Home / General / I’m Beginning to Think That Racism May Have Been Important to Donald Trump’s Appeal

I’m Beginning to Think That Racism May Have Been Important to Donald Trump’s Appeal

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[Thinking face emoji]:

Moreno was sitting at a table with his boss, Rocky Payton, the factory’s general manager, and Amy Saum, the human resources manager. All said they had voted for Trump, and all were bewildered that he wanted to cut funds that channel people into good manufacturing jobs.

“There’s a lot of wasteful spending, so cut other places,” Moreno said.

Payton suggested that if the government wants to cut budgets, it should target “Obama phones” provided to low-income Americans. (In fact, the program predates President Barack Obama and is financed by telecom companies rather than by taxpayers.)

And the feds should cut out the programs that provide free Cadillacs and T-Bone steaks to young bucks, too!

It’s a nice-sounding story to claim that the Democrats stayed in power during the New Deal because they had clearer slogans or because the programs were simpler. But in fact they stayed in power in large measure because they didn’t threaten white supremacy. The Great Society coalition has always been a much dicier proposition, and anyone who suggests easy answers is fooling themselves and/or you.

[via]

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  • To quote my wife on the subject:

    “Because fucking white people.”

  • MAJeff

    They didn’t only not challenge white supremacy in the New Deal, they enacted a white supremacist New Deal.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    That last paragraph is really important. People laugh at white folks who want their government handouts, but scream bloody murder when other folks get them. But that was more or less the deal that white America had for several decades in the middle of the last century. A welfare state for white people only is anything but a noble goal, but especially since it’s what we once had, and we shouldn’t be surprised that a chunk of the electorate that feels economically squeezed and is deeply racist wants to return there. The problem for them is that the idea of a whites-only welfare state is now being sold to these folks by people who hate any sort of welfare state. So if they keep winning elections, they’ll have to settle for knowing that those other people don’t get a safety net, even as their own safety continues to disappear.

    • humanoid.panda

      And this is I think the weakness with Sanders’ message from yesterday: he just can’t grasp that yes, there are people who want a welfare state and jobs programs and public provision of health-care – but only for worthy people.

      • e.a.foster

        yes for “worthy people” and it is they who decide who is “worthy”. It is like when charities are looking for funds to deal with issues for “deserving” people, “deserving children”. Like there are different classes of people who are economically deprived.

        In B.C., Canada the provincial government has rent subsidies for people working at low income jobs. People however who are on disability or welfare simply have to try to find homes to rent for the amount given, which is 50% below what a dump costs to rent.

        It is some how that people don’t deserve to live if they are from a different tribe. It is a problem

    • Nobdy

      What I don’t understand is why they won’t accept a welfare state for EVERYONE, which would fix many of their problems.

      I understand being upset because you once had a secure living and access to healthcare and those are slipping away. What I can’t understand is when someone comes and says “We can bring that back, or something like it, and not only do you get that but your black neighbors who didn’t used to have it will get it too!” they categorically reject the offer.

      They would literally rather watch their children die of hopelessness and opiates than see themselves living in happy, functional, multiracial communities. I don’t understand it at all.

      Maybe it’s because I grew up in a multi-racial city and had black neighbors (one of whom was a reasonably close friend) and just never learned to fear living around black people?

      • aturner339

        It’s a function of racism as an ideology. The point of racism was to define a group of people who are not only excluded from the common good but who actually deserve suffering because of their inherent (or as the euphemism goes “cultural”) inferiority.

        In many minds it is simply unjust that peole who “are” lazy and criminal get so much sympathy let alone actual help.

        • Nobdy

          That’s all well and good, but it seems bizarre to me how IMPORTANT racism is to these people. They privilege it over welfare benefits they need to survive. For their kids to survive.

          I don’t understand being racist but what I REALLY don’t understand is being willing to sacrifice your own well-being in pursuit of racism.

          • aturner339

            I think we have to look at it like an ethical or even religious motivator. It’s a vision of how the world “should” be and people will often harm themselves for such visions.

            • humanoid.panda

              That’s all well and good, but it seems bizarre to me how IMPORTANT racism is to these people. They privilege it over welfare benefits they need to survive. For their kids to survive.

              In addition to psychological factors, one also should add that people don’t understand how budgets work. If you think the federal budget is like a household, then anything spent on frivolous pursuits, like giving phones to laze people, is not money spent on productive services, like making sure that productive people have access to reliable communications.

          • Hogan

            It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage. They were given public deference and titles of courtesy because they were white. They were admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools. The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent on their votes, treated them with such leniency as to encourage lawlessness. Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them. White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools. The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule.

            W.E.B. DuBois

            • howard

              W.E.B. Dubois is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.

              more seriously, the first way i heard of dubois was at some point in the mid-’60s, nixon accused supporters of dubois of forming “dubois” clubs in order to get people thinking they were just “the boys” clubs (i think i saw it in a murray kempton column).

              “wow,” 14-year-old me thought, “if he’s got nixon that worked up, i should learn something about him,” which is how i came to read “the souls of black folk” in the first place (and then, a few years later, “black reconstruction”).

              the guy was brilliant.

            • Origami Isopod

              ^ This.

              White supremacy afforded white people significant economic advantages. It still does, even if not as much as it once did and those benefits are being challenged. This is why “identity politics” as separate from “real politics” is garbage: it ignores the fact that your identity in great part determines how rich or poor you will be.

              • howard

                it is very hard to get white people to understand that “segregation” was just our nice name for “apartheid.”

                • I still see people whine “but slavery ended centuries* ago!” as if it wasn’t followed by a period of extensive legal and cultural oppression that was still in full force in living memory.

                  (* “Centuries”, frequently, even though it’s just over a century and a half.)

                • tsam

                  True, though racists like it no matter what you call it. Connotation and nuance don’t work on dumbfucks.

              • imwithher

                True, but I think you are missing the point. Dubois is saying that it is NOT just about rich and poor and economic advantages. It is about being called “Mr” or “Mrs/Miss” rather than “boy” or “girl.” It is about being a voter and juror and at least formally first class citizen, resident and community member. You can be white and poor, but you won’t get followed around in a store. Or pulled over by the cops. And you can travel to just about anywhere in the country and “blend in,” even if you don’t know anybody and have never been there before. No one will ask you what you “are doing here.”

                “Identity politics,” when it comes to white racism, most certainly does have something to do with money, but it isn’t all about money.

            • sharonT

              This is what Trump is giving some of his voters now. The wall on the border with Mexico may only be a fence and a drone, but all of the images coming from the WH show his voters a world where white guys are in charge.

            • veleda_k

              The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule.

              Wow, lucky that things have changed so much.

            • imwithher

              Absolutely spot on, and timely too! Timeless, unfortunately :(

          • vic rattlehead

            That’s all well and good, but it seems bizarre to me how IMPORTANT racism is to these people.

            Their minds are poisoned. By what, I’m not sure. Hate radio, etc. I think we just need to write off the older whites and wait for them to die. Not that the next generation is automatically going to be better, but if we can clamp down on the right wing hate propaganda machine before it poisons the younger generations minds then maybe we have a shot.

            They’re garbage human beings, and I wish it were possible to punish them for it without hurting innocents.

            • proportionwheel

              but if we can clamp down on the right wing hate propaganda machine before it poisons the younger generations minds

              Sincere question: how can this be done?

              • vic rattlehead

                I have no clue. I don’t think it can be done. Which is concerning because I think hate radio and outlets like Fox and now Breitshart are huge contributors.

                • proportionwheel

                  I don’t think it can be done

                  I don’t either. Better to concentrate stonger messaging on our side. How to achieve that is hard enough to figure out, but probably more do-able (and more in line with liberal values) than suppression of the hate propagandists.

                • efgoldman

                  I don’t think it can be done.

                  Even if we could reinstate the fairness doctrine (there’s as much chance of Earth breaking out of orbit and heading toward Alpha Centauri) it would only apply to over-the-air licensed stations; Fox News is a cable network – the only content restriction is obscenity.

              • John Revolta

                Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would be a good start.

                • Redwood Rhiadra

                  Not really. It wouldn’t apply to cable or Internet (as it is predicated on government ownership of the airwaves), and those have long since overtaken broadcast sources.

                  Even if you somehow found a legal justification for applying the Fairness Doctrine to cable, I don’t see how you could possibly apply it to the Internet.

                • John Revolta

                  True but Hate Radio is is still a huge force.

          • Stag Party Palin

            I don’t understand being racist but what I REALLY don’t understand is being willing to sacrifice your own well-being in pursuit of racism.

            It is hard-wired into the brains of all living creatures that the “other” is dangerous. When one has identified the “other”, and in humans that could be any group from different colored skins to different sexes to different religions, this brain function is extremely powerful. People like Bill O’Reilly are the chemical explosive in the human atomic bomb.

        • Dalai Rasta

          Racism, certainly, but misogyny is mixed into this as well (not the Obamaphone thing specifically, but the whole mindset that lies behind it). There needs to be a greater effort to distinguish people who are genuinely suffering economic anxiety, which can be dealt with though decent incomes and a strong safety net, from people who are actually feeling status anxiety, which isn’t necessarily responsive to anything except having inferiors to kick around.

          • humanoid.panda

            The problem is that almost no one on this time of crazy billionaires suffers from economic anxiety OR status anxiety. The two are completely intertwined.

        • efgoldman

          It’s a function of racism as an ideology. The point of racism was to define a group of people who are not only excluded from the common good but who actually deserve suffering

          Sparrows and coat hangers….
          Isn’t it true (in fact, didn’t I read it here in recent days) that the most racist whites live in areas/states with very few or no African Americans? (e.g. West Virginia, Iowa)

      • UncleEbeneezer

        It’s the “EVERYONE” part that is the deal-breaker for any Americans.

      • Davis X. Machina

        What I can’t understand is when someone comes and says “We can bring that back, or something like it, and not only do you get that but your black neighbors who didn’t used to have it will get it too!” they categorically reject the offer.

        If there are no, or nearly no, black neighbors, you’re probably even more likely to reject the proffered deal.

        That’s certainly the case in Maine….

        • Origami Isopod

          This is why the reich wing promotes segregation. If you do not know anyone from a certain demographic it is much easier to demonize them.

          • I think they promote segregation as an end in itself–but they promote isolationism, and fear, in order to prevent their own membership from encountering an alternative reality in which cities are not hell holes, the races live together successfully, and christianity is not the only religion. That’s why they are so radically anti public education and higher education for their own children–for fear that they will walk away from ignorance, racism, and xenophobia.

          • Phil Perspective
          • BiloSagdiyev

            If you do not know anyone from a certain demographic it is much easier to demonize them.

            Coming at it from the other direction, if people do get to know each other then brown men might impregnate white women, and that really animates these people.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        What I don’t understand is why they won’t accept a welfare state for EVERYONE

        Because the number one most important driver of American politics has always been and will always be race.

        • Snuff curry

          Which is why Sanders’s current doe-eyed act is so loathsomely dishonest: “these people aren’t racist, they’re hurting, here I’ll prove it” and his proof is that they went ahead and deliberately hurt themselves some more just to ensure that people of color remain second-class. He’s old enough to know all this, but instead he’d rather pull a Democrats Hate Him! just to soak up some more unproductive attention.

      • Because people like to feel like the earned their handout.

      • imwithher

        They would literally rather watch their children die of hopelessness and opiates than see themselves living in happy, functional, multiracial communities

        Like NYC and California. I have seen these prosperous, diverse places derided as hellholes by conservative white rust belt/farm belt/coal country Americans. Their all white, mostly Anglo, small towns and rural areas are the ones drowning in addiction, violence, and so on, and have dying, single industry economies. And yet, somehow, “the Other” is the source of all their problems, and his or her mere presence in the Big Cities and on the Coasts makes those places, despite their diversified and thriving economies, a distopian model.

        • Mr Rogers

          New York City and the cities in California might also be demonized as hellholes because to the Republican mindset is always the 1980s. We always need a strong Reagan figure. We are always just escaped from massive inflation. We are always in an ideological global war (current opponent may vary) and we are always in the middle of an urban crime wave.

          Always. Current reality need not apply.

          • farin

            We are always under threat from Russian aggr-

            I’ll come in again.

      • What I don’t understand is why they won’t accept a welfare state for EVERYONE, which would fix many of their problems.

        People tend to want a welfare state that will help them in their time of need, but they don’t want to pay much for it. So, tell them that if only “those people” got their act together we could have great things AND lower taxes, and watch bigotry do the wonderful work of thwarting fiscal realism.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Their preference is clearly a welfare state for whites only. But nobody is actually going to give them that. The question is whether some of them can be appealed to by a more vigorous welfare state for everyone, when the alternative is a welfare state for nobody. I think the answer is yes. The Democrats almost certainly won’t win a majority of these people that way. But they’ll never win a majority of them. And winninf more of them helps.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Argh: “But winning more of them helps.”

        Gimme back my edit button!

        • humanoid.panda

          Your lack of self-reliance is why Trump won.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yes, it’s the pernicious victimhood mentality.. “The 1% this” and “WordPress that.” It never ends!

    • The problem is that they think government should reflect THEIR feelings and beliefs no matter how poorly grounded. The idea of government taking a hands-off approach to “feelings and beliefs”, and just dealing with general well-being, apparently, hasn’t really registered with them. The end result is the mindset that mindlessly opposes “us white people” to “elites (and you know, all those other people).” Rs are just switching this around and saying “elites are white people, all those others have to beg or leave.” Ds could accept the framing as-is and help white people get riled up against “elites and you-know” but I’m not sure that’s a good approach.

      • Davis X. Machina

        I think we have to look at it like an ethical or even religious motivator. It’s a vision of how the world “should” be and people will often harm themselves for such visions.

        The idea of government taking a hands-off approach to “feelings and beliefs”, and just dealing with general well-being, apparently, hasn’t really registered with them.

        Separation of church and state is historically a recent thing, and doesn’t have complete buy-in even where it’s the law.

        There is no ‘general well being’ apart from the ideological/confessional health of the state, for all some of the time, for some, all of the time.

        • Not sure what you meant by that–I had meant general meaning, more or less “material”: money, food, health. Excluding what depends on people’s beliefs and ideology.

      • AMK

        A non-trivial % of these people also equate “coastal elites” with Jews and successful nonwhite immigrants, so there’s also that.

        • Most people don’t really understand who the elites are, either. An Ivy educated black person is unpossible! And they are only too ready to believe such a person is wrong because “elite means white.”

          • ScottK

            They’d say that Ivy-educated black person is obviously an affirmative-action admission who stole a spot from a qualified white man.

            • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

              And when they head the Harvard Law Review, they definitely stole that.

      • so-in-so

        Often missing in comments about appealing to t-Rump voters; they already HAVE their openly racist party. I don’t think “Hey, we can be sorta racist too” will win them over, and sure will lose a lot of other voters who stay home if POC aren’t welcome anymore.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Yes, but their openly racist party is also bitterly opposed to the kind of robust welfare state (even just for white people) that these people support. The Democratic message to peel some of these voters off is an economic populist one. Most of them will choose the racism over the welfare state, but some of them might choose the welfare state.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            The ones who would choose the welfare state ARE ALREADY DEMOCRATS.

      • Murc

        The idea of government taking a hands-off approach to “feelings and beliefs”, and just dealing with general well-being, apparently, hasn’t really registered with them.

        I’m not sure about that.

        People think that “the general well-being” is something there’s common consensus on, and it 100% is not.

        Folks who think that the cops should have the power to summarily execute black people in the streets absolutely believe in their own heads they support a policy that provides for the general well-being.

    • When the Republicans start trying to persuade people of color that a welfare state is inherently racist and they should oppose it, because Free Market, that’s when we really should start to worry.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Oh, they try — “the Democratic plantation!” — but they are ignored by all but kooks.

    • wengler

      The end game is you get a divide in the Republican party with the conservatives calling the Trumpers socialists, and the Trumpers calling the conservatives race traitors.

    • MAJeff

      It’s where Katz’s “The Undeserving Poor” meets Anderson’s “White Rage”

  • altofront

    That article is the most eloquent illustration of the centrality of racism to the election I’ve seen yet–even more so because Kristoff is unwilling to push the point home.

    • twbb

      It would have been much stronger if he pointed out that the “Obamaphone” thing was wrong to that person, then chronicled the subsequent conversation.

      • mamcu

        Maybe that guy did go on with it, but the whole thing’s not quoted here?

        • twbb

          Then either Kristof or an editor dropped the ball.

    • Indeed. Of course Kristoff from his perch is not going to state overtly what those people obviously mean. It’s like the last bridge he and his ilk won’t cross because, I guess, he thinks of himself as being in polite company with his essays and won’t write the words. To crass. He somehow expects his readers to connect the dots — discreetly, of course. It has always astonished me how civility, defined as not stating obvious truths, is demanded of us. But never of them. I think it’s because it’s just assumed rightwingers are obnoxious liars, so not only are we forbidden to point that out in polite company, we’re just supposed to shrug and say wingers are being wingers, true to their essential nature. How can that be their fault? It’s akin to not drawing attention to someone’s disability. Why can’t Democrats just understand these people have essential needs, the principal one of which is racism. The assumption is that it’s their nature, and terribly unfair of us to ask them to change.

      All of which leads me to agree we can’t change these people, not in this generation at least. We just need to out-organize and out-vote them. A tall order in the short term, unfortunately.

      • West of the Cascades

        All of which leads me to agree we can’t change these people, not in this generation at least. We just need to out-organize and out-vote them. A tall order in the short term, unfortunately.

        1000 times This. I don’t want to appeal to Trump voters, even the 3% that are now “penitent” – I want to bury them by finding some way to turn out another 5% to 10% of the roughly half of the population that doesn’t vote in mid-term elections and have those additional people vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

      • It has always astonished me how civility, defined as not stating obvious truths, is demanded of us. But never of them.

        Hey, they (or their appointed spokesmen) are extremely good at not stating truths, obvious or otherwise! And they really excel at stating obvious lies. Three out of four ain’t bad.

      • Origami Isopod

        He somehow expects his readers to connect the dots — discreetly, of course.

        Possibly, but he himself hasn’t yet connected the dots, as evidenced by this late-February piece about how liberals should be nicer to Trumpkins.

        There are two things going on there. One is that Kristof is your usual high-profile, Harvard-educated, affluent liberal tone troll. It’s uncivil to call a racist a racist. Must raise the tone, after all! Because otherwise we’ll all sound like trailer trash, who are poor dears who cannot be held responsible for their bigotry because they’re our lessers and must be condescended to.

        The other is laid out nicely in this DailyKos comment. Columns like the Kristof one I linked to are meant to assuage the guilt of “respectable” white liberals. They do not want to believe that racism runs so deeply in our society that it can very well pull down our entire political system. They do not want to believe that they themselves have benefited from white supremacy and have, in fact, colluded with it. So, by downplaying the role racism has played in recent political events, they get to remain in denial and wash their hands of the monumental task of trying to tear white supremacy down … which, not so incidentally, would be to their economic detriment as rich white people.

        • Linnaeus

          Columns like the Kristof one I linked to are meant to assuage the guilt of “respectable” white liberals. They do not want to believe that racism runs so deeply in our society that it can very well pull down our entire political system. They do not want to believe that they themselves have benefited from white supremacy and have, in fact, colluded with it.

          I think there’s something to this. Sometimes this also is manifested in an attitude that it’s Those Other White People Over There that are responsible for and benefit from racism, not People Like Us.

          • bender

            It’s possible to benefit from racism without being responsible for it. That’s what privilege is.

        • farin

          Kristof is the very avatar of smug white-guilt-and-atonement performances, so that’s a pretty good take.

        • efgoldman

          we’ll all sound like trailer trash, who are poor dears who cannot be held responsible for their bigotry

          Well scorpions gotta’ be scorpions, you know. It’s not like they were human beings with free will, or anything.

          [In fact, many of them are so brainwashed that they don’t have free will of that sort. And they know they’re ignorant, and revel in it.]

  • Junipermo

    These people are why I really don’t want the Dems to spend any time trying to figure out how to get their votes, and to focus instead on turning out more people actually inclined to listen to their message. The only way people like those quoted in the piece will vote Dem is if we traveled back in time to the New Deal era, when benefits were given to whites and denied to everyone else.

    I am very sorry (and outraged) that people who voted Dem will suffer under Trump’s administration. But I am out of fucks to give for people who voted their racism and are getting the shit end of the stick now.

    • Vance Maverick

      It’s certainly not worth investing “sympathy” in these people, except of the broadest sort — “nothing human is alien to me.” But not many people in this conversation, except possibly Kristof, are doing that. Rather, we need to be thinking about how to navigate a political environment that includes people like these, to improve outcomes for everybody, including (however ungratefully) them.

      • Linnaeus

        Good point. I agree with the commenters here who have said that the highest priority should be on organizing and turning out Democratic voters. The Democratic Party is an antiracist party (in principle, and increasingly in practice) and there’s no turning back on that, nor should there be. Where it gets complicated, though, is in the reality that in order to achieve Democratic majorities so the party’s agenda can be implemented, Democrats have to be competitive in areas where their core voters may be less numerous and maximizing Democratic turnout may not be enough to win. It’s a fine needle to thread.

    • stonetools

      Yeah, I am done with these articles by reporters flying into Middle America and trying to “understand” why these voters voted for a kleptocratic con man with no history of caring for anybody but himself & his property pre 2016. It’s not mystery.They did so because they liked his racist pandering and talk of bringing back a 1950s America where women were subordinate and minorities knew their place.Now of course some of them have woken up to the reality that maybe he can’t deliver on his promises, but they still like his con, so they will continue to back him, until things fall apart and they really start hurting.
      Well I for one don’t “respect” or “understand” these people. Screw them . I think they are mean, stupid people who wanted Trump to sh1t on everyone different from them. i don’t want to convert them, I just want to outvote them in future.
      The next article by Kristoff had better feature a Clinton voter( you know, one of those who got it right) and how they fear being savaged by the regime these idiot Trump voters put over all of us.

      • efgoldman

        I for one don’t “respect” or “understand” these people.

        I certainly don’t respect them, but I DO understand them, unfortunately. Some of them were my now-deceased in laws. I don’t need a smarmy, clueless, condescending NYT asshole to tell me about them.

  • Nobdy

    “There’s a lot of wasteful spending, so cut other places,” Moreno said

    This is, of course, completely right. There is a LOT of wasteful spending…for example in the military. We don’t need 80% of the stuff we buy, and as we all know from stories of $300 toilet seats there’s a TON of graft and stealing among contractors. Hell government contracting is a mess in general, as we saw from the terrible roll out of the health care exchanges; something that an Amazon or Google could have done at probably 20% of the cost and with relatively few hiccups.

    Of course people who complain about spending never, ever, look to where the real money is, because they believe the propaganda that the right wing sources spit out.

    This is all a side note to your main point, of course, but it’s incredibly frustrating to have people whine about waste and fraud and then point to programs that amount to rounding errors in the budget. It’s like companies that try to “trim the fat” by taking away free coffee in the break room or reducing the quality of toilet paper, measures that save pennies and are counterproductive because they have big impacts on morale, while their real problem is they devote 30% of revenue to executive pay.

    Then again, I’m trying to complain about the lack of a factual basis for their statements while they completely reject the very concept of facts, so it’s pointless whinging I guess.

    • humanoid.panda

      something that an Amazon or Google could have done at probably 20% of the cost and with relatively few hiccups

      This is a common misperception, but let me just point out that if a tech firm had to deliver a finished product on a legally-binding deadline without any beta testing, the result would not be pretty. Same goes with the 300 dollar toilet seats: I don’t have doubt they exist, but I strongly doubt they are an everyday occurence.

      • Nobdy

        There was no rule I am aware of saying there couldn’t be beta testing. And the exchanges had problems for many months, long beyond the time when a tech firm could have fixed the problem.

        The healthcare exchange roll out was a major fiasco, an unnecessary one, and one that hurt both the ACA and the Democrats. I don’t see a reason to sugarcoat it.

        As for the $300 toilet seats…most fraud and graft is not that obvious but there’s still a TON of it going on. There’s a reason that Washington is becoming one of the wealthiest regions in the country. And even where it’s not something that would rise to the level of fraud or graft as we think of it there is tons of unnecessary and useless procurement that costs literally hundreds of billions of dollars. We haven’t had an actual conventional war that challenged us since Vietnam. We don’t need to be funding at cold war levels, at least not until the Chinese are an actual threat. And the things we’re buying are often pretty useless for our realistic use case scenarios (as this blog sometimes explains.)

        Hell, we still pay for a separate and distinct air force and I seem to recall some distinguished scholar or other saying that was unnecessary…

        • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

          I haven’t looked into it in depth, but I suspect that the $300 toilet seats are like the $50 aspirins on some hospital bills, not reflecting the true value of the item but an agreed-upon value for the whole job. I am sure graft and waste occur in the military as everywhere else lots of money flows, but most of the waste in the DoD budget is probably in an oversized, overequipped military with tons of hi-tech toys the existence of which only encourages needless bellicosity.

          • Nobdy

            This was my original main point. We don’t need 80% of the stuff we buy.

        • humanoid.panda

          There was no rule I am aware of saying there couldn’t be beta testing. And the exchanges had problems for many months, long beyond the time when a tech firm could have fixed the problem.

          There was no rule banning beta-testing, true. But again, there is no private equivalent to “you must have this product ready on time, with a deadline that cannot be legally moved, and if the product is not perfect, one half of the board of directors will call you worse than Hitler.” I am not arguing the website launch wasn’t a fiasco- it was, and we’d probably have couple of very useful senate seats if it wasn’t. It’s just that the google/amazon comparison is really unfair.

          • Man people actually believe that failure to meet a deadline set arbitrarily before the scope of the project was understood is a sign of incompetence.

        • so-in-so

          Worth noting, the exchanges WERE IMPLEMENTED BY TECH COMPANIES under contract to the government, not for the most part by government employees. This i also a part of the right-wing framing, that government would be better if run by “business”. Which just makes me think most people saying that either never worked in business, or were at the “boss” level where nobody ever told them they were doing a bad job (never mind the business failures, that was just bad markets…).

          Maybe the biggest thing is that businesses DO have such failures, they then struggle, get bought out or go out of business. Government won’t do that, so it shrugs off the problem and keeps going. Which probably ticks off business men who can’t do that.

          The $50 dollar hammers and $300 toilet seats are, at least in part, the results of having to meet detailed specs. That started in the last century – before that the military was often the recipient of whatever the lowest bidder supplied – the story of how “shoddy” came to mean poor quality is a part of that.

          • Nobdy

            I said the issue was with the government contractors, not the government employees. I actually think a fair number of functions currently contracted out SHOULD be performed by government employees.

      • NonyNony

        The $600 hammer (the source of things like the $750 toilet seat) is the liberal version of the “Obamaphones!” trope. The truth is that the original story was due to accounting and budgeting practices about amortizing research and development costs for government accounting purposes and it got turned into an outrage because the reporters reporting the story didn’t understand it and neither did the politicians who finned up outrage about it. More here: http://www.govexec.com/federal-news/1998/12/the-myth-of-the-600-hammer/5271/ That’s just one source on the topic, it’s easy to find more if you go looking.

        The sad fact is that we spend so goddammit much on our military that we want to believe it’s being wasted on waste-fraud-and-abuse to make a case to cut the budget that can harness the outrage that voters have over WFA. But the truth is that the waste is mostly in just having a military that is larger in expenditures than most of the rest of the world. We aren’t getting defrauded by contractors to the level we wish we were, we’re just buying far more than we need.

        • NonyNony

          Ginned, not finned.

          And goddamn, not goddammit.

          Stupid autocorrect.

        • Nobdy

          $8 billion went missing in Iraq. That happened. We also know that Haliburton and other contractors accepted hundreds of millions for projects that were either never completed or were done incredibly shoddily. So I’m not willing to agree that there’s not significant savings to be had from eliminating military waste fraud and abuse.

          But even conceding that, we could spend, say, two hundred billion dollars less, still have the best funded military in the world, and have lots more to spend on things that would actually help people.

          Hell, if we just stopped pursuing stupid fruitless overseas fiascos like Iraq and Afghanistan we’d have a trillion more to put into infrastructure, schools, and even BETTER Obamaphones, like ones with an Obama ringtone.

          • Dagmar

            Ta da.

        • No, its not the liberal version of the obamphone. The idea that there is massive waste fraud and abuse in the government, as exemplified by expensive items that voters think are overpriced, is a constant trope on the far right to center right. Its why they all believed as a matter of faith that they could have everything Trump promised them without having him raise taxes–because of all the waste/fraud/abuse thingy.

          I think the whole of the military is an enormous, wasteful, boondoggle but I don’t go around shrieking about individual high cost items because usually the whole thing ends up being nonsense. Its the air craft carrier or the cost overruns on a plane that the military doesn’t even want that are the problem, not the expense of creating specially robust articles for this or that special mission.

          At any rate–the liberal thing to argue is not that there is waste in government but that some government spending is wasteful.

      • Shantanu Saha

        Even the $300 toilet seats become reasonable when you understand the context: if the Navy wants everyday items that would cost $30 in your local Home Depot but which in a fire on your destroyer would be more likely to cause the destruction of a vessel loaded with fuel and explosives, you want versions of those things that won’t burn, melt, or otherwise act like the cheap plastic of consumer items. And those things don’t come cheap.

        • humanoid.panda

          Right. The problem is not that we have expensive toilet seats on destroyers. The problem is that we have more destoryers than our defense needs dictate.

          • Linnaeus

            There’s the rub. The idea that the liberal world order required American military supremacy is accepted across the political spectrum. That supremacy costs money, a lot of money, which means there’s a tension between continuing our high military expenditures and instituting expensive social programs.

        • Nobdy

          I can honestly say that LGM was not the place I expected numerous people to leap to the defense of military contractors as men of great integrity and scrupulous honesty.

          • Origami Isopod

            Please point to where anyone was doing that.

            • Nobdy

              I tossed off a line about $350 toilet seats after stating that the actual issue is that we procure too much in general as part of a LARGER point that if you want to save money by cutting waste fraud and abuse you need to go where the money is.

              Now there’s a whole bunch of repetitive comments about how military contractors don’t really buy overpriced toilet seats because of either A) accounting or B) the need for fireproof toilets on navy ships.

              Whether or not the toilet seats themselves were overpriced is not particularly relevant to the point being made but here are like three people going on about how these purchases were totally justified and reasonable.

              If they weren’t frequent commenters I might think that I was being brigaded by a bunch of eastern European trolls employed by corrupt toilet seat manufacturers!

              • The whole area of military procurement is a really fascinating and important one–one of the issues is security of supply lines, avoiding mass poisoning and death through corrupt supply lines/graft, and replicability and availability of parts. In a military the size of ours these problems are going to be magnified. Its actually a really interesting area of study (not, I hasten to add, my own). The transfer of production from in house to private companies is rife with problems but one reason there are problems is that one of the issues is securing the co-operation of a private company through contracting while preserving the possibility of working with a different company farther down the line. I’m opposed to the romance of privatizing anything because of the way it has tended to destroy and deskill government workers and kill unions (I’m thinking of the part of Stiffed where Susan Faludi writes about the workers in the old Naval Shipyards, who crafted all the parts for our ships by hand, vs the boeing guys).

          • No Longer Middle Aged Man

            No one wrote anything vaguely similar to that. They are responding to your throwing stuff out there that is about as well informed as the Obamaphone accusations. For instance

            Of course people who complain about spending never, ever, look to where the real money is

            is absurd because the real money is in Social Security and various healthcare programs, and the Republicans would love nothing better than to gut those.

            • Nobdy

              Social Security is funded through a separate taxation system and is somewhat independent of the budget. The medical programs also receive funding outside the general revenue stream.

              But regardless, while some Republican politicians (like Paul Ryan) want to go after the “entitlements” the Republican party as a whole doesn’t talk about them all that much. Obamacare gets talked about, but costs much less than the military. It’s something like $130 billion to $534 billion. Medicare/Medicaid costs more, but they are scared to honestly talk about cutting that. Instead they want to try stealth cuts through block grants.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          I’m extremely disappointed that not a single person has brought up the West Wing and the $400 ashtray. Shame on you all.

      • StellaB

        The first time I ordered from Amazon, in 1993, the website crashed. I had no way to tell if the order had gone through other than to await my credit card statement in the snail-mail. I believe that Amazon was less than a year old at that point. With time, just like the federal exchanges, they got the kinks worked and now nobody remembers them.

        • Nobdy

          In 1993 the Internet was new. 20 years later that was not the case.

          It’s true that most people don’t remember the problems with the exchanges now, but they set the tone at the time and caused a lot of political damage, which reverberates today. They made the ACA less popular than it would have been, and the negative valence stuck to some degree.

          First impressions matter.

          • humanoid.panda

            In 1993 the Internet was new. 20 years later that was not the case.

            Except that the exchanges were not an internet project. They required the integration of dozens of private and public databases, some of them based on legacy software going back to the days of the mainframe.

            It’s true that most people don’t remember the problems with the exchanges now, but they set the tone at the time and caused a lot of political damage, which reverberates today. They made the ACA less popular than it would have been, and the negative valence stuck to some degree.

            No one disagrees with this. What people take issue with is your “private sector would have done it better” throwaway lines.

            • vic rattlehead

              What people take issue with is your “private sector would have done it better” throwaway lines.

              Seriously, fuck this. The uncritical acceptance of this “fact” by otherwise smart people is a fucking cancer.

              • Nobdy

                What are you people talking about? It WAS done by the private sector. Just a part of the private sector who couldn’t do it well. Government contractors ARE private sector, they are just often not incentivized to provide good service because of the fucked up bidding process.

          • I hate to say this but this is so incredibly dumb. Do you remember the enormous, brutal, hellish, nation wide cock up that was Medicare part B? Do you blame the republicans for that? Do you think their voters do? No–its gone down the memory hole because the democrats didn’t exploit it and the republicans and their press organs simply refused to hold republicans accountable. For a brief while there were sobbing stories about doctors who couldn’t figure out what their own mothers and grandmothers were supposed to pick for the new coverage, and what was happening when people picked wrong. But it all vanished.

            Ditto for the ACA. A few days or even months of problems with a massive new online program is nothing–do you have the faintest idea how backwards most of the computing systems used by the government are? How difficult it is to modernize an entire system at one blow? How hard it would be to get something like that networked up? And so fucking what if it crashed? It would have been a nothing burger if it hadn’t fit into the pre-fab right wing line that was a) anti government and b) anti ACA. But that is overdetermined. No Democratic initiative is going to escape that kind of attack–not by being perfect, that is for sure. So who cares? As for “first impressions mattering” sure–but they weren’t first impressions. The entire thing was slotted into an already existing narrative that was unshakeable and which continued to be unshaken even as people were having their actual lives saved by the ACA but refusing to acknowledge that ti was Obamacare.

            Against stupidity the god’s themselves contend in vain. And the desire of people to find a rational explanation and a single proximate cause of a current event (like an electoral loss) is just as ridiculous. Causality is very, very, very, hard to determine in a multi factorial system like reality.

            • Thom

              You mean Part D (prescription drugs), I assume. We can blame the lack of an edit button.

              • Thank you, you are very gracious! But–to my point: no one remembers anything or understands anything either, until they are hit in the face with it and have to sign up themselves.

            • Nobdy

              First of all, nobody claimed any specific electoral consequences from the bungling of the exchange launch, just that it was bad and caused harm, and helped lead to the general negative view of Obamacare that erroded support among the Democrats and hurt them. Whether or not the damage was exacerbated by fitting into a pre-existing narrative is irrelevant. Just because your opponent fights dirty doesn’t mean you let your guard down and invite them to smash your teeth in.

              The comparison to Medicare part D is silly. It was a much smaller law affecting a much smaller number of people, and it was buried beneath a cavalcade of other scandals that led to massive defeats for the GOP culminating in the first black president being elected. So sure, if Obama had had a hurricane Katrina then the exchange rollout being bungled wouldn’t have mattered.

              The point is not that the bad launch was some massive world-shaking event, but that it was a self-inflicted error that had some consequences, and handled by contractors who clearly weren’t capable of handling the project they signed on to.

              The willingness to just throw up your hands and say “what are you going to do? Government is going to screw things up” is more consistent with a Republican worldview than Democrats, who think that government actually can do things well.

              • I think it is ridiculous to think that everything is going to go smoothly all the time and to make a huge fuss over something that in the grand scheme of things mattered relatively little.This is neither republican nor democratic as a point of view.

          • vic rattlehead

            The web was new, not the internet.

  • aturner339

    I’m my opinion a lot of this boils down to abject terror of racism as a political force. It is often stated that if the declining share of the white vote in the Midwest Mitrors that in the south then liberalism is simply doomed so it’s best just not to think about it.

    I believe that’s unnecessarily defeatist and assumes a lack of imagination about building multiracial coalitions and countering racism directly.

    • humanoid.panda

      It is often stated that if the declining share of the white vote in the Midwest Mitrors that in the south then liberalism is simply doomed so it’s best just not to think about it.

      Besides the troll who keeps repeating the “Wiscons is West Virginia” line, who is exactly saying this?

      I believe that’s unnecessarily defeatist and assumes a lack of imagination about building multiracial coalitions and countering racism directly.

      That’s a nice sentiment, but what does it mean in practice? Offering policies that benefit folks under assumption that if you built it they will come? Running people who better fit regional cultural sensitivities? Not talking about the race angle much, and just focus on attacking Wall Street, or maybe Trump’s racism in the abstract?

      It’s easy to say “multi-racial coalition” but what does it mean in practice. And hell- the fact is that in places like Wisconsin, HRC still got above 40 of the white vote. We just need to do a bit better..

      • aturner339

        I’ve heard a few non troll but Sanders friendly commuters make the case. Murc for one.

        In practice I think it means a combination of running exemplars of white heartland liberalism locally and adopting the humanizing approach that was successful in the fight for LGBT rights. The fact a large portion if not an outright majority of political moderates believe black peole to be less intelligent and less hard working than white people. The parties are increasingly sorting by level of racial animosity and we want more whites to fall on the low side of that split:
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/31/the-gap-between-republicans-and-democrats-views-of-african-americans-just-hit-a-new-high/

        The stellar Obama family was part of that for eight years but I also think that we can make ita sustained campaign.

        • Murc

          I’ve heard a few non troll but Sanders friendly commuters make the case. Murc for one.

          Close, but not quite.

          I have not made this case:

          It is often stated that if the declining share of the white vote in the Midwest Mitrors that in the south then liberalism is simply doomed so it’s best just not to think about it.

          Emphasis mine. I have not made, and reject, the case made by adding the clause in bold to the argument.

          The case I have made is this: “If the declining share of the white vote in the midwest comes to mirror that in the south, then liberalism is simply doomed at least in the short and medium term. However, we cannot attempt to arrest that decline by embracing white supremacy ourselves, or lessening our commitment to social justice, for both moral and practical reasons to numerous to mention. Therefore, we have to believe, and act like, we can get those voters back, either by appealing to the non-racist issues they ostensibly care about or by hoping like hell that 2016 was a specific aberration and we’ll regress to the mean. Because we don’t have any other choice.”

          This case might not be right, but it is the one I’ve made.

          • sibusisodan

            Nicely put. I wonder if it’s worth analysing electoral backlash to New Deal, VRA and Great Society as well – to what degree was there an immediate electoral reaction (as opposed to a longer term reconfiguration)?

            The snag which keeps recurring for me is that we as individuals tend to double down on our mistakes (hello Brexit!). Not sure how to counter that at population level…

            • daves09

              The New Deal-which was racist-fell apart on the issue of racism. The democrats lost the white south and gained the black south. The only thing that stops the south from reenacting Jim Crow is the federal gov’t. and the south pushes back on that wherever they can.
              My best description for what a lot of whites want-Jim Crow with just an acceptable level of lynching.

  • vic rattlehead

    I’m beginning to think the only way to correct this level of stupid/racist is more lead pipe than civil discourse.

    • As a white person, I’ve honestly started wishing for the Great Meteor of Death to just blow up the white people. We’ve stopped contributing anything worthwhile.

  • Davis X. Machina

    ‘The Great Society coalition’ involved Hubert Humphrey and Ted Kennedy sitting in the same caucus as John Stennis and John Eastland.

    In the House — more of the same, and often worse.

    I’m constantly reminded that this was the golden age of the Democratic Party, back when it was a real social-democratic party, not the neoliberal fraud it is now.

    Unless you mean the ’80’s when David Boren, Sam Nunn, Russell Long, and other liberal lions. roamed the Capitol.

    Because the Democratic Party has been drifting righward since forever.

    • DW

      We do have a sarcasm font.

      • Davis X. Machina

        We also have an edit button.

        • We also have an edit button.

          Who “we”, X-man?

        • IM

          We had an edit button but neoliberals sold it!

          • Breadbaker

            It would be here but Debbie Wasserman Schultz knew that Bernie would have won if it had continued.

    • gyrfalcon

      And Robert Byrd was once a member of the KKK!

    • Harkov311

      This really can’t be repeated often enough. The Democrats had a LOT of conservative southern members for a long time,and probably wouldn’t have even held the House through the 80s without them.

      Heck, just from my home state from Nixon to end of Reagan there were Dan Daniel, Thomas Downing, David Satterfield, and Watkins Abbitt. Some of those guys committed heresies from conservatism on occasion (Daniel voted to create OSHA, Downing voted to create public television, and Abbitt, amazingly, voted for the Voting Rights Act), but this was the exception.

      Heck, compared to those guys, later supposedly “conservative” Virginia Democrats like Jim Olin, Norman Sisisky, and Lewis Payne were wild-eyed liberals.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Bork wouldn’t have been defeated without conservative southern Dems.

        • Harkov311

          True. I was just making the point that part of the reason Democrats held Congress for so long is that some pretty conservative Democrats were holding office e at the time. Some of those conservative Democrats still ended up doing some good things (like Bork), and some of them weren’t really that conservative, given the districts they were from.

      • efgoldman

        The Democrats had a LOT of conservative southern members for a long time

        One of the heroes of Watergate, Same Ervin from North Carolina, was a prototype of the old Southern bull. His counterpart, Howard Baker, was a moderate Republican from Tennessee.

        • tsam

          Would that have made them roughly equal in ideology back then?

  • jpgray

    Sigh… here we will probably have another thread gloating over the irredeemable racism of all Trump voters, but the reality is that human beings want to blame someone that isn’t themselves, or like themselves, for their problems.

    The GOP has a propaganda machine running full blast on a simple story of heroes and villains, specifically designed to promote their desired policies and tailored around their electoral strategy.

    We… don’t have anything of the kind on offer. Who are the bad guys in our story, as told to rural or uneducated whites? Who do we blame?

    We can win when GOP is running the country, because (despite the assumptions of some) these voters can draw the necessary inference on who to blame when things are fucked up and bullshit. We have pre-made villains!

    But when WE are running the country, we’re all over the place on who to blame for unpleasantness, and tend to lose badly at the first opportunity.

    Yeah, these stories are bullshit simplifications. But “Your problems are fatal but impersonal structural inevitabilities – no one is to blame – maybe code web apps now or become a speech pathologist?” is perhaps accurate but also… isn’t trying very hard.

    Now you can argue that only a racist/bigoted tale would convince these people, but when we have a clear villain and target for blame set up for us, by default, an in-power GOP fucking things up, we do quite well, even with these voters. Witness 2006 and 2008.

    Absent that, in non-Presidential elections, locally and nationally, we are a spectacular failure with them, and I think our lack of a sop to the gotta-blame-somebody electorate is part of the reason for that.

    Why is our blame game so terrible? I think the structure of campaign fundraising, and our diversity generally, just makes telling a Dem version of these simplistic tales too difficult or risky?

    • Davis X. Machina

      “He hates the same people I hate. Hand me the goddamn ballot” is all the election post-mortem you’ll ever need.

      Tell me, whom did Hillary hate?

      A political operation grounded in systematic appeals to the worst in people begins every election cycle half-a-lap ahead of the field…

      Original sin is a helluva uphill lie.

      Makes Obama look like even more of a black swan than he actually was.

      • jpgray

        Obama is interesting, not only because he was skilled as hell, and not just because he exploited “We need to change Washington, in vague ways you and I surely agree on (wink)” in 2008, but because I believe people longed to identify with him, and to be part of the kind of America that would make him president, because that America would be different from what had come before, and people blamed what came before for their problems.

        Even casual racists of the type aforementioned were probably sucked in by that feeling.

        HRC couldn’t really exploit that – largely because she was made to represent what had come before, however unfairly.

        Is that reproducible, or just sui generis for Obama? I think the closest she came to getting there was with her college plan and the Medicare buy-in – these were ideas that, if you focused people on what they would mean, how they represented a break with the status quo, could encourage the same kind of feeling.

        Can you build that feeling into a realistic platform? Or would it lose out to racist ghost stories and impossible power fantasies?

        • humanoid.panda

          Obama is interesting, not only because he was skilled as hell, and not just because he exploited “We need to change Washington, in vague ways you and I surely agree on (wink)” in 2008, but because I believe people longed to identify with him, and to be part of the kind of America that would make him president, because that America would be different from what had come before, and people blamed what came before for their problems.

          Maybe, but if he runs on this message in 2004, he still probably loses.

          • los

            but if he runs on this message in 2004, he still probably loses.

            I wonder why the GOP didn’t start a new war in 2007 for their 2008 candidates?

            A new war every 4 years “should” be in the Republican Party platform.

            /s, a little

      • LosGatosCA

        I’ll give you a critique of the Democratic Party/ Obama admin from 2009-2012 that specifically addresses the lack of a blame game:

        #1: It’s hard to make a message of blame stick when you hold over Republicans in the top two Daddy jobs – DoD and the Fed, Gates and Bernanke. You just took the top two Republican disasters Iraq and the economy bipartisan issues. Dumb move.

        #2: where was the Congressional equivalent of the Pecora Commission? No effective public shaming of the market manipulators? Also, too, ‘foaming the runway’ instead of prosecuting robo-signers. The New Deal Democrats lived for 40 years off of Herbert Hoover. The Republicans lived for 20 years off Jimmy Carter. The Democrats didn’t live for 1 midterm after the greatest economic collapse in 80 years. Oh, but we did get Erskine Bowles speaking for Democrats, talk about turning a win into a loss.

        #3: Which brings us to the whole grand bargain thingee. Bad as policy but even worse as politics. Republicans stand firm refuse to bargain. Democrats weak, try to work with placate uncompromising Republicans.

        Irrespective of Republican policies or strategies the Democrats pretty much fumbled away a generational chance to differentiate themselves from Republicans in a very constructive and clear way. Instead they fuzzed up the clear lines with insipid appointments and inability to work on more than one track at a time.

        • humanoid.panda

          There is something to this, but
          1) How many people knew that Bernanke was a republican? 2% of population? 4%?
          2. Obama won in 2012, and Democrats swept every single swing seat – and that happened post the Grand Bargain fiasco.

          • humanoid.panda

            The New Deal Democrats lived for 40 years off of Herbert Hoover. The Republicans lived for 20 years off Jimmy Carter. The Democrats didn’t live for 1 midterm after the greatest economic collapse in 80 years. Oh, but we did get Erskine Bowles speaking for Democrats, talk about turning a win into a loss.

            And this, of course, is revisionist history. Sure, the Democrats made hay of Hoover, and Republicans of Carter. But
            1. Hoover was in power 3 years after depression hit. W – 3 months.
            2. Reagan got cloberred pretty badly at midterm- and then the economy exploded.

            Messaging is nice, but it’s the pickle on the sandwich. The bologna is economic circumstances.

          • StellaB

            In my conversations with the average Trump voter, they seemed to think that Obama and the Democrats controlled the Congress. They had no idea who ran the Fed or the DoD.

            • Right, as usual we are centering our argument about what to do next on the assumption that the voting populace exactly mimics our high level of knowledge and concern about minutiae about who is staffing which office. They fucking picked Trump and to this minute (if not this day, who knows) they are perfectly happy with someone who has staffed every single one of his possible offices with cronies, crooks, liars, and thieves. If you were to ask Trump’s voters whether these guys are Democrats or Republicans they wouldn’t be able to tell you and they wouldn’t care! They would say “they are businessmen! Above party politics! Outsiders!”

          • Scott Lemieux

            1) How many people knew that Bernanke was a republican? 2% of population? 4%?
            2. Obama won in 2012, and Democrats swept every single swing seat – and that happened post the Grand Bargain fiasco.

            Yes, LosGatos is engaged in a classic pundit’s fallacy here. The number of swing voters who could even name the Secretary of Defense or Fed Charmian is negligible, as is the number of people who know about the grand bargain negotiations. Only people who follow politics closely and are mostly unpersuadable know about this stuff.

            • LosGatosCA

              I promise to clap harder.

              Of course it’s a fallacy to note how many Republicans get appointed to the Daddy jobs in Democratic administrations.

              Of course the lack of hammering home the criminality of robo signing and having the focus on ‘foaming the runway’ did not throw away the opportunity for differentiation. I doubt any of these WWC folks who have relatives that lost their homes or kids that are underemployed today would think the Democrats are on their side.

              And who could have been a better spokesperson for a jobs first campaign than Erskine Bowles talking about trimming entitlements?

              I’ll always remember that fierce devotion to Democratic Party principles being espoused and reinforced everyday by Gates, Bernanke, Geithner, Bowles, etc. and then later the intensity of the Republican led devotion to fair elections supported by the FBI.

              If you people don’t learn from your mistakes, well, good luck with that.

              • efgoldman

                Of course it’s a fallacy to note how many Republicans get appointed to the Daddy jobs in Democratic administrations.

                Whether or not they were good holdovers *for policy reasons* is a seperate argument.
                Scott’s point is that only an infinitesimal number of voters knew or cared, and that is correct.
                Anybody that thinks the LG&M commentariat represents any but the smallest sliver – possibly unmeasurable – of the electorate needs to get out more.

                • DocAmazing

                  Few voters knew, or cared, that James Comey is a Republican. Lots of them knew about his investigative activities late in the 201 campaign. Few voters knew, or cared, that Timothy Geithner is an alumnus of Kissinger Associates. Lots of them knew that the Treasury Dep’t was central in bailing out the perpetrators of the 2008 crash.

                  Most people can’t tell the players without a program, but they’ve got a good idea of what’s going on on the field.

                • urd

                  Scott’s point is that only an infinitesimal number of voters knew or cared, and that is correct.

                  So that makes it okay? Just because the public at large doesn’t see such massive stupidity does not make it a good move.

                  I argue that people didn’t know or care at the time but they did find out about it later, and cared then. It became one of many issues for the democrats.

                • LosGatosCA

                  I’m kind of astounded by the lack of understanding that every administration has a limited number of policy and image impact jobs and giving any of those impact jobs to members of the opposition is a 2 job swing with two generation consequences.

                  Greenspan and Bernanke spent 14 of 16 Democratic admin years talking about and putting their weight behind Republican policy preferences.

                  If Clinton had appointed someone other than reappointing Greenspan, who would have been the person to put the equivalent ‘Greenspan’ seal of approval’ on Bush II’s tax cut in 2001. Of course, Greenspan could have testified as a private citizen, as the political hack he was, but if Clinton had appointed, someone who actually believed in something other than Ayn Rand, presumably that person would have offset Greenspan. We’ll never know because Democrats can’t see past the headlight on their bicycle.

                  On the DoD not only do Republicans get to run things on the Democratic watch but their teams now have the experience. So the next time, the Democratic bench is weaker than it should be which leads to …. the same cycle.

                  These people are making policy decisions daily across key areas and their values are different than Democrats, their public postures are different than Democrats. If that’s not a problem for the folks here, I’m certainly less impressed than I used to be.

                • JKTH

                  How did Bernanke put his weight behind Republican policy preferences?

        • jpgray

          And this is where Bernie and restructuring talk actually has some purchase, because our fundraising structure was heavily tied into Wall Street and the financial sector generally, as were many leadership figures in the party, from Obama on down. His economic team was a constellation of Rubinites.

          Campaign cash sources are so critical, and so many high-profile party figures, past and present, were tied into the financial sector that Pecora-ing this thing exceedingly painful and risky.

          On healthcare, a similar story. To do the thing right would have been eviscerating the profile, connections and funding sources of many top Democrats and former Dem leadership figures. Painful and risky again.

          • So–was the right thing to try to get single payer out of that particular congress and senate? In other words: the right thing twas to get nothing? For fear that someone , somewhere, was having some fun with big pharma?

            • jpgray

              Not at all – but think about why we couldn’t.

              In part the country wasn’t there, but also in part our paralysis on reimportation, price negotiation, the public option and other sundry policies far short of single payer ran into the structure of the party and just died. A lot of powerful and influential Democrats, in office and out, plus crucial fundraisers, would not be on board with any of that.

              We’re organized at the moment to promote social justice relatively well, but are more or less hamstrung on economic justice.

              When it comes to fleecing the sick and destroying people’s financial futures, we aren’t in a position to do as much about it as you and I would like, or even a majority of Americans would like.

              • Were you expecting the millennium to bring nirvana? I wasn’t. The country doesn’t want–pace Bernie–a socialist paradise. They are wrong not to want it, but they don’t. At any rate I don’t waste any time agonizing over the fact that people in power don’t want to relinquish power, or that they like a nice bottle of wine with their corruption. I am more astonished that people were willing to fight so hard to get the ACA through that they willingly lost their jobs in congress to make it happen. They stood up to torrential, brutal, ugly attacks. We’ve had our political leaders and members of congress literally shot in the head while they were out doing their jobs. For fuck’s sake the idea that we can never get nice things because something something something our leaders are too corrupt was just proved massively wrong by Obama passing the ACA and insuring millions of people and causing hundreds of thousands of those millions to for a fraction of time have healthier, safer, lives.

                And that isn’t good enough for you because in an alternate universe there would be neither marrying nor giving in marriage, neither currying favor nor granting favor, neither corruption nor lack of corruption?

                Is this the “get politics out of my politics” thing again?

                • jpgray

                  How is reimportation a socialist paradise?

              • Morse Code for J

                Our “paralysis” on reimportation is that it’s a bullshit solution.

                Cory Booker didn’t vote against reimportation of pharmaceuticals because he especially cherished their $350,000 out of the $19M he’s raised since he came to the Senate. He (and Bob Menendez, too, with far fewer contributions from industry) voted against it because he has about 120,000 residents in jobs relating to drug manufacturing or research, and any benefit from reimportation would die as soon as Canada decided not to allow it, or the sellers priced their Canada-bound drugs to take reimportation into account. The juice was not worth the squeeze. Maybe if we created a single-payer entity to purchase pharmaceuticals for the entire country, that would be a lasting benefit worth angering one’s pharma employee residents over, but that wasn’t on offer.

                Sure, the Democratic Party is responsive to business interests the way that any national political party will be. But I would submit that the structure causing you grief in your agenda is more the Senate’s than the Democratic Party’s.

                • efgoldman

                  Cory Booker didn’t vote against reimportation of pharmaceuticals because he especially cherished their $350,000 out of the $19M he’s raised since he came to the Senate. He (and Bob Menendez, too, with far fewer contributions from industry) voted against it because he has about 120,000 residents in jobs relating to drug manufacturing or research

                  JP’s reasoning is the same as the mouth breathers in the previous thread: well, it will be good for ME! Downstream consequences? Meh.
                  In some cases, that can’t be changed: coal isn’t coming back and the steel mills aren’t re-opening no matter how much the bloviator in chief shouts about it. That was a failure of foresight and imagination in the 1960s/70s (alternate work, not protecting coal). Repeating the mistake helps nothing. If implementing cost control becomes politically possible, go for it.

          • sibusisodan

            Healthcare & finance collectively account for about over 1/3 of the US economy.

            Radical restructuring of that large a portion of the worlds most complex economy is difficult for reasons that go well beyond campaign contributions.

            • jpgray

              But our mandate was to restructure them, no?

              Campaign cash is one thing, having the party leadership architecture tied irretrievably into both industries leads to a sad policy paralysis. Think of all the former Dem leadership figures that are now financial or healthcare industry flacks, and the leadership positions of those with connections to those industries, and only THEN think of the dollars.

              Of course any reform would be difficult, but doesn’t the current party structure make meaningful reform far more difficult?

              • humanoid.panda

                But our mandate was to restructure them, no?

                You could argue about banking, but Obama’s healthcare platform was slightly to the right of the ACA (no mandate).

                • jpgray

                  Obama not only campaigned on drug re-importation and Medicare price negotiation, he voted for both of those in 2007.

                  And again, the first of those is hardly a call to socialist unicorn farming.

              • Scott Lemieux

                But our mandate was to restructure them, no?

                No. “Mandates” aren’t really a thing and in any case the ACA is what Obama ran on.

                Of course any reform would be difficult, but doesn’t the current party structure make meaningful reform far more difficult?

                There has never been a time in American history when welfare policy didn’t require buying off powerful stakeholders.

                • jpgray

                  No. “Mandates” aren’t really a thing and in any case the ACA is what Obama ran on.

                  I think anger at the financial industry and GOP stewardship thereof was no small part of why we won. Disagree? What happened, do you think, to the re-importation and price negotiation bits he ran on?

                  There has never been a time in American history when welfare policy didn’t require buying off powerful stakeholders.

                  Sure, but… again, doesn’t organizing the party leadership around funding from, connections to, and employment in these industries paralyze us when it comes to regulating them?

                • sibusisodan

                  again, doesn’t organizing the party leadership around funding from, connections to, and employment in these industries paralyze us when it comes to regulating them?

                  Bluntly, no.

                  In 2009-10, Democrats passed substantial legislation of both the financial and healthcare sectors through Dodd-Frank and ACA.

                  You need an explanation as to why campaign contributions & lobbying, if so powerful, were so ineffective to stop this relatively mild biting of the hand that fed them while also being powerful enough to stop any more far reaching reform.

                  Lobbying certainly leads to regulatory capture. It can and does prevent sufficient or appropriate regulation. But it is not by itself sufficient to explain lack of further transformation of those sectors.

        • twbb

          “It’s hard to make a message of blame stick when you hold over Republicans in the top two Daddy jobs – DoD and the Fed, Gates and Bernanke. You just took the top two Republican disasters Iraq and the economy bipartisan issues. Dumb move.”

          Two people that most undecided/swing voters never heard of would not have been incompatible with holding the GOP accountable for both the economy and the Iraq War for years and years.

          • jpgray

            And the catfood commission? If buying into “father knows best on defense” is dumb, then buying into “deficit ghost stories for thee and not for me” is dumberer.

            • twbb

              You’re conflating substantive decision-making with campaigning. I’m not defending either appointment on substantive grounds, I’m simply saying that they didn’t preclude a campaign strategy of blame-the-Republicans.

  • nemdam

    I think this is what Bernie means when he says the Democrats aren’t the party of working people. Bernie means if Obama would’ve given out his phones to he WWC as well, then they would’ve voted for socialism.

    • los

      If in the future you realize that you can comment to an altcuck whining about “obamaphones”, this might be useful:

      The Obama Phone? – FactCheck.org
      goal of universal service became a goal of universal access to service when Congress passed The Telecommunications Act of 1934. The act created the FCC and also included in its preamble a promise “to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

      informal practice was codified when the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) was created as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to “ensure all Americans, including low-income consumers and those who live in rural, insular, high cost areas, shall have affordable service and [to] help to connect eligible schools, libraries, and rural health care providers to the global telecommunications network.” The USAC includes four programs to serve rural areas, high cost areas, rural health care providers, and schools and libraries. Since 1997, USAC has provided discounted land line service to low-income individuals. (A more limited program to offer assistance to low-income individuals was created a decade earlier; the telecommunications act expanded and formalized it.) According to Eric Iversen, USAC director of external relations, the Universal Service Fund more recently began funding programs that provide wireless service, such as the pre-paid cellular SafeLink program mentioned in the chain e-mail.

      ————
      When customer has no internet access, mobile/cellular is now less expensive than old “landlines” .
      VoIP costs even less, but requires an internet connection.

      • los

        Someone had a little fun writing this:
        Who Started the Obama Phone?
        first free government cell phone was given out three months earlier during the Bush administration.

        Some authorities go back even further

        Nevertheless, some authorities dispute that interpretation and believe credit for the Obama Phone program should go back even further to 1984

        But even that does not go back far enough for some industry leaders who say the origin of the Obama Phone program goes all the way back to 1934.

        And believe it or not, there are a few telecommunications experts insist that the Obama Phone program began all the way back in the early 20th century during the Woodrow Wilson administration.

        What’s not in dispute is that the program has grown tremendously during President Obama’s administration — nearly 20 million low income Americans are already benefiting from the program.

        Some experts believe that as many as 35% of all Americans may be qualified for the free phones and that the program will continue to grow under subsequent presidents even as it retains the Obama’s name on it.

        • Harry Hardrada

          Clearly, Obama started the Obamaphone program using his time machine. Probably while he was on his way back from printing that birth notice in a Honolulu newspaper.

      • los
  • Harkov311

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the south didn’t have a problem with the New Deal until they were told they had to include brown people. Then suddenly it was the worst thing ever.

    • Absolutely–Brown v. board of education and the VRA started the stampede towards even greater privatization and segregation in the form of christianist academies and withdrawal of public services.

  • bobbyp

    I’m not so sure. They began to turn against the New Deal in the late 30’s (cf. John Nance Garner), mostly because of the push to empower workers, because if you allow unions, the next thing you know, blacks will join them. The destruction of the Southern Way of Life would surely follow.

  • bobbyp

    Scott,

    The rejoinder to “it couldn’t have been racism” is the claim that those WWC voters in the rust belt had “voted for Obama twice”, so how could you call them racists?

    I’m still clinging to my bitter ender claim that it was mostly racism. What’s your take? Thanks.

    • humanoid.panda

      The rejoinder to “it couldn’t have been racism” is the claim that those WWC voters in the rust belt had “voted for Obama twice”, so how could you call them racists?

      The best rejoinder is that racism is not a binary proposition, but a spectrum.

      • Murc

        More to the point, there’s more people than you’d think who just don’t give a shit either way. Who didn’t give a good goddamn that Obama was black, but also didn’t care that Trump was a vile racist.

        • jpgray

          Very much this.

          Also, there were the weird marginal “and after this ballot no one ever gets to call me racist again!” Obama voters who remained, of course, racist.

          • humanoid.panda

            More to the point, there’s more people than you’d think who just don’t give a shit either way. Who didn’t give a good goddamn that Obama was black, but also didn’t care that Trump was a vile racist.

            Yes, this.

          • daves09

            And a lot of those people peeled off the coalition after one term.
            Best not to forget that there was a lot of anxiety(justified I think) that Romney would win 2012. He didn’t but of course it was much closer than we could have hoped.

            • kvs

              2012 went about as you’d expect given the nature and state of the economic recovery.

          • Davis X. Machina

            Expiatory voters.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          what a lot of them liked about Obama was that he wasn’t one of “those” (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) Democrats- not a teddy bear MLK, but a sharp, cool, tech god MLK who gave them the opportunity to say, “Hey, I’m not a racist- I like Obama”. I’m pretty sure the drop in his positive ratings began to steepen about the time he mused out loud about the possibility of Trayvon Martin being his son

          • efgoldman

            Obama was that he wasn’t one of “those” (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) Democrats- not a teddy bear MLK

            And that MLK was a total fantasy.

        • kvs

          Or, you know, they thought it was great that Trump was so much more vehemently anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim than either McCain or Romney were.

      • Racism isn’t a binary proposition–but its not a spectrum, either. Its more like a wave and a particle. People experience it, express it, revel in it, hide from it, go towards it, retreat from it at different times and in situationally and historically specific and contingent ways. The same WWC men who voted for Trump over Clinton would have voted for Clinton over Obama at one point. People’s votes are reactive, situational, and they are judging the candidates not on an absolute standard (he’s black, she’s a woman) but on a relative one “how does this candidate advance or harm my identity or my politics compared to the other choice?” Within the primary, and compared to Obama, Hillary was coded as a conventional white democrat who would hold the line against POC in the party. Against McCain Obama seemed like a breath of fresh air. Against Trump Hillary was coded as a feminize bitch who was aligned with the now retrospectively too black for the country Obama and the democratic party.

        • farin

          Trump, unlike the average high-profile Republican, was loud and proud about his white supremacy. The various neo-confederates and -nazis who endorsed him made it clear that this was the first candidate who really spoke their language. Even though they could reasonably expect a whole lot of white supremacy from any R, having a candidate whose first and only commitment was racism is pretty heady stuff.

          • Breadbaker

            There were clearly voters in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who wouldn’t have lifted a finger for John McCain or Mitt Romney who would have crawled to the polls to vote for Donald Trump. For the most part, they stayed home in 2008 and 2012. And no ad of Hillary, or visit to those states, was going to change their minds.

      • kvs

        It’s more accurate to think of it as a classification. Bigotry is the overarching category. Then there are specific prejudices within.

  • kvs

    Not just racism but explicit anti-immigrant messaging. Given the Upshot’s analysis of Obama supporters who switched to Trump, there’s at least some merit to the question of why racists would vote for an African-American president. Xenophobia explains that difference.

    Trump’s biggest difference from McCain and Romney was how much more stridently anti-immigrant he made his pitch. Starting with the fact that he’s a Birther himself, which made the 27%ers that much more enthusiastic to support him. But he also made it clear to the non-27% xenophobes that he was their candidate.

    • Rob in CT

      THIS, THIS, THIS.

      This is a key bit of the explanation for the puzzling question about how someone who voted for Obama – maybe twice! – could turn around and vote Trump, and why some who didn’t bother voting before showed up excited to vote Trump.

      They may not be any more anti-black than they were in 2008 or 2012 (some, I think may be – in reaction to BLM). But Trump finally gave them the anti-immigrant message they wanted, raw & uncut.

      And there were other things – Trump banging on about trade resonated, despite it being largely gibberish (which is his native tongue). He picked up on anger at offshoring jobs and tied that into his general theme of “I’ll stomp on the foreigners who have hurt you” theme.

      • Thom

        Right , and the stupidity of The Wall ties together fear of foreigners, fear of terrorism, fear of imports (and fear of job loss) , and fear of illegal drugs.

  • los

    Just FYI, all of the NYT url after and including the question mark character
    ?smid=tw-share&_r=0&referer=https://t.co/x7jaJjmc6Z
    is tracking stuff.

    That is common.

    Exceptions are search urls, which look like:
    site. edu / search?q=psycho+gollum+molester+squirepants

    Exception is traditional forum thread urls, which need the stuff after the ?. But you should remove anything you see resembling:
    jsessionid=5fvkyt4e86o5ed8x6xg&
    or
    &jsessionid=5fvkyt4e86o5ed8x6xg

    Exception is youtube video url.

    • los

      The other common type of tracking stuff is
      newssite . com /2017/04/02/cat-coughs-up-mars-alien-into-julep/#.FtVtuyJxJ73Q
      Remove hash and dot and everything after:
      #.FtVtuyJxJ73Q

      There are browser extensions that can inoculate urls.

  • e.a.foster

    racism was very important to Trump’s appeal. His line of “make American great again”, leaves out the line before all those other people came here and it was only us white people. It was a substitute for make American white again or at least shove African Americans to the back of the bus again.

    Racism/tribalism has always been just below the surface in many countries. When times are good, it all gets a tad glossed over. people don’t care that. But when times get tough, they want it for themselves and the racism comes out loud and clear.

    Racism helped Trump because racism is usually about a quarter of an inch below the surface. It comes out in small groups when others aren’t around. What Trump did was gave voice to it. He made it O.K. and once that was out of the bag, it became a free for all. His Muslim ban was just another line for get rid of the Jews. deport Mexicans was another phrase for get rid of everyone immigrating from other countries. its must Mexican and Muslim had 2 M s and sounded good at rallies.

    when a rich and famous person was openly racist the rest went, well if he can do it and run for President, it must be O.K. and off came the band aid which had kept it under raps in some places for the past 40 years. Now that its out, not much will change. Racism is part of the American culture. A lot of whites have never gotten over the fact people of African descent were no longer slaves and some had achieved economic parity. then it became against the law to treat people of colour differently. For some it was always easy to look down on some one who was an immigrant. When that was no longer “fashionable”. some had no one to look down on. they had to focus on their own short comings. Never pleasant.

    The need to supress one group or another will most likely always be with us. Now the favoured group to try to supress are trans gendered people.

  • Gwen

    I think it’s important to point out that the “Obamaphone” controversy is, at least in part, about race, and I think that Scott should be commended, because it’s probably the least appealing explanation and certainly one of the more uncomfortable ones.

    With that said though, there is a deeply-intertwined bundle of resentments at work here, and I think those also have to be explored:

    * The first murmurs about “Obamaphones” arose in October 2009, per Snopes. (http://www.snopes.com/politics/taxes/cellphone.asp). The initial e-mails seem not to have made a huge impact however.

    * It is worth noting that the original e-mails do not seem to be blatantly racial in context, although they do seem to share contempt for the poor, generally, and for government services. The context of these emails of course was the economic recession, the Stimulus Bill, and various government bailouts.

    * Looking at Google Trends, it looks like the “Obamaphone” controversy really took off in September 2012 after a black protester at a Romney event was filmed bragging about how “all the minorities in Cleveland got Obamaphones.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2012/09/28/crazy-for-obama-phones-but-are-they-for-real/#14982ecff9cf)

    * Google Trends shows that interest spiked in October 2012, but the issue had something of a “long tail” as it became part of the right-wing mythology about Obama.

    * Just googling site:stormfront.org, it looks like the real racist backlash occurred after September 2012. To be sure there we a few posts on stormfront.org before that, but they were, well, fairly tame for a nazi site.

    * It looks to me like the issue originally arose as part of frustration with “government waste” but the September 2012 caused the more racially-resentful members of the right-wing to start “saying the quiet part out loud” regarding the Obamaphone program.

  • EvanHarper

    I’m sorry to WELL ACKSHUALLY this on a minor point, but, “financed by telecom companies rather than by taxpayers” here makes no sense. It’s paid for by a tax on telecom revenues which probably is incident mostly on consumers in the end. Yes, Mr. Jobholding Upstanding (White) Taxpayer really is paying for the phone that an unemployed and possibly (shock!) nonwhite citizen needs to have some basic level of access to the rest of society. We should defend that principle openly rather than telling these stories about how Big Corporations are somehow paying for all of it.

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