Home / General / Are American Political Parties Rapidly Converging Toward the Center? (SPOILER: Are You Insane?)

Are American Political Parties Rapidly Converging Toward the Center? (SPOILER: Are You Insane?)

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I’ve mentioned this before, but a lot of lefty intellectuals write about electoral and/or legislative politics without taking them nearly as seriously as they take their fields of core expertise. Consider, for example, Hamilton Nolan. I strongly recommend you read his account of the failed union drive at the Nissan plant in Mississippi.  It’s a first-rate piece of reporting — well-researched, insightful, careful to put critiques of tactical decisions in the context of the brutally difficult structural conditions union organizers face in right-to-work states.

Then read this, which reads like the work of a different person entirely:

So pissed off people elected Donald Fucking Trump. [Well, an anachronistic 18th century institution designed to limit democracy and overrepresent southern white supremacists did, frustrating the will of the public, but anyway. –ed.]  And here we are.

Within politics, there have been two distinct reactions to this anti-establishment upheaval. The establishment—particularly of the Democratic Party—has concluded that the solution is to run to the center, “moderating” (meaning changing) positions as necessary until a sufficient number of people are attracted to a muddled, something-tepid-for-everyone platform. And the left and right wings—where the anti-establishment sentiment originated in the first place—see this as an opportunity to double down and attract disaffected people to their sides. The mistake that the established political parties make is to think that if they run to the center, everyone is obligated to follow them. Why? There is a much more straightforward solution: Put a third party in the middle.

This is the biggest howler I’ve read in a long time, and I’ve read people arguing that America’s elites are unified in their opposition to Donald Trump. The ideas that the parties are moving to the center is just utterly wrong by any possible metric. Even before 2016, rapidly accelerating elite polarization was a well-established fact. Has 2016 compelled the Democrats to retreat back to the center? Obviously not. I’ve discussed this in the context of Kirsten Gillibrand’s political positioning, but the other senators with potential presidential ambitions like Booker and Harris are embracing the core elements of Bernie’s platform, which is to the left of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 platform, which it turn was well to the left of Obama’s platforms in 2008/12 and light years to the left of the platforms her husband ran on. Or consider this op-ed from noted left-wing bombthrower Chuck Schumer, which inter alia advocates for a trillion-dollar stimulus,  a $15 minimum wage, paid family and sick leave, heightened antitrust enforcement, and re-writing trade agreements. (If your guess is that the Jacobin take on this op-ed would be to handwave all of these issues — none of which were considered trivial as recently as the 2016 primaries — and focus on a single graf where he argues for a minor job training tax credit, concluding that therefore the Democratic Party is a racket focused solely on advancing the interests of corporations that must be destroyed, you win a free lifetime subscription to LGM.)

To be clear, there are still many questions of judgment left open here. You can argue that mainstream Democrats still haven’t gone far enough. You can argue that you don’t trust them. You can argue that there are better messengers for the platform they’re converging on.  All reasonable questions! But Nolan isn’t making any of these arguments. He’s arguing that the Democratic leadership has made a choice to move to the center in response to Trump. This is just flatly false, and he offers no evidence in support of it. (“Rich people tend to socialize with other rich people” is not evidence for his claim, FWIW.) And I think the implicit claim that Republicans are moving to the center is too self-refuting to require rebuttal.

And all of this is premised on a view of the American political spectrum that is just baffling:

The majority of powerful people in both current parties that like to refer to themselves as “mainstream” may haggle over minor issues, but the generally agree that the government must boost and protect private capital, that America must be a military powerhouse, and that the current state of affairs must only be tweaked very slowly, if at all.

Put all of these people in the same party. Let the people who actually have ideals have their own parties on each side.

True left wingers want a radical reordering of wealth and power. True right wingers want decentralization and a radical deconstruction of government as we know it. It is absurd to pretend that either of these groups should be satisfied with a political spectrum that ranges from Hillary Clinton to Mitch McConnell. Nowhere in that spectrum will you find full socialism, or full “deconstruction of the administrative state.” That is because the existing establishment is, quite naturally, focused most of all on the maintenance of existing power structures. Its ideological arguments are minor.

The idea that the differences between Clinton and McConnell are “minor” is…just staggeringly wrong. Increasing taxes on the wealthy and massively cutting them is a minor difference? Massively expanding Medicaid and cutting it 35% — ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? (Boy, were a lot of people deluded to put their bodies on the line as if this was important!) Using the EPA to restrict carbon emissions and using it to dismantle such regulations — same diff? Women being coerced by the state to carry pregnancies to term or being offered Medicaid funds for reproductive services — who cares, really? Should African-Americans have effective access to the ballot or not — hardly a question worth agitating over. Sam Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, not a dime’s worth of difference, amirite? And I could go on like this for a long time.

It is true that America’s large brokerage parties are only offering the considerable and accelerating differences between Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan and not a contest between “full socialism” and full “deconstruction of the administrative state” because neither of the latter two ideas has a substantial mass constituency in the United States. Most Democratic voters don’t favor a nationalization of the means of production. Most Republican voters like the federal welfare state just fine. And there’s an easy way to test this. Run in the Democratic primaries on a platform that Bernie’s left-liberalism is a hopeless capitulation to capital. If it turns out that this is what most Democratic voters want but haven’t gotten it because it isn’t being offered, I owe you a Coke.

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  • Joe Paulson

    Democrats over my lifetime, particularly some groups within that coalition, worked damn hard to get certain things to be deemed simply wrong to oppose. So, we have Orrin Hatch and the like speaking out against Trump’s tweet order about trans in the military. But, there is still a large gap, and the Republican Party getting more conservative and the Democratic Party more liberal underlines it.

  • rfm

    Punching left is self-defense.

    • Brien Jackson

      Nolan, Greenwald, Fang, etc.’s routine hippie punching is definitely disturbing.

      • Wait, you’re sure you’re interpreting the joke correctly? (Fang is overtly racist and Greenwald’s leftism is entirely nominal, but not sure how Nolan’s purity derp is hippie-punching).

        • farin

          The people they’re punching (Gillibrand, Clinton, et al) are, in fact, hippies, even if they’re being called corporatist stooges. (

        • rfm

          I should clarify that I’m not really joking. Liberals are in a two front war. It’s important to treat the illiberal left and it’s intransigent left-liberal allies as strategic enemies, regardless of ideological affinity.

      • rfm

        GG and Fang are not to the left of Democrats/liberals. Nolan isn’t so much punching hippies as engaged in a sustained campaign of misrepresenting the average positions of Democrats/liberals.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Exactly. Lee Fang isn’t more left-wing than the typical Democratic senator unless the only metric for determining one’s leftism is how much you despise Neera Tanden.

          • rfm

            At this stage it pretty much is. That and your monthly tithe to Chapo.

            • gwen

              Hail Chapo full of grease, the Left is with you.
              Blessed art thou amongst podcasts.

          • Michael

            I mean, that’s simply not true. He supports higher taxes, is for less corporate influence, and more critical of Israel than the majority of elected representatives. You can cogently argue there are reasons those representatives don’t adopt those positions, but not that there’s little difference between what Fang advocates and what those leaders tend to support.

        • The head splitting effort needed to make sense of this is not a good advertisement for reading the actual piece.

    • Brian J.

      As well as demanded by the electorate. The winning percentage of Sanders/ Our Revolution-endorsed candidates without “establishment” Democratic backing would embarrass the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

      There’s also the legal noose tightening around Jane Sanders…

      • FlipYrWhig

        The 1899 Cleveland Spiders woulda won plenty of games if it weren’t for the ESTABLISHMENT Brooklyn Superbas rigging the league from the inside.

        • Brian J.

          Of course, the real problem was that they were taken over by an outside force (the Robison brothers) that tore the Spiders apart to sustain their preferred team (the St. Louis Perfectos/ Cardinals, who finished fifth anyway). So there’s some similarity if you squint.

  • brad

    How many brocalists even understand what they think they’re advocating for vs it just being “install a Soviet council made up of me n mine”?

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      the thing Nolan likely is never going to understand is the majority of people don’t usually *want* a Revolution, and the more fragile your situation is, even less so. And that should matter to him more than someone like McConnell, because Nolan’s goal is allegedly to make things better for as many people as possible- McConnell doesn’t have that particular constraint

      • brad

        I don’t understand what he thinks a revolution would even be. If Bernie had won the nomination and the Presidency he’d currently be facing multiple articles of impeachment, and would every 3-6 months.

        Actual revolutions are long, hard, bloody things, and even someone I want to like, like Nolan, I can’t help but see a little Kurtz in. All those brown bodies are just cannon fodder in the war to come, for too many comfy white “lefties”.

        • aab84

          Having read him for a long time, I don’t think he wants a revolution in any meaningful sense of that word. What he wants is mass unionization and a system of progressive taxation. He has convinced himself that this places him wildly outside of the mainstream of the Democratic party.

          • farin

            He really wants to want a revolution.

          • AlexSaltzberg

            And that the first step in this plan is to get rid of the Democratic party — after all, with them gone, the “left” of the nation will cry out for a new leader that will then do everything HamNo wants.

            As we all know, it’s pointless to get the Democratic party to endorse those policies because they are really the same as the Republican party, once you really think about it.

          • “He has convinced himself that this places him wildly outside of the mainstream of the Democratic party.”

            Yeah, that’s nuts.

          • Captain_Subtext

            It may place him outside the mainstream Democratic politicians, but I am not sure that we will ever have a “mainstream” Democratic party. Any polling of Democrats that might be done is subject to poll bias and, given that there might be a desire to maintain the status quo among the people doing the polling, we cannot assume that mass unionization and progressive taxation is outside the mainstream for the party. The data does seem to support it, but that’s only after the relentless media push for the last 20 years or so.

          • Phil Perspective

            He has convinced himself that this places him wildly outside of the mainstream of the Democratic party.

            You think the Democratic Party elite agrees with Sanders?

            • Brien Jackson

              The fuck did you get off my block list?

              • Probably using the LGM WordPress account.

            • Manny Kant

              The Democratic Party elite’s disagreements with Sanders are primarily about what they think will win elections and whether they think his specific proposed policies would survive close scrutiny, not about broad goals like “more unionization” and “more progressive taxation”.

          • Adam Short

            This. I’ve listened to so many leftists prattle on about what they think are pie – in – the – sky principles of leftist revolution that are actually in the Democratic platform.

            The democratic platform is very militaristic because we are an extraordinarily militaristic and violent society. This is very bothersome to antiwar leftists but it’s idiotic to assume this means the entire democratic platform is center – right. It isn’t. The 2017 Democrats are pretty liberal.

            The last.20 years or so have discredited most right – wing ideas that don’t involve bombing people. Right – wingers are still in charge for structural reasons mostly having to do with various types of vote suppression.

            If we can fix those structural issues, the democratic party, now WAY to the left of current government policy, will be much freer to implement the good policy it already supports. Which is the first step toward fixing the rest.

        • Terok Nor

          “Actual revolutions are long, hard, bloody things.”. Exactly, and that’s what makes the term ” political revolution” so fraudulent. Sanders is selling the idea that you can have the equivalent of a violent seizure of power without the violence. Like the wabbit said, that’s a pretty good trick, Doc.

          • so-in-so

            The GOP seems to have managed the trick.

            • Terok Nor

              They want the violence part.

      • cpinva

        “the thing Nolan likely is never going to understand is the majority of people don’t usually *want* a Revolution, and the more fragile your situation is, even less so.”

        this actually is true of our very own, vaunted “American Revolution”. it’s estimated that, at the time, only roughly 1/3rd of the population actively supported it, 1/3rd didn’t care either way, and 1/3rd actively opposed it (mostly in the south).

    • Brien Jackson

      Yep. That someone like, say Katie Halper is explicitly comfortable with the alt-right isn’t all that hard to understand once you recognize their own authoritarian impulses.

      • Kevin

        I had no idea who she was until Noah Berlatsky fisked her podcast interview with Angela Nagle (author of “Kill all Normies”). Her reaction to him quoting her words and Nagle’s words showed me all that I needed to know about her. The fact that she is still tweeting non-stop about Noah a few weeks later, mocking him for things he’s written, trying to sex shame him, shows me even more that she isn’t a serious person/thinker.

        • Read her on Alternet back in 2009-2011-ish. Don’t recall her being that bad. WTF

          • Origami Isopod

            Some dickhead on dK was praising Nagle for writing that the SJWs are what drive people to 4chan and Reddit and Trump. I figured I could safely ignore anything she had to say.

            • Kevin

              It’s funny FdB, Greenwald, and a bunch of lefties have been lavishing Nagle’s book with praise. Want to know who else did last week?

              Richard Spencer.

            • Well Halper’s current uselessness is something of a given (although thanks to you and Kevin for giving pointers) – it was just my impression that her degeneration must’ve been fairly recent.

            • humanoidpanda

              Here is the thing. If we take a random, normal, right wing person, let’s call him Rod Dreher, and called him a goat fucker, I’m pretty sure he won’t find himself struggling with a powerful desire to fuck goats. So, why the same is not true when you call them a racist?

              • djw

                Murc’s law again. “If you call them a racist they become one, just like that.” Not a Democrat? No agency!

              • Y’know, in any other publication of comparable quality one would ask why Dreher hasn’t long since been fired from a cannon, into the sun…but here, one can only assume he fills the void Larison left when he wisely decided to STFU about stuff unrelated to foreign policy.

              • CP

                “It’s widely acknowledged among conservative Christians today that the white church in the South failed terribly in the civil rights era.”

                It is?

                All the conservative Christians I know are still preaching such wisdom as “MLK was a Christian, and liberals are atheist commies who hate Christians, so really MLK was just James Dobson 1.0, and he’d totally be with us today. QED, libtards!”

                • gyrfalcon

                  I think this is in contrast to “the white church in the South pre-Civil War, which worked hand-in-glove with the Slave Power”. A fair number of ‘conservative Christians today’ probably wish their pastors had been more reactionary during the civil rights era, not less.

              • FlipYrWhig

                Christ, what an asshole.

          • Kevin

            She made some idiotic comments on the podcast, and this is what she objected to:

            It’s not just Nagle who gives the alt right too much credit. Halper during the podcast goes off on a bizarre riff about how SJWs (she uses that term) aren’t willing to try to talk to those they disagree with. There’s no point in trying to get people to own their privilege, she says. And it’s true: privilege call outs are not always useful. But Halper (who is Jewish) then goes on to say that if she were a Jew in Nazi Germany, she would have tried to engage Aryans in meaningful conversation. “If I were a Jew I wouldn’t want anyone to say to Aryans, ‘check your Aryan privilege.’ I’d want people to reason with them. There’s such a taboo about trying to convince people. Do you think that turning your back on people and telling them to check their privilege is how you convince people?”

            Somehow the enemy here is anti-racists criticizing white supremacy, while salvation consists of finding common ground with actual Nazis—rather than, say, in avoiding the kind of left factionalism which prevented socialists and communists from uniting and allowed Hitler to seize power. Halper, in the same conversation, bizarrely suggests that what is really needed in discussions of the Holocaust is less focus on anti-Semitism and more discussion of German economic grievances and anger over Versailles. These factors are actually very frequently discussed in explaining Hitler’s rise to power. But economic anxieties aren’t generally used to explain the Holocaust, because trying to explain the largest racist genocide in history with gestures at the supposed economic anxieties of the perpetrators is widely and rightly recognized as obscene. This, then, is the sad endpoint of the dirtbag left’s confused efforts to throw the mantle of working class authenticity over asshole racists.

            https://www.patreon.com/posts/maybe-taking-of-13515855

            Now, that is indeed some dumbass shit that Katie said. But she’s gone on a nice crusade against him since then, calling in her friends in the dirtbag left (Chapo hosts, etc) to try to dogpile the guy. But really, none of that can change what she’s said, and that’s probably why she is so angry.

            • That’s not really how a lot of left sites have described Nagle’s argument (I still have some reviews sitting in my tabs unread). Berlatsky’s usually pretty good so I’ll have to take a closer look.

        • Matty

          The book is goddamn terrible. I read a bunch of interviews with Nagle and excerpts, and thought “this can’t be all there is to her argument, and if I’m going to talk shit about it online, I should probably read it.” So I bought a fucking copy, and no, it’s exactly as bad as the interviews and excerpts make it sound. The fact that it’s being taken seriously on the left (for values of the left that run from fucking Vox to fucking Jacobin) is distressing. It doesn’t explain dick for shit, and is mostly being used in a pointless intra-left bunfight. I yelled about it in one of my rare excursions to blogging: https://mfstrong.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/its-bad-and-it-matters-the-problem-with-kill-all-normies/

          Sorry for the profanity, but the book is a fucking disaster and actively unhelpful.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Interesting. I had the same reaction — the argument has to be better than what’s being described, because what’s being described is basically Murc’s law.

            • Matty

              Noah Berlatsky has a piece up today where he compares Nagle’s critique of countercultural misogyny with how she presents the “idpol” left in the book that’s interesting in a “this book could have been better” kind of way.

            • Kevin

              Bite the bullet Scott! But it and review it for us!

          • Dalai_Rasta

            Both the blog post and the Storify are excellent. Thanks a lot for taking the time with it.

            • Matty

              Thank you.

          • Kevin

            btw, apart from some typos, I liked that review ;) It really is as you say, she is preaching to like minded people, funnily enough, people who whine about echo chambers…

            But it amazes me that she is getting so much praise for a book that makes it seem like this is anything actually new, like white supremacists and MRA’s are “new” and are the fault of fucking Tumblr lesbians.

            • At the bottom of Berlatsky’s live-tweeting is a link to this review by Jordy Cummings, which criticizes it from a Marxist viewpoint and is for the most part pretty good (and asides are kept to a minimum).

              • Kevin

                Yes, I read that too. Which shows that this isn’t a socialist vs liberal thing, avowed, died in the wool socialists, see this as shoddy poorly researched dreck.

                Yet the amount of information contained in the book would have been better served as a listicle or at best a 5 page article in Current Affairs or some such… The point being made here is that this is not a book about the alt-right. It is an anti-Left polemic.

                That is vicious! “better served as a listicle”. But this won’t bother her, because she has enough anti-left socialists on her side telling her how great her arguments are.

                • The bit about listicles may be an intentionally ironic echo of a Nagle comment in which she favorably compares Brannon to “Buzzfeed listicle writers.”

                  Also noticed how Matty and Cummings both object to Nagles’ conflation of the left-spectrum as a “centrist” hive-mind. Cummings implies that this is written for centrists/center-leftists, but from what I’ve read this seems to be an “I’m not a right-winger, but…” book-length concern troll that’s sub-Moochian in its incompetence.

          • awarre

            ‘doesn’t explain dick for shit’ is just a wonderful turn of phrase. I am going to have to steal that, thank you very much.

          • Veleda_k

            Thanks for linking to that review. I really enjoyed both the blog post and the storify. (Although I am now even more irritated and frustrated than I was before, but that’s not your fault.)

          • Dr. Acula

            Holy shit, that bit about Gamergate is really mendacious, starting off with smearing Zoe Quinn, as if she was somehow responsible for any of it. If the rest of the book’s of that quality, yikes.

  • Brien Jackson

    A) It’s not about policy! It’s not about policy! Its not about policy! For the love of God, Our Revolution’s platform that supposedly caused this brouhaha by being rejected by those DNC sellouts is, taken earnestly, EASILY to the right of my neoliberal shilling ass, and substantially limited in its scope and vision. For fuck’s sake it has a section on “workers’ rights” that amounts to nothing but a $15 minimum wage and it’s plan for climate change is “COMING SOON.” How radical!!!!

    B) Regarding the last graf, these people ultimately know this, which is why they don’t actually run on their beliefs or try to organize around them and instead try to amplify their voices and frame themselves as more legitimate than other coalition members, and so should get to run the whole show forever with everyone else “bending the knee” to them.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t that make the BLM party platform easily to Our Revolution’s left?

      • petesh

        If and only if you do not consider worker ownership of the means of production to be the most important determinant of the left side of the left–right axis. I checked out the Principles:
        http://blacklivesmatter.com/guiding-principles/
        I like them very much. Not a word about ownership of the means of production. But lots of good stuff on empathy, queer affirming, trans affirming, ageism, sexism … why, it’s pretty much a full house of identity politics. And so it damn well should be.

        • Manny Kant

          I don’t think Our Revolution talks about worker ownership of the means of production, either. Apparently they don’t even talk about strengthening unions.

    • stepped pyramids

      Ironically, the one person who actually has drifted toward the center since the election has been Sanders.

    • Scott Lemieux

      $15 minimum wage = radical! ($15 MW + $1 trillion stimulus + paid leave + some corporate tax credits) = neoliberal shilling. This is obvious.

      • They would be the first advocates for all of those, if only they had thought of them first.

  • sigaba

    The parties look marginally different if you’re well-off and a member of the majority ethnicity, all of the fighting is over policies that have nothing to do with you and are irrelevant in the “struggle to radically reorganize wealth and power.”

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      it’s as if the dudebro brigade has never seen the photos of the Obama cabinet, the judges he named, et al, and compared them to their republican counterparts

      • aab84

        Virtually all of HamNo’s writing implicitly or explicitly reflects the belief that if you take care of the economics, the race and gender issues will solve themselves.

        • sigaba

          The Bus to Socialism has back seats.

          • petesh

            Half-price!

        • stepped pyramids

          I actually ran into someone explicitly making this argument the other day, which was surprising — I thought they’d learned to keep that as subtext nowadays. They also turned out to be completely unaware of the racial inequities of the New Deal and essentially claimed that the flight of southern whites from the Democratic Party was entirely due to the Democrats abandoning progressive economic policies. When I noted that southern whites started leaving the Democrats with the 1948 Truman platform and accelerated leaving in the wake of Johnson’s civil rights legislation — both also high-water marks for Democratic economic progressivism — the response was… crickets.

          • ColBatGuano

            the flight of southern whites from the Democratic Party was entirely due to the Democrats abandoning progressive economic policies.

            What the actual fuck?!?!?! Did this person not notice the lack of progressive economic policies coming from the Republicans that now control those states?

            • sigaba

              You seem to be unaware of the historical law that states the people prefer socialism, and if denied, have no choice but to go 100% klucker.

              • ColBatGuano

                Ahhh, I keep forgetting that truism.

          • Michael

            Most of these people are young who genuinely do not know this history. They are also getting their Marxism in a combination of university lectures and hot takes, without any of the historical context or actual organizing experience.

            We are doomed to repeat history in variation because young people will always see themselves atemporaily. I don’t mean that as a dig. I’m only recently thirty. I mean that I had a similar perspective and have found in the past few years as my experience has broadened and I’ve read more history I’ve moved from being a leftist to a liberal.

            It’s why you never trust anyone over thirty – they know things (which can sometimes stop you from dreaming big).

        • Justin Runia

          it’s the No True Socialist play, and people need to get called out for being lazy enough to make it the foundation of their arguments

        • mongolia

          ….and this is why i tend to start tearing my hair out while reading lefty types, even when they make good points.

          what we have learned is that fixing economics does *not* fix race/gender/sexuality issues. this sort of bullshit thomasfrankism/”economic anxiety” talk misdiagnoses the problem, which leads to incorrect proposed solutions and inaccurate complaints about how dems are always terrible. what should be obvious is that the key appeal of trump to voters was based on race and religious- and ethno-nationalism – and the types of economic appeals he had were also based on this. this is also not new – in fact, it was similar to nixon’s “law and order,” george wallace’s segregationist economic populism, and reagan’s “welfare queen’s” and “strapping young bucks” dog whistles. without understanding and including the intertwining of race/sexuality/gender issues in economic issues, your writing is at best incomplete, and in practice almost always wrong in predictable ways

      • sigaba

        The dudebros don’t care about race or gender or any cultural issue whatsoever, as far as they’re concerned they’re all either solved, or they’re some sort opiate of the masses devised by Democrats to frustrate the war on neoliberals.

        • petesh

          I agree that there was a sense that some issues had been “solved” — Oprah’s rich, Obama was President, Beyoncé rules etc — and, on a personal level, there was and is considerable integration among activist youth. But surely recent events (not only but including Charlottesville) must have disabused many of them. Please?

        • Stella Barbone

          Now, that’s not true. They’re big fans of Nina Turner. They will happily point that out to you over and over.

          • Hogan

            The alt-left’s black friend.

    • dave mustaine

      I wish I could give this comment 100 thumbs up.

  • farin

    HamNo is really just shockingly awful as a political pundit. Like, sub-“not even wrong”; it’s meaningless, unfalsifiable nonsense, but somehow simultaneously incorrect.

    • aab84

      He’s Matt Taiibi, but with a less sophisticated view of the world.

      • farin

        And less talent as a wordsmith (except on boxing, where he’s quite good!).

  • hellslittlestangel

    Well, it’s easy to see political parties converging toward the center when what’s really happening is that the entire country is swirling toward the central vortex of a flushing toilet.

  • FluxAmbassador

    One of the ongoing things that came out of the 2016 election that drove me around the bend into cartoonish supervillainy is the idea that Donald J. Trump – a cutrate real estate “baron” who inherited all of his success from his Klansmen, slum lord father – was anything other than The Establishment given crude flesh.

    I know the 90s died 16 years ago next month, but how so many people are able to convince themselves that Trump is not The Man is beyond my fucking ken.

  • rm

    But *Their* Emails! Rigged Primaries! I read it from a Russian twitterbot on my F-book page so it must be true.

    More seriously, this kind of thing comes from finding issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, or civil rights to be distractions from the really important topics. Thus it’s almost all white men who spout this crap.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Seriously, what the HELL is wrong with people like this?

    • farin

      Complete indifference to politics as anything but a topic of bar conversation/ranting to unreasonably patient women, and to policy at all.

    • agorabum

      Politics as ‘holier than thou’ virtue signaling rather than any interest in how it actually works or how to bring about meaningful change

  • HugeEuge

    Well Scott is is so easy to prove conclusively that you are wrong and that the masses are demanding candidates who unabashedly want socialism and/or radical deconstruction of the semi-welfare state. Just check the 2016 election returns for the enormous support for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. Or for that matter, how the two did in 2012. You are a gnat standing in the way of the tidal wave of history.

    ETA Above is too snarky and too historically limited. Why in my own lifetime the massive support for the radicals John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot 1992 and 1996 clearly supports Nolan’s position. Going back to the year before I was born, co-Presidents Thurmand and Wallace agree.

    • Scott Lemieux

      To be Scrupulously Fair, Jill Stein never got any traction because of her failure to advocate for the immediate expropriation of all capital the typical voter in West Virginia is aching for.

      • FlipYrWhig

        West Virginians are so achy for green radicalism that they had no choice but to elevate to the governorship an actual billionaire from the resource-extraction and fancy-resort industries.

      • EliHawk

        It’s really something to watch Arnande and Sarah Jones jump over each other to proclaim that Charlottesville had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any hillbillies.

    • Manny Kant

      Jill Stein is not a socialist, and the Green Party is a bourgeois liberal party. Or so says my socialist friend who was trying to decide if it was worthwhile to vote for Jill Stein to help build a popular front or if he should just vote for himself, as usual.

  • AlexSaltzberg

    His current “both sides” argument is that Democrats and Republicans both say that they are mainstream?

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Dennis Kucinich totally would have won, but the whole process was rigged.

    • Anna in PDX

      *rueful sigh* As a high school student, I was a fan of Paul Simon (the politico with the bow-tie, not the singer, though he is fine too). Then, as an adult, I voted for Nader twice, then canvassed for Kucinich, and I voted for Bernie in the last primary. I really seem to have a thing for wonkish, uncharismatic guys. (By the time November rolled around, I was enthusiastically for Hillary and kind of upset with the remaining Bernie die-hards, and I have been angry with Nader for many years…)
      Feel kind of forgiving of the leftist young folks I know, due to the pot/kettle problem I have personally…

      • mongolia

        I voted for Nader twice, then canvassed for Kucinich, and I voted for Bernie in the last primary.

        I really seem to have a thing for wonkish, uncharismatic guys

        apologies for crudeness, but were any of those that you voted/canvassed for more wonkish and uncharismatic than those that they were running against (gore/kerry/hrc)? i view nader, kucinich, and bernie to be more radical and less “polished,” but in terms “a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in public policy,” the dem nominee each year fit that definition better than each of these guys.

        • Anna in PDX

          Huh, I see what you mean, maybe “wonkish” was the wrong descriptor for Kucinich and Bernie (particularly as contrasted with HRC and Gore). I would argue it was the thing that most attracted me to Simon.

      • Morbo

        I did a high school art project portraying Gore and Bush as two heads on one body. We all have our youthful indiscretions.

  • Brien Jackson

    FWIW, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the “class not race” stuff which I don’t really remember being so prominent in the firebagger schtick until the last 18 months or so. So question: was I just missing it, or did it really begin as a necessary means of defending What’s The Matter With Kansas devotee Bernie Sanders from criticism from BLM and other non-white activists?

    • farin

      I assumed it was a reaction against Hillary Clinton, Affirmative Action Hire.

      • Brien Jackson

        It first started to REALLY crop up after Sanders went off the rails at Netroot Nation.

    • JMV Pyro

      Undercurrent has been around for a long time. In some research I’ve done I found that people like Thomas Frank were going on about how “cultural studies” were insufficiently leftist as far back as the early nineties.

      It

    • rm

      I remember “class not race” as a thing to argue over in the trenches of the Culture Wars in the ’90s. Somewhere there exists a large catalog of post-structuralist Marxist cultural theory which I have not read, and a small number of people who have read it who, when I knew a few of them, were authoritarian assholes at heart, and who considered this a valid question.

      • Brien Jackson

        Oh I know it’s always been there, I just don’t remember it being anything more than fringey until BLM confronted Bernie and he responded…badly. Which makes me think that it got reached for as a means of defending a candidate and now it’s sort of latched in as a mindset/cudgel.

        • FlipYrWhig

          I think it’s worse than that. It’s the way for the well-educated high-cultural-capital white-male types who flocked to the Sanders banner to say that mainstream white politicians are using people of color as human shields, or, to put it an ever worse way, keeping them on the plantation — not that they _actually_ say that, but they come rather close to it. IOW it’s a way to deflect the whiteness and maleness of the American lefter-than-left by denying that the relative less-whiteness and less-maleness of mainstream liberalism and the mainstream Democratic Party is meaningful.

  • Kevin

    That Jacobin article…my eyes are burning from reading it:

    It’s true that Schumer offers other proposals, including a $15 minimum wage, but for anyone with a memory, the devotion of one sentence, much less a paragraph, of precious column space to this synecdoche of the bipartisan political economy of the last four decades—well, it’s enough to make you think this is a party that wants to die but can’t pull the plug.

    That is just insanely stupid. Why do people take that site/magazine seriously…

    • Why do people take that site/magazine seriously…

      nobody knows

      • Kevin

        I’ll be happy when “nobody knows” becomes “nobody does”…

        Two signifies on twitter that I can ignore someone are a red rose in their name, or someone who calls their friends “comrades”. The Soviet Union was not a good thing for socialism, and using terminology from it makes you look like fucking clowns.

        • stepped pyramids

          “Comrade” as a leftist form of address predates the Soviet Union by many years, and it actually originates with the German Kamerad, popularized during the 1848 revolutions. The Soviets used tovarishch, which was translated as “comrade” in English.

          And the rose is also not a Soviet symbol. It’s traditionally associated with May Day, and it was adopted by European social democrats in the mid-20th century. It’s a pity it’s quickly become the Twitter left-wing equivalent of a frog emoji, though.

          • Daniel

            “Kamerad” has been taken over by the right. German socialists and social democrats call themselves “Genosse”.

          • LeeEsq

            I find all these terms of address stupid. Just call people by their names, nicknames, or family name and appropriate pre-fix if your being really formal.

            • Hogan

              “Hoss” would also be acceptable.

              • SatanicPanic

                I’m sticking with “Dude”. That may be a regional thing.

              • N__B

                I figured you as more of a Little Joe kind of guy.

            • EliHawk

              I mean, the height of this is Sanders former web fundraising guy, in Yet Another OpEd About How Democrats Are Doing it Wrong despite, you know, Ossoff and co raising gobs of money online, complaining that Trump also used “solidarity” in his fundraising pitches.

          • Kevin

            That may be true, but these people use it, i’m convinced, from their knowledge of pop culture, where the Soviets called each other comrade. It is most associated with Soviets in the west, so using it “my comrades” reads like that. And it’s an association that I’d think people would want to avoid.

            And the red rose, I’ve just not seen anyone using it who isn’t 90% of the time a complete tool. Don’t care about the history, as you said, it’s become lefty Pepe.

            • stepped pyramids

              I’ve read plenty of people with the red rose who are reasonable and decent people. I don’t necessarily agree with them all, but it’s foolish to write someone off just because of a bit of iconography.

              • Now the corncob emoji, on the other hand…

                • stepped pyramids

                  That has become depressing to me because the corncob emoji is a long-standing in-joke between me and a lot of my former coworkers. We even have a chatroom called “Corncob”. It has nothing to do with that dril tweet or anything related to it.

                • awarre

                  And a lot of good people were named Adolph before the 1930s :)

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  I knew an Adolph in late middle school, early high school 20+ years ago. He was a full-on SHARP.

              • Kevin

                I limit the people I follow, so perhaps I only see the idiot red rose people, as they come to say idiotic things to people I follow. I’m sure there are better, but at this point, I’ve no interest in searching them out.

            • N__B

              Kate Wagner uses it and she’s awesome.

              • Kevin

                I’ll look her up. I am happy to be wrong (and certainly will be with this one, just noting my experience with the red rose)

                • N__B

                  She writes the McMansion Hell blog but also tweets on non-architectural issues.

                • Anna in PDX

                  You posted the McMansion stuff here before, it’s hilarious.

                • N__B

                  Hat tip to Oragami Isopod

            • Philip K. Dick used it, in his note at the end of A Scanner, Darkly; it begins “This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did” and ends “These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The ‘enemy’ was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some
              other way, and let them be happy.” I don’t think he was being influenced by the Soviet use.

          • Anna in PDX

            If we are talking about people who have named their publication Jacobin, I say use “citizen” / “citizenesse” or get the hell out.

            • Matty

              I’m a crank about a lot of things, but if I had my druther’s we’d have replaced Mr/Mrs/Ms/Mx with citizen long ago. This is probably in my top-5 crankishnesses.

              • Anna in PDX

                I would definitely subscribe to this newsletter

          • awarre

            This is all true, but it’s also true that there is a segment of the left that latches on to Soviet imagery. A lot of it is tongue in cheek, but that doesn’t really make it OK. Not much better than alt-right twats playing around with nazi symbols, really. I consider myself fairly far left, but the trend to just ignore the massive failures and evils of totalitarian left moments from the 20th century doesn’t give me much faith in the current movement. Nor does the Jacobin style attitude towards Venezuela.

            • Kevin

              “they are fuckups, but they are our fuckups” isn’t a good reason to support a side.

        • Richard Gadsden

          As a Brit, the red rose thing is weird. The red rose was the symbol for the Labour Party introduced in the late 1980s by Peter Mandelson, the ultimate centrist Lord of Darkness – the man behind the later “New Labour” of Blair in the 1990s.

          Rejecting the red rose is absolutely a symbol of being properly leftist here.

      • The same people who think Corey Robin is a genius.

        • Still some of those, are there? Interesting.

          Well, no. Not interesting. Depressing.

    • DN Nation

      It’s true that Schumer offers other proposals

      Ahh, the old Pullin’ A Jonah Goldberg school of political analysis.

    • ASV

      Jacobin is so committed to male dominance of leftist discourse they don’t even want to put periods in their writing.

    • mongolia

      because aimless radicalism is much more enticing than center-left liberalism when you’re 17-25, and some people never grow out of it? and those younger people are the types that self-select into spending way too much time reading and tweeting about radical theory?

    • MariedeGournay

      Anyone who calls himself a Jacobin unironically should be shamed and shunned.

  • sleepyirv

    “I’ve mentioned this before, but a lot of lefty intellectuals write about electoral and/or legislative politics without taking them nearly as seriously as they take their fields of core expertise.”

    I swear there are three or four different Matt Stollers running around, running the gamut from “reasonable commentator” to “unhinged loon who can’t name all three branches of government.”

  • JMV Pyro

    I’ve become increasingly convinced that the problem these people have isn’t really with whether or not these politicians buy into left wing policy goals like combating climate change or enacting universal healthcare, but how they act while doing it.

    If you listen to what we’re now calling the “Dirtbag Left”, their problem isn’t just that Democrats aren’t sufficiently left wing, but that they’re too “establishment.” The Democrats, in this line of thinking, are a party that buys into the legitimacy of said establishment and rhetorically supports it, as opposed to standing in opposition to it in the name of the put upon masses. So it doesn’t matter to these people that Better Deal supported antitrust policies or that Schumer and Pelosi have held the caucus together on healthcare, the fact that the Democrats have not branded themselves populist crusaders striking a blow for the common man is reason enough to dismiss them as stooges.

    • Brien Jackson

      Sort of…but not quite. When they say “anti-establishment” what they mean is that THEY want to be the establishment. So the problem with Democrats is that they won’t resign en masse and hand over control of the machinery to Sirota, Stoller, Hamilton, etc. immediately, nor will Democratic activists and voters concede that these people are right about everything and accept uncritically their every dictate.

      • Kevin

        Well said. “Bend the knee” doesn’t make sense in any context but this – give us all power and do/vote as we say.

      • Hogan

        With the assumption that if WE were in charge, WE wouldn’t be an ESTABLISHMENT, WE’D just call balls and strikes and not oppose anyone who ran against OUR preferred candidates, because what kind of evil crazy person would do that?

        • FlipYrWhig

          If we were in charge of politics we wouldn't be ESTABLISHMENT, we'd be cool. Like you could use curse words in the office, and there would be stickers on all the computers, and someone would always have weed. :P

    • aab84

      Segments of the online left have prioritized performative combativeness over substantive policy positions for as long as the internet has been around. In 2006, some of the angriest people on Daily Kos were the ones supporting Paul Hackett over Sherrod Brown in the Ohio senate primary. They viewed Hackett as the more obviously more progressive choice because he went after Bush with military bluntness. For them, Brown’s progressive track record paled in comparison to that.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Or Alan Grayson — super popular with this crowd, despite a relative lack of legislative accomplishments. But he talked a lot of shit.

        • FlipYrWhig

          And that’s also how Anthony Weiner first came to, um, prominence.

          • Wasn’t Bill Maher supposed to murder him last year after the election?

            • Deadlines. You know how they are; they slip.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            Please, let’s not talk how his rise anymore.

      • “the close enemy” is an easier target. no need to go hunting for them – they’re right next to you!

  • rm

    Reading the link — oh, God, the comments. We are doomed.

    I didn’t know the Deadspin conglomerate had a site called “The Splinter.” What is that, politics for BernieBros? Should it be called “The Wedge”?

    I may just be getting old, but it seems to me that young activist political types these days lack historical consciousness. Like, they’re not aware that their issues have been fought over before, or that change takes compromise and constant work that never ends. Most of the really strongly anti-Hillary people I know came of age in the last ten years. Hillary as an icon of feminism makes no sense to them because (1) but her emails, and (2) feminism, what’s that?

    Tiny example from another demographic — I read a story about an LBTQ+ event where music was played, and one of the songs in the playlist was “Walk on the Wild Side,” and the organizers got in trouble because the song stereotypes trans people. The argument as presented was not “this old, problematic queer statement should be shelved,” but “I just heard an offensive song.” No idea that the characters in the song are real people, or that the problematic or offensive language is used with irony in a historical context where all of this makes sense as a document of a certain time and place, or any clue about the recent past.

    Kids, they don’t know anything. Must get on with the lawn-getting-off-of.

    • Brien Jackson

      To be scrupulously fair, the anti-Berniebro left isn’t immune to this stuff. The freak out over the DCCC’s stupid abortion statement or feminists on Twitter saying that the Chapo guy’s “bend the knee” statement was a demand for oral sex have are really ridiculous as well. The moral of the story, probably, is that Twitter is going to kill us all.

      • humanoidpanda

        It’s kinda amazing to me that on the ground, liberals and leftists work pretty well together, but on Twitter its an all out war.

        • Brien Jackson

          The thing about Twitter is that you’re immediately hit with dozens of hot takes that reaffirm knee-jerk reactions. The DCCC thing is a really good example. Marcotte had a great take on it, which is that the REAL problem is that the media ONLY treats the pro-choice position as one that even proponents must regard as suspect, and so it looks like Democrats have to waffle on abortion because no one is asking the GOP if they’ll support candidates who want more vigorous banking regulation or what have you. And like Armando pointed out, the statement really was poorly done, and should have been walked back to “Democrats are a pro-choice party but the DCCC will suppport the candidates our voters nominate in the primaries.”

          But it’s hard for that to puncture through the massive cloud of chronically retweeted and reinforcing outrage, and then you end up in a position where people will in one breath flip out about the “bend the knee” comment and then in the next breath flip out if you say that of course the DCCC shouldn’t take it upon themselves to essentially override primary results by blacklisting nominees outside of their formal charge.

        • agorabum

          Someone is always wrong on the internet. It’s just now they reach out and loudly proclaim their wrongness to you, so instead of thinking “there are a handful of cranks out there, no worry” it’s “this crank is shouting in my face and there are a bunch of other cranks shouting too and so I guess they represent the ‘crank movement’ and it seems prominent”

      • stepped pyramids

        Agreed. I thought the “bend the knee” bit was a typical bit of assholishness from people I don’t particularly care for, but that’s it.

      • The really funny thing about the “bend the knee” brouhaha is that Chapo called him a fat cocksucker (paraphrasing; either Matt or Felix told him to stop sucking Frum’s dick) after his TNR piece where he basically said, “y’know, honey works better than vinegar.” This after he shot down the idea of the phrase being a double entendre.

        • stepped pyramids

          “Him” is who?

          • Jeet.

            • stepped pyramids

              Yeah, Jeets! Yeah, Jeets! Yeah, Jeets!

              Er… excuse me. Thank you for the clarification. Boy, sure is surprising that some people don’t like the “dirtbag left” when they call people stuff like that, huh?

        • “y’know, honey works better than vinegar.”

          Not meaning to kink-shame or anything, and not speaking from direct personal experience (other than a lot of time spent cooking while not controlling my knives as well as I should), but I don’t think either honey or vinegar would be a particularly good accompaniment to cocksucking.

          • farin

            (other than a lot of time spent cooking while not controlling my knives as well as I should)

            I’ve been trying to imagine how this would give one even limited experience with honey-/vinegar-enhanced cocksucking, and now my imagination has just shut down.

    • stepped pyramids

      “Splinter” used to be “Fusion”. It’s one of the sites that was added to the former Gawkerverse after Univision bought them. Nolan was working at Gawker before it got shut down and then was transferred to Fusion/Splinter after a brief stay at Deadspin.

      I don’t really know what Splinter’s editorial angle is. It basically just seems like an attempt to recreate the Pareene-era political Gawker with even less humor.

      • farin

        “Splinter” used to be “Fusion”.

        lol

        • Justin Runia

          did not catch that irony, +1
          But yeah, Fusion was a cable channel / web video venture by Univision and Disney that had since turned into a web video / blogging vertical in the formerly-known-as-Gawker network. The blogging part spun off into Splinter this past month, I imagine the video part will die a quiet death shortly.

    • SatanicPanic

      I dunno man, getting mad at people who are offended about a song because they don’t know the historical context is kind of silly. I don’t think we should expect everyone to be a walking encyclopedia of boring songs from the 70s. I mean, I’ve heard the song and I agree with your take on it, but I still kind of think that if some people don’t like it that’s their right.

      • rm

        I’m not mad, I’m irked that in a situation like that, the end result is not a conversation where people learn from each other, but a ritual apology. Ahistorical outrage without a willingness to learn is tiresome and unproductive.

  • Philip

    I see the LGM commentariat is back at its favorite hobby: latching onto a dumb thing one person said to shit on all socialists, 2 days after a bunch of socialists were attacked, and a Wobbly[1] marcher killed, standing up to Nazis. I especially like the lecture on appropriate leftist terminology from someone who thinks “comrade” was invented by the Soviets. This shit should be beneath y’all, but I guess not.

    [1] It’s not clear if she was a member, but she was marching with them.

    • Brien Jackson

      Here’s Lee Fang and Matt Stoller caping for white supremacists today.

      https://twitter.com/matthewstoller/status/897107021111209985

      • humanoidpanda

        Fang is a despicable moron and Stoller a political idiot, but.. their statement is true: the Charlotsvile Nazis were a mixture of college republican types and people wealthy enough to afford thousands of dollars worth of military style gear.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. same with the college republicans/ dudes in military gear

          • Duvall

            How much money does it take to buy a polo shirt, a tiki torch and a tank of gas, anyway?

        • Scott Lemieux

          Yeah, for once I agree with Stoller. I don’t see what I’m supposed to object to here.

      • Philip

        Yeah dude, pointing out “people who can drop thousands on military LARP gear are not working class” is exactly the same as defending white supremacists

        • Brien Jackson

          As far as I can tell there are approximately zero people who have argued white supremacy was solely the domain of the working class. In fact, us neoliberal shills who refuse to admit Hillary Clinton was the worst candidate ever have been pointing out that Trump supporters tend to be better off economically, and that lower income whites were MORE likely to vote for Clinton than middle and upper middle class whites. We’ve literally driven “socialists” to red faced anger by turning “economic anxiety” into a mocking shorthand.

          So yes, this is caping for working class white supremacists by pretending that they don’t exist.

          • humanoidpanda

            “So yes, this is caping for working class white supremacists by pretending that they don’t exist.”

            With all due respect to read a tweet that says “White supremacists are X, not Y” as “white supremacists don’t exist” is just silly.

            • You’re misreading; the “they” near the end of the matter you quote refers to the subgroup “working class white supremacists”, not “white supremacists”; evidently Brien Jackson is reading the tweet as the applying to the subgroup, not the whole group (and as saying that the subgroup does not contain the organizers).

        • SatanicPanic

          I don’t know why working class people can’t drop thousands on something like that. Everyone has hobbies and almost everyone gets access to credit or if you’re working a nice EITC check. If you’re a young, single dude who’s going to tell you not to blow it on something stupid?

      • LeeEsq

        Its sort of like a funhouse mirror version of the Rightist argument is that working class movements are really organized by middle class progressives.

      • DN Nation

        Dems bad because Trump is the only guy who can speak to working-class people, and also the Nazis in CVille dropped serious coin on military toys and therefore, erm, Dems bad, and um, uh

        It’s fun to watch Stoller’s fratty bro hair flop around as he ties himself in logical knots.

    • stepped pyramids

      Fuck you. Scott is not “shitting on all socialists”. I don’t feel shit upon. Nolan wrote some dumb shit and deserves criticism for it. And how dare you use a leftist who died standing up to white supremacy as a shield to defend a journalist who is risking nothing more than carpal tunnel.

      • Philip

        I don’t have a problem with Scott. I have a problem with “if you see a red rose on twitter, you can safely disregard everything they say,” which is a real goddamn thing someone said up thread. When I said commentariat I meant the comment section, not the front pagers

        • stepped pyramids

          I didn’t know a single commenter is “the LGM commentariat” now.

          • Philip

            Well make it 2 then, since Brien wants us to know BDS is antisemitic. 3, if you want to count Brad’s stupid “brocialist” quip. In a sample of about 20 people.

            • stepped pyramids

              Neither of those are “shitting on all socialists”.

              • brad

                Next you’ll claim there’s a difference between Loomis and slothrop.

                • Veleda_k

                  Slothrop likes ketchup?

              • Philip

                The “broscialists” line has been out in full force smearing the entire left for months now. No reason to assume good faith whenever it comes out at this point.

                • Kevin

                  Brocialist doesn’t smear the entire left. Many of us are on the left. It describes a specific type though. If you identify with that type, well, I can’t help your self image, that’s on you.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Right. As always, butthurt just proves the point.

                • Somebody needs to enter this into the annals of Internet Law.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Also worth noting that Philip clammed up after I noted that the DSA convention was chanting “from the river to the sea,” innit?

                • brad

                  You poor whiny child. If you can’t acknowledge why some deserve that dismissal then… *insert Foxworthy reference here*

                • stepped pyramids

                  The “brocialists” are not the people who were marching in Charlottesville. They’re the people complaining about the people marching in Charlottesville.

                • econoclast

                  This is fucking bullshit. Most of us are on the goddamn left. The stupid dumbshits like Nolan don’t get to declare themselves “the left” and the rest of us not. Part of the reason why people throw around the brocialist label is that a bunch of morons who discovered politics fifteen minutes ago are lecturing us on what’s left and what’s not left, and we’re fucking sick of it.

                • CD

                  No, the whole point of “brocialist” is to call out a small group of noisy assholes, and distinguish them from socialists in general.

              • Philip

                Maybe I have a hair trigger today. I woke up this morning to see indivisible pretending BLM and socialist orgs don’t exist and I’m fucking fed up with this shit https://twitter.com/IndivisibleTeam/status/896756106554470401.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Jesus Christ you are a whiny little fuckwad.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  OK, OK, let’s calm down here. I think Phillip overgeneralized a little but nothing he says merits this level of invective.

                • stepped pyramids

                  But “brocialists” hate Black Lives Matter and they love Our Revolution. You’re defending the same people you’re angry at, it seems.

                • Anna in PDX

                  This infighting is really confusing and it is really demoralizing for people who are sympathetic but not card carrying members of these groups. I assumed (seeing some of this play out on the local invite page for Portland’s indivisible group on Facebook) that it was mostly a timing issue – Indivisible people quickly tried to set up vigils, some of the other groups were not included and responded as if they had been purposefully left out, and it all seemed to go downhill from there – Is it really true that Indivisible specifically decided not to include these groups and told them so?

                • Brien Jackson

                  I’m gonna guess that DSA and BLM didn’t give whoever put the image together the go ahead to use their logo myself. But sure, the person who made the image rolled up Code Pink and People Power alongside CAP and OFA but left off BLM and DSA because they hate those people!

                • awarre

                  Indivisible reached out to DSA, didn’t get a response, and so didn’t include their logo. Neither group did anything remotely wrong here, people are just looking for reasons to keep the infighting going.

                • Philip

                  If so, there’s some seriously crossed wires because DSA national definitely don’t seem to have been asked until after it blew up.

                • Anna in PDX

                  Given the time crunch on this, couldn’t DSA just give Indivisible the benefit of the doubt here? Why does it have to instantly “blow up”? The facebook page quickly degenerated into insult trading and a bunch of accusations about comments being blocked or deleted. Given that right wing trolls demonstrably act as agent provocateurs online, could people not go to the angry accusation level right away? It seems stupid and counterproductive, when we really are very close to being on the same side (e.g., trying to organize a protest on the fly).

                • mongolia

                  couldn’t DSA just give Indivisible the benefit of the doubt here?

                  they *should*, but a lot of the dirtbag left (their words) tend to assume that people that don’t agree with them are always working in bad faith. thus, creating dumb intra-left feuds with people who agree with them 90%-99% of the time.

                • awarre

                  Indivisible reached out to DSA and didn’t get a response.

                • humanoidpanda

                  Um, Code Pink, Million Hoodies March, Hip Hop Caucus, and People’s Power are all represented on this poster.

            • brad

              As opposed to the stupidity of claiming every counter protestor there was a socialist or there were only counter protests because some DSA chapter was there?
              Or, as mentioned, claiming a murder victim as a high horse?

              • Philip

                I’m not claiming every counterprotestor was, dude. The specific crowd that was attacked was a bunch of BLM, DSA, and IWW people who had been on their way to head off a group of fascists planning to march through a minority neighborhood.

                • brad

                  And what that asshole saw were just targets, but ok. Other “socialists” in comments here have made… expansive claims about what a socialist presence at a protest says about the protest, in the past.
                  But what that crime has to do with calling armchair anti-“idpol” brocalist lefties out, men who exist in real and significant numbers, I live, in Brooklyn, among many, is beyond me. Aside from it being a recent wound that you feel should be some defense against criticism. But it’s her blood, not yours.

            • Brien Jackson

              “From the river to the sea” is most definitely anti-Semitic.

              • Anna in PDX

                I seem to remember this is or was a Zionist slogan used by Likud, which arguably could upset Palestinians? If they are using it back, I think it’s a little unfair to cherry-pick it. The original slogan used by Likud is pretty problematic.

                • LeeEsq

                  “From the River to Sea, Palestine will be free” definitely did not start off as a Zionist phrase.

                • Anna in PDX

                  I am mixing it up with the “Greater Israel” slogan, as they are sort of the same thing. Apologies, and no I don’t think two wrongs make a right. I just want everyone who says “Judea and Samaria” to be as heavily criticized as these guys.

            • humanoidpanda

              BDS could go here or there, but “Palestine from the river to the sea” is a de-facto call for an ethnic cleansing of Jews. So…

          • Kevin

            I contain multitudes. I am all, all are one.

            • sibusisodan

              Whose turn is it to be the walrus?

          • econoclast

            And that single commenter is you. Don’t fuck it up.

        • mnuba

          The magic of a comments section is that it is in fact possible to reply directly to the person who said that with your disapproval, instead of grandstanding at the top of the thread about how awful everyone here is.

        • CS Clark

          Latch onto a dumb thing one person said much?

          • Philip

            OK this reply is actually a fair point lol

            • Kevin

              I like how you are still to chicken shit to engage me :)

        • Kevin

          Me! I said that. And I meant it personally, because honestly, I haven’t seen anyone with one on twitter say anything that wasn’t asinine. Maybe I don’t follow the right people. But we all develop short hand, and mine says “oh boy, this person is going to say something stupid” when I see the red rose. It’s been proven right time after time.

          But again, I’m sure there are plenty who aren’t useless dirtbag left trolls. Sadly, they aren’t the ones I see amplified.

          • awarre

            I tend to dismiss anyone with an emoji in their name, be it rose, donut, or frog (eggplants are cool though).

            It turns out that people who spend all their time arguing on Twitter are 90% fucking morons.

            • Kevin

              Very true. The donut thing was mostly to tease the rose people, so i found it funny, but it’s true a lot of those are also idiots just looking to fight. I use twitter mostly to get quick news from people who I respect intellectually. I don’t hate follow anyone.

              • Matty

                Really? I found the donut thing to be the most useless, inside-baseball, small-beans jackassery I’d seen from ostensible liberals in a long time. I’m not a big Our Revolution fan, and I don’t understand the adulation for Nina Turner, but deciding that you were going to make a symbol out of a tempest in a teacup that they created is asinine.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  People who spend even a second discussing corncob or donut emojis genuinely baffle me.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  Maybe if the teacup were full of donuts there wouldn’t be room to put that tempest in it.

            • Richard Gadsden

              I have a bee in mine, as a citizen of Manchester, in memory of the 22 murdered at a concert in the Arena 20 minutes from my home. I hope this is OK with you.

          • Anna in PDX

            It made me think of something quite different (free association) – the White Rose Society Facebook page, which I have followed, but which 9 times out of 10 seems to concentrate on posting very provocative left-wing-outrage-bait articles from weird non-reputable sources. Why? We have enough stuff to be mad about without making shit up.

        • rea

          “if you see a red rose on twitter, you can safely disregard everything they say,”

          Damn Lancastrians

      • Brien Jackson

        Also too, are we allowed to condemn the DSA convention breaking out into anti-Semitic chants now? It’s almost like organizations have comlex member dynamics or something!

        • Patrick_Spens

          Uh, that seems like that kind of thing that should be condemned yes. Like, you’re responsible for what any moron affiliated with you says on twitter, but chants at your convention do matter.

        • Life in Queens

          I’d hate to see socialism become the socialism of fools

    • sibusisodan

      If your concern was to alter the behaviour of the group, rather than moral preening, you’d have phrased this very differently.

    • Kevin

      (also, I didn’t lecture on “comrade”, only noted that its mostly associated in western thought with Soviet communism, and if that is the kind of socialism you are after, you suck. And if it isn’t…time to get a new word, because you might not like it, but it’s Soviet communist talk now.)

      • Kevin

        ot: but i think there is an interesting discussion to be had about American socialists and use of Soviet iconography and terminology (and I do include comrade in that). I think a large group of socialists fail to grapple with the massive failings of communism and other leftist governments (USSR is the biggest, with tens of millions dead, but Venezuela is a great current example). I myself am not a full on socialist, but I agree with many things they advocate. But the links to failed, evil regimes does them no favors.

        • guthrie

          On the other hand, I don’t see many socialists saying hey, Stalin was a good guy, whereas with right wingers killing millions is a full blown part of the ideology.

          • awarre

            “I don’t see many socialists saying hey, Stalin was a good guy”

            You’d be surprised. It is by no means a majority opinion, or even that signficant of a minority, but those people are very much out there making noise. Hell, you can find supposed leftists defending Juche and Kim Il-Sung without looking TOO hard.

          • Kevin

            No, I didn’t mean to imply that. But the use of Soviet iconography and talk does suggest an affinity for Soviet-style communism, and you can’t pick the good and not take the bad (and I’m not sure there was much good there anyway…).

            I suppose it’s a tough spot to be in as all Communist systems have been atrocious by any standard, especially human rights (the death tolls are ugly).

            Like, if i see you with some type of hammer and sickle motif, you don’t get to say “only the non-death parts”.

    • Philip

      This comment was intemperate. It’s been a long, long weekend (and week, what with my colleagues getting doxed over the manifestbro getting fired) and I’ve got a hair trigger right now. Sorry, y’all.

      • brad

        Fair enough. Would be pretty hypocritical of me to put too much stock in someone having a cranky moment.

      • Anna in PDX

        Thanks for this, lefty infighting makes me so sad, I want us to get along in this dark time.

        • Philip

          Ps, re indivisible: a happy ending for once https://twitter.com/DemSocialists/status/897173592609312769

          • Anna in PDX

            Yay! Group hug!

          • Matty

            Jesus, that’s good to see. It smelled more like a cockup/not-entirely-overlapping-memberships thing more than outright malice, but it seemed to set goddamn near everyone off.

            • Philip

              IME the Extremely Online people, both left and center, are pretty unrepresentative of the people actually showing up to do what needs doing. But unfortunately by definition they’re the most visible online, so they *look* important.

              To wit: https://twitter.com/IndivisibleTeam/status/897200778619871232

      • stepped pyramids

        Sorry for blowing up at you, too. It’s been a hard time for all of us. People on the left shouldn’t be fighting each other when the real enemy is out there killing people. I need to take that to heart.

        • Philip

          Agreed. I’ve been trying to be better about taking a deep breath and letting things sit a bit before I lash out at people, but clearly I’ve still got work to do. Solidarity means being patient and kind even with people I deeply disagree with, as long as I can trust them to stand with me when push comes to shove. It’s not something that comes naturally for me, but I’m doing my best to learn.

      • Scott Lemieux

        No problem.

    • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

      Neo-Nazis are marching in our country, and meanwhile The Nation is publishing LaRouchie conspiracy theories about the DNC, and Our Ass Revolution is gearing up to primary Democrats in 2018. The left can go do all of the anatomically implausible things. Have fun.

    • Scott Lemieux

      [cites omitted]

  • TheFool37

    Scott is talking past Nolan. Sure party elites are moving left if by elites moving left you mean voting behavior of any officeholder as measured, for example, by NOMINATE. But I suspect Nolan has different elites in mind, like Mark Penn and Third Way and the New Democrats and what they advocate for communication strategy. They and many campaign consultants are the kind of elites who influence campaign strategy more than an “elite” like your average liberal member of Congress in a safe seat. And many of them advocate moving to the center and avoiding certain issues perceived as too partisan.

    • stepped pyramids

      Several objections:

      1) If you define “elite” to mean “centrist elites”, yes, the elites are centrist.
      2) The groups and people you mention have been centrist for a long time. There’s no movement there.
      3) Those groups have less influence in the party than they did 10 years ago, and much less than they did 20 years ago.

      • Brien Jackson

        Also too, New Democracy is LITERALLY PROMOTING THE SAME THING THE “SOCIALISTS” HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR FOR MONTHS. For all of the anger “leftists” have been throwing at the group, apparently NONE of them actually read the WaPo article, which was all about how Democrats needed to drop talk about transgendered people, abortion rights, women’s rights etc. and focus on “populism” that appeals to rural working class white men.

        • stepped pyramids

          Basically anyone who complains about “idpol” needs to stop pretending like they’re on the same side as Black Lives Matter.

          • petesh

            Idpol (the word) double-plus ungood. Unfortunately I knew what it meant when I saw it and double-checked on the web.

            • stepped pyramids

              There are a lot of radical leftist types who I disagree with constructively, mostly about the advisability of working within the Democratic Party, but I respect them. The people that piss me off are the ones who aren’t particularly leftist but like to affect a kind of radical chic, who espouse “class-not-race” bullshit, who advocate for sidelining social justice issues in favor of economic populism, and who spend more time attacking and harassing their enemies within the left than they do criticizing and working against the right.

              • petesh

                I am completely with you, both in theory and practice. I take it that the bullshitters came up with the abhorrent idpol to trivialize real hurt.

            • N__B

              The meaning isn’t any better than the infelicitous word.

              • petesh

                We-e-ell, sort of. It’s used as an insult, but I sometimes feel like reclaiming it. There are excellent reasons for certain activists to coalesce around issues involving their self-identity, and although I have witnessed some stupidity (ah, the bad old days when bisexuals were not allowed in some gay and lesbian groups), in general those folks have broad sympathies and are rarely truly single-issue activists.

                • N__B

                  I should have said “their” meaning…

        • eclare

          Yes. This is why I was so fucking confused by the WaPo article. I can’t keep track of which side is supposed to be the centrist and which the leftist.

    • Brien Jackson

      If this is true, you’ve written a far nastier takedown of Nolan’s stuidity than Scott managed, that’s for sure.

    • djw

      like Mark Penn

      Doesn’t one stop being a “Democratic Party Elite” ™ when Democrats stop hiring you, or listening to you?

      “The Democratic party is moving to the center because Mark Penn still walks the earth” isn’t particularly persuasive.

      • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

        It doesn’t stop Elizabeth Warren from claiming that mainstream Democratic positions (such as being pro-science) are actually and exclusively purity wing positions, and anyone not aligned with Bernie wants to “go back to the days of welfare reform”.

        • stepped pyramids

          Cites?

          • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy
            • stepped pyramids

              OK, she was talking about Mark Penn, who absolutely is in favor of going back to those days:

              Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs. They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.
              …They need to reject socialist ideas and adopt an agenda of renewed growth, greater protection for American workers and a return to fiscal responsibility. While the old brick-and-mortar economy is being regulated to death, the new tech-driven economy has been given a pass to flout labor laws with unregulated, low-paying gig jobs, to concentrate vast profits and to decimate retailing. Rural areas have been left without adequate broadband and with shrinking opportunities. The opioid crisis has spiraled out of control, killing tens of thousands, while pardons have been given to so-called nonviolent drug offenders.

              Referring to Mark Penn and New Democracy as “anyone not aligned with Bernie” is bullshit.

              • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

                I’m exaggerating, but she says things like: “it’s time for us to say: Democrats are on the side of fairness and equality”, as if this is resisted in the Democratic Party (or as if Obama never happened, or something).

                • stepped pyramids

                  The Democrats have been on the wrong side of a lot of issues. Even Obama. I don’t see anything wrong with acknowledging that. It’s certainly not the same as saying that being pro-science is exclusively the domain of the “purity wing”, whatever that is.

      • TheFool37

        and Third Way and New Democrats and, especially, many of the influential consultants who actually have a huge impact on strategy and communications…

        • Aaron Morrow

          Over the past two years, Black Lives Matter has had a larger impact on the Democratic Party than Third Way, the New Democratic Network, and the Democratic Leadership Committee combined.

          Do you share Nolan’s dismissal of Black Lives Matter?

          • TheFool37

            Not at all. I’m against moving to the center. I’m saying MANY very influential elites, especially pollsters and media advisers and the donors they control, are saying move to the center.

            • stepped pyramids

              Some are. Some aren’t. The faction currently in power in the Democratic Party does not seem to believe in that. The reason there’s an outspoken group advocating for it now (these “New Democracy” people) is that they’re currently out of power within the party.

              • TheFool37

                Many are. Especially many of the most influential.

                • Anna in PDX

                  Huh? Who is the most influential who is like this? Name some names.

                • stepped pyramids

                  Why is this not reflected in the party’s actual policy positions and messaging?

                • TheFool37

                  You’re oversimplifying. There is no “party position” or “party messaging” — just the positions and messaging of each of the officeholders in the party. The party committees are controlled by incumbents with safe seats and the centrist consultants who advise them. Centrism is seen as the safe bet, the conventional wisdom. The incumbents have little incentive to take risks. Same with the consultants. Preach the conventional wisdom and no one will hold you accountable for the results. That’s good for business.

                  And the centrist bias is reflected. Why do you think we didn’t challenge George Bush, except in the weakest ways, on tax cuts or Iraq in 2002 or 2004? Why was Hillary Clinton’s messaging so weak? Why is Chuck Schumer’s Better Deal limited to what it is limited to? Many issues never make it on specific candidates’ agenda at all because of the influence of centrist consultants who keep it off.

                • Why do you think we didn’t challenge George Bush…

                  what is “the minority party does not control Congress” ?

                • TheFool37

                  I’m talking about communications

                • are 500K-1M people protesting in DC considered communication?

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_against_the_Iraq_War

                • TheFool37

                  Not for the purposes of this discussion.

                • stepped pyramids

                  Why do you think we didn’t challenge George Bush, except in the weakest ways, on tax cuts or Iraq in 2002 or 2004?

                  What does what happened in 2002 or 2004 have to do with a claim about the current trend of the Democratic Party?

                  Why am I arguing with you anyway? You didn’t read the original article and are defending some fantasy-land concept of what it might mean if you had written it. The Democratic Party has not reacted to the election of Trump by moving to the center. That is just completely at odds with the actual observable facts. It is not a counterargument to say that the Democrats have not moved as far left as you might prefer.

                • TheFool37

                  I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that the revolution has already been won. I’m not sure how I missed it, but I am glad to hear that there will be no real debate in the midterms about messaging. Everyone has moved left, and the old centrists have been eliminated root and branch.

                  So great to learn that there will be no influential voices arguing that we can’t talk about universal coverage or that defending ACA is risky, no one with any pull will say we can’t argue for Medicaid expansion, no one will say we shouldn’t attack Trump but should focus on positive programs for working class whites, there will be no debate about transgender bathrooms being too risky, no one will say that we have to oppose marijuana decriminalization, no one will say we have to crack down on drug offenders, there will be no debate about “entitlements” and no one in a position of influence will say we have to compromise and make cuts in Social Security or Medicare, no one will push for supporting charter schools, no one will argue that $15 is too high for the minimum wage. Also, there is no chance that Trump can get us in a conflict somewhere overseas and no chance we’ll get demagogued into silence with multiple Democratic officeholders rolling over, no chance that any Dem elites will say we have to support some “compromise” on Trump’s huge and irresponsible tax and budget cuts.

                  Those battles have already been won. The Democrats all moved left and are in full agreement on everything. Hurray!

                • stepped pyramids

                  That’s quite the ink cloud you’ve sprayed to avoid writing “I didn’t read the original article, I didn’t understand its argument, and I was wrong.”

                • TheFool37

                  As I keep saying, I didn’t come here to defend the details of Nolan’s argument which I freely said I hadn’t read. I was reacting to Scott’s assertion that the line he quoted from Nolan was a howler.

                • humanoidpanda

                  Um, yes, there is literally no elected Democrats who thinks that protecting the ACA is too risky, who doesn’t argue for Medicaid expansion, the “focus on positive programs” people included, at times, Warren and Sanders, there are no elected Democrats of any statute who are not for defending trans rights, no one in the party is calling for SS cuts anymore. I will give you the $15 wage, where the evidence is mixed, and marjiuana decriminalization ,where I have no idea what the positions are.

                • TheFool37

                  You couldn’t be more wrong. Also, I’m not primarily talking about elected Democrats. I’m talking primarily about consultants and party committees and candidates.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Except, of course, that the Better Deal is not “centrist” in the context of American politics, and everything else is either ancient history, unfalsifiable bullshit, or both.

                • TheFool37

                  Think about everything the Better Deal is not. Think about the language it doesn’t use. Think about the fact that it is not what the folks at Vox would have designed. Think about the fact that 6 cycles ago is not ancient history and many of the same folks who were influential then are influential now. Think about the unfalsifiability of the charge of unfalsifiability.

                • stepped pyramids

                  None of that is relevant to the claim that “the establishment—particularly of the Democratic Party—has concluded that the solution is to run to the center, “moderating” (meaning changing) positions as necessary”. That is not an argument about the historical tendencies of the Democratic Party. It is not an argument about the absolute ideological positioning of the Democratic Party. It is an argument about the relative shift of the Democratic Party since the election. The only thing to ask about the Better Deal in that context is “is it to the left of Democratic proposals in 2016?” It is.

                • Justin Runia

                  Think about the language it doesn’t use.

                  Ah yes, the widely-acknowledged technique of negative-space critique…

                • They keep their influence secret!!!

                • ColBatGuano

                  If you think Mark Penn is influential then I have some property in Florida you might be interested in.

                • TheFool37

                  You keep focusing on one person while I do not but since we’re on the subject: you do know that Penn was a major strategist for the Clintons, going back to Bill’s campaigns and including on an official level Hillary’s 2008 campaign? You think Hillary didn’t talk to him at all in 2016? But anyway, its not him I’m focused on. Its many of the elite consultants who advise the DCCC, DSCC, and most major competitive statewide candidates.

              • TheFool37

                Its not like there is one ruling power in the Dem party and a tiny faction of out of power centrists against the ruling consensus. First, its much more decentralized. Second, There is a small number of elite consultants who influence the party committees. The idea of moving to the center is very well represented in that small number. A guy like Brian Schatz, for example, both takes advice from the same centrist consultants and has far less influence on party strategy among the party committees than those consultants.

              • TheFool37

                Anyway I’m not arguing for monolithic centrist power — though that is certainly closer to the truth than the idea that BLM or protesters or Brian Schatz are setting message.

                The point is it is not at all a “howler” to say the Dem establishment will argue for moving to the center. Trust me many of the most influential elements of that establishment will and are counseling just that.

                • ColBatGuano

                  Trust me

                  Given your level of argumentation shown here, why should we? Why would you be a reliable judge of what is happening within the center of the Democratic Party? Your ability to hand wave away what Schumer and others have actually done while referencing the DLC and Mark Penn make your arguments worthless.

                • TheFool37

                  You’re hearing eyewitness testimony

            • mongolia

              1. name names

              2. seems like something that should be dealt with in the primaries. if a bunch of centrist dems run in primaries and win….well, that would suck, but it means that “move the the center” was the right way to win dem primary voters, who tend to be much further left than the country as a whole

              • TheFool37

                Same thing happens in the primaries, many of which are not competitive anyway. Also messaging in primaries is much different than generals. Basically almost all the Dems have the same positions so this is not an issue in the primaries.

          • randykhan

            Heck, the DLC closed down in 2011.

    • Aaron Morrow

      What does an actual Democratic U.S. Senator, and thus therefore an actual Democratic Elite, think of Mark Penn?

      https://twitter.com/brianschatz/status/883079895307370496

      The DLC’s time is gone. It’s 2017, and Nolan is wrong about Democrats.

      • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

        Warren thinks he is the great boogeyman of “returning to the days of welfare reform”.

        • Aaron Morrow

          Mine is Al From. Even when I thought the DLC was a lawfully neutral force, I didn’t trust him.

          • ColBatGuano

            I’ve got Will Marshall in my boogeyman pool.

      • TheFool37

        Trust me, bro, the guy who is Brian Schatz’s top strategic adviser advises him to move to the center.

        • Brien Jackson

          Wait, marginal voter theory is an enemy of the revolution now?

          • Aaron Morrow

            The #1 enemy of the revolution is marginal voter theory, a denial of the present state of politics, blah blah blah.

            • TheFool37

              Marginal voter theory is great. It also provides automatic cover for risk averse consultants and officeholders with safe seats. They will err on the side of centrism. Sometimes those errors are huge.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Trying to win elections is neoliberal. For that matter, so is _wanting_ to win them. :/

            • TheFool37

              I’m all about winning elections. But I’m also about pushing the envelope on policy to the max extent compatible with winning enough elections to pass those policies.

          • TheFool37

            Oops!

            In Brien’s zeal to disagree with me he argued himself into a corner. Here he suggests that only revolutionaries oppose moving to the center. Meanwhile Scott argued that the suggestion that Dem establishment figures support moving to the center is an absolute howler. Looks like Brien has a bone to pick with Scott.

            • Brien Jackson

              Er, no, i’m pointing out that the socialist “win white working class” voters is…marginal voter theory.

        • TheFool37

          This is 100% fact.

          • Aaron Morrow

            You hadn’t convinced me before, but now that you’re spamming your own comments…

            • TheFool37

              I’m not trying to convince you about Schatz. I’m informing you.

              • TheFool37

                It’s a great example of what I’m talking about. Thanks for bringing it up.

              • ColBatGuano

                The voices in your head aren’t evidence.

                • TheFool37

                  No, but my memories as a firsthand witness are.

                • stepped pyramids

                  When did you work for Schatz? What’s the name of his top strategic adviser? Have you met?

        • ColBatGuano

          Trust me, bro

          Again, why should we?

    • Hogan

      I suspect Nolan has different elites in mind

      You can suspect whatever you like. He namechecks the Clintons and Chuck Schumer.

      • TheFool37

        I haven’t read his piece…I was reacting to Scott’s pronouncement. But if what you say is true, then clearly Nolan wasn’t talking about legislative voting behavior. He’s talking about the ecology of influence among party elites, which is a small group of select office holders and the small number of consultants who influence them.

        • Hogan

          I haven’t read his piece

          Ah.

          • TheFool37

            Indeed

          • Scott Lemieux

            Ah, yes, the ol’ “he could not possibly be arguing the dumb thing he was explicitly arguing, but he instead must have been making an argument that Mark Penn is extremely influential within the Democratic Party in 2017” routine. Only normally when people use this technique they try to attribute an argument to the author that isn’t equally stupid.

    • randykhan

      I don’t get why you think that Mark Penn and Third Way (which still exists, somewhat to my surprise, but whose leadership is made up of people who last worked in government during the Clinton Administration), let alone the New Democrats, would have much influence on Democratic Party strategy. Look at what actual leaders of the party are doing, and it’s pretty clear those folks are in the wilderness.

      • TheFool37

        Its not so much them as it is people like them or sufficiently like them. And don’t discount Third Way — they just raised $20 million to spread their centrist bullshit.

      • I would be very happy with more McAuliffe Democrats. I don’t think much of him when he was a major cog in the Clinton fundraising machine but he’s been pretty amazing as VA governor. His attempts to re-enfranchise felons are such a good thing.

        • FlipYrWhig

          The way Terry McAuliffe has acquitted himself in office should make the few hundred people who spent their entire online lives affecting to despise him shut the ever-loving fuck up.

          • Morbo

            His Charlottesville media appearances and statements have been hot garbage though.

            • Still better than Trump. But yeah, what I’ve seen hasn’t been good at all.

              But still:

              https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/voting-rights-restoration-efforts-virginia

              Virginia is one of four states whose constitution permanently disenfranchises citizens with past felony convictions, but grants the state’s governor the authority to restore voting rights. After a July 2016 Virginia Supreme Court decision invalidated an executive order restoring voting rights to over 200,000 citizens, the state’s governor announced his plan to issue individual restorations for citizens who have completed the terms of their sentence, including probation and parole.

              In April 2017, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that he had restored voting rights to over 156,000 citizens.

              And:

              “I personally believe in the power of second chances and in the dignity and worth of every single human being,” he said beside a civil rights monument on Capitol Square. “These individuals are gainfully employed. They send their children and their grandchildren to our schools. They shop at our grocery stores and they pay taxes. And I am not content to condemn them for eternity as inferior, second-class citizens.”

              Now the prior (R) governor did some of this too.

              But this is a pure good.

            • FlipYrWhig

              I disagree and haven’t seen that many people reacting as you did.

      • ColBatGuano

        His conspiracy theory of a secret cabal of Third Way insiders is more satisfying to him. Plus he knows exactly what is happening inside those secret meetings, trust him.

    • “Third Way” candidates will vote the right way 95% of the time.

      yes, we must be very afraid of them. what would happen if they somehow added to a Democratic caucus!??!!? ZOMG

      • N__B

        95%, comrade, is not perfection.

        • if these people would put up some candidates in tough districts, i’d be less likely to roll my eyes every time i read something they write.

          posturing on Twitter about how the mean old Democrats aren’t doing it right does absolutely nobody* any good at all. much worse than no good at all, in fact.

          * – except those who sell their readers’ eyeballs to capitalist pigs.

        • Kevin

          I’ve seen some ripping Manchin, saying he’s voted with Trump over 50% of the time, therefore he is awful. Not mentioned is that Trump hasn’t actually passed any bills, and Manchin only voted yes on his confirmations (which would get confirmed regardless). Also not mentioned is Manchin’s holding the line on every single important vote the past 7 months.

          Is he the ideal Democrat? Nope. Should we be fighting him? HELL NO. He is the best you can manage in his State. Focus on shitty Dems in States where they have no excuse. Or better yet…focus on Republicans!

          • EliHawk

            Hell. Support him and hope he’s popular enough he can get a protege elected to Congress, Senate, or Governor some time.

          • Yes, there are some people here saying we should encourage him to take the Energy position if it’s offered just to get him out of the Senate. Then Justice appoints a Republican replacement and we’re fighting a R incumbent in 2018. I just don’t see the point of this. I mean, I wish Elizabeth Warren was my senator too, but that ain’t happening in West by God Virginia. Manchin is well and truly the best we can do for now.

            • Kevin

              And if the best you can do is “votes for our judges and to keep health care”…that isn’t the worst thing in the world! People need to learn what battles to pick. How about putting whatever energy you have against Manchin to some purple states, like NC, maybe Arizona, Wisconsin, etc? But WV? Give me a break.

          • Richard Gadsden

            If you want to primary a senator, how about Dianne goddamn Feinstein?

            She’s in California, which is super-blue, where there’s next-to-no danger of accidentally electing a Republican, where you even have a top-two primary, so you have a decent shot at guaranteeing no Republicans anyway, and where lots of the lefties actually live and therefore could get off their asses and knock on some doors.

        • Hypersphericalcow

          “Better fewer, but better.”

    • Scott Lemieux

      Thinking Mark Penn is a more influential figure than Chuck Schumer is like Greenwald thinking the Kagan brothers are more powerful than Paul Ryan.

      Anyway, if HN wanted to argue that “some unemployable hacks think the Democratic Party should move to the center” he should have argued that. He didn’t. He argued, explicitly and more than once, that the parties are moving to the center and that the differences between them are trivial.

      • TheFool37

        Rhetorically it may effective to pretend I staked my whole argument on Mark Penn and defeat that straw man.

        But it is dishonest.

      • TheFool37

        I don’t think that Penn is more influential than Schumer but you are kidding yourself if you don’t think Schumer has centrist tendencies.

        I was just reacting to the part you quoted, “So pissed off people elected Donald Fucking Trump…And here we are…Within politics, there have been two distinct reactions to this anti-establishment upheaval. The establishment—particularly of the Democratic Party—has concluded that the solution is to run to the center”

        As you can see, Nolan here is talking about what Dem establishment figures are arguing right now and he is indeed saying some hacks think the Democratic Party should move to the center. That’s what I was addressing. And Nolan is absolutely right about that.

        Perhaps from your perch in academic exile and writing the occasional journalistic potboiler, you are not in the position to see what I am talking about. From your perspective that makes it unfalsifiable. From my perspective, it makes it something you are clueless about.

        • farin

          “The establishment” becomes “some hacks” from one paragraph to the next.

          • TheFool37

            preceded by my argument about “the establishment” becoming “some hacks” in Scott’s mangling thereof

            • stepped pyramids

              Neither you nor Nolan have actually made that argument. You have just asserted it to be the obvious truth, without any evidence or even any reason that we should take your word for it.

              • TheFool37

                Well there’s the evidence that Mark Penn just had a recent piece in the NYT. And there’s the evidence that 3rd Way just raised $20 million for their PAC – a helluva lot more than Invincible for example — these are just some recent examples of the genre. And BTW the fact that they are recent examples of the rebirth of the genre is the only reason I mentioned them — not that I think they are the primary movers and shakers.

                Then there are the things I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you. Sorry. I wish I were the Ghost of Elections Past and I could take you for a tour of history where you could see centrist arguments being made year after year to the DCCC and DSCC and year after year to the top statewide candidates by the small circle who are consulted on these things.

                • stepped pyramids

                  BTW the fact that they are recent examples of the rebirth of the genre is the only reason I mentioned them — not that I think they are the primary movers and shakers.

                  In other words, “even if the evidence I have presented doesn’t support a convincing argument, please just assume that there is better evidence that I simply haven’t presented.”

                  Nolan’s argument isn’t that there is a centrist faction within the Democratic Party. His argument is that “the establishment has concluded that the solution is to run to the center”. That doesn’t mean there are people arguing for centrist positioning in the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean there’s an open debate. That means the debate is over and that it has been decided in favor of a move to the center. This hasn’t happened.

                • TheFool37

                  I agree that the argument is not over and I don’t endorse that part of what Nolan said if he said that. My whole point is that I don’t want that argument to be over, but I’m also warning you to take off the blinders because that argument is, in fact, being made and that this should not be surprising because that argument ALWAYS gets made and enjoys the reputation of being the default conventional wisdom so that many are afraid to argue against it.

                • stepped pyramids

                  What part of “the establishment… has concluded” doesn’t mean “the argument is over” to you? What a fucking waste of time this was.

                • TheFool37

                  Also see a recent article in the Washington Post Aug. 10 “Centrist Democrats begin pushing back against Bernie Sanders, liberal wing”

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Well there’s the evidence that Mark Penn just had a recent piece in the NYT.

                  LOL. I think we’re done here.

                • TheFool37

                  Oh the parting snark shot AKA tacit concession!

                  I guess we are done here.

        • Hogan

          Perhaps from your perch in academic exile

          Ooh, that’s some “block user” shit right there. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.

          • TheFool37

            Hilarious! I can tell exactly what kind of person you are just from this comment alone. You’re just like the little dorky fanboy in the high school posse, cheering for his champion who barely acknowledges his existence except when he needs to copy some homework.

  • True left wingers want…

    GFY, you presumptuous shit.

  • Gregor Sansa

    Sometimes, I wonder whether the social choice theorem that’s most misunderstood is Arrow’s or the Median Voter. Both are wildly distorted in their folk versions. I sometimes wish that Gibbard-Satterthwaite were as famous as those two, because it would be a better foundation for pop voting theory.

    • Matty

      Can you expand on that for us non poli-sci types?

      • Gregor Sansa

        Median voter theorem: in a two-candidate election on a one-dimensional ideological spectrum (with single-peaked preferences, and no primaries or past or future or third parties), the winning move is to move to the center. The pop version forgets about the primaries and says that the parties always move to the center.

        Arrow’s theorem: No ordinal voting method can be non-dictatorial, independent of irrelevant alternatives, and elect unanimous winners. The pop version is “no voting method is perfect, so don’t bother trying to do better”.

        Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem: no voting method is strategy-free in all scenarios. Doesn’t really have a pop version, nobody’s heard of it. But teaching voting theory starting with strategy would be a lot more productive than starting with (aptly-named) “irrelevant alternatives”.

  • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

    It is true that America’s large brokerage parties are only offering the considerable and accelerating differences between Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan and not a contest between “full socialism” and full “deconstruction of the administrative state” because neither of the latter two ideas has a substantial mass constituency in the United States. Most Democratic voters don’t favor a nationalization of the means of production. Most Republican voters like the federal welfare state just fine.
    This hits an obvious but unspoken point, which is that, by definition, American politics are American politics, not the politics of a revolutionary state. Some “revolution”, equally by definition, is not going to occur via party politics and the established electoral system. Which is just fine; if you want to have a revolution, be my guest.

  • Spot Letton

    “…and that the current state of affairs must only be tweaked very slowly, if at all.”

    This phrase alone does all the work you need. Half of these (very few actual) mainstream centrists want to tweak the current state of affairs to the left, the other half to the right; neither want to allow the state of affairs to be tweaked in the other direction, and there’s no “center” position. The old “half an abortion” conundrum.

  • The Republican Party has been taken over by radicals intent on warping our democratic institution to support a perpetual autocracy. The Democratic Party has remained quite sane and is shifting left in response to its constituency and, in fact, the majority* of the public.How is this even close to both parties moving to the center?

    *By majority, I mean the everyone who should be able to vote, not the ever-shrinking pool of voters thanks to Republican voter suppression efforts.

  • sanjait

    **The majority of powerful people in both current parties that like to refer to themselves as “mainstream” may haggle over minor issues, but the generally agree that the government must boost and protect private capital, that America must be a military powerhouse, and that the current state of affairs must only be tweaked very slowly, if at all.**

    If Nolan thinks that believing the very notions that the US should promote the private sector (at all!?) and have a strong military are not “mainstream” views, he is operating under some very poor assumptions.

    A notably common trait among left-puritans is that they seem to believe their numbers are far higher than they truly are. This is why we see the repeated insistence that the Dem primaries were “rigged” rather than acknowledgment of the fact that Hillary simply got more votes from voters.

    And the notion that “affairs must only be tweaked very slowly, if at all” is a straw man. The “centrists”, or whatever we call the rest of the party that make up the majority of its voters, don’t hold that view. They hold a broad range of views, which typically include the notions that change is difficult and thus comes slowly in practice rather than by design, and that the mere fact of being more radical is not itself an inherent virtue.

    • FlipYrWhig

      “I am a raging leftist and everywhere I go I find raging leftists, therefore raging leftists must be everywhere and if it doesn’t seem that way it must be because of skulduggery and chicanery on the part of THE ESTABLISHMENT.”

      • sanjait

        And anyone who refuses to a acknowledge the fact of our numbers is part of the eliteconspiracy …

      • there has to be a name for this fallacy, but damned if i can find it

  • randykhan

    If I wasn’t already laughing out loud, this one would have put me over the edge:

    There is a much more straightforward solution: Put a third party in the middle.

    Yeah, definitely.

  • Harkov311

    It is true that America’s large brokerage parties are only offering the considerable and accelerating differences between Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan and not a contest between “full socialism” and full “deconstruction of the administrative state” because neither of the latter two ideas has a substantial mass constituency in the United States. Most Democratic voters don’t favor a nationalization of the means of production. Most Republican voters like the federal welfare state just fine.

    The pink anarchist unicorn brigade refuses to believe that most Americans have mainstream political beliefs. Mostly, I assume, because it would ruin their fantasy that a den of evil elites are the reason we don’t have socialism, rather than because the public doesn’t want it.

    • Bluesmank

      I agree, and it brought something to mind…

      Does any of this feel generational?

      I keep reading how younger voters don’t relate the dreaded ‘socialism’ (see, I couldn’t even type it without scare quotes) to any of its historical failures. I am not taking a side here, as properly practiced Democratic Socialism is a political state to admire and recreate. When I hear ‘socialism’ I think of the Killing Fields and black and white History Channel newsreels of Il Duce.

      When Chapo Trap thinks of it… I wonder what appears in their mind’s eye.

      • their own faces replacing those on Mt Rushmore?

        • Bluesmank

          Or just a whole lot of bent knees.

        • Kevin

          Beards EVERYWHERE.

      • Richard Gadsden

        Their imagined version of Sweden / Denmark.

    • Hypersphericalcow

      > America’s large brokerage parties

      What the hell does this even mean? Is it related to finance? Does it mean parties that actually make compromises and deals? Is it some kind of code that I don’t recognize?

      • Hogan

        Does it mean parties that actually make compromises and deals?

        This. Especially among factions within the parties.

    • Wojciech

      Actually, I think that a lot of them DO realize that most people have mainstream views and that THEY are the outliers. That’s why there’s so much “bend the knee” bullshit from the purity ponies. They tried to do it the right way in 2016 and they failed. So now they’re going to ratfuck their way to the top (or so they think).

  • nahska

    Anyone catch Emmett Rensin’s Twitter argument with Noah Smith about how, because Heather Heyer was a member of DSA and IWW, the left needs to fight neoliberalism just as much as we fight the far right?

    https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/896849151039741952

    This came after he decided the right person to attack in the wake of the Charlottesville terror/murder was … Neera Tanden.

    https://twitter.com/emmettrensin/status/896420976581369856

    https://twitter.com/emmettrensin/status/896421386373222401

    But at least Rensin is honest about the fact that’s he’s a revolutionary socialist, and that he basically rejects anything associated with the American state.

    https://twitter.com/emmettrensin/status/896182373779468289

    • stepped pyramids

      What’s funny is that Rensin is constantly getting in fights with commies on Twitter who see him as (basically) a smug liberal dilettante playing radical.

      • nahska

        Honestly, I’m not yet convinced Emmett Rensin actually exists — he seems more like a caricature of a smug, young, privileged armchair revolutionary.

        • FlipYrWhig

          The name definitely sounds made up.

      • DN Nation

        The commies are right.

      • Scott Lemieux

        When Freddie can dunk on you like LeBron James being defended by the third-tallest player on a junior-high school girl’s basketball team, that’s pretty impressive: https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/they-call-that-the-soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations-emmett-5d37c4ab6424

      • JMV Pyro

        They’re not wrong.

    • whoever those people are, i hate them all

    • Veleda_k

      my main problem with kamala harris is that, if elected, she is unlikely
      to burn the American empire in the cleansing fires of revolution

      This is the kind of radical notion that drives me crazy. “I reject all available options because they won’t dismantle the state.” Yeah, well no one who has the slightest chance of holding political power is ever going to do that. So how about working to make the world better (including by voting) rather than making everyone else miserable?

      • ASV

        The Revolution is always just over the horizon.

        • EliHawk

          To quote Billy Bragg “The Revolution is just a T-shirt away.”

          Of course Bragg pegged an entire class of useless leftist radical dead to rights, but hangs out with and supports them all the same.

          • ASV

            I’m still waiting to hear how many of this weekend’s fascists were killed by folk guitar-playing.

      • econoclast

        I think this is too kind. Based on historical example, “dismantling the state” has a significanct chance of leaving millions dead. The actual successful examples of left-wing politics, such as Scandinavian social democracy and Attlee-era Labour, didn’t begin by dismantling the state.

        • Kevin

          “but we’ll probably win, the other guys will die, not us!”

      • Sentient AI From The Future

        I dont know, I read that line as “I dont actually have a problem with kamala Harris politically” with a heapin helpin of snark.

        • Veleda_k

          It totally could be snark, now that you’ve brought it up. I’ve just seen similar sentiments expressed in perfect seriousness, so my sarcasm detector may be off.

    • Dr. Waffle

      I’ve decided it’s best just to ignore these arguments. Emmett Rensin is never going to be important, and these endless feuds between leftists and liberals are never going to be resolved.

    • MacCheerful

      “Cleansing fire”, “cloying imperialist class”. As so often it’s argument by adjective.

      You know what get’s cleansed by the fire they are talking about? people.

      • rea

        I–and my kids–and my grandkids–and my great grandkids–all live inside that “American Empire” these people seem to want to nuke, even though we may not adhere to its values.

    • FlipYrWhig

      What is the bug up their collective (get it?) butt about Neera Tanden? All the leftier-than-thou knuckleheads have a fixation with her. Is it still a hangover from whatever that Bruenig contretemps was?

      • stepped pyramids

        That Neera Tanden tweet isn’t even saying anything like what he says it is.

      • Scott Lemieux

        That, and Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani found her unsatisfactory as a boss. In fairness, it’s hard to imagine why Tanden would have had issues with reporters of their high intellectual caliber.

        • What the hell is Fang’s beef with her? Unlike Zaid, I seem to recall him leaving of his own volition.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Fang was always smarter.

            • EliHawk

              There are plenty of baseball teams better than the ’62 Mets too.

      • Brien Jackson

        Yeah this is bugging me too. Funny how Susan “Trump will be better than Hillary because REVOLUTION” Sarandon didn’t put her ass in the fire in Charlottesville, huh?

  • mpowell

    The odd thing to me is why people think it would really be better if both political parties represented the extremes of their base and we could remove most of the veto points in Washington. Then any time 50%+1 of the public changed their minds and switched to the other party we would get a dramatic step change in governance. It is impossible for me to believe this represent a successful model of governance.

    In my view, the two parties should be close to the middle with well defined and publicly known policy views. And the middle they hew to should track the preferences of the public. When one party or the other drifts too far away, the public should be punishing them consistently until they come back. Then each election represents minor changes in tack as the parties or public shift views incrementally over time. This seems much more sound to me.

    There are 2 big reasons to get caught up in the ‘both parties are the same’ story. The first is that you are a person with viewpoints not supported by any workable public majority in the country. Sorry. The second is that the views of wealthy people are substantially over-represented in Washington. This is a legitimate problem, but is not really a problem with the ideological separation of the two parties. It is simply the over-weighting of the concerns of this small minority which happens through a variety of different channels. There is plenty that can be done to improve this situation, mostly through restriction on campaign donations and substantially increasing public funding, but it is orthogonal to the issue of ideological separation.

    There is one last wrinkle, in my view, which is that fox news has been able to pull the base of the Republican party further right in their views. But again, I don’t see this as being driven by the ideological separation of the parties but more as a driver of it. The best way to describe fox news is as very cynical, but effective, advocacy/propaganda for right wing politics. People want to think of this as moving the Overton window, but I really don’t think that is what is going on.

    • sanjait

      Good points all around.

      One thing to add: the extremists on both sides tend to have an outsized view of the popularity of their ideals. They think most of the country is secretly with them, so the idea of tyrannical 50%+1 majorities is appealing to them.

    • Zagarna_84

      The reason people think a system where votes actually translated into policy would be better than ours is basically empirical: it is better in other countries which do not have a billion veto points where elites can interfere with mass politics.

      Those countries, contra your assumption, do not actually have dramatic shifts in governance every time a new party comes to power, because the parties know that people would not tolerate that kind of governance. They do, however, have relatively PREDICTABLE shifts that fairly closely match the actual preferences of the electoral majorities who vote for them.

      • Richard Gadsden

        This completely understates the importance of proportional representation and multi-party politics. In most European countries (which is, let’s be honest, what we’re talking about) there is almost never an election where the new government contains zero members of the old.

        I believe that the 1998 election is the only time that’s happened in (West) Germany, for example.

        Even in the UK, the last time a single-party majority government was replaced by a single-party majority government of a different party was 1970, though it was common before that (1964, 1951, 1945). It was widely believed that the radical flipping back and forth of the British system in the 1960s/1970s was unhealthy, and the rise of third parties since 1970 might be in part caused by voters wanting a brake on that see-saw.

        The point here is that votes translate better into policy in an electoral system that does not force all effective votes into two choices – because you can get a majority for a position a long way from the median voter under the US system, while it’s much harder to get that under a multi-party proportional system. The US veto points are, as I see it, a compensation for an electoral system that allows for excessively wide swings of the pendulum.

  • econoclast

    The thing that upsets me about bafflegab like Nolan’s is that for the first time the left was winning the intra-Democratic battle. The financial crisis had discredited the Third Way types. The Democratic party platform was the furthest left in years. A left candidate had done respectably in the primaries, expanding the space of imaginable policy outcomes.

    And now I think we’re prety clearly going to lose. It’s one thing to get people to support a $15/hour minimum wage, or Medicare-for-All. It’s another thing to demand that everyone apologize for every centrist thought they ever had, or every centrist candidate they ever supported. My social circle online is mostly middle-aged left-wing women, women who have been to more protests than I can count, and the most possible alienating thing that can happen is a bunch of young guys mansplaining to them that they are a bunch of neoliberal sell-outs. The left is going to split right down the middle because of this stupid bullshit, and the center is going to win again.

    • and the center is going to win again.

      slight correction: the GOP is going to win again.

      • Duvall

        First one, then the other.

    • stepped pyramids

      This frustrates me too. The Democratic left has made great strides in the last decade, and it is far stronger today than I ever expected it to be. But this is in spite of the bros, not because of them.

  • JamesWimberley

    What’s this? You want to take away MY lifetime subscription to LGM and offer it as a prize to Jacobin? Even in jest, this is intolerable. I’m an elderly white male after all.

  • JamesWimberley

    Karl Marx wrote enormous books explaining his view of everything. Mao shrunk them to a little red booklet that fits into a breast pocket. The current generation of American socialists find that’s too wordy and reject anything longer than 140 characters.

  • bw

    When I first read this Nolan piece over the weekend I was pissed off, then realized I was being stupid and that it was obviously brilliant Medium Lobster-esque satire.

    Shit.

  • gwen

    Hamilton Nolan’s description of the Democratic establishment might have been true 30 years ago, back when it would have been a mistake to leave your wife alone with Bill Clinton for more than five minutes.

    A lot of elected Democrats, I think, are driven by something akin to PTSD after years of having to deal with right-wing trash talkers. The natural posture often tends to be to get defensive and insist that their policy agenda is “not that radical”, etc. I believe that for many older Democrats this is a natural response to getting crushed in 1972, 1984, etc.

    Today, though, the “sin” of the Establishment (and I put that in quotes for a reason), is that they often seem to be fighting a rear-guard action to make a center-left agenda sound “reasonable” to a small centrist community that has (admittedly) some disproportionate influence (i.e. the Donor Class) but is not as significant as anyone imagines.

    This also has the unfortunate side effect of sounding condescending and patronizing to many people, particularly younger people who imagine themselves as a sort of new revolutionary vanguard of rather bog-standard social democracy.

    I believe that when Nancy Pelosi awkwardly responds to questions about the youth neo-Leftist vote with “we’re capitalists”, she’s acting more out of habit than anything else.

    Whether this is good or bad salesmanship, I will let you decide.

    But the party leadership is not relentlessly centrist. They are not trying to cram a corporate agenda down our throats (although some of them, including Pelosi, are way too willing to compromise on certain items). They generally aren’t moving on policy at all.

    In short — they aren’t “enemies” of the left, as some neo-Leftists would imagine. They are just allies who are stuck in habits and rhetorical strategies that made sense back during the Reagan Revolution, but may no longer make sense in the Age of Trump.

    The fact is that Republicans have won the popular vote in presidential elections exactly once in the past 25 years. The big threat to the Democratic Party is not some sunny Reagan character showing up proclaiming Morning in America, but rather leaders who can’t wake their people on Election Day to go vote.

    • FlipYrWhig

      By and large I agree but I’d add one more thing.

      Political strategists are copycats. When Bill Clinton won a race he wasn’t expected to win in 1992, he did it by scaling up a set of strategies that had cropped up in the Sun Belt/New South for ~ 20 years. People then tried to imitate him. Lo and behold, it worked! People cloned it, like Mark Warner and Mike Beebe. Maybe Hillary ’08 follows that template; I’m not sure I’d say so, but it’s arguable. Then Obama came along, chucked that template, and won differently. Waddya know, that created a new template. After that, some candidates and strategists kept up the Clinton one; some people tried the Obama one. We’re still working that all out. Then Sanders comes along and tries yet another different one. Great! Bring it!

      But it seems to me to be _laughably_ premature to conclude that Sanders has developed the killer app, when _his_ attempt _didn’t actually work_, and when his epigones and proteges _have also not yet shown any record of success_. Meanwhile people like Terry McAuliffe and Roy Cooper and Jon Bel Edwards have run Obama-ish and Clinton-ish strategies AND WON. Sometimes they were “centrist”; sometimes they were technocratic; sometimes they were smartly allying with communities of color.

      TL;DR/shorter:
      When the Sanders playbook wins a high-profile election, people will imitate it. If it’s a winner, run it, win it, and then gloat. Don’t _start_ with the gloating. But that’s what “the left” has decided to do, from Chapo on down.

      • Dalai_Rasta

        In other words, don’t claim you built a killer app unless you can demonstrate that it does what it’s supposed to do.

      • EliHawk

        The thing is: Clinton remade the Democrats as a Center Left party that could appeal to suburbanites, as well as going after the bubbas. The Suburbanite part stuck and the Bubbas still left from 2000 on, and Obama essentially ran as a more inspirational but still mainstream center-left moderate liberal.

    • Brien Jackson

      But…..they are capitalists. The share of people who are honest to God democratic socialists is very small, and doesn’t actually include Sen. Bernie Sanders.

      • I would beg to differ on your use of the term “democratic socialism”. It usually refers to countries like Sweden – exactly none of which are actually socialist countries. They are primarily *capitalist* countries with a high degree of regulation and redistribution.

        Sanders *is* that kind of “democratic socialist”. But the far-left #BernItDown anti-capitalists you’re talking about aren’t – they’re full-blown seize-the-means-of-production socialists.

        • Hogan

          You’re asking for a hundred-plus comments thread distinguishing “democratic socialism” from “social democracy.” Are you sure that’s what you want? Just sayin.

          • If you’re saying that “democratic socialism” is seize-the-means-of-production socialism that is also democratic, well, I don’t actually believe in such an animal. All attempts at establishing such a system quickly become dictatorships with at most a sham facade of democracy.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Obligatory Bostonian’s mention that Hamilton Nolan wrote an insipid polemic called “F*ck Boston” just a few months after the Marathon Bombing wherein he just wrote a bunch “f*ck Boston because XYZ.” Because Red Sox. Because people. Because he’s a transplanted Floridian with an inferiority complex pretending to be a lifelong NYCer.

      F*ck that guy.

    • DJ

      The natural posture often tends to be to get defensive and insist that their policy agenda is “not that radical”, etc.

      cf. the common argument among Democrats, debunked on this site and increasingly elsewhere now, that the ACA is a “Republican” plan, rather than an important progressive extension of the New Deal.

  • AMK

    “Elite polarization”

    This really depends on how you define “elite.” If we take this to mean “rich people with selective college educations,” well then nationally most of them are to the left of the modern GOP on economics and much further to its left on social issues. We can call these people “neoliberal” as a group, but they’re not equally split and not as polarized as the rest of the population. I said here the other day that if Wall Street had as much power over Republicans as some on the left seem to think, the Party would be markedly more progressive.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Exactly. Wall Street has many sins. Bigotry a la rank-and-file Republicans isn’t particularly high among them. I don’t know that many finance/banking/Wall Street people but some of the ones I know are bearded math nerds and slightly-aged-out-of-hipsterdom types whose friends are all writers.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      OTOH, virtually every conservative and libertarian lawyer, judge, Congressperson, and business leader of any influence also is a rich person with a selective college education.

      The Koch bros both went to MIT. Trump to Penn. Kushner to Harvard (after his dad donated $2.5 million). Romney to HBS & HLS. The various Bushes cycled through Yale. Cruz, HLS. Senator Ben Sasse has an undergrad degree from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Grover Norquist went to Harvard and HBS. Charles Murray, Harvard and MIT. Obviously virtually every conservative federal judge went to HLS, YLS, or somewhere very similar. Hell, Ann Coulter has a JD from Michigan and clerked on the 5th Circuit.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yeah, even elites in this sense are much more polarized than they used to be.

        • Hogan

          Always fucking timely:

          Almost all political conflict, especially in the US, boils down to a fight between the Sane Billionaires and the Insane Billionaires. It generally follows this template:

          INSANE BILLIONAIRES: Let’s kill everyone and take their money!

          SANE BILLIONAIRES: I like the way you think. I really do. But if we keep everyone alive, and working for us, we’ll make even more money, in the long term.

          INSANE BILLIONAIRES: You communist!!!

          So from a progressive perspective, you always have to hope the Sane Billionaires win. Still, there’s generally a huge chasm between what the Sane Billionaires want and what progressives want.

      • AMK

        But my point is that these people don’t represent a majority of “elites.”

        It seems like as you move up the ladder from affluent to rich to fuck-you money to small-country GDPs, then the number of people willing to blow up the country for lower taxes certainly increases. But has anybody ever done a real political survey of billionaires? I would not be surprised if for every Koch and Adelson there is at least one Buffet or Zuckerberg. The difference is that the RWNJ billionaires are just far more active in political giving.

  • CD

    Also a little weird

    “True right wingers want decentralization and a radical deconstruction of government as we know it.”

    Maybe you could defend this as an idiosyncratic definition of “true right wingers” as pure libertarians, but since this sentence is part of a sketch of the whole U.S. political scene, it’s idiotic. On this point Corey Robin (reviled though he may be here on other counts!) is dead on: the U.S. right is authoritarian. We might hope they were honest libertarians, or even thoughtful Burkeans, but that would ignore what we see in front of us.

    Such reasoning has, however, been all too characteristic of the Berniebros I’ve met, who simply don’t have a category for white nationalism, or the authoritarian right in general, and cannot see it as a genuine, threatening politics with its own logic and history.

  • The Socialist Left has spent the last few years running ever harder towards full-blown Communism. So the comparatively smaller leftward movement of the mainstream Democratic party looks like a move to the center, relative to the Left’s position.

    And that’s why you get pieces like this, and why I have become disgusted with the entire Socialist movement, which I used to sympathize with.

  • MariedeGournay

    Is it me or both the GOP and the supposed left still stuck in the fucking 90s?

    • SatanicPanic

      The GOP has probably gotten worse

      • MariedeGournay

        Yeah, Gingrichism on steroids.

  • Ash

    Good to know that HamNo is still fucking up political analysis, I guess. During the election, he was so reflexively anti-Clinton that it started to feel deliberately sexist to this woman. I now don’t read him at all, though like the piece on the union drive, he might still be good on other subjects.

  • mattmcirvin

    One of my leftier-than-thou friends on G+ has just pivoted to posting anti-anti-Assad stuff.

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