WaPo Democratic Candidate Quiz

Feel free to discuss the quiz and/or share your results in the comments.

Via WaPo: Which of these 2020 Democrats agrees with you most?

Thoughts on the quiz? Feel free to discuss the quiz and/or share your results in the comments.

(This was going to be a post for tomorrow, but I see activity in Monday’s Open Forum, so figured I so go ahead and post today).

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    1 Yang

    2 Warren

    3 Steyer

    4 Boody-judge

    Warren 2020!

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  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Such quizzes are useless. There were several questions were my preferred option was not available. And several critical questions (like ANYTHING on foreign policy) that were not asked. Moreover, this comes down to electability and leadership.

    FWIW: 1. Bloomberg (!) 2. Biden 3. Yang, 4. Klobuchar 5. Steyer. Bernie and Warren tied for last. Which tells how useless the quiz is since I think Bloomberg is garbage.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This strikes me like those online personality tests…pointless.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    I took this yesterday and don’t recall the full outcome but Yang was my first choice. But I agree with @Hal_10000 that it was a rather silly exercise.

    First, like Hal, there were several instances where my preferred option wasn’t reflected and I had to satisfice.

    Second, the whole thing presumes that everyone weighs all issues equally. But political scientists have known about saliency since before I was born.

    Third, this quiz confirms that, even though I’m about to vote Democrat in my third consecutive federal election because of the dire straits of the GOP, I’m not a Democrat. That is, there were four questions where my answer matched zero of the Democratic candidates.

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  5. Kit says:

    Warren: 14
    Yang: 12
    Buttigieg: 11
    Sanders: 11
    Biden: 6

    I think the value in this quiz lies in finding that one candidate who deserves a closer look.

    @Steven, are you really not going to play? (In any case, I think you are doing a fantastic job of picking up the slack in Doug’s absence. Much appreciated.)

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000:
    First question should be: Are you taking this quiz and picking your preferences, or are you taking this quiz and picking a winner? Very different outcomes.

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  7. Moosebreath says:

    I agree with both Hal and James about the problems in the quiz. I got Buttigieg first, then a multi-way tie with most of the moderates, including Bloomberg, who is near the bottom of the list for me.

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  8. Andy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Such quizzes are useless. There were several questions were my preferred option was not available. And several critical questions (like ANYTHING on foreign policy) that were not asked. Moreover, this comes down to electability and leadership.

    Agree completely.

    The two primary jobs the President has is running the federal government and foreign policy – two things that were basically missing. Even assuming unbiased questions, this is a quiz that should be designed for legislators, not presidents.

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  9. James Joyner says:

    I went ahead and retook it to refresh my memory. Results:

    Yang 12
    Biden 10
    Bloomberg 9
    Buttigieg 9
    Klobuchar 9

    Which is probably about right in terms of issue agreement but not in terms of who I think should be President. I find Yang quite impressive and likable but he’s in no way qualified for the gig. And none of the questions are about foreign policy!

    Only Warren and Yang agree with me that everyone who buys a gun should have to register. But . . . that’s never going to make it through Congress, might well be ruled unconstitutional if it did, and isn’t all that high on my criteria for choosing the next POTUS.

    Most of the candidates agree with me that marijuana should be legalized federally. But, again, hardly a voting issue for me—let alone as contrasted wih mere decriminalization.

    The fracking question was rather weird. I went with “better regulate” because better regulation is almost always desirable and the question itself points to issues that would seem to beg for regulating. But, once again, something of a sideshow issue.

    Only three candidates think a wealth tax is a bad idea.

    Medicare as “an option for everyone” is much more likely to be enacted into law than the other options but is a minority position among Democrats. But I’m not sure that a Warren or Sanders wouldn’t wind up settling for that, anyway, so meh.

    I don’t have a strong position on carbon taxes but “considering” them seems logical. Most of the candidates agree!

    None of the candidates agree with me that only some felons should get to vote after their release from prison, which was actually a more generous position than the one I favor. But it seems obvious that they shouldn’t have voting rights restored until their sentence is served, not just their release.

    Likewise, none agree with me that federal funding for abortion should be limited. But the alternative would be unlimited federal funding for abortion, which seems nuts.

    Once again, I haven’t spent a lot of time weighing the merits of universal basic income. But even Milton Friedman thought it was a good idea so, sure, consider it. Only three candidates agree.

    I have no idea how we would guarantee everyone who wanted a federal job a federal job. But I’m open to considering it. Few agree.

    That we should focus deportation on “recent border crossers, convicted criminals and national security threats” would seem incredibly generous—but it’s the most draconian solution offered. And few agree.

    Private insurance exists almost everywhere even with universal coverage. Most agree with me that it should be that way.

    I don’t think the federal government should guarantee paid leave to non-employees of the federal government, so went with “fewer than 12 weeks.” None agreed.

    Only two agree that we should try to get our finances under control.

    Keeping SCOTUS at 9 was also a minority position.

    Yang is the only one who agrees with me on expanding nuclear.

    Making college “affordable” was the least generous option offered, so I took it. It seems the majority view.

    “Reduced but not outright canceled” doesn’t really encapsulate my view on student loans but was close enough for multiple choice. Again, a dominant view.

    “Considering” abolishing the Electoral College is, surprisingly, a minority view among candidates. It’s essentially a non-starter, though.

    Only Biden, Yang, and Bloomberg agree with me that we should consider joining TPP. Which damn near disqualifies the others, in my view.

    That was the only one in the foreign policy arena. Nothing about military affairs, forever wars, judicial appointment philosophy, or many other things that I consider more relevant in selecting a POTUS than just about all the questions on the list.

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  10. Mister Bluster says:

    I am not taking this quiz because it is behind a paywall.
    I wonder if The Washington Post will suffer the same fate as the Literary Digest did following the 1936 President USA election when it called the contest for Governor Alfred Landon of Kansas?

    Presidential poll
    The Literary Digest is best-remembered today for the circumstances surrounding its demise.

    In retrospect, the polling techniques employed by the magazine were to blame. Although it had polled ten million individuals (of whom 2.27 million responded, an astronomical total for any opinion poll), it had surveyed its own readers first, a group with disposable incomes well above the national average of the time (shown in part by their ability to afford a magazine subscription during the depths of the Great Depression), and two other readily available lists, those of registered automobile owners and that of telephone users, both of which were also wealthier than the average American at the time. Research published in 1972 and 1988 concluded that while non-response bias was the primary source of this error, their sampling frame was also quite different from the vast majority of voters.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    I guess I’ll repost what I wrote in the Open Thread.

    Warren: 13
    Yang: 12
    Steyer: 11
    Buttigieg: 10
    Sanders: 9
    Bloomberg: 8
    Klobuchar: 8
    Biden: 5
    Gabbard: 5

    I find it a little interesting that Steyer came out so high on my list. I haven’t paid him much attention so far. I’m aware he’s more of a liberal/progressive than fellow billionaire Bloomberg. The problem is that, just like Bloomberg his very presence in the race cuts against what I believe is one of the most important issues in politics today, the influence of money on elections (which this quiz didn’t address at all). I’ve also noticed from the debates that he’s got the charisma of a wet dishcloth.

    I was not sure how to answer some of these questions, because I found it hard to express a distinction between what I favor in principle and what I believe is politically smart or doable. For example, I agree with Sanders that prisoners should be allowed to vote. But I have a feeling pursuing it would be a political loser. I have similar thoughts on banning private health insurance. However, for the purposes of this quiz I put in support for prisoners voting, but not for banning insurance.

    I also noticed there were basically no questions about foreign policy, apart from trade.

    Bloomberg is ranked higher than Biden on this list, though in my personal rankings he’d be lower than anyone except Gabbard, almost purely because of stop-and-frisk. But the quiz didn’t address that issue, and in any case it bases its rankings on the candidates’ current official positions, and Bloomberg has recently renounced stop-and-frisk (which is sort of like Dubya renouncing the Iraq War). Similarly, it lists all the candidates, including Biden, as favoring federal funding of abortion, even though Biden came by that position very recently in response to public pressure.

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  12. Kylopod says:

    With regard to the limitations of this kind of quiz, I already mentioned its neglect of foreign policy (the area where a president has the broadest power), and others mentioned how it doesn’t weight for issue salience. But even a quiz that were to take all this into account wouldn’t deal with the fact that selecting a candidate is about more than policy agreement.

    Take Andrew Yang, who I noticed seems to score high for a lot of us. Even before I took this quiz I’ve found Yang intriguing, and he’s probably the one marginal candidate I’ve been happy to see on the debate stage, because he’s bringing several issues to the forefront that don’t get a lot of attention.

    And yet I’d have a hard time imagining myself actually voting for him. While I’ve argued in the past that “experience” isn’t as important to presidential success as some people think, I’d be hesitant to hand the levers of power to someone who’s never held public office at all. To me, a candidate doesn’t just need to be backing the right ideas but should show some ability and understanding of coalition-building. Moreover, there’s just something about Yang that strikes me as sleazy and used-car-salesman-ish. His 1K-per-month “contest” has not detracted from this feeling.

    Hal-9000 was put off by Bloomberg being on top in his rankings, but it’s not surprising to me, as Bloomberg is a centrist and ex-Republican, which isn’t far from Hal’s orientation. Yet I can understand the queasy feeling; as I mentioned I had it myself just from seeing Bloomberg not at the absolute bottom of my rankings.

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  13. Kit says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I am not taking this quiz because it is behind a paywall.

    Give it a try in private-browsing mode, out with a backup browser. That worked for me.

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  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    Reminds me of the quizzes that my HS GF gave me that she found in Seventeen. Given my answers, it was a wonder she didn’t dump me sooner.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Only two agree that we should try to get our finances under control.

    Almost all of the questions were wish-washy “consider” but this one was “commit”. That was weird.

    We should try to run a modest surplus during good times, and a deficit in bad times, but we should never commit to reducing the deficit during any specific period.

    Likewise, none agree with me that federal funding for abortion should be limited. But the alternative would be unlimited federal funding for abortion, which seems nuts.

    I’m now thinking about unlimited breadsticks, and everything breaking down to the point where 9/10ths of the federal government activity is providing unlimited funding for unlimited abortions, and eventually developing an all-abortion economy due to the complete lack of limits on funding.

    That does seem nuts.

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  16. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher: My concern isn’t that we’d somehow bankrupt the treasury with people lining up for free abortions but rather that it makes no sense at all to force the taxpayers writ large to finance something that a huge chunk of them consider anathema. Backstopping indigent citizens whose life is in danger, or are pregnant due to rape or incest, seems a more sensible position. (But, again, not an issue that’s going to make or break my choice of candidate.)

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  17. Gustopher says:

    I had Warren at 15, Yang at 12, and nearly everyone else at 11, and a few stragglers (Gabbard, I think? And Bloomberg)

    I was surprised by the difference between Warren and Sanders, and by how few of those differences matter to me, but show up in the test, while missing the questions that really distinguish them in my eyes.

    A candidate should consider/not-consider having a cult-like following of asshats who harass anyone who does not favor them

    A candidate should consider/not-consider getting meaningful financial reforms passed before they run for president.

    Bonus points for Warren on the last one as she wasn’t a Senator yet when she got the CFPB done.

    Also Yang should run for Governor or Senator or something.

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  18. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    I can undertsand the anathema argument. But do we get to carve out the same exceptions for pacifists and military spending?

    The more salient point for me is that the government of a democracy necessitates, by its very nature, that there will be policies that individuals have to accept despite disagreeing with it. And they will have to fund it.

    Additionally, abortion is a personal choice, full stop. A person in NYC having an abortion has zero impact on a fundamentalist Christian in Omaha.

    The closest analogy is the death penalty, except that, at the Federal level, the people are represented by the State. In which case, we are philosophically tied to it. I don’t live in Texas, so I’m not represented by the State there. But a Texan who is against State executions would be.

    Funding abortions is, at best, a much less direct causal chain.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner: The word “unlimited” just brings out the worst in me. I want to game the system, but I can’t even have an abortion!

    (As far as funding things people consider an anathema goes — what about a government health care plan offering medical care for trans folks?)

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz:

    Additionally, abortion is a personal choice, full stop. A person in NYC having an abortion has zero impact on a fundamentalist Christian in Omaha.

    Except the fundamentalist Christian in Omaha thinks that abortion is murder.

    Sure, if you were to go on a killing spree in NYC (let’s say shooting people on 5th Avenue) it wouldn’t directly affect the fundie, but they would still be opposed, and they would really be upset that they were paying for it.

    Let’s move the fundie to a state that doesn’t slurp in more federal dollars than it sends.

    I don’t have a good solution, and I don’t think the fundie is right, but it’s a difficult balancing act. I respect the fundie’s beliefs even if I don’t share them — they are consistent and rational.

    I’d suggest a checkbox on the tax return that diverts funding from abortion to comprehensive sex education. Those who are opposed to both can go pound sand.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    Also, sorry to have dragged the thread onto abortion… I just cannot resist the word “unlimited.”

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  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Did any body here actually get to take the quiz who is not a WaPo subscriber? When I clicked on the link, I was asked to log in and then directed to the website front page.

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  23. charon says:

    Warren – 12

    Klobuchar – 10

    Biden – 7

    Not really receptive to any of the others.

    Also, I agree this is really stupid and silly quiz.

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  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: I would guess that Bezos’ pockets are deep enough to stave off Literary Digest’s fate. 😛

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  25. An Interested Party says:

    I respect the fundie’s beliefs even if I don’t share them — they are consistent and rational.

    The beliefs would be more consistent and rational if they included worrying as much about children once they are out of their mothers’ bodies…I’m sure some fundies believe this, but certainly those who support Trump and shrinking government to the size that you can drown it in a bathtub wouldn’t seem to…

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  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: What you said, written in Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese, means exactly what it does in English to me.

    No, I don’t speak any of the other three. Fortunately, I don’t need to breach fire/paywalls often enough to need to know what it means in English either.

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  27. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: Dude, it’s clickbait. As the kids on the internet say, lighten up, Francis.

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  28. wr says:

    @James Joyner: ” My concern isn’t that we’d somehow bankrupt the treasury with people lining up for free abortions but rather that it makes no sense at all to force the taxpayers writ large to finance something that a huge chunk of them consider anathema.”

    Unlike, say, war with Iran? Private golf trips to Mar a Lago? Tax breaks for billionaires? Subsidies for oil companies? Nuclear weapons?

    Why is this the one issue out of the entire budget where we have to worry about the people who disapprove of having their tax dollars go to something they don’t like?

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  29. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “I respect the fundie’s beliefs even if I don’t share them — they are consistent and rational.”

    What about a dedicated Vegan who feels that meat is murder? Should we abolish the FDA rather than let his taxes help pay for slaughterhouses?

    Why are fundamentalist Christians the one group that gets to put the weight of their moral judgment on every area of American life>

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  30. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kit:.. private-browsing mode…out with a backup browser.

    I am on a MacBook Air using Safari 12.1.2. I don’t know what any of that means.

    Considering some of the remarks “useless” “stupid and silly” I’ll wait to see which candidates are viable on March 17 after some 25 states have conducted their caucuses and primaries to take the “quiz” conducted by the State of Illinois for the Democratic Party.

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  31. Pylon says:

    Warren 14; Yang 12, Pete and Steyer 11; Bloomberg, Klobuchar , Sanders 9; Biden, Gabbard 6

    I’m a little surprised at the second place finishers, thing is, none of them should be president with their backgrounds.

    I agree with the problem with questions that have absolutes and/or no gray area between the answers, or are just impossible to accomplish. Also, there was at least one that I thought had options which were not incompatible.

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  32. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz:

    I can undertsand the anathema argument. But do we get to carve out the same exceptions for pacifists and military spending?

    That. I’m hardly a pacifist, but I’ve been paying taxes to support wars I disapprove of since around 1964, and I’ve lost count of how many wars. I don’t see why the holy rollers get to be such special snowflakes.

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  33. Andy says:

    @wr:

    Why is this the one issue out of the entire budget where we have to worry about the people who disapprove of having their tax dollars go to something they don’t like?

    I think the reason is that banning the use of federal funds for elective abortions has historically enjoyed plurality if not majority support among the general public, though that is probably diminishing over time. In other words, it’s in the budget because that’s what most people want (or wanted at the time it was passed).

    By contrast, the number of Vegans who think “meat is murder” is currently inconsequential. However, if they get enough adherents and political organization then they could get a Vegan version of the Hyde amendment passed eventually.

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  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Behind a paywall.

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  35. Kit says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Mister Bluster:

    Ok, boomers: In Safari, select New Private Window from the File menu.

    No guarantees, but it might help.

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  36. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    Why are fundamentalist Christians the one group that gets to put the weight of their moral judgment on every area of American life

    Because there are a lot of them, they feel very strongly about this, and we all have to live under a common set of laws, so there have to be some compromises.

    There are religious and conscience objections to a lot of things, even for small groups. Pacifists can opt out of being drafted, for instance.

    But there’s no reasonable simple opt-out here: “If you’re opposed to abortion, don’t have one” is as empty and hollow a statement as “if you’re opposed to slavery, don’t have a slave” if one believes abortion is murder.

    I also don’t think I would be fine with kids in cages in concentration camps at our borders if I didn’t have to pay for it.

    If abortion is legal, and accessible, we need to work with our crazy-ass fundie friends to balance their views — we need to try to ensure that there are as few unintended pregnancies as possible, and that women aren’t put in a spot where they feel they have to abort a fetus because of costs.

    There is a small, vocal subset of the prolife movement that would be opposed to that, but those people can go fuck themselves.

    However, the Supreme Court May make this all moot anyway…

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  37. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kit:..New Private Window.

    OK so I found the selection on the file menu, clicked on it and it took me to my google homepage and then to OTB and the Washington Post webpage with the survey. Apparently I have defeated the paywall.
    I think that this is some sort of internet theft that I am not inclined to participate in.

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  38. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner: James, I am surprised and delighted by how many of these we agree on, for essentially the same reasons. (You’re probably surprised too; I won’t speculate about ‘delighted’.)

    In particular:
    * Everyone who buys a gun should have to register.
    * Marijuana should be legalized federally.
    * Better regulate fracking
    * A wealth tax is a bad idea. [Great in principle; utterly impractical.]
    * Medicare as “an option for everyone”
    * Consider carbon taxes
    * Consider universal basic income
    * Consider guaranteed federal employment
    * Focus deportation on “recent border crossers, convicted criminals and national security threats” [I think you missed the “deport them all” option, from your comment; we may not actually agree here.]
    * Private health insurance option
    * Get the deficit/debt under control. [Not eliminated; just not out of control growth.]
    * Expand nuclear power generation
    * Make college affordable for all
    * “Reduced but not outright canceled” doesn’t really encapsulate my view on student loans but was close enough for multiple choice. [Exactly.]
    * Consider abolishing the EC [while we’re wishing for pie in the sky]
    * Consider joining TPP

    Likewise, none agree with me that federal funding for abortion should be limited. But the alternative would be unlimited federal funding for abortion, which seems nuts.

    I believe that question was meant to be about whether federal funding for abortion should be prevented/capped by law (as opposed to by the usual budget process). I doubt anyone supports arbitrarily large spending on abortion, any more than they support arbitrarily large spending on defense.

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  39. DrDaveT says:

    Ported from the Open Forum:

    I don’t quite buy my results, which put Klobuchar and Yang (14 each) at the top, then
    Biden/Bloomberg/Buttigieg/Steyer at 12,
    Warren 11,
    Gabbard 8,
    Sanders 5

    (The last one is probably correct.)

    I think there were two key problems with the questions:
    1. They asked many questions of the form “Should the US consider a policy like ___?” In most cases, of course they should consider it. That’s not the same as saying yes, they should certainly do it.
    2. The questions do not reflect the fact that (e.g.) “free college for everyone” is a special case of “affordable college for everyone”, not a competing alternative. Saying that the government should provide affordable undergrad for all is half a vote for Warren’s position, not a vote against.
    [ETA: 3. No foreign policy questions, as noted by others.]
    I am happy to see the wide spread of outcomes among the regulars, though — it certainly is evidence against the groupthink accusation that is so frequently projected onto us by the Trumpists.

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: It’s not really impractical at all. A tax like the one on chattel property (for example the tax on your house and car that the state collect) would accomplish the goal. To mitigate the burden on holders of capital we could eliminate the income tax on capital gains (which would be collected as we go on equities and such–unlike today where it is unrecoverable in probate) and possibly interest. It’s even possible, considering that much of the “wealth” outside the o.1% is in tax sheltered instruments, that the middle class would end of paying significantly less than…

    Oops… never mind, you were right all along. Completely impractical and would never work.

    ETA: Having read all of the comments now, my conclusion is that the factors that cause us to support candidates exceed a simple analysis of the stands those candidates take and the issues on which we agree with them. Hmmmm…

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    ETA: Having read all of the comments now, my conclusion is that the factors that cause us to support candidates exceed a simple analysis of the stands those candidates take and the issues on which we agree with them.

    Well, as James noted, it also matters whether they are electable, whether their policies could ever be implemented, and whether they are competent to do the entirety of the job. Apart from that…

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  42. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    But there’s no reasonable simple opt-out here: “If you’re opposed to abortion, don’t have one” is as empty and hollow a statement as “if you’re opposed to slavery, don’t have a slave” if one believes abortion is murder.

    Yep. And they think they believe it’s murder, but they really don’t. If it’s murder, it’s premeditated murder, and there are accomplices too. If they really believe it’s murder they should think it would be fine to prosecute and imprison for life, or execute, what, I don’t know, 50 million Americans?

    The whole thing is a scam. They didn’t give a shit about abortion until the late 70s. In the late 70s the preachers had gotten a taste for political power after fighting desegregation for 20 years. They gave up on that and switched to abortion several years after Roe versus Wade.

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  43. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher:

    Okay, so I’m not going to post my response to Gustopher, et al. I’ll save it for the next open thread.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz: I think we mostly killed the threads original topic (sorry everyone), so you probably might as well post here… but use your best judgement.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: Most prolifers I have known are much more concerned with ending the mass slaughter going forward that getting justice for those already aborted. Go talk to some, and listen to them. Don’t just dismiss them as being disingenuous.

    It’s true that abortion became a much more central issue of the religious right after segregation was a loser, and a lot of the people who pushed it were just using it as a means to an end, but it really took on a life of its own. The people on the front lines of the movement believe it.

    And abortion has been a moderately contentious issue going back to roughly the civil war era (with scattered laws before then), so even the modern prolife movement isn’t completely founded as a cynical replacement for segregation.

    English common law held that abortion was legal before quickening (18 weeks or so, when you can feel it kicking), and illegal after.

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  46. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    And abortion has been a moderately contentious issue going back to roughly the civil war era (with scattered laws before then), so even the modern prolife movement isn’t completely founded as a cynical replacement for segregation.

    I’d add that even when abortion started to become a contentious political issue in the 1970s, the anti-abortion position was not seen as clearly right-wing yet. McGovern’s running mate Sargent Shriver was pro-life. Some years ago I read two books that go into some detail about the history of the radical pro-life movement: Wrath of Angels by James Risen and Judy Thomas; and Articles of Faith by Cynthia Gorney. They reveal that many of the early anti-abortion radicals came from the 1960s Catholic left. They were people who had been involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements, and they saw the fight against abortion as just the next step in their fight for social justice. They staged what they called “sit-ins” modeled after what civil rights protesters had done, where they’d enter abortion clinics and refuse to leave, without engaging in any violence. (They even played folk music!) As time went on, the group (which was a precursor to Operation Rescue, the organization that led the campaign against George Tiller until his assassination by someone with ties to the organization, though it’s always officially renounced the use of violence) shed its lefty elements, became increasingly right-wing and, I should add, Protestant.

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  47. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kurtz: @wr:

    If any of those issues ever became wedge issues with tangible electoral outcomes…. then yes, they deserve special consideration and care. Ideology aside, I don’t think Democrats appreciate how abortion is pretty much the ONLY thing standing between them and massive across the board Republican minorities.

    Evangelicals have a bad name here but its not a monolithic group. A sizeable portion of that group have nothing in common with Republicans but cannot vote for a party that (in their framing) “supports” abortion. It really is the cohesion of the Evangelical movement. The wedge issue that keeps on giving.

    Pacifists and Vegans….. Meh? Not a threat to anyone electoral outcomes. And, that is the name of the game….win elections. If I were a Democrat, I’d have found a way to message the centrist Evangelicals who aren’t very Republican and dont think Abortion is Murder a long time ago. They are there and most likely, instead of voting against Trump, are going to stay home in November

    BTW:
    Blomberg (11), Yang(11), Biden(10). Yang is a surprise, especially his energy views. We should have adopted the French model of Nuclear energy decades ago but can’t because of 3 mile Island. The technology and risk mitigation are there to have a cleaner energy sector today.

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  48. Kit says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I don’t think Democrats appreciate how abortion is pretty much the ONLY thing standing between them and massive across the board Republican minorities.

    Were these voters pro-life in every sense (against the death penalty, highly sceptical of the military and shocked at the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing for health care, pushing for maternity leave, pushing for early education, tearing down walls to free kids in cages, funding healthy school lunches, ensuring that the environment is clean and that people can breath and drink, freaked out over global warming, etc., etc., etc.) they’d already be voting Democrat but clamouring for change on that one subject (and perhaps euthanasia). Sorry, but I see Republicans as having embraced a culture of death, and am disinclined to take them seriously on abortion.

    I do agree that Democrats should be able to handle the message better.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @Kit:

    Sorry, but I see Republicans as having embraced a culture of death, and am disinclined to take them seriously on abortion.

    Just because they don’t necessarily live up to the label “pro-life” (which is little more than an advertising slogan, though the same is true of “pro-choice”–you think pro-choicers consistently favor “choice” on every issue?) doesn’t mean their position isn’t held sincerely.

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  50. Kit says:

    @Kylopod: Well, as I tried to say, when I list various issues that support life, either directly or indirectly, Republicans are lined up against nearly all of them. While I could come up with a few different reasons to explain it, the one I find most persuasive is that they don’t like the idea of women having freedom over their own bodies. And those people will never vote Democrat.

    ETA: Republicans made any number of volte-face with the election of Trump. Must I consider those previous positions sincerely held?

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  51. Kylopod says:

    @Kit:

    And those people will never vote Democrat.

    Well that isn’t quite true, is it? Some of them have shown a willingness to support culturally conservative Dems at the state or local level, such as Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards.

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  52. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: The degree of overlap is indeed interesting and indeed surprising.

    As to the deportation option, yes, I saw the extreme choice. It’s both inhumane and impractical. I can’t imagine the person who wouldn’t support deporting (or jailing) criminals and threats to national security. And the whole point of the DREAMer program is that, at some point, people become de facto legalized because deportation is inhumane. So, that means our focus has to be on those who arrived recently.

    On abortion, especially in a system without universal coverage, I think it reasonable given the polarizing nature of the practice to limit federal expenditures to extreme cases. “Rape, incest, and the life of the mother” are the standard exceptions that all but the most extreme anti-abortion types agree to. (There is some disagreement on the later, especially if “life” is changed to “health.”)

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  53. James Joyner says:

    @Teve:

    The whole thing is a scam. They didn’t give a shit about abortion until the late 70s. In the late 70s the preachers had gotten a taste for political power after fighting desegregation for 20 years

    It’s true that there wasn’t an immediate backlash to Roe. And I’m sure part of it was grifting by Jerry Falwell and his ilk. But there’s also the fact that, as abortion became legalized, it became more of an issue.

    Roe was the logical follow-on to Griswold, which first established a Constitutional right to privacy, eight years earlier. As late as 1965 states—in this case, Connecticut—outlawed birth control pills even for married couples. So, there was a massive cultural-social upheaval underway by the late 1970s.

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  54. Kit says:

    @Kylopod:

    Well that isn’t quite true, is it? Some of them have shown a willingness to support culturally conservative Dems at the state or local level, such as Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards.

    Fair enough. To be honest, I’m not really sure, for better or for worse, just what Louisiana might be able to teach the rest of the country. Color me sceptical, but I’m willing to listen. I agree with @Jim Brown 32 that the name of the game is winning elections. Perhaps I’m considering (some) people to be far more intellectually consistent than they are.

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  55. Kylopod says:

    @Kit:

    To be honest, I’m not really sure, for better or for worse, just what Louisiana might be able to teach the rest of the country.

    We don’t know, because it hasn’t been tried at a national level. Nor would I want it to be. Imagine Edwards were somehow to win the Democratic presidential nomination, and without resorting to massive Romney-esque flip-floppery. It’s not going to happen, but let’s just say it did. It might indeed result in a scrambling of the electoral map.

    I’m not advocating this—not in a million years. It’s ludicrously unlikely, and the Dems have got to stand for something; it’s not an issue worth sacrificing for just a few more votes. The point of this thought experiment is that a certain chunk of pro-life voters do genuinely care about this issue; it isn’t just based on aversion to anyone with a D after their name.

    I think a common mistake made in politics is to make overly reductive statements about specific groups. Statements of the form “Anyone who holds X position will never vote Democrat/Republican” are usually wrong, not because they don’t accurately describe the majority of voters—they often do—but because it is indeed sometimes possible to peel off small numbers of people by appealing to specific issues. According to 2016 exit polls, of voters who wanted the next president to “be more liberal” than Obama, 23% voted for Trump. In Michigan it was 41%. Sure, that’s insane, and insanely stupid. But Trump did depart from GOP orthodoxy on a number of issues, on rhetoric if not in substance. He defended single-payer, pledged not to cut Medicare or Social Security, backed LGBT rights, criticized free trade, and attacked Bush’s War on Terror more fervently than any other GOP candidate. He still lost the vast majority of Dems and Dem-leaning indies, as we’d expect. But he peeled off a few, and it probably was enough to matter.

    Again, I’m not advocating that Dems start sacrificing their own issues in a bid to peel off voters who normally back the other party. I’m just making the point that, taking a stand on these issues does have consequences; it isn’t just pure partisan tribalism.

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  56. To add to this: I spent a lot of years in very conservative churches. I have friends and family members who have very profound and deeply held view on abortion. Telling them not to get one if they don’t like it is not a winning argument. Nor is dismissing their position.

    And yes, just like some commenters have said in the last several days that they would vote for a child molester or a heroin addict over Trump, there are, quite clearly, millions who will vote for a Trump over a Democrat because a Trump will provide pro-life judges and a Democrat won’t.

    Many commenters make extreme statements about GOP voters, but as I keep stressing: a binary choice can lead to a lot of internal compromise and rationalization (and it doesn’t make people evil to make the choice).

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  57. Kit says:

    @Kylopod: All good points. But after Trump, I’m ever less inclined to believe what people say while ignoring what they do. The pro-life justification rings hollow to my ears. The passion is probably real—these people have certainly been wound tight after a couple of generations of being told what to think and feel. But the underlying cause of the passion really determines the political options. If protecting and fostering life is important to you, then I’m sure we can find common ground.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    it doesn’t make people evil to make the choice

    Then what does make people evil?

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  58. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher: @Andy: @gVOR08: @James Joyner:
    @Kit:

    I was going to port this to the open thread, but at this point the thread has changed. This is more interesting than a simplistic quiz.

    So, it’s probably easy to tell for all of you when I am kind of using my post to work through something that I had not thought about rigorously as opposed to the times when I can do it cogently in my sleep.

    That post was a little of both. But it was also fired off at work during a five minute smoke break. I didn’t quite articulate it as clearly as I wanted.

    Gustopher, you’re correct about it being a difficult balancing act. I don’t think there is any way out of the conundrum of democracy–policy choices that tax dollars fund, but are controversial and thus opposed by a significant percentage of tax payers.

    So, we have three potential analogies here to funding abortion. The death penalty, funding of military actions by pacifists or those otherwise opposed to the military action, and mass shootings.

    My argument about State executions (and more broadly unjust incarceration) was that, because prosecution of crimes is, not effectively or tangentially, but directly on behalf of the population at large, there is direct moral responsibility on the people. We cannot limit it to just the actors within the system. This is a more direct link than just taxpayer funded non-preferred policies. I think this is a cogent argument.

    I think it is also logical to argue that the most conservative position, with respect to governmental power, is to oppose the prohibition of abortion and support restricting the government’s right to take a life. The former on the grounds of opposition to restrictions on personal decision-making; the latter on the grounds of execution being the most extreme possible right.

    It seems that you and I both disagree with the premise that abortion is murder. But let’s agree with it for a second.

    If you think it is murder, then you should also be willing to punish (both the medical doctor and the woman) it with same sentence as any other murder. This would, for those who support the death penalty for murder, include that. This seems…extreme, and I would imagine many of the most ardent of the opposition to abortion would likely be squeamish about that.

    Even then, there is probably little chance of changing minds. As @An Interested Party points out, there is little consistency once the fetus is born. I wish I could agree with Gustopher that we have to be reasonable, but the fact is, it’s not us who is being unreasonable here. That leads to the war analogy.

    We have to accept paying for shit we also consider immoral, and in some cases, like fucking Gallagher, paying for state sanctioned murder. The lifelong psychological effects to combatants and their familes. Not to mention the increase in terrorism resultant from para/military operations, some in the US. The deaths of non-combatants, civilian displacement, the brunt of which falls on other nations, and the knock-on human costs of destroyed infrastructure.Violence increases domestically post war.

    As was highlighted from other posters, the anti-war movement just has to pay for it. And get called treasonous, accused of providing comfort to the enemy and anti-American for any protestation. Yet, we have to kowtow to a subset of subset of the population who feels complicit in abortion.

    By the way, the complocity argument is one of the two main arguments that terrorists use to justify attacks on civilian populations. So, no, the complicity argument doesn’t work here.

    Notice, we don’t even have to touch the bodily autonomy argument, they’re toast already. Of course, deeply held beliefs sre rarely changed.
    In the end, the best we are likely to get, given the composition of the federal courts is a roll back to states. Which really won’t be much different for many red states, as they have minimal numbers of clinics as it is.

    Gustopher’s mass shooting argument fails to align here. The social trends and policy choices that contribute to mass shootings affect everyone. It’s true, a single mass shooting in NYC doesn’t affect a fundamentlist in Omaha. But, a mass shooting could easily take place in Omaha. That’s the difference. No one already born in Omaha is at risk of being aborted by a pregnant woman. But they may be shot by her estranged baby-daddy-to-be just trying to buy diapers at a Wal Mart.

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  59. Kurtz says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    My latest post touches a little on your post. Especially that the really passionate anti-abortiom evangelicals are a subset.

    I largely agree with you. But guns are the other wedge issue. I have a long comment arguing this recently, actually.

    Also, the anti-war movement is certainly a small subset of Dems.

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  60. Kurtz says:

    I was going to port this to the open thread, but at this point the thread has changed. This is more interesting than a simplistic quiz.

    So, it’s probably easy to tell for all of you when I am kind of using my post to work through something that I had not thought about rigorously as opposed to the times when I can do it cogently in my sleep.

    That post was a little of both. But it was also fired off at work during a five minute smoke break. I didn’t quite articulate it as clearly as I wanted.

    Gustopher, you’re correct about it being a difficult balancing act. I don’t think there is any way out of the conundrum of democracy–policy choices that tax dollars fund, but are controversial and thus opposed by a significant percentage of tax payers.

    So, we have three potential analogies here to funding abortion. The death penalty, funding of military actions by pacifists or those otherwise opposed to the military action, and mass shootings.

    My argument about State executions (and more broadly unjust incarceration) was that, because prosecution of crimes is, not effectively or tangentially, but directly on behalf of the population at large, there is direct moral responsibility on the people. We cannot limit it to just the actors within the system. This is a more direct link than just taxpayer funded non-preferred policies. I think this is a cogent argument.

    I think it is also logical to argue that the most conservative position, with respect to governmental power, is to oppose the prohibition of abortion and support restricting the government’s right to take a life. The former on the grounds of opposition to restrictions on personal decision-making; the latter on the grounds of execution being the most extreme possible right.

    It seems that you and I both disagree with the premise that abortion is murder. But let’s agree with it for a second.

    If you think it is murder, then you should also be willing to punish (both the medical doctor and the woman) it with same sentence as any other murder. This would, for those who support the death penalty for murder, include that. This seems…extreme, and I would imagine many of the most ardent of the opposition to abortion would likely be squeamish about that.

    Even then, there is probably little chance of changing minds. As @An Interested Party points out, there is little consistency once the fetus is born. I wish I could agree with Gustopher that we have to be reasonable, but the fact is, it’s not us who is being unreasonable here. That leads to the war analogy.

    We have to accept paying for shit we also consider immoral, and in some cases, like fucking Gallagher, paying for state sanctioned murder. The lifelong psychological effects to combatants and their familes. Not to mention the increase in terrorism resultant from para/military operations, some in the US. The deaths of non-combatants, civilian displacement, the brunt of which falls on other nations, and the knock-on human costs of destroyed infrastructure.Violence increases domestically post war.

    As was highlighted from other posters, the anti-war movement just has to pay for it. And get called treasonous, accused of providing comfort to the enemy and anti-American for any protestation. Yet, we have to kowtow to a subset of subset of the population who feels complicit in abortion.

    By the way, the complocity argument is one of the two main arguments that terrorists use to justify attacks on civilian populations. So, no, the complicity argument doesn’t work here.

    Notice, we don’t even have to touch the bodily autonomy argument, they’re toast already. Of course, deeply held beliefs sre rarely changed.
    In the end, the best we are likely to get, given the composition of the federal courts is a roll back to states. Which really won’t be much different for many red states, as they have minimal numbers of clinics as it is.

    Gustopher’s mass shooting argument fails to align here. The social trends and policy choices that contribute to mass shootings affect everyone. It’s true, a single mass shooting in NYC doesn’t affect a fundamentlist in Omaha. But, a mass shooting could easily take place in Omaha. That’s the difference. No one already born in Omaha is at risk of being aborted by a pregnant woman. But they may be shot by her estranged baby-daddy-to-be just trying to buy diapers at a Wal Mart.

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  61. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    Again, I’m not advocating that Dems start sacrificing their own issues in a bid to peel off voters who normally back the other party. I’m just making the point that, taking a stand on these issues does have consequences; it isn’t just pure partisan tribalism.

    I do think the Democrats can do more to soften the edges a bit, to make themselves less of an anathema to the evangelical crowd. Not being evangelical (or religious at all) I don’t want to say what would appeal to them as definitive, but I think we could take Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” and wrap it into a whole progressive program to support mothers.

    Something like; “We support the right of a woman to have an abortion, but we want to help insure that women are not forced into an abortion for financial reasons, so:
    – mandate insurance companies cover X
    – minimum X weeks paid leave after giving birth, the government will help companies pay for it
    – increase the child tax credit, add a pro-rated baby bonus so parents are helped immediately during that first year
    – child care tax credits
    – increase funding for adoption, foster parents.
    – insurance plans must cover contraception
    – comprehensive sex education curriculum developed by Washington, with parts states can pick and choose, plus research showing which parts are most effective at reducing teen pregnancy
    – harass women with all of their options before they have an abortion”

    Other than that last one, it’s all bits of a progressive policy rebranded to be about abortion. The last one is annoying, but piggy backs onto the waiting periods a lot of states already have. Call it the Abortion Reduction Act.

    Yes, some will balk at contraception and sex ed — but a lot won’t. The ones who will balk are unreachable.

    There are people who believe that choosing the lesser of two evils is choosing to reduce the evil, and those who believe it is embracing evil — we can reach that first group.

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  62. al Ameda says:

    I don’t mind this kind of ‘poll/quiz.’ It’s not far from where I am today
    – I like Yang and Klobuchar.
    1 Yang 17
    2 Buttigieg 13
    3 Biden 13
    4 Bloomberg 12
    5 Klobuchar 10

    I’m a realist, I don’t think Yang will be there at the end, but I’m enjoying his candidacy more than the others.
    By the way, on the ideological spectrum I still haven’t quite figured out where Yang is. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I like him.

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  63. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz:

    If you think it is murder, then you should also be willing to punish (both the medical doctor and the woman) it with same sentence as any other murder. This would, for those who support the death penalty for murder, include that. This seems…extreme, and I would imagine many of the most ardent of the opposition to abortion would likely be squeamish about that.

    People get caught up on this.

    Just to play Crazed Evangelical for a moment — all those people who got or performed abortions are already going to hell for eternity. Anything society does to punish them is just icing on the cake.

    It would be more important to stop the slaughter going forward. Both for the babies (oh, the babies!) and to save the souls of the women who would be led astray into a mortal sin.

    It’s like medicine — stop the bleeding first, then worry about the rest.

    I might be wrong about that line of thinking, as I don’t know many crazed evangelicals. But it fits and is logical (not that people are always logical) and it’s way more likely to be more true than “these people don’t really believe in the thing they keep telling us they believe in, because they fail a test I’ve made up.”

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  64. Kit says:

    @Kurtz: Really interesting but I have no time to write. I’d like to make two points, and you will just have to fill in the arguments to support them.

    1) Democracy can’t work if people choose to follow a higher power. If your belief in God prevents you from following the law, there really can’t be any place for you here.

    2) The only ethical way to break the law is to willingly submit to its punishment.

    So, you have to accept that part of your money funds abortion. And if you refuse the draft, then it’s prison for you.

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  65. Gustopher says:

    @Kit:

    Democracy can’t work if people choose to follow a higher power. If your belief in God prevents you from following the law, there really can’t be any place for you here.

    Only atheists and agnostics should have the vote? Should we have people swear on a Holy Bible that they don’t believe in God before letting them into the polling place? (And then the Koran, and whatever Jews use…)

    And how do you make that jump between Democracy and Rule of Law? That’s quite a leap…

    The only ethical way to break the law is to willingly submit to its punishment.

    Not to go all Nazi-analogy on you, but… were people hiding Jews in Nazi Germany behaving unethically?

    There are countless ethical ways to protest an unjust law, ranging from quiet noncompliance to setting yourself on fire in front of government buildings to hunting Nazis.

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  66. Kit says:

    @Gustopher: I told you that I did not have time to make the exact arguments, but only my main points. You seem to have interpreted everything in the most unkind fashion.

    So, no, I was not at all implying that only atheists would have the vote, only that democracy can only work if people can reconcile their beliefs with the necessity of obeying the laws. I find it rather obvious that a society of religious fanatics of all stripes could never live together in a democracy.

    As for living under a tyranny, I find that distinct from a democracy.

    Must run again, this time a little wiser about not connecting the dots..,

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  67. DrDaveT says:

    @Kit:

    So, no, I was not at all implying that only atheists would have the vote, only that democracy can only work if people can reconcile their beliefs with the necessity of obeying the laws.

    In the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, this is phrased as “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Obey the law unless your conscience won’t let you, in which case be prepared for whatever penalties the state will impose.

    The idea that the Church could become the State was a much later perversion of Christian doctrine.

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  68. gVOR08 says:

    @Kit: A little touch of agnosticism is necessary for a pluralistic society to function. You can believe what you want, but you have to allow that maybe, just maybe, you can live with other people believing differently. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said that if Hitler were right that Jews were responsible for all the ills of Europe, he would be right to exterminate them. But maybe, just maybe, he should have considered that he might be wrong.

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  69. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    As to the deportation option, yes, I saw the extreme choice. It’s both inhumane and impractical.

    Agreed. Given the opportunity costs of enforcement, I’d be curious to hear what alternative you would propose that is less vigorous than trying for universal deportation, but more vigorous than focusing on recent crossers, criminals, and known threats. What other subgroup(s) would you add to the priority list? (Genuine curiosity here; I’ve been struggling with that question myself.)

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  70. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    My concern isn’t that we’d somehow bankrupt the treasury with people lining up for free abortions but rather that it makes no sense at all to force the taxpayers writ large to finance something that a huge chunk of them consider anathema.

    You mean like desegregation? Vaccination? Food stamps? Collecting income and estate taxes? Fighting foreign wars?

    Clearly I’m missing your point; one of the essential functions of government is to force the taxpayers to fund things that many of them consider anathema, for the greater good and prosperity of all.

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  71. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    I think it was Bertrand Russell who said that if Hitler were right that Jews were responsible for all the ills of Europe, he would be right to exterminate them.

    I once read an essay by Russell in which he basically denied there was any objective morality at all, that it was all a matter of personal taste. I happen to think the beliefs of the Nazis are an excellent example of the problems with that way of thinking; they illustrate the connection between morality and objective reality since the Nazis’ evil was founded squarely upon demonstrably false beliefs such as the notion that Jews were a mortal threat to humanity. That’s frequently the way people justify evil, by twisting reality so they can argue they’re working toward some greater good. While I don’t think reason or empiricism can resolve every moral disagreement, I do think it can expose defective moral reasoning a great deal of the time.

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  72. @Kit:

    Then what does make people evil?

    Serious question: are those who voted for Obama, who intensified the drone war in the Middle East, evil? (And who oversaw a substantial number of deportations as well?).

    (I am not making a “both side do it” argument, lest anyone think I am. Also note: I do think Trump to be a singularly bad president).

    Side note: have you watched The Good Place? (There is an apt illustration of my point that I could cite if you have).

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  73. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: I may have written that badly. I should have made it clear that the bit about Hitler considering he may have been wrong was part of Russell’s statement. I’m far from an expert, and I don’t know what essay you read, but from what little I remember Russell was pretty good on morality. I believe he was a consequentialist and in the essay may have been arguing against deontological, rules based, ethics. Making a consequentialist argument against Nazism is pretty much a gimme, particularly after the fact.

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  74. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Serious question: are those who voted for Obama, who intensified the drone war in the Middle East, evil? (And who oversaw a substantial number of deportations as well?).

    And President Obama remains the only President I know of who ordered the assassination of an American citizen, carried out with one of those drones.

    I think President Obama was a good man, but he did some bad or at least questionable things.

    So I think the entire notion that supporting or voting for whichever politician inherently tars you with everything bad they’ve done just doesn’t work as a defensible argument because then everyone gets tarred.

    @Kurtz:

    I’m pretty much where most of the public is when it comes to abortion although lately, I’ve come to appreciate the libertarian idea of evictionism, which provides an interesting way to deal with the tension between the interests of women and the fetus.

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  75. An Interested Party says:

    To add to this: I spent a lot of years in very conservative churches. I have friends and family members who have very profound and deeply held view on abortion. Telling them not to get one if they don’t like it is not a winning argument. Nor is dismissing their position.

    Since such people believe that all abortion is murder, there is no winning argument that could ever be made to them about abortion…

    @Gustopher: I wonder how many people who oppose abortion, particularly evangelicals, would support any of your ideas, which ties in to another problem with this issue…perhaps it isn’t entirely true, but it does seems like a lot of people who are so opposed to abortion don’t care as much about children once they are out of their mothers’ bodies…introducing your ideas to these people would certainly clarify what they really care about…

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  76. Gustopher says:

    @Kit:

    I told you that I did not have time to make the exact arguments, but only my main points. You seem to have interpreted everything in the most unkind fashion

    I didn’t mean it as unkind, only that your arguments are half baked and need a bit more thought. You’re making broad statements where the actual argument you would want to make is much more nuanced — and I suspect they fall apart in their more nuanced form once you plug in the motivations of prolifers.

    The man who assassinated Dr. Tiller did so because he thought he was saving lives. The only difference between him and the French resistance fighter who kills a Nazi is the data he was acting on, and the absolute certainty that he would be caught.

    I’ll take your first statement and modify it —

    Democracy can’t work if a large number of people have to choose between following a higher power, and obeying the law . If your belief in God prevents you from following the law, there really can’t be any place for you here and that’s an honest to god fucking shame.

    I would say that perhaps, just perhaps, we should not be forcing a significant number of our fellow citizens into a spot where their obligations to their country and their ridiculous sky god(s) are in such conflict.

    Also, I might need a set of ridiculous sky gods to justify my strongly held beliefs. My god says that concentration camps on the border are an abomination unto the Lord, the Land and the People. I call my god Jesus. The Latino name, not that Christ guy…

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  77. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    I think President Obama was a good man, but he did some bad or at least questionable things.

    So I think the entire notion that supporting or voting for whichever politician inherently tars you with everything bad they’ve done just doesn’t work as a defensible argument because then everyone gets tarred.

    Have you considered that everyone here is damned to an eternity of hellfire?

    If you’re responsible for your actions, even just to the extent that you know of the consequences, you’re likely responsible for sweatshop labor, impoverishing children and destroying the planet for future generations — just through your purchases. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, and brother, we are all the rich man in that parable.

    Eating meat likely results in the torture of animals in horrific conditions. We all know about factory farms… We choose not to know because otherwise we would be weeping into our chicken sandwich.

    The only way to avoid knowingly hurting others and supporting structures of oppression are to go off the grid, and live off the food you grow, probably in the middle of some large state park.

    It’s why I don’t believe in God — it’s a defense mechanism, because if I did believe in God, I would be damned for all time.

    And the aborted babies… they’re the only ones who have a chance at salvation, because original sin is bunk.

    My religious views are not particularly orthodox I suppose. Buddhism seems nice.

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  78. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    If you’re responsible for your actions, even just to the extent that you know of the consequences, you’re likely responsible for sweatshop labor, impoverishing children and destroying the planet for future generations — just through your purchases. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, and brother, we are all the rich man in that parable.

    All good points

    The only way to avoid knowingly hurting others and supporting structures of oppression are to go off the grid, and live off the food you grow, probably in the middle of some large state park.

    Of course, that’s illegal and you’d be ruining the wilderness for everyone else.

    Well, since I’m damned no matter what, guess I’ll have another scotch.

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  79. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: Here is the essay. Worth reading in full, but here a few key portions:

    Question as to “values” – that is to say, as to what is good or bad on its own account, independently of its effects – lie outside the domain of science, as the defenders of religion emphatically assert. I think that in this they are right, but I draw the further conclusion, which they do not draw, that questions as to “values” lie wholly outside the domain of knowledge. That is to say, when we assert that this or that has “value,” we are giving expression to our own emotions, not to a fact which would still be true if our personal feelings were different. To make this clear, we must try to analyse the conception of the Good.

    It is obvious, to begin with, that the whole idea of good and bad has some connection with desire. Prima facie, anything that we all desire is “good,” and anything that we all dread is “bad.” If we all agreed in our desires, the matter could be left there, but unfortunately our desires conflict. If I say “what I want is good,” my neighbour will say “No, what I want.” Ethics is an attempt – though not, I think, a successful one – to escape from this subjectivity….

    The theory which I have been advocating is a form of the doctrine which is called the “subjectivity” of values. This doctrine consists in maintaining that that, if two men differ about values, there is not a disagreement as to any kind of truth, but a difference of taste….

    When you meet a man with whom you have a fundamental ethical disagreement – for example, if you think that all men count equally, while he selects a class as alone important – you will find yourself no better to cope with him if you believe in objective values than if you do not. In either case, you can only influence his conduct through influencing his desires: if you succeed in that, his ethic will change, and if not, not.

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  80. Gustopher says:

    @Andy: There’s a lot of land in the big parks. If a crazed hermit lives in the woods where no one hears him, does he make a sound?

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  81. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Serious question: are those who voted for Obama, who intensified the drone war in the Middle East, evil? (And who oversaw a substantial number of deportations as well?).

    You were the one who first used the word. I think we have started tossing it around too lightly. The subject is serious enough that I’m going to resist writing on it, knowing that I don’t have the time at the moment.

    What I did wish to hint at was that being a single-issue voter in a binary system does not absolve one from the rest of what was voted for. We all have blood on our hands because of our shared responsibility. Again, I don’t have the time to do the subject justice.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Side note: have you watched The Good Place? (There is an apt illustration of my point that I could cite if you have).

    No, I haven’t. I see that it runs for 4 seasons, which is a bit more time than I’m willing to invest! But if there’s a single episode you have in mind, I’m happy to watch it.

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  82. Kit says:

    @Kylopod:

    In either case, you can only influence his conduct through influencing his desires: if you succeed in that, his ethic will change, and if not, not.

    A decent man might glide past that statement, but it contains horrors.

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  83. @An Interested Party:

    Since such people believe that all abortion is murder, there is no winning argument that could ever be made to them about abortion…

    I made no claim about persuasion potential one way or another. I am discussing explaining behavior.

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  84. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Given these people are unreachable (unpersuadeable), also determined to vote as part of their ideology, I see no reason to mind their anger at anything I say.

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  85. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    I can’t make the evictionism argument and maintain intellectual consistency. My views on property are quite different from a Right Libertarian.

    Regardless of my views, pro-life people the fetus as a person from conception, so I hsve my doubts about it as a persuasion tactic.

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  86. Andy says:

    @charon:

    Given these people are unreachable (unpersuadeable), also determined to vote as part of their ideology, I see no reason to mind their anger at anything I say.

    I think many of them say the thing. The irony is that very few people are persuadable on abortion. Abortion is a difficult problem to discuss precisely because no one is persuadable.

    @Kurtz:

    I can’t make the evictionism argument and maintain intellectual consistency. My views on property are quite different from a Right Libertarian.

    Regardless of my views, pro-life people the fetus as a person from conception, so I hsve my doubts about it as a persuasion tactic.

    Yes, it’s a compromise that gives women agency over their bodies yet is able to recognize limited rights for the unborn in certain circumstances. Like most compromises, it is unlikely to make either side very happy.

    But my point in bringing it up is not about persuasion, just highlighting some of my own thinking.

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  87. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    There’s a lot of land in the big parks. If a crazed hermit lives in the woods where no one hears him, does he make a sound?

    I’ve actually read about several people who’ve done that or tried. A large percentage end up dieing from starvation, exposure or suicide. No thanks, I’ll keep my hypocrisy, modern amenities and enjoy the wilderness on my terms.

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  88. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Fair enough. I’ve said this before, but your posts are regularly some of my favorites. Even when I disagree, it falls into the respectful disagreement category.

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  89. Andy says:

    @Kurtz:

    Likewise, and thank you!

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  90. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Thank you for the link. I’ve saved it to Evernote for my own future reference. This thread is kind of dead, I took the liberty of replying at some length, and digressing a good deal, in the new Open Forum.

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