time that brutal or vicious people often care very little about what the ideals or nature of the regime or political party they supposedly support, as long as the regime or political party is itself vicious and brutal.

              There is no end of examples: Mussolini, famously, moved from far left to far right within a few years. David Horowitz. There is no shortage of elderly Russian Jews now living in Israel who were diehard Stalinists in their youths who now are bloodthirsty ethno-nationalists who support parties run by Bain alumni.

      • McAllen

        I would say it’s less about about intelligence (although Mill’s quote about conservatives and stupid people still applies) and more about culture. There are a lot of people who care almost exclusively about preserving whites’ social and political power in the United States, and care nothing for policy.

        • so-in-so

          Also cis-male power.

          • Rob in CT

            Which, to me, is all tied up in authoritarianism. Strong Daddy knows best.

            • McAllen

              Agreed. Protection of cis-male power is absolutely tied up in white power, and vice-versa. In the alternate universe where Ben Carson was the Republican nominee and got caught making “grab her by the pussy” comments, the people who defended Trump would’ve flipped shit.

              • Uneekness

                This … is a really astute observation. Shades of Hermain Cains downfall.

              • Rob in CT

                I was aiming at something slightly different there. “Strong Daddy knows best” views are not necessarily tied up with White Supremacy… I’m pretty sure there are quite a few minorities with authoritarian leanings as well. For the most part, those folks are in our coalition, but likely in spite of those leanings.

                • AdamPShort

                  Yeah, actually one really poorly understood thing about Democratic politics is that while black people are more liberal than white people, black Democrats are WAY more conservative than white Democrats because virtually all black people are Democrats. So there are a lot of authoritarian black folk in our coalition, though often for historical/cultural reasons their authoritarianism tends to stop at the community level and not extend to government institutions per se.

  • JDM

    This post, and the comments so far, are entirely too partisan. I hereby direct you to recruit some contributors to make the opposite case in a forceful manner. Hire some if you must.

    It’s what CNN would do.

    • Warren Terra

      And when you say “make the opposite case” it would be more accurate to say “sneeringly assert the opposite proposition”, because no factual evidence or reasoned argument will be involved.

  • tsam

    Funny you should mention the BOTH SYDZ DOIT trope. I was submitted, earnestly, this fucking piece of shit as some sort of advice for liberals (by a liberal, as far as I can tell):


    • Yet another deep thinker who instructs liberals to be nicer to xenophobes and religious extremists and then runs away before explaining how to do so.

      • tsam


        The summary paragraph gave away the game–painting evangelicals as a persecuted minority–L to the O to the L.

    • Hogan

      I don’t think what he means by “liberal” is what you mean by “liberal.”

      • tsam


    • Origami Isopod

      He’s from The Economist. So.

  • Murc

    The GOP right now is an abnormal party. It does not resemble the major right-of-center parties found in other industrialized democracies.

    Oh yeah? Give’em time. Let’s see what France does in a few months. Let’s see how the Germans react to Angela Merkel having behaved like a compassionate human being the next time they go to the polls. And the Tories are willing to drive the UK into a ditch and potentially torpedo the Good Friday Accords to appease Nigel Farage and his pack of loons.

    • Arouet

      Can we not? I’d really sort of rather we not.

    • Steve

      Well, compassionate to the refugees. She immiserated the Greeks and Spanish (and to a lesser extent the Italians and Irish) and destroyed their economies for decades to come for no good reason.

    • sonamib

      Look, I get that it’s very upsetting and even somewhat surprising that Trump won the election. It doesn’t mean that all other countries are just as likely to elect far-righties.

      Like it or not, the probability that a Republican will win the White House, any Republican, no matter how nutty, will never be small enough for comfort. On the other hand, a Front National win in France would be absolutely astonishing. On par with Trump winning the popular vote in California last year. In a 1v1 race, Le Pen never polls higher than 37%ish. Which is historically unprecedented and awful, but nowhere near the 50% she needs.

      But maybe you maybe you mean it’s worrisome that the French mainstream right and even the mainstream left are aping the FN on immigration? Because that’s indeed very worrisome. The only major candidate who is unabashedly pro-EU and immigrant-friendly is Macron, who has no official party affiliation and brands himself as “neither right nor left”.

      • Murc

        In a 1v1 race, Le Pen never polls higher than 37%ish. Which is historically unprecedented and awful, but nowhere near the 50% she needs.

        37% is more than enough to qualify FN as a “major right-of-center party” and given the massively splintered nation of the French left and their election system, it has a pretty decent chance of putting Le Pen in.

        • sonamib

          There are two turns in France. There actually is a 1v1 race after the free-for-all. People are saying they’ll vote for Fillon over Le Pen. I mean, you can disbelieve polls if you want, but it wouldn’t be a 2 percentage point failure like in the US. It would be a 13 percentage point failure. Which is unprecedented.

          Point taken about the FN being now a major party.

          Edit : and since 2002, this has happened again and again. Every time the FN gets to the 2nd turn in a major executive branch election, they lose. It’s very hard for them to win because people unite in their hatred of them. They would need to convince an outright majority of French voters to win. No election system shenanigans.

          • Nick never Nick

            gotta have the campaign first, there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge before they vote

            • sonamib

              Again, I’m talking California-voting-for-Trump levels of implausible. Sure, it could happen. But not on such a short time frame. I know, California used to vote Republican, but it took decades for them to change. France might yet elect for president an FN type, but not this year.

      • Scott P.

        In a 1v1 race, Le Pen never polls higher than 37%ish.

        Which is where Trump is right now, ironically.

  • CrunchyFrog

    Remember that the vast majority of those in editorializing positions are basically Republicans or strongly lean Republican. Oh, most of them don’t go for the really crazy birther/wingnut/fundie stuff. But on the whole they believe that Republicans are the daddy party that manages government better and keeps their tax rates low while the Democrats want to dramatically raise taxes and give them to welfare moms in the cities. They also are more comfortable with the Republican tough guy stances on foreign policy and feel that most mistakes in foreign policies are due to Democratic weakness.

    When that is your world view – and yes, it is easy to show them facts to contradict it, such as the budget deficit plotted over time under each president, but they are immune to those kind of arguments – then of course they *must* see all GOP faults as having an equal and opposite fault on the Democratic side. Only then can they say “well, yes, there are faults, but on the whole the GOP is better for government”.

    Since all major media outlets are owned – or at least staffed at the CEO level – by people who share that Republican world view of course that’s who they’ve hired into the editorializing positions.

  • e.a.foster

    and there in lies part of the problem. the folks who asked for the list didn’t want the truth/or translated your version of it.

    your opinion, was too radical in that it called into question the new norm or the abortion which is now the Republican party. as with much of the media these days, they aren’t into providing information but rather what people want to hear or some one’s version of it that may suit their advertisers.

    The New York Times last week reported on the “wild west” of British Columbia’s political fund raising of the party in office. No MSM outlet in B.C. had been reporting on it. Advertisers didn’t want it and those who control things in the province wanted it “hidden”. bloggers and those who read blogs knew about it, but the rest of the population not so much. when the news of the New York Times did hit the MSM it was more about the article than the actual INFORMATION in the article. So now one of the leading television news outlets is going to do an item on babies being in prison with their moms because a notorious female killer had a baby in prison. that will keep people entertained until the news of the pay to play, the Premier skimming the take at these pay to play soiress are over.

    This isn’t just an American problem, but American leads the way with this problem.

    As that movie line said, “you can’ handle the truth” and that is where many in American are. Those who are unemployed want jobs. those who believe America to be the world’s leading power are afraid those days are coming to an end, so those who think in simplistic terms are just so favoured.

    Frontline is running a documentary on the last 8 years in American politics. The Tea Partiers, The Young Guns, the Freedom Caucus. weirder and weirder. The “freedom caucus” It almost raises the memories of the Freedom Riders, but they couldn’t be more different but it is interesting how one evokes the thoughts of the other, when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    That magazine which wanted that list and then didn’t, is more interested in profit than the news. It will not end well for American unless the MSM begins to act as it once did. Listening to the “shock jocks” on radio in the background on the Frontline documentary makes it clear there is one voice coming out loud and clear. it reminds me of Hitler, Stalin, Mosley you know those great speakers who fired people up with simple solutions and forgot about the rest.

    The truth is people are upset but don’t get the U.S.A. lost jobs not only because some went over seas, but those jobs don’t exsist any more. those Republicans who are carrying on about jobs, etc. don’t want to deal with the steel industry going over seas, that the u.S.A. doesn’t have a medical system like other major western countries, that there are huge income inequities.

    they all call for lower taxes but forget that the “golden years” of Eisenhower, had very high corporate taxes. As a country lowers its taxes on those with the real money, it defunds its government and in turn eliminates services to the people which are necessary for a nation to thrive.

    A lot of those Americans don’t want to hear when they repeal 20 M people will lose their health care and that the U.S.A. which spends almost double what Canada does on health care, doesn’t even begin to cover what the Canadian system does. What the American system does is deliver great health care for the wealthy and not too many others. In Canada we have good health care for just about everyone except those living in the North and on Reserves. In the U.S.A. you can loose your leg because you can’t afford the surgery to repair it and in Canada you can get your heart transplant for free. A lot of Americans don’t want to hear that or about your list.

    Americans will have to learn to live with their decisions to vote for Trump or perhaps even die because of it.

    • Nick never Nick

      Canada has a long tradition of provincial looniness in its politics, and BC holds a major role — it’s the province where Vander Zalm was elected Premier and took up residence in his theme-park castle. Fittingly, he was the last premier to represent a Depression-era crackpot Populist party known as Social Credit that had been taken over by conservative nutcases. He ended up resigning in disgrace over COI issues.

  • Nick056

    Of course, what happened to Chait happened to Mann/Ornstein with It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.

    Now we’ve caught up and it’s every bit as bad as it looks, because it looks like the end of America as a western democracy.

    • Rob in CT

      Yup, that’s the first thing that came to mind.

    • Little Chak

      There’s a lot of scolding of doomsayers, but I think it actually is important to keep a spotlight on how radical Trumpism is.

      Jon Stewart said that he wished Trump had been asked more before the election, “What do you feel makes America great?”

      My question would be: Why the constant theme of “We’ll never get another chance at this, folks”?

      It seems to me like a pretty clear admission that conservatism is a failing ideology in the U.S., propped up by anti-democratic institutions like vote suppression and gerrymandering. If you honestly believe that your ideas have merit, you would never say anything like this, unless you have a profound distrust in democracy and believe that you must seize power and make radical changes to the government in order to stop the browning of the country, and secure a future for your white children.

      • ASV

        When I lived in Madison, there was an audio equipment store a few blocks from my house that was “going out of business” for about a year and a half. “This offer won’t last!” is a classic sales technique, and Trump is nothing but a huckster.

  • rea

    Well, at least the Republicans have a plan to deal with grizzly bear attacks on our schools!

    • so-in-so

      I wouldn’t actually call it a “plan”.

      • Nick never Nick


    • Warren Terra

      The amazing thing about that is that someone found an actual school with an actual grizzly bear plan, and (1) their plan didn’t involve guns, and (2) their plan had never turned out to be necessary; the total number of grizzly bear incidents was zero.

      But, just maybe, we can hope for Republicans to return to rationality, reason, and the scientific method! I’m sure DeVos and her ilk would be entirely enthusiastic about doing the experiment and letting the results guide policy – and by “doing the experiment” I mean releasing hungry, peeved grizzly bears at public elementary schools.

      • so-in-so

        I prefer we do it at a Trump cabinet meeting. Assuming we can get the ASPCA to sign off.

      • JustRuss

        and by “doing the experiment” I mean releasing hungry, peeved grizzly bears at public elementary schools.

        Well, to paraphrase a Facebook post I saw today, everyone knows our schools are failing, so why not try something new? Can you state for a fact that grizzly attacks won’t improve test scores, libtard?

  • Gone2Ground

    “No other major party in the advanced world rejects on principle any proposed tax-revenue increase, or denies the legitimacy of climate science, or opposes universal health care.”

    Feature, not bug, in the minds of most mainstream Republicans. They truly believe America is so effing special and different, having absorbed this nonsense from decades of mass culture, that they refuse to believe life could be better with different ideas. I know, because I’ve had these conversations. (“But 50% taxes! But individualism! But we’re not Europe!)

    Also, most Americans cannot afford to go to Europe and see for themselves that it is not, in fact, a socialist hellhole where everyone is broke from their 50% income taxes and living in a soulless concrete tower in the middle of the city. They really have no idea.

    • Bubblegum Tate

      “We fought a war of independence to get away from those ideas!”

    • StellaB

      I know actual RWNJs who are scared to go to Europe because they believe that it is a dystopic hellhole.

  • Tybalt

    The Democratic Party are completely on the rails; you can tell because they are doing so well.

    • Rob in CT

      You can tell because the Democratic Party didn’t just put a know-nothing conman in the White House, with congressional majorities full of people who can mouth slogans but in general don’t know/care about policy.

      I mean, if your only metric for a political party is attaining power…

      • Jenna

        well, that IS the GOP metric for success.

        • Rob in CT


      • Little Chak

        By Tybalt’s measure, the Nazi Party was completely on the rails in Germany in 1938.

  • This post reads like a post-mortem – as if it is the story of why Republicans find themselves in the political wilderness. “Here’s what set the stage for the Republican electoral collapse in 2016.”

    I’m reminded of that saying about a river in Egypt.

    As of noon tomorrow, the Democratic Party will have neither house of Congress, nor the presidency. Republicans have both houses of the legislature in 32 states, and have “complete dominance” (Republican governor plus Republican legislature) in 25 states. The Democrats, by contrast, control both houses of the legislature in just 14 states, and have complete dominance in only six.

    If the Democratic Party is not “off the rails” it is at least on tracks that have taken it deep into the political wilderness. Let’s have a list of six books that explain that, followed by a discussion of what to do about it.

    • Rob in CT

      That’s important.

      But the story of the GOP willfully cutting ties with empirical reality is important too. It is disastrous for us all.

    • Ithaqua

      Well that doesn’t require a list of books, it requires a look at the Constitution.

      1) Because the Senate and the Electoral College are state-based blah blah blah, a) the Democrats got more votes for the Senate than the Republicans but are in the minority because one thousand Republicans in Wyoming count for more than 60,000 Democrats in California (pop. ratio: 65-1. Senator ratio: 1-1), and b) the Democrats got 2.9 million more votes for President but lost in the Electoral College.

      2) Because the states get to draw their own congressional districts, it’s now estimated (sorry, can’t remember the source) that Democrats would have to get over 55% of the vote for Congressional seats to actually get a majority of those seats.

      I disagree that winning the popular vote for President by 2.1% counts as “deep into the political wilderness”. If that’s “deep into the political wilderness”, where are the Republicans, who lost it by 2.1%?

      • Rob in CT

        Which, in turn, means that we have to figure out how to win power under those rules (until we can change them, which is likely about 2:30 on the first of never). Which, in turn, means winning some more white rural votes.

        How to do this is the question.

        Of course, we’ve been having a running conversation about the possible answers to that question ever since the election so I don’t know what mftalbot’s problem is.

        • As I said below, we may not actually need those white rural votes if we can get enough minority voters in the South to turn out. GA, AZ, and TX were pretty close this year, certainly in comparison to past elections. TX is already a majority-minority state and if demographic trends continue, some of those other states will cross the line soon as well (FL and NC too). If everyone in TX voted, the Rs would never win a statewide election there. That’s a huge reserve of untapped voters that we need to figure out how to turn out, and if we can do so, it may not be necessary to recapture the lost voters in MI/WI/PA/etc. to begin winning elections again.

          • so-in-so

            The question is, if running against an out-and-out racist with clear white-supremacist allies and leanings doesn’t turn minorities out, what will? It appears from some things I’ve seen that Trump did better with groups he insulted (Hispanics, African Americans and women) than milquetoast Romney did.

            So besides not running someone with a 30 year history of RW/press hate against them, what is the answer? Better slogans? Minority candidates? Emphasis on economics?

            • I’m not sure that it serves as a complete explanation, but one has to think the Comey letter may have abnormally depressed turnout amongst voters who would normally have voted for the Dem. It’s also possible that overconfident poll projections made people think it was safe to stay home on election day who otherwise wouldn’t have.

              • vic rattlehead

                ut one has to think the Comey letter may have abnormally depressed turnout amongst voters who would normally have voted for the Dem.

                “Gee, I should probably be sure to get out and vote for the only candidate who can realistically defeat the guy who literally believes I am subhuman and openly calls for my deportation/registration/internment/etc…wait…what’s that? Emails???? Fuck it, I’m staying home.”

                • wjts

                  More like, “Trump’s bad, but I don’t want to vote for her and she’s probably going to win anyway”.

            • witlesschum

              Traditionally the answer is be for something, not against something. The problem for the Dems is that they’re a big tent party that has some trouble with being for things because of the bigness of the tent. Obama was able to paper a lot of that over by running on Hope and Change, which in practice mainly meant we’ll stop doing all this dumb shit Bush was going, but sounds like a positive agenda for doing something.

              Other than trying the Obama thing again I’m not sure what specific messages we go for. I’ve generally thought something along the lines of America for All is where they should be going, but I don’t know if that works for anyone who’s not already voting Dem.

          • Rob in CT

            Big, big if.

            That reserve of untapped voters is there in every election.

            They’re not easy to motivate! I mean, if they were, they’d vote (obviously, exceptions made for those denied their right to vote by suppression tactics).

            I see this is kind of the One Weird Trick to win elections. Sure, if we could get those people to show the hell up we’d probably win a lot more. But how?

            • Getting them registered would be a good first step, so obviously, automatic voter registration for all citizens at 18 years of age. Beyond that, making it easier to vote. Election Day as a national holiday, expansion of early voting hours, expansion of polling places, provide transportation to the polls for people who need it, and so on. I’m also not entirely unconvinced that pursuing mandatory voting would be a terrible idea. Non-voters, at least currently, tend to have more liberal political views overall than the general populace.

              • witlesschum

                In states that have voter referenda, Dems need to be using them to end run around voter supression in 2018. Call it the “Apple Pie and Democracy and Safeguard Your Vote Act” and mandate paper trails, funding for local election officials and training.

            • xq

              I think, in general, we are not very good at speculating about what will motivate marginal voters–whether the WWC Obama/Trump voters or the large pool of black and Hispanic nonvoters/sometimes voters. If marginal voters thought the way we did, they’d already be voting like us. We should treat it as an open research question and spend the resources necessary to figure it out. Purity politics and pundit’s fallacy are the enemy.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Which, in turn, means that we have to figure out how to win power under those rules (until we can change them, which is likely about 2:30 on the first of never). Which, in turn, means winning some more white rural votes.

          Right, this is why I keep pointing out the logical incoherency of running around screaming that Republicans are going to implement even worse voter suppression/gerrymandering/etc. while at the same time declaring (as many in the LGM comment section do) that the Democrats shouldn’t bother to try winning more white voters — if you genuinely think the effective electorate (in contrast to the potential electorate) is going to get whiter, then it’s really stupid to decide that you aren’t going to try to win back at least some white voters.

          • so-in-so

            By having a platform based on the economy and reducing inequality, fine.

            By appealing more to racists? Not fine.

        • My problem is that we’ve been getting our asses kicked.

          I agree that we need to be a more geographically diverse party; I would also say that we need to be more class-diverse as well.

          Thomas Frank (hear me out!) has pointed out that graduate-degreed professionals used to be the most reliably Republican voters, and are now the most reliable Democratic voters. One consequence of this is that the economic interests of this new “base” of the party has economic interests that are not really aligned with those of the working class (defined as the 70% of the country that does not have a Bachelor degree or above.)

          That 70% has been getting poorer for 40 years. When Democrats have won the presidency, the situation of the 70% has not been a front-burnered, first-hundred-days level policy priority. Obama spent most of his political capital on the ACA, while the near-depression-level economic emergency he inherited got an inadequate stimulus package designed by people covered in Wall Street pocket lint.

          There has been a certain complacency about the 70% of voters who are working class (“who else are they going to vote for?”) and I think that goes some distance in explaining our predicament.

          • so-in-so

            Yeah, I guess that’s why they voted for the guy who said the current minimum wage is too high, over the woman who wanted to raise it $12. Or maybe it was “$15 or nothing”?

          • the situation of the 70% has not been a front-burnered, first-hundred-days level policy priority. Obama spent most of his political capital on the ACA,

            which was of no benefit, economic or otherwise, to that 70%. Got it.

            • …Not to mention the program of massive public works program that was proposed in order to give immediate jobs to those most hurt by the Great Recession, or the mortgage loan forgiveness imposed on wall street banks, or all those bankers who were sent to prison, or the bold initiative to not only re-train workers, but also insure that the jobs they were re-training for actually existed, or the comprehensive program to help small farmers…

              Why can’t the 70% see that we have their best interests at heart?

          • Rob in CT

            Wait. The Stimulus was the first thing they did. Yes, it wasn’t big enough. They did not back-burner it, though.

            The ACA, by design, is all about providing subsidized health insurance to the poor (and lower middle class and middle class that are in the individual market). That’s not front-burnering working-class issues?

            That said, ok, the fact that we’re “white liberal professionals + minorities + a declining slice of the WWC” is causing us problems. Distributional ones mainly, but sure, I agree that the priorities of the party have been influenced by the middle-upper-class policy wonk set.

          • witlesschum

            The stimulus wasn’t what it should have been, but it saved a hell of a lot people’s jobs in that 70 percent. And the ACA was absolutely a huge benefit to those people. In addition to their real problems with class conflict within the party, Democrats seem to also have a getting credit for the things they do problem.

            Clinton ran on the most economically progressive platform ever, but I don’t believe that fact really penetrated to voters. So, there’s still some hope that if the Democrats don’t change much, but figure out how to their message across better, that can work.

            But I don’t know. If there’s too many people concentrated in the wrong that just culturally don’t like Democrats, we might just be screwed.

            • Clinton ran on the most economically progressive platform ever, but I don’t believe that fact really penetrated to voters.

              Again, no one cares about policy. They care about charisma and leadership.

              • Not quite true. Plenty of people care about policy. Just not enough people to actually win an election.

                • Fine, 10% of the electorate cares about policy enough to know what they are talking about.

                • I would say that people’s (mis)understanding of policy is strongly intertwined with their perceptions of leadership and charisma. And that’s a two way street. Obama’s charisma was great in 2008 but it helped that people weren’t so keen on Bush the Younger’s leadership anymore. Why? Because, people did care about the impact of policies. Not because they had, mostly, an in-depth understanding of why his polcies sucked, but it was clear by then that they did.

                  So people care about policy, they just don’t care about it in a particularly rational way, because they mostly don’t even think in terms of policy. It’s more “Why is this happening? Why is that not happening?” It’s frustrating, because it means they can easily be duped by a con man.

    • McAllen

      If you want to argue that Democrats have made strategic mistakes, I won’t argue with you. But much the Democrats current powerlessness is largely a result of Republicans twisting political norms and institutions to keep them out of power. A party trying to establish a one party state isn’t normal.

      • But much (of) the Democrats current powerlessness is largely a result of Republicans twisting political norms and institutions to keep them out of power.

        That’s part of it, but it takes two to tango.

        • wjts

          It would be more accurate to say it takes two for stabbing, one to stab and one to get stabbed.

          • Indeed. I don’t know what “It takes two to tango” is even supposed to mean in this context.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              I think it’s probably got something to do with the notion the Democrats are just role-playing at being opposition to the Republicans

        • Tristan

          Are you kidding me

          • tsam

            It’s true, the Tango isn’t nearly as impressive with only one dancer.

  • anonymous

    What motivates many Repug voters isn’t policy such as low taxes or small govt or such. What motivates them is to prevent the country from “Californianizing”, that is becoming a liberal country where Whites are a minority. That is their worse nightmare.

    Their answer is to “Southernize” the rest of the country such that any State or region with a White majority votes overwhelmingly for the White Party aka Repug and thus outvote PoC. Their answer is to make explicit that the Repugs are the only party that Whites can trust to look out for them. It has been working in the South since the end of the LBJ admin.

    The strategy seems to be working as the Midwest is starting to Southernize. If you look at results in MI, PA and MN you can see that Trump won (or barely lost wrt MN) because of White flight from the Dems. Macoomb County, MI is a great case in point. And those Whites are not coming back to the Dems!

    There are of course limits to this Southernizing strategy. Places like FL and AZ will become minority-majority soon and gives Dems some hope. GA afterwards too. But the Southern strategy is far from its last legs. This is something that Dems need to accept.

    • Rob in CT

      This is definitely the scariest possible explanation for what is happening. If true, we’re in much bigger trouble than can be dealt with by moving leftward/protectionist on trade policy, or shutting up about guns, or anything of that nature.

    • TX already is majority-minority, one might note. If we could get everyone who lives there to turn out, Rs would never win another statewide election there again.

      • so-in-so

        Which is where the voter suppression comes in…

        …whether illegal or by throwing crap at the wall until some of it sticks.

        • Exactly. Hence the “if we could get everyone who lives there to turn out”. Combating voter suppression needs to be the #1 goal of Democrats going forward.

          If we can get everyone to turn out in every election, we can turn not just TX but states like GA, FL, NC, and AZ consistently blue as well. That’s a big if though. Hell, there was a time when it looked like SC and MS might be gettable in 2016, but that was before the Comey letter. Regardless, at this point it looks like, if demographic trends continue at their current pace, some parts of the South may actually be more sympathetic environments for us going forward than parts of the Upper Midwest. We may need to change our strategies accordingly.

          • Ithaqua

            … and more efficient to chase after votes there, too, from an Electoral College point of view.

          • Rob in CT

            It should absolutely be a focus, and Obama’s smart to go there.

            However, the fact is that it is very difficult to drive up voter turnout, even without anyone battling restrictions. Apathy is the primary foe.

            • This is true, but four years of Cheeto Benito may help shock a number of current non-voters out of their apathy. We’ll have to build on that, obviously, but it’s certainly a potential starting point.

              • LeeEsq

                I wouldn’t bet on it. Many people really don’t care about politics at all. Anything bad that Trump and the Republicans will do will simply not connect with them. They will just see it as further evidence that all politics is bad.

                The non-voters that do care about politics are simply too radical to ever vote for the Democratic Party. They are Greens, Libertarians, Marxists, and the more adamant Social Justice advocates. Many of them deeply distrust electoral politics because that means you need to negotiate and work on some very non-sexy issues that must be done.

                • People don’t care about politics until it affects them personally. When Republicans, as now seems likely, overturn Roe or cut benefits people have taken for granted for decades, that’ll motivate a lot of people to turn out to the polls that didn’t care before. It’s also the case that a lot of people who voted third-party or stayed home out of purity this election won’t be so picky next cycle. As Abbey Bartlet is fond of pointing out, Nader’s vote totals in 2004 were a fraction of what they were in 2000 because people who voted for him the first time realised that the two parties were actually quite different after all.

              • Rob in CT

                Temporarily, perhaps. Like 2008. Then…

    • wengler

      Republicans are still going to have major problems if they can’t recapture some largish portion of the Latino vote though. Of course ‘solutions’ include not letting them vote, deporting them and killing them.

    • Gizmo

      I think there is something much deeper going on here. Case in point: Enthusiastic Trump supporters who don’t seem to know anything about the guy they voted for This will be a popular party game for the nations’ reporters over the next few years.

      The common thread throughout is that these people have perceptions of Trump that are squarely at odds with the plain reality of what he says and does. See also: Trump supporters who don’t believe that they’ll lose their health care despite all his promises to kill Obamacare. How does this happen? Are they projecting their values onto him?

      Chris Hayes wrote a fascinating article on the undecided voters years ago that posited that lots of these people don’t understand political systems or governance: The Decision Makers. The Trump people seem different to me. Its as if they don’t like reality, so they choose to make one up.

      Maybe we need to start a think tank: “Americans for reality”

      • so-in-so

        He’s generally stated several positions over the campaign, from “of course the rich will pay more taxes” to “taxes are too high”, etc. so I guess they pick the response they like and assume THAT is the real one. Plus low info – “I have the ACA, not that lousy Obamacare”.

        Plus, he is all about re-establishing their lost “white privilege”, so of COURSE they will come out alright!

    • Whoa, whoa, whoa. How can you be so sure that these “whites are never coming back to the Dems”?

      I have previously argued in these comment sections against the notion that someone who voted for Obama in previous elections crossed the Rubicon of Racism in November 2016 by voting for Trump and was thereby transformed into a lifelong Republican. I mean, what reason is there to believe that?

      I’m not arguing that these folks are free of bigotry, mind you. I am saying that there’s no need to assume that in coming elections racism will “trump” all other considerations for all of these voters.

      • xq

        Yeah. The general trend has been uneducated whites leading the Democratic party, but 2008 was an exception. If the Republicans destroy the economy again, or worse, we’ll probably get a bunch of Obama-Trump voters back.

        • GFW

          Now that was an unfortunate typo.

      • anonymous

        The reason to think so is to look at what happened in General Elections for POTUS in the South and places like WV and IA through the years.

        WV is a great case in point. It used to be a Democratic state, more or less. Even in the blowout year of 1980, WV voted for Carter.

        But WV is lost forever because it has “Southernized”. Whites there will forever vote for Repugs simply because it is seen as the “Party of Whites” while the Dems are the “Party of Non-Whites”. Doesn’t matter policy, doesn’t matter candidate. For a lot of Repug voters, voting for the “White Party” is enough of a reason.

        The same thing is happening in the Upper Midwest. Do you really think Macomb County, MI and places like it will ever vote for Dems? No, because it has “Southernized”.

        Once a county or region or State has “Southernized”, its Whites are not coming back to the Dems. And from that point on, the only way to flip these places is for PoC to outnumber the Whites like in AZ, FL, GA or NC. Because you’re not going to flip these states by flipping the “Southernized” Whites.

  • Aaron Morrow

    It’s January 19, 2017, and Chait is still linking to his support of “Clinton Cash” to prove that he’s well-balanced?

    Christ, what an asshole.

    • witlesschum

      He didn’t find a way to blame the whole thing on a gender studies professor. Yet.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am sort of shocked that NY Daily Intel originally told Chait he could not publish this list/article. I can’t think of any article I’ve ever read on that blog that was pro-Republican or even minorly supporting of a GOP talking point. There other commentators like Ed Kilgore and Jesse Signal and Frank Rich are all center-left or come from the Democratic blogingsphere. Andrew Sullivan is the one semi-right winger they have.

  • pseudalicious

    Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal

    brb, never sleeping again

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