Florida Man Thought COVID Crisis Was Fake . . .

You can guess the rest.

NBC (“He thought the coronavirus was ‘a fake crisis.’ Then he contracted it and changed his mind.“):

A Florida man who thought the coronavirus was “a fake crisis” has changed his mind after he and his wife contracted COVID-19.

Brian Hitchens, a rideshare driver who lives in Jupiter, downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus in Facebook posts in March and April.

“I’m honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be,” he wrote in a post on April 2. “Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

In mid-April, Hitchens, 46, began documenting his and his wife’s health on Facebook.

“Been home sick for over a week. Both my wife and I home sick,” he wrote in a post on April 18. “I’ve got no energy and all I want to do is sleep.”

A day later, Hitchens and his wife, Erin, were admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Hitchens said in a Facebook post.

Hitchens could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. The voicemail box for a number listed for him is full.

There have been at least 46,442 cases of the coronavirus in Florida — with 1,997 deaths — reported as of Monday morning, according to state health data.

In a lengthy post on May 12, Hitchens said that he was once among those who thought the coronavirus “is a fake crisis” that was “blown out of proportion” and “wasn’t that serious.”

That changed when he started to feel sick in April and stopped working, he wrote.

Hitchens said he “had just enough energy” to drive himself and his wife to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center on April 19, where they both tested positive for the virus.

“They admitted us right away and we both went to ICU,” he wrote. “I started feeling better within a few days but my wife got worse to the point where they sedated her and put her on the ventilator.”

[…]

“As of today my wife is still sedated and on the ventilator with no signs of improving,” Hitchens wrote. “There were a couple times were they tried to start weaning her off the ventilator but as soon as they’ve done that her oxygen level dropped and they had to put her back on the ventilator full time.”

He said his wife of eight years has been sick “quite a few times” in the past and she always fought through. This time, he said, “I have come to accept that my wife may pass away.”

Hitchens, who has seen his wife infrequently since they were hospitalized, said he was holding out hope she would recover.

“This thing is nothing to be messed with please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts,” he wrote. “We don’t have to fear this and by heeding the advice doesn’t mean that you fear it that means you’re showing wisdom during this epidemic time.”

[…]

“Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn’t and perhaps I’m paying the price for it now,” he wrote. If he passed the virus on to his wife, he said, he knows that she and God forgive him.

That the report begins “A Florida man” is too much to ignore but this isn’t a hilarious escapade. One suspects Hitchens was just responding to information he was getting from his President, governor, pastor, and news sources.

By April 2, much of the country had closed schools and issued some manner of lockdown orders; we were two weeks in here in Virginia by that point. But Florida’s governor was still two days away from issuing such an order.

And while he should, of course, been wearing a mask while driving for a ride sharing company and thus in constant close proximity to a variety of strangers, that’s obvious only in hindsight. The CDC, Dr. Fauci, and other health experts were actually urging Americans to save the masks for health care workers and others who actually needed them. We didn’t start hearing that the rest of us should “maybe” consider wearing masks until March 31 and that didn’t become official advice until April 3. Until literally the day before, the CDC still said,

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Those who are supposed to protect people like Hitchens failed him.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19
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. grumpy realist says:

    I doubt that even if the CDC had earlier provided information about wearing masks that it would have protected this individual. “Better be cautious” wouldn’t have worked–I doubt he would have admitted to the existence of COVID-19 in any other way than by catching it himself.

    7
  2. Bill says:

    A parishioner told* my Dear wife she thought the coronavirus was a hoax. Dear wife told the parishioner about her sister who works in a New York City and the many patients she has had to put on a ventilator. We also have two nephews working as nurses in the Philippines.

    *This happened around a week or two ago and I mentioned it in one of the open forum posts. The elderly parishioner is misguided but otherwise very kind. She gave DW and I financial assistance on multiple occasions when we were in dire financial straits because of my cancer battle.

    9
  3. Kylopod says:

    a rideshare driver who lives in Jupiter

    Wrong preposition.

    12
  4. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: Jupiter doesn’t have a hard surface, so not necessarily. 😉

    18
  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    This is a tragedy. My sympathies are especially strong for his wife:I believe only about 12% of New York patients who went on a ventilator eventually came off of it.

    9
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    In other reality bites news, a Georgia church closes down 2 weeks after opening due the spread of Covid19 to several families.

    Reportedly the congregation practiced social distancing and only 25% of the membership actually attended the services.

    Regarding our Florida man, hope he gets better and it is encouraging that he has learned from the experience.

    5
  7. JKB says:

    The “face covering” the CDC recommends even today are not protection for the wearer. They are a talisman based on the supposition of trapping large spittle “droplets” that someone with the virus (even if asymptomatic) might expel into the mouths and noses of others. The face coverings do no stop the discharge of aerosolized virus fragments into the air.

    The CDC does not recommend people wear N95 and surgical masks, which have some virus filtering ability. Even then, one could build up a cumulative virus load over a prolonged exposure.

    The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

    Of course, knowledge is always better than unexplained instruction. Advisories should emphasize avoiding prolonged close-range, face-to-face conversations or prolonged sharing of poorly-ventilated spaces as the other person may be shedding virus. Control of mouth and nose so that ejected spittle doesn’t impact another’s face and nose. (Control that spittle-maker).

    1
  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    This is a kinda-not-really off topic, but consistently the strangest post-covid environment i find myself in is menards. I rehab properties as a side hustle (no, it’s not going well at the moment why do you ask?) so I’m in chain and local hardware stores all the time. Here, at least, Menards has had the best response. No one comes in without a mask. Employees have PPE’s based on their job (outside workers, dust mask. Customer service reps, n95 or face shield). Security guards at every entrance asking you about your health before you are allowed to enter. 6 foot markings at every register. Yet, I’ve encountered covid-denial every single time I’ve gone. It’s like employees are coached to let you know they live in crazy town.

    “excuse me, do you have this flap wheel in 150 grit.”

    “No we don’t… But they got them in Wisconsin and Michigan and that Wisconsin governor wants to see Menards go outta business so he’s personally making sure we can’t get no shipments. I tell you, this is all the biggest hoax I’ve ever seen.”

    [later at checkout, and this is not an exaggeration]

    “Did you find everything you need?”
    “I did thank you.”
    “You know if you follow the money it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s behind all this *gestures to the world*”
    “Oh?”
    “Nothing happens in this world unless someone wants it to.”

    6
  9. JKB says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Well, in reality, social distancing doesn’t work in a confined space for a prolonged period. This impacts not only inside church services, but also the reopening of schools, colleges, offices, etc. But that is not something the “experts” are acknowledging. Yet.

    Sadly, our public health officials are often healthcare administration majors and not people who can develop logical mitigations so rely on the 1950s playbook. On the other end, we have high technical researchers looking for a high tech (vaccine) solution. The question is where are all the environmental studies majors who should be looking for environmental mitigations.

    Officially, they don’t even acknowledge close-range aerosols. The science from the 1930s only recognizes two types of Flügge droplets, the large ones affected by gravity and airborne, i.e., those that act at distance such as with measles. But there are several studies that CoronaVirus being transmitted to those beyond the “social distance” over time, such as the Chinese restaurant transmission where those at nearby tables in the air current of an A/C being infected while others in the restaurant were not.

    5
  10. KM says:

    Those who are supposed to protect people like Hitchens failed him.

    Yes – this Administration and it’s GOP enablers failed ALL of us, especially the gullible and Florida Man types. But guess what? Its’ Hitchens’ and only Hitchens’ damn fault he got sick. He chose to ignore reality and accept the BS being shoveled him way.

    Unpopular opinion warning: I’m getting less sympathetic with every one of these stories that get trotted out. Someone doesn’t believe a crisis the ENTIRE WORLD has been having for months now and has killed over 90K in this country alone. Someone ignores the advice of MANY different sources to do what affirms their personal bias and subsequently gets themselves and an loved one sick. Sadly, someone ends up dying and it’s only then that understand what countless people have been trying to tell them – this is not a hoax, damnit.

    At this point, you have to choose to be this ignorant. You have to choose to believe this Isn’t So Bad or Dems Exaggerate to Ruin Trump or It’s No Deadlier Than The Flu. You have to ignore your eyes, ears and brain to not see how Trump and Co’s are using the government to lie to you. You have to have bought into the premise that a worldwide conspiracy is out to make Trump look bad and that “liberal facts” are intentionally deceptive. In other words, YOU failed you and just decided to use Cult45’s material to justify it. It takes a lot of cognitive dissociation and deliberate ignorance of reality to still be buying Trump’s BS to get sick in April.

    We’re going to see much, much more of this in the next few weeks. Sobbing people crying they didn’t mean to kill spouse/child/grandparent/friend – they didn’t *know*. Sick people coughing out that it turns out COVID really does exist – they didn’t *know*. Folks complaining about their dead and the economic downturn to follow like they weren’t repeatedly warned – they didn’t *know*. Folks who will regret their stance of masks and “free the barbers!” once it hits their small town like a freight train – they didn’t *know*.

    YES YOU DID. You knew and you chose to disparage that knowledge. Stop trying to make the rest of us feel bad for you choosing to bring death to your loved ones and destruction to this nation. People like Hitchens are a direct threat to the safety and security of this nation by spreading plague because they prefer Trump’s lies to the truth. I’m saving my empathy for the victims of Hitchens who’s names we’ll never know – the people he spread it to and possibly killed while still denying COVID was a problem.

    45
  11. @JKB:

    Well, in reality, social distancing doesn’t work in a confined space for a prolonged period

    So, are you advocating for expanded stay at home policies?

    37
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JKB:

    Well, in reality, social distancing doesn’t work in a confined space for a prolonged period.

    Which is why churches should never have reopened. Thank you for proving the point that you continually argue against.

    35
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    He said his wife of eight years has been sick “quite a few times” in the past and she always fought through. This time, he said, “I have come to accept that my wife may pass away.”

    My heart goes out to him.

    13
  14. mattbernius says:

    And while he should, of course, been wearing a mask while driving for a ride sharing company and thus in constant close proximity to a variety of strangers, that’s obvious only in hindsight. The CDC, Dr. Fauci, and other health experts were actually urging Americans to save the masks for health care workers and others who actually needed them. We didn’t start hearing that the rest of us should “maybe” consider wearing masks until March 31 and that didn’t become official advice until April 3.

    When the Medical and Science Historians finally get around to writing the history of the pandemic, I expect the chapters on the internal debates around masking guidance will be some of the most interesting sections of the books. My guess is that it will be a great example of trying to balance medical information with policy concerns, supply constraints, and the politics of perception.

    All I hope is that all of the source documents are being preserved and that people won’t feel constrained by any NDA agreements put in place by the current administration.

    10
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    The “face covering” the CDC recommends even today are not protection for the wearer.

    Yes, they are. Here, so simple even you could understand it if you cared: brush some paint on a doorknob in lieu of virus. Touch the doorknob and touch your nose. Now do it with a face covering. See? See how without a covering you get paint on your nose? Duh?

    The fact that the virus is small enough to pass through the mesh of a cloth mask does not address the fact that the virus is present on particles and droplets which are themselves stopped by the cloth.

    26
  16. rachel says:

    @JKB:

    The “face covering” the CDC recommends even today are not protection for the wearer.

    No, what they are is protection for people the wearer meets if the wearer happens to be infected.

    And without testing, there’s not much way to know whether you’re infectious or not.

    27
  17. Mikey says:

    @JKB: It will surprise nobody to learn you are once again full of shit.

    A RAPID SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE EFFICACY OF FACE MASKS AND RESPIRATORS AGAINST CORONAVIRUSES AND OTHER RESPIRATORY TRANSMISSIBLE VIRUSES FOR THE COMMUNITY, HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND SICK PATIENTS

    The study suggests that community mask use by well people could be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19, where transmission may be pre-symptomatic. The studies of masks as source control also suggest a benefit, and may be important during the COVID-19 pandemic in universal community face mask use as well as in health care settings.

    Serious question: are you a masochist? What do you get out of coming here and getting your ass handed to you so regularly?

    30
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @KM:

    At this point, you have to choose to be this ignorant. You have to choose to believe this Isn’t So Bad or Dems Exaggerate to Ruin Trump or It’s No Deadlier Than The Flu. You have to ignore your eyes, ears and brain to not see how Trump and Co’s are using the government to lie to you. You have to have bought into the premise that a worldwide conspiracy is out to make Trump look bad and that “liberal facts” are intentionally deceptive. In other words, YOU failed you and just decided to use Cult45’s material to justify it. It takes a lot of cognitive dissociation and deliberate ignorance of reality to still be buying Trump’s BS to get sick in April

    Exactly. This is why I harp on the Idiot/Liar dichotomy. There are people so lacking in IQ, through no fault of their own, that they cannot absorb the facts. But they aren’t the problem. The problem is people like @JKB who choose to believe lies, or at least pretend to believe, and in his case choose to spread those lies as well.

    Believing nonsense is a choice, which leads me back to another point I harp on, that religion is the original suspension of disbelief and acts as a gateway drug for subsequent lies. It’s not coincidence that people holding to the most primitive iterations of religion are those most susceptible to Trumpian lies.

    17
  19. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Indeed. Masks are not intended to be perfect protection like a HAZMAT suit. It’s to limit exposure because even 20% less chance of getting something that can kill you or your family is better then nothing. To cite a video game Youtube video discussing the terrible weapon mechanics and options – “This {picture of feather duster} is better then THIS {picture of ambulance, full sirens wailing}”

    As someone who wears glasses and would pay through the nose of something that prevents fog up, masks suck big time. I’m aware my hand-sewn cloth mask with coffee filter wouldn’t pass muster in a hospital. However, it will be enough to help me in a grocery store or crowd provided you don’t cough right in my face. That’s all I need to be able to function – good enough to get on with life.

    16
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mikey:

    Serious question: are you a masochist? What do you get out of coming here and getting your ass handed to you so regularly?

    It’s a version of Christian ‘witnessing.’ A ritual that earns @JKB brownie points in his mind. That he convinces no one is irrelevant, because if you are witnessing, the spreading of the lie is an end in itself, a religious ritual, like the rosary. It’s an act of faith. And the humiliation just adds to the sense of persecution.

    14
  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    Well, in reality, social distancing doesn’t work in a confined space for a prolonged period. This impacts not only inside church services, but also the reopening of schools, colleges, offices, etc. But that is not something the “experts” are acknowledging. Yet.

    This is just total and utterly complete nonsense…unless you are considering Fox and Friends as experts.
    The actual experts are warning against re-opening. Experts like your Dear Leader are saying “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.”

    18
  22. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Is that why 95South turns up here? I know she’s claimed that her mission is to point people toward the truth.

    5
  23. wr says:

    @JKB: “Control of mouth and nose so that ejected spittle doesn’t impact another’s face and nose”

    Well, yes. That’s what the mask if for.

    Honestly, I can’t tell what game you’re playing now. I guess you’ve decided you look like a complete moron denying the existence of the virus any longer, and perhaps even you have enough of a soul to realize that screaming to ignore all safety protocols is tantamount to encouraging suffering and death.

    So now you’re taking on the role of the wise man who sees through all the petty gyrations of the bureaucracy, which are aimed at those less sophisticated than you. You kindly explain what is deficient in the way people are being asked to address life while pretending that this is necessary because the administration you worship has completely screwed up any alternatives. And you generously share with us the wisdom that everyone here has known for weeks while you’ve been alternating between “it’s all a hoax” and “it’s a Chinese superweapon.”

    I guess it’s a step in the right direction. But I hope you’ll forgive me for not cheering…

    14
  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    Did JKB wake up and think “For breakfast today, i believe a sound spanking would be splendid?”

    11
  25. wr says:

    @CSK: “s that why 95South turns up here? I know she’s claimed”

    Just wondering — do you have reason to believethat 95S is female, or are you just trying to annoy him?

    5
  26. CSK says:

    @wr:
    I suspect that 95South is female on the basis of a few things she’s said. I could be wrong, of course.

    1
  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @wr:
    @CSK:
    I’m pretty sure she is a woman of color.

  28. dmichael says:

    Since the beginning of this year when news of the Covid-19 virus and its spread became public, I have read more “medical advice” from those who have no medical training, let alone specialized training in epidemiology. JKB’s effusions are but the latest example. The politicization of public health is killing people.

    5
  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    There have been at least 46,442 cases of the coronavirus in Florida — with 1,997 deaths — reported as of Monday morning, according to state health data.

    There is EVERY reason to believe that these numbers are vastly under-counted.
    Testing in FL is not extensive, and prone to manipulation by the Trump sycophantic Governor.
    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article242773056.html

    8
  30. Teve says:

    ?

    It’s a version of Christian ‘witnessing.’ A ritual that earns @JKB brownie points in his mind. That he convinces no one is irrelevant, because if you are witnessing, the spreading of the lie is an end in itself, a religious ritual, like the rosary. It’s an act of faith. And the humiliation just adds to the sense of persecution.

    There’s got to be something to that. I hang out on a Facebook discussion board where we talk about what the creationists-excuse me Intelligent Design Theorists-are up to these days, and every few days this guy named Chuck R***** shows up and posts some idiotic nonsense like “new fossil discovery destroys Darwin!” or a YouTube video like “shocking geology discovery proves global flood!”. And every time, ten or eleven or so scientists and science-adjacent people explain, brick-by-brick, what the tabloid article or YouTube video got wrong, in detail, with links to papers and textbooks, historical discussions of how we know this is wrong etc.

    I’ve now seen Chuck R***** do this probably 20 or 30 times. And each time, he is comprehensively refuted by people in multiple fields. How many times would you or I have to be refuted in detail by a community, before we got the clue that maybe we didn’t know what the fuck we were talking about? but two days ago, he did just this again. And tomorrow or the next day he’s going to come back with another link, and he’s going to get his ass handed back to him in pieces. And next week he’s going to be back…

    10
  31. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Really? My mental image of 95South is of a sappy, self-infatuated Caucasian woman.

    3
  32. Mister Bluster says:

    95 South posts here to whine about not being noticed.

    Don’t you notice I said things I’ve never said before, paraphrasing or even quoting word for word the earlier comment I was complaining about?

    For context go to Monday’s Forum thread at 15:53…

    I do not think that I have assigned gender to 95South. After all 95 South is an Interstate Highway.
    A slab.
    When the early Interstates were being built in these parts we called them Super Slab!

    1
  33. KM says:

    @Teve:
    If you’ve never seen them, I highly recommend The Alt-Right Playbook. In particular, you want to see Always a Bigger Fish, The Card Says Moops and Never Play Defense as it addresses this kind of behavior.

    Briefly, people who drive-by shitpost (and really, that’s what a lot of our resident trolls are doing) never intend to make a point. The purpose is to get you upset and on the defense because in their minds it makes you look weak. Facts don’t matter, logic doesn’t matter and really, what they believe doesn’t matter. The point is for you to challenge it and thus give them validity as having something worth confronting. They must be right because you got upset enough to tell them they are wrong.

    6
  34. An Interested Party says:

    This is not an isolated case…there are others who doubted this pandemic and paid a heavy price

    I’m pretty sure she is a woman of color.

    Oh great…maybe she’s Diamond or Silk…

    3
  35. Jay L Gischer says:

    Yes, the “Florida Man” framing is noteworthy. Mr. Hitchens represents how I expect a lot of Americans to behave. They will be highly skeptical of abstract ideas told to them, but will reverse themselves and become practical when they come face-to-face with the reality behind those ideas. We still call Missouri the “Show Me” state, and the phrase “I’m from Missouri” is one I used to hear a lot.

    I know this because I have relatives like this. They are decent people and I love them. I don’t want them to have experiences like Mr. Hitchens.

    4
  36. Kylopod says:

    @KM: George Hawley’s book Making Sense of the Alt-right quotes the following excerpt from the alt-right website The Right Stuff:

    You should assume that you will never manage to convince your ideological enemies of the merit of your position. Rather, the purpose of trolling is to convince people reading your comments of the merit of your position. On many different web forums, lurkers outnumber posters 10 to 1. The purpose of trolling raids is to convince these anonymous people, not the person you disagree with. As such, you can win hearts and minds even when met with universal opposition.

    Of course the above is a massive whitewash; they’re making it sound like trolling is some kind of intellectual persuasion exercise, when we all know what it amounts to is throwing crap against the wall in the hopes that at least some of it will stick.

    I’m not convinced JKB is a conscious or intentional troll. Michael Reynolds’ analogy with Christian “witnessing” is a good one. It’s even consistent with some level of intellectual dishonesty–lying for a cause one believes in. Trolls, as a rule, are more blatantly nihilistic. But whatever the motivations, the behavior is still remarkably similar.

    6
  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh and James? That picture at the top of the post has the damndest looking beaver I’ve ever seen.

    1
  38. Kylopod says:

    Deleted. Disregard this post. My comment finally showed up.

  39. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    Unpopular opinion warning:

    The upvote count says different.

    But you know what really bothers me? This passage in the quoted story: “I’m honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be,” he wrote in a post on April 2. “Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

    Do you think he’d say the same thing about a bullet? Is his god bigger than the cars on the freeway? Would he trust his god and wade among a pride of hungry lions?

    I’ve read that during the Plague of Justinian, people would crowd in churches and cathedrals to pray for protection from the disease, certain they were safe inside their god’s house. They knew no better, perhaps. But it’s sad some people have learned nothing in the 1500 years or so since.

    I do feel bad about such people. Not so much because they fell ill, but because, as you point out, they allowed themselves to fall for cheap conspiratorial claptrap.

    12
  40. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    This is weird. I think I saw your post before you did.

    1
  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be

    The religious, and this is true of people of all faiths, believe that God is on their side. If bad things happen to them it’s because God has a plan. I have a different theory of God.

    That the laws of nature are god’s way of saying “Fuck you.”

    6
  42. JohnMcC says:

    @Kathy: A great sadness lodged in the sad story of our Mr Hitchens is the loss of his faith. He has discovered that either God is not greater than a virus or, worse, that God doesn’t care enough about Mr and Mrs Hitchens to exercise His power over a little blob of RNA. And that he’ll likely face that thought while dealing with the guilt and emptiness of losing his wife.

    4
  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    The original claim was that MAGA was all about jobs and the economy. The economy roars and there is zero change to MAGA poll numbers. The economy crashes and there is also zero change to MAGA poll numbers. Any other politician in history – Reagan, George HW, the other Bush – would see their numbers rise and fall. But the MAGA number is frozen stiff at ~43%.

    That is not politics, contra Dr. Steven, that is religious faith.

    In particular it is white evangelicals. They are by far the largest component of Trump supporters. And no, it is not just about anti-choice judges, that’s nonsense, they’d have the same judges with any Republican and the polling would go up or down depending on other factors. Attempts by rational people to rationalize Trumpism always fail because they are applying logic to blind, self-harming faith. Rational people don’t get faith, and people of faith don’t get reason. Never the twain shall meet.

    Thankfully the younger generations aren’t having it. This is the last march of the dinosaurs. They’ll rage and stomp their feet and do some damage, but in the end they lose.

    16
  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    It’s an interesting puzzle for alt-history. If we sent a team of doctors back in time to 14th century Europe would the doctors be able to change minds? The assumption of rational people is that sure, because they’d be curing people. The more realistic answer is that the priests would have them hanged or burned and 99% of the hoi polloi would applaud.

    12
  45. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m pretty sure she is a woman of color running a pirate ship off the coast of the Carolinas, coming in to shore periodically to pillage and post. She probably has an eyepatch.

    Guanoberries is her parrot. Less intelligent, repeating phrases picked up on zerohedge entirely out of context and delighting in the attention.

    5
  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The more realistic answer is that the priests would have them hanged or burned and 99% of the hoi polloi would applaud.

    Things went to hell in a handbasket when burning heretics at the stake fell out of fashion.

    2
  47. Scott says:

    @Teve:

    There’s got to be something to that. I hang out on a Facebook discussion board where we talk about what the creationists-excuse me Intelligent Design Theorists-are up to these days, and every few days this guy named Chuck R***** shows up and posts some idiotic nonsense like “new fossil discovery destroys Darwin!” or a YouTube video like “shocking geology discovery proves global flood!”. And every time, ten or eleven or so scientists and science-adjacent people explain, brick-by-brick, what the tabloid article or YouTube video got wrong, in detail, with links to papers and textbooks, historical discussions of how we know this is wrong etc.

    I’m a practicing Christian in a mainstream protestant denomination. We accept science and are not biblical literalists. The responders are going about it all wrong. What you got to say is that constantly looking for proof of your faith is a strong indicator of your lack of faith. Faith does not require proof. It just is.

    10
  48. @Michael Reynolds:

    That is not politics, contra Dr. Steven, that is religious faith.

    First, what in human history suggests that politics and religion are not often conjoined?

    Second, what is your argument that entrenched partisanship in a binary system can’t produce the outcomes we are seeing with the polling?

    Third,

    any Republican and the polling would go up or down depending on other factors.

    Maybe. The past is not a great guide, given that the era of polarization really only starts in the mid-1990s and doesn’t really become entrenched until much later, maybe not until 2010.

    Fourth, to build on the partisanship angle: you are ignoring the stability of Dem disapproval. In previous, non-polarized eras you would have expected good economics times (especially low unemployment) to lead to Trump getting some positive love from Dems, even if they were unlikely to vote for him (presidential approval is often a proxy for how the population feels about the economy). And yet, the numbers have been almost unchanged for three years. Neither low unemployment, high stock markets, nor impeachment and other scandals have moved the needle.

    For your hypothesis to be sound, self-proclaimed Rs would have to be steady in their opinions while self-proclaimed Ds should move around in their approval as per the past.

    Why haven’t they? Entrenched polarization across the board explains the outcomes better than your theory that it is religion, not politics (which, TBH, doesn’t make sense in a literal way insofar as they don’t actually treat Trump as a god).

    Your analysis is only looking at the stability of R support only while ignoring the same stability in D behavior. That is a clear sign of polarization.

    We are seeing systematic behaviors across the whole population that your hypothesis does not account for.

    Take the following not as confrontational, but friendly exasperation: you often have noted you come here to learn from people who know more about things than you do, so why are you discounting my POV on the power of partisan identity? And I am not saying you should take everything I say as gospel (if I may use that term in this context)–but I think you are being overly dismissive.

    6
  49. @Michael Reynolds:

    In particular it is white evangelicals. They are by far the largest component of Trump supporters. And no, it is not just about anti-choice judges, that’s nonsense, they’d have the same judges with any Republican and the polling would go up or down depending on other factors. Attempts by rational people to rationalize Trumpism always fail because they are applying logic to blind, self-harming faith. Rational people don’t get faith, and people of faith don’t get reason. Never the twain shall meet.

    BTW, are you really saying that only “rational” behavior can be defined as “politics”? This a rather ahistoric POV 🙂

    4
  50. Kari Q says:

    I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be

    there’s an old joke. You’ve probably all heard it: A man is on the roof of his house as flood waters rise. A jeep pulls up, driver offers him a ride, the man declines saying “The Lord will provide.” Jeep drives away. Waters rise. A motorboat pulls up, driver offers him a ride, man declines saying “The Lord will provide.” Boat drives off. Waters rise. A helicopter comes over, pilot offers him a ride, the man declines saying “The Lord will provide.” Helicopter leaves. Waters rise, sweep man off the roof, he drowns.

    In heaven he says “God, I trusted you and you didn’t provide.”
    God says, “I sent the Jeep. I sent the boat. I sent the helicopter.”

    Yes, of course God is more powerful than the virus. He sent you hand sanitizer and social distancing and masks. Take advantage of what the Lord is providing.

    21
  51. Nightcrawler says:

    @KM:

    I agree with you. I have zero sympathy for people like this. As you said, at some point, they chose to be this ignorant and stupid.

    Sobbing people crying they didn’t mean to kill spouse/child/grandparent/friend – they didn’t *know*.

    I’d tell them, right to their ugly faces, that if they truly felt that badly, they’d go stand in front of a train, eat a gun, or otherwise take themselves out. That’s what I’d do if I murdered an innocent — and murder is what these “people” are doing. I couldn’t live with having committed murder. Killing the guilty in self-defense, yes, but not the murder of an innocent.

    On that note, I suspect we’re going to see a rise in familial homicides and murder-suicides as those situations unfold. Other relatives might not be too happy about the sobbing Infected having committed murder, especially knowing the legal system won’t do a damn thing to them; they’ll just get away with it. At least some of those people will take matters into their own hands.

    Put me on that jury, and I’d acquit them.

    5
  52. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    For your hypothesis to be sound, self-proclaimed Rs would have to be steady in their opinions while self-proclaimed Ds should move around in their approval as per the past.

    Why haven’t they?

    While I agree with your over all position, I would just point out that Trump has never reached out to those who did not support him. To the contrary, he has ceaselessly attacked, mocked, and belittled those who do not support him. It’s likely that the disapproval would have been pretty solid any way, but he’s the first president of my lifetime not only to show no interest in winning the support of those who do not already support but who is actively driving them away.

    16
  53. Scott says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    First, what in human history suggests that politics and religion are not often conjoined?

    Completely tangential but this immediately brought to mind this quote from Dune, the 1965 SF novel by Frank Herbert.

    When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.

    5
  54. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I realize that sounds like common sense but filters are a case where common sense doesn’t really apply. In reality the diameter of the virus itself is way way smaller than the average pathway through even a HEPA filter, much less an N95 one. Filters aren’t like screens, keeping out things larger than the grid size, that’s just not how they work.

    As for a fabric mask, it’s unclear if it stops virus on a droplet from eventually migrating through the mask. We just don’t know. Bottom line is that we don’t know if wearing a cloth mask benefits the wearer in any way, although we do know that it benefits everyone else if the wearer has C19.

    2
  55. @Kari Q:

    I would just point out that Trump has never reached out to those who did not support him. To the contrary, he has ceaselessly attacked, mocked, and belittled those who do not support him. It’s likely that the disapproval would have been pretty solid any way, but he’s the first president of my lifetime not only to show no interest in winning the support of those who do not already support but who is actively driving them away.

    Sure. And there are a variety of things that are unique, or at least extremely unusual, about this president. Many of which strengthen the polarization of which I speak.

    But any explanation of the stability in R support can’t ignore the similar stability in D lack of support.

    5
  56. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t fully agree with you. I can only speak for myself, in that I have become much more partisan in the last decade or so. I once was a left-leaning Independent, who believed Republicans in general had the best interests of the country in mind, even though I usually disagreed with their policies and ideas (and thus generally voted Democratic). Watching their behavior during the Obama administration led me to change my affiliation to Democrat, and to no longer trust anything from Republicans, no matter how reasonable an individual one might seem on the surface.

    However, my partisanship doesn’t fully explain my disapproval of Trump. I loathe the man because he is a loathsome human being with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I don’t feel this level of hatred for most Republicans, other than Mitch McConnell and some of the toadies in Trump’s administration. So I moved in my feelings about Republicans from “don’t agree with” to “distrust” (where I place most Republicans these days) to “loathe” (feelings for certain ones of them: e.g., Trump, McConnell, Stephen Miller).

    19
  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mikey:

    Serious question: are you a masochist? What do you get out of coming here and getting your ass handed to you so regularly?

    The Alt-Right Playbook: Control the Conversation

    What is the purpose of debate? The liberal conception of debate is usually along the lines of Joseph Joubert’s adage, “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” You’re thinking Plato and Glaucon, or, maybe, debate club: two sides debate until one side wins or until a third conclusion is reached together; either way, the goal of debate is to arrive at the truth.

    That’s not what debate means on the Right. There, debate is a chance to perform strength, integrity, and certainty. There, you don’t debate until a victor is declared, you debate as long as you can keep eyeballs on you, forever if possible. There, the truth doesn’t win, because nobody wins, not in any formal way. You may scoff at that, but let’s think about it: this is how political debates are structured in the US, where two candidates come in already knowing everything they’re going to say, where it’s political suicide to concede any point or find any compromise, and where who “won” is up to the voters. In such a framework, truth and falsity don’t exist; all that matters is how much of the audience agrees with you. And, if that’s your framework, then what’s in your best interest is to steer the conversation swiftly and efficiently to something you and your opponent will never agree on, because that gives you the most opportunities to look firm in front of an adversary.

    5
  58. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Is surface-to-finger-to-nose a pathway? If so then cloth masks protect.

    1
  59. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    As side note here, one of my weird opinions I’ve come to believe lately is that formal debate clubs are actually a bad thing. They’re based on the premise that the actual position one is arguing is irrelevant and that only the form of the argument actually matters. That the height of intellectual achievement is being able to argue one viewpoint today and then argue the exact opposite viewpoint tomorrow just as effectively.

    12
  60. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey: This summary of research cited above looks good, but it mentions that only one study was done on cloth face masks, that it compared nurses wearing them to nurses wearing medical masks, that it did not compare cloth masks to no masks, and that it was looking at prevention of the nurses getting sick rather than the prevention of the patient from transmitting. The conclusion was that in those circumstances cloth masks were 13 times less effective than medical masks and may actually have been harmful.

    If anyone is interested enough in this, the podcast “Science Vs.” has a pretty good rundown in plain (if Australian accented) English.

    And just to stress, this doesn’t say anything about cloth masks being effective amongst groups that are minimizing contact and trying to adhere to social distancing. The assumption there is that it does benefit the non infected when infected people wear masks.

    1
  61. CSK says:

    @Kari Q:
    Part of the reason Trump shows no interest in winning over his non-supporters may be that he doesn’t believe he has enough non-supporters to be worth the effort. He once said (tweeted) that if it weren’t for the lying press, his approval rating would be 75%. Now, I don’t know whether he meant by that that the press was deliberately concealing his allegedly spectacularly high ratings or that their refusal to acknowledge all the wonderful things about him was artificially depressing his ratings. But it’s undeniable that Trump lives in his own bubble, in which it’s absolutely necessary for him to believe things that are palpably untrue.

    2
  62. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: having grown up in the Deep South, whenever I hear “white evangelical”, the word that always rides along in parentheses is “racist”. Trump’s fundamental appeal is racism. Trump’s basic appeal doesn’t fluctuate because the racism doesn’t fluctuate.

    8
  63. Teve says:

    @Scott:

    I’m a practicing Christian in a mainstream protestant denomination. We accept science and are not biblical literalists. The responders are going about it all wrong. What you got to say is that constantly looking for proof of your faith is a strong indicator of your lack of faith. Faith does not require proof. It just is.

    That comes up literally all the time. It came up this week on the creationist site Uncommon Descent. It makes exactly as much headway as any other argument.

    FWIW my good friend Wesley is a committed christian and evolutionary biologist. I wasn’t generalizing about Christians in general. 😀

    1
  64. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But any explanation of the stability in R support can’t ignore the similar stability in D lack of support.

    Recall that after 9/11, Bush enjoyed over 80% approval from Democrats. Now you might say the reason that’s not possible today is the increased polarization, but there’s a chicken-and-egg element to that explanation. Bush is the most recent Republican president before Trump, and he did have some ability to act as a unifying figure. And it wasn’t increased polarization that did in his popularity in the end, it was the country descending into a hellhole on his watch.

    If instead of President Trump we’d have gotten a President Kasich or Romney, I think they’d have enjoyed fairly high approval ratings while the economy was doing well.

    19
  65. Monala says:

    @KM: your posts have been on fire lately! Between this one and the one on the killers of Ahmaud Arbery thread where you talked about how the NRA has redefined self-defense to only mean armed self-defense, you’re laying out the truth.

    5
  66. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think the same thing.

    IIRC one of the ancient greeks thought ill of Rhetoric for the same reason.

    2
  67. wr says:

    @CSK: Interesting. I’ve caught none of it. But then my eyes do start to glaze over…

    1
  68. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Part of the reason Trump shows no interest in winning over his non-supporters may be that he doesn’t believe he has enough non-supporters to be worth the effort.

    I think it also relates to what I discussed the other day–his insatiable neediness. He seeks out his hardcore fans because they’re the only people giving him the validation he desperately craves. There are, no doubt, opinions from within his bubble suggesting that he only needs his base for political survival, and that it’s better for him the closer he sticks with them. This narrative has been offered to explain why all the eggheads were wrong in 2016, and even in 2018 a narrative emerged in some circles that the double-down on the base following the Kavanaugh hearings helped stave off worse losses.

    Ultimately, though, he clings to those narratives because they’re what he wants to believe, as his mob of adoring followers are his drug, and trying to expand his appeal is asking him to step outside his comfort zone in a way he simply can’t tolerate.

    3
  69. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    “…opinions from within his bubble suggesting that he only needs his base for political survival…”
    Implicit in the idea that he only needs his base for political survival is the belief that his base is very big indeed, isn’t it? And Trump would need, desperately, to believe that he’s adored and supported by the majority of people.

    2
  70. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    On taking office, emotionally healthy presidents and Nixon, quickly assert that they are the president of all Americans. Of course their political enemies won’t concede this, except in a dire emergency, where the rally around the flag effect overcomes politics. GWB was a personification of this, he was on record as claiming to be a president for all Americans, had made the calls to have partisanship put aside and had a demonstrated capacity for empathy. In the wake of 9/11 he said the right words to comfort the nation. Unfortunately his follow up decisions were a disaster.

    4
  71. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But any explanation of the stability in R support can’t ignore the similar stability in D lack of support.

    I’d honestly be interested in hearing how your support for Trump has ebbed and flowed over his presidency. What are some of his words and achievements that have made you warm to the man?

    6
  72. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Implicit in the idea that he only needs his base for political survival is the belief that his base is very big indeed, isn’t it?

    Yes and no. Voter enthusiasm is indeed an important component to winning elections, and so a rabid, enthused base is in itself a net benefit for a candidate. It isn’t sufficient, of course, and alienating everyone outside the base is not a good strategy (especially since it helps spark enthusiasm on the other side). But it has a potential to succeed if he keeps non-base but GOP-leaning voters in his camp and faces a strongly disliked opponent, a la 2016. There’s no reason to think that’s going to happen again in this cycle, but it is the rationale behind the all-about-the-base theory, and it doesn’t require that the base be anything close to a majority of the country.

  73. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Teve:

    My issue isn’t debate itself, it’s the game-show style version of it you see in debate clubs where “should we allow capital punishment?” is treated like it’s as trivial a subject as “is Coke better than Pepsi?”

    3
  74. Monala says:

    @Stormy Dragon: many people have pointed out that town halls are a better forum for letting people know what a candidate thinks and believes. For one, the audience questions are often more thoughtful that those of debate moderators, and second, the structure allows a candidate to talk about their views in more depth. Even better are town halls with a theme: e.g, this town hall is about foreign policy; that one is about the economy; etc.

    4
  75. @Kit:

    I’d honestly be interested in hearing how your support for Trump has ebbed and flowed over his presidency. What are some of his words and achievements that have made you warm to the man?

    Your question is a a non sequitur.

    1
  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB:

    Well, in reality, social distancing doesn’t work in a confined space for a prolonged period. This impacts not only inside church services, but also the reopening of schools, colleges, offices, etc. But that is not something the “experts” are acknowledging. Yet.

    Gee, I dunno. I thought that what I’ve been hearing from Dr. Fauci was pretty clear on this issue. In fact, the only “experts” that I’ve been hearing that are not acknowledging what you mention are the one who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his co-“experts” at Treasury and the Fed.

    At the state level, leaders seem to be sorting into 2 categories–the clan of the “expert” at 1600 Penn. and people who are criticized by him.

    4
  77. @Monala:

    I can only speak for myself

    And individual positions are not the point. Aggregate behavior is.

    1
  78. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    First, what in human history suggests that politics and religion are not often conjoined?

    Second, what is your argument that entrenched partisanship in a binary system can’t produce the outcomes we are seeing with the polling?

    I don’t accept polarization as the explanation because I think polarization is an effect, not a cause in itself. Polarization is the fever not the underlying disease. From whence came the polarization? We didn’t all wake up one morning wearing Team Blue and Team Red jerseys.

    I know of no polling that has ever remained as rock solid in the face of evidence. Do you? When a war goes bad, polls change. When the economy goes bad, polls change. Politics is about jobs and the economy and social issues and government, and as those factors change, polls should (with some lag) begin to follow. They always have. Religion, however, is impervious to evidence. So what does an unprecedented, rock solid 43% in any and all circumstances tell you? It tells me that Trump voters are not responding to political issues, but rather to issues of identity, and the identity at the core of Trumpism is not Republican conservatism, but evangelical Christianity.

    The past is not a great guide, given that the era of polarization really only starts in the mid-1990s and doesn’t really become entrenched until much later, maybe not until 2010.

    you are ignoring the stability of Dem disapproval. In previous, non-polarized eras you would have expected good economics times (especially low unemployment) to lead to Trump getting some positive love from Dems, even if they were unlikely to vote for him (presidential approval is often a proxy for how the population feels about the economy). And yet, the numbers have been almost unchanged for three years. Neither low unemployment, high stock markets, nor impeachment and other scandals have moved the needle.

    That is genteel whataboutism. You saw Democrat polling rise and fall all during the Obama era. What changed? It wasn’t us. You might have an argument if Trump had tried to reach out to Democrats. Did he? No. Rather the contrary, he takes every opportunity to attack and defame Democrats. So, no, it would not make sense for Democrats who are regularly poked in the eye, and who overwhelmingly see Trump as evil, and who are to a large degree members of ethnic, sexual or religious groups toward whom Trump is openly hostile, to support the guy poking them in the eye. Would you expect a black Alabaman to support a KKK governor because he likes the governor’s infrastructure plan?

    Your analysis is only looking at the stability of R support only while ignoring the same stability in D behavior. That is a clear sign of polarization.

    Sub in, say, Romney. I will guarantee you that if Romney were in office you’d see Democratic numbers and GOP both numbers rise and fall. Make it Rubio, ditto. Romney and Rubio are politicians, Trump is a cult figure. A cult figure who has built his cult on absolute rejection of anyone not willing to worship him. It would require a high degree of masochism for any Dem to support Trump, whereas there are people right here in comments who would support, or at least consider, a Romney or a Rubio. Our polarization is the inevitable result of electing someone whose support is based in a cult of personality committed to its hatred of us.

    Nazis hate Jews ≠ Jews hate Nazis.

    Take the following not as confrontational, but friendly exasperation: you often have noted you come here to learn from people who know more about things than you do, so why are you discounting my POV on the power of partisan identity? And I am not saying you should take everything I say as gospel (if I may use that term in this context)–but I think you are being overly dismissive.

    I have the greatest respect for you, Steven, and I honor the erudition you have in the field of political science. I just think you’re wrong about this. Polarization fits your poli sci paradigm, as one would expect of a poli sci professor. My paradigm is more about motivation, as you’d expect from a writer. I don’t think that down in people’s lizard brain a label like Republican or Democrat has much meaning. I think people do things out of fear or greed or lust or any number of things, and if I’m looking for root explanations that’s where I go.

    12
  79. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: so are you saying that your own consistent dislike of Trump is due to partisanship?

    3
  80. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: true, but I think Kylopod’s point is a good one (ETA: and now also Michael Reynolds’): do you believe that a president Kasich or Romney have the same disapproval ratings among Democrats during a good economy as Trump? If not, then there are probably many people like me, for whom their disapproval of Trump goes beyond mere partisanship.

    5
  81. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    You’re talking about reality. I’m talking about what Trump believes, and needs to believe. These are two vastly different things.

    You’re right: It’s not 2016. And unless a lot of people are lying to the pollsters because they’re too embarrassed to say they support Trump, he’s probably cooked.

    2
  82. @Kylopod:

    If instead of President Trump we’d have gotten a President Kasich or Romney, I think they’d have enjoyed fairly high approval ratings while the economy was doing well.

    Counterfactuals are awesome, but the question that I am discussing is the degree to which the stability in public opinion is attributable to partisan polarization in the population. And, specifically, as to whether R behavior is especially different than D behavior in this period.

    MR hypothesized that R behavior is more religion-like than it is political. I countered that that that does not explain the similar stability in D behavior.

    We can get off on tangents about how we all individually feel or alternative realities, but I honestly don’t see how any of that changes my basic assertion that the basic driver of stability in public opinion is primarily a function of partisan identity in the population.

    1
  83. Mister Bluster says:

    @Stormy Dragon:..That the height of intellectual achievement is being able to argue one viewpoint today and then argue the exact opposite viewpoint tomorrow just as effectively.

    My ex-wife was in Law School when I met her. I don’t know if she considered it the height of intellectual achievement but apparently one exercise she was taught was to take the side of the prosecution in a case then formulate a defense.

    I was not a Philosophy Major so this may not be apt as a comment on this matter, but what about the Euphyphro Dilemma?
    do the gods love good action because it is good, or is good action good because it is loved by the gods?

  84. Kathy says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I mentioned this incident to a coworker a short time ago. She happens to be Mormon, and quite devout. She was indignant. She explained “that’s not how it works,” letting me know that God won’t do everything for you, that you have to protect yourself against disease, etc.

    That’s a much healthier attitude.

    4
  85. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Your question is a a non sequitur.

    I don’t think that word means what you think it does, Steven.

    2
  86. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Again, there’s a difference between “understanding other viewpoints so you can see the flaws in your own argument is good” and “viewpoints are just fashion and you shouldn’t care at all which side of an issue you’re on”

    1
  87. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Implicit in my observation is that the stability of disapproval from Democrats is at least partially caused by Trump’s courting of their disapproval.

    4
  88. @Steven L. Taylor: Put another way: the question is, what explains stable support for Trump, as well as voting outcomes (all in the aggregate). While I am not suggesting a monocausal explanation, nor am I trying to explain specific persons’ positions nor even the intensity of certain sub-groups, the bottom line is that the single most singificant variable to explain the voting outcomes in November will be partisanship. And, likewise, partisanship is the most important variable for explaining Trump approval/dissaproval, views on impeachment, and any number of other issues.

    2
  89. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m working on something I call “alternate mythology.” The idea, or theme, is to introduce rudimentary science, and rigorous reason, in the context of the aftermath of the Trojan War, where the Trojans don’t lose.

    The wrinkle is that the Olympian gods exist for real in the story (it is mythology), and they get bested by science. That is, Zeus can hurl a thunderbolt (let’s assume), and hit whatever target he wants with 100% accuracy every time, but he has no idea what the thunderbolt is.

    The mortal rubbing amber on a piece of fur doesn’t know, either. Not yet. But she can see the sparks she makes and the thunderbolt are the same thing, on vastly different scales, and she can learn more in time.

    I think the pre-classical people would be open to such ideas, especially if a god leads them in the attempt.

    2
  90. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    but I honestly don’t see how any of that changes my basic assertion that the basic driver of stability in public opinion is primarily a function of partisan identity in the population.

    Nobody disputes this, I think.

    But the more fundamental question is: What drives partisanship? Is the driver the same at the R and D sides of the spectrum?

    How can a reasonable person right now not be a flaming Democratic partisan?

    How can a reasonable person right now be a flaming Republican partisan?

    Considering the actual reality on the ground, I can’t say it’s unreasonable to argue that Republicans are in a cult. They didn’t bat an eye when the leader of their party said that injecting bleach might be a sound idea.

    I mean, come on.

    6
  91. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree with you about voting. Many a Republican who dislikes Trump will still pull the lever for him because of the R behind his name. You’ve made that point numerous times in the past, and made it well. But note that those same Republicans may be on the “disapprove” side of the polling about Trump. Likewise, a Democrat who approved of a hypothetical Pres. Romney or Rubio during good economic times is still unlikely to vote for their re-election.

    1
  92. @Kit:

    I don’t think that word means what you think it does, Steven.

    I am well aware what the term means and why I deployed it. If you want to be more explicit in asking your question, be my guest.

    1
  93. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    you often have noted you come here to learn from people who know more about things than you do, so why are you discounting my POV on the power of partisan identity?

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    the single most singificant variable to explain the voting outcomes in November will be partisanship. And, likewise, partisanship is the most important variable for explaining Trump approval/dissaproval, views on impeachment, and any number of other issues.

    Wow! I finally understand that I’m just another partisan hack. It must be nice up there in the empyrean, scorning Trump but for non-partisan reasons that we down here can only poke at. You’re right: there is a lesson to be learned.

    1
  94. Blue Galangal says:

    @Monala:

    Case in point: Mike DeWine. I can’t stand him, didn’t vote for him, but my approval of how he’s handling COVID19 in Ohio is in the high 90s, especially since he has not thrown Amy Acton under the bus. This will not of course translate into a vote for him for governor, but in terms of approval ratings, I can and will acknowledge he has done a good job. ETA: I am not planning to vote for him not because he has an (R) behind his name, although that’s a good enough reason, but because of his assault on reproductive rights.

    But the GOP itself is all in on supporting a man who mocked a disabled reporter and most recently said, during an ostensible COVID19 briefing, “They want to take your Second Amendment away, you know that, right. You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.”

    What does that even mean? How does the GOP even start to support that? It seems like only Cult45 members who speak Q understand this. The rest of us are thinking that the dementia + drug abuse may have resulted in a rotting brain that was already rotten.

    7
  95. @drj: The reasons, or reasonableness, of the partisanship really doesn’t matter for what I am saying.

    And I think you hit on why I get pushback every time I say things like this: everyone wants to assume that their positions are perfectly rational, but those other people are nuts. I get that.

    Normative assessments, however, are a different issue.

    And as much as people don’t like it, that are ways to rationing calculate out of two choices that Trump get one closer to one’s goals than does not Trump. There is a reason I have continually tried to point out the problems of a system that drives voters to a binary choice. I am pretty sure I have been talking about that for roughly a decade at least here at OTB.

    4
  96. drj says:

    To add to my previous comment: to say that both Democrats and Republicas are partisans is true.

    But this observation simultaneously obscures the fact that opposition to Trump can be grounded in reality while supporting Trump can’t be. Thus, using the explanation “partisanship” for both sides of the political spectrum is, at best, only partially illuminating.

    ETA:

    And I think you hit on why I get pushback every time I say things like this: everyone wants to assume that their positions are perfectly rational, but those other people are nuts. I get that.

    Yes. But it’s not only about what people think or perceive, it’s also about what is. There is such a thing as observable reality, after all.

    And even if we can’t get to the complete truth of what that observable reality is, we can still tell if something is a blatant lie.

    3
  97. Kingdaddy says:

    What is the point when (stupidity + ignorance) > (ability of democracy to continue)?

    3
  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    …you are ignoring the stability of Dem disapproval.

    Of course he is. Those people are not *partisans;* they’re the only people who recognize *the truth.* 😉

    2
  99. @Kit:

    Wow! I finally understand that I’m just another partisan hack. It must be nice up there in the empyrean, scorning Trump but for non-partisan reasons that we down here can only poke at. You’re right: there is a lesson to be learned.

    Which, of course, is not what I said. And, indeed, I have more than once in this thread rather explicitly noted the difference between aggregate behavior and individual views.

    But you do help confirm what I just typed:

    And I think you hit on why I get pushback every time I say things like this: everyone wants to assume that their positions are perfectly rational, but those other people are nuts. I get that.

    3
  100. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Those people are not *partisans;* they’re the only people who recognize *the truth.*

    Exactly.

    2
  101. @Kit:

    It must be nice up there in the empyrean, scorning Trump but for non-partisan reasons that we down here can only poke at. You’re right: there is a lesson to be learned.

    Sigh.

    What is it you want to say because I really don’t understand the scorn.

    2
  102. drj says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Those people are not *partisans;* they’re the only people who recognize *the truth.*

    Well, it wasn’t Democrats who came up with “alternative facts” or who made derisive remarks about the “reality-based community.”

    There is an actual difference between the two sides.

    6
  103. CSK says:

    @Blue Galangal:
    I now tend toward the theory that Trump’s word salad appeals to Cult45 for the same reason Sarah Palin’s did: They can read into it anything they like. It means whatever they want it to mean.

    9
  104. @drj:

    There is an actual difference between the two sides.

    And I am not claiming otherwise. But if you think that most partisan identification is the result of people making rational assessments, and not based on things like familial influence, identity issues and so forth, then that is where the problem with the assessment lies.

    IIRC, the most likely predictor of a person’s partisan affiliation is their parents’ partisan affiliation. In the aggregate, of couse, one’s individual mileage very well may vary.

    3
  105. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    …do the gods love good action because it is good, or is good action good because it is loved by the gods?

    Two sides of one coin?

  106. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: So, are you advocating for expanded stay at home policies?

    What about confined poorly-ventilated spaces, e.g., indoors, makes you think I would advocate increasing the internment of people, indoors? You do not have to stay home to avoid prolonged periods in confined spaces with other people. In fact, “stay at home” and especially “isolation” of the family of those ill with the virus has spread the virus. Someone who got the virus through a low virus load exposure, then locked in their house with their family will give their family members a high virus load, i.e., more severe, exposure. If those family members happen to be more vulnerable and thus stayed home more, it is more dangerous for them.

    The “experts” have killed a lot of people with their gross policies and refusal to refine them as more experience is gained. Maybe, in some dense hellhole urban area, people need to stay inside since a lot of people may be on the street, but in 99.99% of the country outside is not a crowded place.

  107. Monala says:

    @JKB: ya know, I’ve seen countless articles complaining about liberals not respecting people in conservative, rural communities, but you all seem to have no shame about calling our communities “dense hellhole urban areas.”

    18
  108. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But if you think that most partisan identification is the result of people making rational assessments, and not based on things like familial influence, identity issues and so forth, then that is where the problem with the assessment lies.

    This is a false dichotomy, obviously. I did not say (or suggest) that all Democratic partisanship is necessarily rational. I said that a) Republican partisanship is becoming increasingly irrational; and b) that, as a corollary, Democratic partisanship is becoming increasingly rational.

    Some tidbit to back this up:

    Educational gap in partisan orientation continues to grow […]

    These twin shifts have resulted in the widest educational gap in partisan identification and leaning seen at any point in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys.

    Another indication that familial influence might be losing its pull in the face of persistent Republican dishonesty:

    The generational gap in partisanship is now more pronounced than in the past

    Maybe some voters (perhaps more than you would assume based on current models) do choose their party affiliation following a rational assessment of the available alternatives.

    It seems quite likely that this particular voter preference would become increasingly visible when one of the two major parties is clearly losing its collective mind. Or perhaps the rationally-inclined voter can only take so much.

    4
  109. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj: Certainly there are actual differences. Still, I won’t be likely to find myself becoming a “rabid partisan” to either side because both sides stand against one or another value that I hold that becomes a deal breaker over all. Yes, that makes me the poster child for “the perfect being the enemy of the good.” Fortunately, I am only one non-voter in a ridiculously red county of a state that is (nationally) blue because almost 65% of the total population lives in one of 4 relatively large metros (the premiere one of which is said to be numbed 13 (iirc) in the nation–ETA: and constitutes about 45 of the 65%). I have the luxury of rising above the fray and leaving partisanship–rabid or otherwise–to those less fortunate than I am. Accrochez-toi a ton reves.

  110. @JKB: So, you are opposed to stay-at-home orders, masks, and social distancing?

    So, what are you in the favor of doing?

    4
  111. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    The “experts” have killed a lot of people with their gross policies and refusal to refine them as more experience is gained.

    You are correct in that confining infected people in close quarters spreads virus; they realized this early on in China as clusters of infection were found in family units. That’s one reason China shifted to a different model of identifying those infected and then moving them to living quarters outside of family homes.

    The issue is that isn’t practical in the US. How would we do that–specifically, move those infected who aren’t ill enough to be in a hospital to a place where they’d be fed three times a day, etc.? In a command economy, that’s possible. Everywhere else, it isn’t. It isn’t that there’s been a “refusal” to revise, it’s that if the advice isn’t practical or easy to apply, the revision in recommendations is useless.

    The fact that we now know the virus is airborne and can be spread through ventilation systems poses significant, big challenges as we go forward. Pretty soon it is going to be very hot in the south, and people will retreat to air-conditioned spaces. If the virus isn’t under control when that happens, we’ll have problems.

    This is top of mind for many, including in our wee town in New Hampshire. We have a sizeable elderly population, and the local library is one of the few designated cooling centers in town. I have no idea how we’re going to manage a streak of hot days, because a fair number of our town’s Revolutionary War-era homes do not have air conditioning in them. Do we close up the windows in the library and use it as a cooling center, know the risk that one asymptomatic person could be in there poses? Or do we close the library and not use it as a cooling center–which runs the risk of heat-related deaths/injuries? Open it up periodically to circulate the air/close windows (causing a spike in our a/c bill, no doubt).

    Open air allows for significant dissipation. But just as we can’t keep everyone closed-up year-round, we can’t have them outside 24/7 either. So, we go back to reduced interaction, social distancing, etc. It’s not perfect but it’s the most practical advice we have.

    Edited to add: I too, am interested in what you propose to be an effective response.

    6
  112. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What is it you want to say because I really don’t understand the scorn.

    I do have a certain amount of scorn for your position, Steven, but certainly not in the least for you. This must be my fifth rewrite, as all the others have ended on unpleasant notes. And with that, I’ll bow out of this thread.

    1
  113. @drj: But, of course, why someone is partisan, or the normative evaluation of that partisanship is different than, for example, identifying the fact that a person identifies as an R or a D.

  114. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Just to make it clear I am not anti mask, I wear a cloth mask when I go out in my downtown Baltimore neighborhood.

    So, you touch your finger to something with C19 virus and then later touch your finger to your nose or mouth. Seems logical that wearing a mask stops transmission. But it’s not as clear as that. Does the cloth absorb the virus and the moisture from your breath serve as a transport to bring that virus through the mask? If so, rather than an incidental momentary contact you are in constant contact with a virus contaminated mask.

    I’m not saying that I think that is the case. I’m just demonstrating one mechanism of transmission where wearing a mask could be worse for the wearer. The research has not been done. And a lifetime of troubleshooting and debugging tells me that common sense can be a good place to start looking for proof and evidence but it often ends up evolving as you go along.

    If you listen to that podcast I mentioned above you’ll hear this Hong Kong based researcher getting regretful because, while they studied all kinds of medical masks in a variety of situations after SARS, they never thought to look at homemade cloth masks. But if we look at the reason why is that he had no reason to believe production of something as simple as facemasks couldn’t ramp up faster than viral spread. We should be incredibly ashamed that a half a year into this the US still is unable to produce sufficient medical grade masks. The very idea that at the end of May we are still having these discussions beggars belief. As someone pointed out, during the height of WWII we were producing multiple airplanes per hour. The thirty plus years of Republican malfeasance starting with Reagan have rendered us unable to crank out g*d d*mn medical facemasks.

    5
  115. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As best I can tell, he’s in favor of taking as many with him as he can.

    1
  116. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Is surface-to-finger-to-nose a pathway? If so then cloth masks protect.

    Also, wearing the mask is a near constant reminder not to touch your nose. So, even if you put your finger in a blob of covid-mucus that would soak through the mask, you are less likely to then touch your nose.

    But, the primary purpose is to reduce infections to others.

    1
  117. MarkedMan says:

    Side note: I don’t understand why this back and forth with Stephen is getting hostile. Everyone agrees that there is more than one reason Trump has rock solid 43% support. There is a disagreement as to how important each of those reasons are. No one is offering much in the way of solid studies so it boils down to informed opinion which is fine to debate but no reason to get hostile.

    6
  118. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    That’s not what debate means on the Right. There, debate is a chance to perform strength, integrity, and certainty. There, you don’t debate until a victor is declared, you debate as long as you can keep eyeballs on you, forever if possible. There, the truth doesn’t win, because nobody wins, not in any formal way.

    This, by the way, is why I now reply to my brother’s covid-lie texts with gay porn.

    Am I a bad person for using his homophobia as a weapon against him? Well, yes, but it shuts him up in a way facts don’t. He’s very upset now, and I’m ok with that.

    5
  119. Gustopher says:

    @JKB:

    Someone who got the virus through a low virus load exposure, then locked in their house with their family will give their family members a high virus load, i.e., more severe, exposure. If those family members happen to be more vulnerable and thus stayed home more, it is more dangerous for them.

    The Chinese quarantine sick people away from their families. This is definitely the right thing to do from an epidemiological standpoint, but hard for us to do in the US because of a mixture of “I got rights!” and a lack of funding and facilities to make it possible.

    3
  120. restless says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Speaking only for myself – I equate ‘partisan’ to ‘lalala I’m not listening to arguments I’m just voting my tribe’, and I think Dr Taylor uses the term in a more scholarly manner.

    2
  121. Bill says:

    @restless:

    Speaking only for myself – I equate ‘partisan’ to ‘lalala I’m not listening to arguments I’m just voting my tribe’, and I think Dr Taylor uses the term in a more scholarly manner.

    I’ve been a registered Democrat my whole life but I’ve voted for members of both parties. In my blogging days, I went after those on both the left and right and got called a dingbat, right wing nut, plus middle of the road. I subscribed to the National Review* for many years, and despite me being a registered Democrat, I would get Republican fundraising mail.

    My father was a small businessman on Long Island. He was a registered republican but Dad once said it was almost a requirement for a small businessman where we were living then. A Rockefeller Republican is nothing like most of today’s Republicans.

    *- I also subscribed to The New Republic.

    1
  122. gVOR08 says:

    In Why We’re Polarized Ezra Klein tells the usual story of two parties that in the fifties largely overlapped ideologically in the fifties. Then Ds passed the Civil Rights Act, the Dixiecrats became Rs and the parties evolved into ideologically differentiated parties while the electorate sorted themselves into partisans.

    He starts with Mann and Ornstein in 2012 publishing It’s Worse Than It Looks in which they knowingly spoiled their own bi-partisan branding to say that,

    Today’s Republican Party … is an insurgent outlier. It has become ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition, all but declaring war on the government. The Democratic Party, while no paragon of civic virtue, is more ideologically centered and diverse, protective of the government’s role as it developed over the course of the last century, open to incremental changes in policy fashioned through bargaining with the Republicans, and less disposed to or adept at take-no-prisoners conflict between the parties. This asymmetry between the parties, which journalists and scholars often brush aside or whitewash in a quest for “balance,” constitutes a huge obstacle to effective governance.

    Why is this the case? Klein talks about three things:
    Diversity“. that partisan sorting has made Rs more homogeneous, white and Christian, and Ds more diverse. Psychologically Rs have sorted to mostly fixed while Ds are mixed. Rs share an identity, Ds share policy goals. Ds have to campaign to a much more diverse base.
    The FOX News effect“. When asked for their primary news source 47% of conservatives say FOX, a nakedly partisan source, and they develop epistemic closure. Liberals spread their attention over a variety of more traditional sources. “The New York Times and ABC News fear a liberal reputation—they want to be understood as neutral arbiters of truth—and reporting oppositionally and inconveniently on the Democratic Party is both part of the self-identity and the business model.”
    America, the undemocratic“. That “America is not a democracy. Our political system is built around geographic units, all of which privilege sparse, rural areas over dense, urban ones.” This allows Rs to campaign to the right, while Ds have to make an appeal from left to right of middle.

    So Ds and Rs are both partisan, but not in the same way.

    10
  123. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Am I a bad person for using his homophobia as a weapon against him?

    Heh. You use the weapons that work, not the ones that don’t. I don’t know about good or bad but I do know it means you’re smart.

    1
  124. Mister Bluster says:

    @Monala:..“dense hellhole urban areas.”

    “Crime infested rat cages…” is another tag I’ve seen the Good Ole’ Country pig fuckers use.

    1
  125. wr says:

    @JKB: ” In fact, “stay at home” and especially “isolation” of the family of those ill with the virus has spread the virus”

    If you’re advocating for the Chinese system of whisking any infected individual to a private quarantine space the second the infection is discovered, what you’re saying makes sense. Otherwise it’s your standard gibberish — an infected person should stay home and infect the family… so, what, they should go back to work at the meat-packing plant? What is your actual plan? We understand that you are smarter than everyone else in the world and that therefore you know why everything anyone is doing is wrong — so what is the solution?

    7
  126. wr says:

    @Mister Bluster: ““Crime infested rat cages…” is another tag I’ve seen the Good Ole’ Country pig fuckers use.”

    It’s pretty clear that to JKB, anyone who isn’t in the trailer park with him is living in Victorian London…and not the nice parts.

    1
  127. senyordave says:

    MY wife is not into politics. She has three hot button issues that pretty much make her vote for Democrats in every national election. Abortion rights, gun violence, and education (she taught elementary school for 20 years). She intensely dislikes the Republican platform. We live in Maryland, and she has no problem with the governor, Larry Hogan, a Republican. Our previous county executive was a Republican, she had no problem with him. But she loathes Trump, even more than I do, which I really did not believe was possible for someone who is white (I always assume POC could hate him more than me because, to be brutally honest, it is likely they will be far more adversely affected by Trump’s policies than I will). She loathes Trump for two main reasons, 1. he is proudly ignorant and makes no attempt to learn anything, and 2. he is malevolent. He truly gets off on harming people. Her standard line is that he is probably the worst example of humanity who is not rotting away in prison somewhere.

    9
  128. To several folks above:

    Serious question, and not snarky, but do I need to write a post about aggregate analysis versus individual motivations?

    We do understand, for example, that the odds are very high that a given African-American is likely to be a Democrat (based on how African-Americans behave in the aggregate) but it may still be that a specific individual African-American could end up being a MAGA-hatted trumpista?

    It is probable that a given white Evangelical is a diehard Republican, but any specific white Evangelical might not be.

    And so forth.

    4
  129. drj says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’d be more than happy to read it, but I’m not sure that this would prevent the pushback (justified or not) that you received above.

    It’s not my intention to rehash the previous discussion, but what happened (I think) is when Michael Reynolds said that MAGA is a cult, he didn’t just say that Republicans are partisans, but also – and, I think, more importantly – provided a value judgment about the quality of their partisanship.

    When you responded, you equated Republican and Democratic partisanship in a more quantitative sense (e.g. with regard to what happens in a voting booth). But that was not (I assume) what MR was alluding to. Again, his focus was on the quality of GOP partisanship rather than vote tallies and approval rates.

    In short, you – and subsequently others, too – were talking at cross purposes.

    It seems to me this was not caused by your readers’ failure to understand aggregate behavior, but because your response to MR did not address an important part of what he was saying.

    5
  130. @drj:

    provided a value judgment about the quality of their partisanship.

    I honestly think I did the opposite, but so it goes. I was pointing out the reality of partisanship.

    Sometimes it feels like people don’t want to hear anything other than excoriation of Reps and so any attempt at trying to talk about politics in a dispassionate way is greeted with pushback.

    It makes me wonder, on occasion, as to whether the engagement in the comments section is worth it for me, to be honest.

    3
  131. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Is it possible that JKB is a pseudo/neo Malthusian? He may believe that nothing can be done other than to let “nature take its course,” so he’s mostly in favor of not being inconvenienced.

    ETA: And the power of liberty and the market, of course.

  132. Monala says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Here’s where I am stumbling on your argument:

    1. Do you see a difference between what happens in the voting booth, which I agree is strongly influenced by partisanship, and approval/disapproval polling, which is somewhat influenced by partisanship, but also (I would argue) strongly affected by other factors? E.g., actual performance in office, and in Trump’s case, behavior and character?

    2) Do you agree or not that Trump, by virtue of many of the things he has done in office (violating norms, alienating allies, crude personal behavior, etc.) has generated a significant level of antipathy among many Americans, not only Democrats (Never-Trumpers, for example)? And if so, can you see why many of us are arguing that the opposition to Trump isn’t purely partisan?

    3
  133. An Interested Party says:

    Sometimes it feels like people don’t want to hear anything other than excoriation of Reps and so any attempt at trying to talk about politics in a dispassionate way is greeted with pushback.

    That’s quite reasonable…but I can’t help but think of a place like NRO, which is supposedly the home of reasonable conservatives, and the excuses that they make for Trump are nauseating…such behavior really tests the ideas of not trashing Republicans and talking about politics in a dispassionate way…I understand partisanship and how both sides make excuses for their own, but this seems to be beyond the pale, very much like a cult that refuses to accept reality…I mean, good grief, the latest over there includes people making excuses for Trump’s ridiculous ideas about hydroxychloroquine…

  134. @Monala:

    opposition to Trump isn’t purely partisan

    All I can say at this point is: I never said that opposition to Trump was purely partisan.

    I specifically started all of this noting that R behavior, in the aggregate was not especially different in kind to D behavior in the aggregate. This was in response to MR’s assertion that R support was not just politics, but religion.

    And, after all, he called me out specifically, so I responded.

    While I am always willing to take some blame for lack of clarity, I really don’t think people (on balance) are reacting to what a wrote.

    2
  135. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It makes me wonder, on occasion, as to whether the engagement in the comments section is worth it for me, to be honest.

    FWIW, as someone who has participated and enjoyed online discussions since before the space shuttle disaster, I think the only way to maintain perspective is to acknowledge that some people who walk in the door are just not worth engaging. For some that’s a temporary thing because you’ve inadvertently pushed a hot button or they’ve just had a bad day, and for some it’s a permanent thing. And for me at least, I recognize that sometimes I’ve been the asshole.

    If I couldn’t accept those things, I wouldn’t participate. But all in all, it’s worth it for me. And I also get some solace in the fact that the people I’ve met in real life after only interacting online turn out to be more complete and varied than I realized. We are only a slice of ourselves when seen through the keyboard.

    3
  136. @MarkedMan: I am mostly just grumpy tonight for a variety of reasons. I do get annoyed at pushback when I am trying to address something from a political science/expertise POV. If I am wrong, awesome–show me how–I can certainly learn, but getting aggressively scornful in response is just frustrating. If I have been an asshole, and someone is an asshole back, that’s on me. When I am trying to provide an honest answer from a position of some level of time spent with a subject, and I get assholery back, that is just plain frustrating, especially from regular readers with whom I honestly think I have earned the benefit of the doubt.

    If I am writing outside my expertise, fine, but give me some credit otherwise.

    6
  137. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t know what bug crawled up people’s asses today.

    The people giving you pointless pushback are almost as partisan as Guaneri — they approach it differently, but I don’t think they’ll be voting Republican any time soon, or respecting people who do.

    I’ve also veered into partisanship, as a reaction to the Palinization of the Republican Party. I don’t see myself voting for a Republican for decades to come, and I make some very negative assumptions about people who do — and I’m seldom surprised by them turning out better.

    It’s a massive blind spot that could ultimately lead to me supporting President Chelsea Clinton and the FEMA re-education camps, because I’m certainly not going to vote for a Republican. I’ll hope to change the party from within by supporting those in favor of nicer re-education camps — perhaps some kind of Republican Reservation in a spare Dakota.

    6
  138. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: I forget which election it was (I think Obama vs. McCain) where one of the Republican commentators was explaining away their defeat with “we would have won if women hadn’t voted for Obama.”

    I think that comment should be left up on a wall somewhere with huge gold curlicues around it.

    3
  139. grumpy realist says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I would suspect that he would be following what’s going on in Brazil then….

  140. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I honestly think I did the opposite, but so it goes. I was pointing out the reality of partisanship

    Also, as an example of everyone talking past each other, what you claim to have done the opposite of here was, unless my reading comprehension is failing me more than usual, actually what drj said Michael Reynolds was doing.

    But I don’t understand the vitriol you’re getting.

    James Joyner doesn’t get that much when he posts his periodic “well, maybe these white folks who hunted down and killed a black guy weren’t motivated by race” posts where he fails to account for all of American history… people give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s clueless and insensitive rather than willfully ignorant — people push back, but they aren’t mean. (He’s a nice guy, that was a terrible post, each paragraph awful in a different way…).

    I’m reminded of a scene in the musical “Urinetown” where the male lead is dying, and singing about how no one is innocent, and then all his friends turn on him shouting “how can he say I’m not innocent?!?”

    “Urinetown” ends with the cast shouting “Hail Malthus!”, and a comment above that mentioned Malthus has me thinking of it.

  141. Scott O says:

    @Gustopher: Some anecdotal evidence suggests that if your brother is homophobic he may actually enjoy the gay porn. While strongly proclaiming not to. Is he a “real man”?

    We should all be grateful that JKB, 95 South, even Guano find the time to come here to correct what they see as wrong information. Most of their day is spent on conservative sites pointing out the insanity of thoughts like hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid infection.

  142. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Sleeping Dog: WRT George W. Bush’s leadership after 9/11, I believe he and Turd Blossom undermined it starting early in 2002. The easy phony triumph over Al Qaeda led to Rove telling a GOP leadership group that making protection against terrorism a winning political issue. Of course, until the Iraq War went south, W’s popularity ratings continued to be healthy.

    1
  143. Northerner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Put another way: the question is, what explains stable support for Trump, as well as voting outcomes (all in the aggregate)

    I’d suggest team sports explains 90% of it, given that 90% of people vote for the same party every election. You show up at the stadium and cheer for your team, even if you know the other team is better, even if you think the captain of your team is a horrible person.

    And if anything, I think many people think more critically (and longer) about their favorite sports team than about their political party. People who are interested in politics tend to grossly overestimate just how much thought most people give to politics.

    3
  144. @Gustopher: @Gustopher:

    I don’t know what bug crawled up people’s asses today.

    I think (but since certain people wouldn’t explain themselves, I have to surmise) that like when I talk about independents, and some people really pushback, people think I am trying to take away their agency or rationality by saying that partisanship is a key variable in understanding mass behavior. They think I am telling them they are brainwashed (and/or want to think that other side to be such).

    But first, I never said one couldn’t have reasons for one’s partisan position. Nor did I defend Republican reasons for their positions (I repeatedly noted I was not making a normative judgment). But it is utter, totally, and completely true that partisan affiliation (i.e., how one is likely to vote) is a key variable for understanding our current politics. And that we are, as a country, highly polarized.

    In simple terms: it is very difficult to get someone to change their minds at the moment in regards to party.

    Not to relitigate the entire thread, but the main thing I said to MR was that his hypothesis for Trump’s stable approval/disapproval was, in my opinion, flawed. His historical comparisons were problematic, and his approach ignored D behavior as well. In my view, his “religion” hypothesis to explain R behavior is incorrect. And since he directly called me out, I thought it appropriate to respond.

    My understanding of MR’s position is that Rs are behaving in some qualitatively different way (“That is not politics, contra Dr. Steven, that is religious faith.”) than Ds. I dispute this.

    Also, as an example of everyone talking past each other, what you claim to have done the opposite of here was, unless my reading comprehension is failing me more than usual, actually what drj said Michael Reynolds was doing.

    What drj was raising really was a wholly different question than what I was discussing. I tried to explain that. I was not trying to explain why people are partisan.

    I think too, that my unwillingness in this one, specific conversation, to not simply pile on Rs is what made some people mad.

    My frustrations emerged from two main sources: the responses seemed to ignore both a) my obvious and ongoing criticism of Trump and of the GOP over the last several years in particular, and b) the fact that I am discussing an area of expertise. Neither of those things makes me right, nor should it make me immune from criticism. It is just extremely frustrating when folks assume the worst instead of asking questions.

    James Joyner doesn’t get that much when he posts his periodic “well, maybe these white folks who hunted down and killed a black guy weren’t motivated by race” posts where he fails to account for all of American history

    In fairness, we got way more pushback on that post than I did here.

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  145. @Michael Reynolds: Somehow I overlooked your response in yesterday’s flurry of activity. And I will have to go back and read it more thoroughly at some point.

    But let me briefly address this:

    I have the greatest respect for you, Steven, and I honor the erudition you have in the field of political science. I just think you’re wrong about this. Polarization fits your poli sci paradigm, as one would expect of a poli sci professor. My paradigm is more about motivation, as you’d expect from a writer.

    First, thanks, I appreciate you saying so. But you do realize that you are coming across as your intuition about human behavior trumps the actual study of politics? Again, I am not saying my expertise means I am correct, but your counter-argument here is pretty weak in terms of the authority from which you are basing your position.

    Second, I am not arguing against looking at motivation. Indeed part of my point is that the way the rules of the system orient the ability to have power in our politics requires being in one of two parties (that binary choice I have repeatedly discussed). Those forces have intensified for a host of reasons over the last 25 years, and even more in the last ten or so) many of which I have written about extensively. Polarization is both a result of these factors, and then a cause for further behavior in such a system–it is self-reinforcing at the moment and for the foreseeable future. The stability of public opinion right now is an artifact of those forces,

    And of course, it is about power and human motivation. No political scientist is going to dispute that.

    Part of the point I was trying to make above is that you are making a mistake by focusing solely on the R side of the equation, and you are also ignoring broader context and the mechanisms that brought us here.

    Really, I would love to have drinks and discuss this in person, as I suspect we could reach far greater understanding of one another’s position.

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  146. @Northerner: You are getting to the basics of my point. Thanks.

  147. Blue Galangal says:

    @Gustopher:

    The people giving you pointless pushback are almost as partisan as Guaneri — they approach it differently, but I don’t think they’ll be voting Republican any time soon, or respecting people who do.

    I’ve also veered into partisanship, as a reaction to the Palinization of the Republican Party. I don’t see myself voting for a Republican for decades to come, and I make some very negative assumptions about people who do — and I’m seldom surprised by them turning out better.

    Here’s the thing, and I’m not pushing back on political science or motivation. But for me the basic question remains: if the current GOP isn’t religion, what is it?

    Because it bears all the hallmarks of a cult. You literally have people saying that because they use ultraviolet light to treat skin conditions and some kinds of oxygen therapy for cancer treatment, “that’s what Trump meant.” You literally have the JKBs and Guarneris of OTB telling us to take Trump seriously, not literally. You have a campaign launching a “Truth over Facts” website completely unironically.

    I’m with MR: I don’t see how aggregate political polarization explains this, and I don’t see how these actions on the part of the GOP that are driving off moderates as well as liberals means that those who reject the GOP alternative facts are somehow partisan. Rather: it’s eerily reminiscent of Jim Jones.

    Reality has a liberal bias – we all like to laugh about it, but at this point, how is that not true? I have watched previously respected, if not liked, GOP politicians wrap themselves into pretzels to avoid stating facts and truth because it might embarrass Trump, and assert that night is day because Trump said so. I’m not stating that observation because of polarization: there are observable facts that the GOP has left rationality behind. Lindsey Graham did a 180º turn from “if we elect him he will destroy us and we will deserve it” to “All hail Trump.” It doesn’t seem to be because there are (R)s after their names. Some seem to have avoided it (Kasich, Romney). Some have embraced it full-bore.

    Now Bill Barr might be an example of a Gingrich: using the current state/president as a means to further his agenda. But he is getting away with it because the GOP has become a cult of personality.

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  148. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In fairness, we got way more pushback on that post than I did here.

    I think so. I know that I contributed to it a lot more than I did on this post, for example.

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  149. @Blue Galangal:

    it bears all the hallmarks of a cult. You literally have people saying that because they use ultraviolet light to treat skin conditions and some kinds of oxygen therapy for cancer treatment, “that’s what Trump meant.”

    I am not going to defend Trump’s nonsense nor the fact that some people are rationalizing it (although a lot of them are rationalizing it because the leader of their party said it). If Trump weren’t president, far, far fewer people would be taking him seriously. All the Rs who thought he was a sideshow act in 2012 would think he was a sideshow act now were he not president.

    What has led a lot of people to support Trump? Were they drawn to Trump because of Trump’s message, and they signed up or did he did the R by his name and then people started to find ways to rationalize supporting him?

    Hell, he didn’t even win an absolute majority of primary votes.

    The problem is, I think, is that people think I am trying to excuse GOP behavior, but that is not the point.

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  150. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: While I am not in total disagreement about your views on polarization, there is again a chicken-and-egg aspect here: Trump wouldn’t have become a cult figure in the first place if he hadn’t been saying stuff that the GOP audience was receptive to. The GOP was mired in nonsense for years before Trump came along. From talk radio to Fox News, commentators in the right-wing media ecosystem peddled everything from financial scams to quack medical cures on their programs. It’s true there’s also been some nonsense from a few apparently liberal Hollywood celebrities over the years, but those kinds of beliefs are nowhere near as entrenched or widespread as they are on the right–and are pretty much rejected wholesale by just about all liberal media figures and Democratic elected officials. If President Obama had started touting hydrochloroquine or something equally questionable to combat a pandemic, you wouldn’t have suddenly seen scores of Dems following suit. It’s a near-certainty he’d have been roundly ridiculed by virtually all prominent Democrats.

    I’m not saying Dems are immune from partisanship governing their views; far from it. But there’s a clear difference in the type of partisan beliefs Dems are likely to hold compared with Republicans, and the rejection of scientific, medical, and other qualified expertise is almost purely a right-wing phenomenon. There’s just no equivalent there.

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  151. @Kylopod: Look, there are various reasons to explain why we are where we are (conservative media, for example, has played a role) and I am not talking about content. I am talking about generalized social responses.

    If President Obama had started touting hydrochloroquine or something equally questionable to combat a pandemic, you wouldn’t have suddenly seen scores of Dems following suit.

    I honestly think you are wrong here. Why wouldn’t many everyday Democrats think that the president they trust was trustworthy in making such a pronouncement?

    It’s a near-certainty he’d have been roundly ridiculed by virtually all prominent Democrats.

    Maybe. But I have no doubt that some Very Serious Democrats would at least want to look into it more. They definitely would have taken it more seriously from Obama than they have from Trump.

    1
  152. Northerner says:

    @Kylopod:

    Trump wouldn’t have become a cult figure in the first place if he hadn’t been saying stuff that the GOP audience was receptive to.

    I wonder if you haven’t got it backwards. In general, cults (and that certainly seems to be true of Trump’s cult following) will believe anything their leader says, even if that leader reverses their position numerous times. I think the cult process is actually finding a leader and then adapting their beliefs to match the leaders rather than finding a leader who matches the beliefs.

    Trump’s opinions have been as incoherent as everything else about him. His followers have followed without hesitation through every backtrack.

    And most of the rest of the Republican voters have simply voted Team R. I’d say the NFL’s Patriots ball-inflating scandal is an excellent analogy. I doubt many (if any) New England fans changed their opinions about the Pat’s because of the scandal — even the ones who say it was wrong remain Pat’s fans. And most of them spent more time reading up on the mechanics of how inflation affects footballs than they have on politics. I’d be surprised if even 10% of Trump’s voters (admittedly still six million people) know anything Trump has said other than “You’re Fired.”

    Most people find politics mind numbingly boring. For them its in the same category as accounting, something that can affect your life, that in theory you should understand the basics of, but in practice they leave the details of politics to the party they always vote for in the same way they leave the details of their taxes to their accountant.

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  153. mattbernius says:

    Co-sign just about everything that Steven was written. I think part of the challenge is he is engaged in a bit of a structural analysis and so he’s thinking and writing about systems in a different way.

    @Kylopod:

    The GOP was mired in nonsense for years before Trump came along. From talk radio to Fox News, commentators in the right-wing media ecosystem peddled everything from financial scams to quack medical cures on their programs.

    I can’t speak for Steven, but I don’t see how this can’t be accounted for in what he is writing. Granted the interaction of media ecosystems with politics isn’t (to my knowledge) his focus, but speaking as someone who did study media, and is starting to grasp at more institutional political analysis, I think this fits into his argument. For a variety of structural political reasons (the overall weakness of centralized leadership in American Political Parties, Primaries, and the two-party, first past the post system), social reasons (the rural/urban divide, the fracturing of the Dixiecrats, etc), and media/technological (media fragmentation, consolidation of ownership, the demand for 24-hour content) the Republican party was especially vulnerable at this moment to getting “hacked” by Conservative Inc. And that led to specific forms of grooming and the rise of a certain mode of politician at this moment.

    So I don’t see how this cannot be accounted for in what Steven has been writing.

    There’s just no equivalent there.

    This, in particular, “equivalence”, I think gets to the heart of a lot of people’s problems. Unless I’m reading something incorrectly, I don’t think Steven is arguing for equivalence in terms of impact. Simply that there are similar patterns undergirding partisanship, though they manifest differently.

    Which gets to:

    President Obama had started touting hydrochloroquine or something equally questionable to combat a pandemic, you wouldn’t have suddenly seen scores of Dems following suit. It’s a near-certainty he’d have been roundly ridiculed by virtually all prominent Democrats.

    Leaving aside how hard it is to imagine Obama touting hydrochloroquine, I think this is a really naive statement. And while I can’t think off hand of a Democrat doing something comparable, I’m having a hard time thinking of any case in modern history where we’ve seen “all prominent Democrats” offer any deep substantive “ridicule” of a sitting president from their own party. If you’ve got anything in mind, please share.

    However, I think to Steven’s point, that’s an aspect of the structure of our system too.

  154. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Why wouldn’t many everyday Democrats think that the president they trust was trustworthy in making such a pronouncement?

    I agree with you, but: it’s more than just “the president they trust,” it’s “the president who hasn’t uttered over 17,000 verifiable lies during his time in office.”

    Obama wasn’t a figure of godlike perfection, but at least we could be pretty sure he had America’s best interests in mind. That is quite obviously entirely untrue of Trump.

    1
  155. Monala says:

    @Mikey: Besides which, Obama would never have said things like, “Take it! What do you have to lose?” and “I’m taking it! My evidence is that people call me about it all the time.”

    No, Obama would be nuanced and cautious, as always. He might say something like, “there are some promising treatment candidates such as hydroxychloroquine, but we need to wait and see the results of controlled studies before we move forward with it as a treatment option.” That kind of cautious description means it’s far less likely that Democrats would run out to order it from their doctors.

    1
  156. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    Leaving aside how hard it is to imagine Obama touting hydrochloroquine, I think this is a really naive statement.

    You can’t leave it aside; it’s the entire point. The fact is, it’s absurd to imagine Obama saying such a thing in the first place. It’s like the old “If my grandma had wheels she’d be a wagon.” Both parties nominate and elect people who, to a greater or lesser degree, represent their views. But only one party has views that make them receptive to snake-oil salesmen.

    Only the GOP could have produced a President Trump–or really anyone this detached from reality. If you don’t believe me, look at the people the Republicans have elected below the presidential level: the Louie Gohmerts, the Steve Kings, the Michelle Bachmanns, the Allan Wests of the world. Can you really tell me with a straight face that the Dems have had anyone comparable? AOC? Ilhan Omar? Please. Where the Dems have a few bomb throwers, the GOP has ranting and raving lunatics.

    And those are just the people who stand out the most. The fact is that pseudoscience and crackpottery of all kinds infect the entire party. Even the most “respectable” of Republicans have been promoting global warming denial for decades. Virtually all elected Republicans have at one time or another parroted the supply-side hoax, the empirically disproven notion that tax cuts pay for themselves. In 2008, three of the GOP candidates openly said they didn’t believe in evolution. More broadly, the entire conservative culture is mired in rejection of science, rejection of expertise, rejection of mainstream sources of information and an embrace of conspiracy theories and fringe beliefs. When Trump first began promoting birtherism in 2011, that was only after years of GOP politicians and commentators doing the same thing, and birtherism itself was just a variant on the earlier claim that Obama was a Muslim.

    I’m not arguing here that the rise of Trump, specifically, was inevitable, or that every single piece of crap that has come out of his mouth was invariably going to become party doctrine no matter who the president was. What I am arguing is that Trump isn’t some aberration that took over the party and transformed it into something unrecognizable. Most (though not all) of the wacky beliefs he espouses had significant presence within the party since long before he rose to the presidency. You can’t measure his effect on the party without considering what was there to begin with. To be sure, he gets his followers to believe things they weren’t saying before. But it only works on people who were receptive to those kinds of claims. If he kicks a rotten gate in, that doesn’t change the fact that it was rotten.

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  157. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But I have no doubt that some Very Serious Democrats would at least want to look into it more. They definitely would have taken it more seriously from Obama than they have from Trump.

    Sorry, that moves the goalposts clear into the next stadium.

    Your original claim was that Democrats would be essentially indistinguishable from Republicans in the extent to which they back whatever nonsense their leader spews, simply because he’s their leader. That claim is essential to your analysis that partisanship is the cause, not the effect. If you’re going to admit an asymmetry here, then you are basically admitting that Michael was right.

    My main problem with your analysis is that it’s untestable. If we have to wait for the Democratic Party to adopt an anti-truth, anti-science, theocratic, white supremacist platform in order to test whether Democrats will blindly follow that lead, we’re going to be waiting a long time.

    While don’t have any examples of crazy irrational conspiracy-theory-from-the-bully-pulpit from Democrats, we do have examples of Democrats discovered to be corrupt or criminal or unethical. And we can see the contrast — Democrats did not, in any significant numbers, defend Rod Blagojevich. They did not rally behind Al Franken and vilify his accuser. They do not insist that Anthony Wiener’s antics were “perfect”. They do not defend Darlene Druyun, and argue that she was treated “very unfairly”. President Obama did not pardon Jim Traficant. Chaka Fattah is not a martyr to the Democratic cause.

    I find this asymmetry suggestive at the very least, if not conclusive.

    7
  158. Northerner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    While don’t have any examples of crazy irrational conspiracy-theory-from-the-bully-pulpit from Democrats, we do have examples of Democrats discovered to be corrupt or criminal or unethical. And we can see the contrast — Democrats did not, in any significant numbers, defend Rod Blagojevich. They did not rally behind Al Franken and vilify his accuser. They do not insist that Anthony Wiener’s antics were “perfect”. They do not defend Darlene Druyun, and argue that she was treated “very unfairly”. President Obama did not pardon Jim Traficant. Chaka Fattah is not a martyr to the Democratic cause.

    The first part of this seems 100% correct. There’s simply no Democratic Party president who has said the insane things that Trump has said (with a possible exception of a few things LBJ said during the Vietnam War, but leaders always lie during wars, Trump does it all the time).

    However, Dem’s defended Bill Clinton back in the day, and now Biden, against charges that they’d not let slide if they were against a Repub, so while they’re not nearly as bad as the Repubs, they’re still willing to overlook serious ethical charges to protect their own .

    2
  159. @DrDaveT:

    Your original claim was that Democrats would be essentially indistinguishable from Republicans

    If you could show me where I said that, I will be happy to respond. Otherwise, this becomes really time-consuming to try and both reexplain what I said while at the same time trying to address wholly new issues being introduced.

  160. Guys,

    The original point I tried to make above that started all of this was to point out that Trump’s stable approval/disapproval is primarily a function of the partisan self-identification of respondents, and that that was true about Rs and Ds.

    The variable that best predicts one’s views of impeachment? Partisanship

    The variable that best predicts one’s view of the economy? Partisanship

    The variable that best predicts one’s view of the Mueller report? Partisanship

    The variable that best predicts one’s view of Trump’s Covid-19 response? Partisanship

    It is the hallmark of a polarized environment. And it answers MR’s question about approval and it takes into consideration R and D opinions without having to act like Rs are engaging in politics in some crazy new way.

    I NEVER said both sides are equivalent in terms of what they believe or how they govern.

    I NEVER said that all we need to know about politics is partisanship.

    I NEVER said that partisanship was the only variable.

    I NEVER defended Trump’s behavior or words.

    I NEVER made a normative (i.e., a value judgment) about any of this (but several of your responses have suggested that I did).

    I also NEVER said that values don’t matter.

    I NEVER said that Rs don’t bear responsibility for their choices.

    And so forth.

    The main thing that has frustrated me about this conversation is that those pushing back will not believe me when I try to tell them what I am not doing. I will gladly cop to be insufficiently clear, but when I have noted what I am, and am not, trying to do, I am being honest and I should be treated as such.

    But whether anyone here likes it or not, the research is pretty clear that for most people (i.e., in the aggregate) that they allow their pre-existing political identity to shape their views of the facts and reality than it is the case that they allow the facts and reality to shape their politics.

    This is true regardless of political party affiliation.

    3
  161. @DrDaveT:

    the extent to which they back whatever nonsense their leader spews, simply because he’s their leader.

    You are missing the point, and creating a strawman. Do all Republicans believe every damn thing Trump says? Quite clearly not (they aren’t all injecting bleach, now are they?). But will they ignore, rationalize, etc? Yes.

    And yes, if a Dem said some nutty stuff, a lot of Dems would ignore, rationalize, or explain away the event.

    Or are you going to argue that when Bill Clinton said “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I did not ask anyone to lie” that every Dem was calmly rational about the probabilities that he was being truthful.

    2
  162. al Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What explains the stable support for Trump?

    I believe the enduring support is basically transactional.

    His base voted him to Washington to smash the the existing order, to ‘drain the swamp’ and to push a conservative agenda that included: severe limits to immigration, anti-globalization, a conservative judiciary, and the usual tax cuts and so forth. He’s delivering all of that, and most of his 40% love his relentlessly sociopathic un-PC style, and do not care about his ceaseless lying because ‘they all do it.’ Some Republicans, perhaps many Republicans, SAY they’re appalled by Trump the person, but not so much that they decline to support him. He’s giving them most of what Republicans have wanted for years.