Competing Visions For a Biden Presidency

Will he be a uniter or a divider?

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Neal Simon, who describes himself as “a Maryland business executive, was a 2018 independent candidate for U.S. Senate. Simon serves on the boards of the Bipartisan Policy Center and Unite America,” offers two rather implausible outcomes for a government under complete Democratic control. He terms them “Retaliation or Reconciliation.”

Retaliation for Democrats would entail a full-throttled, comprehensive attempt, using every available executive and legislative power, to advance a liberal agenda. Blue power would be consolidated by forming a Cabinet constructed to unite Biden’s party rather than the country, perhaps by appointing Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to high level positions.

In Congress, with 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats would abolish the filibuster and advance long-dreamed-about legislation without a single Republican vote. In the judiciary, Democrats would pack the Supreme Court by adding two, or even four, new justices. Blood-thirsty activists would level criminal charges against Donald Trump and even some of his aides and family members. It would all feel good for liberals who have endured not only Trump’s lying and abuse of power, but also his outright denial of their legitimacy as political opponents.

I agree with Simon as to how such a scorched-earth agenda would be perceived:

Yet to many Americans, such actions would feel more like vindictiveness. About 43% of the country still approves of President Trump’s job performance and even if he loses big, he will have gotten some 60 million votes. This very large group of people would feel as though salt was being deliberately rubbed into their wounds.

Worse, choosing the vengeful, partisan path would hasten the tortuous ruin of our federal government. It’s easy to imagine scenarios where, in just eight years, Republicans retake control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, and seek their own revenge by packing the court further, reversing recent legislation, and passing new laws with only their own party’s support. Our country would become the proverbial idiot in the shower; the water that was too hot for most of us would then become too cold.

For all his flaws, Biden is no radical. He’s been in high-level national politics since 1973—nearly half a century—and is well aware of the value of institutions.

I do think the filibuster likely to go but it’s on death’s door, anyway. But I really don’t see Warren or Ocasio in the administration; they’d simultaneously become lightning rods and be frustrated by his moderate temperament.

Nor, as much as it’s warranted, do I think Biden and company will spend much time going after Trump and his cronies. It would just suck too much oxygen out of the room and they’ve got real work to do.

I’m less sure on court-packing. While I’m bemused that Democrats somehow think that thwarting Merrick Garland while rushing through Amy Comey Barrett counts as two outrages, there’s a reasonable sense that a seat was stolen from the Democrats and the Supreme Court thus already effectively “packed.” Biden has hinted that he is amenable to something like Pete Buttigieg’s plan of expanding the Supreme Court considerably while taking measures to ensure that it’s permanently a moderate group. We shall, I suppose, see.

Simon’s “Reconciliation” scenario is more fantastical still.

So, what might reconciliation look like? In the executive branch, it starts with President Biden forming a Cabinet designed to increase national unity rather than party loyalty. Imagine a Secretary of State Mitt Romney or Veterans Affairs Secretary Martha McSally. There’s precedent for this type of bipartisanship. In another divided time, first term Republican President Abraham Lincoln named two Democrats among his seven Cabinet members, including Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Such an approach might have been well-warranted after 2000 or 2016, elections in which the popular vote winner won the White House. Or even 2004, where the election was razor-thin. But it makes no sense whatsoever after a wave election soundly repudiating the other party’s agenda—let alone one following a wave election in the same direction.

In Congress, a good beginning would be replacing Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as Senate majority leader and speaker of the House. There’s too much bad blood between the Republicans and the two of them to allow any real chance of reconciliation. In their place, Democratic legislators would choose more moderate leaders who haven’t been molded by, and scarred by, decades of partisan fighting. Senate Democrats would maintain the filibuster, one of the last remaining tools that encourages cross-partisan cooperation. And they would commit to not passing legislation without at least a few Republican votes.

This, too, is rather ridiculous.

It’s likely time for Pelosi, who’s 80, to move on. But, if anything, she’s very likely to be replaced by someone to her left. While she’s a San Francisco liberal, she’s one from generations ago—and a natural pragmatist after decades of legislative infighting.

While Schumer may in fact find it hard to work with Republicans, it’s just absurd to pretend that he’s the locus of the bitterness that has been the hallmark of the Senate in recent years. While his predecessor, Harry Reid, certainly deserves his share of the blame, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made it his mission to ensure that Barack Obama never got a single Republican vote. Granting that reconciliation has to begin somewhere, it’s absurd to commit to giving the Republicans a veto power on legislation given the history.

President Biden would take additional, purposeful actions to signal to the nation that we’re entering a new, post-partisan era. He would call for expanded national service, especially any program that enables young Democrats and Republicans to work side by side for the good of the country. He would fully endorse non-partisan electoral reforms, including ranked-choice voting, that reduce the subservience of legislators to their party bases. Our new president would minimize the partisan talk. His messaging would focus instead on our shared interests as Americans. Finally, and this will sound heretical to his most devoted followers, Biden would preemptively pardon President Trump of all federal crimes.

While a Trump pardon is almost surely not forthcoming, much of the rest is a distinct possibility. Of course, the notion that Democratic attempts to make elections more fair and transparent will be seen as “nonpartisan” is laughable. Republicans will almost surely portray it as “voter fraud” or otherwise a Democratic dirty trick to solidify their gains.

In 1861, in his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

I would note that this was followed by a civil war in which 600,000 Americans perishised.

The country would again be well served if Biden and other Democratic leaders could put country over party, follow the path towards national reconciliation, and end our decades-long dysfunctional politics. President Biden might go down in history as a unifying force similar to Lincoln, rather than as just another general in a tiresome partisan war.

Dave Schuler, from whom I got the pointer to the column, observes,

Like many Americans I find the prospect of reconciliation a lot better than retaliation but I’m afraid there is no prospect for it whatsoever. Regardless of the hypothetical position, President Biden wouldn’t be running the Democratic Party. Other than, possibly, black voters over the age of 40 he has no constituency of his own and by design power in government is mostly in the hands of the Congress and Congressional leadership is not moving towards Joe Biden but away from him. Throughout his career Mr. Biden has been what used to be referred to as a “Nixonian centrist” meaning that he is always moving to the center of his own party and that center is a lot farther left than it was during his career as Sen. Biden.

I think that’s right insofar as it goes—although almost by definition it’ll be less true in January. That is, while the two parties have sorted ideologically, the way either party makes substantial gain in the House or Senate is by running moderate candidates in swing states and districts. Democrats are running war running people like AOC in deep blue districts, shifting their messaging to the left. But they’re running heroes and astronauts in a bid to knock off unpopular Republicans in places like Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina.

In the first debate, Biden declared “I am the Democratic Party.” That’s obviously not quite right. As Dave rightly notes, Democrats in Congress will indeed have a big say in what the agenda looks like. But Donald Trump has shown the degree to which the man in the White House dominates his party’s vision.

Biden is a natural conciliator. It comes with the territory after decades in the Senate. But, no, he’s not going to run a unity government.

FILED UNDER: Joe Biden, 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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In Congress, with 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats would abolish the filibuster and advance long-dreamed-about legislation without a single Republican vote.

    It wouldn’t matter what legislation they put up, they wouldn’t get a single GOP vote. Hell, they could put up a long time Republican health care reform plan and not get a single vote. Wait a minute…

    This guy is delusional. There is so much wrong in every single thing he says because none of it bares any resemblance to reality. Where has he been the last 12 years?

    ETA: Most people are tired of the divisive politics, they just want to get on with their lives and know that our elected representatives are in DC and the state capitals working on solutions to the issues we face. One little problem with that: One party has it’s head completely up it’s ass in denial that Covid has to be dealt with. That climate change will kill a large proportion of the human race and that will include a significant # of Americans. That tax cuts will not solve everything. Etc etc etc.

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  2. President Biden would take additional, purposeful actions to signal to the nation that we’re entering a new, post-partisan era

    This is, I have to say, an utterly absurd assertion and it is the most wishful of wishful thinking. No matter what happens on Tuesday, the polarized nature of the country is not going away.

    For that matter, partisanship is never going to go away, it is inherent to representative democracy (although polarization can subside). There is no “post-partisan era” on the horizon.

    It is naive and, quite frankly, willfully ignorant to presume that after the last four years a Democrat should (or even could) come in and do thing likes create a bipartisan cabinet to show there are no hard feelings over the abuses of the Trump administration.

    Plus, it takes two to polarized, so to speak. Does he really think McConnell and his ilk (forget the MAGAs) are going to decide its time for kumbaya?

    And this piece presupposes that all of the damage Trump has done (with the help of the GOP in Congress) just goes away if Trump loses. It, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way.

    This is just another version of “if we elected a moderate, politics would go away” that simply isn’t true.

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  3. And, BTW, reconciliation v. retaliation is a false dichotomy (and an ill-defined one at that).

    He left out “reform” (among other problems with his essay).

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It

    wouldn’t matter what legislation they put up, they wouldn’t get a single GOP vote. Hell, they could put up a long time Republican health care reform plan and not get a single vote. Wait a minute…

    Right. I opposed ObamaCare for a variety of reasons, thinking it was in many ways the worst of all worlds. (I’m a single payer with private option guy.) But there were parts of it that several Senate Republicans should have liked. Further, they could have almost certainly gotten a bill more to their liking had they been willing to negotiate in good faith because Obama was desperate to get the illusion of bipartisan support.

    Simon’s op-ed reads like an Aaron Sorkin vision of how government operates. I’m rewatching “West Wing” lately and really wish reality were closer to that vision. It *should* be the case that a moderate Biden would be able to get lots of Republican buy-in for lots of programs where there’s bipartisan agreement. But not in Mitch McConnell’s Senate where the mantra is “Fuck you, Democrats.”

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: While I agree with everything you wrote there, I would at least quibble with this:

    No matter what happens on Tuesday, the polarized nature of the country is not going away.

    I was listening the other day to an interview with Morris Fiorina in which he pointed out that, while the two parties are more sorted than they have been in generations, the polity itself is actually not that polarized. That is, survey after survey shows that, regardless of party identification, overwhelming majorities actually agree on a majority of policy issues.

    The problem, he contends, is that the parties not only sorted but sorted very oddly. There’s no obvious reason that people who want low taxes also want to make abortion illegal, increase the defense budget, and bust labor unions. But that’s what we have: it’s all or nothing.

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  6. JohnMcC says:

    For many Americans such a tack would be surrender. For many others there is no action that the Biden Administration could take that would NOT be ‘retaliation’.

    And it’s a feature of American politics that this is the song sung after a Democratic victory. What sort of expectations did the electorate have in Jan ’17? Where were the stories of ‘Trump the reconciler’?

    Grumble grumble grumble

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The GOP’s no-compromise pledge

    By ANDY BARR 10/28/2010 08:09 AM EDT

    Here’s John Boehner, the likely speaker if Republicans take the House, offering his plans for Obama’s agenda: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up his plan to National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

    But this guy wants some qumbaya campfire sing along moment from Biden that will fix all our problems. Why is it nothing like this is ever required of Republicans?

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  8. @James Joyner: I suppose I should say that “the polarized nature of the party system is not going away.”

    To the points that you make: that is why I think we really need what we aren’t going to get: serious reform of the electoral system that would create a better, more representative party system.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yes, I’m sure Dave Schuler, who has spent the last four years ignoring his own astounding hypocrisy and clutching at any straw to justify his surrender to the racism, misogyny, lies and malpractice of the Trump regime would favor reconciliation.

    No. No, no, no, and also, fuck no. You do not get to cozy up to Nazis and then whine that after all, you were just Vichy. These people made their beds, now they can goddamn well lie in them.

    No MAGAts, no Trump fellow-travelers, and no Good Germans ever have anything to say on any topic that decent people should pay attention to. They are each and every one contributors to the abomination of the Trump regime.

    Children were torn from their mother’s arms, kidnapped on orders from Donald Trump, and more than 500 of them are now orphans. Permanently. Stolen from their parents by Trump to resounding silence from the people who now want to slither back into decent society.

    No.

    I will never work with a MAGAt, never hire a MAGAt, never knowingly patronize a business owned by a MAGAt or supportive of Trump. I will never knowingly have an idle conversation with a MAGAt. I will avoid punching them in the face, but that’s as much of a concession as I have to offer. They deserve to be shunned.

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  10. Mikey says:

    Kill the filibuster. Pass progressive legislation. Pack the courts. Prosecute Trump and his enablers. Fuck reconciliation. We did that after the Civil War and we’re still paying for it today. Let’s not make that mistake again. The losers need to understand they lost, and why.

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    Reconciliation = Biden and the Dems, just do what Moscow Mitch and Kevin McCarthy want.

    I’m all for Biden bringing one or two anti-Trump Rs, who actively campaigned for him into his cabinet, Expanding the Dem tent to permanently capture previously R suburban voters is a good thing.

    Beyond that, pass legislation, if it is party line votes, so be it.

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    “There’s no obvious reason that people who want low taxes also want to make abortion illegal, increase the defense budget, and bust labor unions. But that’s what we have: it’s all or nothing.”

    Jesus H. Christ. Yes, it’s all quite a mystery if you subtract race, and to a lesser degree, gender, from the picture.

    What you still don’t get, James, is that race is at the core of just about all of American politics. It never goes away. It’s not an accident that all the black people are over here, and most of the whites are over there. What do you think that’s about? A difference on tax rates? When I was a kid living in Virginia we were taught the Civil War was about tariffs. You know that’s not true, right?

    It was good Republicans like you, James, who again and again rewarded politicians who used dog-whistle racism to get power. Do you still not understand that the reason why Republicans hate a Democratic deficit and instantly lose interest in deficits once they’re in power, is race? Do you not yet understand that Republican concern for ‘big government’ is about nothing but making sure some ni–er doesn’t get something a white man doesn’t get more of? When you vote for a race-baiter, what do you think that makes you? Innocent?

    Your former party gained and held power by manipulating whites with racist appeals. Subtract the racists and the race-exploiters from the GOP and you now what you have? A cozy dinner party.

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  13. Moosebreath says:

    “Yet to many Americans, such actions would feel more like vindictiveness. About 43% of the country still approves of President Trump’s job performance and even if he loses big, he will have gotten some 60 million votes. This very large group of people would feel as though salt was being deliberately rubbed into their wounds.”

    Funny, but I don’t recall anyone saying Republicans should have done this in 2017. Or in 2001. And yet in each case, a Republican President was elected with a minority of the popular vote, and under questionable circumstances. Instead, in each case, Republicans pushed their agenda to the fullest.

    So why should the argument for why Democrats should not do the same when they win be taken seriously?

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’m all for Biden bringing one or two anti-Trump Rs,

    Ummmm, not me. Nothing against them but I doubt very much I agree with them on anything. Besides, anyone who has a book entitled, Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump–and Democrats from Themselves, really is a little too full of themselves, especially if they haven’t done any mea culpas over their laying the groundwork that led to the trumpification of the GOP.

    I mean, “Guys? Don’t do us any favors.”

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  15. Neil Hudelson says:

    There’s no obvious reason that people who want low taxes also want to make abortion illegal, increase the defense budget, and bust labor unions. But that’s what we have: it’s all or nothing.

    You are speaking about the party from decades ago. Now you need to switch the two around. There’s no reason that people who want to ban abortions, put teh gays in re-education camps, ban Muslims, and kidnap children from latinx immigrants should also inherently want lower taxes on the uber wealthy.

    But there’s also no reason they really should oppose lower taxes on the uber wealthy.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My kingdom for an edit function: @OzarkHillbilly: Should say,

    Nothing against them but I doubt very much I agree with them on anything beyond getting rid of trump.

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  17. Teve says:

    The country would again be well served if Biden and other Democratic leaders could put country over party, follow the path towards national reconciliation, and end our decades-long dysfunctional politics.

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  18. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I will never work with a MAGAt, never hire a MAGAt, never knowingly patronize a business owned by a MAGAt or supportive of Trump. I will never knowingly have an idle conversation with a MAGAt. I will avoid punching them in the face, but that’s as much of a concession as I have to offer. They deserve to be shunned.

    From the outside, it looks like that is becoming an increasingly common feeling, and in both directions. While I sympathize (Trump strikes me as insane), I wonder if its even possible to run a country with such a divide. I also wonder how it would work in practice. If your house is burning, are you going to ask the political opinion of every firefighter who comes to put it out? How about if you get into a serious car accident — are you going to refuse aid from doctors etc whose politics you hate?

    A third of your country is going to vote for Trump. That’s a lot of people to refuse to interact with.

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  19. Teve says:

    The states with the highest percentage of Trump supporters, West Virginia, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Alaska, Idaho, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, and Missouri, should be easy enough to avoid. That improves your numbers considerably. 😀

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Northerner:

    A third of your country is going to vote for Trump. That’s a lot of people to refuse to interact with.

    Not really. I live in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. I do business with New York publishing and Hollywood.

    Besides, I don’t have a choice. If a third of the country were child molesters would you tell me I had to do business with them? Do I have to do business with members of the KKK? Sorry, but I have limits. If it costs me to avoid dealing with scum, well, that’s just the price of doing business without selling my soul.

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  21. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Besides, I don’t have a choice. If a third of the country were child molesters would you tell me I had to do business with them? Do I have to do business with members of the KKK? Sorry, but I have limits. If it costs me to avoid dealing with scum, well, that’s just the price of doing business without selling my soul.

    It is 20 years last summer that I began posting the fiction I write. The website I contributed at has become less quality and more one-handed fiction as the years have passed. Some other websites have followed that path.

    Around a decade ago, the website created a new rating for stories. One that either said had either incest or child sex in it*. This caused a big explosion because many thought this was giving approval to this trash. Many authors asked for their work to taken down. In fact the website was shut down by its webhost in the middle of this controversy. It was later restored but after the task force who runs the site, reversed course.

    I still have a few stories left at this website. Other than when I post announcements of a new ebook of mine coming out, I haven’t frequented it in years. FM got me started and I formed a following there that helped me when I started selling my ebooks at Amazon. So I’m thankful but sad. The website has pretty much gone down the toilet.

    *- The controversy came at a very bad time in my battle with cancer. It happened in a space of less than a month and I wasn’t paying attention to the website at the time.

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  22. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    I was listening the other day to an interview with Morris Fiorina in which he pointed out that, while the two parties are more sorted than they have been in generations, the polity itself is actually not that polarized. That is, survey after survey shows that, regardless of party identification, overwhelming majorities actually agree on a majority of policy issues.

    Call me crazy, but I think the nature of party polarization, as it has emerged in the US, has made policy agreement and action still exceedingly difficult. Take for example criminal legal system reform at the Federal Level. The Clean Slate Bill has been floating around in various forms for years. Obama tried to get a version of it passed in 2014, but McConnell blocked it, even though a significant portion of his caucus would have voted for it because, as you point out, the majority of Americans favor most of the reforms.

    Likewise, Democrats who would have supported* the Obama bill definitely flipped on First Step for similiar reasons.

    I think we see this true with most major topics, including Abortion, Climate Change, and Health Care. Yes, there’s a lot of policy agreement when things are presented neutrally. But once a party is attached to a position, then things go to hell in a handbasket.

    * – Admittedly, a number of those folks would have held their noses and voted for the Obama bill–not because it was against their principles, but because it didn’t go far enough (and they were probably right). Once the same measures were presented by the opposite side, then they lost any incentive to hold their nose and could just flat out vote against.

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  23. Loviatar says:

    @Michael Reynolds: made a reference yesterday and today to “Good Germans” and it made think of something I’ve said in the past.

    There are no Good Germans.

    After high school, my mother moved from NYC to Fairlawn, NJ. The thing about Fairlawn, depending on where you lived in town you smelled the Nabisco factory (cookies, baked goods) or the Marcal factory (paper products).

    After college, while living in Germany I visited several WW2 battle sites, cemeteries and concentration camps. One thing I remember was how many of the sites, cemeteries and camps were surrounded by local towns.

    Years later, when I first took my future wife to my mother’s house she smelled baked goods, I told her it was the Nabisco factory. I said wait a little and if the wind changes you can smell the Marcal factory.

    EPIPHANY

    They knew, they knew what the NAZIs were doing to their neighbors in those concentration camps and they did NOTHING.

    There are no Good Republicans.

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  24. Michael Cain says:

    I spend my time and effort on only one issue area, and say there can be no reconciliation. Reconciliation means accepting the consequences of at least a +4 °C temperature increase by the end of the century. The heads of the EPA, the Dept of Energy, and the Dept of the Interior all need to be prepared to act quickly: it will take at least two years just to undo the damage the Trump administration has done via rulemaking if they’re aggressive and ignore the Republicans. FERC and NERC’s policy models inherently discriminate against renewable energy.

    I don’t have a lot of hope for the Biden administration moving aggressively in this area even if the Dems win overwhelmingly.

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  25. The reason Gorsuch is on the court instead of Garland is simple: They had the votes.

    And Democrats shouldn’t do things that they want when they have the votes? I remember, years ago, getting lectures from Republicans about how what I wanted was “unilateral disarmament” and that would never happen because it was dumb.

    The Republican elite have done many things to erode my trust. They aren’t going to earn it back in a heartbeat, or even a year.

    I feel differently on a personal level, for voters. Because I have friends and relatives that are worried about China, worried about NK, and think Trump was right when he said, “the game is rigged against you”. He was right. He just wasn’t interested in doing anything about it. He wanted to rig the game even more.

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  26. Paine says:

    Screw this guy and screw Joe Biden if he thinks I want him to govern from the middle and put national reconciliation over progressive policies. Everyone in the Biden administration all the way down to the janitorial staff should have a D by his or her name. Trash the filibuster, pass court reform legislation, make DC a state, and work to lock in power. Their guiding mantra should be WWMMD: What would Mitch McConnell do?

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  27. I have to laugh at a Republican worried about “vindictiveness”. Every word Trump has said about California, where I live, for the last four years has been laced with vindictiveness. He’s tweeted something vindictive most days, usually something made up, so that’s false witness mixed with vindictiveness.

    I think vindictiveness is a terrible way to run your life, and an even worse way to run the country, but I will not be lectured to about vindictiveness by anyone leaning Republican.

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  28. JohnMcC says:

    @Loviatar: On April 11th ’45 the US Army liberated Buchenwald. Eisenhower force the citizens of nearby towns to tour and personally witness the camp as it stood at the time of liberation. Many were forced to walk miles to get to the camp. They expressed amazing shock and horror. Some fainted and had to be carried away. That was Dwight Eisenhower. He did not want future generations to be able to deny what had been done by their parents’ generation.

    You can see video (not for the faint-of-heart) at:
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/german-civilians-forced-see-real/11908228

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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnMcC:..Buchenwald
    The link doesn’t work.

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  30. Gustopher says:

    There can be no reconciliation with people who hate you. And there can be no reform until the hateful people feel enough pain that they want reform.

    I don’t think Biden should wage a war on red states, or tailor policies to deliberately hurt them (like Trump has done with ending the SALT write off, and talking about cutting FEMA relief for blue states during terrible forest fires), but I don’t think he should bend over backwards to bring them onboard until they feel some real pain of being left out

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  31. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Paine:

    Screw this guy and screw Joe Biden if he thinks I want him to govern from the middle and put national reconciliation over progressive policies.

    Screw you if you think that America wants more partisan bullshit–or your progressive agenda.

    38% of Americans identify as independent. That’s 7 points higher than Democrat and 9 points higher than Republican. Add in moderates from both parties, and it’s fair to say that the majority of Americans are “middle of the road”.

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  32. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: every question of the form, “why does every advanced country have X, except us?” Has the answer, “why should I have to pay MY tax dollars so they can give free X to the _______?”

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  33. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: your mistake is thinking Independent means “middle of the road”.

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  34. Barry says:

    James, I’d add that unless he wrote the same thing after Trump was elected (with everything reversed), then his ‘bipartisanship’ is just a lie.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    The correction to way too far right is not, let’s stick to the middle until the Republicans win again and push the country still further to the right.

    Americans want access to health care. They want jobs that pay a living wage. They want education for their kids. And they want a livable environment. They want cops to stop murdering people. The solutions to each of those is a progressive policy – universal Medicare or at least a government option. UBI, redistributive taxation and minimum wages. Free, quality public education to include trade schools, junior colleges and state universities. Restrictions on carbon emissions. Ending police militarization and the drug war.

    What Americans actually want is progressive policies. What they don’t want is to be forced to face the fact that it’s progressives who create the ‘radical change’ that later becomes Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights and voting rights, the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Americans with Disabilities act, Obamacare. Stop fearing the label, look at actual problems and their actual solutions, and you’ll find those solutions are progressive.

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  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    It’s astounding when you realize this mentality goes all the way back to at least the Civil War in which white men who’d never been able to save up a dollar, fought for the very institution that assured their poverty. 258,000 southern men died and many more were wounded, to defend the right of some millionaire land owner to buy and sell human beings and use their labor to compete with whites.

    The exact same game is still being played. As long as you can present an issue in terms of why should they – most often Blacks, immigrants and women – have something I don’t have more of, you have a winner.

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  37. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Maybe it is possible for you then, though I still doubt it. If a third of the population are Trump voters, then it seems probable that some of the grocery clerks or stockers, some of the people driving the trucks bringing goods into the store, some of the people fixing the roads and keeping electricity going, or even writing some of the computer programs you use are Trump voters.

    Society is very interconnected. Obama was very right when he said, “You didn’t build that”, though of course the conservatives took it completely out of context. Most of what we do and have is the result of the efforts of a very large and diverse group of people (politically as well as racially, or in terms of education etc). Purity is hard to achieve.

    I also wonder how that fits in with what you’ve said in the past about taking the best of what someone has to offer (you said it better than that of course) — Mozart was an asshole, one of the guys responsible for the transistor that modern computers are based upon was a eugenicist and so on, but we accept the good they while rejecting their bad. You made a good case for that, but now seem to be changing your mind.

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  38. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Teve: Often it means “ashamed to say Im Republican”

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  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    What Americans actually want is progressive policies.

    If that were true, Biden would be considered the far-right candidate and AOC would be considered moderate-left.

    You may disagree with what others want. You may think that they’re idiots for disagreeing with you. But that doesn’t change the fact that a large percentage of the population DO disagree with you.

    I’m making no claims to the rationality or rightness of their wants, just stating a fact.

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  40. Jim Brown 32 says:

    James,

    Im sorry but the horse has left the barn–there isn’t going to be any reconciliation. It pains me to says this because I would have hoped that it wouldn’t have had to come to this.

    Anyone that has ever spent any time watching countries overseas on the road to crisis can recognize the familiar pattern. Whether this conflict manifests itself in violence or can remain non-violent remains to be seen. I think that is still within the purview of Biden and the Democrats should that gain power.

    But make no mistake–this dance has to be done until both parties decide its not worth it. I think for years Democrats felt it wasn’t worth it even though Republicans did–Trump changed that. Instead of wishing away the obvious–the situation needs to be view with an escalation management model that keeps the conflict from getting really out of hand.

    If Tuesday unfolds the way the data shows–there will be no olive leaf. Repubs will have to grab their ankles and brace themselves because they are going to get it good and hard–and they deserve it. That happens when you overplay your hand. Democrats should take a lesson and ensure they have good defensive position for when the Republicans again have the upper hand.

    Ultimately, one party is going to have to carve out a position that flips another’s stronghold making them a minority party–it appears Dems are best positioned to do that but they need to backstop their position with gains in rural state legislatures.

    The only real way to speed up the deescalation process is if the media polarity softened their language WRT the other side and the issues and states took steps to reform their primary elections. That would certainly take the temperature down–but that’s not going to happen.

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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Mu Yixiao: Americans want it all. What they don’t want is to pay for it.

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  42. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    your mistake is thinking Independent means “middle of the road”.

    It’s not “my thinking”. It’s what Gallup says.

    35% of Americans identify as moderate
    35% of Americans identify as conservative
    17% of Americans identify as liberal

    Within the two parties:

    Democrats
    34% identify as moderate
    13% identify as conservative

    Republicans
    22% identify as moderate
    4% identify as liberal

    Independents
    45% identify as moderate

    “Middle of the road” is where most of America is.

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  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Northerner:
    Dude, I didn’t say I wouldn’t use a toilet that had been cleaned by a Trumpie, just that I wouldn’t hire one, work for, hang out with, or knowingly do business with, etc…

    Let’s say there’s a MAGAt restaurant. Guess what? There are a hundred other choices. Clothing? Ditto. Groceries? Ditto. Doctors, lawyers, car dealers, same. The funny thing is, even in, say, Kentucky I could find all the necessities of life, and many of the luxuries, without ever having to knowingly give a dollar to a MAGAt.

    It’d be convenient if we had a Yelp that ID’d those people.

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  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Democrats
    34% identify as moderate
    13% identify as conservative

    Republicans
    22% identify as moderate
    4% identify as liberal

    Independents
    45% identify as moderate

    And moderate means something different to each and every one of those people. I learned a long time ago that a lot of people are quite comfortable with lying to themselves.

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  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Poll after poll shows Americans actually do agree with me on the issues. Social Security, Medicare, environmental regulations, health and safety regulations for employees, minimum wage, Obamacare, gun safety laws, ending the drug war, free or near-free college, the list goes on and on.

    ‘Middle of the road’ is a label. It means absolutely nothing except, ‘I’m too uninterested to pick a side.’ Look at the polling on issues, not labels.

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  46. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: so I said,

    your mistake is thinking Independent means “middle of the road”.

    And your response is

    Independents
    45% identify as moderate

    So thanks for the confirmation! 😀

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  47. Scott F. says:

    Retaliation for Democrats would entail a full-throttled, comprehensive attempt, using every available executive and legislative power, to advance a liberal agenda.

    My god, that’s some Alice through the Lookingglass framing there. A party using the power they’ve been given by vote by the people to enact their agenda is RETALIATION. The precise design of majority rule in a democracy presented as radicalism – with Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio (two women I would note) thrown in as the bogey-man no less. Pulling the country back from the brink of authoritarianism is heroic, not vindictive.

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  48. wr says:

    “Now that my party has been decisively defeated, it is clear that in order to bring reconciliation to the country, the Democrats must fire all the leaders who got them here, appoint Republicans to major positions, repudiate anyone to the left of the median Republican voter and adopt all our principles, because that’s what the American people have just declared they want.”

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  49. Teve says:

    @Teve: And also what Reynolds said.

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  50. Modulo Myself says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    You are looking in all the wrong directions. Americans favor progressive policies. For example, here is polling on national health care. But what they also support is the status quo, and the status quo says that progressive ideas are just too unpopular. It’s the status quo for politics that needs to be destroyed, and it’s the status quo that this Neal Simon disphit and little men like Dave Schuler are desperately trying to shore up, because they only feel good about themselves as white men in a country with a white silent majority. Obama tried his best to appeal to these mooks, Schuler can lie about how Obama was super-divisive, but we all know the real score and who the people are who found him too uppity. That’s not gonna happen again, even if Biden tries, and he will.

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  51. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    So thanks for the confirmation!

    It’s a scale, not a trichotomy.

    I’m fairly sure if you asked people about specific topics, the “liberal” and “conservative” aspects of independents would tend towards the middle of the road–as would those of the liberal republicans and the conservative democrats.

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  52. Han says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Moderate” is right up there with “middle-class” as a term that has no agreed upon meaning in the real world, but is instead used by people to feel good about themselves.

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  53. David S. says:

    Honestly, that article should be analyzed for its rhetorical flourish more than its substance. “Okay, so there’s this terrible place, called Hell, and it’s full of fire and brimstone and torture. And the alternative, let’s call it Heaven, is basically an ideal in every way. So, you know, which do you choose? Totally up to you. No, there is no third choice; why would you even bother imagining one?”

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Han: Yep. Middle class is anything from $40,000 a year to $250K. Or is it $500K per year now? $1 Million per year?

    It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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  55. SteveCanyon says:

    The tell Neal Simon’s commentary is in the loaded headline: Retaliation. Governing according to policies you campaigned on and after (I hope) you won a thumping victory on is not retaliation. I will say I think a lot of the comments are giving this column too much credit for originality. I see this column in various forms every time Democrats win. The basic flavor is why don’t the Democrats show that they are mature thoughtful persons by governing as moderate Republicans. This arrogance and myopia sets my teeth on edge.

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  56. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Americans favor progressive policies. For example, here is polling on national health care.

    Which shows “in favor” at 53%. That’s probably within the margin of error.

    “providing help to those who need it” isn’t “progressive”. 40% of the top charities and 73% of all charitable giving in the US is explicitly faith-based. Those would mostly be conservatives. It’s not that conservatives don’t want to help people, it’s that they don’t trust the government to do it properly.

    Want an example? Look at Social Security. It couldn’t be simpler: Pay in money as you work, and we’ll pay you money after you turn 65.

    The largest generation–working through some of the most prosperous times in our nation’s history trusted the government with their money. I’m 52, and it’s dicey odds that there will be any money for me when I become eligible.

    If the government can’t handle “put it in safe investments and forget about it”, why should I trust that they’ll be able to handle medical insurance?

    Go to any hospital’s financial department and ask them what their opinion is on Medicare. You aren’t going to like what you hear.

    I’m fully behind the concept of everyone having access to quality medical care for free. I don’t trust the federal government to do it.

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  57. Mikey says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    It’s not that conservatives don’t want to help people, it’s that they don’t trust the government to do it properly.

    And by “do it properly” they mean “make sure the n-CLANG don’t get any.”

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  58. Teve says:

    I’m fairly sure if you asked people about specific topics, the “liberal” and “conservative” aspects of independents would tend towards the middle of the road–as would those of the liberal republicans and the conservative democrats.

    Okey-dokey.

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  59. Teve says:

    @Mikey: like how Social Security and the G.I. Bill were rigged so that most blacks wouldn’t get them. That’s how they passed, of course.

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  60. Modulo Myself says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    You start off talking about percentages of Americans and what they believe and how the majority of Americans are moderate and middle of the road. I give you a poll showing majority support for national health care. You wave your hands and babble nonsense about Social Security and start going off about how you don’t support it. Who cares what you as 1 of 328 million think? Maybe you just know nothing about this country other than what you can find in WSJ op-eds written for CEOs.

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  61. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    because they only feel good about themselves as white men in a country with a white silent majority

    Several times in the past week on social media I’ve seen comments like: “The Silent Majority will win! TRUMP 2020!” and I’m like…do you think 46% is a majority? Aww you poor Trumper” 😀

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  62. Mikey says:

    @Teve: And we should also be clear that while today “GI Bill” generally refers only to the education benefits, the original GI Bill included the VA housing benefits, which were then applied with all the racist exclusions. So black WW2 veterans who had served their country were shut out of both education and housing benefits that white veterans had no problem accessing.

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  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: If the government can’t handle “put it in safe investments and forget about it”, why should I trust that they’ll be able to handle medical insurance?

    They put it in US Savings bonds, the safest investment in the world, you know the bonds people were buying back in ’08 at negative interest rates because they knew the US was good for it? Or well, at least as long as we can keep Republicans from renigging on the national debt.

    If it’s “dicey odds” that there will be any money for you when you become eligible, you might ask yourself why Republicans want so desperately to privatize SS. (here’s a hint: “Thar’s gold in them thar hills.”)

    As far as

    It’s not that conservatives don’t want to help people, it’s that they don’t trust the government to do it properly.

    “Properly” being defined as the ways they see fit, helping the people they think should be helped, and fuck everybody else.

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  64. Modulo Myself says:

    @Teve:

    These people believe in Daddy. The entire idea of coming together after Trump follows the logic of the abuser. Dad throws a fit and smashes everybody. The next day, it’s as if it never happened. He did it for love, you see. Why retaliate against Dad by holding him accountable for his rage? Family first, or else.

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  65. JohnMcC says:

    @Mister Bluster: Oh hell. Links are a downfall of mine. I blame my diplopia if excuses are needed. Try:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/german-civilians-forced-see-11908228

    (Edit is here! Yep finally nailed the bastard.)

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  66. Loviatar says:

    2020 North Carolina

    2020 Texas
    Continue on with your salon discussions on marginal tax rates.

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  67. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: ” It’s not that conservatives don’t want to help people, it’s that they don’t trust the government to do it properly.”

    It’s not that conservatives don’t want to help people, it’s that they don’t trust the government not to help THOSE people.

    Any kind of welfare is fine as long as it’s going to people with the same skin color as them.

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  68. JohnMcC says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I appreciate what you’re saying. Don’t agree particularly but respect it and am glad someone is making the case. But when you say about Social Security: “If the government can’t handle ‘put it in safe investments and forget about it’ why should I be able to trust they’ll be able to handle medical insurance?” You are apparently lacking knowledge of how SS works as well as denying that the body that runs Medicare/Medicaid and the VA knows how to run an insurance program.

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  69. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Siiiiiigh— the big bad ‘gubment’ consists of groups of people no different than the groups of people working to deliver services in the private sector. ITS THE SAME DAMN TALENT POOL.

    These people are no more nefarious than people on the commercial side and frequently are less so because the government doesn’t have quarterly updates with shareholders to drive short-sighted decisions.

    Medicare is being asked to deliver service with funding below market costs–do you think any insurance company under those constraints can magically shit premium care because–private sector?

    In an era of corporate malfeasance and white collar crime galore–people are still walking around talking about government trust. If there is any evidence marketing works–this is it. The Republican campaign to undermine Government trust is finally reaching its desired outcome.

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  70. JohnMcC says:

    @Modulo Myself: For some years, since the TeaParty era — so long ago! — I’ve heard from my RW siblings about the D-party being the Mommy party.

    The last 3 1/2 years I’ve asked how they like the Daddy party. The ass-hole Daddy.

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  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    I get text updates all through the day on various demonstrations and police riots. My eldest is in the Bay Area and often in the streets.

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  72. JohnMcC says:

    Referred by Rawstory-dot-com to a report from Hugh Hewitt’s radio show this morning in which Sen McConnell reassures the listening audience that loss of the Senate majority will not be such a devastating loss because the majority he controls will continue to confirm R-party judges to the Federal bench up until Jan 20th. Or ’til they’re full, whichever comes first.

    Sounds like a great opportunity for reconciliation, don’t it!

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  73. Loviatar says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    These were not demonstrations or riots.
    – North Carolina photos were of a march to the polls to vote. The Sheriff who is a Trumper decided to pepper spay the peaceful marchers, children included.
    – Texas video was of a Biden/Harris bus being harassed by Trumpers on I35 on the way to a rally. The Trumper police decided not to intervene, even though the one of the Trumper vehicles hit another car.

    We’re losing our country to the assholes, yet here we are distracted by Mu Mu and their complaints about big gubmint.

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  74. Teve says:

    @JohnMcC: isn’t it a shame that McConnell has to do that because Biden didn’t put party over country and begin the process of reconciliation? Why did Biden want to rub salt in Republican wounds like that?

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  75. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    I’m a bit old to go marching what with the bad knee and the other bad knee, and I can’t speak for anyone else here but I know what’s going on. If nothing else I can track it by my daughter’s requests for donations to this or that bail fund.

    At the moment the cops are hoping to spark some horrific atrocity in the mistaken belief that it will rally people to them and to Trump.

    But let’s be clear that every one of these cities is governed by a Democrat. This is going to be trench warfare for years, city council race by mayoral race by AG race. Some things can come down from Washington, but this is going to be a long slog.

    One thing that people in my line of work can do is stick a knife in the hero cop who doesn’t play by the rules trope. That shit needs to stop. I’m looking at you, new Hawaii Five-O, among others. A cop who doesn’t play by the rules is a criminal. Let’s work that trope for a while.

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  76. Loviatar says:

    P.S. @JohnMcC:

    Great for your eldest, please tell him/her thank you.

    But what are you doing? I’m not talking cash, I’m talking what are you doing from an action standpoint to help save our country. Also, don’t expect any help from James, Mu Mu or others of that mindset. While they may not like Trumps crude words, they’re more than fine with his actions. Why, because those are the actions of the Republican party.

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  77. Loviatar says:

    The above was directed at @Michael Reynolds:

    ReplyReply
  78. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnMcC:..diplopia

    still no go. I’ll try another browser.
    Can that be corrected with glasses or contacts?

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  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I remember when asked about why he tried to corner the silver market, Bunker Hunt gave as his reason that a billion dollars isn’t what it used to be.

    That was 1980. Over 4o years ago from this date. The tried their move in September.

    ReplyReply
  80. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnMcC:..Oh hell

    No luck with Safari or Chrome…

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  81. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    Interesting that you dismiss cash. Why? Do people trying to make bail not need cash? How about the medical teams working on injured demonstrators? When it’s time to challenge a mayor or a councilperson will the opposition not need cash? How about the current candidates for various offices? Do they not need cash?

    Don’t try to play king of woke mountain with me. I’ve thus far spent something like $40,000 on people running for office, plus a bunch of money supporting bookstore employees, and food banks, and trans rights organizations, as well as the aforementioned Antifa-allied organizations. Not to mention the fact that I’m fully funding at least one on-the-street activist to whom I am closely related.

    And when it comes time to fund an environmental initiative, or support some refugees, or forgive student debt, or give health insurance to the poor, I’m one of the guys who’ll be paying for it, because unlike a lot of terribly, terribly woke people, I vote to raise my own goddamn taxes not someone else’s.

    Let me explain the facts of political life to you. You may not like it, and I may not like it, but when it comes time to bully some mayor into police reform, I’ll have a bigger voice than you and the next 100 street activists put together. Why? Because money, sonny. It makes the world go round. So you go break a window, and I’ll go right a check. Is that OK with you?

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  82. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: it would be kinda funny if a producer created a new cop drama with a square jawed hero who punches suspects and roughs up dealers because Lives Are On The Line etc and then the last two episodes of the season are him being arrested and prosecuted and the show’s over.

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  83. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    That is, survey after survey shows that, regardless of party identification, overwhelming majorities actually agree on a majority of policy issues.

    True. And generally the majority agree on the liberal/Democratic position. Which makes compromise with the GOPs kind of silly.

    @Mu Yixiao: has a table showing that a third of Americans self ID as conservative, another third as moderate, and a sixth as liberal. Poli Sci types have looked at these numbers and pretty well shown that what they prove is that when it comes to politics, most Americans have no idea what “conservative”, moderate”, and “liberal” mean.
    Are you conservative or liberal. I’m a conservative.
    How do you feel about taxes? Rich people need to pay more.
    Abortion? The status quo is good.
    Guns? We need universal background checks.
    The environment? We need to deal with global warming.
    And again, you’re a? Oh, I’m a strict conservative.
    These studies are a joke, but one almost all of the pundit class believe. They say we’re a center right nation, when in fact, we are center left. People like liberal policy and conservative philosophy. So liberals talk policy and conservatives talk philosophy and the average voter says, “Yeah, those are the guys I like.”

    The problem, he contends, is that the parties not only sorted but sorted very oddly. There’s no obvious reason that people who want low taxes also want to make abortion illegal, increase the defense budget, and bust labor unions. But that’s what we have: it’s all or nothing.

    This has bothered me. It seems the GOP coalition should fall apart. My explanation is what I call the LOTR theory. If we take the field of US voters we can fill a Venn diagram circle with people who care mostly about abortion. We can fill a slightly overlapping circle with gun lovers. You can populate another ring with country club Republicans who want low taxes and it will somewhat overlap the earlier rings. Same with union busters. We can also fill a ring with white supremacist’s, which will heavily overlap the gun lovers. And so on. As others above have pointed out, we can draw a much larger ring filled with the mildly racist, which will overlap a lot of the other rings. We end up with a complicated Venn diagram with a lot of overlapping rings. But we can draw one ring that includes essentially all of the the earlier sets. The gullible. Read the letters column in my local semi-pro newspaper and tell me these people are discerning. Talk to most country club Republicans about anything outside their business and see if you really think they come off as knowledgeable, or even very bright. Heck, read The American Conservative, they tend to very erudite, but fuzzy thinkers. They’ve been running a series on what is conservatism. Turns out they have no idea.

    I’m talking above about GOP voters. If you’re a GOP pro, you know that what you’re selling is unmarketable, give the .01% all your money and don’t even think about regulating anything they do. So they lie. If you’re peddling BS, who are you going to target? The most gullible. That’s what allows them to hold their voting coalition together. That’s the ring that binds them all.

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  84. Loviatar says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As always your response to being challenged is to put on the faux sympathetic tone that covers an I’m better than you because I’m rich message. I’ll show how to respond sincerely.

    I was wrong for being so dismiss of cash, it has its place in all movements. Sometimes too much of a place, but a very important place none the less. Thank you for your cash assistance.

    As far as your “voice” is concerned its only relevant as long as the cash flows. We thank those who pay for the bail, but remember and honor those who have skin in the game.

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  85. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    I’m not better than you because I have money, I’m just smarter than you because I actually understand the game. And as a result I can have more effect than you. Sorry, but it’s true.

    Do me a favor and list all of your accomplishments in the cause. Show me the laws that have been changed. Show me the reform that’s been enacted. And BTW, various versions of, ‘called attention to,’ don’t count. How many PD’s have you defunded? Would it be zero? How many cop-loving AG’s have you forced out? Any?

    You know what the people in the streets have accomplished? Exactly what my generation did in the in the streets in the 60’s: fuck all. You make noise, we made noise. You get coverage, we got coverage. You’re right, we were right, and thanks to our work in the streets the Vietnam war was brought to an end. In 1973 long after the anti-war movement had petered out. With 58,000 dead Americans and God only knows how many dead Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians.

    Make me a list of all the problems you’ve solved. You know what I can do that you can’t? I can feed a hungry family. You know why I can feed a hungry family? Because instead of wasting my time in performative virtue, I make money, a significant amount of which I am fortunate enough to give away. So I can feed the hungry, at least a few.

    Why can’t you? Let me ask you something. Who do you think my undocumented housekeeper is happier about, you waving a sign? Or me paying her for six months of work she can’t do during Covid? Why can’t you do that? I mean, it’s cool that you demonstrate, but I’m guessing you can’t keep a family afloat, or pay for comfort animals for sick people, or support out of work booksellers, or have any meaningful impact on who holds office.

    Until you can begin to have the positive impact I can and do have, maybe climb down off your pedestal and spare me the condescension. It’s unfair that I have more power than you do. It’s unfair that I have more influence. It’s even unfair that a significant number of people in the streets today are there because I taught them to give a fuck about the world. But that’s reality.

    Learn to be an ally. It goes both ways. I respect and honor and support in word and deed the people in the streets. Why don’t you see if you can reciprocate that when dealing with someone whose time and energy is far better spent doing what he’s doing?

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  86. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Demonstrating good, decent behavior encourages good, decent behavior.

    Mr. Rogers is a personal hero.

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  87. Loviatar says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Again with the better than arrogance. Ok, Ok you’re better than me.

    I’m going to ask something of you, something that will actually challenge you and maybe, maybe make you be as good a person as you seem to think you are.

    Run for something.

    Not this election cycle. Take time to think, choose an office, and then use your “intelligence”, money and creativity to actually have some skin in the game. Lets see you do something, not talk about it, but be about it.

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  88. Loviatar says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    P.S.

    If you do, I’ll be one of the first to donate or volunteer.

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  89. Monala says:

    @mattbernius: which Democrats flipped on the First Step bill? I thought virtually all Democrats voted for it.

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  90. Teve says:

    @Monala: the revised First Step Act passed the Senate 87-12, all 12 Nays were Republican, and then the House 358-36, all 36 Nays Republican.

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  91. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Demonstrating good, decent behavior encourages good, decent behavior.

    Does it?

    On a person level, within your community, yes, more often than not.

    But I don’t recall Obama being the recipient of good, decent behavior from the Republicans. I understand that he was black at them, though, so maybe that doesn’t count as good, decent behavior on his part as far as the Republicans are concerned.

    There’s a line somewhere between remembering that even in the bluest parts of the country, 25% of your neighbors are Republicans so you should treat them like people, and not having a spine.

    “Treat people like you want to be treated” doesn’t always work. It rewards and validates bad behavior. I’d go with “Try to treat people better than they treat you” — and with the Republicans in Congress and running the party, that still gives us a lot of room.

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  92. mattbernius says:

    @Monala:
    Mea culpa, I did get that wrong. That’s what I get for not checking the vote counts before engaging fingers. I remember there were Democrats threatening to vote no because it didn’t go far enough.

    Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Step_Act#:~:text=On%20December%2018%2C%202018%2C%20the,became%20Public%20Law%20115%2D391.

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  93. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:
    Oh FFS. You started this by flouncing in and snarking that we were all wasting our time talking marginal tax rates and what we should be aware of is police brutality. I pointed out very politely that I was quite well aware. At which point you demanded to know what I was doing aside from contributing cash.

    You’re the one who set out to lord your moral superiority over everyone. Your entire presence in this thread has been, ‘look at me, I’m better than you fools talking about taxes.’ And now you’re wounded because in response to your rudeness and unearned assumptions of moral superiority, I schooled you?

    Now you challenge me to show commitment by running for office? I have a better idea. How about if I show my commitment by not running for office? 22 years a fugitive from justice is not a good start for a late-blooming political career. I deliberately stay away from active roles in campaigns because I’d be a potential distraction, even toxic. My commitment is practical and results-oriented, not performative. I’m not living an Instagram life, I’m not in this for show, I’m in this because I believe in freedom and equality and all that corny stuff.

    Now, I can certainly drive downtown some day and march along with whoever is marching, popping Advil and searching for a toilet every 30 minutes because I have the prostate of an old man. Or I could work my 20K Twitter followers, push for various projects that would give me a larger platform, and make money I can use to support pols and marchers alike.

    For the record I don’t think I’m better, see, I know the whole fucking story of my life. I’m a decent human being now, but I’m also the guy who left his parents wondering whether he was alive or dead for two decades of zero contact. I’ve left some pain in my wake. Moral paragon, I’m not. The shock of the last four years has been discovering that vast numbers of people are actually bigger assholes than I’ve been.

    That said, while I am not by any stretch claiming moral superiority, I am more experienced than you, and I have more usable power, and I understand the game. It’s not about the show you put on for social, it’s not about feeling virtuous, it’s about results. I am just old enough to have been in on the fringes of the last great upheaval, and I was there when it all turned to disco and McMansions. I’m also old enough to remember Rodney King and the riots that followed and the fact that absolutely not a goddamn thing changed because the street could not be bothered to show up at council meetings, or to vote. So, sorry, I don’t swoon for street activism because I’ve watched it fail, again and again, and I’m hoping I’m not watching it fail once more. You know how I do that? By writing to my city council member, pointing out how much I give to Team Blue, and informing her that if she doesn’t get right on police reform I’ll be spending to support her challenger in the next election.

    Look, you and I are on the same side. I assume you’re young, I’m not. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder against the yutes, as I said, my daughter is Antifa. My readers are young and a lot of them are Antifa, and some of those because of my work. You do what you can do, I’ll do what I can do. I don’t denigrate your contribution or expect you to spend a small fortune, I’m glad you and your supple young knees are running from tear gas. Do me the same courtesy of recognizing the possibility that I know exactly what I’m doing, and why, and how best to achieve a result.

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  94. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Can I have some money too?

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  95. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    And he was two days from retirement and the Ell Tee was busting his balls for being so rogue. And he had a smack talking black partner.@wr:

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  96. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    I like money!

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  97. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    I tweeted directly at Dax Shepherd telling him I kinda hated him after Idiocracy because every time I looted prewar money or caps in a Fallout game my brain and mouth reflexively spat out “I like money” like a parrot.

    He actually tweeted back saying I hear you. That line haunts me .

    Plus he’s married to the coolest woman alive.

    I hate that dude.

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