Should NeverTrumpers Become Democrats?

A considerable number of Republican have effectively left our party over Donald Trump. Should we go all the way?

Liberal pundit Bill Scher thinks those of us who can’t stand Donald Trump should face reality and join the opposition party.

There’s a new debate inside the #NeverTrump movement about how to respond to a president they loathe and the Republican Party that loves him. Some #NeverTrump conservatives, like New York Times columnist David Brooks and former Bush White House aide Reed Galen, are talking about creating a new third party. Others, like George Will and Max Boot, have become registered independents and are urging voters to put Democrats in charge of Congress this November, as a kind of temporary stopgap measure until the Republicans return to their senses. But according to speculation reported by POLITICO, former McCain 2008 chief strategist Steve Schmidt may go one step further: He’s reportedly thinking about signing up with a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, possibly former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
No doubt Schmidt would get attacked for being an opportunist. But if you are a conservative, #NeverTrump, pro-immigrant, free-trading, anti-Putin defender of the post-World War II international order, the only principled and practical move left is to join the Democratic Party.

–POLITICO Magazine, “Why the Smart Move for Never-Trumpers Is to Become Democrats

Effectively, I’ve been on the side of Will and Boot in this argument. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to bring myself to become a Democrat. But I recognize that there’s no practical way to create a third party under our system and that a vote for a party that has no chance of winning is effectively half a vote for Trump.

Scher argues this is misguided:

The moment for temporarily endorsing the Democrats to block President Donald Trump was the presidential election of 2016, not the midterms of 2018. Had more Republicans endorsed Hillary Clinton two years ago, movement conservatives would likely be giddily anticipating the return of one of their own to the Oval Office in two years, as an obstructionist GOP Congress blocked the Democratic president’s every move. Instead, they’re facing a potential 2020 campaign that will be even more unpalatable to them than the choice they were presented with in 2016. Instead of Trump vs. Clinton, they could get Trump vs. Elizabeth Warren, or even Bernie Sanders.

While many of us endorsed voting for Clinton in 2016, I agree that not enough did. Still, “You missed your chance, now the Democrats are going to go much further left!” is hardly an argument likely to persuade estranged Republicans to hop on the bandwagon.

Backing a no-chance candidate like Bill Kristol against Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries just to make a point is a fool’s errand. And even a serious candidate like John Kasich, Jeff Flake or Ben Sasse doesn’t stand a chance, given Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans.

Again, we agree.

Once #NeverTrump conservatives accept that they have completely lost the core debates about the direction and purpose of the Republican Party, they can open their eyes to the possibility of winning some debates inside the Democratic Party. By playing a direct role in electing delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, #NeverTrump conservatives might even prevent what horrifies them most: a democratic socialist president.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is the strategy that Republicans, including myself, pursued in the Deep South decades ago when it was a one-party, Democratic region.

While I don’t know whether there are enough of us to stem the Progressive tide among the Democratic nominating electorate, we may indeed be able to get someone like Joe Biden nominated over a Sanders or Warren. There certainly aren’t enough of us to propel Schultz from essentially zero to the forefront (not that I’m sure we’d want to).

But that’s an argument for strategic voting in the other party’s primary. There would be a case for that this cycle, anyway, since Trump is all-but-assured the Republican nomination. That’s an altogether different thing than permanently joining the opposition party.

Scher presses the case:

Join the Democratic Party? That’s the “slightly less bad” option, wrote Galen, where conservatives would be “disliked and distrusted, pushed to the margins.” But wait, how is that different from the space #NeverTrump conservatives occupy in today’s Republican Party?

That’s a fair point! But, arguably at least, conservatives were the main face of that party until quite recently. Even when we started losing control of the local and Congressional party to the populists, we continued to dominate the Presidential nominating process until the last cycle. Meanwhile, the liberal-progressive wing* has dominated the Democratic Party since at least FDR’s day. While it may not be true, it’s simply easier to conceive of taking back the GOP than taking over the opposition party.

Scher counters:

The hesitation to switch parties is understandable, because the Democratic Party is not a conservative party. But for some anti-Trump conservatives, their reluctance is rooted in a distorted caricature of their rivals. They wrongly view the Democratic Party as a rotten cauldron of crass identity politics, recreational abortion and government run amok.

I agree that the caricature of the party painted by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the rest has made it harder for erstwhile Republicans to join the other team. But Scher cherry picks to demonstrate the opposite:

Most conservative reaction to the notion of party-switching has been harshly negative, even as much of it is premised on a Democratic Party that doesn’t exist.

For example, in an April article explaining why conservatives won’t embrace Democrats, the conservative Trump critic Ben Shapiro wrote, “the Democratic Party has cleansed itself of all pro-life voices.” Now while it is certainly true that support for abortion rights is a pillar of the Democratic Party, it is also true that Shapiro wrote that sentence one month after a pro-life Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski, won his primary against a pro-choice challenger, and three months after three Senate Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in supporting an abortion ban at 20 weeks of pregnancy. One month after Shapiro’s assertion, the Democratic governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, signed into a law a 15-week abortion ban.

Or take this critique of Boot from National Review’s Jonathan Tobin: “Does he really think the Democrats are less corrupt than Trump and his Cabinet? Would America be better off run by a party that is ruled by identity politics and intent on promoting racial division and class warfare? Does he think, for all of Trump’s faults, that civil political discourse is the specialty of the party of Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?”

Leaving aside whether the names Tobin cites deserve to be tagged as uncivil, why doesn’t Tobin describe the Democrats as the party of Dick Durbin, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bob Casey, John Lewis, Seth Moulton and Heidi Heitkamp—not to mention Barack Obama and Joe Biden? If the Democratic Party is “intent on promoting racial division,” why is the political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsing the white Rep. Mike Capuano over his African-American primary challenger Ayanna Pressley? How is it that Doug Jones won a Senate seat in deep red Alabama on the strength of a black-white coalition?

The answer to those questions is that anything that complicates the conservative caricature of Democrats is expunged from the narrative. That’s par for the course for both sides in political commentary. Conservative platforms are hardly the only places where such oversimplification happens. But the warped story that conservatives tell themselves about the left is blinding them from objectively weighing where they can wield the most influence.

Most of this is just silly.

I’m not religious, so the social issues, including abortion, were never a major factor in my attraction to the GOP. But the fact that a liberal Roman Catholic in Louisiana signed an anti-abortion bill is hardly the best indicator of where the party is nationally.

Yes, Booker, Harris, Lewis—not to mention Obama and Biden—are moderate compared to Sanders, Waters, and AOC. But they’re hardly moderates from the point of view of conservative erstwhile Republicans. And, again, the evidence seems to be of a Democratic Party rejecting moderates like Biden. (Yes, he’s the frontrunner in the early polling. But the opposition to him is visceral and likely to be decisive once the field thins.)

Nor are two idiosyncratic examples sufficient to undermine the notion of identity politics. Lewis’ backing of Capuano is strategic; he understands that defeating Trump is the chief goal. And, have mercy, a black-white coalition banding together to narrowly elect a moderate Democrat against a creepy old man who dates teenagers is evidence only that decency isn’t completely absent from Alabama politics.

Granted, where #NeverTrump conservatives can be most effective is in large part determined by what issues they most care about. If you are a Republican because you oppose abortion in all circumstances and love conservative judges and tax cuts, then becoming a Democrat doesn’t make any sense. But if you are primarily horrified at how Trump is undermining the existing international political and economic order—hugging Russia, lauding strongmen, sparking protectionist trade wars—then becoming a Democrat is your best option.

So . . . this describes few Americans, indeed. Foreign policy is the main determinant of voting behavior for practically nobody. And, frankly, I’m not sure Sanders or several other Democratic contenders are all that much better than Trump on protectionism and the international order.

Indeed, one of the primary reasons so many Republicans who find Trump loathsome nonetheless held their noses and voted for him was their faith that he would reward them by nominating conservatives to the bench. In that way—in perhaps only in that way—he has been a normal Republican President. One could see just about any of the 2016 contenders picking Neil Gorsuch. And, while I like to think a John Kasich or Jeb Bush would have pushed Brett Kavanaugh aside once the serial allegations of sexual misconduct arose, he would otherwise have fit the profile of a Republican Supreme Court nominee nicely.

Conservatives tend to look at the 2016 Democratic presidential primary and its aftermath as proof that the party is an incubator of socialism and radicalism. The pro-Trump conservative Hugh Hewitt, in trying to ward off an exodus of #NeverTrumpers, raised the specter of a “radicalized Democratic Party” experiencing a “lurch left” which, if in control of Congress, would immediately push impeachment and the abolition of ICE. Hewitt overlooks that House legislation to abolish ICE has only eight co-sponsors, that the Democratic congressional leadership has shunned impeachment talk and that several red state Senate Democrats are running on how well they work with Trump.

Besides, the best way to pull the Democratic Party back from the far-left fringe would be for more conservatives to join it. It’s true that socialist-friendly Berniecrats are increasingly vocal in the Democratic Party, but conservatives should also recognize the ideological breadth of what is the nation’s only remaining big-tent party. Democrats of all stripes are held together by a belief in active government to solve problems and a commitment to equal rights and opportunities for women and minorities. But questions over foreign policy and trade have long been points of internal debate, and that makes them policy areas where new party members can play a significant role.

So, again, I’m in agreement with Scher that Republicans—and the media, always looking for an interesting narrative—have overplayed the AOCification of the Democratic Party. And I’m amenable to the argument that a tide of fed-up Republicans voting in Democratic primaries could nudge the party further to the center.

For national security conservatives such as myself, that’s an easier sell than it is for social conservatives. I’d much rather have a Joe Biden calling the shots than a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

But Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are octogenarians. They’re almost certainly going to retire during the next administration if we have a Democratic President. Another Elena Kagan or Sonya Sotomayor is likely the best-case scenario moderate Republicans could hope for. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

The corollary argument is a bit more persuasive:

So once conservatives free themselves from the Fox News echo chamber, it would be easier to conduct good faith, fact-based negotiations over policy specifics, such as how to tackle climate change through a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which some conservatives already support. Instead of barreling toward single-payer health insurance, conservatives could work with their new Democratic friends on tidying up what was once known as RomneyCare. Pro-life and pro-choice forces could finally team up on sex education and contraception access to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

Partly, though, this is the pundit’s fallacy. For conservative intellectuals, it’s easy to imagine that there are a huge number of anti-Trump Republicans who essentially share the elite consensus on climate change and simply prefer a conservative policy approach. I’m not sure that’s true. Ditto healthcare reform.

I remain skeptical of this:

To the average conservative Trump-skeptic, the Democratic Party will not feel terribly cozy. You would often be fighting uphill, and you would lose more than you would win. But so long as conservatives fight honorably, stick to the facts and genuinely seek common ground, they will be more comfortable among Democrats than they might now assume—certainly more comfortable than they are in a Republican Party that has rejected them already.

But this may nonetheless be right:

There is no perfect political home for the #NeverTrumpers. So it’s time for them to choose the place where they can do the most good, for themselves and for the country. Of the many reasons “why Trump won,” anti-Trump conservatives refusing to look beyond a caricature of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party is one of the most crucial. It’s a mistake they shouldn’t make again.

I’m considerably less conservative policywise than I was a decade ago but I remain temperamentally conservative. I’m unlikely to “join” the Democratic Party anytime soon, either psychologically or officially.** It’s quite likely, though, that I’ll vote in the Virginia Democratic primary on March 3, 2020—the first time I’ve done that since the 1986 Alabama gubernatorial race.***

________________

*Let’s stipulate that “left-right” and “liberal-conservative” are relative, shifting terms. Once upon a time, the Republicans were the liberal party and the Democrats the conservative party. But that flipped generations ago.

**I’ve never lived in a state with party registration, so I’m not even sure there’s a way for me to do so.

***As alluded to earlier, the Democratic Primary was effectively the general election in Alabama in those days. As fate would have it, the 1986 race wound up changing that as my preferred candidate in that race, Charlie Graddick, won but was later disqualified by Democratic officials on the grounds that many who had voted in the Republican primary illegally crossed over and voted in the Democratic run-off. This angered enough people that Republican Guy Hunt was elected governor.

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

Comments

  1. The choice, at the moment, is between a GOP that is heavily trending populist and white nationalist (and anti-democratic) or a Democratic Party that is trending slightly more progressive (mainly on healthcare as well as rhetorically on taxes immigration–and I have my doubts about any of those things happening).

    On foreign policy the choice is between a crude America First approach and a more reasonable (and perhaps too interventionist) support for the post WWII order.

    And I am no longer convinced (as I once was) that conservative justices are the way to protect rights and liberties. The type of Justices Trump and his successors have appointed/are likely to appoint, are not pro-liberty in my opinion (that would take a longer explication, to be sure).

    They will likely be anti-abortion and anti-regulation.

    The American system gives the voter an effectively binary choice. One has to, in my opinion, take the average of the good and bad within each choice and choose from there.

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  2. Why does a #NeverTrump-er need to join any political party at all?

    My break with the GOP predates Trump by a decade and had more to do with the fiscal hypocrisy of the Bush-era GOP (trillion dollar wars and vast expansion of Medicare along with tax cuts and increases in spending across the board), the increasingly large voice that social conservatives were having in the party at the time (see e.g., the whole Terry Schiavo controversy and efforts by Congress, and even Jeb Bush, to interfere in what should have been a private family decision), and the Iraq War. By the time we got to the GOP of the Tea Party and Trump, I already considered myself an independent and I don’t really see why that should change.

    What good would it do for me to join the Democratic Party? Even if I did, I still would not be able to support a Sanders, Warren, or AOC like candidate and, as it stands, I’m going to find it hard to argue for voting for a Democrat in 2020 if the nominee is someone like Warren or Sanders and the future of the party is someone like AOC. That’s not to say I couldn’t vote for a Democrat, I have in the past and could in the future just like there have been some Republican candidates I’ve voted for since the mid-2000s. Heck, I was also on board with voting for Clinton in 2016, especially for voters who lived in swing states where their vote could actually make a difference. But I don’t see why being opposed to Trump requires me or anyone else to join any political party or support candidates that stand for things I fundamentally disagree with.

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  3. And, as you allude, the issue is less “joining” a party, as much as it is how one votes.

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  4. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your comment, but that goes more to deciding which candidate to support in a given election.

    As I say in my comment above, I don’t see why being opposed to Trump means having to assocaite at al with the Democrats.

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  5. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I get that that is what you’re saying, but Scher is talking about much more than that.

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  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    What exactly does “join the other party mean”?

    I voted a straight democratic ticket in 2017 and 2018, and intend to do so again in 2019 and 2020. But I’m still registered Independent (as I have been since 2007).

    The only meaningful change of registering as a Democrat would be voting in primary, but I actually kinda doubt life long Democrats want someone of my views influencing who the Democratic nominees are.

    So what exactly do they mean when they say “I should join the Democratic Party”?

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  7. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Because if you merely stay on the sidelines and take potshots, you are effectively irrelevant in terms of influencing the choices of candidates you have.

    Now the upside is it lets you take more snarky potshots but at the cost of being easily ignorable.

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  8. SKI says:

    @James,

    But Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are octogenarians. They’re almost certainly going to retire during the next administration if we have a Democratic President. Another Elena Kagan or Sonya Sotomayor is likely the best-case scenario moderate Republicans could hope for. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

    Can you explain this? Because I don’t understand the thought process for someone who isn’t a social conservative.

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  9. @Doug Mataconis:

    As I say in my comment above, I don’t see why being opposed to Trump means having to assocaite at al with the Democrats.

    Because giving all the structural conditions the constraint and shape our politics, the choice (especially at moments like this) are binary. The only way to to combat the rising tide of white nationalism and populism in the US at the moment, at least at the ballot box, is to vote Democratic.

    That is the only way to punish that tide.

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  10. wr says:

    Personally I’m a little tired of all the fake* “never Trump” Republicans demanding that the Democrats run Mitt Romney’s clone. These are people who pushed all the policies and speeches that ultimately led to Trump — and instead of taking any responsibility for their role in the destruction of their party, they’re insisting that they be allowed to run the Democratic party now.

    It’s like someone who buys a house and then completely trashes it through constant parties and lack of maintenance — and then when it’s no longer livable doesn’t decide it’s time to fix what they’ve ruined, but the moment to move into the neighbors’ house and start partying again.

    *Oh, and while Brooks and Stevens and Douthat and the rest would all act insulted at being called fake never-Trumpers, the core to all of their columns is that Trump is an existential threat to the nation, so the Democrats have to nominate someone who agrees with them so they can vote against Trump. To which I say: Fuck you all. You get Trump or you get the person Democrats want. You’ve spent the last two years telling us you’re morally superior to the Trumpies — now we get to find out if you were lying.

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  11. @Doug Mataconis:

    but Scher is talking about much more than that.

    I am not really defending Scher. As I have argued over and over in various discussion about party ID, the issue is about how one votes.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    So what exactly do they mean when they say “I should join the Democratic Party”?

    To me, it is, as you note, how one votes. Joining is, to me, not the issue (because people in the US don’t really “join” parties–unless one counts partisan registration in closed primary states).

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  12. To me it all boils down to this: we are at current moment in time in which indulging the fantasy that one can go third party and it not matter is a foolish route to take. See, e.g., Jill Stein voters in 2016 in three key states.

    While I think that piece James is posting about gets a bit off the rail, the bottom line is that NeverTrump Republicans really need to come to terms with the fact that the GOP they thought they had doesn’t exist and that the only real option, if the goal is to affect electoral outcomes and policy, is to vote Democratic (across the board).

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  13. @wr:

    Oh, and while Brooks and Stevens and Douthat and the rest would all act insulted at being called fake never-Trumpers, the core to all of their columns is that Trump is an existential threat to the nation, so the Democrats have to nominate someone who agrees with them so they can vote against Trump.

    Exactly. Throw Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin in there.

    If Trump is as bad as NeverTrumper claim (and he is, if not worse), then the only way to remove him is to make sure the Democrat wins.

    BTW: there is a route to working towards the Dem nominating the more moderate candidate, and that is if a large number of NeverTrumpers vote in the Dem primary (hence, “joining” the Dems).

    The question remains if there are enough such persons to make a difference.

    But that is what these guys should be arguing for: for their readers who share their views on Trump to join (primary voting is the closest to “joining” that we have) the Dems.

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  14. @SKI:

    Again, what good does “joining the Democratic Party” (which means different things in different states) do me? I don’t need to be a member of any political party to vote in a General Election.

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  15. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: What part of helping select a general election nominee that you prefer to other options isn’t making sense to you?

    Frankly, I’m glad for you not to join and vote in the primary but from a former GOP perspective, you would seemingly prefer a more centrist nominee.

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  16. @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s an argument for potentially voting for a Democrat, I’ll give you that. But as I asked in my first comment, what good does it do me to “join the Democratic Party” (whatever that means), especially since I cannot and will not commit to voting for the Democratic nominee in every election regardless of who they are or what they stand for?

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  17. @Steven L. Taylor:

    If Trump is as bad as NeverTrumper claim (and he is, if not worse), then the only way to remove him is to make sure the Democrat wins.

    That answers the question of who to vote for in the Presidential election in 2020. It doesn’t tell me why I need to commit to always voting for Democrats in any election for any office regardless of who they were or what they believed in. If an AOC-clone were to win the Democratic nomination in my Congressional District, for example, I don’t see my obligation to support them or vote for them. I may not vote for the Republican either, but opposition to Trump doesn’t mean voting for Democrats across the board.

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  18. @SKI:

    In most states you can vote in a primary for either party without having to “join” that party.

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  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    NeverTrump Republicans really need to come to terms with the fact that the GOP they thought they had doesn’t exist and that the only real option, if the goal is to affect electoral outcomes and policy, is to vote Democratic (across the board).

    Yep.

    Then they can start to confront the fact that all those old-school conservative notions about low taxes, and a horror of regulation, are at best obsolete. One of the reasons the GOP could be so easily taken over by Klansmen and crooks is that conservatives were just wrong. In an era of widening inequality the knee-jerk conservative hatred of redistributionist policies is at best anachronistic. And the rejection of regulation in the age of climate change borders on being criminal.

    IOW, those cherished conservative positions were wrong. You know who was right? Liberals. On race, gender, environment, taxation and redistribution, marijuana legalization, gay marriage, multilateralism (and we could extend the list quite a bit) the Left was objectively right, and the Right was objectively wrong.

    It’s amazing to watch conservatives admit they were wrong on A and B and C and, OK, on D, too, and also on E and F and yet somehow not grasp the obvious fact that conservative ideology is just plain wrong. Not wrong a little here and a little there, wrong in its reasoning, wrong in its priorities, wrong in its analytical approach.

    What the Trumpaloons have done is to recognize that the Wills and Boots of this world were promoting an ideology that kept losing out to reality. So the Trumpaloons simply moved themselves out of reality and into fantasy. Old-school conservatism is incompatible with observable reality, but fascism, nativism, racism and misogyny not only don’t need to make sense, they actively reject sense. Old school conservatives talk plausible nonsense to defend an obsolete ideology, Trumpaloons don’t bother defending anything, they just hate.

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  20. EddieInCA says:

    “Should NeverTrumpers Become Democrats?”

    Yes.

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  21. @michael reynolds:

    So basically you expect #NeverTrump-ers to give up their principles in addition to voting for Democrats they might agree with?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s not going to happen for me. There are some Democrats in the 2020 field I could vote for. There are others I most emphatically will not. If that’s not good enough, well then…… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  22. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: yeah, I never understood that…

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  23. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s not going to happen for me. There are some Democrats in the 2020 field I could vote for. There are others I most emphatically will not. If that’s not good enough, well then…… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    It is your soul and morality…

    We just judge, you are the one that might have to get up in the morning and face your own personal culpability in another 4 years of Trump and the people whose lives will be destroyed.

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  24. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If Trump is as bad as NeverTrumper claim (and he is, if not worse), then the only way to remove him is to make sure the Democrat wins.

    Which, to his credit, is Tom Nichols’ argument for the moral necessity of voting straight Democrat in 2018 and 2020.

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  25. @SKI:

    I did not vote for Trump in 2016. I encouraged people to vote for Clinton. What else did you want from me? Or, like Michael, do you expect me to get on my knees and renounce the things I believe in? Because as I said to him, that isn’t likely to happen,

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  26. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It isn’t for me to demand anything from you. You are responsible for your own behavior.

    I can tell you that I will judge you for refusing to oppose Trump because you can’t bring yourself to vote for a candidate you view as less evil than trump but still evil because you disagree with their policy preferences on taxing and spending. If you are willing to see the US continue to operate concentration camps and treat humans as less than.

    I should note, however, that I have faith in you, Doug. I believe that, when push comes to shove, you will not put your personal ideology on government spending ahead of actual people’s lives and well being.

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  27. @Doug Mataconis:

    That answers the question of who to vote for in the Presidential election in 2020. It doesn’t tell me why I need to commit to always voting for Democrats in any election for any office regardless of who they were or what they believed in. If an AOC-clone were to win the Democratic nomination in my Congressional District, for example, I don’t see my obligation to support them or vote for them.

    I am not asking for some forever commitment to vote for Dems (or for anyone).

    I do think, however, that voting for an AOC clone for Congress is necessary, unless one really wants white nationalism and populism to win. In this present moment, and for the foreseeable future, I think that even for a committed libertarian the AOC clone, meaning a Democratic vote in the Congress, is the only way to combat this tide. Trumpism is for economic nationalism and interment camps on the border. AOC is far more an avatar for liberty than is Trump and his ilk.

    And I have made clear that “joining” isn’t the issue (at least from my POV).

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  28. Simpler version: keeping congressional control out of the hands of the GOP is also vital, not just keeping Trump out of the WH.

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  29. @SKI:

    refusing to oppose Trump

    Umm have you read anything I have written since June 2015 or, heck, long before that when Donald Trump was just a racist birther?

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  30. @Doug Mataconis:

    So basically you expect #NeverTrump-ers to give up their principles in addition to voting for Democrats they might agree with?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s not going to happen for me. There are some Democrats in the 2020 field I could vote for. There are others I most emphatically will not. If that’s not good enough, well then…… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The choice is not Democrats versus George Will’s version of conservationism.

    It is Democrats versus a growing white nationalism driven by populist logic.

    This is true at the presidential level, the congressional level, the state level, and the local level.

    This is the point.

    I would love, BTW, for the GOP to reform itself (because we need at least two functional parties). The only way to accomplish that is for the GOP to lose. Only losing, not just at the presidential level, will lead to reform (not that it is guaranteed that such reforms will be positive).

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  31. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well then I suppose I’ll just have to take the criticism. The Warren/Sanders/AOC wing of the Democratic Party is a bridge too far for me to travel. If they end up being the wing of the party that wins the nomination fight, which I think is unlikely, then the Democrats will just have to count on getting one less vote.

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  32. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Nope, hence my confidence that you will do the right thing.

    But you also, in this very thread, said:

    There are some Democrats in the 2020 field I could vote for. There are others I most emphatically will not. If that’s not good enough, well then…… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    And that raises the possibility that you would choose not to oppose him and would not vote to prevent him from staying in power (or, as Steve notes, to prevent the enabling GOP from holding power).

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  33. @Steven L. Taylor:

    AOC is far more an avatar for liberty than is Trump and his ilk.

    Based on her policy positions, I quite simply don’t accept that.

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  34. @SKI:

    As I have said repeatedly I will not vote for Trump in 2020. Whether I vote for the Democratic nominee will depend on who that person is.

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  35. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Can you explain this? You would really rather see Trump and the GOP in power than Elizabeth Warren?

    You would choose enthno-fascism over regulated capitalism? Prefer Nazi Germany over Modern Germany? Are you precious unfunded tax breaks so important to you?

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  36. Teve says:

    @wr:

    *Oh, and while Brooks and Stevens and Douthat and the rest would all act insulted at being called fake never-Trumpers, the core to all of their columns is that Trump is an existential threat to the nation, so the Democrats have to nominate someone who agrees with them so they can vote against Trump. To which I say: Fuck you all. You get Trump or you get the person Democrats want. You’ve spent the last two years telling us you’re morally superior to the Trumpies — now we get to find out if you were lying.

    David Brooks and George Will and the like spent their entire adult lives supporting this Southern Strategy party, the principal activity of which was using dumbass racist votes to get in power where they could transfer as much money as possible from poor and middle class people up to the already wealthy. I get that they’re a little embarrassed now that the racism has gone from implicit to explicit, but if they think that means they can now tell the party of better values, economics, and science how to act, they can piss right the fuck off.

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  37. Teve says:

    A few decades ago I heard a story that at one point David Brooks was the next in line to be the chief editor at national review, and in the end, Buckley didn’t give it to him because he’s a Jew. I don’t know if that story is true or not, but if it is, that should have been his 100 dB flashing neon warning sign.

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  38. SKI says:

    @Teve: True.

    In a Q&A posted yesterday, Tanenhaus argues that “In the 1950s, when American conservatism still bore the taint of anti-Semitism, Bill Buckley moved forcefully to erase it.” And yet, there’s some nuance to be had here. According to Tanenhaus himself, writing last year in The New Republic, Buckley had his personal preferences: “In 1997, when he was scouring the ranks of talented younger conservatives to find a new editor for National Review, Buckley eliminated one prospect, his one time protégé David Brooks, a rising star at The Weekly Standard. In a memo to board members, Buckley reported that he had discussed Brooks with NR alum George Will: ‘I said that I thought it would be wrong for the next editor to be other than a believing Christian. He agreed and added that the next editor should not be a Canadian’ — a possible reference to conservative writer David Frum.”

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  39. Teve says:

    @SKI:

    I should note, however, that I have faith in you, Doug. I believe that, when push comes to shove, you will not put your personal ideology on government spending ahead of actual people’s lives and well being.

    Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 😀

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  40. SKI says:

    @Teve: Except we have seen Doug be anti-Trump.

    The question will be whether he has the courage to face reality or to cling to his prejudices. To paraphrase Churchill’s comment about the US, I believe Doug will do the right thing when he has to actually face the prospect, when he has no choice but to face up to the reality of who Trump is vs. the myth of the importance of minor policy preferences.

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  41. Scott F. says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Actually, as a pragmatist seeking good governance, I’m going to say emphatically “NO!”

    To be clear, I fully support what Steven L. Taylor is proposing here – voting for the Democrat, no matter who, up and down the ticket in 2020. It is the most pragmatic response within the binary constraints we have in the face of the rising tide of authoritarianism and white nationalism the country is drowning in now.

    But, Scher’s proposal is a non-starter. The last thing the country needs is a bunch of disaffected Republicans infiltrating the Democratic Party in order to try to influence moderation in their policies.

    There’s a chart from the Manifesto Project being shown across the Internet this week that shows pretty dramatically that the middle in US politics is already far to the right of most other first world democracies in the world. (You know, the countries that far exceed the US in standard of living and happiness measures.) The Democratic Party already sits pretty close to the global middle.

    The pragmatist seeking good governance understands the Overton Window is as far right as it can possible be in a functioning society. What shifts the American center closer to the center of the rest of the civilized world? The Democrats have to pay attention to the pulse of the times and run candidates with policies that will give a fairly strong yank to the left. The NeverTrumpers need to stay in the Republican Party and actively work to force out the white nationalists and authoritarians that hold sway over their party. Publicly repudiate and refuse the support of the “deplorables” and the ballast that pulls the GOP so hard right is cut.

    Yes, it will cost the Republicans power in the short term, but staying home and exorcising their demons is the only way moderate Republicans can help get the country back to the kind of sustainable ideological balance they seek.

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  42. @SKI:

    No I am saying that I cannot vote for Warren, Sanders, or any Democrat who runs on a platform advocating the platform that they have been advocating. My vote isn’t going to make a difference in the outcome of the election so, therefore, not voting for the Democrat in that situation is not a “vote for Trump.”

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  43. @SKI:

    I’d rather be true to what I believe than blindly vote for someone just because they had a D after their name.

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    No, I expect you to examine your beliefs in the light of reality. But then, whatever you conclude, of course you have to compromise some portion of your beliefs, we all do, that’s how political systems work. Do you think I’m on-board with everything on the Democratic wish list? But we have two parties. One is dangerous to this country, dangerous to freedom, and if you are really devoted to freedom I expect you to enlist in the one army still fighting for it. I hate being boxed into one side or the other, but when one side is evil, I know where I stand.

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  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on her policy positions, I quite simply don’t accept that.

    Oh, b.s., Doug. I understand a reluctance to abandon old beliefs, but that’s just an absurd statement. You think an aspirational green new deal is more a threat than letting Putin pick our presidents and putting children in cages and loosing every manner of racism and misogyny and nativism and running foreign policy by flattery, bribes and ignorance?

    Come on, it’s time for you to let go of libertarianism as an ideology. It’s not so much an anchor as a millstone now. The world has changed.

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  46. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No I am saying that I cannot vote for Warren, Sanders, or any Democrat who runs on a platform advocating the platform that they have been advocating.

    What specifically in their platforms are you so adamantly opposed to that you would choose not to oppose fascism and authoritarianism? Seriously, what are you talking about?

    Warren’s platform positions are summarized here: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/05/elizabeth-warren-policy-ideas-guide-2020.html

    Which ones are so abhorrent to you that you would rather risk 4 more years of Trump?

    My vote isn’t going to make a difference in the outcome of the election so, therefore, not voting for the Democrat in that situation is not a “vote for Trump.”

    Bullshit. If you don’t understand why this is such a cop-out, you really need to grow up.

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  47. @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on her policy positions, I quite simply don’t accept that.

    Because higher taxes and more regulation on business is worse than Muslim bans and internment camps on the border?

    Keeping in mind, too, that a Trump presidency (or the like) leads directly to the policies I just noted. One more AOC in the Congress, while helping stem the tide of trumpism, does not lead to Democratic Socialism running DC.

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  48. JKB says:

    Perhaps starting early will help this time, but the May 2016 appeal by Charles Murray to Never Trumpers didn’t have much of an effect. But he does have the data to show that over the last 50-60 years, excepting Reagan (and now Trump), Republican presidents haven’t really made that much of a difference in regulations or budget. One could speculate that they did slow the Progressives on socialist issues.

    Without getting into the comparative defects of Clinton and Trump (disclosure: I’m #NeverTrump), I think it’s useful to remind everyone of the ways in which having a Republican president hasn’t made all that much difference for the last fifty years, with Ronald Reagan as the one exception.

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  49. @Doug Mataconis:

    No I am saying that I cannot vote for Warren, Sanders, or any Democrat who runs on a platform advocating the platform that they have been advocating. My vote isn’t going to make a difference in the outcome of the election so, therefore, not voting for the Democrat in that situation is not a “vote for Trump.”

    Here’s the question:

    It is 2020. The EC comes down to VA. Warren needs your vote, and others with your POV, to win the presidency. Are you going to vote third party or abstain?

    Or is a principled opposition to Warren worth re-electing Trump?

    Because that is what this conversation is about.

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  50. Teve says:

    Come on, it’s time for you to let go of libertarianism as an ideology. It’s not so much an anchor as a millstone now. The world has changed.

    I’ve never been able to track down the original quote, but Kevin Drum had a line several years ago that appealed to me since it reflected my early years. Paraphrasing, it was about how ‘it’s understandable to be a libertarian when you’re a young well-educated healthy tech-savvy white male. You’re just expected to grow out of it at some point.’

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  51. Teve says:

    It is 2020. The EC comes down to VA. Warren needs your vote, and others with your POV, to win the presidency. Are you going to vote third party or abstain?

    Or is a principled opposition to Warren worth re-electing Trump?

    Because that is what this conversation is about.

    Yup.

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  52. An Interested Party says:

    Based on her policy positions, I quite simply don’t accept that.

    So how, exactly, are Trump and his ilk better avatars for liberty than AOC?

    Buckley didn’t give it to him because he’s a Jew.

    William F. Buckley was a bigot!? I’m shocked!

    If you don’t understand why this is such a cop-out, you really need to grow up.

    Well, if we’re being honest, one of the biggest problems with libertarianism is its childishness…

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  53. @Steven L. Taylor: And, BTW, this scenario isn’t so nuts: it is what a lot voters faced in 2016.

    Clinton lost Wisconsin by 22,748 votes.

    Gary Johnson won 106,674

    Stein won 31,072

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  54. Sleeping Dog says:

    At the end of the day, if the Never Trumpers want a say in Democratic Party politics they need to join the party. Yes Dems are threatening to march off to the left, but a funny reality is that Nancy Pelosi’s majority is provided by Dem legislators that the Never Trumpers should be comfortable with.

    It’s true that a conservative Dem is not going to win a congressional seat in the Bronx, but one could win a seat in NH, ME or dozens of purplish states. The Dem Party tent is still pretty large and welcoming new members.

    On Biden, my problem with him isn’t his politics it is that he is too da#^ old and his politics is backwards looking when we need to look forward.

    So . . . this describes few Americans, indeed. Foreign policy is the main determinant of voting behavior for practically nobody. And, frankly, I’m not sure Sanders or several other Democratic contenders are all that much better than Trump on protectionism and the international order.

    And today George Soros and Charles Koch have announced the joint funding of a foreign policy think tank. Go figure

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  55. steve says:

    I support what James said originally. You domino become a democrat just because you dont like Trump. You become a Democrat if you agree with the policies advocated for by Democrats. You can, and should, vote against Trump in some meaningful way, but you dont have to join the Dems. I can certainly see how neither party is especially compelling, and then you become an independent.

    Steve

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  56. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And some unknown number of Wisconsinites didn’t vote for any candidate “out of principle,” so Stein and Johnson aren’t the whole story.

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  57. Gustopher says:

    Scher argues this is misguided:

    The moment for temporarily endorsing the Democrats to block President Donald Trump was the presidential election of 2016, not the midterms of 2018.

    I think Scher’s problem with Trump is not the policies, but the style. I’m guessing he would prefer a white nationalist illiberal party led by someone who isn’t a rapist.

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  58. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Since the odds are significantly high that my vote will not decide who wins in whatever state I vote in in an Electoral College scenario (and even less in a scenario where the President is chosen by popular vote if that ever happens in my lifetime) I don’t see why I am obligated to vote for whoever the Democratic nominee in 2020 is even if it is someone, like Sanders or Warren, who advocates policies I consider to be utterly ridiculous.

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  59. And since I can’t spend my entire day responding to comments here let me just say that I’ve pretty much said my peace on this issue and that those of you, like Michael and others, who demand that I renounce what I believe, are both insulting and are going to be disappointed.

    Democrats will get my vote. When they deserve it.

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  60. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is the strategy that Republicans, including myself, pursued in the Deep South decades ago when it was a one-party, Democratic region.

    And look at what doing that got you.

    Here’s the deal: if, as Mitt is, for example, you are fine with packing the Supremes with partisan hacks, an immigration policy of “go back to where you came from unless you’re white and rich,” “Earth First–we can strip mine the solar system when we’re done here” as environmental policy, maintaining the advantage of the wealthy and well placed in education, healthcare, and hiring thus removing the social and economic mobility that made the nation what it became, racial animus guiding our social policy, putting kids in cages *summer camp,* “nation building,” and the other stuff that conservatism is right now (and seems to have been most of my life, only played on dog whistles), you don’t need to become a Democrat. You can wait 4 more years while Trump plays out his second term and Ted Cruz will be waiting in the wings–youngish, pasty white, and nowhere near as crude as Trump or he would have been able to win in 2016.

    To the extent that the above is not true of you, you may need to switch, knowing that, just as is true with the GOP now, you’re not going to get everything you want, but may be able to help progressive policy by reining in its more destructive elements–provided that you understand what mistakes progressives made in the New Deal era and can argue persuasively.

    To the extent that Warren, AOC, Harris, and such are “a bridge too far” and you feel truly disenfrachised, you can do what I did for 6 election cycles and vote 3rd party (if you live in a reliably blue state as I did) or what I did starting with cycle 7 and not vote at all. If you live in a potential swing state, you may not have that option, depending on where your DGAF meter is (mine is pegged, I simply don’t trust the “wisdom” of the populace any more and am willing to leave if things become too colorful here).

    Those are the choices. It’s really pretty simple and straightforward.

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  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Democrats will get my vote. When they deserve it.

    In other words, when they pry it out of your cold dead fingers. Got it.

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  62. Teve says:

    Democrats will get my vote. When they deserve it.

    somebody let Doug know that a Jill Stein voter from 2016 has hacked his account. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  63. Since this entire comment thread seems to be in danger of being a “let’s pile on Doug” thread, I’m going to refrain from commenting any further.

    Feel free to comment on the topic of the post if you wish.

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  64. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is 2020. The EC comes down to VA. Warren needs your vote, and others with your POV, to win the presidency. Are you going to vote third party or abstain?

    Or is a principled opposition to Warren worth re-electing Trump?

    So, I think this is two different conversations.

    Despite her being further left ideologically, it would be easier for me to vote for Warren than it was for Clinton last go-round, because she lacks the rest of Clinton’s baggage. And, indeed, I’d vote for an AOC clone over a Trumpist for Congress.

    Like you, I think what matters is the act of voting and I’m resigned to voting Democratic until such time the Republicans present a viable alternative or are supplanted by another viable party.

    Scher, though, is advocating something beyond that: a permanent switch of loyalties in order to steer the Democratic ship. Effectively, that may be my fate. But, like Doug, I’m not pyschologically ready to make that shift just yet—especially as the party shifts leftward.

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  65. @Doug Mataconis: You are dodging the point of my scenario, and you know it.

    I am straight up asking if you actually prefer Trump to Warren.

    If you do, say so.

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  66. @Steven L. Taylor: Or, if you prefer, you would rather Trump win than you having to vote for Warren, because abstractions trump (forgive the word choice) practicality.

    And look, you know I understand the math here. That does not undercut that basic logic: collective action the way you are describing has consequences. Indeed, it helped elect Trump the first time. At least own up to that.

    I will readily allow that your individual vote will not be the deciding one.

    I will say, however, that you have some influence, so I think the position you take matters (and I think that, maybe, people reading this thread will give the matter some thought).

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  67. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think I’ve made clear that I don’t prefer, and would not vote for, either one of them.

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  68. @James Joyner: You and I agree. Doug is still less inclined to do as you describe (he won’t vote for Warren, as I understand it).

    I am not defending the Scher piece, per se. Indeed, as far as it goes, if someone asked me for a survey how I identify, I would say “independent.” If someone were to see what primaries I voted in, they would find that I have primarily voted in the Republican primary. But, I live in Alabama and that often has more potential consequence than the general. Meanwhile, I have voted Democratic for president since 2008.

    I fully recognize that “joining” a party is a weird and ill-defined thing in the US.

    The part of Scher’s piece that I do agree with: the GOP is unlikely to be what it was (and, indeed, I am not sure it ever was what it was). A lot NeverTrumpers need to face up to that, as well as to face up to what their actual choices are.

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  69. @Doug Mataconis:

    I think I’ve made clear that I don’t prefer, and would not vote for, either one of them.

    You are being exceptionally stubborn. You know full well my point, and you are simply unwilling to concede it. (Granted, you don’t owe me a concession, but there are times when I don’t understand why you are so unwilling to do so in a conversation like this).

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  70. @Doug Mataconis: If your position is that, push come to shove, it more important to you to not to have voted all, even if it means Trump wins, then at least say that. You cannot pretend, however, like there are three possible outcomes. There are not. There are two: Trump or the Democrat.

    You are hiding behind that math that says your vote, statistically, will not matter.

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  71. wr says:

    @JKB: “But he does have the data to show that over the last 50-60 years, excepting Reagan (and now Trump), Republican presidents haven’t really made that much of a difference in regulations or budget.”

    Yes, it’s really adorable the way Murray somehow always manages to come up with “date” that shows whatever he wants it to show. It’s even more adorable that you choose to believe this proven fraud.

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  72. @Steven L. Taylor:

    If by stubborn you mean not willing to say “Yes I will vote for whoever the Democratic nominates even if its a guy who isn’t even a Democrat and calls himself a Socialist,” then I guess I’m guilty. I’ve been voting for 33 years now and I have never voted based solely on party affiliation or who a candidate in question was running against. I don’t intend to start now.

    As I said, there are Democrats I could vote for and my final choice will have to depend on who the nominee is and the kind of agenda they campaign on. The fact that I oppose Trump doesn’t mean I automatically support whoever is running against him. Some people look at it differently, and I get that. But that’s my perspective and I don’t understand why so many people in this thread don’t seem to understand that criticizing my position isn’t going to convince me to become a Yellow Dog Democrat.

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  73. @Doug Mataconis: This all fine. But it does boil down to the notion that you actually would prefer Trump to win than to vote for a Democrat you don’t like.

    That is a legitimate position (although given your views on Trump, I don’t really understand it).

    I just don’t understand why you are you unwilling to simple say that directly.

    (I feel like we had this same argument about HRC at some point in 2016, BTW).

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  74. @Steven L. Taylor:

    All “Never Trump” means is that I won’t support or vote for Trump. Beyond that, who I vote for (and Trump is already ruled out) will depend on what the circumstances are when the General Election rolls around.

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  75. @Doug Mataconis: And to be clear: I never asked you to be a Yellow Dog Democrat (although I did advocate for something along those lines in this thread).

    Really, the only thing I have pressed you on is, to quote myself from above: “I am straight up asking if you actually prefer Trump to Warren.¨

    I will say this: you certainly don’t have to answer and I will cop to being stubborn in my asking. I just sometimes find the way you will elide direct questions in these conversations to be a tad frustrating.

    But, we can move on, given the impasse. 😉

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  76. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Scher, though, is advocating something beyond that: a permanent switch of loyalties in order to steer the Democratic ship. Effectively, that may be my fate. But, like Doug, I’m not pyschologically ready to make that shift just yet—especially as the party shifts leftward.

    I agree with you, James. If the Democratic Party’s shift leftward (the degree to which remains to be seen) discomfits you, I’d just as soon you keep your “permanent loyalties” with the Republicans and work to clean house there. This ideological leftward shift is long overdue and, frankly, modest in the face of the theological, authoritarian shifts taking hold on the right. If the prominent positions of the Democrats in 2020 – the reversal of the GOP’s massive tax redistribution to the wealthy and corporations, a humane immigration policy that offers some path to citizenship, a call for meaningful policies that recognize the existential threat of climate change, protections for women’s authority over their own bodies – if these positions appear radical to you, you must be viewing them from the far rightward vantage point the Republicans have pulled the country toward since Gingrich.

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  77. @Doug Mataconis:

    All “Never Trump” means is that I won’t support or vote for Trump. Beyond that, who I vote for (and Trump is already ruled out) will depend on what the circumstances are when the General Election rolls around.

    And my point is that “Never Trump” is a hollow formulation if one is willing to vote in a way that helps Trump. Being “Never Trump” and abstaining helps Trump. Being “Never Trump” and voting third party helps Trump.

    If Trump is as bad as you think he is (and he is) then I think that the moral imperative is to use one’s vote in a way that actually works against Trump’s reelection.

    I will go further to note that every vote matters. If he wins the EC again and loses the popular vote, the margin will have long-term significance.

    If he loses both, the margin of the loss will matter for how the GOP acts next time,

    How he wins and how he loses will matter. For these reason I think standing on the sidelines is making a pro-Trump choice.

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  78. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s amazing to watch conservatives admit they were wrong on A and B and C and, OK, on D, too, and also on E and F and yet somehow not grasp the obvious fact that conservative ideology is just plain wrong. Not wrong a little here and a little there, wrong in its reasoning, wrong in its priorities, wrong in its analytical approach.

    I’m gobsmacked by a Party that sees that educated people won’t vote for them and can’t see what that says about their Party.

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  79. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I answered the question

    I don’t prefer Trump over Warren but that does not mean I would ever actually vote for Warren unless she radically changes her policy positions, which I don’t think she will

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  80. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: do you think Jim Bakker worries that very few of the checks he gets in the mail are from phds?

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  81. gVOR08 says:

    There’s been some talk here of not abandoning conservative principles. I have argued in these threads that “conservatism” is not a set of immutable guiding principles, it’s a psychological disposition. For a detailed argument I recommend Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind. I would suggest as an exercise for #NeverTrumpers to write down a list of their “principles” and ask first, whether these are really political principles (“self reliance”, for instance, is not). Then ask themselves honestly which party better represents their principles (fiscal responsibility, for instance, is something Ds have been better about).

    I would also observe that a piece of the conservative psychology is needing to believe that one is a member of the elect, one of the better class of people, a maker, white male, whatever. There are so many #NeverTrumpers because it is impossible to believe any longer that conservatives are the best people when they’re led by Donald Trump.

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  82. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve:

    do you think Jim Bakker worries that very few of the checks he gets in the mail are from phds?

    I’m pretty sure he expects none. But you’d think someone like, say, Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chair of the RNC, ought to.

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  83. @gVOR08:

    I’m not a conservative just like I am not a Republican

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  84. An Interested Party says:

    So true…

    This is impolite to mention, but one thing about anti-Trump conservative professional political pundits (as opposed to rank and file ex-Republicans) is their job essentially *requires* them to be perpetually saying Democrats are failing to win them over.

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  85. One thing that this thread has made clear to me is that a lot of you have a different definition of “Never Trump” than I do. For me it has always meant that I will never vote for Trump. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t mean that I will vote for whatever candidate the Democrats put up against him. It’s possible I will, but that’s going to depend on a lot of things we don’t know at this point, including who the nominee ends up being.

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  86. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Scher, though, is advocating something beyond that: a permanent switch of loyalties in order to steer the Democratic ship.”

    Who said anything about permanent? What will prevent you from switching your party registration back to Republican in a few years, after Trump is no longer leading the Republican Party?

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  87. Andy says:

    Effectively, I’ve been on the side of Will and Boot in this argument. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to bring myself to become a Democrat. But I recognize that there’s no practical way to create a third party under our system and that a vote for a party that has no chance of winning is effectively half a vote for Trump.

    You can vote for whoever you want – you don’t need to join or affiliate with any party. There is no need to compromise your personal policial principles simply because partisans can only think in binary terms.

    I haven’t ever joined or affiliated myself either political party and I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and independents. I am politically active, just not part of a team. I try to vote for whoever I think is the best candidate regardless of which party they belong to. I think I’ve only regretted two votes.

    It’s not that hard.

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  88. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And my point is that “Never Trump” is a hollow formulation if one is willing to vote in a way that helps Trump. Being “Never Trump” and abstaining helps Trump. Being “Never Trump” and voting third party helps Trump.

    I’m with Doug here. I will not vote for Trump, but I’m not going to enthrall myself to the Democrats before they’ve even selected a candidate. In other words, Democrats must earn my vote. I’m certainly not going to give it to them 15 months out just because they happen to be the major non-Trump party.

    I also think the the “anything but a vote for my candidate is de facto a vote for the other candidate” argument is completely bogus and always has been.

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  89. SKI says:

    @Andy:

    I also think the the “anything but a vote for my candidate is de facto a vote for the other candidate” argument is completely bogus and always has been.

    Math and logic don’t really care what you think.

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  90. @Andy:

    I also think the the “anything but a vote for my candidate is de facto a vote for the other candidate” argument is completely bogus and always has been.

    I have not advocated for a specific candidate.

    And, again, math is math. And the outcomes in WI, PA. and MI are a powerful counterargument to you position (and Doug’s).

    But, I suppose it all depends on how bad one actually thinks Trump is.

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  91. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “One thing that this thread has made clear to me is that a lot of you have a different definition of “Never Trump” than I do. For me it has always meant that I will never vote for Trump. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t mean that I will vote for whatever candidate the Democrats put up against him. It’s possible I will, but that’s going to depend on a lot of things we don’t know at this point, including who the nominee ends up being.”

    Doug, let’s break this down a bit:

    a. You’ve said that you would not vote for Sanders or Warren if they were the nominee. On the other hand, you have very strongly implied that you would vote for at least some of the other Democrats who are running if they were the nominee. Is this reading correct?

    b. Do you believe that advocating for a Democrat who you could vote for in November 2020 (whether Biden, Harris or whomever) would make it more or less likely that they would win the Democratic primary? If less, why?

    c. Do you believe that if you advocate for a Democrat to win the primary, then you must vote for any other Democrat who does win? If so, why?

    To me, Scher is responding to the spate of articles saying that if the Democrats want the votes of Never-Trumpers, they need to adopt Republican policies. To which the only possible response is that if a Democrat needs to become pro-life, or to assert that climate change is a hoax, or support keeping children in cages because they crossed the border with their parents, in order to get their votes, then they are not really upset with Republican policies, just by Trump’s vulgarity. In which case, no Democrat should ever try to get their votes.

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  92. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So basically you expect #NeverTrump-ers to give up their principles in addition to voting for Democrats they might agree with?

    Yeah, Doug, but I don’t think any one of us believes you hold as principles racism, fascism, misogyny, or anti-democracy. So, no one is questioning you holding on to your principles.

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  93. Moosebreath says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Let me change in my prior comment “become pro-life” to “believe 100% of abortions should be illegal”.

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  94. Mister Bluster says:

    If you live in a state where it’s clear that one of the two major party candidates will win no matter how you vote, feel free to vote your conscience, but if you live in a state that is in the least bit considered a battleground, though, a vote for anyone other than Clinton is risking the possibility that Trump will win the state, and that simply can’t be allowed to happen. To the end, remember, “Never Trump” is the objective.
    Source

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  95. Andy says:

    @SKI:

    Math and logic don’t really care what you think.

    Let’s say I voted for Ross Perot back in 1992. Mathematically, who did that vote help/hurt? Please show your work.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have not advocated for a specific candidate

    So you might vote for Trump or third party?

    And, again, math is math. And the outcomes in WI, PA. and MI are a powerful counterargument to you position (and Doug’s).

    But, I suppose it all depends on how bad one actually thinks Trump is.

    How bad Trump is at election time depends on a comparison with who he is competing against which is currently unknown. Opposition to Trump doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For a partisan Democrat (which seems to describe most people here), it makes perfect sense to declare support for the future Democratic candidate, regardless of who it is.

    For everyone else, including #nevertrump Republicans, it’s dumb to declare allegiances this far out because the possibility exists that the cure could be worse (or as bad as) the disease.

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  96. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Y’all lay off Doug. He’s just exercising his white prerogative to be indifferent to election outcomes because of principles. People actually under threat of Trump policies and practices don’t have such luxuries. It’s really a statement of status. I ain’t mad at him. I wish more people were outside the Trump threat cone so they could afford to evaluate their principles over desired outcomes as well. What Doug has effectively said is he opposes Trump but not enough to stop him.

    Well as for me, I can’t legally put a foot in Trumps ass so all I can do is vote against him. I will vote for a communist Islamic gay ham sandwich with a D next to it. I’m not enthralled with Dems but punishing them at the ballot box can wait.

    There is a concept described by Dr King “The urgency of NOW”…NOW is the time to pay the ultimate insult to this embarrassment. NOW is the time to take the least worst option over silly principles…that aren’t even principles at all than they are mantras that connect us to a community and culture we want to identify with. The choice in 2020 is not what you are for..it’s what you are against.

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  97. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Andy: True, some cures do cause future complications. But we administer the treatment and deal with complications on the back end.. This country must cross the bridge in front of us.

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  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: I did vote for Ross Perot in 1992 (for the record, I don’t regret having done so; it was the 3rd time I voted for a third party candidate in 4 election election cycles). As to who it hurt, to the extent that “every vote matters,” (which I don’t happen to believe, also stated for the record) it hurt Bush as had I been going to vote for a major party candidate, it would have been Bush as I was still drinking the conservative Koolade at the time.

    In practical terms, it hurt no one because Bush was never going to win Washington State (part of my argument about “every vote matter[ing]”).

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  99. @Moosebreath:

    a. You’ve said that you would not vote for Sanders or Warren if they were the nominee. On the other hand, you have very strongly implied that you would vote for at least some of the other Democrats who are running if they were the nominee. Is this reading correct?

    To be fair I am using Sanders and Warren as stand-ins for the broader “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party. The further Democrats move toward that wing of the party the less likely they are to get the support of not just someone such as myself but many who have referred to themselves as “Never Trump.”

    But basically, the answer to this question is yes.

    b. Do you believe that advocating for a Democrat who you could vote for in November 2020 (whether Biden, Harris or whomever) would make it more or less likely that they would win the Democratic primary? If less, why?

    I don’t believe that my advocating for any candidate will have much of a significant impact on them winning a primary or any other election. For one thing, the audience I’m speaking to isn’t big enough to make a difference. For another, I try to stay away from using what I post to endorse one candidate or another.

    c. Do you believe that if you advocate for a Democrat to win the primary, then you must vote for any other Democrat who does win? If so, why?

    No, I don’t but one can make the argument that if one were to “join” a political party, which is what Scher is asking for in the post that James is responding to, then one is committing to support that party’s candidates. That’s one reason why, even when I was inclined to vote more Republican than I have over the past decade and a half or so, my actual attachment to the GOP was minimal at best. By the mid 2000s I had not worked on a GOP candidate’s campaign or attended a Republican convention at the state or county level for more than ten years.

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  100. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    What will prevent you from switching your party registration back to Republican in a few years, after Trump is no longer leading the Republican Party?

    In Virginia, there’s no party registration. You just show up to vote in whatever primary you want. I’ve voted in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. None of them had party registration. So, for me, “joining the party” has always been a psychological act rather than a physical one.

    As noted in the OP, I’m likely to vote in the Democratic primary in March. Effectively, that makes me a Democrat for this cycle. And I’ve voted straight-ticket Democrat going back to November 2016. Do I consider myself a Democrat? No. While I prefer their policies to Trump’s in all but a few instances, they just don’t speak to me.

    Being better than Trump is enough to get my vote when the alternative is Trump. It’s not enough to earn my loyalty.

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  101. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No, I don’t but one can make the argument that if one were to “join” a political party, which is what Scher is asking for in the post that James is responding to, then one is committing to support that party’s candidates.

    Hmmm… this may be part of the issue in communication. I don’t view joining the party as a commitment to support that party’s candidates regardless. It is more a public statement that you are generally aligned and publicly support that party. Doing so means that your opinion on where the party should go matters.

    It is akin to being part of a company. I don’t always agree or support the decisions the company makes but I’m going to give it my best advice. If it comes to a point where I can’t, in good faith, support the decisions made, I’ll leave.

    That I have always lived in a closed primary state is also part of that, I guess.

    @Doug Mataconis:

    To be fair I am using Sanders and Warren as stand-ins for the broader “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party. The further Democrats move toward that wing of the party the less likely they are to get the support of not just someone such as myself but many who have referred to themselves as “Never Trump.”

    But basically, the answer to this question is yes.

    I feel compelled to ask again what specific policies that the “the broader “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party” are advocationg for are so abhorrent to you that you would prefer to risk electing Trump and the GOP and their ethno-fascism?

    I’m particularly interested in understanding what your objection is to Warren’s positions but I’ll take anything specific.

    I really don’t understand what you are talking about as her positions would be decidedly centrist in most other western democracies. I’m left wondering whether it is merely a personal identity thing where it isn’t anything specific about what they are proposing but rather that you identify as being opposed to the “left”.

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  102. @SKI:

    I think I’ve made my objections to the fiscal irresponsibility of nearly all the programs Warren and Sanders are advocating. Additionally, it was just last week I made not of my objections to the whole student loan forgiveness and “free” college education ideas, neither of which are likely be passed into law.

    More generally, it is simply the case that the progressives advocate for a big government view of the state that is completely at odds with what I believe in. I don’t think it’s necessary to go in any more detail than that.

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  103. @SKI:

    risk electing Trump and the GOP and their ethno-fascism?

    For the 1,000th time, I will not be voting for Trump and I reject the idea that a vote for anyone other than the Democratic nominee is a vote for Trump.

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  104. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thank you for clarifying.

    I don’t think we can judge whether or not Warren’s programs are fiscally irresponsible yet as she proposes to pay for them with increased taxes. Or is it that you think increasing the tax burden on wealthier Americans and corporations is fiscally irresponsible?

    Regardless, just so we are all clear, you are communicating that you value your opposition to “Big Government” higher than your opposition to (a) Trump as President or (b) the US Government locking kids in concentration camps. You may want to think about that…

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  105. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis: And for the 1,001st time, math says your personal beliefs aren’t relevant. 🙂

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  106. @SKI:

    The more you try to accuse me of being morally responsible for Trump when I have already said I (1) didn’t vote for him in 2016 and (2) won’t vote for him in 2020, the less likely it becomes that you’re going to persuade me to vote for whatever candidate you prefer.

    Also, I still fail to understand why you and so many other people are concerned with how I vote. My vote is not going to decide the election and it is, in any case, my business and nobody else’s.

    I’ve laid out, generally speaking, the circumstances under which I could vote for a Democrat in 2020. If that’s not good enough well then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    And yes, for me principles are far more important than the outcome of a single election.

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  107. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The more you try to accuse me of being morally responsible for Trump when I have already said I (1) didn’t vote for him in 2016 and (2) won’t vote for him in 2020, the less likely it becomes that you’re going to persuade me to vote for whatever candidate you prefer.

    I’m not and haven’t said so. In fact, I’ll be explicit: you are not morally responsible for Trump – or anyone other than yourself.

    Also, I still fail to understand why you and so many other people are concerned with how I vote. My vote is not going to decide the election and it is, in any case, my business and nobody else’s.

    Again, we disagree. You are part of Society and, as a fellow member of Society, I have a very strong and vested interest in how and whom we vote for. I don’t have the right to know who you vote for but I definitely and appropriately care.

    Your vote, everyone’s vote, very much matters. You may feel or actually be safe and secure but millions of us don’t feel that way – for very good reason. To paraphrase a twitter comment I saw that encapsulates why so many of us care so much: “We ask why the Germans didn’t resist when resistance was still possible. Well, why aren’t we resisting now?” Never Again Means Now.

    And yes, for me principles are far more important than the outcome of a single election.

    I guess we are suggesting that your principles should also include being anti-fascist and anti-racist and anti-concentration camps and that those principles should outweigh an objection to higher marginal tax rates or a broader social welfare state or a personal identity as a libertarian.

    ___________________

    I don’t think you realize, or maybe you don’t care, how selfish and privileged it comes across to others when you assert that your philosophy on taxes and the size of government is more important than actual lives that are being ruined and lost. And yes, I know adding this isn’t going to help convince you – at least in the short term – but damn is it frustrating and infuriating to read/see.

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  108. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “But, I suppose it all depends on how bad one actually thinks Trump is.”

    Well, sure I hate to see my government killing millions of Jews, gays and gypsies, and I’m concerned about military moves that are going to plunge the entire world into a years-long war, killing millions more, so I am an anti-Hitler, but the other guy might raise my taxes so I’m not sure who I’ll vote for.

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  109. Andy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That is pretty much my position to a T.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I voted Perot in 1992 also and also don’t regret my vote.

    Those here arguing that “math” dictates that voting for anyone besides the Democratic candidate is actually voting for Trump should be able to show a proof for why my vote for Perot helped/hurt either Clinton or Bush. Because, at that time, both my Clinton and Bush supporter friends were telling me that voting for Perot was actually voting for the candidate they opposed. If this is really about math, they can’t both be right.

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  110. Teve says:

    @SKI:

    I don’t think you realize, or maybe you don’t care, how selfish and privileged it comes across to others when you assert that your philosophy on taxes and the size of government is more important than actual lives that are being ruined and lost. And yes, I know adding this isn’t going to help convince you – at least in the short term – but damn is it frustrating and infuriating to read/see.

    “Forget it SKI. It’s Libertari-town.” 🙂

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  111. @dennis:

    So, no one is questioning you holding on to your principles.

    Indeed.

    In fact, my position is that between Trump and a Democrat, the Democrat (even Warren) is closer to upholding those principles than is Trump.

    That’s the whole point.

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  112. @Andy:

    Let’s say I voted for Ross Perot back in 1992. Mathematically, who did that vote help/hurt? Please show your work.

    We aren’t discussing a Bush-Clinton-Perot scenario here. I am not taking a blanket, for all time, position.

    So you might vote for Trump or third party?

    It is rather obvious I am advocating for a particular party, not “my candidate.”

    How bad Trump is at election time depends on a comparison with who he is competing against which is currently unknown. Opposition to Trump doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    The scenario on the table is about Trump and what he represents and that math of a scenario that will lack a serious third party challenger (lest some very bizarre event take place).

    How bad Trump is at election time depends on a comparison with who he is competing against which is currently unknown. Opposition to Trump doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    In my opinion, Trump is singularly bad and I would find any of the Democrats preferable (although if the Williamson woman gets the nomination, we might as well close up shop).

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  113. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, I still fail to understand why you and so many other people are concerned with how I vote. My vote is not going to decide the election and it is, in any case, my business and nobody else’s.

    I’m more sympathetic to your position than most of the people engaging you on this thread, but I’ve got to call you on this. This is literally a thread dealing with how people vote in elections and the ethics of party affiliations. If you are going to actively engage in it, then people are going to wonder how you vote and pass judgement based on those votes.

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  114. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “In Virginia, there’s no party registration. You just show up to vote in whatever primary you want. I’ve voted in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. So, for me, “joining the party” has always been a psychological act rather than a physical one.”

    Noted, though all my life I have lived in states with party registration and closed primaries (Pennsylvania, for all but 2.5 years), and believe them to be preferable, though that is a discussion for another time.

    So the question becomes why do you think that being voting in the Democratic primary in 2020 has any relevance to where your psyche will be at a later time. If the answer is “It won’t”, then I don’t understand at all the reluctance to call oneself a Democrat for this time. As you yourself say, “Effectively, that makes me a Democrat for this cycle.”

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  115. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In my opinion, Trump is singularly bad and I would find any of the Democrats preferable (although if the Williamson woman gets the nomination, we might as well close up shop).

    I’d add Gabbard to that formulation but in a world where either get remotely close to the nomination is a world I don’t want to live in.

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  116. @Doug Mataconis:

    I think I’ve made my objections to the fiscal irresponsibility of nearly all the programs Warren and Sanders are advocating. Additionally, it was just last week I made not of my objections to the whole student loan forgiveness and “free” college education ideas, neither of which are likely be passed into law.

    See, this is the kind of thing that vexes me.

    a) Trump and the GOP have been extremely irresponsible fiscally. I understand that the Dems aren’t balance the budget types, but they have hisotrically been better on this topic that the Reps. (or, if they are equally bad, one has Trump and the other doesn’t).

    b) If some of the more extreme policies are unlikely to be passed (and I agree with that–I am not a fan of either loan forgiveness nor free college, FWIW) then why risk Trump in process that will almost certainly not result in the policies that concern you?

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  117. @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, I still fail to understand why you and so many other people are concerned with how I vote. My vote is not going to decide the election and it is, in any case, my business and nobody else’s.

    Ultimately, I agree with you.

    The issue for this argument is, to me at least, the broader implication of your position.

    You are 100% correct that your vote will not matter, mathematically in the election.

    But I am 100% correct that if enough people who share your position act as you are suggesting, then the election could very well hinge on that collective decision. Again, the evidence is clear in three key states in 2016.

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  118. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Thanks for the response. I think where we part company is your response to the second question:

    “I don’t believe that my advocating for any candidate will have much of a significant impact on them winning a primary or any other election. For one thing, the audience I’m speaking to isn’t big enough to make a difference. For another, I try to stay away from using what I post to endorse one candidate or another.”

    Clearly, you have made negative endorsements, as there are several candidates you say you cannot vote for under any circumstances. Moreover, your words are taken into consideration by the people here (including lurkers). If it did not, then they would not be here, and would not engage with you.

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  119. @Doug Mataconis:

    And yes, for me principles are far more important than the outcome of a single election.

    The other broader point that I am arguing is that purity of principles in making political decisions is a great way of not advancing one’s principles at all.

    If I had to vote based on the purity of my principles, I wouldn’t vote at all.

    The issue, I would argue, is whether a given choice advances one’s principles more than it hinders them.

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  120. @Andy:

    Those here arguing that “math” dictates that voting for anyone besides the Democratic candidate is actually voting for Trump should be able to show a proof for why my vote for Perot helped/hurt either Clinton or Bush.

    Again: that is not the scenario we are currently discussing.

    We are discussing, for example, PA, MI, and WI in 2016.

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  121. @SKI: Also fair.

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  122. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We aren’t discussing a Bush-Clinton-Perot scenario here. I am not taking a blanket, for all time, position.

    The context of my reply to Ski is the argument it’s all about “math.” Math is not scenario-dependent.

    It is rather obvious I am advocating for a particular party, not “my candidate.”

    Oh, I misunderstood. So your candidate is de facto whoever the Democrats choose.

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  123. @Andy:

    Math is not scenario-dependent.

    Actually, math is extremely scenario-dependent. (Or, at least, the significance of the math varies–like I keep hammering: Trump won, in part, because of ~70k votes across three states–all in places in which third party candidates won far more than the margin between Trump and Clinton).

    The math of a handful votes was very important in Florida in 2000.

    The math of a handful of votes in 1984? No so important.

    So your candidate is de facto whoever the Democrats choose.

    My position is that Trump is so singularly bad that the most important factor is him losing the race. That is the crux of this entire thread, to me at least.

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  124. SKI says:

    @Andy: Math in 2020 means that any vote not for the Dem Candidate is a vote that risks keeping Trump in office.

    The votes in PA, WI, MI that (a) weren’t cast at all or (b) cast for a 3rd party candidate instead of HRC meant that we got Trump as POTUS. If you are actually opposed to Trump as the embodiment of American ethno-fascism, you need to vote for the Dem.

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  125. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If I had to vote based on the purity of my principles, I wouldn’t vote at all.

    The issue, I would argue, is whether a given choice advances one’s principles more than it hinders them.

    Sure, but everyone has red lines – principles that can’t be compromised on. And those red lines vary widely by individual.

    We are discussing, for example, PA, MI, and WI in 2016.

    Then the “math” dictates that Democrats should nominate someone who is competitive in those states and by competitive I mean able to actually get votes.

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  126. SKI says:

    @Andy:

    Then the “math” dictates that Democrats should nominate someone who is competitive in those states and by competitive I mean able to actually get votes.

    You don’t get to blame your moral choices on the failures of someone else to meet your demands.

    This election *is* different because we haven’t had a previous President who was so dangerous to the very stability of the country in living memory, if ever.

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  127. @Andy:

    everyone has red lines

    Sure. I am just trying to sort out above why the red line isn’t Trump.

    Then the “math” dictates that Democrats should nominate someone who is competitive in those states and by competitive I mean able to actually get votes.

    One the parameters are set (i.e., the candidates nominated) the math is what the math is.

    To say “I wanted different candidates” is to live in the land of Wish and to ignore the actual choice provided.

    Have I mentioned that what is on the line is four more years of Trump?

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  128. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My point is the math pretty simple – zero is not the same as one. If I don’t vote for Trump, that’s zero votes for Trump. If I vote for Trump, that’s one vote. The notion that a zero vote for Trump is exactly the same thing as a vote for Trump is completely bogus.

    Actually, math is extremely scenario-dependent. (Or, at least, the significance of the math varies–like I keep hammering: Trump won, in part, because of ~70k votes across three states–all in places in which third party candidates won far more than the margin between Trump and Clinton).

    It could well be the case that if those third-party voters were forced to choose between Clinton and Trump, then Trump’s margin would have been larger.

    The point is that both Clinton and Trump failed to earn those votes, therefore neither candidate benefitted from them. The notion that third-party voters “elected” Trump wrongly assumes they would have gone Clinton instead.

    And that is a cherry-picked demographic, overwhelmed by other categories of voters, notably the 5-6 million that voted for Obama in 2012 and switched to Trump in 2016 or the 4+ million voters (including many African Americans) who chose to stay home rather than support Clinton. And the fact that those millions of voters made that choice despite the obvious deficits that Trump brought to the table only demonstrates what a terrible candidate Clinton was.

    One the parameters are set (i.e., the candidates nominated) the math is what the math is.

    Exactly the point I made earlier. I’m waiting to see who the actual candidates are before I decide who gets my +1.

    Sure. I am just trying to sort out above why the red line isn’t Trump.

    And I’m trying to sort out why people insist that Trump’s red line is not only greater than any other redline but that anyone who disagrees is somehow supporting Trump tacitly or otherwise.

    To say “I wanted different candidates” is to live in the land of Wish and to ignore the actual choice provided.

    I doubt anyone here understands that better than me.

    @SKI:

    You don’t get to blame your moral choices on the failures of someone else to meet your demands.

    I’m not the one here casting any blame or making any demands. I’m not criticizing anyone’s moral or voting choices. Rather, it’s others who are criticizing mine and making demands of people like me and Doug who don’t openly declare themselves in the tank for any Democrat 15 months out from the election.

    I can understand and accept the view of those who will vote for anyone but Trump. I think that’s a legitimate and logical POV. But it’s one I don’t completely share. My opposition to Trump is not unlimited. The Democrats have to earn my vote, not receive it by default because of some lame less-of-evils calculus. I don’t give credence to the demands of partisans who self-servingly insist otherwise.

    I’ve stated here many times before that I am likely to vote Democrat and that I can’t conceive that I would ever vote for Trump – but I am not at all afraid to vote for a principled third-party candidate if the Democrats, once again, nominate a turd. What surprises me is that this is a lesson many Democrats seem not to have learned.

    If you want independents like me to affirmatively support a Democratic candidate (and if you want important historically Democratic voters to go the polls instead of staying home), then select a candidate that we can actually support. Don’t ply us with bogus arguments about “math” that purports to prove that not voting for Trump is the same thing as voting for Trump. They aren’t convincing.

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  129. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    My point is the math pretty simple – zero is not the same as one. If I don’t vote for Trump, that’s zero votes for Trump. If I vote for Trump, that’s one vote. The notion that a zero vote for Trump is exactly the same thing as a vote for Trump is completely bogus.

    If you legitimately have no preference between Trump and the Democratic nominee, then I agree zero is the number. If, however, you prefer the Democratic nominee to Trump but can’t bring yourself to vote for the Democrat because, principles, then you’ve essentially cast a vote for Trump in that your preference can be countermanded by a Trump voter whereas had you voted for the Democrat it would take two votes to countermand you–one to bring it back to zero and another to move Trump ahead one vote.

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  130. bookdragon says:

    @James Joyner: This precisely.

    At 18 I registered as Republican. But I also voted for some Dems, and 8 years later, despite my best efforts to vote for old school moderate Rs in the primaries, the rise of the Moral Majority meant I increasingly was voting Dem in the general. When we moved to VA, I became an independent. But when we later moved to PA I had to choose again in order to vote in the primaries (and it still took two cycles for me to do that). I registered as Dem in 2008 to vote in the Dem primary for Obama. It didn’t stop me from voting for some Rs in the general. However, after Trump, I’m voting straight Dem. Frankly, I see it as the only way to save both the country and (hopefully, if the face enough overwhelming defeat) the Republican Party.

    That said, if someone is Never Trump but somehow can’t get past the idea that a Harvard econ professor is a “far-left socialist” (Note: if young Dems see Socialist as a positive term, it’s because rightward folks spent 8 years calling Obama’s policies Socialist), then they should put some energy into backing a primary challenge to Trump. Sure, it probably won’t succeed given the current nutjob base, but enough conservative voices (and votes) pushing that primary challenger *might* give encouragement to GOP candidates at congressional and local levels who want to oppose Trumpism, and therefore force the RNC to reconsider its abject submission to Trump.

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  131. @James Joyner:

    If you legitimately have no preference between Trump and the Democratic nominee, then I agree zero is the number. If, however, you prefer the Democratic nominee to Trump but can’t bring yourself to vote for the Democrat because, principles, then you’ve essentially cast a vote for Trump in that your preference can be countermanded by a Trump voter whereas had you voted for the Democrat it would take two votes to countermand you–one to bring it back to zero and another to move Trump ahead one vote.

    THIS

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  132. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    Thank you for articulating that so well. Totally saving that for future use!

    Honestly, that comment is super important and should be a post unto itself.

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  133. @Andy:

    If you want independents like me to affirmatively support a Democratic candidate (and if you want important historically Democratic voters to go the polls instead of staying home), then select a candidate that we can actually support. Don’t ply us with bogus arguments about “math” that purports to prove that not voting for Trump is the same thing as voting for Trump. They aren’t convincing.

    My appeal is not to independents to vote for a Democrat.

    My appeal is to anyone who truly thinks Trump is a dangerous disaster to think about rank ordered preferences.

    I also think that if one really is of the opinion that, well, Warren (to pick an example) is just too progressive for me, then one is stating that one actually does not have a real preference between Trump and Warren.

    To be clear: If one’s position is that one really has no real preference between Trump and Candidate X, then that is a position that is utterly immune from my argument.

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  134. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    If, however, you prefer the Democratic nominee to Trump but can’t bring yourself to vote for the Democrat because, principles, then you’ve essentially cast a vote for Trump in that your preference can be countermanded by a Trump voter whereas had you voted for the Democrat it would take two votes to countermand you–one to bring it back to zero and another to move Trump ahead one vote.

    No, you don’t “cast a vote for Trump” unless you actually cast a vote for Trump! It is not “essentially” the same thing at all.

    The “countermanding” argument works both ways – A Trump supporter could argue that by voting third party I’ve essentially cast a vote for [Democratic Candidate] using your exact logic.

    Again as a life-long independent, this is not a new argument to me. Partisans of both sides, in elections going back decades, always insist to me that voting third party is the same as voting for the party they oppose. They can’t both be right (or maybe they are both right in which case they cancel each other out).

    Therefore, the notion that voting third party inherently benefits one party over the other is without merit.

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  135. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My appeal is to anyone who truly thinks Trump is a dangerous disaster to think about rank ordered preferences.

    Yes, which is exactly why I’m waiting to see all the choices I will actually have.

    I also think that if one really is of the opinion that, well, Warren (to pick an example) is just too progressive for me, then one is stating that one actually does not have a real preference between Trump and Warren.

    At that point, it is not really about affirmative preference since neither candidate represents any kind of affirmation of my political values or views. It, therefore, becomes a case of trying to balance the negatives. That kind of situation is when I seriously consider third party candidates.

    To be clear: If one’s position is that one really has no real preference between Trump and Candidate X, then that is a position that is utterly immune from my argument.

    My position is that one needs to know who candidate X actually is and then judge the merits with regard to the totality of views and evidence at the time of the election. Preferring candidate X before one even knows who candidate X is (much less the knowing state of the country and world 15 months hence) is – in my view – premature at best. That’s not how I evaluate my choices.

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  136. Justin says:

    I’m a southern Democrat stuck in a midwest red state. So in the old days, I’d be considered a conservative outside the south. So there is room for centrists in the party. Just remember, once you cross the line, it moves past you at warp speed.

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  137. Barry says:

    @JKB: “Perhaps starting early will help this time, but the May 2016 appeal by Charles Murray to Never Trumpers didn’t have much of an effect. ”

    I have a feeling that the set of people who take Murray’s advice but who don’t like Trump is rather small.

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  138. gVOR08 says:

    Like much discussion here, this revolves around whether it’s just Trump or is it the Republican Party. If it’s just Trump, then NeverTrumpers should hang around and try to salvage the Party when he’s gone. If it’s the Party, then they should work to defeat the Party, at all levels, hoping to be able to go back later to salvage either a reformed Republican Party or a new replacement conservative party from the wreckage. We say third parties can’t succeed, but they can if one of the two major parties fails, as the Whigs did.

    Much of the above revolves around voting for president. If it’s not just Trump, it’s a question of voting blue, no matter who, all the way up and down the ballot.

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  139. @gVOR08: One thing is for sure: as long as Trump is president, it’s the party. Four more years will only deepen that fact.

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  140. @Andy:

    My position is that one needs to know who candidate X actually is and then judge the merits with regard to the totality of views and evidence at the time of the election. Preferring candidate X before one even knows who candidate X is (much less the knowing state of the country and world 15 months hence) is – in my view – premature at best.

    In a normal election cycle, I would agree with this sentiment.

    Since my rank order #1 preference of the universe of likely options is Trump out, then I am where I am.

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  141. The part that vexes me is anyone who thinks Trump is a disaster and yet would ponder not voting to oust him in an efficacious a manner as possible.

    However, if one can tolerate him, or if one thinks other likely options are, in fact, worse, then one’s calculus is different.

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  142. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Fair. ‘course that is also something to judge them on…

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  143. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    At that point, it is not really about affirmative preference since neither candidate represents any kind of affirmation of my political values or views. It, therefore, becomes a case of trying to balance the negatives. That kind of situation is when I seriously consider third party candidates.

    Hence how we got GW Bush, when all those FU**ING NADER VOTERS SAID “There is no difference between Al Gore and GW Bush”.

    This is where I would tell you, or others like you, to “Go F yourselves”. There is a massive difference between Trump AND ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT.

    My vote is for the Democrat against Trump. Period. Full stop. Anything else, to me, is delusional.

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  144. If only we had a popular vote with either instant run-off or a run-off election. Then people could vote their sincere preferences in round one, and then have to make the hard choice in round two (or, they could rank-order all the candidates in one sitting).

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  145. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner:

    While I prefer their policies to Trump’s in all but a few instances, they just don’t speak to me.

    a) Really didn’t see that coming.
    b)Because I truly don’t see a distinction between Trump and the GOP on policy, your statement doesn’t make sense to me unless 1) the policies where you would go with Trump are “dealbreakers” (in which case I’d be interested in knowing what they are, but won’t ask overtly) or 2) your objections both to Trump and to the Democratic Party as a political center are mostly visceral (which I can understand as I have the same leanings).

    ETA: ” Or is it that you think increasing the tax burden on wealthier Americans and corporations is fiscally irresponsible?”
    Boom! I think you’ve hit on it, except that possibly Doug is part of the “all taxation is confiscation” team.

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  146. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, Martin Longman has a great post on topic:

    “For people like Bret Stephens and David Brooks, they’re threatening to not support the Democrat if the Democrat is too far out of the mainstream. That’s a clear indication that the reelection of Trump isn’t the worst thing that can happen in their minds, and that’s a moral judgment. If Medicare-for-All and free college and the abolition of ICE are more repugnant than being a suspected foreign agent, an obvious criminal, an opponent of NATO and friend of Putin, a menace to a free press, and a brutalizer of migrant children, then they should be clear that they’ll tolerate everything Trump can dish out to prevent the election of a far left-wing Democrat.

    (snip)

    The bottom line is that you can’t be #NeverTrump if Trump is still an option for you. And you can’t oppose Trump with all your might by staying home or voting for the Libertarian or Green Party candidate. If you really want him gone, you’ll vote for the Democrat. If you want to have influence over who his opponent will be, you can hardly do worse than threaten to leave the battlefield if you don’t get who you want.”

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  147. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI: Oooh! Choosing between Trump and Tulsi Gabbard. Talking about being shoehorned into God’s Little Acre–East of the rock and West of the hard place.

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  148. @Moosebreath:

    That’s a clear indication that the reelection of Trump isn’t the worst thing that can happen in their minds, and that’s a moral judgment.

    My exact point.

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  149. Andy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    This is where I would tell you, or others like you, to “Go F yourselves”. There is a massive difference between Trump AND ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT.

    and

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The part that vexes me is anyone who thinks Trump is a disaster and yet would ponder not voting to oust him in an efficacious a manner as possible.

    ….and also Ski and others who I won’t bother quoting.

    The part the vexes me is the absolutism on display.

    It’s not sufficient to not vote for Trump. It’s not sufficient to hope that a decent Democrat gets the nomination so that one can make an affirmative vote. None of that is, apparently, good enough for the purists who, as far as I can tell, have yet to acknowledge that any other view besides voting for any Democrat no matter what is even legitimate. Anything short of a pledge to unconditionally support any Democrat against Trump is grounds for opprobrium, “go fuck yourself”, the questioning of motives, and the worst kind of dumb and dishonest attempts at setting binary logic traps.

    For all the apparent concern about stopping a Trump reelection, I think it’s these kinds of attitudes that will do much more to help Trump than people like me who agree 80% of the way or who might consider voting for a third-party candidate (shudder, quelle horreur!).

    The absolutist attitudes about Trump here at OTB are, in fact, a minority viewpoint in this country. If 80% agreement and a declaration that one will not vote for Trump deserves a “fuck yourself” then what are you people going to do to convince those who are much closer to the fence than I am – the people who will actually, in all likelihood, decide the election?

    Also vexing are the really bad and self-serving arguments that anything less than complete and absolute opposition to Trump is a sign of tacit Trump support and is therefore subject to “moral judgment.” And, naturally, the framing for this bogus argument is set up such that anything less than a complete commitment to vote for a Democrat is characterized as not actually opposing Trump. Those who warn they will “judge” those of us who don’t toe this line is a laughable threat.

    And to be clear, I’m not complaining. What I don’t understand is the point of it. This doesn’t seem like a very smart engagement strategy that would actually build support for a Democratic candidate, much less materially oppose Trump. To me, it just seems to double-down on many of the same mistakes that lost Clinton the election in the first place.

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  150. gVOR08 says:

    Wow. Of late OTB hasn’t been getting over a hundred comments for even gun posts.

    Serendipitously, Eugene Robinson published a column this afternoon, Never Trumpers have a decision to make.

    I hope the ancien régime Republicans — or, I guess, former Republicans — are serious when they talk about what a danger Trump is, both foreign and domestic, and how urgent it is to get him out of the White House. Do they think it would really be such an awful thing for more people to get health care? For migrant children to be treated like children, not taken from their families and caged in squalor? For universal background checks for gun purchases, supported by something like four-fifths of Americans, to be made law? For the United States to rejoin the Paris climate accord and stop artificially boosting the coal industry? For some effort to be made to address levels of inequality that would make Gilded Age titans blush?

    Well worth a read, as are the most liked comments,

    Eisenhower’s policies and Warren’s are very close. That is how far right they have gone.

    Some Republicans lost control of their own party so now they want to take over ours.

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  151. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Yeah, that about sums it up. Well said.

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  152. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, if one can tolerate him, or if one thinks other likely options are, in fact, worse, then one’s calculus is different.

    It is impossible to take Doug’s comments (and Andy’s for that matter) other than as an assertion that they would prefer Trump to some of the potential Democratic nominees. In Doug’s case, I hope that this is like the case of the orthodox Jew who would rather watch his house burn down than work to put out the fire on the Sabbath — i.e. that orthodoxy is more important to him than outcomes. The alternative is that he feels a Trump administration would actually come closer to advancing his preferred agenda than a Warren or Sanders administration would, which is pretty scary.

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  153. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It is impossible to take Doug’s comments (and Andy’s for that matter) other than as an assertion that they would prefer Trump to some of the potential Democratic nominees.

    I’ve stated several times in this thread alone that I will not vote for Trump. So your assertion that I would prefer Trump over some of the potential Democratic nominees is entirely fiction.

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  154. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    It’s not sufficient to not vote for Trump. It’s not sufficient to hope that a decent Democrat gets the nomination so that one can make an affirmative vote. None of that is, apparently, good enough for the purists who, as far as I can tell, have yet to acknowledge that any other view besides voting for any Democrat no matter what is even legitimate.

    Exactly. It is not sufficient to not be one of the rapists. It is not sufficient to hope that a cop comes along in time to stop the rape before it goes too far. You have to do something to actually prevent the rape, even if it’s just calling 911 from behind a mailbox. I’m sorry if that sounds ‘absolutist’ to you.

    ETA: If you can’t see the difference between the current administration and every other administration of either party over the past century, there’s no point in having this conversation.

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  155. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Andy and Doug are not naifs. Neither one of them fell off a turnip truck today, and neither one of them landed on their heads not falling off. They both understand how the Electoral College works, so they both know that the key to voting against someone is not simply not selecting that person, but also actively voting for someone who can actually win (it’s where we get the notion that voting for a third-party candidate is throwing your vote away). To see who this whole intellectual/rhetorical slight of hand is fooling, they only need mirrors.

    Even so, self-deception, while pathetic, is a right protected by the agency of free will, among other philosophical concepts. On the other hand, just because they are willing to deceive themselves with their line of bullshit, does not mean that the rest of us have to buy in. And it shows that no matter how much they’d like to believe that they are not, they are in fact willing to overlook Trump being reelected if the circumstances are more favorable to them personally (though not necessarily materially). That makes them, at best, as ambivalent about Trump being in power as lots of others who don’t like Trump, but do like the GOP agenda in general. For me, this is not surprising because I think of them both as “closet conservatives” at least for the moment. This is one of the things that had made America great in the past and y’all need to follow Jim Brown 32’s advice and stop pickin on them. They’ve told us where their heart is–ousting Trump is not a goal for them unless the circumstances are ones they prefer.

    It really is that simple.

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  156. Andy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Yes, everyone but the circle of true believers here is deluded, pathetic, dishonest and selling bullshit (rolls eyes).

    It’s been fun, but the commentariat here, with a few exceptions, seem unable to do much besides insult people they disagree either overtly or with too clever by half armchair psychoanalysis…which is quite telling, actually.

    So I’m done with this thread, as it’s rather futile to have any kind of cogent or productive discussion with people who intentionally hurl insults and openly question your intelligence and integrity.

    I’ve made my positions as clear as possible and readers are free to make their own conclusions. Cheers.

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  157. @EddieInCA:

    This is where I would tell you, or others like you, to “Go F yourselves”. There is a massive difference between Trump AND ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT.

    BTW, this really isn’t helpful.

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  158. @Andy:

    I’ve stated several times in this thread alone that I will not vote for Trump. So your assertion that I would prefer Trump over some of the potential Democratic nominees is entirely fiction.

    I accept that you don’t support Trump.

    I reject the notion that it is inconsequential on a collective level–i.e., everyone who votes third party isn’t helping Trump if they, in fact, oppose Trump as president. (If they can tolerate Trump as president, as I have noted, then I understand the position, even if I disagree with it).

    Again: I get it. On an individual level I get that one’s vote is unlikely to matter. But just like pennies make dollars, tens of thousands of NeverTrumpers who, nonetheless, do not vote for the candidate who has the only chance of beating Trump, can lead to Trump being reelected.

    The reason I personally keep arguing is to point out the logical implications of yours and Doug’s position on a mass level.

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  159. @Andy:

    The part that vexes me is anyone who thinks Trump is a disaster and yet would ponder not voting to oust him in an efficacious a manner as possible.

    If you found this insulting, I apologize, as the goal was not to insult.

    I don’t find this, or anything I have said, to be about being a purist. I am arguing for the most effective means of defeating Trump, as I think that is the most important goal for 2020.

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  160. A general comment: yes, these conversations get too personal. And there is a lot of emotion wrapped up in politics in general, and the politics of Trump in particular. The medium also has it drawbacks.

    Still, the basic conversation is not a bad one. It has to do with what an individual vote means (i.e., is it just about a very specific expression of believe or is it more a strategic deployment of a resource?).

    The conversation also shows how the electoral rules shape these choices: the EC creates a perverse psychology in which we know that some votes count and others really don’t. Likewise, plurality winners undercut the incentive and value of third party voting.

    There is also a philosophical question here: should we judge our actions solely based on individual preferences, or should we act in a way that takes into account the implications of the consequences if a group of people engaged in that same action collectively.

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  161. @Moosebreath:

    I am not here to endorse or campaign for candidates. I am much more comfortable with analysis and commentary, and subject matter such as the law and foreign policy. If I wanted to be an advocate for or a particular candidate or ideology, I suppose I could do that but that isn’t the reason I write about or follow politics.

    Indeed, my post on the eve of the election in 2016 was, I believe, the one and only time I’ve engaged in political advocacy since I started blogging at OTB in 2010. I was arguably more of an advocate when I was at my personal blog, but I look back on some of that writing now and cringe.

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  162. @Doug Mataconis: I am not going to reignite the voting discussion–but I am curious as to your definition of political advocacy, as you are clearly critical of Trump (and often call him derogatory names, as well as his supporters).

    Isn’t that advocacy?

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  163. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If you found this insulting, I apologize, as the goal was not to insult.

    I’ve been traveling and working all day and am just now getting back to this.

    You don’t owe me an apology – on reflection, it was wrong of me to include you in my little rant, so let me apologize to you. You consistently conduct yourself with a high degree of civility that is atypical (in a good way) in online discussions, and I do appreciate that. It was a mistake for me to accuse you of insult.

    However, I do take issue with the substance of some of your comments and arguments – as well as those of others here. Let me see if I can better explain my point to you so you can understand where I’m coming from.

    To summarize up front, I don’t accept the way you and others here have turned opposition to Trump into a purely binary proposition defined by what appear to be arbitrary and self-serving criteria regarding who is and isn’t actually opposed to Trump. Furthermore, I don’t think you, me, the OTB commentariat or anyone has any inherent authority or right to impose their criteria, judge others on it and expect anyone to accept it much less agree with you.

    The reason is because, like almost everything in politics, opposition to Trump is not a binary state, but a continuum.

    One end we might define as people who agree with Trump 90% of the time but oppose some specific policy. On the other end of the continuum are those who hate Trump so much they will literally do anything to stop him including violence.

    The vast majority of people are somewhere on the continuum between these to ends. Each person has their own criteria and factors for where they draw their own personal red line in whatever ways or method to oppose Trump generally or oppose specific policies.

    You and others here have set your own bright red line and defined that line very specifically. As I noted up-thread, I think where you draw the line and the reasons for putting it there are completely legitimate and, at least in isolation, it contains an internal logic that I have no objection to.

    However, you and others here have gone further than that. You’ve drawn your particular line at one point in a continuum and designated that point as the fulcrum in a binary calculus. Everything to one side of your line is lumped together as not sufficiently opposing Trump, not opposing Trump, or actually helping Trump (all three of these variants have appeared in this thread).

    What I object to is two-fold:
    – First, the attempted imposition of your particular red line on others and the implicit rejection of any other red line one may draw and,
    – Second, turning Trump opposition into a binary question with “supports Trump” on one side and doesn’t support Trump on the other.

    Well, to be perfectly frank, no one anointed anyone here (including me) to be the arbiter of what qualifies as Trump opposition and certainly, no one has any authority or legitimacy to demand that other acquiesce to red lines that are inherently self-serving.
    .
    The arrogance, vitriol, and self-righteousness of a few here who defend their chosen line as if it were holy writ, as well as the various bogus arguments (ie. if you don’t vote for any Democrat, you’re “essentially” voting for Trump), has no inherent legitimacy. Like the Dude says, “that’s just your opinion man.”

    But here’s the thing, anyone can do the same thing right back. Take this quote from Moosebreath to which you responded, “this is my exact point.”

    That’s a clear indication that the reelection of Trump isn’t the worst thing that can happen in their minds, and that’s a moral judgment.

    Well, that opinion applies just as well to you and the others here for anyone who has set their own line higher than yours. Consider these criteria for what actually qualifies as opposing Trump:

    It’s not enough to vote for a Democrat and talk about how much you dislike Trump on online forums. To actually oppose Trump, you have to get skin in the game, sacrifice and actually work to oppose him. Failing to volunteer, or send at least 10% of your income to Democratic action groups, or spending at least five days a month working with a progressive activist group, is a clear indication that the reelection of Trump isn’t the worst thing that can happen in your mind, and that’s a moral judgment.

    It is not sufficient to not be one of the rapists. It is not sufficient to hope that a cop comes along in time to stop the rape before it goes too far. You have to do something to actually prevent the rape, even if it’s just calling 911 from behind a mailbox. I’m sorry if that sounds ‘absolutist’ to you.

    If such people can tolerate Trump as president, then I understand the position, even if I disagree with it.

    Does any of that sound familiar? One could set a line anywhere, parrot the same arguments you all have made to anyone on the “wrong” side of that line, and those arguments are just as internally consistent.

    So yes, you are perfectly entitled to believe that someone who refuses to support Trump, yet also refuses to support ANY Democratic candidate 15 months from an election is somehow actually helping and or supporting Trump. And just as easily, I can argue that whatever you could be doing to oppose Trump but aren’t doing is – just the same – also helping Trump. Because if he is really the threat that you all claim he is, then your own vote is not enough – you also have to be an activist. If you sit passively and just show up on election day, then all you’re doing is helping Trump.

    ——–
    Finally, you’ve tried to get across a point about “the logical implications of yours and Doug’s position on a mass level.” Here’s my specific response to that:

    For over two decades I have used two primary criteria to guide my voting preferences and these criteria have served me well:

    1. I will vote for the candidate that I think is the best candidate regardless of party affiliation with one exception:
    2. I will not vote for anyone that I do not think is fit for the office – either due to experience, disposition, character, policy views or whatever.

    I voted third party in 2016 because both major party candidates met the #2 criteria. Gary Johnson, for all his quirks, qualified and I still believe that – objectively – he’s be a far superior President than Trump has been or Clinton would have been.

    So that is why I will never promise to vote for ANY candidate just because they happen to oppose Trump (or whoever else one doesn’t like)

    For me, voting is an affirmative act. It is explicitly an expression of my support for a candidate. I have no issue with those who vote on a purely strategic basis or party line or whatever other criteria, but that is not me.

    Secondly, the macro “implications” are irrelevant to me. My principles are much more important than the tiny-to-nonexistent influence my single vote has. But let’s do consider the “implications” on a mass level of me voting for a third party candidate. Let’s compare it to the millions of GoP votes in California and (I assume) your own Democratic vote in Alabama. Because of our system, those votes are just as worthless, if not more so, than mine. So I don’t find arguments that third party votes supposedly help Trump very convincing, and, as argued earlier, the math is neutral.

    Anyway, it’s late and this is already too long. I hope this provides some insight into where I am coming from.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion and the opportunity to lay out more thoughts. But this is, for real this time, my last post in this thread.

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  164. @Steven L. Taylor:

    By advocacy I mean being actively partisan for one party, or one candidate or another, or effetively turning what I write into a campaign for or against a specific candidate, which is what you see from a large segment (most?) of the political blogosphere.

    Yes, I’ve been critical of Trump but I’ve also been critical of Democrats, including former President Obama (much to the disdain of the OTB commentariat).

    In the context of the question I was answering, though, I was referring specifically to actively campaigning for specific candidates, in this case via what I post. I’m simply not interested in that kind of adocacy.

    Admittedly, things have been different in the Trump Era and as we head into 2020 I’m likely to be far more critical of the President than any of his opponents. I don’t consider it my role, though, to tell people who they should vote for.

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  165. @Steven L. Taylor:

    You are 100% correct that your vote will not matter, mathematically in the election.

    But I am 100% correct that if enough people who share your position act as you are suggesting, then the election could very well hinge on that collective decision. Again, the evidence is clear in three key states in 2016.

    Then Democrats, of which I am not one, should take care to nominate a candidate that people in my position can support without feeling like we’re being told, to reference the classic South Park example, to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

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  166. @Teve:

    See now that’s the kind of condescending insulting nonsense that makes it less likely I will take your advice about who to support seriously.

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  167. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Then Democrats, of which I am not one, should take care to nominate a candidate that people in my position can support without feeling like we’re being told, to reference the classic South Park example, to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

    I think this may be the crux of the dispute here. You seem to think the responsibility is entirely external. It is “their” requirement to entice you. To convince you of their worthiness. And yes, candidates and parties are supposed to campaign for your vote but…

    I, and I believe Steven, are suggesting that there is personal responsibility as well. That, as citizens, we all are responsible for the direction and actions of the country. That voting is not merely a right we can to choose to exercise but a responsibility that comes along with membership in Society. That passivity is not enough in the face of evil.

    We are faced with a duty. To shirk from it is a choice in an of itself.

    And yes, to perhaps explain to Andy why many of us are so disdainful of equivocation, let me be explicit: We are committing great evil under this Administration and this is not a typical election or a typical President and the decision to abstain from participating is not the normal de minimus issue it has been in other elections.

    Only if you believe that everything today is “business as usual”, that deliberate cruelty is normal and acceptable, that Trump is a classic American politician, could it be understandable to not commit fully and completely to defeat him. If you do believe that, that is your right but yes, many will judge you for that determination.

    And Doug, I know you recognize how unusual and danmgerous Trump is. to your credit, you have been explicitly clear about this. And yet, you continue to insist that it will be “their” fault if you do not act by voting. I don’t understand your thought process. What equivalent evil do you see in the other candidate with a chance to win?

    And from my perspective, I will not claim to speak for others here, the attitude that it is the responsibility of others to motivate you… that it is their fault if you do not do all that you are capable of … that the suffering of others is irrelevant or outweighed by tax policy… That belief can only come from a place with a paucity of empathy or awareness and/or from a place of privilege where you can sit, secure in the belief that whatever bad is happening won’t happen to you.

    ________________________
    A few thoughts that seemed fitting:

    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

    Thomas Jefferson

    Your silence is consent

    Plato

    I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever humans endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented

    Elie Wiesel

    You think that your silence on certain topics, perhaps in the face of injustice, or unkindness, or mean-spiritedness, causes others to reserve judgement of you. Far otherwise; your silence utters very loud: you have no oracle to speak, no wisdom to offer, and your fellow people have learned that you cannot help them. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? We would be well to do likewise

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Whoever has power to protest members of his household but does not is responsible for their actions. Against the people of his town, but does not, is responsible for his town. Against the world and does not is responsible for the whole world.

    (Talmud Shabbat 54b)

    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
    Martin Luther King Jr

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  168. @Doug Mataconis:

    Then Democrats, of which I am not one, should take care to nominate a candidate that people in my position can support without feeling like we’re being told, to reference the classic South Park example, to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich.

    The problem is, I cannot see any way in which Warren v. Trump, to pick one possible contest, fits that notion.

    You are, ultimately, saying Trump is really just a regular politician. A worse one than normal, but still just a politician.

    You are entitled that opinion. Although I find that the way you normally talk about Trump suggests that he is, in fact, more than that.

    Hence my consternation that you are endorsing a position that could help him get re-elected.

    Your position is, ultimately, that Warren (or any “progressive”) is actually worse than Trump.

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  169. @Andy:

    Well, to be perfectly frank, no one anointed anyone here (including me) to be the arbiter of what qualifies as Trump opposition and certainly, no one has any authority or legitimacy to demand that other acquiesce to red lines that are inherently self-serving.

    This is true.

    But, I would note, me arguing for my position is not imposing anything on you (any more than you sharing your opinion is an imposition on me).

    , the macro “implications” are irrelevant to me.

    But this is the crux of the whole thing. I understand the position. I just think is it morally wrong (and yes, these are moral discussions).

    Mass indifference to the consequences of individual actions have real effects (even on those who think that they don’t).

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  170. Because, meanwhile, there is a massive humanitarian crisis on the border created, in large part, by the Trump administration, and tanks are going to be on display tomorrow while Trump turns the 4th of July into a tax-payer funded rally for his ego. Not to mention the ongoing erosion of the global order.

    So, perhaps you can see why I think individual action summed to an specific outcome matters.

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  171. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Let’s put it slightly differently. One of the largest questions running around Democratic circles is whether it is better to choose a candidate who is more electable or one who more closely aligns with the base’s policy preferences. I am firmly on the side of electable, as if a candidate from your side, but who does not totally align with your preferences, wins the election you will likely get far more of your preferred policies enacted than if you lose the election.

    And undoubtedly, a significant aspect of an electable candidate is one who can pull in non-aligned voters (such as yourself) while not losing base voters. But that only works when one can determine what the non-aligned voters are looking for in a candidate.

    When a non-aligned voter says only that candidate X is not acceptable, while not saying if candidates Y or Z are acceptable, then they have no influence on whether Y or Z gets chosen. And if turns out that they would have supported Y, but not Z, then they could end up being dissatisfied with the choices they have, instead of having a candidate they could support.

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  172. @Moosebreath:

    Well then I advise Democrats choose the more electable candidate. Since I’m not a member of that party, it’s really not my place to participate in their process of picking a candidate is it?

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  173. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Obviously we disagree.

    As I’ve said, “Never Trump” means exactly what it says, that I won’t vote for Trump. No more, no less.

    Who I end up voting for in 2020 will depend on who the Democrats nominate.

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  174. @SKI:

    I have been told that every election since I started voting for President in 1988 the “this election is the most important one ever.” I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now. You may draw your own conclusions from that, but for now the only thing I can say for sure is that I will most definitely not be voting for Donald Trump in 2020. Who, if anyone, I will be voting *for* cannot be determined at this point since I don’t know who the candidate(s) will be.

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  175. @Doug Mataconis:

    Obviously we disagree

    We do, and that’s fine.

    I just think that you have to at least own up to the fact that your position is one in which a more progressive Democrat is actually worse than Trump.

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  176. @Doug Mataconis:

    I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now

    There is a lot of hyperbole each election. And yes, the characterization of each election as “the most important of All Time” is ridiculous.

    I am not even sure that I would say that about 2020 (although, objectively, I think it is in contention).

    Trump is damaging our democracy,

    Trump is doing potentially long-term damage to our economy.

    Trump is doing potentially long-term damage to the global order (economically and politically).

    Trump has made open racism more acceptable in the United States.

    Trump’s policies on the border have directly created a massive humanitarian crisis.

    To me, all of this pales in comparison to any policy Warren has suggested (let alone that she could get through Congress). Or, hell, even Bernie.

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  177. @Steven L. Taylor:

    And I acknowledge all of that. Which is why I’m not voting for Trump.

    How can I possibly commit to voting for the Democratic nominee when I don’t know who that nominee will be? That’s the kind of blind, reflexive partisanship that I object to and the main reason I am not a “member” of any political party.

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  178. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “Since I’m not a member of that party, it’s really not my place to participate in their process of picking a candidate is it?”

    Hmm. I thought you supported open primaries, which permit persons who are not members of a party to participate in the process of picking the candidate of the party by voting. Am I misremembering?

    If you do support open primaries, what do you see as the difference between voting in a primary even though you are not a member of it, and expressing your preference for one candidate over another in a primary when you are not a member of the party?

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  179. @Moosebreath:

    My support for open primaries is based on the idea that it is wise political move for the parties themselves since it allows them to identify non-registered voters who may be inclined to vote for their candidates in the fall. Also, many people object to the idea of having to register as members of a particular party with the state (which I fully understand).

    That being said, I personally probably would refrain from voting in open primaries if I can’t commit to supporting for whoever wins in the fall, which I cannot since I don’t know who the nominee will be.

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  180. @Doug Mataconis:

    How can I possibly commit to voting for the Democratic nominee when I don’t know who that nominee will be? That’s the kind of blind, reflexive partisanship that I object to and the main reason I am not a “member” of any political party.

    Opposition to Trump is not “blind, reflexive partisanship”–understanding that it will boil down to Trump and Not Trump is not party membership.

    This is where I get frustrated with the conversation. You know that I am not making a partisan argument. I am not advocating a vote for the Democrats in 2020 because they are Democrats. I am advocating voting for the relatively normal over the abnormal.

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  181. @Doug Mataconis:

    That being said, I personally probably would refrain from voting in open primaries if I can’t commit to supporting for whoever wins in the fall, which I cannot since I don’t know who the nominee will be.

    Open primaries allow voters the option to have their voices heard in the nominating process. I see nothing wrong with voting in a primary to influence the nomination, even if one will vote differently in the general.

    I voted in the 2017 special election primary (and run-off) on the Republican side to specifically and categorically vote against Roy Moore because, to me, he was the worst possible outcome of the options on the table, even though I had no plans to vote for the Republican nominee in the general election.

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  182. Really, there is no such thing, operationally speaking, as “party membership” in the US. One can give money, sure. One can put up signs and vote a certain way, but even participation in the primary is not “membership.”

    The closest we come is partisan registration in some states–and even then, it is easy to change and has zero bearing on how one votes in the general.

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  183. Andy says:

    Ok, guess I can’t resist:

    And yes, to perhaps explain to Andy why many of us are so disdainful of equivocation, let me be explicit: We are committing great evil under this Administration and this is not a typical election or a typical President and the decision to abstain from participating is not the normal de minimus issue it has been in other elections.

    Only if you believe that everything today is “business as usual”, that deliberate cruelty is normal and acceptable, that Trump is a classic American politician, could it be understandable to not commit fully and completely to defeat him. If you do believe that, that is your right but yes, many will judge you for that determination.

    I served in the US military from 1993 to 2016 and I have seen and participated first-hand in a lot of cruelty inflicted by the power and authority of the US government on others.

    There is no shortage of moral outrages in the world perpetrated by the United States. Perhaps my perspective is different due to this experience. From my perspective, as bad as the situation at the border is, in my mind, it does not compare to the slaughter than continues around the world precipitated by our actions since the end of the Cold War. The body count is in the hundreds of thousands.

    From my perspective, this is a moral outrage that should have caused people to reconsider their political positions yet it has done nothing to dislodge partisans from their political and ideological foxholes. Likewise, it has not stopped them from demanding that everyone else should be dislodged from theirs.

    So lecturing me about the moral imperative of not equivocating in the face of moral outrage would be more convincing if there wasn’t such a rich history of continuous partisan equivocation in response to other moral outrages, particularly the ones I care most about.

    Personally, I try to be fair about this – it’s why I didn’t vote for Bush in 2004 and didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 despite voting for both of them the first time around. And, likewise, I did not vote for Trump in 2016 and will not vote for him in 2020 because of his own peculiar moral outrages. But the expectation that I simply must vote for your side no matter what is a hollow demand.
    ————–
    I would just add one thing to Doug’s excellent comments, especially this last one:

    I have been told that every election since I started voting for President in 1988 the “this election is the most important one ever.” I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.

    I’ve also been told that same thing for every election and yet the actions of partisans never change.

    It’s also ironic that I’ve always been told that voting third party is “meaningless” or “throwing away my vote” yet now the argument is different and not voting for a candidate suddenly means explicitly supporting the candidate I’m not voting for.

    With Trump, we are told that this time it’s really different, yet in the face of this supposedly existential threat, partisan Democrats act no differently than they have in any previous election and no differently than would be expected if a “normal” Republican was in the office instead. They are insisting that everyone else must not only not vote for Trump, but compromise all their political principles in order to vote Democrat – while they are required to do nothing beyond what they’ve always done, which is vote Democrat. From the outside, it doesn’t exactly look like a profile in courage.

    The absence of any observation that partisans have put any more skin in the game this time around greatly weakens their arguments IMO.

    And finally, I would just point out again that questioning our integrity or morality because we won’t wholly adopt your position is just counterproductive. Both Doug and I have both committed that we will not vote for Trump (which is much more than the vast majority of Americans have done at this point), yet the nitpicky (and transparently self-serving) moralizing never ceases. All it does is annoy and piss us off. As Doug said, it makes it less likely I will take your advice about who to support seriously.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But this is the crux of the whole thing. I understand the position. I just think is it morally wrong (and yes, these are moral discussions).

    Mass indifference to the consequences of individual actions have real effects (even on those who think that they don’t).

    Refusing to vote for Trump is an individual action that is fully cognizant of the consequences and not at all consistent with any claim of indifference. Indeed the reason I am already declaring that I won’t vote for Trump is obviously because I have an understanding of what another Trump term would mean.

    Furthermore, to reiterate an earlier point, I was personally appalled at the mass indifference to Obama’s policies in Afghanistan and Libya (which is why I didn’t vote for him in 2012 (I did vote for him in 2008)), but I didn’t loudly declare that everyone must vote against him (much less demand that people vote for ANY opposing candidate two years before the election) or be judged morally deficient. My personal experience is that attempting to shame people to get them adopt my particular political views never works.

    And again, the logic of your argument that can easily be turned right back onto you for any past or future equivocations that show political indifference in the face of a some moral outrage. And anyone can come along and set the bar higher than you have, declare that you are not sufficiently anti-Trump, and make precisely the same moral arguments you’re making to me. How would you defend yourself?

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  184. @Andy: The US does have a lot to answer for, that’s more than fair.

    And again, the logic of your argument that can easily be turned right back onto you for any past or future equivocations that show political indifference in the face of a some moral outrage.

    And, therefore? I don’t understand how that means anything. I never claimed to be immune from criticism nor unable to defend my choices.

    And anyone can come along and set the bar higher than you have, declare that you are not sufficiently anti-Trump, and make precisely the same moral arguments you’re making to me. How would you defend yourself?

    I suppose it would depend on the argument.

    Here’s the thing: neither you nor Doug has actually stated, save in vague terms, why, say, a vote for Warren is as equally problematic as a vote for Trump.

    And there is an inherent element to what has been said here that Trump might, in fact, be better than some other outcome. That is the part that we are arguing about.

    If you want to say, for example, that you think Biden (or whomever) is more likely than Trump to get involved in something like Afghanistan, that is a different discussion.

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  185. @Andy:

    Furthermore, to reiterate an earlier point, I was personally appalled at the mass indifference to Obama’s policies in Afghanistan and Libya (which is why I didn’t vote for him in 2012 (I did vote for him in 2008)), but I didn’t loudly declare that everyone must vote against him (much less demand that people vote for ANY opposing candidate two years before the election) or be judged morally deficient.

    The sad fact is, of course, that there was no choice in 2012 that would have guaranteed a change in Afghanistan policy (nor in 2016, it turns out).

    My moral outrage, if you want to call it that, is not about retribution or punishment of Trump for what he did in his first term, it is about objectively stopping what he will do from 2021 onward.

    My position is not about virtue signalling about past acts. I think he will be as dangerous, if not moreso, in a second term and think, therefore, that of all the probable or even potential options are preferable.

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  186. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This is where I get frustrated with the conversation. You know that I am not making a partisan argument. I am not advocating a vote for the Democrats in 2020 because they are Democrats. I am advocating voting for the relatively normal over the abnormal.

    Bernie and Williamson, to name two, are not “relatively normal.”

    Where I get frustrated with the conversation is the assertion that promising to not vote for Trump is insufficient as well as the accusation that we are somehow immoral if we refuse to commit 15 months before an election to voting for a new age kook with zero executive experience who has no business running the most powerful country in the world. And it’s still so early that its possible others may join the race. Telling us we are immoral for refusing to commit to a complete unknown to possibly ward off a bad known is, in my view at least, a really dumb choice.

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  187. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Open primaries allow voters the option to have their voices heard in the nominating process. I see nothing wrong with voting in a primary to influence the nomination, even if one will vote differently in the general.

    I agree. As long as there are two entrenched parties that have been allowed to explicitly kill any competition and place themselves into a “too big to fail” position, then I think open primaries are necessary.

    Now that I’m back in Colorado I have that option and will be voting in the Democratic primary. I will wait to see how the field gets weeded out before I decide who to support in that primary.

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  188. @Andy:

    Bernie and Williamson, to name two, are not “relatively normal.”

    Bernie is a standard politician compared to Trump. (And I am by no means thrilled by Bernie).

    Williamson, I will allow, is not. I don’t consider her even close to likely, so she does not fit in my calculus. Should she be able to win the nomination the system will be so broken that all of this conversation becomes moot.

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  189. @Andy:

    Telling us we are immoral for refusing to commit to a complete unknown to possibly ward off a bad known is, in my view at least, a really dumb choice.

    First, I never called anyone immoral. I have noted that the voting is a moral choice.

    Second, I reject the notion that the outcome is a complete unknown. We have a list of who the likely nominee could be (to be liberal, no pun intended, the following are possible–Warren, Bernie, Biden, Harris, Booker, Castro, Gillibrand, Kloubacher, maybe one or two others).

    Am I thrilled with any of them? No. Would any of them be better than Trump? In my opinion, yes. Bernie is, to me, the worst of that lot. I would still prefer him to Trump.

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  190. Andy says:

    Here’s the thing: neither you nor Doug has actually stated, save in vague terms, why, say, a vote for Warren is as equally problematic as a vote for Trump.

    I’ve already given you my voting criteria: I choose the best candidate that I think is actually fit for the office. If the are not fit for office, the are eliminated from consideration. Trump is not fit for the office, therefore he is eliminated. I haven’t studied all the Democratic contenders yet (it’s too early for me to bother), but the two I’ve already eliminated are Sanders and Williamson. So, if Sanders or Williamson get the nomination, it is almost certain I will not vote for a major party candidate.

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  191. @Andy:

    Thank you for stating, perhaps more eloquently than I have, what I’ve been trying to say throughout this comment thread.

    The argument “vote for the Democratic nominee or you have voted for Trump” argument is not convincing to me. For one thing, I want the candidate to give me a positive reason to vote *for* them that goes beyond “that other guy really sucks.” For another, I think that asking me to ignore the fact that particular Democratic candidates support policies I fundamentally disagree with is a bridge too far. Like you, I will not be casting a vote for Trump. That is what “Never Trump” has always meant to me.

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  192. @Andy: I would note that you position is different than Doug’s. Doug seems to have eliminated everyone but Biden (and maybe a few others).

    (And, we agree about primaries).

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  193. Here’s the thing: neither you nor Doug has actually stated, save in vague terms, why, say, a vote for Warren is as equally problematic as a vote for Trump.

    I have said many times that Sanders and Warren particularly have advocated policies that I fundamentally disagree with. More broadly, these candidates, as well as the others that are running from the so-called “progressive” wing of the party have a view of the role of the state that I fundamentally disagree with. Whether they are “better” or “worse” than Trump doesn’t matter to me from this perspective, even if they are better I do not want them to have the power to try to to get their ideas enacted.

    The same goes for Harris, and in her case, I have serious questions about her views on civil liberties based on her career as a prosecutor and Attorney General of California. I also have concerns about her views on Executive Branch power given that she has said several times that she would use Executive Orders to enact her policies if Congress refused to act. We have had far too many Presidents who have gone down that route and I will not vote for another one who is already talking about how they intend to ignore the will of Congress if she doesn’t get her way.

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  194. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Williamson, I will allow, is not. I don’t consider her even close to likely, so she does not fit in my calculus. Should she be able to win the nomination the system will be so broken that all of this conversation becomes moot.

    Well, that’s another reason I absolutely will not commit now. At this point in 2016, Trump was a laughingstock and now he is President. I am not going to assume the Democratic primary will be a normal one.

    Plus, none of this matters until election day. There is no reason to lock in any decision now. 15 months is a long time.

    First, I never called anyone immoral. I have noted that the voting is a moral choice.

    Yes, but the implication of pointing that out multiple times is very clear. And you’ve strongly indicated that voting for anything other than Democrat is a “moral choice” with “consequences.” It’s not difficult to read between those lines.

    Am I thrilled with any of them? No. Would any of them be better than Trump? In my opinion, yes. Bernie is, to me, the worst of that lot. I would still prefer him to Trump.

    As I have said multiple times now, it’s likely I will vote for a Democratic candidate if they choose one of the more moderate options.

    There is zero harm or effect in waiting to see who the actual nominee is before I make a decision. The argument that failing to commit to an unknown now somehow implicates some secret Trump support is without merit.

    Look, this is a conversation we should be having a year from now. That will be the appropriate time to criticize whatever political choice I ultimately decide to make. Your effort at forcing a decision now is unconvincing and will not work. Furthermore, it could well be a complete waste of time if the Democrats choose someone I think is fit for the office. As I’ve stated a few time already I would like to vote for a Democrat. But I don’t trust Democrats nearly enough to assume they will nominate someone that I can accept.

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  195. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I was asked which candidate I could support. Based on the Democratic candidates that are getting anything above 2% (I would contend that the people below this level are largely irrelevant, including Williamson and potentially including candidates I could possibly support but who will obviously not be the nominee) and Biden was the only one who came to mind. Pete Buttgieg is also an interesting candidate but I have serious concerns about his youth and inexperience at any kind of Federal office. I have discussed most of the other contenders in the comment immediately before this one.

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  196. @Andy:

    There is zero harm or effect in waiting to see who the actual nominee is before I make a decision. The argument that failing to commit to an unknown now somehow implicates some secret Trump support is without merit.

    To be clear, I never said secret Trump support.

    I am simply noting that, ultimately, the only efficacious anti-Trump vote is for a candidate who can actually win (which precludes third parties) and that as a collective matter, such a fact matters.

    And, speaking for myself, the preeminent moral imperative it removing Trump from office.

    And yes, I get that there is some nutty scenario in which Williamson is the nominee, but that to me is so far-fetched that I don’t consider it real (and yes, I know I thought Trump couldn’t win either).

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  197. Moosebreath says:

    So Andy says Sanders and Williamson are certain no’s and he needs to hear more from the others. Doug says of the ones drawing 2% or more only Biden is a yes, and Buttegieg a maybe. That’s useful, thanks.

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  198. @Moosebreath:

    Just to be clear, in some cases my objection to the candidate is due more to what I believe to be a lack of the kind of experience I expect a credible candidate to have. This is especially true of Buttigieg (despite the fact that he’s also said things I could like) and Beto O’Rourke (who has basically proven that he should have decided to run against John Cornyn for Senate instead of running for President)

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  199. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And that’s totally fair, and useful as well.

    And my list of people running for President who should instead be running for the Senate is large, as it also includes Hickenlooper, Bullock, and Julian Castro (and Stacey Abrams if she enters).

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