What Republicans Want Isn’t What they Get

Our two-party system distorts the representativeness of our politics.

Over the weekend, Kevin Drum, who has been battling cancer for years, retired from blogging professionally for Mother Jones and returned to blogging for free. I wish him well in both his health and his new venture.

In yesterday afternoon’s postHere’s What Republicans Do and Don’t Support,” he dug into the data from a new Vox/Data for Progress and produced this graphic:

He observes, correctly I believe, “If these issues become live, the right-wing media machine will be able to knock 15-20 points off any of them if they choose to.” This explains why he put issues with more than 2/3 support into the “Maybe” category. Beyond that, Drum offers some interesting analysis about why Republicans support some social programs and not others that I object to mostly at the margins.

Regardless, his chart reinforces a point I’ve been trying to make for awhile now: those who self-identify as “Republicans” are far more diverse than their representation in national politics would indicate. Supermajorities of people who think of themselves as “Republican” —and therefore likely voted to re-elect Donald Trump and sent to Congress people who pretended the election was stolen—support issues being championed by President Biden and his slim majorities in Congress and yet are vehemently opposed by those officials they elected.

It’s not that these people are too stupid or venal to understand that they’re being poorly served, although there’s surely some of that. Rather, it’s that two polarized parties are a poor vehicle for representing the will of 330 million people with complicated interests and belief systems.

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

Comments

  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    It reminds me of how Donald Trump ran against Republicans/conservatives in 2016. “Don’t Touch My Social Security” was a thing, and he delivered it.

    4
  2. SKI says:

    It’s not that these people are too stupid or venal to understand that they’re being poorly served, although there’s surely some of that. Rather, it’s that two polarized parties are a poor vehicle for representing the will of 330 million people with complicated interests and belief systems.

    OR, most likely, they put tribal/racial identification above policy preferences.

    12
  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s not that these people are too stupid or venal to understand that they’re being poorly served,

    Oh, I think that’s exactly what it is. Republicans are stupid. And Republicans are venal. In @Teve’s immortal phrase: Stupid people with shitty values.

    Should we have a true center-right party of sane people? Sure. The 5% of Republicans who’d join deserve better than they’ve got, but let’s not forget that it took decades to reach this point, and Republicans were warned a million times by liberals that it would end this way, and yet, they persisted. And still, despite liberals having been right about 90% of the time on issues, Republicans are still so brainwashed they foam at the mouth at the mere mention of liberals.

    14
  4. @Michael Reynolds: Speaking as someone who has argued that it is best that Republicans win nothing at the moment, I have to say that this is an overly simplistic assessment that is getting really, really tiresome.

    12
  5. charon says:

    I’ll give you might simplistic assesment:

    It’s not that they are stupid or ignorant or ill informed, it’s that they really do not care much about policy compared to what they do care about: going back to the 1950’s when white Christians ruled, MAGA.

    It’s tribal, it’s religious, we are in a religious cold war and policy is just not that significant.

    3
  6. charon says:

    @charon:

    Consider the Proud Boys etc., MTG, Lauren Boebert etc., QAnon etc reviving the Blood Libel – virtually all of these people are religious fanatics, you will never understand this situation unless you grasp the nature of the conflict: a religious cold war.

    5
  7. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Republicans are still so brainwashed they foam at the mouth at the mere mention of liberals.

    Because the GOP is a secular religion, WashPo, CNN, NYT etc. are regarded as spewing heresies – they should be burned at the stake for their crimes.

    3
  8. @charon: I think it is impossible to make a sweeping and definitive statement about 74+ million voters.

    I think that the structural conditions that lead us where we are matter.

    I think that if there was a legitimate chance to vote for a non-crazy center-right party a lot of people would do so (also: a lot of those 74+ million think that the GOP is a non-crazy center-right party, but that is another discussion).

    Do I think that the decline of influence (in a relative sense) of white, male Christians is part of what is going on here? Ab-so-lutely.

    And I am not defending the current GOP. I am not defending the GOP of the past.

    I am extremely concerned about the GOP’s turn towards illiberalism and its embrace of fabulism.

    Still, I am saying that as a political scientist who studies these kinds of issues that it is impossible to make a simplistic statement about that large of a mass of persons.

    I think that just deciding that they are all the same as the worst of them is creating space for even more polarization that will not help anything. (And, almost worse, it is empirically incorrect).

    7
  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    I don’t think it’s because people are stupid. Let’s take as given that, “you can’t fix stupid”. It’s sort of cast in stone. Thing is, you can change people’s minds about other things, like Trump. So at least some of those people didn’t support him because they were stupid. They supported him because they watched Fox News, or read Facebook posts all day longs by “friends” and friends of friends, and by people who paid to put it in their stream, and that “the algorithm” thought would be something they would comment on or “like” or otherwise show interest (remember, hatred is interest to the internet).

    Maybe what these people wanted was no abortions (I know of one case in point). Or lower taxes. And the “R” brand gave that to them, and that’s about as much as they evaluate. All those friends tell them that California is terrible (I once subscribed to that theory, living in WA), and so on. So it’s true. It doesn’t make them stupid. If they seek more information, they will find interesting stuff.

    My one case in point was asked by his stepson (my brother in law) to just look at another news source besides Fox, not even instead of. He’s a smart guy, and he quickly went from “Trump is fantastic” to “Trump is an idiot”. Which is an improvement, even though I think “idiot” is still not specific enough for what’s wrong with Trump.

    So the problem I have with this is that is in some sense victim-blaming. I can understand how some people carrying certain identities – gay, trans, Jewish, black, and so on -carry an enormous amount of resentment for the people I am calling “victims”, and that they have a really hard time with the concept that a person can be both a victim and a perpetrator. But that’s exactly the situation I see.

    The real problem children here are the propagandists, who have got a whole new set of toys that are extremely dangerous to our democracy, and who are being highly irresponsible in their use of those weapons. Thus it has ever been with new weapons, I think.

    4
  10. James Joyner says:

    @charon:

    they really do not care much about policy compared to what they do care about: going back to the 1950’s when white Christians ruled, MAGA.

    I don’t think any group of 75 million Americans can be assessed as a “they” with a singular motivation.

    4
  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    If I’d asked you ten years ago whether the Republican blend of Fox News, white and male grievance, primitive religion and gun love would lead to a violent attack on the Capitol, I don’t think you’d have said yes. OTOH I would have said it was a very distinct possibility. You look at systems, I look at people.

    I agree there are problems with the system. But no system can defeat a motivated population. It wasn’t the two party system, or the electoral system that made this outrage likely, it was the people. If you feed people lies and grievance, and if the people are sufficiently stupid and venal, this is what you get. I’m on-board with complaints about the choices made two centuries ago by the Founders, but systems do not force people to believe transparently false lies.

    The Q Shaman is not a product of our political system, he’s a product of lies and grievances long-nurtured, going back to 1968 and to Saint Ronald Reagan and to Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Falwell. Did the system force Nixon to follow the path of white grievance? No. Did the system force the words, ‘welfare queens’ from Reagan’s mouth? No. Did the system write the Willy Horton ad? No.

    People did this, not some deus ex machina. What we have now is the result of choices freely made by humans. Very much including choices made by people who knew better but shrugged and thought, ‘Eh, what’s a bit of hate?’ We have agency, we are not puppets, and with agency comes responsibility and hopefully honest self-appraisal.

    I believe in personal responsibility. I voted for Nixon in 1972, it was a stupid choice made carelessly for stupid reasons. No one had a gun to my head. It wasn’t the fault of Madison or Jefferson, it was my fault. Mea culpa.

    9
  12. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @James Joyner:

    I understand why people educated in political science believe as you do, it’s what your profession is about.

    Here in reality, practically everyone who votes Republican is an evangelical Protestant, a traditionalist Catholic like the SCOTUS six, or an observant mainline Protestant (plus ulta-orthodox like the Satmar Hasidem).

    Practically everyone who is not in those categories, the casually observant, the non observant, the non religious, the Muslims, the non=Abrahamic religious has no use for the GOP.

    Practiaclly

    3
  13. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The Q Shaman is not a product of our political system, he’s a product of lies and grievances long-nurtured, going back to 1968 and to Saint Ronald Reagan and to Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Falwell. Did the system force Nixon to follow the path of white grievance? No. Did the system force the words, ‘welfare queens’ from Reagan’s mouth? No. Did the system write the Willy Horton ad? No.

    I believe in personal responsibility.

    Right… and wrong.

    Those people are indeed responsible for what they chose to do. BUT, from a systemic perspective, given that nature abhors a vacuum and that there were elections to be won by nurturing white grievance and Christian victimhood, someone was going to do it – and whomever did it was going to win in those years.

    5
  14. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think it is impossible to make a sweeping and definitive statement about 74+ million voters.

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think any group of 75 million Americans can be assessed as a “they” with a singular motivation.

    Those are strawman observations, obviously not every single person among 74M conforms to my generalization. But I still think my generalization captures the main essence of the present polarization situation.

    3
  15. Andy says:

    @charon:

    Here in reality, practically everyone who votes Republican is an evangelical Protestant, a traditionalist Catholic like the SCOTUS six, or an observant mainline Protestant (plus ulta-orthodox like the Satmar Hasidem).

    That is a bold claim that I would like to see evidentiary support for.

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think any group of 75 million Americans can be assessed as a “they” with a singular motivation.

    Yep.

    And I think the reality is that most voters do not closely follow politics and are not nearly as invested in gnats-ass debates about politics and political outcomes as the people commenting and writing on this blog are (to include myself). The vast majority of Americans have more important things to do. And thank goodness for that.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: To add another probably tiresome oversimplified observation (even though I see it as brilliant and insightful 😉 ), Drum is seeing that people want to want things that they may not want to have–especially if their having them means that you and I (depending, of course, on who “you” and “I” are) get them, too.

    A $1600 Covid-relief check will be boon to my situation (at least, in my case, my charitable giving, as I don’t really need the money at all even though I’m on a “fixed” income), but I don’t really think that guy down the street should get one. (And while I’m at it, is he even a citizen? I don’t quite know why, but he looks foreign to me.) Same with free vaccines, free testing, etc., etc., etc. (Maybe I’m too cynical.)

    1
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: You and I went back and forth (in a good way, I think) about whether Policy matters. I claim that 70-80% of either party don’t really care about policy and this survey supports my assertion, at least on the Republican side.

    2
  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “… a lot of those 74+ million think that the GOP is a non-crazy center-right party…”

    In my mind, that’s a yuuuge problem. Sadly, I think it stems a lot from the notion that Trump was some sort of aberration. While I will agree that he was an aberration, that wasn’t the problem with the GOP.

    1
  19. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The Q Shaman is not a product of our political system, he’s a product of lies and grievances long-nurtured, going back to 1968 and to Saint Ronald Reagan and to Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Fallwell.

    The QAnon Shaman is likely the product of a chemical imbalance, and he is not representative of anyone or anything. He’s the wrong crazy person to use as a marker.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are similarly complete loons, but elected and not wearing buffalo hats and painting their faces (aside from the usual makeup), they might be a better starting point — why the hell did the Republican electorate decide these two freaks were worth electing?

    But I would go with Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan. Because they are viewed as respectable in the Republican Party, and they are happy to promote anything, true or false, to help their party.

    6
  20. reid says:

    @charon: I would have agreed and attributed it to a reflection of relatively good times, but even a pandemic with 400k+ dead people doesn’t phase them. The tribalism is very strong.

    3
  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: “That is a bold claim that I would like to see evidentiary support for.”

    As an observant mainline Protestant, I would, too, but I will admit that it is possible in some parts of the US. Charon may simply live in such a niche population.

    2
  22. Gustopher says:

    Our friend James Joyner writes:

    It’s not that these people are too stupid or venal to understand that they’re being poorly served, although there’s surely some of that.

    As a rule of thumb, people don’t make rational decisions — they make emotional decisions. Rational decisions are hard, and we build all sorts of heuristics to avoid having to do hard things. Life Hacks to avoid thinking.

    You (the abstract you, not you in particular) drink Coke because you always drank Coke, and the marketing jingle stuck in your head, and it presents an image of a traditional, old-fashioned American Life with a few more brown people and no one caring that they’re brown.

    Few people weigh the pros and cons, and say that due to the taste profiles, Coke pairs better with sweeter foods, while Pepsi pairs better with salty foods or something like that.

    While politics has no consequence — a result of the filibuster preventing all governance, and years of gridlock — politics doesn’t matter to people, and so they don’t think about it.

    You might think 450,000 dead Americans is a consequence, but the entire response to the pandemic has been to downplay and ignore the consequence, so no one has to be held accountable. It’s the flu. Doctors are saying everyone died of covid for the money. They were going to die soon anyway. It’s all a hoax. Sure, you’re grandma died, but that’s really very rare.

    And, for a lot of people, they buy that. And then there is no consequence. So decisions are made emotionally based on self-image — identity politics, if you will.

    @Andy:

    And I think the reality is that most voters do not closely follow politics and are not nearly as invested in gnats-ass debates about politics and political outcomes as the people commenting and writing on this blog are (to include myself). The vast majority of Americans have more important things to do. And thank goodness for that.

    I’m not sure I thank goodness for that.

    6
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:

    someone was going to do it – and whomever did it was going to win in those years.

    Sure, but that’s where the shitty values come in to play. Why did no one in the GOP stand up and say, ‘No, we are not going to profit from lies and hate?’ The need to win does not excuse sin.

    When LBJ decided to support Civil Rights he knew it would damage his party’s prospects. And he said as much and still did the right thing. But no one in the GOP had that degree of moral courage.

    When John McCain remonstrated with the woman who claimed Barack Obama was a Kenyan and a bad man, he was praised for his great moral courage, as a noticeable outlier in his party. When simply telling the truth is seen as worthy of a medal you see how far the GOP had fallen. Now we’ve seen it still had much, much further to fall.

    And now Republicans are doubling down on lies and hate because they’re terrified of the monster they created. The monster we fucking told them they were creating. You know, it’s like the morality of slavery – when you had no reason to question the morality of slavery (Rome) you get a pass. But when you’ve been repeatedly exposed to compelling moral argument and still persist in doing evil (let’s say, South Carolina in 1860) you can and should be held accountable for the choices you make.

    There is not a Republican or ex-Republican who has not heard liberals warning that they were feeding racists, warning that they were preaching lies, warning that they were building a monster. They were told, and they knew.

    I welcome the (belated) help of people Like Rick Wilson and Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot and our gracious hosts to kill the monster they made. And I am all about redemption. But first comes confession, and that is in very short supply. Confession is good for you, it’s liberating, it allows you to be honest.

    8
  24. Monala says:

    @charon: I read a comment somewhere – maybe at LGM – that said that Donald Trump has such fierce support because he (at least in his rhetoric, not always in his actual policies) is a Jim Crow Democrat (aka Dixiecrat). Dixiecrats supported various social safety net provisions – as long as they were limited to white people. When Democrats when all in on Civil Rights and Republicans began flirting with the Southern Strategy, the supporters of the Dixiecrats had to decide which was more important to them – racism or social safety. They chose racism, but were never fully committed to the other aspects of the Republican agenda.

    So when Trump came along, promising social safety net support with a huge dollop of racism, they were overjoyed. They finally could get both sides of what they wanted!

    6
  25. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You and I went back and forth (in a good way, I think) about whether Policy matters. I claim that 70-80% of either party don’t really care about policy and this survey supports my assertion, at least on the Republican side.

    Yes, it was in a good way. I guess I would clarify that most people care about policy in a very broad sense or for things that are salient to them personally and not necessarily the details.

    Some examples – my brother who runs the family construction business is mostly a Republican because in general, he believes they are better for his business when it comes to business policy. He works 60-80 hours a week and doesn’t spend a ton of time on the minutiae of politics or the daily news cycle – he’s too busy. He voted for Biden because he hates Trump (he did vote for Trump in 2016), but voted GoP for most other offices.

    I have other relatives who are on both sides of abortion policy and that is what is salient for them. For my step-mom, environmental and public lands policy is the salient issue for her – she votes Democratic and also doesn’t pay much attention to other concerns. Another relative is relatively poor, took social security early but isn’t yet old enough for Medicare. Obamacare is really important to her even though she can’t really afford it. She votes Democrat for that reason.

    But there are exceptions. My best friend was a lifelong Republican, grew away from the GoP over the years in a similar manner as James Joyner, and because of Trump and the Trumpist faction and what happened at the capital, he is now dedicated to voting against any Republican regardless of circumstances in order to punish the party. His reasoning is no longer about policy.

    So I do think that policy continues to matter a great deal, but for regular, normal people who don’t follow politics daily, it tends to be about specific salient issues or a general sense of which party is likely to be better in general on things they care about.

    2
  26. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I think Mike is half-right but I’d rather put it that Americans are stupid when it comes to our civic duty. The fact is, we’re lousy citizens. We really want to be part of a reality TV program that confirms our prejudices and wishes. Trump-voters bought the reality show he was peddling but the rest of us bought other reality shows too: the ones where we really were high-minded, noble, dedicated to human rights and democracy.

    We can start putting everything back together again by acknowledging that our wishful thinking has to go out the window and we need to stop acting like the richest trust-fund kids in the world. Every one of our problems is solvable and we certainly have the financial and material resources to do it. What we apparently don’t have is the will to accept change and simply get on with it.

    “A republic – if you can keep it.”

    “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”

    5
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Some data:

    The 2016 National Election Pool Exit Survey had Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton among white evangelicals by a staggering 79% to 16%. In that exit survey, white evangelicals composed 46% of Trump’s coalition compared to 9% of Clinton’s coalition.

    Gotta admit, 46% of any coalition is a huge amount

    1
  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Maybe what these people wanted was no abortions (I know of one case in point). Or lower taxes.

    I think you’ve nailed it. The positions shown on Drum’s chart can’t be understood unless you put them in a context of the things that 80+% of Republicans want. Lower taxes. Tighter immigration restrictions. Less urban welfare, more rural welfare. More abortion restrictions.
    No relaxation of restrictions on access to birth control. Preferential treatment of Christianity and Christians. Etc. It could easily be that the apparently popular positions shown (e.g. “free testing”) are so far down the pareto chart for individual R’s that they have no effect on voting behavior.

    3
  29. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: I thought this question would be easily answered: How many of Trump’s supporters were X, where X is “White Evangelicals” or “Conservative Catholics” and so on. Surprisingly difficult to find and my back of the envelope calculations extrapolating what I could find was obviously way off. Something that is marginally useful: White Protestants/Other Chistians* in PA voted for Trump 66% of the time and make up 36% of the PA population, White Catholics 57% (27%), White, Other 40% (7%) and White, None 32% (17%).

    All in all it doesn’t provide much evidence for or against there being a significant number of Catholics equivalent to White Evangelicals crazy-town coalition.

    *They took White Evangelical out separately and it was 81%, but I think the 66% included these.

    1
  30. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT:

    things that 80+% of Republicans want. Lower taxes. Tighter immigration restrictions. Less urban welfare, more rural welfare. More abortion restrictions. No relaxation of restrictions on access to birth control. Preferential treatment of Christianity and Christians

    Sure, but policies are immaterial. These registered Republicans still voted overwhelmingly for whatever candidate had an R in front of them despite the fact that they championed any policies that delivered on any of these*. What they supported were people who said the right words. Actual policies or results didn’t matter in the slightest.

    *Before you say they delivered on tax cuts, that is only true for the wealthy. In fact, the parts of the tax cut bills that benefited the middle or lower class were championed by the Democrats and treated as bargaining chips by the Republicans. Despite the Dems actually championing the policies they claimed to favor and the Republicans willing to toss them aside, these voters still reliably voted Republican. In other words, actually throwing policy “bones” to the voters had no effect. The only thing they cared about were words.

    2
  31. charon says:

    @Monala:

    The Southern Baptists split from the National Baptists in 1845 over the issue of Bible inerrancy, which was an indirect way of saying slavery is ok because it is in the Bible.

    Patriarchal religions tend towards sexism if not sheer misogyny, and people bigoted in some ways tend to have other bigotries also – so the sexism and homophobia tend to bring in xenophobia etc. too. Thus the Muslim ban, the Ground Zero “Mosque,” the border wall and various other bigotry policies that are prominent in the GOP agenda.

    @Andy:

    You might check out Pew Research surveys on attitudes, also exit polling.

    There are people who identify as atheist, agnostic, “nothing in particular,” or “spiritual but not observant,” various Eastern religions, very few people in these groups vote GOP, should tell you something.

    That is a bold claim that I would like to see evidentiary support for.

    1
  32. @Michael Reynolds:

    If I’d asked you ten years ago whether the Republican blend of Fox News, white and male grievance, primitive religion and gun love would lead to a violent attack on the Capitol, I don’t think you’d have said yes. OTOH I would have said it was a very distinct possibility. You look at systems, I look at people.

    This is a ridiculous argument. (I am not even sure it is an argument). It is a counter-factuals wherein in the past you are wise and I am dumb because you write stories and I study politics.

    I am not even sure what is supposed to prove or mean. I honestly don’t know what I would have said in 2011 on this subject, and neither do you.

    You come across as didactic and more than a little arrogant. Don’t get me wrong, I like having you around. I think you say interesting things and it is useful to have pushback. But you take the notion that you “know people” to a ridiculous point of caricature.

    Maybe you think I talk too much about systems, but people operate within systems and those systems shape their options and behavior.

    Also, it is just plain silly to pretend like political science doesn’t study people.

    You are smart enough to know that your statements are too broad and simplistic.

    6
  33. @charon:

    I understand why people educated in political science believe as you do, it’s what your profession is about.

    You know, when conservatives dismiss experts on any number of things (say, climate or masks or whatever) and substitute their own “common sense” liberals claims that they are denying science.

    Recognizing the limitations of political science versus climate science, I still would ask: do you not see what you are doing here?

    You are substituting your personal anecdotal evidence as an argument against folks who trained and worked for decades in the field.

    I am not saying that makes us automatically correct, but I am saying “hey look at my anecdotes and my interpretations thereof” is not a great counter-argument.

    5
  34. @Michael Reynolds:

    I believe in personal responsibility. I voted for Nixon in 1972, it was a stupid choice made carelessly for stupid reasons. No one had a gun to my head. It wasn’t the fault of Madison or Jefferson, it was my fault. Mea culpa.

    A) How in the world does anything I have ever said suggest that the responsibility for a particular person’s vote is because of structure?
    B) Is the Framer’s fault you were voting for president.
    C) Is it the structure’s fault as to why you have the choices you have–certainly as to how many you have.

    I think a lot of this is the difficulty folks have in looking at mass behavior v. individual choices.

    And there is simply no question that structures bind and shape choices and that mass behavior is driven by a panoply of variables making simplistic generalizations difficult if not impossible to make.

    3
  35. Kathy says:

    Remember Kathy’s First law of Politics: It’s only wrong when the other party does it.

    This means it’s right only when my party does it.

    So maybe a lot of Republicans want Policy X, but they’ll oppose it if it’s Biden or Pelosi who puts it forward. It’s not right if your party doesn’t do it.

    One of Ayn Rand’s real contributions was to point out that one can reach erroneous or contradictory conclusions while thinking with flawless logic, if one’s premises were in error.

    5
  36. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Recognizing the limitations of political science versus climate science, I still would ask: do you not see what you are doing here?

    You are substituting your personal anecdotal evidence as an argument against folks who trained and worked for decades in the field.

    I am not saying that makes us automatically correct, but I am saying “hey look at my anecdotes and my interpretations thereof” is not a great counter-argument.

    (My emphasis).

    “Political science” is not really “science” but climate science is really science. Apples v. oranges. art v. science.

    1
  37. charon says:

    @charon:

    It appears to me that political science is a methodology based on its premises, and IMO a major premise is that voters vote their values and perceived interests.

    But what happens if votes are based on stubbornness or refusal to acknowledge a mistake? Or just from loyalty to a malignant narcissist leader? The methodology seems at best unhelpful in such cases.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @charon:..“Political science” is not really “science”…

    Yikes!

    1
  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Goota admit, I would never have described Rand’s logic as flawless, no matter the caveats. I read most of one her books and even at 18 years old found it to be poorly written nonsense. Of course, that was four decades ago when I was a just a kid, so maybe i overreacted.

  40. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Taylor, Dr. Joyner –

    With all due respect, I think both of you give too much legitimacy to people who are irredeemable. I don’t want to find common cause with them. There is no way. I have no desire to own military grade weapons for myself. I have no desire to keep gay and trans people from enjoying the same rights I do. I have no desire to telling a woman, any woman, when she can start a family or even carry a baby to term. I have no desire to suppress the votes of black and brown people.

    I have no desire to have common cause with them. And, fortunately, I don’t have to. I have, since 2018, created my own bubbles for life, if not information. I still view Fox News regularly. I still watch Newmax regularly. I need to know what the “other side” is thinking.

    But as far as my life is concerned, I live in a self-created bubble where I don’t have to interact with racist, xenophobic, anti-gay, anti-abortion zealots. Additionally, I don’t have to deal with any Q or Election Fraud bullshit. It’s a much better way of living. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that. I’ll vacation in Hawaii, not Florida or New Orleans. I’ll ignore anyone from #Cult45 or MAGA. I’ve found it much better for my mental health.

    I have no hope for a good percentage of the 74million people who voted for that sociopath.

    5
  41. MarkedMan says:

    @charon: That’s just silly.

    1
  42. @charon: While on the one hand I don’t want to chase a reader off, on the other why are you reading this site?

    While I fully understand the experimental limitations of social science in general, I will also note that the systematic study of politics is a tad more rigorous than “stuff I think I observed and therefore think I know.”

    3
  43. @EddieInCA:

    With all due respect, I think both of you give too much legitimacy to people who are irredeemable.

    See, I think this is the crux of the discussion. I am not trying to redeem anyone. It is not about conferring legitimacy. I am trying to explain behavior. And I am trying to show how the structure of our institutions put us where we are.

    A simple question: would some substantial number of the 74 million who voted for Trump rather vote for a non crazy center-right party if they knew that such a vote would matter? All the evidence suggests yes. That means that we are dealing here with something more complicated than just 74 million QAnon true believers. (Or “traitors” or “Good Germans” or whatever else folks want to call them).

    And it do t have to legitimize them. The system does that because they cast legal votes for constitutionally created offices.

    But more importantly, what kind of honest analyst would I be if I just said “I don’t like what those people did so I don’t have to try and understand how we got where we are.”

    If what everyone wants from us are unending posts on how horrible all Republican voters are, this is the wrong site. And it has nothing to do with wanting to “redeem” anyone.

    I think we are in major trouble and potentially headed for a significant crisis of government. I can either use my training and experience to sort out why and hopefully contribute to a way forward or I can sit here and shake my fists in rage at the GOP. I choose the former as much as there are times I want to do the latter.

    Part of what vexes me is that I am offering diagnoses and solutions. Even if they are difficult to achieve, it seems to me more productive than shaking my fist.

    9
  44. @EddieInCA:

    I have no hope for a good percentage of the 74million people who voted for that sociopath

    Two thoughts:

    1. There is a percentage about whom I would agree. I am not sure what that percentage is at the moment.

    2. Regardless of how much hope or I have, and for whom, they are still going to be in this political system with us. So I would encourage all of us to do whatever we can to encourage reform. Sadly I know that my Senators and Rep won’t be interested, but maybe yours will be.

    5
  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala: Good observation on the Dixiecrat angle.

    2
  46. @charon: I would suggest that if you can think you can boil down an entire discipline down into two brief paragraphs, you might be oversimplifying a tad.

    (And I have written thousands of words that touch on these subjects).

    1
  47. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But can you read minds? That is where your biggest input, voters perceived interests lies.

    Can you predict the events that will affect these 3 months, from now? 6 months? 2022?

    Do you know what Mitch McConnell will do next week? Next month? Or DJT?

    Climate scientists have measurements available of greenhouse gas concentrations, the physical properties are known as are the relevant laws of nature.

    1
  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Absolutely! On the other side of that equation, fundamentalist denominationalists and independent congregations are more likely to identify as “evangelical” than mainline Protestants in my experience. And fundamentals held that evangelicalism as a theological construct was “too liberal” until the time of the Moral Majority. The congregations in the Baptist sect I grew up with broke relations with the largest Christian school in the area–even though a highly regarded woman in our congregation taught there–because it had decided to accept membership in the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Political weight need threw the balance in the direction of Evangelicalism, or so it seems to me anyway. It may be that pull toward right wing politics shifted the balance in the other direction for more mainline Protestants, but I stopped following church politics by that time–and had left the evangelical church I had attended by then, too.

    1
  49. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While I fully understand the experimental limitations of social science in general, I will also note that the systematic study of politics is a tad more rigorous than “stuff I think I observed and therefore think I know.”

    Perhaps even two or three tads more rigorous.

    But, is it more rigorous than economics?

    Less rigorous than psychology, I would hazard, where they are able to run controlled tests.

    (I do, however, look forward to the day when political scientists are conducting proper scientific tests for their theories, and we discover that the real reason we have two Dakotas is that North Dakota is the control group for whatever is happening in South Dakota.)

    6
  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Sadly, she pointed out that flaw in what people do with what she wrote, not as a point of philosophy per se, so many people miss it. 🙁

    1
  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I wouldn’t think so. My brother developed the practice as a teenager of throwing books away opened to where he stopped reading them. Atlas Shrugged was tossed out halfway through John Galt’s big reveal.

    (Yes, I understand that’s an isolated anecdote, so it comes with the standard caveats. 😉 )

    1
  52. Gustopher says:

    @charon:

    Climate scientists have measurements available of greenhouse gas concentrations, the physical properties are known as are the relevant laws of nature.

    You are greatly overestimating the knowledge of climate science.

    There are measurements, and they can be fairly precise. There are also measurements in political science (we call them elections, generally).

    And there are massive unknowns in climate science. We are facing a climate crisis and are stumbling along.

    It’s entirely possible that this will be like dealing with a viral epidemic with only a 1500s medical knowledge. The quarantine of towns where the epidemic is raging will do good, but the leeches will do less good.

    2
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: You are far tougher and more open minded than I am. I find myself incapable of watching Fox or Newsmax for more than a minute or two at the time. (BTW, “at the time” is idiomatic to me, and I don’t know where or when I switched from “at a time.” My ex-wife asked why I say it when we were dating.)

    At the gym, Fox is on the television and I only note the chyrons for my information without closed captioning or sound. That’s usually my only contact point, and it is sufficient for my limited needs.

    2
  54. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    2. Regardless of how much hope or I have, and for whom, they are still going to be in this political system with us. So I would encourage all of us to do whatever we can to encourage reform. Sadly I know that my Senators and Rep won’t be interested, but maybe yours will be.

    I appreciate, sincerely, your desire to encourage reform. But we just witnessed two Supreme Court seats taken from the Democrats, against all historical norms. We just witnessed a President repeatedly break the law, without consequences. We just witnessed a party, the GOP, stand idly by while members of the GOP attacked the very foundations of our democracy, without consequences, so far.

    So please forgive me for not buying into the idea that there are solutions for this type of lawlessness. One party has completely abdicated governing and leadership. Almost 500K are dead because of it.

    There is no reform possible against such evil.

    1
  55. EddieInCA says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It’s BECAUSE I watch Fox and Newsmax that I have such little hope in reform or change. On Fox this morning, Pete Hegseth was actually DISAPPOINTED AND UPSET that Biden is trying to reunite orphaned Mexican kids with their parents. Seriously.

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/pete-hegseth-bristles-at-bidens-executive-order-to-reunite-orphaned-children-with-their-parents/

    As long as there is a media landscape that outright lies to citizens, with zero repercussions, there is no hope for any kind of reform. Those people are living in an alternate reality. There is zero hope for common ground.

    1
  56. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    You are greatly overestimating the knowledge of climate science.

    This is getting pretty OT here, but you have no idea what I know about climate science.

    I may not know a lot about climate, but I do understand the greenhouse effect very well, and my comment was specifically addressing the greenhouse effect.

    We can divide global warming into two areas – first, the greenhouse effect which is the driving force, the cause. Second, the consequence, the observed warming, ocean level rise, etc etc.

    As I indicated, the greenhouse effect of excess heat retention is very straightforward and can be calculated to within a few percent. All you need are the concentrations of the various gases (measurable), the properties of those gases (likewise well known), and knowledge of the relevant laws of thermodynamics, blackbody radiation, and heat and mass conservation, all very non-controversial.

    Where things become complex and uncertain is what happens after the excess heat is retained. Change the amount of heat retained and it takes literally decades for the bulk of the effect to show up, because the world’s oceans are such an enormous heat sink, it takes a long time to warm them up – literally decades. Meanwhile the heat is moving around because of ocean currents both horizontal (e.g., gulf stream) and vertical (e.g.,surface water sinking into the depths). Over this lengthy time feedbacks will show up, mostly positive, such as methane releases from permafrost melting.

    But all this uncertainty is separate from the greenhouse effect which is, as I said, a very straightforward calculation, at least at the current time when the greenhouse concentrations are well known.

  57. charon says:

    @charon:

    Forgot to mention, I spent my entire career working with thermodynamics and heat and mass transfer, this is not exactly arcane stuff to me.

  58. @charon: As I said, I am well aware of that constraints on political science.

    But you know you are just starting an unnecessary fight by playing these games, and I am too tired at this point to play.

    2
  59. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I just want to say that agree almost entirely with your comments here, particularly regarding the inherent problems and fallacies of painting one’s tribal enemies in the worst possible light with an overly broad brush. It’s really become overwrought lately, especially all the quasi-religious language about redemption and confession – and quite ironic coming from some quarters.

    I’m reminded of an episode of Star Trek TNG, where a wounded Romulan on the Enterprise decided he would rather die than receive a life-saving transfusion from “Klingon filth” and so he does die. To me, that’s what a lot of people here sound like, but I suspect this is mostly performative.

    As for political science, I think it is an important and legitimate discipline and like most of the social sciences, it has more explanatory power than predictive power.

    2
  60. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    These registered Republicans still voted overwhelmingly for whatever candidate had an R in front of them despite the fact that they [never] championed any policies that delivered on any of these. What they supported were people who said the right words. Actual policies or results didn’t matter in the slightest.

    I think you must have been watching a different Supreme Court than I was. From where I sit, Trump delivered Christian theocracy, anti-abortion, and firm opposition to Affirmative Action for the foreseeable future. And those R Senators they elected will deliver unwavering obstruction to anti-racism, wealth redistribution, and sane restrictions on firearms. Oh, and they will keep the unions down and out, which is bad for their base but what their base actually wants.

    I agree that there is a lot of bait-and-switch in the way the R’s use their voters, but it is by no means all bait-and-switch.

    2
  61. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Analysis of systems is necessary and useful–until it isn’t. I am a firm believer in systems thinking but an even bigger advocate of the 80/20 rule. The best analysis is only going to meet the mark about 80% of the time and 20% of the time it will bring you to false conclusions.

    Systems and people have a synergistic relationship that work in a recursive manner. While systems have only one input–the people. The people have multiple inputs outside and independent of the incentives of the system. The system could actually do exactly what it was designed to do but human factors can produce discomfort with the system which compel the people to change the system to something that yields less than optimal outcomes.

    When measured against an affirmative action–like voting–it is fair to generalize about 74 million people. Same for the 80 million Biden voters. Those 74 million people were presented with a stark choice–and chose that they were against the Democrat. Whatever the specific reason–it basically translates to “not the Democrat”

    This is not explainable by the typical methods and structures of political science thought. What we now know–is that you can put a burning plate of shit with an R next to a Democrat–and 47% of voters will vote for burning shit over the Democrat.

    This is the 20% window where the model that works 80% of the time breaks down. It boils down to this: 40 years ago–the GOP decided that outcomes were more valuable to them than the system. Anything that is between them and their preferred outcome…political parties, the system itself–is the enemy. It started subtly–Government is the problem. Once that took hold it was quite easy to make Democrats the problem. Now that THAT has taken hold–the current leap which we are now in…is Democrat voters are the problem.

    I know radicalization when I see it–I watched it for 20+ years in the Middle East. Look at any Iranian sentiment survey on any event in the Middle East–ANYTHING bad that happens the US either did it or is behind it. Meanwhile, their sub-par crappy leaders always get a pass because they are the only thing standing between the people and the devil-worshiping/hell-bound Americans. Sound familiar?

    When you insert radicalized people into a system–the system will fail. Mainly because radicalized people alter the function of system to reinforce their beliefs. The system serves their psychology instead of an objective purpose that organizes resources to DO something. This is how you know what you are dealing with. Trump was successful not because his policies had a point (in the sense you and I would understand a point). The point of everything Trump did was to reinforce the psychology of his Base. Period. The man knew his audience that’s for sure.

    Unfortunately, there are no good options for dealing with this. There are a few things you can do with the system in the short term–but over the long haul the radicalized people will, through the same process of recursion, again corrupt the system. So yes, lets do some reforms to buy ourselves some time–10-15 years. But the elephant in the room (pun intended) isn’t going away.

    The bottom line is this–you can not have a marketplace of ideas where everything is fair game. I realize we are in sacred cow territory but the 80/20 rule doesn’t give a damn. There is always the thing that makes you stronger, left unchecked, is now your downfall. 10-15 more years of Democrats are baby-murdering communist pedophiles that worship satan and you will see violent attacks against law-makers and voters. Right now these people think there is still a pathway to achieve their ends through politics. Once it becomes futile that it isn’t–that when the car bombs and mass shootings will start.

    Democrats will need to follow their own advice–they have bigger problems than achieving their policy preferences. The will have to use their window of power to do some reforms to buy us some time and figure out how to resolve the paradox of free speech and propaganda that the current version of civilization is presenting us. China/Russia took the easy route. If America is exceptional she will figure it out. The free world is depending on it.

    8
  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    A simple question: would some substantial number of the 74 million who voted for Trump rather vote for a non crazy center-right party if they knew that such a vote would matter? All the evidence suggests yes.

    Let me preface this by saying I’m tickled to death to see a bunch of liberals taking the “don’t care about no expertise, I know what I think” side of this argument. Well spotted. They should stop digging, even if political science is less empirical than microeconomics and less predictive than physics.

    That said, your “simple question” there isn’t all that simple, because the key modifier “center right” is doing all of the work. If you leave it out, and just ask whether they would vote for a non-crazy party over a crazy party, we know the answer — they went for the crazy. Worse yet, if you define “center right” objectively, based on policies and platforms, the answer is still no, because the current Democratic Party is center-right on the world scale, and did not get their votes.

    In essence, you have to define center-right to mean “a group current Republicans would be willing to identify with” to get the answer you assert — at which point the argument is circular, and no longer about crazy vs. non-crazy, or any objective* sense of right versus left. It’s still interesting to ask the question “What could bring the various flavors of Trump voter to vote for a Democrat”, but I suspect that (a) for many flavors the answer is “nothing could”, and for most of the remainder the answer has nothing to do with crazy/not or left/right.

    *The current conflation of bigotry with left/right positions is not helping clarity here. Dr. Joyner likes the phrase “social conservative”, but he deploys it even in contexts where it pretty clearly refers to mere racism or sexism or homophobia or theocratic tendencies. These are not issues of the political left/right spectrum in a democracy; they are issues of people who are fundamentally opposed to some of our nation’s founding principles.

    7
  63. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32: +1 Nicely said.

    4
  64. EddieInCA says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I wish I could upvote this more than one time.

    3
  65. flat earth luddite says:

    @EddieInCA:

    There is no reform possible against such evil.

    Well, if we are going to identify the actions/decisions/support of 47% of the American adult, registered voting, population, as unrelentingly evil, there is, in fact a possible reform.
    Are you, personally, willing and able to pull the trigger? I know I’m not.

    And no, Michael, this was NOT a rhetorical question. Personally, I don’t have any internal switch that says, “Oh, no, we CAN’T do that.” Thankfully, most everyone in this group (and society in general) came equipped with that overrev limiter.

    @Jim Brown 32: @DrDaveT:
    Thank you both for being here. You both speak with a clarity I lack.

    Finally, thanks to Dr. J and Dr. T for hosting this site, and for giving us all a lot to think about. We may not always, or even often, agree with you, but I know I appreciate the work you do here.

    5
  66. EddieInCA says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    Well, if we are going to identify the actions/decisions/support of 47% of the American adult, registered voting, population, as unrelentingly evil, there is, in fact a possible reform.
    Are you, personally, willing and able to pull the trigger? I know I’m not.

    Thanks for the response. My larger point was that I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to deal with it. I can ignore it. I live, work, and travel to areas where I can avoid most of MAGA world. Even when I go work in GA, I stay in Atlanta, and, again, am able to avoid mostof MAGA world. In Texas, I work in Austin, so same there.

    As to pulling the trigger… only if my life was in danger, or my wife or dogs. Yes, I’d shoot a man trying to hurt my dogs.

    2
  67. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @EddieInCA:
    We’ll have to disagree on whether or not you have to “deal with it.” It’s an interconnected society and world; you ignore the Vandals outside the gates at your peril.

    I admire (and if I’m honest, envy) people like you who will defend yourself and yours. I never needed that much of an excuse in my wilderness years.

    2
  68. @Jim Brown 32: I appreciate the comment.

    I agree that radicalization is going on right now and it is very dangerous.

    I also would point out that if the good liberals are all going to say that all 74 million Trump voters are evil/traitors/whatever, then we are going down the radicalization path themselves.

    4
  69. Can I point out to everyone the following:

    It is impossible (and extremely unhelpful for a host of reasons) to talk about millions of people as if they are one homogenous block.

    I think that was the central point of conflict that spawned the conversation.

    Linked to that is that mass behavior is shaped, very much, by the systems in which those masses find themselves, often in ways they themselves don’t see or understand.

    (and the conversation will continue).

    3
  70. @Andy:

    As for political science, I think it is an important and legitimate discipline and like most of the social sciences, it has more explanatory power than predictive power.

    I would not argue with this. But I think that the main goal of science is understanding and explanation and not prediction. But that is a longer conversation.

    1
  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    What, me arrogant? Shocking allegation.

    You don’t want to confront the fact that as a conservative, as a Republican voter, you helped create the monster. You voted Republican despite knowing full well it meant supporting racists. True or False? Did you not know, in which case it casts some doubt on your professional acumen, or did you knowingly support racists and misogynists because you told yourself there was a larger cause? It’s one or the other. You knew or you didn’t.

    You and James and Boot and Rubin and all the rest now want to say, what, moi? How dare anyone suggest that a poli sci professor in Alabama should have known what Reagan was about? How dare I suggest moral accountability for decisions you made? But I’m the arrogant one. Uh huh.

    I really don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to admit that you, as a Republican voter, as a very well-informed Republican voter, as a teacher who explained politics to students, were part of the problem. Because with every R vote you cast, you were part of the problem, and the hole we’re in now is one you helped to dig.

    2
  72. @Michael Reynolds: This is a dodge, Michael, because that was not the initial discussion.

    Yes, I voted for Republicans in the past (although it has been a while). Yes, I was in denial about how bad racism was in the US in general and within Republican politics in particular (I have also changed my mind on the best ways to address that topic). I have changed my mind on a number of issues, as one should when presented with evidence. I also came to the conclusion that a number of things that the GOP claimed to stand for, they don’t.

    Of course, for you to pretend like me confessing to you changes anything is, not to put too fine a point on it, utter bullshit.

    I could explain why I thought what I thought and what has changed and hasn’t in my own mind in ridiculous detail. How that would change my professional analysis of American politics, I am not certain.

    I am not sure how stating any of that makes one whit of difference in whether it is analytically useful to pretend like 74 million people can be treated as one undifferentiated whole.

    And if you can’t grasp why a structure that leads to solely two choices might cause people to choose Rs and not Ds, then I would suggest that you are not as imaginative an observer of people that you think you are.

    5
  73. Tim says:

    The 33% of Republicans who support a $15 minimum wage are almost entirely those who are trying to live on less (and sometimes significantly less) than $15 per hour.

    Of the remainder who are against it, I think a big chunk of them are misguided souls who truly believe that raising the minimum wage just means that their skilled labor will be diminished by having those they consider unworthy make closer to what they make. They don’t even understand that the end result will be an inevitable rise in wages for them as well.

    Trump isn’t the only Republican who loves “the undereducated.”

    2
  74. Andy says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Good post Jim, but I do think there is another side to that coin.

    The collective “othering” of masses of people based on dubious criteria, which is what is going on with characterizations of “Republicans” – however defined – here and in many other places.

    It worries me because I’ve seen where this leads in other countries that have less stable governance and systems than ours does – but our systems are under assault and weakening.

    In one of my early jobs as an intelligence analyst, I collected online data from forums and the early internet used by people in the former Yugoslavia before and during some of the spasms of ethnic cleansing that occurred there. This was part of an effort to not only track what was happening, but also to better understand how people who lived together and were neighbors and friends for half a century could so suddenly turn to ethnic violence. The language used to justify the violence, and “other” the enemy tribes is eerily similar to the language that some are using here.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. One example to illustrate an alternative is the viewpoints about the various Muslim communities around the world following acts of Islamist violence. Whenever that happened, those on the left side of the US political spectrum urged caution to not lump all Muslims together even when significant numbers of Muslims (but usually not majorities) either openly supported such attacks or at least sympathized with the attackers and their motives.

    Urging people to not lump Muslims together and not engage in collective blame was the right response. It’s wrong to paint everyone from that faith as religious zealots who are willing to murder for their religious beliefs.

    That kind of necessary, cogent, and accurate nuance about assigning blame for acts and beliefs and recognizing the complexity of large groups disappears when it comes to “Republicans” and “Christians/Evangelicals.”

    If people here really and truly believe that the 74 million people who didn’t vote for your guy are “iredeemable,” “traitors” or any of the other names that have been repeated recently, and this isn’t just in-group virtue signaling, then this country is already fucked.

    People who are actually unable or unwilling to separate the bad and criminal Republicans from the merely wrong and misguided Republican, or from those who simply have a different opinion – as rational people did when evaluating the Muslim diaspora – and is also not able to find any accommodation except their surrender, then violence is unavoidable. I’ve seen how this plays out and it’s not pretty.

    3
  75. @Andy:

    If people here really and truly believe that the 74 million people who didn’t vote for your guy are “iredeemable,” “traitors” or any of the other names that have been repeated recently, and this isn’t just in-group virtue signaling, then this country is already fucked.

    This is one of the things I have been trying to say.

    Thanks.

    1
  76. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And if you can’t grasp why a structure that leads to solely two choices might cause people to choose Rs and not Ds, then I would suggest that you are not as imaginative an observer of people that you think you are.

    What I am is a Jew, ethnically at least, and from early teens on I got the full diet of Holocaust history. All those Germans with a hard choice: Nazi or Communist? do I say something or do I remain silent? Do I turn Mr. Frank’s family away, or do I take on terrible risk? My officer says to pull the trigger and watch the bodies topple into a ditch, do I?

    When Trump was elected I pushed my wife (a shiksa) to move overseas with me and try at least to bring our transgender daughter and our Chinese daughter with us. She thought I was overstating the threat. She doesn’t think that anymore. It worked out – barely. It may yet turn worse. Jews are the canaries in the coal mine. We smell the gas before gentiles do.

    I appreciate and respect your statement above. I think you think I’m out to knock you down a peg. That’s not it. I genuinely admire your learning – I think I know where that came from. (Guessing. . . education?) But analysis is a different matter. There are lot’s of educated folks, experts who are wrong, and all have at some time been wrong. The willingness to look honestly at past error indicates one all-important thing to me: this person learns. This person learns and this person pursues the truth. A willingness to acknowledge error and keep on searching is a rough definition of a scientist.

    If you think I’m a prosecutorial asshole to other people, I am so much harder on myself. I have a long list of selfish, stupid, reckless, cowardly things I’ve done. I know the hand I was dealt at birth, and through my childhood and young adulthood, and I have very few excuses for my behavior. But I also know that I found my way out of most of that, and did so precisely because I followed the rule that lies are for other people: never lie to yourself.

    @Gustopher seems to think I have contempt for working people. From my perspective Gus, like a lot of people, patronizes working people. He thinks I’m attacking from outside, from atop my ivory tower. I’m furious at those people, not patronizing, because those are my people. Do you have any idea how deep-seated racism and anti-semitism was (is?) in the average restaurant? It wasn’t subtle. And yet it wasn’t everyone. Lots of people, working people, single moms hanging on by a thread, nevertheless found ways to be open-minded and kind. If I thought ‘those people’ couldn’t do better I wouldn’t be angry at them.

  77. @Michael Reynolds: The more comprehensive response from me to the overall conversation is here and here.