All’s Fair, Even if It’s Unfair?

A defense of the indefensible.

politics outrage shouting

Even though I agree with its central premise of Shadi Hamid‘s Atlantic column “The Democrats May Not Be Able to Concede,” the argument is incredibly flawed.

I find myself truly worried about only one scenario: that Trump will win reelection and Democrats and others on the left will be unwilling, even unable, to accept the result.

Given that the opposite outcome is far, far more likely, it’s weird for that to be one’s primary concern. But okay.

A loss by Joe Biden under these circumstances is the worst case not because Trump will destroy America (he can’t), but because it is the outcome most likely to undermine faith in democracy, resulting in more of the social unrest and street battles that cities including Portland, Oregon, and Seattle have seen in recent months. For this reason, strictly law-and-order Republicans who have responded in dismay to scenes of rioting and looting have an interest in Biden winning—even if they could never bring themselves to vote for him.

So, again, while I can understand this fear the opposite one is far more likely. Indeed, armed right-wing groups have contributed rather significantly even to the above-mentioned unrest.

After several more paragraphs of hand-wringing, we finally get to the point:

If Trump manages to win, recent polling data indicate, he will likely do so despite losing the popular vote. That will fuel disillusion not just with the election outcome but with the electoral system. The popular-vote numbers will be used to argue that Trump won without winning—again. In theory, this could be a good thing, if it birthed a mass movement to change the way Americans choose their presidents. In practice, though, Republicans, after prevailing only in the Electoral College for the third time in six elections, will vehemently oppose any attempt to abolish it, further driving despair among Democrats that change can come about through “normal” politics.

This much is unassailable: if Trump again wins the election while getting fewer votes, Democrats will indeed despair that the system is broken.

But the next paragraph contains a mystifying number of bizarre assertions:

Liberals have convinced themselves that Republicans are, in one way or another, cheating. In addition to all of Trump’s norm-breaking, the GOP is gerrymandering, purging voter rolls, and shutting down polling places in Black neighborhoods. Yet Republicans wouldn’t have been able to do these things if they hadn’t won enough statewide and local offices in the first place. They have put themselves in a position to enact their favored redistricting and election procedures by finding candidates and pursuing policies that made them competitive in formerly Democratic states, demanding a level of party discipline that Democrats can seldom muster, and getting their supporters to turn out for down-ballot races. Republican manipulation is what the democratic process itself has produced, however unfair, and it can be undone only through that same process, however flawed. To some degree, this is just how the game is played, and Democrats need to play it better if they want to win the Electoral College. Having won the presidency twice in the recent past, Democrats are surely capable of prevailing via normal means, but promising voters a slightly improved version of the present may not necessarily be the best way to do it.

Taking these in order:

  • It’s not just liberals who have despaired of these practices. I was a loyal Republican voter before 2016 and had spent years decrying gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other undemocratic tactics. Some are more legally defensible than others but they turn the notion of representative government on its head.
  • The notion that these practices are democratic because they followed elections is bizarre. There’s an old saw about post-colonial countries in the developing world being “One man, one vote, one time.” Recep Erdogan and Vladimir Putin were democratically elected; that doesn’t make their autocratic actions since taking power Jeffersonian.
  • This is compounded by the assertion that unfair practices must be accepted unless they can be overcome despite the unfairness! Why, if the referees have been paid off, that just means the other team needs to score more points!
  • Further, by Hamid’s logic, were the Democrats to win the White House and Congress, it would be perfectly reasonable to end the filibuster and pack the judiciary with Democrats to rig the game in their favor. But, it wouldn’t. Indeed, they could rig the Electoral College by creating dozens of microstates from Democratic cities, ensuring they’d never lose another election. That would be just peachy, no?

Hamid is rightly getting excoriated on Twitter for the shoddiness of the above argument. But we agree on three things:

  • The Electoral College is a suboptimal way to elect the President.
  • We are unlikely to be able to abolish the Electoral College through the Constitutional process.
  • A President who was otherwise legitimately elected does not become illegitimate solely because he got slightly fewer overall votes yet won the Electoral College.

There are numerous perfectly legitimate ways to design electoral systems, each of which distort voter preferences in different ways. While my preference at this point would be to elect the President by a national popular vote, it’s not inherently illegitimate to weigh geography or other factors into the voting system. Indeed, in a sufficiently heterogeneous society, a purely “democratic” system could be illegitimate.

But not all systems can produce legitimate outcomes. Hamid acknowledges, for example, that a system that denied opposition parties ballot or media access would be inherently undemocratic.

How, then, is purging Black voters from the voting rolls or shutting down polling stations in their neighborhoods legitimate? If Republican-leaning white voters simply have a higher propensity to vote than Democratic-leaning Black voters, it’s one thing. If there are structural factors (like registration and ID requirements) that indirectly make it harder for Blacks to vote, it’s more problematic. But intentional action taken with the primary objective of thwarting the Black vote is simply undemocratic.

That the Senate and the Electoral College disproportionately advantage rural voters, and therefore the Republican Party, is problematic but not necessarily illegitimate. That institutions like the filibuster thwart the will of narrow majorities is, by definition, undemocratic but not necessarily illegitimate. Different societies operate on different rule sets and, so long as they enjoy widespread acceptance, they can all work.

But I don’t see how a system that’s already skewed by design and then compounds that skew by undemocratic manipulation can sustain support. And that’s especially so if the skew is along racial, ethnic, and cultural lines.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Politics 101, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    As I said in the other thread, people are – by nature – inherently tribal. We align ourselves into groups / demographics / teams largely without really even thinking about it, and we largely want our team to win. We may not mind if other teams win some too, but not at the expense of our own primacy. Altruism is not human nature.

    Political parties are the logical, even unavoidable, outcome of that tendency. People support these tactics because they’re more aligned with their team winning than they necessarily are with how their team wins. I’d note that Maryland is easily one of the most gerrymandered states in existence, so gerrymandering not entirely a Republican phenomenon. Where I will acknowledge a skew is in the existence of “killer instinct”. The Republican party is, I’d say, on the whole, more focused on winning at any cost, while the Democratic party can tend (although by no means exclusively) to be more focused on things being fair and lamenting that they are not. Much futile hand wringing thus ensues.

    What I will say is that retail politics has been about “crush the other team, let’s win this” from the outset. The Adams / Jefferson split was entirely predicated on it, and little has changed since then. That may disturb some folks, and it on some level disturbs me, but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. Or that it will go away any time soon.

    ReplyReply
    6
  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t think you’re wrong so much as you’re too black and white about this. Humans have tribalist impulse, for sure. They also have an altruistic impulse. These combine together in some sort of weighted sum – ish thing in brains to produce behavior. All the tribal incidents you cite happened. It is also the case that, for instance, the 14th Amendment passed very easily, since while most (white) Americans at the time did not think the black people were equal to them, they did think that they should have equal protection under the law – that the laws of the land should not enshrine this inequality. This was somewhat surprising at the time. Knowing everything else that was going on then, it’s kind of surprising to me now, in a very good way.

    So, I understand us to be choosing which impulses to amplify and which to attenuate. The conventional wisdom of pretty much everyone these days is to back tribal impulses – turn out people, never mind reaching out, or having a big tent, or trying to win people over.

    I demur. I worry that these impulses will lead to winning battles while simultaneously losing everything we care about. This is very treacherous territory. I personally work hard to try to understand what my values are, and to act on them. Temptations to do otherwise are great, regardless of one’s tribe.

    ReplyReply
    13
  3. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Altruism is not human nature.

    Can you clarify this? Are you arguing that it is contrary to human nature or that it isn’t a broad (universal) fact of human nature?

    ReplyReply
    2
  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The 14th Amendment is probably a bad example (of your point), while also being a good one (of mine). With the exception of Tennessee, every former Confederate state refused to ratify it, resulting in imposed military governments leading to handpicked replacement legislatures selected to be amenable to the amendment. Add in 14 Stat. 428, which effectively amounted to coercion (you can’t be readmitted to the Union until you ratify this amendment). They arguably ratified the amendment based on self-interest.

    In short, a contrived state of affairs which didn’t reflect the tribal reality of the population. That artificially imposed state of affairs began to fall apart almost immediately, and decidedly after the Compromise of 1877, whereupon the underlying tribal nature of the populace once again became very, very clear.

    ReplyReply
    2
  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    people are – by nature – inherently tribal.

    I’m not, never have been. Granted I’m strange, but I don’t think I’m the only one. My allegiance is to ideas.

    Altruism is not human nature.

    Funny. Just last evening my wife and I (66 and 63 respectively) were contemplating the rest of our lives. The ‘make the rent’ imperative that has been the overriding goal in our lives has essentially evaporated. Sure, we’d like more money, but neither of us is greedy per se, we just want to keep the wolves from the door, and we are well-protected from wolves at the moment.

    So, we wondered what our motivation is now. It’s not hedonism, we have everything we want. It’s not fame, we both despise fame. It’s not the respect of our peers, we got that. Neither of us feels we have anything to prove.

    The more we thought of it the motivation going forward comes down largely to altruism. We want to contribute to a civilization we will not see. Good deeds and charity and all that. Once the fear and the insecurity are relieved, altruism remains.

    ReplyReply
    22
  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    I’m arguing that it is, at best, an afterthought to human nature. We may not mind being situationally altruistic, although I’d argue that unless such an act is conducted entirely anonymously there is an unavoidable degree of self-benefit involved in it which undermines the premise of it being altruism to begin with. That tendency, however, is premised on the assumption of our own excess of resources / comfort or, in some cases, the identification of tribal association / shared sacrifice as a marker for extending it.

    Implement a situation where survival actually depends on competition for limited resources, and the reality of human nature will quickly reveal itself.

    ReplyReply
    1
  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sure, you have an excess of resources, so it’s fairly easy to consider altruism. You’ re also atypically wealthy. See the above.

    ReplyReply
    1
  8. Lounsury says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Altruism is not human nature.

    That is simply not true. Altruism is certainly part of human nature, and indeed is part of broader primate nature. Primitive, poorly informed biologism / quasi-neo-pseudo-Darwinian assertions are not particularly helpful or insightful.

    It is true that tribal or in-group/out-group behaviour is a fundamental of human nature as well, and in times of feeling of threat to the group, clearly kicks in over altruism.

    The useful political observation is certain fact sets and circumstances may bring out one over the other depending on the situation – on a group basis and individually – and of course In-Group / Out-Group as well as hierarchy (but also countervailing fairness-to-egalitarian).
    @HarvardLaw92:
    It is also over simplified and not supported by actual science. Threat / non-threat, not “excess of resources” (either human or ape society examples).

    ReplyReply
    3
  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    @HarvardLaw92: To be honest, I think the points you make support me. I never said there wasn’t such a thing as tribalism. Sure, the former Confederate states refused to ratify the 14th. And that was tribalism. So why did it get passed? Was that tribalism, too. Was it “stick it to those Southerners”? Was that the motivation? I’m sure you can find someone who voted for it with that motivation, but that’s not the impression one gets from “The Battle Cry of Freedom” or Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction”. No, people in the other states wanted to be fair.

    Justice and fairness are qualities that humans create. They are not qualities of the natural world, though in social species, you will begin to see some leanings. But humans create justice, and justice/fairness is a counter to tribalism. Maybe its the counter to tribalism. And humans created these concepts and developed them. They are in conflict with tribalism and impules like “help your family” and “help your friends”. And yet we advance them. I count impulses toward justice and fairness as encompassed within altruism.

    And if you think altruism is expensive, and maybe only at the forefront when other, more basic material needs are met, you have outlined the reason I lean toward liberal economic policies.

    ReplyReply
    9
  10. Lounsbury says:

    @Kurtz: Bugger my longer comment is in that accursed moderation queue: well he is entirely wrong altruism is indeed demonstrably back to ape relatives fundamentally also part of human nature and contra the last assertion, not something about excess of resources (although obviously not being in resource deficit is a factor)

    ReplyReply
    2
  11. Lounbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m not, never have been. Granted I’m strange, but I don’t think I’m the only one. My allegiance is to ideas.

    Self deception. You are an ape as much as anyone else. Your in-group may be funnily mapped but it is there (one can see this behaviour in the in-group / out-group manners of commentating and prior to change of the thumbs up thumbs down mechanism, the thumbs).

    We are over-clocked apes all of us, with of course the bizarre mental pathologies that come with unmastered semi-skilled abstract thinking…

    ReplyReply
    2
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The Republican party is, I’d say, on the whole, more focused on winning at any cost

    It’s even more than that: the Republican’s only agenda is winning. They essentially view governance as sport and once you have won an election or got your judges appointed, you are done. I think it is wrong to call politics a game, but even if we accept that, within the modern Republican Party there is no longer any vision as to why you would be playing the game in the first place. They don’t win so they can use the victory to accomplish something, in fact once they have won they quickly grow bored. Their agenda, such as it is, is the most childish, easily understood kind of mess: “Taxes on the wealthy are bad – repeal all taxes”, “Government is bad, destroy the institutions of government.” These aren’t beliefs in any meaningful sense, rather they are the lashing out of profoundly bored and lazy individuals.

    ReplyReply
    11
  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    So why did it get passed? Was that tribalism, too

    I think you probably already know the answer to that question, but I would suggest that you examine the demographics of the installed legislatures in those states which ratified the amendment. Tribalism got it ratified in those states, and then tribalism set about nullifying it for the next 100 years in those states.

    ReplyReply
  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Justice and fairness are qualities that humans create. They are not qualities of the natural world, though in social species, you will begin to see some leanings. But humans create justice, and justice/fairness is a counter to tribalism. Maybe its the counter to tribalism. And humans created these concepts and developed them. They are in conflict with tribalism and impules like “help your family” and “help your friends”. And yet we advance them. I count impulses toward justice and fairness as encompassed within altruism.

    Nonsense. Justice and fairness are myths that we tell ourselves in order to feel better. In practice, justice is not just and fairness is not fair. They might be hypothetical counters to tribalism, but in practice tribalism controls them both.

    And if you think altruism is expensive, and maybe only at the forefront when other, more basic material needs are met, you have outlined the reason I lean toward liberal economic policies.

    I think you lean towards liberal economic policies because you’re an idealist. Nothing wrong with that in theory, although I consider it utopian, but in practice I have come to believe it’s akin to finding a unicorn – it exists as long as you want to continue believing that it exists, until one day you just don’t any longer, but either way you never find the unicorn.

    ReplyReply
    1
  15. Lounsbury says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t think you’re wrong so much as you’re too black and white about this. Humans have tribalist impulse, for sure. They also have an altruistic impulse. These combine together in some sort of weighted sum

    Yes that’s exactly more or less what behavioural patterns from human’s ape relatives show with vary degrees (Chimps being more on the nasty bastards spectrum).

    @HarvardLaw92:
    No that is not what modern biological behavioural literature shows, but you will remain stuck in your late 19th century early 20th century simplistic understanding.

    Harvard is thinking via a very outmoded, archaic early 20th century understanding.

    Which he will be as unable to admit as Reynolds will be unable to admit his self-perception is equally bollocks.

    ReplyReply
    4
  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    On the contrary, they are a direct and concisely organized set of policies designed to satisfy the wants / needs / demands of the people who are writing the checks that keep them in power.

    ReplyReply
  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Which he will be as unable to admit as Reynolds will be unable to admit his self-perception is equally bollocks.

    Not really. I differentiate between cooperation (which is NOT altruism) and altruism, although I do see the basis for what you are saying.

    ReplyReply
    3
  18. Joe says:

    Michael Reynolds, wanna finish putting my kids through college? They are reasonably likely to contribute to civilization, and I can arrange that you will never have to see them. Good deeds and charity and all that.

    ReplyReply
    5
  19. Gustopher says:

    A President who was otherwise legitimately elected does not become illegitimate solely because he got slightly fewer overall votes yet won the Electoral College.

    In a democracy, or a system that mostly purports to be a democracy, I think such a President has a lower legitimacy than one who wins a plurality of votes. And a President who wins a plurality of votes has a lesser legitimacy than one who wins a majority.

    Legitimacy is not all-or-nothing.

    Legitimacy can also be earned.

    A popular-vote-losing President whose administration runs solely in the interests of their base, to the exclusion of the country at large, is not particularly legitimate. It’s situations like that where historians look back and say “yeah, that assassination was pretty much bound to happen” or “and that was one of the primary causes of the coastal succession that led to Greater Cascadia and The Eastern Alliance”

    Legitimacy comes not from institutions, which may or may not be legitimate themselves (as you note with references to voter suppression, gerrymandering, etc), but from the consent of the governed. The institutions attempt to maintain the consent of the governed.

    If only 6 people were allowed to vote, and they were all related to Donald Trump, and we had a legal framework that distorted the franchise to such an extent, would his inevitable election (4-1, with Mary Trump voting against him, and Eric coloring a giraffe on the ballot) and then rules to enrich his four voters at the expense of everyone else… would that be legitimate? No, of course not.

    We are somewhere on the sliding scale between a functioning democracy with a perfectly accessible franchise and that.

    And, when there is a perverse outcome, part of the reason the governed consent is that there is an expectation that it is only temporary. “Our system is weird, these things happen, this too shall pass.” Part of the legitimacy of Trump now is that his election was an aberration.

    When the perverse outcome is repeated, we lose that. A repeat of 2016 would be less legitimate.

    ReplyReply
    4
  20. Kurtz says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Bugger my longer comment is in that accursed moderation queue: well he is entirely wrong altruism is indeed demonstrably back to ape relatives fundamentally also part of human nature and contra the last assertion, not something about excess of resources (although obviously not being in resource deficit is a factor)

    This is a powerful argument because it counters many priors underlying HL’s view. I’m particularly intrigued by the assymetry argument in the last clause.

    But I am hardly neutral in this particular debate.

    ReplyReply
  21. dazedandconfused says:

    @Lounbury:

    Apes have demonstrated altruism.

    https://www.livescience.com/4515-selfless-chimps-shed-light-evolution-altruism.html

    Harvard, I believe you’re in a fix only due to that assertion altruism ISN’T in human nature. It is…just not all the time. Altruism is an aspect of human behavior, probably all social animals demonstrate a bit of it, but it’s not the rule.

    ReplyReply
    9
  22. Lounsbury says:

    @HarvardLaw92: … differentiating between cooperation and altruism is simply a non-sequitur mate.

    I am referring to altruism (as in resource sharing with strangers with no immediate or obvious trade or payoff for simplistic example). And your simplistic late 19th century understanding of the biological behaviorism is simply wrong. Wrong, outmoded, based on too little data and too much superficiality in early science. Modern studies particularly in the 21st century (and comparatively between chimps, bonobos, great apes) rather illuminate that our primordial ape behaviour set is not the Hobbesian view you’re asserting (nor the lovey roses that the Lefties like to assert). Our primate cousins show rather fundamentally altruism, not just cooperation, are encoded in the genetic behaviour spectrum and not merely human societal invention. (now whether humans are more chimp like meaning more towards the nasty bastard inclination or more bonobo like meaning rather more cheap sex and altruism inclined, hairy little hippies that they are, or as our genetic maps would suggest, something of a muddle between…).

    None of this is particularly enlightening politically of course – unless one begins to be informed in a broad sense of what puts the over-clocked apes into an altruistic leaning tendency contra kill the outsider threat tendency.

    Then perhaps one has some political concepts in framing strategy.

    ReplyReply
    3
  23. Lounsbury says:

    @dazedandconfused: Well yes, that is exactly what I have been saying mate. Harvard’s viewpoint is very late 19th century and completely outmoded as to the actual science.

    In any case, it’s rather evident that deep in our social animal genetic code is a complex muddy mix of altruism (yes altruism proper) and in-group/out-group murderousness.

    The interesting challenge on the macro level is the balancing and to the extent a political discourse promotes one over the other.

    Trump is obviously going all in on murderous kill the cousins mode of certain Chimps.

    ReplyReply
    5
  24. Jen says:

    Part of the issue is the Yes/No It is/It isn’t binary nature of the argument about altruism.

    The real answer probably lies somewhere in between–humans (and apes, and I think even dolphins*) are altruistic at times, particularly when the combined forces of a group are beneficial. Working together as a group for food collection or protection was beneficial to the survival of the group, thus rewarding altruistic behavior.

    *I vaguely recall dolphins being observed as acting together to assist injured or sick in the pod, taking turns helping the injured member to surface and get air until they were strong enough to do so on their own.

    ReplyReply
    1
  25. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Justice and fairness are myths that we tell ourselves in order to feel better. In practice, justice is not just and fairness is not fair.”

    And if you ever find yourself asking why the American legal system is so screwed up, remember that this man is a lawyer, Harvard educated, who used to work in the justice department.

    Or did you call it the “justice” department?

    ReplyReply
    10
  26. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Thank you for the clarification. I can’t comment further at the moment, though.

    ReplyReply
  27. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: “Which he will be as unable to admit as Reynolds will be unable to admit his self-perception is equally bollocks.”

    Remember, kids, you are all blinded by your own faulty self-perception. Only Lounsbury is able to see past himself!

    ReplyReply
    5
  28. Kurtz says:

    @Jen:

    The real answer probably lies somewhere in between–humans (and apes, and I think even dolphins*) are altruistic at times, particularly when the combined forces of a group are beneficial. Working together as a group for food collection or protection was beneficial to the survival of the group, thus rewarding altruistic behavior.

    I can’t speak for him, but I’m pretty sure HL would argue that genuine altruism is extremely narrow to the point that many actions that appear self-less are actually beneficial to the helper in some respect.

    ReplyReply
    2
  29. Lounsbury says:

    @wr: No my dear Lefty-Tribal ass-hurting whinger, I make no pretensions at all as to having particularly better insights as to myself – other than not being so deluded as to imagine that my own good opinion of my excellence is shared by others. Oh and my enjoyment in mocking people like you has any particular value to anyone but myself.

    ReplyReply
    1
  30. Lounsbury says:

    @Kurtz: Surely he will however there is now quite reasonable actual good science from comparatives with other apes to show altruism by any reasonable definition – although one can obviously make a deeper genetic argument that a broad intra-species [beyond relatives] altruism among say the bonobo has had some long-term advantages. And this is doubtless the case, but it remains altruism by any reasonable individual or immediate level analysis.

    He may prefer to assert we as humans are much more to the chimp end of the spectrum (rather more heavily selfish a-holes) than the hippy-dippy free-love bonobos more readily altruistic end. That’s legitimately arguable I suppose.

    ReplyReply
    1
  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    but I don’t think I’m the only one

    Absolutely, but how thick of an overlap does that segment make on the whole Venn Diagram? I’d be fairly certain that it’s much smaller than even you–who self-identifies as “strange”–believes it is.

    ReplyReply
  32. keef says:

    “I find myself truly worried about only one scenario: that Trump will win reelection and Democrats and others on the left will be unwilling, even unable, to accept the result.

    Given that the opposite outcome is far, far more likely, it’s weird for that to be one’s primary concern. But okay.”

    I find myself peeking in here more frequently. But unfortunately more for entertainment value. The Democrats, most prominently the Big Loser, have for 3 1/2 years denied the result of 2016. Yet we have a principal blogger claiming it far more likely that Trump will dispute the results, despite HRC’s comments to Biden to not concede no matter what, and TIPs wargaming.

    Now that is really weird. I mean, really weird. Profoundly weird.

    Is there any sense of self awareness at this blog?

    ReplyReply
    1
  33. inhumans99 says:

    Wr, Lounsbury…back to your corners for the both of you, we are all having a lively and interesting discussion in the comments section and it would be nice if we avoided hurling insults at each other, fair enough?

    ReplyReply
    3
  34. inhumans99 says:

    @keef:

    Speaking of a lack of self awareness, Keef…your post cracked me up. Chiding Democrats for wanting to play Trump’s game of not ceding even if it is obvious Biden will be our next President, you are adorable.

    Your guy wanted to “delay” the election but even his sycophants laughed this request out the door, your guy claims he is “owed” another 4 years (or more) because of how the Democratic party has not simply agreed to everything Trump wanted to accomplish the past 3 1/2 years. I could go on but I have to get back to work.

    Dude/dudette, take a look in the mirror first before you chide someone for their supposed lack of self-awareness.

    Thanks…I needed a good laugh today.

    ReplyReply
    4
  35. Kurtz says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Oh, I agree with you. HL’s argument is flawed.

    @wr:

    I didn’t take that as Lounsbury’s view at all. I agree that his tone can often be patronizing and/or condescending; I let it annoy me sometimes as well. In fact, I have probably written rude, insulting responses to his posts without posting more often than I have engaged him.

    I say these things for two reasons:

    -you and I are pretty close in our views, so I think hearing it from me may you to re-think your assertion and subsequent posts from L.

    -I don’t think he’s arguing in bad faith any more than Reynolds does, and both of them provide valuable commentary.* I think it could be argued that Michael more directly embodies your criticism than L does. But the board would be less vibrant and worthwhile without them.

    *I don’t think either of them do.

    ReplyReply
    1
  36. Kurtz says:

    @keef:

    The Democrats, most prominently the Big Loser, have for 3 1/2 years denied the result of 2016. Yet we have a principal blogger claiming it far more likely that Trump will dispute the results, despite HRC’s comments to Biden to not concede no matter what, and TIPs wargaming.

    Wait, we all think Clinton is actually president? Nobody denies the result. The fact you think that says more about you than it does about the targets of your post.

    Clinton’s comments, in context, do not match up with the clipped quote in the headlines.

    Run along, now.

    ReplyReply
    6
  37. @keef:

    The Democrats, most prominently the Big Loser, have for 3 1/2 years denied the result of 2016.

    The problem with this is that it isn’t true.

    In case you missed it: Hillary Clinton’s concession speech (full text).

    That people, myself included, have underscored the problem of the EC is not denying the results.

    Who, of significance, denies the outcome?

    The best example I can think of was John Lewis calling the Trump presidency “illegitimate” (which, as much as I respected the late Congressman, I disagreed with here: Will Donald Trump be a “Legitimate” President?).

    I think Trump has dishonored the office in a multitude of ways and I think he underscores the problem of electing a president who can’t even manage plurality support nationally, but I do not deny the results of 2016.

    FWIW, James Joyner addressesd this question in 2018 as well.

    ReplyReply
    7
  38. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think that both you and James have botched the question of legitimacy, since you start from the institutions and treat legitimacy as an all or nothing affair.

    Trump is, for better or worse, occupying the office of the Presidency.

    But, that doesn’t make him legitimate. Our institutions created a situation where a popular vote loser won the office, and Trump himself has failed to even attempt to be a president for all Americans. That is, I believe, what Rep. John Lewis was saying.

    If we were to use consent of the governed as the metric of legitimacy, then Trump, with riots in the streets, would seem to have a rather tarnished legitimacy. (Consent not necessarily meaning approving, mind you).

    Your mileage may vary with how you separate out the many issues in the street protests, but Trump sending in DHS changed things in Portland and throughout the PNW.

    ReplyReply
    2
  39. An Interested Party says:

    Yet we have a principal blogger claiming it far more likely that Trump will dispute the results, despite HRC’s comments to Biden to not concede no matter what, and TIPs wargaming.

    Now that is really weird. I mean, really weird. Profoundly weird.

    That’s not really weird at all, considering that Trump has disputed and continues to dispute any election or poll result that doesn’t favor him and even whines and lies about winning more popular votes than Hillary did, even though that has been proven to be quite false…as inhumans99 mentions, the person who lacks self awareness in this conversation is you, sweetie…

    I don’t think he’s arguing in bad faith any more than Reynolds does…

    It’s not so much that which is the problem with him, but rather, how he argues in an incredibly dismissive and condescending tone that makes the rest of us seem like Miss Manners by comparison…I mean, we’ve all heard of British snobbery, but really…

    ReplyReply
    6
  40. Kurtz says:

    @An Interested Party:

    It’s not so much that which is the problem with him, but rather, how he argues in an incredibly dismissive and condescending tone that makes the rest of us seem like Miss Manners by comparison…I mean, we’ve all heard of British snobbery, but really…

    Fair enough. As I admitted, I’ve let his tone get to me as well. I’ve returned it in kind at least a couple times, but have stopped myself from posting responses far more often. Mainly because (for me) it gets in the way of understanding the opposing view. I am far from perfect in this regard, but I try.

    I only wrote my response because the post in question today seems benign and his reputation seems to be adding meaning to the bare words. But that’s just how I see it.

    ReplyReply
    1
  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounbury:
    Oh, I’d never deny that I’m a primate. But not only am I not part of some tribe, I actively reject the idea. You know my first fiction? Making up stories to explain why I didn’t want to be around other kids because in those days games were imagination-based and I didn’t think they had very good imaginations. So, I was either going to have to dominate those people and dictate story, an idea which nauseated me, or go along, an idea which nauseates me.

    There really are outliers in this world, Lounsbury.

    ReplyReply
    3
  42. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve met many outliers. Though I’ve not met you in person, I don’t know if “outlier” quite covers your creaturehood, dude. Alien may not cover it either.

    ReplyReply
    3
  43. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Whether you think of yourself actively as part of a Tribe is really 100% irrelevant to the behavioural issue and to frame it that way (and your examples confirm) you simply don’t understand the issue and subject. We are all subject to fundamental, deep rooted and indeed hard-coded in-group/out-group (aka tribal here) psychology.

    However much you love to flatter yourself with self-praise, the alignment of commentary you make up to and including the party group rhetoric you also enjoy amply show you’re a simple descendant of savannah chimps, as am I, sharing such inclinations right to the core, whatever intellectual maquillage you want to put on it.

    We evidentially share both of us a certain contrarian streak, and no doubt flatter ourselves with perceived independence which perhaps has a certain reality.

    That doesn’t remove deep down remove the fundamentals, would be well not to self-deceive in this, however uncomfortable to one’s own world view that is.

    And let me observe the “reaction” to my “reputation” is a fine illustration of the in-group/out-group primate reaction.

    ReplyReply
    1
  44. Kurtz says:

    @Lounsbury:

    And let me observe the “reaction” to my “reputation” is a fine illustration of the in-group/out-group primate reaction.

    I should note that I’m the one that wrote the words you put in quotations while mounting a defense of your post. At the same time, your posts often come across as condescending and dismissive.

    In the past, Michael has stated that he respects you. I do as well.

    Anyway, ape on, my fine, primate friend.

    ReplyReply
    1
  45. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    In a democracy, or a system that mostly purports to be a democracy, I think such a President has a lower legitimacy than one who wins a plurality of votes. And a President who wins a plurality of votes has a lesser legitimacy than one who wins a majority.

    Legitimacy is not all-or-nothing.

    This seems to conflate legitimacy and popularity. A President who wins 60-40 is more popular and likely more powerful than one who wins 51-49 but, so long as the won according to agreed-upon rules, they’re equally legitimate.

    If only 6 people were allowed to vote, and they were all related to Donald Trump, and we had a legal framework that distorted the franchise to such an extent, would his inevitable election (4-1, with Mary Trump voting against him, and Eric coloring a giraffe on the ballot) and then rules to enrich his four voters at the expense of everyone else… would that be legitimate? No, of course not.

    In the American context, obviously not. But Xi Jinping was chosen by a process not all that dissimilar from that and he likely enjoys more legitimacy than Trump.

    ReplyReply
    1
  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Yes, I understand primatology. I understand I’m a homo sapiens. Now, what you should understand is that we each also possess intelligence, a brain, an amazingly capable, heuristic computer. A computer that I can re-program as I see fit. And, as with everyone, my computer is unique to me, programmed with a unique data set – my life experiences, my decisions, etc… We are products of nature, but not necessarily bound by nature.

    We have free will, and I am a bit fanatical about the ‘free’ part. Once you are ‘part’ you lose freedom. Once you are ‘one of’ you lose a degree of autonomy. Most people accept, even welcome that trade-off. But the transaction in my head goes like this: I should give up a degree of freedom in exchange for…? What? I know what I’m losing, where’s the plus side of that equation? Where’s my profit? You’re a businessman, do you make deals that are all cost and no benefit?

    ETA: My ‘deep down fundamental’ is rejection, oppositional defiant disorder. It’s uncommon but hardly unknown.

    ReplyReply
    1
  47. Lounsbury says:

    @Kurtz: Yes I am aware, I did not and don’t take any such things badly at all lest that be the impression, it is simply an illustration of the issues. (and yes I understood your messages as in fact flagging such)

    @Michael Reynolds: et alors, you prefer philosophizing, which I don’t see as having any particular relevance.

    In this context, our personal self-perceptions or delusions of independence or whatever is fairly irrelevant.

    What is relevant is an understanding of a certain potential impact on a broad collective level of the In-Group/Out-Group and informing political reaction (or avoiding / minimizing political reaction).

    ReplyReply
  48. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m a homo sapiens. Now, what you should understand is that we each also possess intelligence, a brain, an amazingly capable, heuristic computer. A computer that I can re-program as I see fit.

    Michael, this part of your post is the textbook postmodern stance on human nature. It’s apropos of little, I just slightly raised my eyebrows while reading it.

    ReplyReply
  49. Grewgills says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    we each also possess intelligence, a brain, an amazingly capable, heuristic computer. A computer that I can re-program as I see fit.

    That is certainly true to a point. Some of that programming is largely set before you are born, some of it is programmed with little conscious input, and all of it is effected by unconscious inputs. You can add your programming, but it is all inevitably altered beyond what you intend because there are a lot of sloppy analogue inputs that can act to facilitate or counter the inputs you are attempting to program in.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*