The Democrats’ Patriotism Problem?!
Whither American civil religion?
The headline, minus the ending punctuation, of the post is the title of political scientist Ruy Teixeira‘s latest on his The Liberal Patriot Substack, to which Dave Schuler pointed me. I find the analysis both useful and bewildering.
Back in October, Teixeira rolled out “A Three Point Plan To Fix the Democrats and Their Coalition.” His premise, rolled out shortly before Democrats did almost historically well in the midterm elections, is that “The party is uncompetitive among white working class voters and among voters in exurban, small town and rural America. This puts them at a massive structural disadvantage given an American electoral system that gives disproportionate weight to these voters, especially in Senate and Presidential elections. To add to the problem, Democrats are now hemorrhaging nonwhite working class voters in many areas of country.” This, despite the Republican Party, “giv[ing] rein to some of the darker impulses in the national psyche, shown[ing] flagrant disregard for democratic norms and offer[ing] little to the American people in terms of effective policy.”
His three point plan:
1. Democrats Must Move to the Center on Cultural Issues
2. Democrats Must Promote an Abundance Agenda
3. Democrats Must Embrace Patriotism and Liberal Nationalism
From the outset, it seems that Teixeira has fallen prey to the Pundit’s Fallacy, which Matt Yglesias defined as “that belief that what a politician needs to do to improve his or her political standing is do what the pundit wants substantively.” But, given that Teixeira’s preferences and mine are in considerable alignment, I find the prescription appealing.
With respect to the last, the subject of his latest post and this one, he observed back in October,
Democrats have a bit of a problem with patriotism. It’s kind of hard to strike up the band on patriotism when you’ve been endorsing the view that America was born in slavery, marinated in racism and remains a white supremacist society, shot through with multiple, intersecting levels of injustice that make everybody either oppressed or oppressor on a daily basis. Of course, America today may be a racist, dystopian hellhole, but Democrats assure us that it could get even worse if the Republicans get elected. Then it’ll be a fascist, racist, dystopian hellhole.
Now, he adds,
What, if anything, has changed since then? Not much, I’d say. Of course, not all Democrats, especially normie working-class Democrats, subscribe to this nightmarish version of their own country. But among Democratic activists and cultural elites such sentiments are very common—and among those who lean progressive, dominant.
While I fundamentally agree, I would say “not all Democrats” serves here as a sleight of hand. Indeed, Teixeira’s own evidence shows that Democrats overwhelmingly don’t think that way:
It’s why “progressive activists”—8 percent of the population as categorized by the More in Common group, who are “deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America’s direction today”—are so unenthusiastic about their country. Just 34 percent of progressive activists say they are “proud to be American” compared to 62 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks, and 76 percent of Hispanics, the very groups whose interests these activists claim to represent. Similarly, in an Echelon Insights survey, 66 percent of “strong progressives” (about 10 percent of voters) said America is not the greatest country in the world, compared to just 28 percent who said it is. But the multiracial working class (noncollege voters, white and nonwhite) had exactly the reverse view: by 69-23, they said America is the greatest country in the world.
So, essentially, a tiny minority—8 percent of the population by Tiexeira’s own account—is somehow speaking for the Democratic Party?
The uncomfortable fact is that these sentiments, and the view of America they represent, are now heavily associated with Democrats by dint of the very significant weight progressive activists carry within the party, which far transcends their actual numbers. Their voice is further amplified by their strong and frequently dominant influence in associated institutions that lean toward the Democrats: nonprofits, foundations, advocacy groups, academia, legacy media, the arts—the commanding heights of cultural production, as it were. It’s just not cool in these circles to be patriotic.
That seems rather unscientific but it’s not completely implausible. Things like “Defund the Police,” which is a minority position among Democratic politicians, certainly resonate in political campaigns, serving as a wedge issue.
That’s not to say that Democratic politicians don’t still wear American flag pins on their lapels. They do. And the party’s “Designated Normie”, President Biden, can certainly be counted on to strike a patriotic tone from time to time. In his recent State of the Union address, he even emphasized a slightly nationalist approach . . . .
Nor is it unknown for progressive commentators to grudgingly admit there are—or at least have been—some good things about America before they return to their preferred theme of the country’s abundant and appalling sins. But they just don’t seem very enthusiastic about the actually-existing country of America.
So, easily the most important Democrat isn’t guilty of this problem that plagues the Democrats. Still, some undefined group of “commenters” are less enthusiastic by some measure than they should be.
It’s all pretty weak tea compared to what’s really needed: a robust revival of the American civil religion in Robert Bellah’s formulation. This is the nonsectarian, quasi-religious faith based around national symbols, founding documents and ideals, holidays, heroes, epic events, rituals and stories that has bound—and can bind—Americans together across social and regional divisions.
Reviving the American civil religion is a noble cause which is also a precondition for building the robust coalition across social and regional divides that Democrats seek. Democrats have tried uniting the country around the need to dismantle “systemic racism” and promote “equity”….and failed (and will continue to fail). Democrats have tried uniting the country around the need to save the planet through a rapid green transition…and failed (and will continue to fail). It’s time for Democrats to return to something’s that’s tried and true.
So, I fully agree that a civil religion—and, yes, a sense of patriotism—is really helpful in binding together a country. And that’s especially true for one such as ours: 330 million people spread across a giant continent with a hodgepodge of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And I even agree that racial justice efforts to remove Founding era leaders from the pantheon on account of their holding slaves and the general movement against American Exceptionalism makes it more challenging to establish civil religion and patriotism. Then again, by Texeira’s own account, 69 percent of the “multiracial working class” believe “America is the greatest country in the world.”
Texeira ends with touting his forthcoming book with John Judis, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? with this excerpt:
[T]he New Deal Democrats were moderate and even small-c conservative in their social outlook. They extolled “the American way of life” (a term popularized in the 1930s); they used patriotic symbols like the “Blue Eagle” to promote their programs. In 1940, Roosevelt’s official campaign song was Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Under Roosevelt, Thanksgiving, Veterans’ Day, and Columbus Day were made into federal holidays. Roosevelt turned the annual Christmas Tree lighting into a national event. Roosevelt’s politics were those of “the people” (a term summed up in Carl Sandburg’s 1936 poem, “The People, Yes”) and of the “forgotten American.” There wasn’t a hint of multiculturalism or tribalism. The Democrats need to follow this example.
There’s a certain Make America Great Again vibe there. The 1940 Census was the first to count people of Hispanic origin. The country was 89.8% white; 9.8% black; 0.3% American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut; and 0.2% Asian and Pacific Islander. 1.4% identified as Hispanic (any race). Fully 88.4% of Americans were white and not of Hispanic origin. It’s hardly any wonder that FDR didn’t emphasize multiculturalism.
For his part, Dave agrees that we need a renewal of the civil religion:
That is precisely what Chesterton wrote about when he declared that “America is a country founded on a creed”. We lack the ties of blood and history that bind other countries together. We undermine that creed at significant risk. I will leave it to you to explain why the 10% of Americans Mr. Teixeira laments are seeking to undermine it. Without it the only ties that bind us together are those of family and neighborhood and those are eroding day by day.
I don’t believe that anything good will emerge from that erosion. I think that more likely is a continuation of the sort of individualism on steroids we’ve seen from both extremes of the political spectrum for the last 40 years.
And, again, I share that concern.
But here’s the thing, while it’s fair to blame progressive intellectuals—and, indeed, the intellectual class as a whole—for some of this, surely it’s not just the Democrats who “have a bit of a problem with patriotism”? Even aside from the refusal to engage in a peaceful transition of power after losing the 2020 Presidential election—which is pretty damned unpatriotic!—too many leaders of the Republican Party have worked to divide the country, going so far as to term those who live in states that vote for them as Real Americans, implying those who vote the other way—or, horrors, reside in the large metropolitan areas where most Americans live—are not even Americans at all.
Similarly, surely it’s not just Democrats who portray the country as some dystopian hellhole? What was Make America Great Again, after all, if not a rejection of what the country has become?
Here are some stirring words from President Donald Trump’s inaugural address:
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
The forgotten men and women of our country, will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public, but for too many of our citizens a different reality exists. Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories, scattered like tombstones across the across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office, I take today, is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuddered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s progressive activists who are the greatest threat to Americans coming together as one.
If a pollster were to call me today with similar questions, I’m sure my response would be that I am “deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America’s direction today” and that I would agree that “America is not the greatest country in the world.” But, I would answer this way because of the rise of Trumpism which I blame for what I see as a growing discomfort with a national creed that strives for continuous improvement in society – an arc toward justice.
America’s direction today is turning backwards and that upsets me. That is what makes me patriotic – pundits be damned.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been uncomfortable with sayings such as “America is the greatest country on earth” because they strike me as the utterances of blowhard faux-patriots.
Or, to tinker with Samuel Johnson, “Loudmouthed patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
This is not to say I don’t appreciate the many benefits of being a U.S. citizen.
Since we’re quoting Chesterton on patriotism:
The empty patriotism pushed by people like Teixeira is the death of real patriotism.
Back to Chesterton on patriotism again:
How? A bit of light misogyny, perhaps? Some of the milder stereotyping of Jews? Perhaps some light restrictions on what pharmacies are permitted to dispense? Or perhaps just a less welcoming attitude towards Drag Queen Story Hour, maybe?
What a fucking straw man, this is the Fox News version of Democrats. Which is pretty ironic, given the resemblance to the Fox News viewership’s notion of what the big blue city urban areas are like.
Tell that to the side that wants America to have Christianity be, by law, the state religion.
So the Ruy Teixeira picture of America matches up pretty well with the picture Fox News is selling.
What the hell is the center anyway? The definition keeps changing. I once voted primarily Republican, I haven’t since 2004. Have I changed? I don’t think much. If your are going to make a statement on that, it is better to go issue by issue rather than some ill-defined center.
The right has captured the entire arena of performative patriotism. It needs to be fought for and the people who are denying the patriotism of all Americans need to be slapped back.
All these protest marches? They should be carrying American flags. And speaking about Freedom! As in Freedom to Marry, Freedom to plan your families, etc.
Heck, revive Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms as a start:
Today it seems to be fucking over the marginalized to preserve the delicate feelings of straight white males, but who knows?
Actually reviving the 4 Freedoms would be the way for Dems to move to the center on cultural issues. One thing I’ve noticed is that Dems, either politicians or liberal pundits, often check off a laundry list of special interest groups in speeches and writings. There is a good reason to do this, but it comes at the expense of universality and the frame that we are all in this together.
I’ve got to laugh. Patriotism, nationalism? Republicans wear MAGA caps that are made in China.
Liberals strongly support assistance to the Ukraine in their struggle against the Russian invasion, and strongly support the presidents efforts to strengthen and expand the NATO alliance. While Repubicans are denigrating Zelensky and want to end our support of the Ukraine thereby appeasing Russia.
China? Republicans are now feigning outrage.
Remember when Speaker Pelosi visited Taiwan about a year ago, and Republicans strongly denounced her? Yeah I do. Pelosi represents a city/district that includes a powerful Chinese-American constituency. Also Taiwan is a hub for production of American computer chips. Pelosi was directly supporting our national interests in a free Taiwan.
Republicans seem to care only that the Covid virus was leaked from the lab. That’s about it.
Blue Collar working people? Oh boy. Well, we just had a very savvy Senate cadidate in Ohio, Tim Ryan, who spoke directly and honestly to those aggrieved and ‘forgotten’ working class voters. Yet those voters still chose to elect faux populist, Yale Law School graduate, J.D. Vance.
Guys like Rudy Teixeira kind of give me a headache.
Yes, obviously we can spend the day pointing to Republican hypocrisy. Indeed, treason. All true.
But it is also true that we on the left have gone beyond saying that the country has some problems, to denouncing the country all the way back through history. We hunt down and destroy ‘national heroes.’ We deny progress has been made, exaggerate every issue, and are about as sour on this country as the MAGAts are.
People need a story. The story cannot be, ‘we suck.’ If our story is, ‘we suck,’ and their story is, ‘they suck,’ guess who wins? We like hair shirts, they like stars and stripes belt buckles. We are not winning any more, we are losing. On trans rights, which is the canary in the coal mine, we aren’t just losing, we’re having our asses kicked and putting up no effective resistance. We are being rolled up like the Russian army outside Kyiv.
We need an optimistic story. Americans want to be optimistic. Americans need to be optimistic. If we could manage to tell that story, we’d prevail over their tales of betrayal and woe.
Yes, but the story Democrats need is not Tixeira’s “fascism is a sometimes food”.
And Tixeira’s solution is for Democrats to stop trying to resist entirely and start oppressing trans people themselves.
His whole plan (as might not be surprising from a phony liberal employed by the American Enterprise Institute) is basically: 1. Betray all the minorities because they make white people uncomfortable 2. Cut back on social safety nets and environmental protection so that the rich can be even richer 3. Accuse anyone that suffers negative effects from #1 and #2 of being unpatriotic if they complain
Are you under the impression I’m a fan of Texeira or his message?
Your need for confrontation leads you into foolishness.
Who is the “we” here? As the OP notes, it ain’t Biden, Harris, or any prominent political voice on the left. Even The Squad isn’t “denouncing the country,” as much as saying we can/should do better. Twitter mobs and college age protest groups only define the left when Republicans are allowed to claim they do. We needn’t oblige them in their name calling.
Absolutely. Doesn’t it seem that the right’s tales of betrayal and woe are so strident and loud right now, because they’re losing the public messaging battle everywhere but inside their echo chamber? Corporations, Big Tech, Hollywood, and college campus are all labeled “woke” in an attempt to turn back the clock on progress. Progress is an optimistic message.
@Michael Reynolds: I agree with you completely. We don’t tell a story. People live for stories.
There is a very liberal, very progressive, very optimistic story that we could tell about America, but we don’t.
America was founded on a dream of equality and freedom, a dream that was wildly ahead of its time, and which we have been striving for ever since, making great progress — representative democracy, freeing slaves, letting women vote, dismantling the Gilded Age, the New Deal, dismantling Jim Crow, marriage equality. It’s a straight line of progress to a nation where every person is an equal, able to do that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness thing.
We can celebrate the milestones and the great figures, while acknowledging their flaws. Because it is a story of flawed people moving relentlessly towards a more perfect union. I’d prefer to celebrate the milestones at least as much as the people — Juneteenth has more meaning than Abraham Lincoln.
It’s a story that can appeal to some small-c conservative types, because it reaches back to the words and aspirations of the founding fathers and holds them up for reverence. Very patriotic. (Other conservatives look back and want to recreate slavery… we can’t reach them)
It’s also a story where liberal and progressive goals are the next step. Full representation for the people in DC and Puerto Rico. Defending the rights of trans folks to exist. MediCare for All. Reducing police violence. Voting reforms. Popular vote for president. They are all about increasing personal freedoms and equal political representation.
The litany of things for each group that @Sleeping Dog mentions can be fit into this story, as mostly small stones in the path forward.
It annoys me that the Democrats can’t manage to tell this story — or any cohesive story. I’m just a simple man who wants a donut, and I can figure it out, why can’t they?
I wonder if the coffee shop still has maple bars? They only have them on the weekend, and often run out.
@charon: @Gustopher: @Stormy Dragon: @Michael Reynolds: @Mikey: This comment thread demonstrates the degree to which Teixeira has a point. There’s a hell of a lot of room between “trans people have a right to exist” and “fucking over the marginalized to preserve the delicate feelings of straight white males.” There’s a difference between the lunatics yelling “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely” and those questioning whether it makes sense to provide medical intervention for pre-teens questioning their gender identity. Everything to the right of the most extreme pro-trans position isn’t Naziism.
This whole shebang about progressive activists misses the real point. What’s happened with the Democrats is bland liberal progress. Regarding race, highly educated white people have moved into traditionally black neighborhoods and it blew apart the post-60s/Clinton-era view on race the Democrats put out. I.e. the more white people know about black people the less salient the older views about dysfunction and culture (and hence the America that created them) become.
And this goes across the board. Progress in the bland liberal sense is Woke. That’s just the way it will be, and that’s why we are watching a genuine backslide–one maybe as bad as that after the Civil War.
There’s a difference between the lunatics yelling “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely” and those questioning whether it makes sense to provide medical intervention for pre-teens questioning their gender identity.
You are literally repeating every talking point every prejudiced person has ever said which makes them out to better than another prejudiced person. There’s no difference. The people with ‘questions’ think trans people should be eradicated from having sovereignty over their lives, which includes treatment. They just can’t be trusted, you see.
Pre-teens? You believe this actually happens? Examples, por favor.
Why are Democrats such dismal failures at messaging? I remember the sinking feeling I had when Hillary Clinton’s campaign kicked off with “Join the Conversation” and emails in my inbox offering to sell me Hillary keychains and such.
We do not, but old white men lie certainly do lie about and falsely caricature liberals and Democrats. Just like MAGA.
Hillary won 90+% of the black vote, and supermajority of nearly so of gays, youth, Latinos, Asians etc.
Trump eeked out a victory despite losing the popular vote by millions of votes because he won a majority of white voters and supermajority of white men.
We all heard the same messages. Only white people and especially white men couldn’t figure out that an incompetent, perverted, pathological lying fascist bigot didn’t belong in the Oval Office. The results have been disastrous.
So maybe instead of asking what’s wrong with Hillary and what’s wrong with the Democratic message, Texiera and other white men need to sit in a big circle and ask, finally, “What the hell is wrong with us?” instead of pathologizing and blaming everyone else. Why can’t we stop voting like selfish idiots and lunatics? Why do we continue to vote to empower liars, racists, authoritarians, homophobes?
Those are the salient questions, but the introspection from those really at fault never seems to come.
No one is providing medical intervention to pre-teens experiencing gender identity issues. The transition support for a pre-teen with gender identity issues is new clothes, haircuts, and names. Which shows how dangerous Teixeira is: bigots are slandering transgender families, and Teixera’s solution is to agree with the slander.
It is “extreme” to believe that the parents of trans kids trying to save their children from suicide should be left to make relevant medical decisions without goverment interference or being criminalized and smeared?
Okay, so what do you call it when Texas tries to criminalize such parents and when Florida threatens to take those children away from those parents? Is that ‘just asking questions’ or is that Naziism?
Color me unimpressed when those ‘just asking questions’ and those at CPAC this weekend calling for the extermination of trans people this weekend will all be voting for extremist bigots like Trump or DeFascist round come 2024. For the Jews, there was no material difference for those supporting fascism because the fascists made the trains run on time and those voting for fascists because they promised to exterminate jews. Same s***, different toilet.
Yet she lost an election that she really should have won. Easily. So yeah, questioning the messaging is in order. Or we could just bash white men. That will make Republicans very happy, especially Trump.
Part of our messaging problem is handing ammunition to the opposition on a regular basis.
He has been able to sell it to Dr. Joyner, which shows how normalized this stuff is becoming to people of conservative inclination.
It’s foolish to accuse liberals and Democrats of “exaggerating every problem” while smearing liberals and Democrats with cartoonish exaggerations straight out of the Fox News lie machine.
@charon has already pointed out the pre-teens fallacy, so I’ll skip that.
Medical intervention ranges from therapy to puberty blockers to hormones to surgery (top and bottom).
I suspect that when you say “whether it makes sense to provide medical intervention” you mean something closer to “what medical intervention is allowed” (the US seldom provides medical anything), and I would take some issue with that*, but…
Please for the love of God educate yourself before speaking on “reasonable” positions where a major political party is using eliminationist and dehumanizing language and legislated discrimination against a minority group. The “reasonable” positions are often being promoted by bad faith actors to justify a quick progression to “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely”.
You probably mean something closer to “no surgery,” while you are using the language of people who advocate shoving kids in the closet until they kill themselves, and then maybe rousing up any that survive and killing them (and then the rest of the Queer community, and then the Jews because they always want to kill the Jews).
Your small-c conservative, detached, overly analytical mindset does not serve you well when dealing with topics that are being used as propaganda by Nazis (and sparkling Christian Nationalists, as there are a few differences between some of our right wing loons and genuine Nazis). Learn the propaganda so you don’t repeat and strengthen it.
*: With a medical regret rate of under 1% for transition, and a suicide attempt rate of 41% for trans kids, erring on too little care is killing and hurting kids right now.
Also, ponder what other medical treatments should be denied to children. A position of “we shouldn’t treat childhood cancer, depression or broken limbs until the kid is a legal adult” would be considered insane. I would posit that trans kids just have a medical problem rather than some exciting moral crisis.
Yes I know, I already pointed that out. She lost because of white people and white men. In a country where the lion share of the political, legal, and economical power is controlled by white men — frequently backed by centuries of racist and sexist structures — it’s never easy for women or black people to obtain power. Certainly not the presidency. If it was easy in America we would have had a woman president decades ago.
Bash? I told the truth about white men. A supermajority of white men voted like stupid, selfish bigots in 2016 and that’s why Trump won. That’s the truth. So no, the message is not the problem: white men are the problem. That sounds like bashing because most don’t want to do the work to reflect, be better and hold each other accountable. They want the point fingers, blame shift, and pass the buck — which is why when confronted with deleterious white voters behaviors, some white men are eager to play victim and try to shut down that particular conversation like you just tried to do.
Sorry but no. I’ve been caught a f***t and a n****r all my life. That’s actual bashing. Guess what? I still don’t vote for fascists. No one has to coddle my feelings to get me to do the right thing. So don’t feed me the bs victim blaming hogwash pretense that white people rely on Democrats to decide whether to vote like assholes or not. The people who bang on about personal responsibility need to finally take responsibility for their crappy votes.
Trump and Republicans run around smearing and lying about and smearing trans people, gays, and black people, and his supporters say “he tells it like it is.” But God forbid someone tell the truth about the disastrous implications of the way most white men choose to vote. If white men again choose to give a supermajority of their votes to Trump there is one group responsible for that: white men who vote for Trump. Personal responsibility, indeed.
Neither do I. Yet you are lumping me in with those that do. Which gives you something in common with those who have bashed you all your life.
How easy it is for conservatives to tell liberals how to do their politics!
Easier than figuring out how to rid the Republican Party of Nazis, I guess.
That and $5 will get you a soy latte. But not a maple bar, because they are out of maple bars and there’s no maple bars for any price.*
Minority rights are predicated on majority support or at least acquiescence (when the courts are ahead of the public).
Being “right” doesn’t count for shit.
I mean, that would be nice, but I don’t trust them to do that. They haven’t done it yet, after all.
The straight, boring white folk mostly don’t want to think about brown folk, queer folk and women folk. It ends up being the responsibility of the minority to ensure that they do, and that they do it in a constructive manner — because the Nazis will absolutely try to make sure the normies think about minorities as “others” out to destroy their lives who need to be kept in their place.
Semi-related Aside: my pet peeve for a while has been the people who say that singular-they has been used since 1385 and that statements like “I can hear someone breathing, I hope they die” prove this is common use and get all smug as shit with normies. Singular-they to refer to a known person (“I can hear Bob breathing, I hope they die”) is a very subtle difference, but a new use that just feels mysteriously odd — it’s the uncanny valley where you know there’s something off but can’t place it.
The folks pursuing smug points leave normies thinking they are being tricked as gaslit (and rightly so, because they are). They know they haven’t been using singular-they like that, even if they can’t explain what the difference is. It leaves the normie feeling that queer folks are irrational, will never be satisfied, and are a problem — a problem that folks like Ron Desantis have a solution for, perhaps not a “final solution,” but give them time.
Point out the new use, so people recognize why it feels odd, and a lot of people will say “ugh, I don’t like it, but fine.” It’s reasonable. It validates what they know. It also doesn’t sound so out of place if you can identify why it’s out of place.
Which is a long way of saying normies don’t give a shit about us, and need to be coddled so no one turns them against us. (Fucking normies)
*: I could hop in the car and drive to the donut shop where the coffee shop gets it’s donuts from, but I have a cat in my lap, and for the moment the cat is more important than a maple bar.
Wrong. I said those responsible for Trump are those who voted for Trump. If that’s not you then there’s no reason for you to feel lumped in.
Folks getting in their feelings because they cannot handle hearing the truth about the way a supermajority of white men voted in 2016 (or 2020, and will in 2024) without taking it personally, playing the victim, getting defensive, and trying to blame shift does not make me common to people who call me f***t and n****r. I’m impressed by the dedication to victim-blaming, but no.
It does in my book. So you don’t speak for me on that.
And no. Gays and blacks have never needed a “majority” of straight people and white people. We’ve just needed enough of them. We have that critical minority and will continue to. We are not holding our breath waiting for the majority race demographic to start voting like they have some sense.
No, there isn’t, because as soon as you move off “trans people have a right to exist” you arrive at “trans people have a right to exist, but…” and you have just started fucking over the marginalized to preserve the delicate feelings of straight white males. Because that’s what the “but” is there to do. It puts conditions on a person’s existence so white guys can feel more comfortable with that person’s existence.
Well, you are impressed by something, but it seems more like the sound of your own voice. Given my age, there’s a pretty good chance I was kicking it with black folks and gays – and in some cases literally fighting the assholes who harassed them on the streets – before you were born.
Directing the very understandable anger you feel at the minority of white men that you need to help you get that which you should not have to fight for, but do, does not advance your cause. It’s bad messaging for one thing.
Anyway, this is getting old quickly & I’m done.
Yeah no. As ridiculous as saying men need to be coddled so they don’t rape women. Nothing is going to cause me to rape anyone because rape evil and wrong. Either you believe that or you don’t. No one can “turn you” into a person that thinks rape is okay.
It is exactly the same with racism, homophobia and other bigotries. Either you believe racism is wrong or you don’t. Either you believe homophobia is wrong or you don’t. The idea that something can make you okay with homophobia is nonsense. Principles don’t budge. Those that do we fake all along. If you can be turned, you were never committed to the principles of equality. You were always a bigot.
The men, the white people, the straight people, the rich people — any person with privilege who believes in the upliftment and equality of people with less privilege do not need to be coddled. They believe in what’s right because what’s right is right. Nothing and no one is going to turn them.
As for the rest the change has to come from within them, as every therapist knows. Coddling and appeasing them is a waste of time. It’s not going to work, because that’s not how psychological and behavioral change occurs. Bigots are responsible for their choice to be bigoted or not. I’m sick of people making excuses, passing the buck, and refusing to take responsibility for their lack of ethics and morals.
I don’t know maybe Dems should be more patriotic but what I see right now is Republicans attacking the FBI, Defense, and schools. Many neoconfederates support MTG call for a national divorce yet she remains in the leadership. And who tried to overthrow the government January 6, 2000? So pray tell who needs to be more patriotic and who needs to respect our institutions?
Except I didn’t do that. Again, my anger is at white men who voted for trump, something that I’ve said over and over.
I don’t need help from fairweather allies whose commitment to “my cause” is dependent on their feelings being coddled, or from white men who pretend to be allies but then get defensive, play the victim, and falsely portray me as “angry” for telling the truth.
Only real allies who can handle the truth instead of trying to shut it down and/or make it all about them personally need apply.
Ok, that adds about 12 people to our coalition.
Coddling is not the same thing as appeasement.
Appeasement is hiding, and being the “good minorities that know their place.”
Coddling is speaking to them where they are and leading them to where we need them to be. Because they sure as hell aren’t going to do that on their own. Because they are stupid, like little babies, and they “know not what they do” as Jesus said.
(Jesus, at least as represented in the Gospel of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice aka Jesus Christ Superstar, did not mean that in a bitter, hateful way, but I do. The normies suck — they’re stupid, self-centered shits who need to keep being reminded of the difference between right and wrong, and constantly nudged to make the less well off a priority. If it were possible to recruit their children and make them all queer or trans or black or whatever, we would be better off to do so.)
Ha. You must live in a terrible town. Or not know anyone under age 65.
No, there isn’t. Both those roads lead to the exact same place; loads of dead Trans people.
As a person who suffered with both gender dysphoria AND the social non-acceptance of Trans people for 44 years, I wish my participation here could have changed your mind in the least on Trans issues. I can tell you the exact date I stopped suffering from Gender Dysphoria. It was December 8, 2023. I’ll never get to acceptance, because people like you (and you specifically) view me a freak or a curiosity.
Teixeira has a tell. I looked through his blog quickly today. He keeps using the term “Gender ideology”. That’s not a term Trans people use to describe ourselves. Its a term used by TERFs and their fellow Right Wing travelers to claim that Trans people are ruining the world. For Teixeira and you, the elimination of Trans people is a good thing. Maybe you don’t want to see us rounded up and gunned down, but you’d be very happy with us being tortured and driven unground.
There’s a saying in the Trans community, “We don’t want your kids to become Trans, we want your Trans kids to live.” I suffered for 44 years. I lost a whole life to dysphoria. I would be a completely different person if my parents had been accepting and I had received proper medical care. You will be entirely shocked to hear this, because I’m confident that think that I’m this way because something happened to me, but Trans kids aren’t made, their born. We can either make arguments based on the presupposition that Trans people shouldn’t exist, or we can meet these kids and Trans adults where they are and get them the ACTUAL help they need.
Let me reiterate again, you have my email address. I’m happy to set up a zoom call with you, or if your in Chicago, a lunch. I’d be happy to spend as much time as you’d like explaining why there is no difference between those two choices and why You and Teixeira are wrong to think that we need to eliminate one tiny marginalized group in order for Democrats to be more “patriotic”. If you choose to see and hear me, the one thing you’ll realize right away is that I have a very deep, horrible, disgusting voice. If I had access to puberty blockers when I was a kid, maybe I wouldn’t have to suffer the rest of my life with this shitty voice.
On Teixeira’s three points: As others have noted, one doesn’t even make sense. On two, Dems have an agenda for economic growth, GOPs have tax cuts for the rich. On three, I’m not sure I know what liberal nationalism is, but if making a big show of flags and patriotic songs will help, I’m all for it.
As James said,
Indeed. Quoting Trump’s American Carnage speech there seems entirely on point. Who are the patriots, the ones working to make the country better or the ones tearing it apart? As James shows with Teixeira’s own numbers, Teixeira’s not talking about Democrats, he’s talking about the FOX/GOP parody of Democrats.
As advice for Democrats goes, I greatly prefer, via Digby, Aran Giridharadas,
I’ll also note that Biden got elected by doing a fine job of not triggering negative partisanship. And he seems to recognize that there’s a subset of voters, MAGA extremists, who can’t be gotten and can be sacrificed. (Sacrificed as voters, we still fund their rural hospitals.). Maybe he doesn’t need all that much advice.
Liberals have a long history of accepting losing as long as they can feel good about knowing they were right afterward.
It seems to me that you all are missing the question and the point.
Why does the right (Republicans) own the patriotism narrative? And why can’t the Democrats push back on that and reclaim some of that narrative?
All I seem is bickering over the bits and pieces and not understanding the big picture: that you can be for DEI (or whatever you want to call it) and be patriotic and even make those goals the goals of an exceptional America.
I posted on the open forum the revolts of Israeli reservists to Netanhayu and the extreme right attempt to weaken the judiciary.
Here’s a follow-up article: The Reservist Protests Prove Netanyahu Has Lost the Patriot Card
Not suggesting a military revolt but rather that it is possible to change and even seize the patriotic narrative from those who have used and abused it.
Do they? It seems to me the right keeps losing elections because they own the very unpatriotic election denier J6 terror attack narrative.
I’m old enough to remember when the legacy media was attacking Joe Biden and Democrats for centering the threat modern Republicans pose to our democratic republic, a message that turned out to be quite successful.
Exactly right. And the success of Biden’s message was not only the squealing of the right but the election results. However, I didn’t see Biden and the Democrats. I saw Biden. And it was not sustained beyond the election. This is a full spectrum conflict. Democrats need to realize and act on that.
Seattle, land of performative liberalism as fashion, but with very little behind it. Lots of “In this house we believe…” signs, and segregated as can be. They will also be the first people to oppose any new construction, or services to help address the homeless problems. “In this house we believe all sorts of shit, so long as it doesn’t affect our property values.”
Decent morals as a fashion choice is, of course, better than shitty morals as a fashion choice, but it still ends up being the job of the minorities to make it more fashionable than fascism, because we are the ones who will face the brunt of the consequences.
Have I mentioned that death camps lower the property values of the surrounding areas? It’s all the noise from the trains, and the screaming, and the ash from the crematorium really screws with the pH of the soil, so the little herb garden doesn’t do as well.
@charon: Indeed. For a couple hundred years, pan-denominational Christianity stood in quite effectively as America’s civil religion. It is exactly that the change happened that is fueling the whole “America is a Christian Nation” theme on the right. The difference is that up until a few decades ago, no one disagreed significantly.
@Scott: When only one vector of the line segment is in motion “the center” automatically moves in the direction of the vector change. It’s simple math and physics. (And, in fact, lot of people have said that from the late 80s onwards the Democrats/Liberals moved right in the attempt to narrow the distance between the poles. It may have been a mistake. Don’t think so myself, but it’s possible.)
Here’s the problem: I’m not sure that your statement is true–I know you believe it; I’m just not sold. I think this issue is one of those “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” things.
And I’m still mostly the conservative fundamentalist Christian that I was raised as. And would prefer that the technology and knowledge about transgenderism that we have didn’t exist so that “sure, but we can’t do anything to fix this” still worked. But the technology and knowledge DO exist and that means I have to stay out of the discussion except to support the choices of those making them because I WANT MY CHOICES TO BE HONORED TOO. If you want me to believe that “there’s a lot of distance…” show it to me. I can’t see it.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I don’t think that’s quite right. We claim to be the greatest country on Earth, even though there are lots of other “Christian Nations.”
We have a founding myth about the Boston Tea Party (definitely not tea smugglers destroying the competitor’s supply), Valley Forge, Washington’s fake teeth (definitely wood, and nothing pulled from his slaves’ mouths), taxation without representation, Benjamin Franklin’s flatulence, Patrick Henry, etc.
And given that Jefferson rewrote the Bible to remove the divinity of Christ, it’s arguable that we were less Christian at the founding than now. A bunch of the founders were weird deists rather than anything recognizable as Christian.
The Christian Nationalism was grafted onto the United States, likely in part as an anti-communist thing.
Absolutely. During the Red Scare of the 1950s, “In God We Trust” replaced “E Pluribus Unum” as the official motto of the U. S. and the words “Under God” were inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. While “In God We Trust” dated back to the Civil War, it was never mandated to appear on paper currency until 1955. Similarly the words “Under God” did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.
@Gustopher: @Gustopher: Benjamin Franklin’s flatulence
Fart Proudly, A Letter to a Royal Academy — Ben Franklin
Really breaks up the cadence, makes it awkward to say.
Before 1954, allegiance to the U.S. – After, allegiance to both the U.S. plus God, which is pretty awkward for people who believe God is a fictional entity.
This really defines every fight we are confronting in today’s society. We have to find a balance between one extreme that calls for extermination, and another extreme that’s completely fictional.
When I see statements like “Democrats must move to the center on cultural issues” I really wonder what on earth is being said, as regards my own personal life.
I mean, am I supposed to stop saying, “My daughter is trans, and I love her”?
Am I supposed to have more family visits to my other daughter lives, and expose her to terrible treatment by TSA employees at IAH?
In what way is any of this negotiable? My daughter is trans and I love her.
You know what I’m not up for? Useless performative demonstrations of “patriotism” for the exclusive edification of some yahoo who seems to think that jet flyovers and singing the National Anthem at ballgames is the gold standard of honoring our country. Apparently treating all citizens of the United States as equals never crossed their minds as a practical demonstration of patriotism.