Democrats and Republican Converts

It's not the responsibility of the opposition party to make up for Donald Trump.

Ericka Andersen, a freelance writer from Indianapolis, takes to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to ask an increasingly common question, “Why Are Democrats Jilting G.O.P. Voters Who Want to Like Them?

Under President Trump, a small slice of America’s electorate seeks a reason to call the Democratic Party home for the very first time. But without adequate hospitality to welcome them, they will disappear quickly.

With a few exceptions on particular policies, the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion Christians (some of whom are white evangelicals) — without options.

[…]

The voters are there, according to FiveThirtyEight. Younger white evangelical Christians now view Mr. Trump far less favorably than their parents’ generation: 60 percent of those 44 and under saw the president as “very” or “somewhat” favorable, compared with 80 percent of those 45 or older. And independents leaning right, who may have voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, hover around 10 percent of the electorate. There’s no guarantee that this translates to voting for the Democratic candidate in 2020, but speaking as a member of this group, I think the opportunity exists where it once didn’t.

Candidates like Senator Cory Booker, who called giving illegal immigrants free health care “common sense,” and former Representative Beto O’Rourke, who promises gun confiscation, don’t appear to care about attracting these folks.

Whether it’s climate change policy, health care solutions or immigration remedies, a majority of candidates offer curiously similar ideas. They are skittish about offending the base and quick to placate culture warriors who demonize those with traditional beliefs about sex and gender. They have abandoned once widely accepted concepts like strong border security.

This ideological purity may win fanfare from the media and the pundit class, but it does not offer what swing voters may need to take a leap of faith to the left.

There’s quite a bit more of this, but you get the idea. Megan McArdle and Tom Nichols have expressed similar concerns of late; there have been plenty of others.

As an erstwhile Republican and #NeverTrump guy, I’m sympathetic. While I can no longer support my old party, I’m still conservative on many issues and don’t find myself at home among the progressive wing that’s dominating the Democratic Party.

But it’s rather bizarre to place the burden on the opposition party to reform itself because we’ve lost control of our own. Disaffected Republicans need to either take back control of their party from the Trumpists or migrate en masse to the Democratic Party and put their support behind moderate candidates. (A hybrid strategy of doing the latter for 2020 and the former in future elections is also plausible, especially if Trump loses in a landslide.)

Now, where I tend to agree with Andersen is on this front:

The answer for candidates isn’t necessarily changing policy positions but offering room for conversation . . .

She is speaking specifically about abortion but I think this applies more broadly. So, for example, I agree with Tom Nichols and Doug Mataconis that Elizabeth Warren’s zinger at the anti-gay marriage crowd was unwise. All of us agree with Warren on the issue. But it makes no sense to alienate potential voters to pander to those already in your column in the general election.

Similarly, while she’s referring specifically to the impeachment issue, McArdle is right more generally when she pleads,

[I]f you want Republicans — and not just the occasional squishy libertarian — to go along, you’ll need a piece of advice I once got from the father of a large brood: “Don’t make it hard to be good.”

By this, he meant that a repentant scofflaw should be offered kindness, not your residual anger. If you want kids to do the right thing, make being good more pleasant than the alternative. Corollary: Democrats, you should impeach only if yougenuinely want to remove the president from office, not just to position yourselves for 2020. And because you’ll need 20 Republican senators to accomplish that, you should make it as easy as possible for conservatives to join the effort.

Don’t shower invective on conservatives; if anyone must be denounced, let it be Trump and Trump alone. Greet each new convert to Team Impeachment with a warm “Welcome, brothers and sisters!” rather than a grudging “What took you so long?”

You should do these things because if Trump is truly an existential threat to the nation, your sole priority should be his expeditious removal. Also because it’s hard to slam partisan Republicans for cravenly supporting Trump if you yourself remain more interested in your prior political goals, and lingering grievances, than building a coalition to get him out.

Now, again, I think this only goes so far. I disagree with Nichols that, if Trump is re-elected, the blame will be on Democrats. No, that would be on Republicans and others who vote for him.

Still, Democrats should do their best to avoid alienating those who might be persuadable to join their cause for the purpose of ousting Trump. I’m skeptical that those who are single-issue voters on abortion, like Andersen, are actually in that group. But I do think there are large numbers of social conservatives who find Trump repugnant who could indeed cross the aisle if not made to feel like they’re held in contempt by the Democratic Party.

The obvious rejoinder, variants of which were issued many times in the comments on Doug’s thread on the Warren snipe, is that Republicans in general and Trump, in particular, don’t seem to be held to that standard.

But many of us have been arguing for years that, to be a sustainable national party, the Republicans must do precisely that. Sure, they hold the White House and the Senate. But that’s a function of a bizarre electoral system stacked in their favor. In the seven Presidential elections since George H.W. Bush’s 1988 landslide, the GOP has won the plurality of the popular vote just once, with George W. Bush’s narrow 2004 re-election.

Beyond that, the focus must be on ousting Trump. That requires ensuring that he doesn’t replicate the bizarre path he took to his shocking win in 2016. Alienating the Rust Belt voters who sided with him then is just a bad approach.

More importantly, we have to somehow get out of this cycle of division and back to governance on consensus. Democrats have the numbers to do this, not only in terms of electing candidates to national office but on many key issues, including health care.

Both Warren and Biden, who seem at present the only candidates who can win the nomination, have the capacity to do that. Bernie Sanders, who’s in third place but seemingly fading fast, probably doesn’t.

Biden is more moderate ideologically and in demeanor than Warren and, leaving aside concerns about his health, likely my preferred candidate. But Warren, an academic by both profession and temperament, is a gifted explainer, able to break down complex problems in understandable terms without being condescending. While I think her attempt to ingratiate herself with the audience at the LGBTQ event unhelpful, it strikes me as a one-off. Going forward—and, certainly, if she’s the nominee—I’d prefer she keep it that way.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Stormy Dragon says:

    All of us agree with Warren on the issue.

    Do you?

    Warren’s “outrageous zinger” was saying that people opposed to same-sex marriage shouldn’t get same-sex married. That is, she was advocating wishy-washy “everyone do their own thing” centrism. If even THAT’S not sufficiently moderate for you, the only thing you could possibly be advocating is that she must come out in favor of some sort of legal restrictions on same-sex marriage in that name of placating homophobes.

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  2. I generally agree, although I am far less enthusiastic about Elizabeth Warren given the pie-in-the-sky nature of her “plans,” the fact that she doesn’t have a fiscally sane explanation for how she’d pay for them (Sanders suffers from the same problem), and the fact that there’s simply no way any of them (or indeed any) of them are going to become law. I also don’t appreciate her anti-business rhetoric, although it is at least not as irrational as Bernie’s. More importantly, I consider the priority in 2020 to be beating Trump, and I don’t think she’s the candidate who can do it.

    Despite all of that I am constantly told tha as a “Never Trump-er” I am obligated to support whoever the Democrats nominate. All due respect to Democrats in general and the commentariat at OTB specifically, but that simply isn’t true.

    The other thing I notice among many hardcore Democrats is to go on the offensive, sometimes personally, against anyone who dares to point out something troublesome about one of their candidates. Insulting people and calling them stupid is not the way to influence them to support your candidate. Indeed, it’s likely to have the opposite effect.

    As you said, there are a lot of persuadable voters out there, especially in battleground states. But they aren’t going to be persuadable for very long if you actively mock and reject them or expect them to vote for a Democratic nominee sight unseen.

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  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’m skeptical that those who are single-issue voters on abortion, like Andersen, are actually in that group.

    She’s not a single-issue voter, an independent voter, or anyone who is going to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump. She’s Mike Pence’s former Communications Director, and a former digital director at the Heritage Foundation.

    She may have a (very) few good points in her piece, but it’s hard to take anything she writes seriously when she so dishonestly represented herself in the piece. Now if an actual independent, someone who is truly on the fence, wrote a piece like this I’d sit up and take notice. But Mike Pence’s recent comms director telling Democrats to be more moderate is laughable.

    To be fair she did mention Mike Pence–in the context of how cruel Buttigieg has been to the poor guy. But that she used to be his right hand woman? Never came up in the whole piece. Weird.

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  4. gVOR08 says:

    Yeah. NYT really pissed me off with this one. Their author bio says only what you cited, that she’s a free lance writer from Indianapolis. It takes two minutes on Google to find she’s a GOP activist. And NYT doesn’t allow comments on guest pieces, so no way to point it out to at least the online readers. The last thing we need is unsolicited advice from Republicans, and NYT, that the Ds must nominate a Republican lite candidate. You’re quite right, James, if Republicans want a conservative candidate who isn’t a self absorbed pig, it’s on them to nominate one.

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  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Was it Warren’s position, or the way she punched down to the person who asked it that’s frustrating Joyner and Nichols? (I ask this honestly–when I saw that the Warren thread had 150+ comments, I decided to skip that particular morass.)

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  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Look…the Democratic tent is already a pretty big tent. There are indeed anti-choice Democrats and there are pro-gun Democrats. But expecting your view to gain primacy just because you are a persuadable Republican is unreasonable. Not everyone is going to get everything they want. Childish to expect otherwise. If you would prefer Trump over Warren…good for you.

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  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    Drive a wedge through the opposition, not your own ranks. Make people who might join you feel welcome.

    It’s basic strategy, but it is often very difficult for humans to do. It is something that Democrats often find more difficult to do than Republicans, as well. We struggled as a nation in doing this with the insurgency in Iraq. But it is good strategy.

    The reason some people take offense to Warren’s remark is that they see it as a slur on the fitness for partnership of someone who questions the validity of SSM. That is, as a slur on the sexual fitness of someone because of a belief. The joke seems ambiguous to me, and I think that’s a legitimate reading.

    This is about manners, not policy, not morality. I am not saying anybody should change their policy position. The Democratic Party is solidly pro-choice and isn’t going to change for the sake of getting rid of Trump. But we can avoid insulting people who are pro-life, but have decided that there are a lot of other issues we agree on.

    And this goes both ways: If someone calls my daughter, the trans woman, an “abomination”, that’s not something I am interested in negotiating down to “troublesome” or “difficult”. That’s the thing I would ask y’all to remember: I, and many others, have a personal stake in this. This isn’t an abstraction, it’s people we care about.

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  8. DrDaveT says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Was it Warren’s position, or the way she punched down to the person who asked it that’s frustrating Joyner and Nichols?

    Not clear. I asked, but didn’t get an answer.

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  9. DrDaveT says:

    Candidates like Senator Cory Booker, who called giving illegal immigrants free health care “common sense,” and former Representative Beto O’Rourke, who promises gun confiscation, don’t appear to care about attracting these folks.

    This is the tell: the classic GOP tactic of equating extreme views of uninfluential Democrats with the Party’s position. It’s the equivalent of basing your criticism of the GOP on the views of Pat Robertson and Herman Cain (or Rush Limbaugh).

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  10. Fortunato says:

    “Trump-averse, anti-abortion Christians (some of whom are white evangelicals)”

    Which of course is also the name of an unincorporated hamlet just outside of SisterDiddle, Alabama.
    Population, 9.

    A population that no matter the amount of hemming and hawing will be unable to refrain from pulling that lever for Donald “Grab em by Pu%%y” Trump come election time.

    A population I’m so wildly ill hearing about that I’d much rather abandon, then pander to.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Was it Warren’s position, or the way she punched down to the person who asked it that’s frustrating Joyner and Nichols?

    Did she punch down?

    First, it was a hypothetical person, not a real person. The question was “what would you say to a person who said…”

    Second, even if it was a real person, is it punching down to take a mild swipe at someone who tries to force others to live by the precepts of their religion?

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  12. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    This is about manners, not policy, not morality.

    Exactly right. These conversations has people talking past each other in violent agreement.

    “Don’t make it hard to be good.”

    This reminds me of the words of wisdom by a parishioner in our liturgical church. “Church shouldn’t be hard”. Meaning, make it welcoming. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t embarrass someone because they didn’t execute the liturgy perfectly.

    I am amazed at the length of this conversation. In the words of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

  13. R.Dave says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Warren’s “outrageous zinger” was saying that people opposed to same-sex marriage shouldn’t get same-sex married. That is, she was advocating wishy-washy “everyone do their own thing” centrism.

    I don’t think that’s what James (and critics generally) are referring to as the “zinger”. All of the critiques I’ve seen have focused on the “assuming you can find one” – i.e., a woman willing to marry you – line that followed, and some have also called out the unnecessary and factually inaccurate lead-in comment that she assumed the person with a faith-based objection to gay marriage would be a guy. Put it all together, and she was rather obviously taking a shot at the romantic desirability of men who oppose gay marriage. The most charitable read is that she just meant that opposing gay marriage is what makes them undesirable, while a less charitable read is that she’s implying that they’re a bunch of unappealing losers who compensate by hating/oppressing gay people. Either way, though, it was designed to give her progressive base a laugh line and a moment of smug self-satisfaction by tweaking the pride/worth of folks in what they perceive as a cultural out-group. In other words, it was a “zinger”.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    As an erstwhile Republican and #NeverTrump guy, I’m sympathetic. While I can no longer support my old party, I’m still conservative on many issues and don’t find myself at home among the progressive wing that’s dominating the Democratic Party.

    I’m sorry that you don’t feel you have a place in any political party, but maybe now you know how crazed racist loons who can’t hide it for have felt for decades before Trump came along. With a two party system, politics can’t pander to everyone, and the insane, spiteful, racist fringe has finally gotten their moment.

    Perhaps you should just wait your turn. I’m sure it will come along again.

    ——
    I’ve no idea what I am trying to say there, it just amused me.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Punched down?

    The Massachusetts senator’s remarks were in response to a question from Morgan Cox, chair of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, at a CNN LGBTQ Town Hall.

    That’s not punching down, that’s giving the punchline to a joke set up by the straight man.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @R.Dave:

    I don’t think that’s what James (and critics generally) are referring to as the “zinger”. All of the critiques I’ve seen have focused on the “assuming you can find one” – i.e., a woman willing to marry you – line that followed, and some have also called out the unnecessary and factually inaccurate lead-in comment that she assumed the person with a faith-based objection to gay marriage would be a guy. Put it all together, and she was rather obviously taking a shot at the romantic desirability of men who oppose gay marriage. The most charitable read is that she just meant that opposing gay marriage is what makes them undesirable, while a less charitable read is that she’s implying that they’re a bunch of unappealing losers who compensate by hating/oppressing gay people.

    So, just to be clear, you think the hypothetical man has a right to be married to a woman, whether or not the woman is willing to marry him?

    I don’t think I’m twisting your words more than you’re twisting Warren’s.

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  17. Fortunato says:

    And why is it I continue to hear the moans about Prof. Warren’s “pie in the sky” plans from a group of people who overwhelming supported – nay – EMBRACED the Stephen Moore, Art Laffer, Donald Trump and the Republican party’s $2.3 Trillion TRICKLE DOWN scam upon America’s working poor?!
    As with Bush II before.
    As with Bush I before.
    As with Reagan before.

    Yet another round in the GOP’s 40 year run of brazenly plutocratic beat downs of Joe and Jane Lunchpail.

    Cause after all, Prof Warren’s Accountable Capitalism.. bad.
    Corporate Governance.. bad.
    While serfdom, poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.. good!

    The debt is entirely ignored by the right when speaking of Donald Trump and the miscreant GOP. But by god, simply mention the name of a Democratic candidate for president – and voila! – it’s the ONLY topic worthy of discussion!
    Not only is this maddening – it flies in the face of decade upon decade of MASSIVE deficits racked up under Republican as compared Democratic presidents.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug. I am officially giving you permission to support who ever you want to. It’s nobody else’s business who you vote for, and in most states, your individual vote doesn’t sway anything anyway. Follow your conscience wherever it leads.

    Disclaimer: This offer good only in states with clearly defined leanings. If you live in a state that swings between Democratic and Republican support, your state may be in a condition where voting against any particular candidate may have the same effect as voting for the other main party’s candidate. In such cases, you may need to vote for the candidate you despise less as a principled third party vote is the same as a vote for (in the specific case of 2020) Trump. It is still a binary system, after all, no matter how hard we try to pretend that it’s not.

    After the disclaimer, the question is whether the nation can trust you to decide wisely about which of the two types of states you live in. Even then, it’s still your choice. Follow your principles and your goals. (Just be sure you know what they are.)

    Now stop whining about what people are “demanding” of you. It’s a hobgoblin you’ve made up for yourself. Nobody is “demanding” anything of you and if you feel they are, tell them to STFU–but do in personally not on an internet forum of virtual associates who really probably wouldn’t recognize you if you ran up and shot them on Park Avenue (even though your blurry picture in on the site here).

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Drive a wedge through the opposition, not your own ranks. Make people who might join you feel welcome.

    It’s basic strategy, but it is often very difficult for humans to do. It is something that Democrats often find more difficult to do than Republicans, as well.

    For instance, Ericka Andersen, a freelance writer from Indianapolis, and recent employee of Mike Pence, is doing a fine job of it.

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  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Fortunato:

    I have an issue with her pie-in-the-sky plans, and I don’t meet any of the criteria you posted.

    But by god, simply mention the name of a Democratic candidate for president – and voila! – it’s the ONLY topic worthy of discussion!

    It fundamentally has not been a topic of debate this election season. It should be. So far Warren has proposed having the government assume all current student debt, switch all Americans to M4A, spend half a trillion on affordable housing, among other plans. She has referred to her wealth tax when asked about how to pay for these, but that tax–even if it were to be Constitutionally sound (it might not be)–will maybe pay for the student debt plan, but would assuredly not cover the rest of her plans. And we haven’t gotten to the cost of tackling climate change, which should be the sole priority of every candidate (and will likely be the most expensive plan of all).

    Now, I’m of the mind that whoever is President will get to pass one ambitious achievement, if they are lucky. So perhaps you can say none of this matters because none of Warren’s plans will come to pass. But if that’s the case, why should her “I have a plan for that” motto matter? Or, we can take all of her plans seriously, in which case the cost of her plans is a fair point to debate.

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  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But I do think there are large numbers of social conservatives who find Trump repugnant who could indeed cross the aisle if not made to feel like they’re held in contempt by the Democratic Party.

    I’m curious James. Who are these “social conservatives” you speak of? The people who who happily voted for a thrice divorced serial philanderer who bragged of “grabbing them by the pu$$y”? The “family values” voter who cheers on the tearing apart of families at our southern border for having the temerity of seeking shelter from corruption and violence? The ones who think abortion is a sin but capitol punishment is righteous retribution? Are they the people who think their religious freedom means they get to make everybody else behave as they think we should? Or that their religious freedom means they get to discriminate against people just for the sin of existing?

    I’m sorry James, but if these people aren’t satisfied with DEMs telling them they can live by whatever values they choose, but they do not get to push those values on others, than maybe they should just sit this election out.

    If instead they vote for trump again anyway, that tells us all we need to know about their so called “values.”

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  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The whole “Democratic Party is alienating us” crowd is just looking for someone else to blame for the crass arse that they nominated as far as I can tell.

    It’s all your fault that this happened. If your party would have supported tearing gaping holes in the safety net, warehousing kids in sheds with unsanitary conditions, giving massive tax cuts to the top 0.1%, keeping brown people out and poor people poor, outlawing abortion and gay marriage, and gutting environmental protections to our air and water we could have supported you. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOO+ you wouldn’t do that for us. You selfish pigs!

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  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R.Dave: Asking for a friend: how many women have you actually heard make the statement “marriage is between one man and one women?” I ask because I my friend can’t recall a woman ever bringing up the topic. Of course, he lives in a really small town, doesn’t have that many friends, and doesn’t socialize much.

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  24. DrDaveT says:

    I’m still conservative on many issues and don’t find myself at home among the progressive wing that’s dominating the Democratic Party.

    I’m still perplexed by the idea that the progressive wing is ‘dominating’ the Democratic Party. What progressive legislation have they passed, or even brought to vote? Raising the minimum wage is the only thing I can think of, and that’s very small beer, given that they really only inflation-adjusted it back to its previous level.

    It’s very odd to claim that a party is being ‘dominated’ by a group who never gets their way.

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  25. DrDaveT says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    And we haven’t gotten to the cost of tackling climate change, which should be the sole priority of every candidate

    Sadly, this is a completely forlorn hope. Paying for cancer treatments ought to be a priority, but it understandably gets set aside when you are standing in the middle of a burning building. By the time this fire is out, the cancer will be inoperable and terminal.

  26. Fortunato says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    It fundamentally has not been a topic of debate this election season.

    I respectfully disagree.
    Elizabeth Warren’s “pie in the sky” plans were in fact introduced to this thread by our host, Doug.
    The cost of the plans being introduced by Democrats have been the focus of lengthy discussions at each Democratic debate. The hosts of tonight’s debate will surely hone in on them again.
    The cost of the Democrats “crazy socialist takeover of Murrica” is ALWAYS the central focus of every blathering right wing talk show on TV or radio.

    It is only on the rarest of occasion that you’ll hear the words debt or deficit uttered by a GOPer when speaking of Donald Trump or of the Republican’s own lobbyist crafted, ALEC approved swindles.
    Like their massive tax scam.
    Their massive increase in military spending.
    The countless billions in welfare to the farmers – most of it going to Big Ag concerns – crippled by Trump’s trade war.
    The “Space Force”.

    NONE of this is paid for. ALL of it just blind deficit spending.
    Unlike Elizabeth Warren, who has an entirely viable method of paying for her student debt relief. A method she has drawn up in some detail for all to read.

    To be sure – Warren is not my first pick. Pete Buttigieg is.
    In fact, none of my first three picks would pay off student debt – not Pete, not Amy Klobuchar, not Michael Bennet. All of them bright, pragmatic and frugal.
    BUT – before I sidled up to Stephen F’ng Moore and gave $2.3 Trillion in American treasure to the wealthiest handful of people on the planet – I’d embrace Warren in taxing those very same wealthy people the $1.25T – as laid out in Warren’s plan – to give our young, college educated workers and future entrepreneurs a head start in life.

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  27. Barry says:

    James, aside from the NYT’s fraud in the original piece, please not that Megan McArdle has been a professional right-winger since at least 2001.

    Nichols I’ll listen to him (once he’s recovered from his bout of insanity over Warren’s comments), but I will not listen to people who live by pulling a Lucy on Charlie Brown.

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  28. Teve says:

    @Barry: Megan McArdle is a psychopathic idiot. I’ve quit reading people before because they were being dishonest, or uninformed, or misleading, but she’s the only person I’ve ever quit reading because she’s fundamentally a bad person and I don’t want anything to do with her.

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  29. Kathy says:

    Rather than expecting a party to change its policies, any disgruntled Republicans of ex-Republicans ought to join that party and try to change its policies from the inside.

  30. Gustopher says:

    James, I am sorry that the Democrats choose to pander to a part of their constituency that has been with them for decades, rather than you.

    You’re like a house guest complaining that the food is too spicy.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, you shouldn’t have invited an arsonist into your own house. Just sayin’. Yes, I know, you didn’t invite him, per say, you just courted his friends and didn’t complain as they brought their friends, and then one day they brought the arsonist and you discovered the house wasn’t really yours anymore and also it was on fire.

    I hope you get your house back and can rebuild. Or maybe you’ll decide to live in a tent in the wilderness like Doug. You’re welcome as long as you need, but don’t go trying to rearrange the furniture too much.

    And some of your friends… you know, the ones who brought the arsonist to your place… yeah, we don’t want them to feel too comfortable. If your friends want to walk up and tell people that their marriage is wrong, well, your friends are not going to be treated with a whole lot of respect.

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  31. mcnickle says:

    I don’t think social conservatives are necessarily gettable. The people that are gettable are those that sat out the last election.They didn’t like Hillary, but they sure as hell weren’t going to vote for Trump. Now they’ve learned a very hard lesson, and the Dems have them in their pocket. The only way they get away is if the Dems go so far left they become unpalatable. And, that appears to be possibly happening. If the price for getting rid of Trump is for the Dems to tone it down just a little that’s a bill well worth paying. Do this and they get the Upper Midwest and PA, and maybe Ohio , NC and Florida to boot. I live among Trumpies and, believe me, they’re coming out to vote. The opposition has to mobilize every possible vote. This man must be beaten, and if that means some purity pony ideas need to be put away for awhile, so be it.

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  32. Teve says:

    Frankly anybody who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 should have enough shame to sit out the next election and ponder how their decision-making was so disastrous, and apologize.

  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    The thing is we don’t need the tiny slice of disaffected Trump voters to vote Blue, we just need them to stay home.

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  34. David S. says:

    Warren’s zinger was just pandering to the left. It’s not really remarkable until she’s called upon to represent more than the left. And in terms of competence for doing so, she’d still be superior to anyone the Republicans put up for the General Election.

    I didn’t like it, personally, but I understand I’m not one of the people she’s pandering to.

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  35. R.Dave says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t think I’m twisting your words more than you’re twisting Warren’s.

    Then you’re apparently not very good at drawing reasonable inferences about meaning and intent from people’s statements and should probably defer to the judgment of others for that going forward.

    Out of sheer morbid curiosity, though – in what way do you think I twisted Warren’s words?

  36. R.Dave says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @R.Dave: Asking for a friend: how many women have you actually heard make the statement “marriage is between one man and one women?” I ask because I my friend can’t recall a woman ever bringing up the topic.

    Well, Hillary Clinton, for one. Or does your implicit defense of Warren’s assumption re gender turn on the specific use of the word “one” instead of “a”?

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  37. Gustopher says:

    @R.Dave: You’re assuming a seriousness where there isn’t one, and parsing things like an HR department desperate to find offense.

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  38. @Doug Mataconis:

    More importantly, I consider the priority in 2020 to be beating Trump, and I don’t think she’s the candidate who can do it.

    Despite all of that I am constantly told tha as a “Never Trump-er” I am obligated to support whoever the Democrats nominate. All due respect to Democrats in general and the commentariat at OTB specifically, but that simply isn’t true.

    The reason for the pile on is that the two statements above not fully compatible. If job 1 is getting rid of Trump, then that would include voting for pretty much any Dem nominee.

    Clearly your rank-ordered preferences in terms of voting behavior is not Trump, but not necessarily enough to get you to cast a vote for a Democrat. That means, as I have noted (although probably never states as follows), you would actually allow Trump to win in an extreme scenario by not voting for his rival if it was someone you could not morally support from your POV. (And yes, I fully understand that mathematically such a scenario is essentially impossible).

    I am not trying to argue with you or convince you otherwise–I just am pointing out that the way you yourself frame the issue invites the conversation.

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  39. Andy says:

    James,

    Interesting and thought-provoking post.

    But it’s rather bizarre to place the burden on the opposition party to reform itself because we’ve lost control of our own.

    I agree that Democrats don’t have any obligation to do anything. They do have an opportunity, however, and they still have to build a coalition that can actually win the Presidency. Insularity won’t do that.

    I think if the parties were still largely controlled by bosses in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms, they would probably move to fill the vacuum left by the GoP and turn the Democratic party into a supermajority like it was during the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

    But as Steven Taylor frequently points out, the parties lack central control and are subject to whichever faction can gain a simple majority. The future of the party is being decided by primary voters for whom the concerns of abandoned ex-Republicans (and independents like me) don’t matter much. Expanding the party tent is not on the agenda.

    So the main problem with this essay is that it is tilting at windmills – there’s no way to get Democrats, collectively, to consider allowing #nevertrumpers into the fold and there’s no central party authority that can do it the old-school way. Disaffected ex-Republicans can try to take over the Democratic party, or at least force it to consider your interests, but the numbers are against you.

    On the other hand, it would be nice if partisans (not just Democrats), treated their outgroup with a bit more respect or at least legitimately held. But as a life-long independent let me assure you that hasn’t happened to me yet, and it’s only gotten worse. Tribal psychology is too strong and heresy must be given no quarter.

    I disagree with Nichols that, if Trump is re-elected, the blame will be on Democrats. No, that would be on Republicans and others who vote for him.

    I disagree, if Democrats lose, it will be their fault. Trump has never been above 50% in approval – if Democrats can’t beat a deeply unpopular and divisive President then that is their failure. Democrats need to compete for votes, and not merely rely on Trump’s unpopularity.

    Still, Democrats should do their best to avoid alienating those who might be persuadable to join their cause for the purpose of ousting Trump.

    Yes, that is an obvious, logical and reasonable opinion – but one that isn’t as widely shared as it should be.

    More importantly, we have to somehow get out of this cycle of division and back to governance on consensus.

    I don’t see that happening as long as we have a de facto binary political system with two weak entrenched parties that represent minority political interests. Bring back the smoke-filled rooms.

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  40. My question about the Warren comment is: who is actually paying attention to it? I can see a lot of zealous social conservatives who would never vote for her getting upset about it, but is there really any evidence that a bunch of persuadable voters for voted Trump in 16 are going to be forestalled in voting against Trump because of stuff like this?

  41. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Yes. And it would widen the margins a bit if a slice of unengaged Blue voters felt inspired enough by the Democratic candidate would come out of their homes to a polling place.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    I agree that Democrats don’t have any obligation to do anything. They do have an opportunity, however, and they still have to build a coalition that can actually win the Presidency. Insularity won’t do that.

    Have you ever, seriously looked at the Democrats? There’s a set of core values that are more important than just winning. This might be a very dumb thing, but it’s definitely a thing.

    (I would counter that if we didn’t care about our values and just wanted to win, many of us would be Republicans.)

    I disagree, if Democrats lose, it will be their fault. Trump has never been above 50% in approval – if Democrats can’t beat a deeply unpopular and divisive President then that is their failure. Democrats need to compete for votes, and not merely rely on Trump’s unpopularity.

    Um… if a geographically relevant local plurality of America votes for a racist incompetent buffoon, I think that’s on them. Even Bernie Fucking Sanders is going to turn out better — four years of frustrated BernieBros complaining that Congress is not bowing to the will of Bernie Sanders’ Green Lantern Ring is harmless.

    I don’t see that happening as long as we have a de facto binary political system with two weak entrenched parties that represent minority political interests. Bring back the smoke-filled rooms.

    It’s rare that we actually get a call for an aristocracy. Maybe we should just restrict the vote to landowners?

    I don’t mean to be entirely dismissive, but people like you, Doug and James are going to be uncomfortable allies of the Democrats. Different reasons, and to different degrees of ally and uncomfortable.

    Why should the Democrats abandon a half century of pursuing equality for all just because the Republicans shat the bed? The Don’t-Play-In-Your-Own-Feces party might have broad support, but it doesn’t stand for anything.

    The Republicans fucked up.

    The Independents took themselves out of the conversation on what parties should stand for.

    It’s not the Democrats’ responsibility to fix that. We’ve been saying that Republicanism was a terrible idea for decades. We’ve offered an alternative. Republicans never listened. Well, here we are, we’re heading towards the cliff and we all have a choice. Someone is going to have to compromise their values if we are going to avoid the cliff, but why do you think it should be the Democrats?

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  43. Scott F. says:

    @Andy:

    The future of the party is being decided by primary voters for whom the concerns of abandoned ex-Republicans (and independents like me) don’t matter much. Expanding the party tent is not on the agenda.

    I’d be curious to know what concerns an independent like you has that would be all that different from an ex-Republican’s so I could gauge what size tent you think the Democratic Party should have.

    What I see is a society with the Overton Window spiked so profoundly to the right side of the political spectrum that someone like Romney (a Republican that supports almost all of the policies that the Trumpist GOP has in their platform with maybe a little less child caging, bigotry, and authoritarianism) is called a Moderate. Then at the same time, Elizabeth Warren is a far-out radical Marxist because she has proposed reining in the corrupting elements of capitalism and she advocates for a wealth tax of 2% marginally applied only on incomes above $50M. It is decidedly NOT pie-in-the-sky to recognize that in the US wealth inequality is at unprecedented levels, medical spending is grossly inefficient compared to other first world countries, mass shootings are at epidemic levels, and climate change will hit us hard sooner rather than later.

    Her plans for these pressing issues have been seriously thought through. You may not agree with her thinking and may not like her plans, but her plans are nowhere near as “out-there” as the “I’m going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it” that got Trump elected in 2016.

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  44. Moosebreath says:

    The problem I have with essays like these are that they are never terribly specific on what Republican policies they expect Democrats to accede to in exchange for getting Never-Trumpers votes. Should they agree to accept that:

    1. Climate change is a hoax?
    2. The answer to any economic question is to cut taxes on the wealthy?
    3. LGBT persons should return to the closet?
    4. Whites face greater discrimination in their daily lives than blacks?

    All of these are positions which command substantial and possibly majority Republican support. They are also positions which accepting would lose Democrats far more votes by discouraging their own supporters than they would gain.

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  45. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My question about the Warren comment is: who is actually paying attention to it?

    This wasn’t addressed to me, but I’ll summarize what I wrote in the other thread since it seems I was relatively alone in that debate.

    To answer your question in the here and now – no one. I was not offended by it and like the controversy over Warren’s changing narrative about her job in 1971, I don’t much care about such things. I would not have heard of it at all if Doug hadn’t written his post. So, right now, it doesn’t matter and the only people paying attention are political junkies.

    My point, however, wasn’t about the here and now – I was specifically talking about the potential for it to be weaponized in the future should Warren win the nomination. The internet, as they say, is forever and we’ve seen that political operatives will dig up anything and everything possible from a target’s past to paint them in a bad light.

    I made the point that the joke played well in front of that audience, but it would play badly in front of other, politically relevant, audiences that Warren might need to win, and therefore it was – at least – risky for her. And the reality is that politicians can’t play to narrow audiences anymore – their words will be recorded and reused and propagandized to affect other audiences in ways the candidate does not intend.

    So I just tried to argue the rather limited point that handing opponents ammunition is risky at best, stupid at worst. It was a point about political strategy generally and not really about Warren specifically, while acknowledging that it may have helped her in the primary fight.

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  46. DrDaveT says:

    Still, Democrats should do their best to avoid alienating those who might be persuadable to join their cause for the purpose of ousting Trump. I’m skeptical that those who are single-issue voters on abortion, like Andersen, are actually in that group. But I do think there are large numbers of social conservatives who find Trump repugnant who could indeed cross the aisle if not made to feel like they’re held in contempt by the Democratic Party.

    I agree completely with your first and second sentences; it’s the third that is less convincing. Who are these people (apart from Doug Mataconis) who are disgusted by Trump, but not disgusted enough that they will certainly vote for Warren or Biden, or even Bernie or Mayor Pete, if that’s what it takes to end the current disaster? It seems very unlikely to me that there are large numbers of people who are only mildly anti-Trump, yet might be enticed to vote for a Democrat. The very fact of not being violently anti-Trump already flags them as reflexive GOP team players or single-issue conservatives.

    Or, to put it another way: who out there is less afraid of voting D than of keeping Trump, but isn’t already planning to vote D?

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  47. Scott F. says:

    @Andy:
    Yes, should she advance, Warren’s general election opponent will weaponize this comment made during a LGBTQ Town Hall. Her joke made that possible.

    But, let’s be frank, her opponent and his party will also weaponize that she appeared at a LGBTQ Town Hall to begin with. They’ll weaponize that she’s a woman and that she’s a “socialist” and that she believes a big response is necessary to turn the tide of climate change and that she wears pantsuits. Her specific opposition candidate will call her “Pocahontas” and mock her as an egghead and claim she favors Mexican rapists pouring over our borders.

    I’d prefer a candidate that speaks their mind and stands proudly for what they believe in over a candidate cowed into moderation and timidity lest they hand the Republicans ammunition to come after them with. Because Trump and the Republicans will weaponize the fact the Democratic nominee breathes. They will have to because they won’t be able to stand proudly for what they believe, since the majority of Americans don’t want their preferred policies.

    BTW, Trump played to a narrow audience in 2016 and won. His every lie is captured on video or a Twitter archive somewhere, then they are surfaced and used to little effect. His behavior is on public display daily and is ugly as hell without being propagandized and his narrow audience loves him for it. The old rules of politics just wont apply in 2020. They are another thing Trump as destroyed.

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  48. Teve says:

    On or before 2010, Yglesias coined the term “pundit’s fallacy” to denote “the belief that what a politician needs to do to improve his or her political standing is do what the pundit wants substantively”.

    Accordingly, moderate Republicans believe that what Warren needs to do is what moderate Republicans want.

  49. Teve says:

    Glitch.

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R.Dave: No, just a question. Frankly, I’ve never even heard Hillary say it, but I don’t spend a lot of time paying attention either. I would have to say I’ve never heard a woman say it; not even back in the days when I went to an Evangelical megachurch.

  51. Andy says:

    @Scott F.:

    But, let’s be frank, her opponent and his party will also weaponize that she appeared at a LGBTQ Town Hall to begin with.

    – Ok, do you remember which group Hillary was talking to when she made her “deplorables” comment? Can you point to any advertisements that targeted Hillary’s association with that group instead of her “deplorables” comment?
    – Or do you remember which group Romney was talking to when he made is 47% remark? Did Pres. Obama’s proxies run any ads about Romney speaking to that group instead of what Romney said?
    – Do you remember who President Obama was speaking do when he made the so-called “bitter clingers” speech? And…same question as above.

    If you can answer in the affirmative to those questions then I’ll happily concede the point. (Full disclosure: I don’t know who any of them they were actually talking to)

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  52. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    You’ve always been a pretty fair shooter so I’m going to say upfront that some of my response is ranty and not aimed at you personally – your comment (which, to be honest, reads very angry) and this post is just a good catalyst for some things I’ve wanted to say for a while here.

    Normally I try to avoid polemic and invective since it is rarely effective, but this is going to be an exception. I will probably field responses for a bit but then I think I’ll take one of my many breaks from OTB.

    Anyway, here we go:

    Have you ever, seriously looked at the Democrats? There’s a set of core values that are more important than just winning. This might be a very dumb thing, but it’s definitely a thing.

    I’m 51 so I’ve been around a few years. I’m not sure what “core values” you speak of, however. The Democratic party of today is much different from a decade ago much less a half-century ago.

    I think major political party core values, to paraphrase the best Pirates of the Caribbean movie, are “more what you’d call ‘guidelines.'”

    If you really want me to list all the policies that Democrats have “evolved” or done a complete 180 on over the last 50 years, I can do that but I won’t. However, they should be apparent enough and easy to Google. Some examples: Immigration, LGBT, SSM, Globalism and trade, working class interests, the appropriate role of the federal government, etc.

    The only parties that actually operate consistently off of core values and first principles are parties like the Greens and Libertarians. And look how wonderfully they’ve done electorally.

    Point being, parties – by necessity – must adjust to the changing values of the American population. That Democrats have been much, much better at taking advantage of trends in society and social changes is an indication of smart politics, not stable core values.

    Um… if a geographically relevant local plurality of America votes for a racist incompetent buffoon, I think that’s on them.

    The rules of winning the Presidency haven’t changed in a very long time. The reality is that “geographically relevant local pluralities” have always mattered a great deal – this isn’t something new that Democrats woke up one day and discovered. The fact is if you want to win you need to do what’s necessary to win under the existing rules. If Democrats aren’t willing to do that then they will lose (again) and it will be their own fault.

    It’s rare that we actually get a call for an aristocracy. Maybe we should just restrict the vote to landowners?

    Your characterization of “aristocracy” is sophistry. I’m calling for parties with actual leadership with actual authority to turn our political parties into coherent entities by wrangling their competing factions together and enforcing some discipline.

    Dr. Taylor wrote several posts about the lack of leadership and discipline in US parties that are relevant here in comparison to other countries. Most other countries have political parties with leadership that can enforce the party platform – this is not aristocracy but how normal political parties are supposed to work. What we have here in the US is an aberration.

    I don’t mean to be entirely dismissive, but people like you, Doug and James are going to be uncomfortable allies of the Democrats. Different reasons, and to different degrees of ally and uncomfortable.

    I’m not insulted by that. I haven’t considered myself a Republican or a Democrat for my entire adult life. Of course I’m uncomfortable with Democrats – if I was comfortable with Democrats I would be a Democrat.

    Why should the Democrats abandon a half century of pursuing equality for all just because the Republicans shat the bed? The Don’t-Play-In-Your-Own-Feces party might have broad support, but it doesn’t stand for anything.

    You’ll be hearing this again, but I’m not telling Democrats to do anything or abandon anything. This seems to be a hard point for people here to understand so expect it to be repeated – I’m not dictating to the Democrats or trying to tell them what to do.

    Analysis is not advocacy.

    I’m simply pointing out the fact that Republicans have ceded a large part of the electoral field and abandoned a core part of their party. Those abandoned constituents are “up for grabs.” The question is whether Democrats are willing to try to pick them up. Here at OTB at least, the answer seems to be “fuck no but if they don’t vote for us anyway, they are racists.”

    The Independents took themselves out of the conversation on what parties should stand for.

    Well, this independent is more engaged politically and in my community than any partisan I know. The notion that we have taken ourselves out of the conversation is without merit.

    It’s not the Democrats’ responsibility to fix that.

    Again (part Deux), I’ve never said it was the Democrats’ responsibility to fix anything.

    Well, here we are, we’re heading towards the cliff and we all have a choice. Someone is going to have to compromise their values if we are going to avoid the cliff, but why do you think it should be the Democrats?

    Ok, this is the part where I get kinda pissy. I use “you” here but I want you to understand I’m not talking about you specifically Gustopher, so don’t take this too personally – it’s not just about you, it’s more about the zeitgeist.

    Begin mini-rant:

    First (third time, it gets tiresome repeating this), I’m not telling Democrats what they should do, I’m trying to get you to consider alternatives and shake the branches a little in your thinking.

    The key question you should ask is how bad do you want to win? You talk about core values and you also talk about the threat of Trump but you don’t seem to willing to acknowledge any possible space between those two goals. In short, what is your priority – your values or winning the election against Trump? are you willing to compromise anything in order to beat Trump? To me, it looks like the answer is “no” but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    You seem to think you can have it both ways and that compromise is for others, not you. You can’t sacrifice your precious core values – everyone else must sacrifice theirs. Because – reasons. You want the #nevertrumper and independent votes but you’re not willing to do anything to actually win them to your side – not even a little tiny bit.

    The irony is that James and many others have promised to do exactly what you’ve demanded yet that is still not good enough. They’ve said they will compromise almost all their political values by voting for ANY Democrat to get rid of Trump and you’re still not happy and you give them no credit. They’ve put actual skin in the game to oppose Trump by promising to vote for candidates they would never vote for in normal circumstances. Which is 100x more than what you’ve done.

    But even that’s not good enough! Even though you have them in the bag with their vote, any heresy they might utter must be punished. They’ve compromised their political values promised you what you want yet you still shit on them for the temerity to question your dogma, even over the most minor shit.

    What have you done to oppose Trump? Where is your sacrifice? What skin have you put in the game to actually defeat Trump?

    Nothing extra than you would do any other election it seems.

    The unwillingness to accede to the tiniest compromise on your supposed “core values” while demanding complete compliance and sacrifice from everyone else is not exactly a profile in courage, much less convincing rhetoric.

    I can only speak for myself, but I’m not buying your bullshit, which many of us can see right through. Your demands for ideological fealty are, in the most generous analysis, counterproductive.

    The sad thing is that I really don’t want another Trump term. I’ve pledged not to vote for him and I won’t….But I have to admit that the thought of rubbing an “I told you so” Trump victory in your self-righteous uncompromising faces has a certain appeal.

    Bring on the downvotes!

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  53. Smurfyhoser says:

    As an almost-daily reader, I’m delurking just to say that the above exchanges, especially between @Gustopher and @Andy, are why I’m a loyal reader here. Reasonably civil, each making nuanced points, I find myself nodding as I read each “side” and acknowledging their perspectives, building on the questions raised by the OP. For whatever reason, I don’t see this online anywhere else.

    So, thank you for the thought-provoking morning read.

    /relurking

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  54. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Warren’s “outrageous zinger” was saying that people opposed to same-sex marriage shouldn’t get same-sex married.

    Nope. As noted in the comments on Doug’s thread, I thought that was perfect—although I think it would have been funnier if she stopped with “Then just marry one woman!” The problem was with the “If you can find one,” implying that holding traditional views about marriage makes a person some sort of undesirable.

    @Neil Hudelson: @gVOR08: That’s an outrageous omission from the NYT; it never even occurred to me that they would hide such an obviously material fact.

    @Neil Hudelson: Nichols expresses that better than I have, I think, but the “punching down” thing is definitely part of it. That elites tend to look down on less educated, religious folks is an unfortunate fact. But politicians who want their votes should do their best to hide it. Warren was crowing about it in front of a like-minded audience.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: As I understood her argument, she wasn’t asking the Dems to adopt her position on abortion so much as not make it such a central part of their campaign or use language demonizing those who hold the other view. I actually think the latter, especially, is a good idea. Especially since a large part of the Democratic base, notably religious Jews and African Americans, are anti-abortion.

    @R.Dave: Exactly.

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think a lot of social conservatives are willing to put up with Trump when the alternative is a Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren because, even though he’s a loathsome pig, he’s going to nominate judges and, especially, Supreme Court justices who will vote their way on social issues, especially abortion. That’s not unreasonable, given that those judges will likely be in their seat for decades after Trump leaves office. But I don’t think that’s a group who will change sides even if the Dems nominate Biden and downplay their enthusiasm for protecting abortion rights, etc.

    @DrDaveT: The progressives aren’t getting their way because a Republican holds the White House and the Republicans control the Senate. Nancy Pelosi, who’s very much part of the progressive wing, is a very prudent leader. But, surely, a President Warren will pass quite progressive legislation if she also gets a Senate majority. (I presume the filibuster is going away in that case.)

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  55. Kathy says:

    I don’t know enough about the differences between the various Christian varieties, but ex-Republicans demanding, or requesting, a more Conservative attitude from the Democratic party, would be like ex-Catholics joining some Protestant church and demanding, or requesting, a more Catholic approach.

  56. Scott F. says:

    @Andy:
    If calling out the one sentence on the Town Hall is any indication of the effort you put into understanding my points, then I’m not going to put a lot of energy into getting you to concede anything. Nevertheless, yes, I do remember the circumstances for each instance you describe of “ammunition” given to the opposition by a past candidate: Clinton made her first “deplorables” comment in response to a question from a reporter, while the Romney and Obama quotes were shared out from fundraisers. And interesting, Clinton was attacked for how she interacted with the press and both Romney and Obama were attacked to their obeisance to donors. Weaponization is the thing to do it seems. BTW Obama’s birth was weaponized against him, Romney’s religion was weaponized against him, and Clinton’s sex was weaponized against her.

    My point (again) is that there is NO path for a nominee where everything they say or do will provide a safe space from some audience that was to take offense or opponents who want to take advantage of the offended parties being offended.

    Better to stand for what you believe and speak your mind.

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  57. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s an outrageous omission from the NYT

    They, and WAPO, do it with some regularity.

  58. R.Dave says:

    @Andy: You seem to think you can have it both ways….You want the #nevertrumper and independent votes but you’re not willing to do anything to actually win them to your side – not even a little tiny bit.

    The irony is that James and many others have…said they will compromise almost all their political values by voting for ANY Democrat to get rid of Trump and you’re still not happy and you give them no credit….[Y]ou still shit on them for the temerity to question your dogma, even over the most minor shit.

    Indeed. The truly sad thing, from my perspective, is that Trump is so manifestly terrible that Dems probably wouldn’t even have to compromise on their substantive policy positions to pick up a meaningful number of self-identified, anti-Trump “moderates”; they just have to be less strident and condemnatory while advocating for those positions.

    In short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nzeJrXFttg

    Even shorter (audio NSFW): https://youtu.be/0la5DBtOVNI

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  59. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    But even that’s not good enough! Even though you have them in the bag with their vote, any heresy they might utter must be punished. They’ve compromised their political values promised you what you want yet you still shit on them for the temerity to question your dogma, even over the most minor shit.

    I don’t think coddling bigots is “the most minor shit”, and that’s what the original quip that caused this discussion is all about.

    Here are the core values of the Democrats as I see them (or the subset that leaps to mind as relevant):
    – everyone should be able to vote, and all votes should be equal
    – everyone has an opportunity to have a say (no smoke filled rooms determining candidates)
    – tolerate differences and let people live their lives so long as they cause no harm
    – bigotry has no place in the party (bigots should be called out and feel uncomfortable)

    The hypothetical voter in the question violates the last two. As the Republicans embraced social conservatism, the Democrats embraced social libertarianism.

    I would say that #NeverTrumpers are welcome, but they need to leave their expectation that social conservatism will be coddled at the door. (And, if you cannot accept “well, then live your socially conservative life with your socially conservative opposite gender partner if you can find one” then you’re looking to be coddled)

    Equality, Democracy, Big safety net, Social Libertarianism. Those are pretty much non-negotiable*. Winning without these core values isn’t winning.

    The shape of the big safety net, how best to achieve equality, the boundaries on social libertarianism on things that do cause harm to others (guns, drugs, big gulp soft drinks, environmentalism)… all open.

    If I thought Medicare For All was going to lose votes, I’d sacrifice it. (I don’t see a standard bearer for less that I think will win, but that can change). The folks who say “I could support a Democrat, but not reworking 1/7th of the economy” should be listened to, but not the people who say “I could support a Democrat, but not if they support same sex marriage.” I also don’t believe that last set.

    *: If we could get carte blanche to remake the economy to fight global warming, I’d toss the gays’ rights into the rising waters to do it, but that’s not really on the table.

    (And I’m more snippy than angry)

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  60. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    The progressives aren’t getting their way because a Republican holds the White House and the Republicans control the Senate. Nancy Pelosi, who’s very much part of the progressive wing, is a very prudent leader. But, surely, a President Warren will pass quite progressive legislation if she also gets a Senate majority. (I presume the filibuster is going away in that case.)

    Two words: Joe Manchin.

    Democrats are going to be limited by the most conservative members of their party. There isn’t the lockstep party loyalty that the Republicans have.

    Mildly progressive is the most we are likely to see in terms of legislation. That still might make you uncomfortable, but it won’t be the AOC show.

  61. Gustopher says:

    Also, we need to win back the Obama-Trump voters. These are people who voted for Obama after the “god, guns and gays” bitter clingers speech. I think Warren’s comment is fine in comparison.

    But, I don’t want to welcome the #NeverTrumpers with open arms. I want them them to hold their noses, and use that feeling to go back and fix their party. Medium term, we need two functioning parties, so we aren’t changing off between sensible and crazy every few years.

    Long term we won’t take care of global warming, will hit a tipping point and all die, if we’re lucky. If we are unlucky we will have to deal with massive refugee crises and atrocities as we start doing things like nuking southern Mexico to stop refugees from South America from coming here, and rounding up the dissenters here and making them into food for the guard dogs. And then we will all die. I hope the guard dogs have cute puppies.

    But, I’m hoping that won’t be for another 30-50 years. I’ll probably be dead by then.

  62. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: we’re not going to do shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit about Global Warming.

    I’m giving serious thought to moving to Colorado.

  63. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kathy: This is an apt analogy because….with the increased secularization in our society… partisanship has in fact become the new religion. There are several studies that show that political identity is addressed in the same part of the brain as religious identity. Republican/Democrat … Catholic/Protestant its really the same mental and emotional process dressed in different costumes

  64. An Interested Party says:

    My point, however, wasn’t about the here and now – I was specifically talking about the potential for it to be weaponized in the future should Warren win the nomination. The internet, as they say, is forever and we’ve seen that political operatives will dig up anything and everything possible from a target’s past to paint them in a bad light.

    This, of course, is why she won’t say a word about raising taxes to pay for her M4A proposal…and why should she, only for it to be turned into a club to beat her over the head with…obviously she thinks it is much better to simply not answer a yes or no question…we’ll see if that hurts or if it doesn’t…

    In short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nzeJrXFttg

    Uh huh…if only that really was the case…while it is true that people probably shouldn’t be assholes when trying to convert others to their cause, it is also helpful to state facts and not glib generalities to argue against those same people…

    Mildly progressive is the most we are likely to see in terms of legislation. That still might make you uncomfortable, but it won’t be the AOC show.

    If only Never Trumpers could even acknowledge that truth that AOC’s ideas aren’t going to be a major part of most, if not all, of Democratic legislation, perhaps they could be taken a bit more seriously…

  65. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Thanks for your reasoned responses.

    I don’t think coddling bigots is “the most minor shit”, and that’s what the original quip that caused this discussion is all about.

    It’s not about coddling bigots, it’s near-constant opposition to saying anything remotely negative about Democrats.

    The hypothetical voter in the question violates the last two. As the Republicans embraced social conservatism, the Democrats embraced social libertarianism.

    I think your list of values is commendable, but I don’t think Democrats – collectively – subscribe to those values, particularly the last two you cite.

    First, in my experience, Democrats are very uneven when it comes to tolerating differences. The progressive wing, in particular, is very intolerant and many actively seek to silence those they disagree with.

    Secondly, Democrats are not, on an objective basis “social libertarians.”

    The core of any libertarian ideal is freedom from state/government control and freedom of association. Democrats have demonstrated a clear inclination and desire to use government authority to enforce their particular views of social mores, which is the antithesis of libertarianism.

    Democrats are, IMO, more accurately called “social liberals.” Philosophically, the difference is positive vs. negative liberty.

    @Teve:

    I’m giving serious thought to moving to Colorado.

    Colorado is my home state. Given the influx of people moving here, I feel obligated to ask you to stay where you are, we’re full 😉

  66. Andy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    This, of course, is why she won’t say a word about raising taxes to pay for her M4A proposal…and why should she, only for it to be turned into a club to beat her over the head with

    Sure, but she’s put herself in that conundrum. She knew (or should have known) that supporting an M4A proposal would raise these questions, especially since she is considered the wonky, detail-oriented candidate. I don’t think this hurts her yet, but at some point, she’s going to have to give an answer.

  67. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    The core of any libertarian ideal is freedom from state/government control and freedom of association. Democrats have demonstrated a clear inclination and desire to use government authority to enforce their particular views of social mores, which is the antithesis of libertarianism.

    Let’s see…

    Democrats think you should have equal rights no matter what religion you profess. Republicans think Christians should get preferential treatment.

    Democrats think you should be able to marry whomever you want. Republicans think you should only be permitted to marry certain specified people.

    Democrats think that women should decide for themselves what to do with their bodies. Republicans want to tell women what they can and cannot do.

    I’m not seeing this alleged “clear inclination to use the government to enforce social mores”, at least when you compare Democrats to the only actual alternative, and not to some libertarian fantasy.

  68. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Secondly, Democrats are not, on an objective basis “social libertarians.”

    The core of any libertarian ideal is freedom from state/government control and freedom of association. Democrats have demonstrated a clear inclination and desire to use government authority to enforce their particular views of social mores, which is the antithesis of libertarianism.

    We’re not really going to set up FEMA re-education camps and force Paul L. to get gender reassignment surgery and then marry his dog.

    I’ll claim that the power of business needs to be curbed as much as the power of government. Especially as businesses only exist because of the government (government charters, laws, courts, and prosecution of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks).

    What would you call a philosophy of maximizing individual liberty, if not a form of libertarianism?

    Ok, that’s a stretch. But it’s not really liberalism either — if you want to home school your kid, or send him, her or them to your local Madras, very few Democrats want to get in the way of that.

    Beto wants to put a political test on churches, and he is roundly rejected.

    Discrimination becomes the hard difference though. For people to have equal access and protection under the law (to maximize their personal liberty), it comes into conflict with the right of association.

    Rights come into conflict all the time. Democrats, putting an emphasis on the individual’s liberty rather than on minimizing government will balance the rights differently than Big L Libertarians. (I do think Big L Libertarians are measuring and optimizing for the wrong things).

    But, that’s also why social issues aren’t as negotiable as everything else — we don’t want to let the bigots get their nose in the big tent. We kicked the Klan out 50 years ago, and that was nice. We haven’t won a lot of Presidencies since then though…

    By the way, had the South created Separate but Equal structures that were actually equal, I think the country might have found a different balance. Bigot bakers would be free to deny service.

    As it is, if white supremacists don’t want to live near black folks, most Democrats will point to any of the Dakotas, rural Montana or Idaho as fine places to live and get their hate on in private.

  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    What would you call a philosophy of maximizing individual liberty, if not a form of libertarianism?

    Ok, that’s a stretch.

    No, it isn’t. Really.

    This is the fundamental failure of libertarianism — namely, that they recognize and fear limitations on liberty perpetrated by the State, but somehow fail to notice limitations on liberty perpetrated by your neighbor. They seem to all think that they would somehow be part of the 1% doing unto, rather than the 99% being done unto, absent the interference of the State.

    If you really care about maximizing the actual freedom to choose of the maximum number of people, you are led inexorably to a pretty obtrusive State that acts aggressively to rein in the natural tendency of societies to turn into kleptocracies. Libertarians tend to react to this fact with “la la la I can’t hear you”. It makes rational discourse really hard.

    I am perfectly happy to debate what the optimal role for government might be in promoting maximum freedom of choice for the greatest number. Such a debate cannot be had, at least not rationally, with someone who takes “less government is better” as an axiom.

  70. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT, and @Gustopher:

    This is ultimately an argument about definitions and you both are torturing the definition of “liberatarian” generally and “social libertarian” specifically into something it doesn’t actually mean.

    Whatever the actual merits, policies that attempt to use government authority to force people to have interactions with other people or otherwise restrict free association is, by definition, not libertarian.

    Philosophically, this goes back to positive vs negative liberty. Libertarianism is about negative liberty while what you’re talking about is positive liberty. Government actions seeking to increase or enforce positive liberty are, by definition, not libertarian.

    To use an example, the libertarian answer to the problem of a baker refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding is to refuse to do business with that person and convince others to avoid them as well – the power of free association, which is the fundamental tenet of libertarianism. The solution favored by most Democrats is to use government authority to force the baker to make the cake. This is obviously not free association, therefore, it isn’t libertarian.

    Hence why I use “social liberal” instead. When speaking of values, Democrats and Libertarians do share many socially liberal values. But those shared values doesn’t mean Democrats are Libertarians or that Libertarians are Democrats.

    And full-disclosure to prevent people from making wrong assumptions: I’m not a Libertarian, I disagree with them on many fundamental issues but agree with them on others. I do enjoy reading their perspectives and think they have a valuable voice coming, as they do, from first principles.

  71. wr says:

    @Andy: So wasn’t Elizabeth Warren’s answer about marriage between one man and one woman the perfect libertarian response? She said if you don’t like other kinds of marriage, don’t have one. And yet somehow you don’t seem to approve of that when it comes from her…

  72. Andy says:

    @wr:

    So wasn’t Elizabeth Warren’s answer about marriage between one man and one woman the perfect libertarian response? She said if you don’t like other kinds of marriage, don’t have one. And yet somehow you don’t seem to approve of that when it comes from her…

    You are misunderstanding.

    First of all, as I’ve repeated many times, I’m not a Libertarian, so my personal response or views do not need to be consistent with what Libertarians believe, much less what others may think Libertarians believe.

    Secondly, as I also said repeatedly, I did not have any “problem” with what Warren said – I simply noted the potential that it might come back to bite her because of reasons I’ve explained too many times already. I never stated or otherwise indicated that I didn’t “approve” of anything related to SSM.

    So your perception about my lack of approval is simply not accurate.

    Finally, yes, Libertarians and Warren (and many others including myself) support SSM – It’s nice when there is agreement on an issue that crosses the typical partisan/ideological lines.

  73. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    To use an example, the libertarian answer to the problem of a baker refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding is to refuse to do business with that person and convince others to avoid them as well – the power of free association, which is the fundamental tenet of libertarianism.

    Just as the libertarian answer to the problem of slavery is for good libertarians to refuse to do business with the slaver, and convince others likewise.

    Let me know how that works out.

    I do enjoy reading [libertarian] perspectives and think they have a valuable voice coming, as they do, from first principles.

    Except that they don’t. It’s easy to prove this; all you have to do is ask them to state one of those “first principles”. It’s easy to then find examples where those principles would lead to a horrific situation. Libertarians are generally sensible enough to admit this, and to propose limitations or restrictions or other hedges on that principle. What they won’t ever do, in my experience, is to then state the real principle, the one that they really believe in that causes them to reject the consequences of the libertarian principle.

    That’s not about ‘definitions’; it’s about arguing in bad faith. Either the libertarian principles are the most important ones, or they aren’t. If they are, own it. If they aren’t, talk to me about which ones are even more important, and maybe we can have a real discussion. Until then, it seems to me that I am more interested in liberty than libertarians are. “Negative liberty” is like the vacuum; nature abhors it, and quickly eradicates it when it happens to crop up.