I’ve Changed, Man

Did I leave the Republican Party or did it leave me? Both.

Image under CC0 Public Domain

Remarking on my statement that I was originally going to title this morning’s post “Do Republicans hate brown people more than they love the military?” longtime commenter @de stijl observes,

James, your core beliefs and principles haven’t really changed that much, but your political perception has altered fairly radically since I started reading you here.

[…]

Old you would not have written this piece. Old you would poke new you in the eye with a stick for saying this out loud in a public forum:

“Do Republicans hate brown people more than they love the military?”

You’ve changed, man.

That’s almost certainly true. While I’m still fundamentally a classical liberal, my views have evolved over the 16-plus years I’ve been blogging at OTB—largely as a function of said blogging and the back-and-forth in the comments section (and, in the early years, with other bloggers).

Of course, the world hasn’t exactly stood still, either.

The parties have fully polarized in recent years, such that there are essentially no more conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans in high office. Indeed, there are very few genuine moderates in national-level elected politics anymore.

And I’ve long been frustrated, in particular, by the pernicious effects it’s had on my erstwhile party for a long time now. Just a cursory search through the archives shows that to be true.

“The GOP is doing a decidedly hamhanded job of handling illegal immigration, turning a no brainer of an issue — enforcing the damned law — into a cultural war against the 2nd largest and fastest growing demographic in the country. It’s long since cost us California, with which we’d almost instantly be transformed back into a majority party.”

Fixing the GOP Redux (Nov 2008)

“The party became the enemy it preached against for so many years, embracing big government solutions, a moralistic foreign policy, and a huge appetite for pork. The K Street Project, the cover-up of the Mark Foley scandal, the Duke Cunningham mess and similar events demonstrated that holding on to and capitalizing on power was more important to some of the party’s leadership than the principles they had campaigned on.”

Rebuilding the Republican Brand (May 2008)

“A movement built on know-nothingism — indeed, outright hostility to higher education — is bound to fail.”

Republican Party’s Future (Dec 2008)

“[T]here’s not a whole lot of recognition of the need to update the intellectual platform to accommodate a changed era. It’s as if Jimmy Carter’s still in the White House and Roe vs. Wade was just handed down.”

Joe The Plumberization of the Republican Party (Feb 2009)

Still, I was writing from the perspective of a member of a tribe trying to save the tribe. I was able to write off the Tea Party and others as an extremist fringe that could be beat into submission by a less vocal but much more numerous sensible core.

So, at the same time that I was making the above critiques, I was defending the Party. And our democracy.

“The president represents 300 million-odd Americans and is selected through a grueling process that ensures he’s vetted by widely varying constituencies. The primary process runs potential nominees through a gauntlet and then the general election requires appealing to pluralities in enough states to get at least half of the votes in the Electoral College.”

Who Destroyed the Republican Party? (Jan 2008)

As recently as six years ago, I held out hope that the party would correct itself:

“I hold out small hope that [Jon] Huntsman represents what the GOP could become again. Very small hope.”

Is Jon Huntsman the Future of the Republican Party? (Jan 2012)

Then again, in the very same post, I conceded,

“If Romney wins the nomination and loses to Obama-both of which seem likely right now-then we’ll likely see a swing to the right in 2016, as it would reinforce in the nominating electorate the notion that nominating moderates is a recipe for disaster.”

That turned out to be more right than I’d have guessed.

I had, until the last three or four years, been able to point to the Presidential nominees and a handful of other key leaders in the party as the grown-ups in the room. That virtually every elected Republican has gone along with Trump, abandoning every principle they’ve ever spouted—save for lower taxes and conservative judges—has genuinely surprised me.

As someone now firmly outside the tribe, I view it less sympathetically. Having so recently been in it—and knowing so many who still are—I still don’t believe that the overwhelming number of Americans who vote Republican are white nationalists. But I do think racism and a general fear of change drives more of the movement than I previously believed.

Indeed, I don’t think most Congressional Republicans are racists and xenophobes—although, again, there are more of them than I would have guessed. But, frankly, it would be better if they were. Instead, they’re simply cowards and opportunists willing to sacrifice everything to be relevant.

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

Comments

  1. Instead, they’re simply cowards and opportunists willing to sacrifice everything to be relevant.

    As I’ve said on Twitter several times the modern GOP is made up of Trumpaloons, sycophants, sellouts, and cowards.

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    such that there are essentially no more conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans.

    Disagree.
    Republicans are so far off the starboard rail that anyone standing mid-ship looks like they are way to the port side.
    Most Democratic proposals have solid backing by the public. Health care, tax the rich, protect the environment, background checks. These things all have very solid popular appeal. Sure there are SOME whacky ideas…but it’s primary season.
    I’ve live my life in a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, manner. I haven’t changed, but the Republican Party has gone off the rails.
    Don’t drag Democrats into it.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The parties have fully polarized in recent years, such that there are essentially no more conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans.

    You can lay this at the doorstep of computer gerrymandered districts. (read an article this morn about how computers can do it far more efficiently than mere humans, sorry, forget where).

    That so few elected Republicans have gone along with Trump, abandoning every principle they’ve ever spouted—save for lower taxes and conservative judges—has genuinely surprised me.

    I think you mean, “That so many elected Republicans…”

    Indeed, I don’t think most Congressional Republicans are racists and xenophobes—although, again, there are more of them than I would have guessed. But, frankly, it would be better if they were. Instead, they’re simply cowards and opportunists willing to sacrifice everything to be relevant.

    Pretty much what I said in that post where de stijl made his observation.

    6
  4. Guarneri says:

    Much of what you say is true, but how is it not even more true in the Democrat party? There is precious little that is classic liberal there.

    I’d put a darker cast on it, as a long time observer, you are simply pandering to your commenter base.

    3
  5. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m not arguing that the Democrats are some kind of extremists. Rather, I’m arguing that the difference between a California or Massachusetts Democrat versus a Texas or Alabama Democrat is much, much less stark than it was 20 years ago.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You can lay this at the doorstep of computer gerrymandered districts.

    Partly. It has definitely changed the House. But we haven’t gerrymandered the Senate, where seats are still at-large.

    I think you mean, “That so many elected Republicans…”

    Yes. I noticed and fixed that when I was adding in the Huntsman piece that I’d accidentally omitted.

    12
  6. Moosebreath says:

    Good post, James. I am sorry there isn’t a sane Republican Party anymore as well.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “As I’ve said on Twitter several times the modern GOP is made up of Trumpaloons, sycophants, sellouts, and cowards.”

    I am not sure those are 4 separate categories. There certainly seems significant overlap in the last 3.

    10
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    It has definitely changed the House. But we haven’t gerrymandered the Senate, where seats are still at-large.

    True, my bad, but it does contribute to the rightward jerk of the Senate in that with so many safe havens in the House, pretty much all RWNJ fever dreams can be heard on the House floor.

    The larger influence is probably caused by the Fox News effect. Josh Marshall is speaking specifically of Barr here but obviously it would apply to the GOP at large.

    It’s a common refrain among non-Republicans that Fox News and the rest of the conservative media superstructure have essentially brainwashed 30% or 40% of the population over the last couple decades. But implicit in that belief is that it’s those people, voters, for lack of a better word the audience of national politics. Elites or high level appointees or operatives may cynically participate in this flimflam. But somehow they’re not part of the process, they not stewing in the same cauldron. They’re cynical, amoral, pick your description.

    This is a major blindspot. Bill Barr is another Republican guy in his late 60s whose been living, as Miller puts it, in that Fox News/GOP legal circles cocoon for two decades. Why would he be any different from your birther uncle you avoid at holiday dinners?

    16
  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:

    There is precious little that is classic liberal there.

    More nonsense from one of the resident red hatted loons.

    16
  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    I am of the opinion that you can’t live in America (maybe the world) and not be racist to some degree. For instance, self-driving cars are racist. The neural nets in question had bad training sets. It’s not that they couldn’t do better, it’s that they didn’t. Because nobody thought to test them on that. And that’s on us, the tech people. It’s a dumbass, racist mistake, and we should work hard to fix it as soon as we possibly can.

    I know I am racist. Not in some sort of bigoted, Bull Connor sort of way, but in a way where my procedural memory – my gut reaction – reacts differently to a dark skinned person. At closer range, I’m ok. I’m working on it. That’s kind of the best we can do as humans. Forget about absolute standards of purity and just do your best.

    Recently I watched a TED talk where John Wooden talked about his definition of success. I’d read it before (I’m a big fan). He defines success as making every effort to be the best you can possibly be. That’s where I am on the race issue. That’s where I want America to be – doing our best to do right by all citizens and positive contributors.

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  10. People change. I was a pretty extreme libertarian in the late 80s for a couple of years, a libertarian leaner in the early 2000s and a technocratic (modern) liberal by the mid-2000s, which is where I am now.

    I don’t relate to the current Republican Party at all these days.

    15
  11. SKI says:

    Indeed, I don’t think most Congressional Republicans are racists and xenophobes—although, again, there are more of them than I would have guessed. But, frankly, it would be better if they were. Instead, they’re simply cowards and opportunists willing to sacrifice everything to be relevant.

    I think you are too generous here. You seem to be distinguishing between those that “really” believe in the bigotry and those that just “pretend” to. In reality, the latter are indistinguishable from the former as their speech and actions are the same.

    11
  12. Gustopher says:

    I’ve noticed that you don’t need to be reminded that brown people and women exist and have different life experiences than you — at least not nearly as often as you needed to be reminded in the past. It’s a change that has come at an awkward time as empathy has little place in the modern Republican Party.

    4
  13. michael reynolds says:

    Intelligent, open-minded, intellectually courageous people adjust their opinions to reality. When the facts that buttressed your opinions change, you have to change your opinions or you’re simply steering away from reality into crazytown.

    I learned one useful thing during my years of formal education (2 years HS, 1.5 semesters college) and it came in a philosophy class at San Jose State where I was not technically a student. The idea was de-cathexis to achieve a presuppositionless state, (or as close as it is possible to get) followed by the careful creation of a new paradigm – cathexis – which must itself be regularly subjected to the same process.

    The percentage of humans willing to actually re-examine their beliefs is, IMO, in the low single digits. Possibly in fractions. It is not a small thing to evolve – I hope I’ve done some of it, with more to come. I celebrate Joyner’s evolution, it marks him as an honest person, someone worth engaging and learning from.

    This is one of my gripes against call-out culture: if you’re going to hang people by the worst things they’ve said or done in the past, and deny them the possibility of redemption, (Ralph Northam) you’re dis-incentivizing honesty and rewarding hypocrisy. We want people to adapt. We want them to evolve. We want honesty. We want allies, even those who were not born with an infallible sense of right and wrong. Don’t we?

    Once again, as an atheist I feel odd citing the J man, but forgiveness of past transgressions and a rebirth into greater virtue is kind of the whole fucking point of Christianity. And it’s not just a nice sentiment, it’s smart. You build support a whole lot faster with, “The past is the past, join us!” than you do with, “You said something when you were 22 that now condemns you to the lowest levels of hell.’

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Beautifully expressed.

    3
  15. mattbernius says:

    @Guarneri:

    I’d put a darker cast on it, as a long time observer, you are simply pandering to your commenter base.

    A mean, small, and selfish man projects his meanness, smallness, and selfishness onto an honest man, because he cannot imagine anyone changing for any motive other than personal profit.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m arguing that the difference between a California or Massachusetts Democrat versus a Texas or Alabama Democrat is much, much less stark than it was 20 years ago.

    As our friends on the right are fond of reminding us*, the Democrats used to be the party of slavery, 150 years ago, and the party of Jim Crow, 50 years ago. It takes a generation for the Dixiecrats to wither and die. Robert Byrd was in the Klan, etc.

    But, even now, the range between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Manchin is pretty wide. Or Rep. Gillibrand and Sen. Gillibrand.

    But, if you would like to reminisce and feel nostalgic, we still have a wide variety of Virginia politicians who have appeared in blackface.

    *: Sometimes I think our friends on the right bring it up mockingly, to say “we stole your base”.

    9
  17. Jen says:

    This is where most of my thinking, (formerly) Republican friends are right now. I’ve mentioned previously that I wasn’t just someone who voted Republican, I also worked for the GOP at the state level in the early ’90s. I got a ground-level look at where things were headed and it made me very uneasy. All of the things that have bubbled to the national surface–the racism, the emphasis on Christianity over even respecting other religions, the sexism and misogyny, the anti-gay attitudes–all of this was present decades ago. I got the heck out of politics and never looked back.

    It’s sad, because we do actually benefit from an exchange of center-right and center-left ideas. Demonizing the efforts of government have contributed to this, and the anti-intellectualism is becoming even more problematic. “Government is bad, so is book-learnin'” is not how we effectively pass policy that helps people.

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    Bingo.

    2
  19. Kylopod says:

    @Jay L Gischer: One thing these “everybody’s a little racist” studies have long revealed is that the effect isn’t limited to white people: everybody means everybody. Even black people have been found in these studies to hold subconscious biases against blacks. This point deserves wider attention, because whites tend to react defensively to charges of racism, and when discussing these studies it’s important to emphasize that they aren’t about finger-pointing. They’re about society as a whole.

    7
  20. gVOR08 says:

    Like all cliches, it’s true that it takes a big man to admit his mistakes. Even when, as in this case, it’s more the mistakes of his fellows.

    5
  21. de stijl says:

    Hat tip to y’all plebes.

    4
  22. Steve V says:

    @mattbernius: On the one hand that’s true; on the other hand it’s an example of how people on opposite sides of the political divide cannot accept the possibility that the other side *ever* acts in good faith. I try not to do it with conservatives, but they make it difficult these days since their entire ideology seems to consist of “screw the liberals.” Guarneri only drops by to leave zingers so I don’t think it’s unfair to question his good faith. 🙂

    10
  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m arguing that the difference between a California or Massachusetts Democrat versus a Texas or Alabama Democrat is much, much less stark than it was 20 years ago.

    I’m not so sure about that…the House members who won in 2018 are a pretty diverse group.
    I suspect Chris Murphy of CT is going to have different view of gun rights than a Dem from Texas.
    Even among the Presidential candidates there is quite a bit of diversity of thought regarding things like Health Care…agreement on reform, but not on what that looks like.

  24. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:
    100%. That needs to be part of the discussion.

    The fact also remains that because most of our systems were (and continue to be) primarily constructed by white people (more often than not white men), the implicit bias they carry are more heavily embedded within the very framework of the system (or increasingly the algorithms that are the systems underpinnings).

    3
  25. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: I’m a big fan of the Google unconscious bias training video — https://youtu.be/nLjFTHTgEVU

    9 minutes in, you can watch people fumble to raise their left hand with words associated with men or liberal arts, and their right hand with words associated with women or science. These are bright people, who would mostly say that they aren’t biased, and they did just fine with women or liberal arts vs. men or science.

    The gist of the video is: if you learn to recognize your unconscious bias, you are less likely to act on it.

    It’s the only corporate diversity training I have seen that was not terrible.

    I worked at one company that was roughly half orthodox Jewish and half Russian immigrant, and a few other people, and the diversity training started with “come up to the white board, and write down a disparaging word you’ve heard people use to refer to other groups at work” — this quickly degenerated to name calling.

    It was not unlike the sensitivity training in Andy Richter Controls The Universe.
    https://youtu.be/5_1Ki3D5ztQ at 19:39 or so.

    1
  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Recently I watched a TED talk where John Wooden talked about his definition of success. I’d read it before (I’m a big fan). He defines success as making every effort to be the best you can possibly be. That’s where I am on the race issue. That’s where I want America to be – doing our best to do right by all citizens and positive contributors.

    Bravo!!! Well put…and you are pretty much where I am, as well.

  27. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m quoting you because it’s a point worth repeating:

    This is one of my gripes against call-out culture: if you’re going to hang people by the worst things they’ve said or done in the past, and deny them the possibility of redemption, (Ralph Northam) you’re dis-incentivizing honesty and rewarding hypocrisy. We want people to adapt. We want them to evolve. We want honesty. We want allies, even those who were not born with an infallible sense of right and wrong. Don’t we?

    7
  28. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    I worked at one company that was roughly half orthodox Jewish and half Russian immigrant, and a few other people, and the diversity training started with “come up to the white board, and write down a disparaging word you’ve heard people use to refer to other groups at work” — this quickly degenerated to name calling.

    Lemme guess… Schvartze and Zhid, amirite?

    1
  29. @Guarneri:

    I’d put a darker cast on it, as a long time observer, you are simply pandering to your commenter base.

    If he had wanted to pander, there is more money in pandering to the right wing. I know that I could have increased my blogging profile a way back if I had been willing to be a RW Professor railing against the academy. You want to see pandering? Look at Glenn Reynolds.

    And if you think he is pandering, you don’t know him as well as you think.

    25
  30. MarkedMan says:

    there are essentially no more conservative Democrats

    This statement begs the question: What does it mean to be a conservative? Yes, the two parties have moved to mutually exclusive positions on virtually all hot-button issues, but that was deliberately done based on political advantage, not on governing philosophy. Specifically, done by Newt Gingrich, whose 50% + 1 strategy is still the Republican absolute to this day. But is it Republicans that hold the conservative (small c) policy on each of those issues? I think not. But you can’t decide the issue until you have defined conservatism.

    I can think of a few useful ways to define conservative and liberal, but all of them differ from the operational one of the punditocracy, which is “Conservatism is what Republicans says it is.” Since what they say has only to do with tactics and currying favor, it does not represent any useful governing philosophy.

    Here’s one feasible definition: Conservative policies are ones that seek to preserve the existing order, awards value to systems and practices which have been shown to work and, when change is necessary, demands that it be done with the least disruption possible.

    Here’s another: Conservative policies are those that are developed using the principles espoused by the leaders of the most powerful entities in America, primarily business groups and large religious institutions. Since conservatism is about preserving institutions, these institutions by definition define what conservatism is.

    But as I said in the beginning, you can’t decide which party is more conservative until you define what that is. Same goes for liberal, progressive, radical or reactionary.

    6
  31. Barry says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Seconded.

    The Democratic Party has a very large and deep bench of moderates; it’s the GOP who makes them look like leftists.

    And for the ones who are leftists, why not be? The GOP has abandoned all centrism; pulling very hard to the left is a minimum necessity.

    3
  32. Teve says:

    If you get successful on the wingnut welfare circuit as Truth-Telling Professor Persecuted by the Left-Wing Academy, you can make literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

    Jordan Peterson’s speaking fee is $35,000

    7
  33. Andy says:

    I have never been a member of either party nor have I ever openly associated with either of them. I’ve always valued my independence.

    From my perspective the two parties are further apart than ever, retreating into narrower and more dogmatic constituencies. You’re right there is no overlap anymore, both parties have purged their moderates and continue to do so with zeal. The GOP remains the vanguard, but the Democrats aren’t too far behind.

    What concerns me is how this ends. If trends continue future elections will come down to a choice between a xenophobic neo-gilded age corporatist candidate (we’re already there) and an intersectional socialist (might be there soon) – if that happens with regularity then we are all fucked.

    4
  34. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Andy:

    The GOP remains the vanguard, but the Democrats aren’t too far behind.

    Again…hard to call Dems radical leftists when the central policies they are promoting are supported by clear majorities of Americans.

    10
  35. @Barry:

    The Democratic Party has a very large and deep bench of moderates; it’s the GOP who makes them look like leftists.

    This seems largely right to me, though I am a Democrat so there may be bias. When I look at the like of Joe Manchin, I don’t see how he can be described as anything other than a cultural conservative and an economic populist. The Republicans don’t seem to have a similar person who’s somewhat left of center.

    9
  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    you can’t decide which party is more conservative until you define what that is

    In today’s GOP, conservative is defined as “We reached the height of humanity in the 14th century. We need to go back to that.”

    2
  37. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Conservatism in any generation is defined on a relative rather than absolute scale, and that applies within the parties as well. We call Joe Manchin a conservative Democrat, but it’s easy to forget that there used to be far more right-wing individuals within the party. Phil Gramm was still a Democrat when he cosponsored Reagan’s first budget. Roy Moore was still a Democrat in the 1990s. People like that have virtually disappeared from the party. And even people like Manchin (or Larry Hogan for that matter) are more a reflection of the states they represent than the party they identify by.

    1
  38. @Andy:

    and an intersectional socialist

    But the actual reality is that we are rather far away from “socialism”–if by that one means something truly of the radical left.

    However, if “socialism” means a welfare state, we have had that since the 1930s and somehow have managed not to collapse into Venezuela.

    The term largely is used without any meaning.

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  39. @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, if “socialism” means a welfare state, we have had that since the 1930s and somehow have managed not to collapse into Venezuela.

    The term largely is used without any meaning.

    This is something that has driven me nuts for a long time. To me, socialism still means what it did in The Road to Serfdom: nationalized industry and central planning, including prices. The way it is thrown in this country to include a welfare state and regulation is idiotic.

    I generally stick with saying we have a mixed economy, i.e. capitalism with some regulation and redistribution.

    8
  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I think the larger point here is that what we used to think of as right and left no longer apply, and so trying to frame your world view in that way is prone to failure.
    There are no Conservatives left in the Republican Party.
    To the best of my knowledge there are no kooks like Kucinich running in the Democratic Primaries.

  41. Teve says:

    The candidate currently leading the Democratic Party polls is Joe Biden, and if somebody thinks he’s an intersectional socialist, then somebody’s family would like to have them sit down and talk about how their drinking is hurting everyone.

    5
  42. Andy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Again…hard to call Dems radical leftists when the central policies they are promoting are supported by clear majorities of Americans.

    I don’t think Dems are radical leftists, but they are certainly moving in that direction.

    I don’t agree with your assessment that the actual policies Democrats propose are supported by a clear majority of Americans unless you water down the proposals into soundbites. (But obviously it varies from proposal to proposal, some are better and more popular than others)

    1
  43. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The problem is with a “virtue ethics” view of morality. That is that there’s one set of people who are racists and one set of people who are not. The racists do racist things and the non-racists do non-racist things, and the solution to our problems is to figure out which set everyone is in and shun the members of the racist set from society and then everything is unicorns and rainbows.

    A better way to look at it is more deontologically: actions are racist or not racist, regardless of who is doing them. Some people do a lot of racist actions and some don’t do many, but we need to get EVERYONE to notice which actions are which and focus on doing fewer racist actions.

    6
  44. de stijl says:

    Obligatory Simpsons clip. “You used to be cool. You’ve changed, man.”
    https://youtu.be/nabNdHO6lYk

    Second obligatory Simpsons clip “You’ve changed, man. You used to be about the music.” Bless Milhous van Houten
    https://youtu.be/5kAYYGZ8nC8

    When, and why did “You’ve changed, man” become a trope? Is there a specific scene in a movie that prompted it, or did it just grow organically?

    The Simpsons’ writers didn’t invent it; it’s a very specific phrasing – the writers were playing off something. What? Maybe the Kristofferson version of A Star Is Born?

    1
  45. @Andy:

    I don’t think Dems are radical leftists, but they are certainly moving in that direction.

    If I head towards my back fence I am moving in the direction of California. But that movement, relative to where I am currently sitting on my back porch, is rather small.

    I think it is fair to say that the Democrats have moved a little leftward in the aggregate. However, they are by no means moving towards anything radical. And in the grand scheme of small-d democratic political parties around the world they are quite centrist, if not center-right.

    What would you consider a radical leftist policy that the party is moving towards? (And I mean actually about to be supported by the party as a whole).

    9
  46. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: I don’t know the origin of the trope, but it made me think of the version in Jackie Brown when Sam Jackson says to De Niro, “Your ass used to be beautiful”–which I always found to be a pretty weird line.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHu9UjCy_Cc

    1
  47. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But the actual reality is that we are rather far away from “socialism”–if by that one means something truly of the radical left.

    I think you are reading too much into an off-hand quip. The larger point is that both parties are trending toward the extremes and not away. And the Democrats are not so far away from socialism as the growing support for Sander’s M4A plan and AOC’s New Green Deal show – two proposals that most would consider socialist policies.

    @Teve:

    The candidate currently leading the Democratic Party polls is Joe Biden, and if somebody thinks he’s an intersectional socialist, then somebody’s family would like to have them sit down and talk about how their drinking is hurting everyone.

    Despite my reservations with Joe Biden, if he got the nomination today I would probably vote for him. But his early lead means nothing at this point and he is no longer in the mainstream for primary voters, so I think he will have an uphill battle.

    As I’ve suggested before, I think the future will be like the recent Florida governor’s race.

  48. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And in the grand scheme of small-d democratic political parties around the world they are quite centrist, if not center-right.

    I’m not comparing the Democrats to other parties around the world, I’m comparing them to the Democrats from 20-40 years ago.

    What would you consider a radical leftist policy that the party is moving towards? (And I mean actually about to be supported by the party as a whole).

    The Green New Deal is pretty radical IMO.

  49. @Andy:

    The larger point is that both parties are trending toward the extremes and not away. And the Democrats are not so far away from socialism as the growing support for Sander’s M4A plan and AOC’s New Green Deal show – two proposals that most would consider socialist policies.

    Medicare for All, or truly universal, single-payer HC is a social welfare program, not “socialism” as Rob Prather correctly noted above. All other advanced democracies have universal health care and still retain private owernship of business. It isn’t “radical.”

    The Green New Deal is a non-binding rough framework, if not a vague suggestion, that hasn’t even passed one chamber of congress (nor will it).

    You are picking the most public example of one of the more liberal members of congress, which is not how you judge a party’s overall tenor.

    Meanwhile, the GOP is literally run by one its more extreme members. Casting the two parties as peas in a pod is simply empirically incorrect.

    And, moreover, I think it is dangerous to cast the conversation in that way because it normalizes Trump. If the Ds and Rs are both going bonkers, one might as well stay with one’s tribe. But they aren’t both going bonkers.

    15
  50. @Andy: Give me a policy that has a chance of passing–or I would settle for one that there is a good chance the Dems will actually fight for in Congress.

    5
  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Robert Prather: A couple months ago I decided I ought to read The Road to Serfdom. I wonder if most people who quote it have actually read it. Hayek quite explicitly defines “socialism” as central planning. and only central planning. Period. End of story. As I’m unaware of anyone seriously proposing central planning these days, the book doesn’t seem particularly relevant any more. All those Hayek quotes about the evils of “socialism” are actually about central planning, not anything anyone’s currently advocating as “socialism”. Current Republicans are decrying as “socialist” a whole lot of things that Hayek would have no problem with.

    5
  52. James Pearce says:

    That is that there’s one set of people who are racists and one set of people who are not.

    Ha! Racism has been explained to me –in this very comment section– in exactly this way. “They’re racist” and sometimes it’s “You’re racist,” but it hasn’t been “Everyone’s a little racist….sometimes” since Avenue Q won the Tony.

    @Andy:

    I don’t think Dems are radical leftists, but they are certainly moving in that direction.

    I don’t know if it can be considered a direction, but if you’re a radical leftist, you can find a home in the Democratic party.

    But this is a center-right country, so “radical” leftists don’t really have much pull.

    2
  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod:

    Conservatism in any generation is defined on a relative rather than absolute scale

    This basically goes along with my second definition:

    Conservative policies are those that are developed using the principles espoused by the leaders of the most powerful entities (…), primarily business groups and large religious institutions. Since conservatism is about preserving institutions, these institutions by definition define what conservatism is.

    Although this is a legitimate position, it has some logical consequences. For instance, using this definition means there is no such thing as conservative principles. Which means that the label “conservatism” is purely arbitrary. It could be any other word or phrase.

    For myself, I think that this is just political factionalism by another name. In contrast, I think there is a legitimate and useful definition of conservatism and from that you can derive conservative policies. It’s that first definition I used above:

    Conservative policies are ones that seek to preserve the existing order, awards value to systems and practices which have been shown to work and, when change is necessary, demands that it be done with the least disruption possible.

    There is a corresponding definition of liberalism: Liberal policies are ones which promote wholesale or dramatic change, and are founded upon the belief that existing policies are leading towards bad ends and must be quickly and thoroughly ended.

    From these you can decide whether a policy is conservative or liberal, and you can even identify yourself or others as tending towards conservatism or liberalism, i.e. whether you are a conservative or a liberal by nature. But few people (and no political party) should be exclusively liberal or conservative. To steal from Emerson, a foolish conservatism/liberalism is the hobgoblin of little minds.

    Progressivism, on the other hand, is actually values and situational based. Progressivism can be defined as the desire to move society to a better place. “Better” is a values judgement, and means different things to different people, but it implies that a) we are not yet perfected and b) it is worthwhile to embark on a job of work towards that perfection. Of course, progressive goals can be achieved by liberal or conservative policies or, most likely, by a combination of them.

    1
  54. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Medicare for All, or truly universal, single-payer HC is a social welfare program, not “socialism” as Rob Prather correctly noted above. All other advanced democracies have universal health care and still retain private owernship of business. It isn’t “radical.”

    Sander’s plan isn’t merely universal healthcare – it specifically makes private insurance illegal – something very few countries with universal healthcare do. If a government nationalizes an entire industry, then that is socialism. Compared to health care in France or Germany or any number of other wealth, stable, secular countries, his proposal is radical, to say nothing of comparing it to norms in the US.

    The Green New Deal is a non-binding rough framework, if not a vague suggestion, that hasn’t even passed one chamber of congress (nor will it).

    It still has a lot of support in the party. 20 years ago, it would have been laughed at. Hence my suggesting there is a trend.

    You are picking the most public example of one of the more liberal members of congress, which is not how you judge a party’s overall tenor.

    Yes, because I’m talking about trends. It wasn’t long ago that Nancy Pelosi was one of the most liberal members of Congress – now she’s a relative moderate trying to reign in AOC and others in her circle.

    Look, I think it’s undeniable the Democrats are trending to the left. That does not mean that I think Sander’s M4A and the GND are representative of the entire party – I’m suggesting that is the direction where the party is headed. If it gets there is an open question, but IMO it is undeniable that is where the party is trending.

  55. @Andy: It all depends on what “trending” and “left” means (as well as how far). You started this off asserting radicalism.

    6
  56. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Meanwhile, the GOP is literally run by one its more extreme members. Casting the two parties as peas in a pod is simply empirically incorrect.

    I’m not casting them as peas in a pod. As I specifically said in my comment, the GOP is the vanguard – IOW they are further along and leading the way. But the Democrats are adopting the tactics the GOP pioneered, like primarying moderates. The fact that the Democrats haven’t – yet – fallen as far doesn’t mean they aren’t falling.

    1
  57. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    Talk to someone under the age of 30. They don’t think the Green New Deal is radical, they think radical is Trump and the GOP lying about a clear danger. And since they’re the ones who’ll be living with the mess we’ve left them, I respect their position. Sure, the goals are overly ambitious, but they are at least worthwhile goals, goals we should be trying to achieve. Beats hell out of pretending nothing’s happening.

    12
  58. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It all depends on what “trending” and “left” means (as well as how far). You started this off asserting radicalism.

    You should review what was written in the thread. I did not start off asserting radicalism.

    2
  59. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The problem I have with the GND is not really about the goals, but the methods.

    1
  60. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Sander’s plan isn’t merely universal healthcare – it specifically makes private insurance illegal – something very few countries with universal healthcare do.

    Sanders M4A isn’t where most of the party is, though. It’s a signpost off in the distance, and one of many. A talking point to drag the discussion a bit closer to that.

    I would also point out that we have been trying to prop up the current health care system for decades, and that it’s been failing us for decades. Cost increases at several times the rate of inflation, medical bankruptcy up… if there is a less radical solution, we haven’t found it.

    Pursuing M4A after everything else has failed isn’t radical, it’s pragmatic.

    8
  61. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Sanders M4A isn’t where most of the party is, though. It’s a signpost off in the distance, and one of many. A talking point to drag the discussion a bit closer to that.

    As I’ve repeatedly noted, I agree that isn’t where most of the party is, but that IS where the party is headed.

    And the big-picture point I’m making is that it won’t be good for our country if our political choice is between two alternatives with a vast distance between them – which is what will happen if trends continue.

    1
  62. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What does it mean to be a conservative?

    There is a large part of me that is a little c conservative. I like civic institutions to be stable. I prefer planned incremental change with a back-out process if things don’t work as expected, and then another back-up plan just to be safe.

    Unless, the situation requires radical action now. Tinkering at the edges of a failed policy is rearranging deck chairs.

    So I veer back and forth between incrementalism and radical change with no underlying principle beyond pragmatism – if something can be solved incrementally, then do that; if it can’t, then chuck the baby, the bath water, the tub, the whole plumbing system and let’s quickly engineer a different system.

    I guess pragmatism is better than nothing. But still, I’d like to have an organizing principle.

    5
  63. Kathy says:

    When judging policy positions, one must take the bargaining effect into account. That is, what’s proposed is not just not what will emerge from Congress, but not even what the person proposing it really wants. Policy positions carry features that can be bargained away.

    That’s what makes simplistic “policies” like “build the wall” so incredibly stupid, more so if taken seriously. A simple position, like “$15 per hour minimum wage,” can be bargained, say, to $12 per hour, or instituted gradually, say $15 per hour in five years, or both. A simplistic position cannot.

    4
  64. de stijl says:

    Medicare has been around for 50 years and provides coverage for 59 million people now.

    M4A is not a radical idea. Especially if it is a buy-in.

    8
  65. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Leo Rosten put it in a more pithy way: “A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead.”

    In the context of this conversation, I was talking more about how conservatism and liberalism are defined within each of the parties. Any Democrat who’s to the right of most other Democrats at this point in time will be described as a “conservative Democrat,” but it doesn’t necessarily make them comparable to conservative Democrats from 30, 50, or 70 years ago, nor does it preclude the idea that there’s been a leftward shift in the party over time.

    I’d definitely say that the GOP has moved further to the right than the Dems have moved to the left–but both have moved in those respective directions to some degree. You can see it in the very language. The phrase “liberal Republican” is rarely used today, but it was commonplace in the mid-20th century, applied routinely to figures such as Jacob Javits and Edward Brooke. (A WaPo article in 1967: “Liberal Tells Why GOP Will Pick Reagan.” The “liberal” was in fact a moderate Republican, a member of the Ripon Society.) In contrast, the phrase “conservative Democrat” has not become extinct like that. Yet the designation was used a lot more in the past, and in ways that sound rather strange today. If you look at news articles from that period, you’ll run across phrases like “the extreme right wing of the Democratic Party.” A WaPo article from 1943 describes Lewis Douglas (Arizona Congressman, budget director under FDR, ambassador to the UK under Truman) as an “ultraconservative Democrat.”

    I believe the most crucial event in the sorting of the two parties was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of ’64. That started the South’s exodus from the Democratic Party and the marginalization and eventual extinction of the Rockefeller wing of the GOP.

    The rise of Bill Clinton is often seen as a “move to the center” within the party, but that’s only relative to previous Democratic presidential nominees such as McGovern, Mondale, and Dukakis (but not Carter). Congressional Democrats weren’t moving to the left compared with previous decades, and indeed the 1994 midterms was part of the process of killing off what remained of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. And certainly, the years since Clinton left office have been followed by a reappraisal and rejection of much of his centrist legacy by most Democrats.

    5
  66. Scott says:

    I’ve always been a moderate to liberal Northeastern Republican of the Rockefeller and Bush wings. Yes that Republican Party is no longer there. The Southern Strategy has totally worked. Today’s Republican Party is the political descendant of George Wallace. As I think I’ve written here before, that is a place I could not follow. So many have followed that Road to Abilene (or is it now the Road to Jonestown).

    In many ways, I don’t consider myself very ideological but rather a rationalist, as pretentious as that sounds. So I don’t belong. So be it. And so it goes.

    On the other hand, last election cycle was the first time I donated money to a candidate and the first time I put a yard sign up. Why? I’m fine. I got a military retirement, SS, and Medicare. However, I fear for my children and am driven to protect them as long as I am able.

    6
  67. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    That’s what makes simplistic “policies” like “build the wall” so incredibly stupid, more so if taken seriously. A simple position, like “$15 per hour minimum wage,” can be bargained, say, to $12 per hour, or instituted gradually, say $15 per hour in five years, or both. A simplistic position cannot.

    It’s a matter of degree. Back in 2016 Jénos kept arguing that Trump’s “Mexico will pay for the wall” was simply a starting ploy in a negotiation. But that sort of thing doesn’t work if the starting ploy is absurd. If Dr. Evil demands $100 billion, that doesn’t mean he’s on a path to getting $1 billion. There’s a difference between pushing the boundaries and imagining them out of existence.

    But I think this applies at a less blatant level. Over the years I’ve debated liberals who felt that Obama should have first pushed single-payer and then “met in the middle” with the public option. But single-payer was a nonstarter in 2009, so it wouldn’t have gained him anything to start off demanding something that everyone knew couldn’t pass in that Congress. At the same time, I think there’s value in having Dems stake out relatively extreme positions in order to push the Overton Window in their direction. There’s a definite risk to it, but I think it’s worth doing, especially given how far to the right US politics has been moved. It’s the main reason why I initially supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, despite my awareness of how simplistic many of his solutions were.

    7
  68. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I understand what you are saying. Your definition of conservative is simply “to the right, politically”. That’s fine but it explicitly rules out the idea of “conservative principles”. It’s just a synonym for right leaning and that is just a somewhat arbitrary collection of policies. They can be liberal (tending towards dramatic change) such as basket of commodities securing the worth of our currency. They can be profoundly conservative (favoring the existing power structure) ala Muslims should not be in Congress. Or they can be neutral along the liberal/conservative divide such as gerrymandering. It’s worth remembering where the terms right and left wing came from. If I recall correctly it referred to political factions in post revolutionary France and how they tended to sit together in parliament: one side to the right of the speakers podium and one on the left. And from our point of view the designation was only about politics since philosophically both sides were literally radical revolutionaries, as liberal (favoring change) as they could possibly be.

  69. An Interested Party says:

    I’d put a darker cast on it, as a long time observer, you are simply pandering to your commenter base.

    The pathetic prattling of someone who is desperately trying to be somewhat relevant…

    And the big-picture point I’m making is that it won’t be good for our country if our political choice is between two alternatives with a vast distance between them – which is what will happen if trends continue.

    This is nothing but both siderism…the reality is more like the Dems are warning people that a potential disaster is coming…meanwhile, Republicans are trying to burn down the whole building…

    4
  70. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    They can be liberal (tending towards dramatic change)

    I have issues with this definition. I’d go with something like a broader distribution of equality under the law.

    I’m not sure if my attempt at the definition is the right one, but I think your definition is flawed. Conservative Republicans tend towards dramatic change right now on many issues.

  71. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Your definition of conservative is simply “to the right, politically”.

    More or less–but I would include as part of that definition “within a liberal democracy.” Nazi Germany wasn’t conservative, and the USSR wasn’t liberal.

    That’s fine but it explicitly rules out the idea of “conservative principles”.

    It depends. There are certainly conservatives with a coherent set of beliefs that they follow consistently, without hypocrisy, and aren’t simply doing what they can to maximize their power (as is the case with much of today’s GOP). I have no trouble describing such people as principled conservatives, whether I agree with those principles or not. But I’m skeptical of the idea that there’s an essential conservative philosophy that remains more or less unchanged in its basic tenets over time.

    And from our point of view the designation was only about politics since philosophically both sides were literally radical revolutionaries, as liberal (favoring change) as they could possibly be.

    It’s not so much about change vs. stasis as it is about egalitarian reform vs. traditional hierarchies.

    Note also that while the left-right designation did begin in 18th-century France, it didn’t really start to be applied to international politics until the early 20th century, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that it was applied to the political spectrum in the US. “Right” and “left” originally referred to the extremes–the communists, the fascists–before it was applied to the politics of liberal democracy, where almost everyone (at least as long as you believed in democracy) was somewhere in the “center” relative to those extremes.

  72. wr says:

    @de stijl: “When, and why did “You’ve changed, man” become a trope? Is there a specific scene in a movie that prompted it, or did it just grow organically?”

    I believe it’s a 60s thing.

    2
  73. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    Conservative Republicans tend towards dramatic change right now on many issues.

    Which means that those policies are not small c conservative, whatever those people call themselves. North Korea calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic but, like Conservative Republican, that’s just co-opting words that sound good and applying them to something completely different.

    Look, I realize I have a minority and some may say pedantic opinion that whether a policy is small c conservative and small l liberal policies is independent of the left/right spectrum in American politics. It’s just that so many people seem to honestly believe they have “conservative principles” and that is why they are Republican, but are completely unable to list what those principles are. Instead they present a basket of unrelated policy or moral positions and call them conservative. But there aren’t any principles or philosophies involved, instead it’s just “things my tribe agrees on”.

    So here’s a challenge. Define a conservative principle.

    1
  74. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    You should review what was written in the thread. I did not start off asserting radicalism.

    Dude, you started off by asserting that the Democratic Party had purged its moderates, and that it was headed for “intersectional socialism”. Both of those are assertions of radicalism. (Both are also false, but that’s a separate problem.)

    9
  75. @Andy:

    You should review what was written in the thread. I did not start off asserting radicalism.

    Well, you started off with “intersectional socialism” (which I think you later said was being flippant).

    And then you said

    I don’t think Dems are radical leftists, but they are certainly moving in that direction.

    In another place you said “The Green New Deal is pretty radical IMO.The Green New Deal is pretty radical IMO” after giving me the Green New Deal as evidence for your position.

    These are where I got the idea that you were suggesting that the party was moving in a radical direction.

    3
  76. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, you started off with “intersectional socialism” (which I think you later said was being flippant).

    Let’s review what I actually wrote:

    If trends continue future elections will come down to a choice between a xenophobic neo-gilded age corporatist candidate (we’re already there) and an intersectional socialist (might be there soon)

    Again, I’m talking about trends, as in the future. Talking about future elections, not the present. “might be there soon” is talking about the future. And yes, I was being a bit flippant.

    In short, I never said the Democratic party was radical, but I do think that some policies advocated by some of its members are radical (more on that below) and the general trend for the official party platform is headed away from the mainstream toward the extreme.

    In another place you said “The Green New Deal is pretty radical IMO.The Green New Deal is pretty radical IMO” after giving me the Green New Deal as evidence for your position.

    Yes, I think the GND and the Sanders/Jayapal M4A proposals are radical.

    But we should define our terms, yes? I’m using this dictionary definition of “radical” – “favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions; associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change.” I would also add “advocating changes or policies far outside the mainstream.”

    IMO the GND and the M4A proposals by Sanders, Jayapal (and possibly others) meet that definition. And, to reiterate since there was confusion on this earlier, I’m talking about these specific proposals which, despite the names, aren’t actually “Medicare for all” but something completely different.

    If you want to know why I think they are radical, I’d be happy to make the argument.

    Overall I’m kind of surprised at the pushback in this thread. To me, it seems very hard to deny the that Democratic party is politically moving away from the center and also which way it’s heading.

    Just to restate, my fear is that American voters will be presented with a choice between two candidates who represent small political minorities. As long as both parties continue to move away from the center of American political life, the chances of that happening only increase. You, probably better than anyone, would understand the problems of, for example, a Trump-Sanders choice in 2020, and the dissatisfaction many would feel from being forced to choose between two highly unpopular candidates. And those of us who aren’t in the tank for one side or another would really appreciate a candidate with broad appeal rather than a no-win, lesser-of-evils situation.

  77. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The clearly flawed definition of liberalism = “tending towards dramatic change” as the defining criterion. The intent was not to piss you off.

  78. de stijl says:

    All the cool stuff happens at the bottom of the thread. Everybody gets feisty.

    3
  79. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Oh yeah? Well fuck you, pal.

    Trying to get into the spirit.

    4
  80. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh yeah? Well fuck you, pal

    Fuck you, too, buddy!

    A very cool thing has happened to the word “pal”. It has it’s straightforward definition – friend, but no one actually uses “pal” as a synoym for friend in that context anymore.

    If you use “pal” it is known that you are being aggressive and confrontational. And “buddy” is moving in that direction too.

    I like “friendo” in this role, myself. Picked it up from Ashly Burch who voiced Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2.

    Any workaday schmuck can taunt with a “pal” or a “buddy”. Gentlemen of leisure employ “friendo” with sang froid panache.

    1
  81. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    I believe it’s a 60s thing.

    From where, though? The context is really specific – It’s “I am an alienated former friend or very close colleague and I am challenging you because you’ve lost sight of the big picture and become selfish and complacent when you should be reconnecting with your long lost daughter, redeem yourself, learn a valuable life lesson , so we can then wrap up the third act and all go home.”

    1
  82. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    Overall I’m kind of surprised at the pushback in this thread. To me, it seems very hard to deny the that Democratic party is politically moving away from the center and also which way it’s heading.

    It ain’t heading there fast, and a lot of people don’t like being called radicals. Go figure. How is push back a surprise?

    You’re right of center — if I remember correctly, pretty right of center. Not Trumpy, not crazy, not a white nationalist, not a social conservative, but pretty small-c conservative. No political party speaks to you anymore. They don’t even pretend. You’ve been abandoned.

    The Democrats have moved to the left a bit, particularly on minority rights, but also the environment and health care. It’s a center-left party. Has been for decades.

    We lost the Dixiecrats, and good riddance. We lost the pro-life and pro-gun Democrats, not because they were primaried out, but because they lost to Republicans.

    (I’d rather have more pro-gun Democrats and more Democrats as a result, but there is no level of pro-gun that is pro-gun enough for a Democrat to not be called a gun grabbing liberal, and lose to the NRA supported candidate. It’s a big reason we do poorly in rural areas)

    So, yes, more to the left than 30 years ago. But not very far left.

    I don’t know where the Republicans have moved to, since nothing they advocate seems conservative to me at all, but they are no longer a center-right party. We don’t have a center-right party. I don’t think we have had a center-right party since the Gingrich days, but now they don’t even pretend.

    It sucks that there isn’t a natural choice for you, but that’s the nature of our two party system. But that can change — until recently, there wasn’t a natural choice for the Alex Jones crackpot conspiracy theorists, or the Birchers.

    11
  83. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I’m not finding anything from before Beverly Hills Cop, but that can’t be right.

    My google fu is weak.

  84. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    …it made me think of the version in Jackie Brown when Sam Jackson says to De Niro, “Your ass used to be beautiful”–which I always found to be a pretty weird line.

    That’s a really interesting add. And it totally fits. Different words, but same concept.

    I apologize for this – it is many hours overdue.

    Tarantino has many issues. Many deeply troubling issues, but, man, that opening tracking shot of Pam Grier gliding down the airport walkway, then striding, then trotting, then running to get to her post all set to Just Across 110th Street is breathtaking genius.

    And her interaction with Robert Forster later. And when Forster buys the Delfonics record because of her. It just all works so well. Tarantino – again, many deeply troubling issues – but Jackie Brown is a really fucking good movie.

    Bobby Womack / Just Across 110th Street (Jackie Brown opening scene)
    https://youtu.be/9gs1_ndm3r4

    That scene gives me goosebumps and makes my hair stand on end. It is spooky great. Wow!

    1
  85. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    This is not a true Today I Learned because I learned it a few weeks back. Bobby Womack is not from NYC as one would suspect from the 11oth St lyrics, but from Cleveland and used to be Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist.

  86. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    The clearly flawed definition of liberalism

    OK. Do you have a better one?

  87. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    As I said yesterday:

    I’d go with something like a broader distribution of equality under the law.

    3
  88. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    a broader distribution of equality under the law

    Fair enough. To my way of thinking that is a progressive value, not a liberal principle, but YMMV. Let me ask, though, how would you use that principle to decide whether a proposed environmental law is liberal or conservative?

    Under my definition, it’s fairly obvious. Laws that call for dramatic change (50% renewables by 2028) are liberal. Laws that call for merely improving gradually on our existing infrastructure (phasing out the most polluting coal fired plants) are conservative.

    On the environment, I’m pretty darn liberal, calling for big changes, very swiftly. But even that is informed by my conservative nature. For literally my whole life entrenched businesses and their political and media mouthpieces have been wailing about how no one would be buying cars anymore if we said they had to get 18 miles per gallon, or that engines wouldn’t last more than 10,000 miles if we took the lead out of gasoline, or that there wouldn’t be a single job left in the Chicago area if we didn’t keep dumping raw sewage and heavy metal into Lake Michigan. Our previous efforts to change the environment have been almost uniformly positive and the industrial naysayers have been spectacularly wrong.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty conservative about education reform. Past history shows that most big initiatives , from the left or the right, cause tremendous disruptions and have little effect at tremendous expense and at the cost of sidelining real improvement for yet another generation. When it comes to education, people on the left or right, Republican or Democrat, tend to have incredibly strong opinions formed while completely ignoring the history of everything that was tried before. Their solutions, whether it be charter schools or classrooms without walls, are the opposite of “conserving”. Instead of steady and results based improvements on the actual small c conservative things we have tried (No Child Left Behind – aka let’s test all students against a single standard, or Core Curriculum – aka here is a basic set of things students should know), people from everywhere on the political spectrum want to try their half-assed theories on whatever unfortunate kids they can sweep up in their net.

    1
  89. @Andy:

    Overall I’m kind of surprised at the pushback in this thread. To me, it seems very hard to deny the that Democratic party is politically moving away from the center and also which way it’s heading.

    On the one hand, I agree that the party is moving a bit more leftward, but I think that such a statement requires a lot of qualification and discussion.

    On the other, the part of your position that I pushing back against is your assertion that that party is not only moving leftward, it is moving towards radicalism (at some ill-defined point in the future). I don’t think this is supported by the evidence.

    (And I was surprised that you found my discussion of radicalism to be problematic, as if you didn’t raise it when you clearly did).

    8
  90. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    It ain’t heading there fast, and a lot of people don’t like being called radicals. Go figure. How is push back a surprise?

    Well, that’s the thing, I specifically have not called anyone a radical and have specifically said I don’t think the Democratic party is currently radical. So if people “don’t like being called radicals” I don’t understand why they’d direct their ire at me. Democrats seem to get angry at the mere suggestion their party might be headed that direction.

    You’re right of center — if I remember correctly, pretty right of center. Not Trumpy, not crazy, not a white nationalist, not a social conservative, but pretty small-c conservative. No political party speaks to you anymore. They don’t even pretend. You’ve been abandoned.

    No, I’ve never been a member of or associated with the GoP. It only looks like I’m right of center because this comment section is almost universally on the left and I tend to be a contrarian in discussions.

    My actual political views are eclectic and don’t conform to the orthodoxy for either party, hence I’ve long been an independent and have voted for Republicans, Democrats and third-party/independents over the years. In this latest election (state of Colorado) about 80% of my votes went to Democratic candidates, including the major offices like Governor. The last time I voted for a Republican for President was for Bush in 2000 and that was primarily based on his promise of a “more humble foreign policy.” Yeah, that didn’t turn out so well.

    If you want to know my position on something in particular, just ask.

    So, yes, more to the left than 30 years ago. But not very far left.

    I think reasonable people can disagree about the degree of movement. It’s interesting how all Democrats I meet believe the party has moved hardly at all and most everyone else believes it’s moved significantly. There’s clearly a disconnect.

    I don’t know where the Republicans have moved to, since nothing they advocate seems conservative to me at all, but they are no longer a center-right party. We don’t have a center-right party. I don’t think we have had a center-right party since the Gingrich days, but now they don’t even pretend.

    Yeah, I agree. “Conservative” has pretty much lost it’s meaning (but then so has “liberal” to a lesser extent). The modern right is reactionary, not conservative IMO.

    It sucks that there isn’t a natural choice for you, but that’s the nature of our two party system. But that can change — until recently, there wasn’t a natural choice for the Alex Jones crackpot conspiracy theorists, or the Birchers.

    It doesn’t suck for just me – the majority of America is not on the reactionary right or the progressive left. They represent minority constituencies, yet they have undue influence in the primary/nomination process. Again, what I worry about is that the Democratic party will get to the point where the GoP is now and that Presidential contests will be like the recent Florida gubernatorial election.

    Dr. Taylor has ably explained in other posts here how easy it is for insurgent factions to take over the primary system and the party – which is exactly what happened with the GoP. Republicans like James were in denial that this could happen in the GoP, but it did. Democrats should not make the same mistake.

    We’ll have to see how things break out for the current, large Democratic field, but I hope the far-left base does not win out in the nomination contest.

    1
  91. Blue Galangal says:

    @mattbernius: And not to beat a dead horse, but I remember the shock and awe expressed by Terry Gross ~10 years ago on a segment on NPR about how no one had thought to study how women have heart attacks… all of the studies were based on men, because that was the default that no one thought to question.

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  92. @Andy:

    Dr. Taylor has ably explained in other posts here how easy it is for insurgent factions to take over the primary system and the party – which is exactly what happened with the GoP. Republicans like James were in denial that this could happen in the GoP, but it did. Democrats should not make the same mistake.

    Yes, this is possible. I think you are extrapolating too much from currently available evidence.

    2
  93. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes, this is possible. I think you are extrapolating too much from currently available evidence.

    Could be, we’ll find out eventually.

    2
  94. grumpy realist says:

    @Blue Galangal: This is the same problem we’ve had with race–all of us running around with default assumptions about people who aren’t male upper-middle class WASPs.

    I really do get annoyed when I hear moaning from members of the alt-right complaining about how they now have to compete with a) African-Americans b) Jews c) immigrants d) women. Dudes, you’ve been living in a world where historically the field was heavily tilted in your favour. Now the field isn’t as tilted as much but you’ve still got the default assumption switches flipped in your direction. And in spite of all that you’re whining like crazy about How The World Is Mean To Me. Don’t talk about how your race/sex/whatever should automagically be rewarded by you being at the top of the heap–if you’re so fantastic, demonstrate it without rigging the game in your favour.

    Wimps!!

    5
  95. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    On the other, the part of your position that I pushing back against is your assertion that that party is not only moving leftward, it is moving towards radicalism (at some ill-defined point in the future).

    That’s a distinction without a difference. If one is moving away from the average or mainstream political views of society, then one is moving toward a more radical position regardless of if it’s headed right or left.

    I don’t think this is supported by the evidence.

    Would your view change if Sanders gets the nomination?

  96. SKI says:

    @Andy:

    It doesn’t suck for just me – the majority of America is not on the reactionary right or the progressive left. They represent minority constituencies, yet they have undue influence in the primary/nomination process. Again, what I worry about is that the Democratic party will get to the point where the GoP is now and that Presidential contests will be like the recent Florida gubernatorial election.

    Does the “Progressive Left” actually have “undue influence in the primary/nomination process” for the Dems? Where is the evidence?

    Let’s look at the top 8 right now in National Polling per 538: BIDEN, SANDERS, HARRIS, O’ROURKE, WARREN, BUTTIGIEG, BOOKER, KLOBUCHAR.

    Other than Sanders, which of them aren’t of the center? Warren is probably most left of the rest and she is an ardent capitalist and economics professor who approaches things from a academic perspective. At most, she is center-left. What positions do any of them take that wouldn’t be center to center-right in the rest of the “First World”?

    It seems to me that the most useful differentiation between the parties seems to be not in terms of economic policies but social. At a general level, the modern GOP is for the primacy of white Christian males and the Democrats are more inclusive.

    4
  97. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    Would your view change if Sanders gets the nomination?

    Speaking for myself, yes. I agree with Steven’s analysis, but if Bernie were to get the nod I would have to reevaluate.

    3
  98. Andy says:

    @SKI:

    Well, I think we’re going around in circles at this point, I don’t really have a lot more to add to what I’ve already said. It’s a pretty well-established fact that the base of each party is more influential in primaries simply because they are more motivated and politically active.

    The progressive faction in the party is already planning to primary moderate Democrats in 2020, which had some success in 2018. Their overt intentions are to pull the party left. This next election cycle will be an interesting test when it comes to the state of Democratic primary politics.

  99. Monala says:

    @James Pearce:

    Ha! Racism has been explained to me –in this very comment section– in exactly this way. “They’re racist” and sometimes it’s “You’re racist,” but it hasn’t been “Everyone’s a little racist….sometimes” since Avenue Q won the Tony.

    (which was in 2004)

    Wrong again. In 2016, this happened:

    The presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Monday night was the most watched presidential debate in American history. Race was a prominent theme of the debate, as it has been the whole campaign. At one point, moderator Lester Holt asked Secretary Clinton if she “believed that police are implicitly biased against black people” and Clinton responded, “Implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.”

    I recall a lot of rightwingers losing their minds about that comment. Even though she wasn’t singly out anyone, they responded with the usual, “How dare she call us racist!”

    5
  100. Monala says:
  101. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    That’s a distinction without a difference. If one is moving away from the average or mainstream political views of society, then one is moving toward a more radical position regardless of if it’s headed right or left.

    The Democrats have moved a bit away from the average, but not the mainstream. Even the most “radical” Democratic ideas — like M4A — get 40-60% support, depending on the polling. Totally mainstream.

    When the Republicans are always saying that the Democrats are Socialists and are in crazy land, your distinction without a difference is using Trumpy framing. It’s insulting.

    Let’s just say your best friend was black. And that his favorite fruit was watermelon. There are all sorts of things that you could say that would be true, but would sound incredibly racist.

    3
  102. @Andy:

    That’s a distinction without a difference. If one is moving away from the average or mainstream political views of society, then one is moving toward a more radical position regardless of if it’s headed right or left.

    Yes, to a point. Again: if I am moving westward but my plans and capabilities will only take me to Mississippi, I have moved closer to California, but that does not mean that it is far to describe my journey as going to California, even if I am marginally closer to it.

    By your logic all parties that move even a little bit towards the extreme is “moving towards the extreme”–this is accurate in an absolute sense, but it really does not communicate reality.

    6
  103. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Even the most “radical” Democratic ideas — like M4A — get 40-60% support, depending on the polling. Totally mainstream.

    The idea of M4A, divorced from the downsides and costs does poll well, kind of like free beer. Come up with an actual, complete M4A plan and let’s see how that polls.

    When the Republicans are always saying that the Democrats are Socialists and are in crazy land, your distinction without a difference is using Trumpy framing. It’s insulting.

    What’s insulting is your continued mischaracterizations of what I actually write. The idea that my point is “Trump framing” (whatever the hell that means) is complete nonsense.

    I think we are done here. This will be my last comment in this thread.

  104. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Fair enough. To my way of thinking that is a progressive value, not a liberal principle, but YMMV. Let me ask, though, how would you use that principle to decide whether a proposed environmental law is liberal or conservative?

    This is an observation, and a bit of friendly criticism. You have determined that the method of change or the departure from the status quo determines the right-left assignation and not the intent or purpose. So, any big change is radical ergo left – which prompted my response. I’d argue the underlying intent and purpose is much more determinant rather than the means or methods. As I noted earlier, big C Conservatives routinely propose really radical policy under your definition with zero cognitive dissonance in their heads.

    I’m 100% behind improving people’s lives and the commonwealth. By both incrementalism and radical action. Let the labels alone.

    2
  105. just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    By your logic all parties that move even a little bit towards the extreme is “moving towards the extreme”

    This has been a feature of conservative thinking for as long as I can remember. Any slope becomes a “slide to oblivion.”

    5
  106. SC_Birdflyte says:

    There was a time when the GOP had some leaders who were interested in governing. Now it’s the party of unending cultural war.

    2
  107. James Pearce says:

    @Monala:

    which was in 2004

    Yeah, it was a more enlightened time.

  108. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Back to “pal” and “buddy” as aggro words that seem like they mean “friend” but don’t.

    I knew a guy called Chumley (or Chum). Didn’t know him well – he was just a dude that always showed up. One time I needed a smoke and dude was there on the sidewalk and we just bantered – Nice to see you, man / backatcha, etc.

    Not the world’s most attractive person. Not as ugly as Bug-Eyed Scott. A portly fella – stout.

    Turns out that Chumley was actually named Steve and hated “Chumley” and some asshole gate-keeper dude hung “Chumley” on him as a dick exclusionary power move and it stuck.

    Every time after that convo, I always addressed him as Steve and introduced him around with “Have you met Steve?” Steve was not that interesting as a person – he was a dude that just was there, but the realization that I’d unknowingly addressed him by a name he hated stuck with me.

    6
  109. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    You have determined that the method of change or the departure from the status quo determines the right-left assignation and not the intent or purpose. So, any big change is radical ergo left – which prompted my response.

    I think I want to argue with this, but I’m not sure what it means. I can say with certainty, though, that I absolutely do not believer that “big departure” = “Left”. I think what you are doing is taking my words but ignoring my definitions and then pointing out the flaws in my argument if we define things your way, so let me try one more time: in my (and I mean “my”, I recognize that they are not common) definition of the terms:

    Left wing policies = A collection of policies promoted by people who describe themselves to the left on the political spectrum

    Right wing policies = the reverse of above

    Liberal Principle = Valuing dramatic change in order to bring about desired goals

    Conservative Principle = Valuing continuity and slow and gradual change when change is necessary

    I mean it quite seriously when I say that I don’t think right or left wing policies show any consistent bend towards liberal or conservative policies. For instance, I can’t think of anyone more puritanical right now than the subset of people who are associated with YA criticism, and they almost certainly would happily describe themselves as left wing. I can’t think of anything more reckless or radical in economics beyond a return to the gold standard, but the people who propose such a thing would happily describe themselves as right wing.

    You’ve made a couple of allusions to me getting angry and it’s my bad if you are getting that impression. I actually think this is one of the more interesting discussions I’ve had in a long time.

    1
  110. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m 100% behind improving people’s lives and the commonwealth. By both incrementalism and radical action.

    That’s specifically what I called progressivism, and explicitly differentiated from liberal/conservative and to some extent from left and right wing, although I accept the left wing label for myself because there are more progressive policies in the left wing’s basket of goodies than the right wing’s.

    Let the labels alone.

    But that was the whole point of the first post that triggered this discussion. I was objecting to people who say “I am a Republican because I believe in conservative principles.” I was pointing out that people who say that don’t seem to be able to actually articulate what those conservative principles are.

  111. de stijl says:

    @Andy:

    kind of like free beer

    I used to get paid with “free” beer in lieu of actual compensation.

    The Longhorn only gave you a portion of the proceeds if you mattered. We didn’t – we sorta sucked actually. Derivative and not very interesting. We didn’t even merit gas money. But it was a major step up from house / basement/ garage parties. “Here’s 12 bottles of warm Grain Belt. Don’t wreck anything or we’ll never book you again.” Valid point, but there was nothing to wreck – just four graffitied walls in a room that smelled like puke and sweat.

    Ah, my glamorous musical career.

    1
  112. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You have an idee fixe on “dramatic change” as the defining principle. It isn’t.

  113. Teve says:

    up above where I said that if somebody thinks Biden is an intersectional socialist than they need to stop drinking? I partially spoke too soon:

    Mike Pence accuses centrist Joe Biden of ‘advocating a socialist agenda’ like other 2020 Democrats

    CNBC link to Pence being huge idiot

  114. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I think using “socialist” as a drinking game trigger is a bad idea. We’re gonna hear “socialist” as a slur a lot – this will be their go-to gambit.

    R’s are gonna drop that bomb a lot. (But Pence deploying it against Biden of all people? WTF is wrong with these people!)

    If we took a drink every time an R called someone a socialist until the election we’d crater the secondary market on liver donations.

    1
  115. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    If one is moving away from the average or mainstream political views of society, then one is moving toward a more radical position regardless of if it’s headed right or left.

    No. This is not how English works. If I were to take two steps to my right, I would be moving westward — but I am not in any ordinary language sense moving toward Des Moines, or Sacramento, or Tokyo. If I claimed to be moving toward any of those places, the people around me would either correct me, or laugh politely at the bad joke. ‘Toward’ is not just a direction, it is an implied destination. The rough beast that slouches toward Bethlehem intends to get there.

    …and you still haven’t fessed up to having claimed that the Democratic party “has purged its moderates and continues to do so with zeal”. That would be an extremely radical act, if it were true. Asserting this is a de facto accusation of radicalism, not just in the future but in the past and right now.

    6
  116. Teve says:

    R’s are gonna drop that bomb a lot. (But Pence deploying it against Biden of all people? WTF is wrong with these people!)

    Honesty and integrity are irrelevant, the question is what they want to program their dumb followers to think. They call Biden a socialist a thousand times and Biden gets the nomination, you can bet your buns that idiots like JKB will be here endlessly repeating how Biden is to the left of Karl Marx.

    2
  117. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Left wing policies = A collection of policies promoted by people who describe themselves to the left on the political spectrum
    Right wing policies = the reverse of above
    Liberal Principle = Valuing dramatic change in order to bring about desired goals
    Conservative Principle = Valuing continuity and slow and gradual change when change is necessary

    I think this is the problem — you are trying to combine two different ways of organizing the spectrum, and doing it anachronistically.

    It used to be true that conservatives distrusted abrupt large changes in the status quo. That was back when they owned everything; any abrupt large change was liable to be bad for them. All slave-owners were conservatives.

    Today, many (most?) conservatives would happily embrace abrupt radical change if they perceived it as change backward to the lost “golden age” when things were much more to their liking. People who would happily reinstitute slavery are conservatives, not liberals. Ditto people who would take the vote away from women, or make Christianity the official state religion. (“Reactionary” is an extreme version of conservative.)

    Liberalism is a set of goals — namely that everyone should continue to become happier, more prosperous, more productive, better educated, etc. In the past, Progressives and Conservatives (and Socialists and Communists) all agreed on those goals, but disagreed about how best to achieve them, and about whether it was enough for everyone to be better off or whether we should also try to reduce the disparities between the extremes of “well off”, and how much we should help those currently unable to help themselves.

    “Left wing” and “Right wing” referred to differences regarding who should benefit today, and whether the rich should give up some of their wealth, and whether workers should own the means of production collectively, and whether the State should own the businesses, and so forth. We still throw those terms around, but any real Socialist (much less a Communist) will tell you that there aren’t any “left wing” politicians in the US any more. What passes for an “extreme left” position today is generally to the right of Nixon or Eisenhower’s actual policies, and waaaay to the right of FDR, who was a centrist in the Grand Scheme of Things.

    2
  118. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Conservative Principle = Valuing continuity and slow and gradual change when change is necessary”
    Undoubtedly someone has already said this (but just in case), my disconnect with that definition is that I can’t recall anytime when conservatives have advocated any change except in the Lenten Season sense of “return to the LORD your GOD.”

    Even back in the voting rights era, Buckley wasn’t advocating a slow gradual change in enfranchising black voters, he was advocating that suppression of black voters was necessary and proper because blacks were too stupid to entrust voting to. There was no sort of stepwise progression to a goal then, and I don’t recall ever seeing one as I got older either. The principle is not “slow gradual change”; it’s “some day, maybe, but not now (and there’s no road to get to some day, either).”

    2
  119. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @de stijl: Undoubtedly! Lord knows those guys are never going to donate a lobe of their livers to anyone.

    (BTW–See the difference?)

  120. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ll give it one more try. I’m claiming there is as much difference between Conservative Principles and the people who label themselves Conservative as there is between Christian Principles and the people who label themselves Christians.

    Just as many people claim to be Christians but seem completely unaware of what actual Christian principles are, many (most? All?) people who call themselves Conservatives are completely unaware of what Conservative principles are.

    If you were to derive Christian principles by examine the actions and rhetoric of the people who proclaim the loudest that they are Christians you would assume Christ was a bigoted, xenophobic, angry man who despised and scorned the poor. Ditto for Conservatives and Conservative principles.

    3
  121. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ll give it one more try. I’m claiming there is as much difference between Conservative Principles and the people who label themselves Conservative as there is between Christian Principles and the people who label themselves Christians.

    OK, that makes sense, and is a good point to make.

    The main difference (as best I can tell) is that while there is an actual canon of Christian teaching that you can compare the behavior of self-styled Christians against, there is no comparable canon of Conservative teaching that modern self-styled Conservatives would all admit as normative. That’s true of what passes for intellectual leaders of the Conservative movement just as much as it’s true for the bigot in the trenches.