Yes, It Is Appropriate To Think Of Donald Trump As a Fascist And Demagogue

Given his rhetoric, it's fairly clear that Donald Trump is drawing from a poisonous political well. So there's no point in failing to acknowledge reality.

Trump Nixon V

In yet another example of his continuing devotion to intimidation and authoritarian tactics, Donald Trump suggested in a speech just prior to the long holiday weekend that people report on their neighbors:

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump said late Tuesday that everyday Americans should monitor their neighbors for questionable behavior.

“The real greatest resource is all of you, because you have all those eyes and you see what’s happening,” he told listeners in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“People move into a house a block down the road, you know who’s going in,” Trump continued. “You can see and you report them to the local police.”You’re pretty smart, right?” he asked his audience. “We know if there’s something going on, report them. Most likely you’ll be wrong, but that’s OK.

“That’s the best way. Everybody’s their own cop in a way. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it.”

Trump’s remarks expand on his recent calls for surveillance of America’s mosques for potential terrorism.

He also criticized President Obama late Tuesday for not monitoring the nation’s Islamic worship centers for extremism.

“There’s something going on in the mosques and other places,” Trump said. “There’s some nastiness, there’s some meanness there.

“[Why is President Obama] so empathetic on not solving the problem?” the outspoken billionaire asked.

“I call him the great divider,” Trump added of Obama. “I am going to be a unifier. I’m going to be the best protector. I’m going to fight like hell for this country.”

This is just one example of the way that Trump is handling criticism. Last week, he threatened to sue the SuperPAC supporting John Kasich over reports about the plan they have to go after him if they “defamed” him. In reality, of course, the fact that Trump would quite obviously be considered a “public figure” under the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan makes it incredibly unlikely that any such lawsuit could succeed, but that’s not the point of this kind of threat. Instead, as he has in the past, Trump is clearly attempting to intimidate a critic into silence, or to at least soften the tone of the attack. This is, of course, with Trump’s history up until now, and it reminds one of authoritarians of the past, as The New York Times’ Timothy Egan notes:

[O]ver the last three months, in listening to plans of the Republican presidential front-runner and the views of his increasingly thuggish followers, I’m starting to have some dark fears should Donald Trump become president.

Take him at his word — albeit, a worthless thing given his propensity for telling outright lies and not backing down when called on them — Donald Trump’s reign would be a police state. He has now outlined a series of measures that would make the United States an authoritarian nightmare. Trump is no longer entertaining, or diversionary. He’s a billionaire brute, his bluster getting more ominous by the day.

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before,” he said in the demagogic spiral following the Paris attacks. “And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule.”

What’s he talking about? In his words, he wants to implement “the unthinkable.”

(…)

Like any good authoritarian — Soviet or banana republic — Trump concocts plots and dark doings to scare the quivering masses. And no one on the public stage is better at the Big Lie this year than Trump. PolitiFact found that 75 percent of his so-called factual statements are “mostly or entirely false.” The other 25 percent were “half true” or “mostly true.” His score in the flat-out “true” column was zero.

But that doesn’t stop him. The more lies he tells, the more popular he is with a large part of the Republican base that lives in a world of made-up horror and blunt force solutions.

The fact that Trump is mirroring the language of authoritarian dictators going back well into the worst parts of the history of the 20th Century, combined with the fact that he’s leading in the Republican polls both nationally and in the early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida, makes it hard to dismiss what he’s saying as just the rantings of a crazy uncle like many of us were doing in the past. Say whatever you will about Trump, but his success in the polls, which may or may not translate into success at the polling place or caucus, indicates that he is saying things that a significant portion of the Republican Party agrees with. The fact that he’s also tapping into some of the worst aspects of American politics just make it all the more concerning, and it has caused many commentators, even many pundits on the right who seem to clearly recognize the danger that Trump poses to the Republican brand to begin pushing back not just by attacking Trump on substance, but by increasingly using words like demagogue and fascist to describe his rhetoric and the political movement it seems to be inspiring. Perhaps the most notable recent example of this push back against Trump comes Ohio Governor John Kasich:

The gloves are off in the fight between John Kasich and Donald Trump.

Well, technically they’ve been off since last Friday. But the Kasich campaign released a Web ad Tuesday directly attacked Trump with a darker tone than any other candidate has used so far to go after the business mogul.

The spot features retired Air Force Col. Tom Moe speaking at an event in Ohio, the same day Trump held a rally in Columbus. Moe, who the Kasich campaign identifies as a former Vietnam POW, paraphrases a quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, taken from his lectures after World War II.

“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims should register with their government, because you’re not one,” says Moe, to an ominous soundtrack. “And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s okay to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you. And you better hope there’s someone left to help you.”

Here’s the ad:

Commentary’s Noah Rothman, who has been quite critical of Trump in his own right, argues against describing Trump in this manner, though:

You might be inclined to call this creeping wickedness fascism, and I might be, too. But prudence and decency demand that we take a step back.

First, while it might be a rather fine distinction to make, it is nevertheless important to note that fascism is not synonymous with Nazism. To cheapen that militant, authoritarian, genocidal system of social organization by using it to describe an entertainer is careless at best. Trump has done nothing to deserve the indictment but to talk. If we are to define down the charge of totalitarianism to mean belligerent speech, then conservatism will have become no better than the spoiled adult-size children who populate college campuses demanding safe spaces to protect them from intellectual exercise. Were Trump to attain power, the nation might be subjected to the darkest impulses that animated history’s Tojos and its Francos, but that day is not today.

Second, even if this charge were a valid one, it will have precisely the opposite effect that I imagine those who deploy it wish that it would. There is a segment of the Republican electorate that does not evaluate Trump like they would a traditional candidate. For many, adoration of Trump less resembles traditional support for a politician and is more akin to fandom. The unfounded notion that their champion, the blank canvas onto which they’ve projected their dreams, is little more than the reincarnation of Father Coughlin will only foster sympathy for him and push them deeper into Trump’s camp. Those, like Kasich, who hope to chip away at Trump’s appeal by linking him to a murderous ideology responsible for millions of deaths are not only displaying remarkable sanctimony and myopia but are making the task of discrediting Trump that much more difficult.

Donald Trump is not a national socialist. He’s not even an agitator of the likes of Charles Lindbergh, who was genuinely anti-Semitic, isolationist, favorable toward eugenics, and fiercely xenophobic. He is an entertainer.  While his rhetoric is of a dangerous sort, and his instincts are genuinely authoritarian, Trump has not earned the label so liberally applied to him. Not yet, at least.

To be fair, Rothman does have a point here. Some will argue that Trump’s rhetoric, while offensive, often racist, and certainly demagogic, doesn’t necessarily meet the traditional dictionary definition of fascism, although there some aspects of the way that the word is defined that seem to me to fit Trump’s rhetoric quite clearly. Additionally, the invocation of a political philosophy and movement synonymous with leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and, to some degree at least, Spain’s long-lasting military leader Francisco Franco, has become something of an Internet trope that tends to indicate that the person making the analogy is more like engaging in ad hominem attacks than serious political discussion. Rothman is also correct to point out that using this type of rhetoric to combat Trump, even when correct, likely doesn’t do much to dissuade his supporters, who seem to only adore him more the more he says things that are offensive or controversial. Given that phenomenon, an attack that links Trump to fascism is likely to mostly appeal to people who already dislike Trump and are unlikely to support him, and not at all likely to cause those who have been strongly committed to him for some five months now to change their minds.

It strikes me, though, that Rothman’s argument is more about the strategy of whether or not to publicly call Donald Trump something like a fascist or, as I have done, compare him to past American political agitators such as George Wallace, than it addresses the truth about whether or not he actually fits the definition of a fascist or a demagogue. If you look at the details of his statements on public policy, and his comments about Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, and others, as well as the things he says and proposes about people who disagree with him, Donald Trump most certainly comes across as a fascist, a demagogue, or at the very least a modern day incarnation of people like the Strom Thurmond of the Dixiecrat Era and the George Wallace who ran for President in 1968. Even taking the worst of Republican and Tea Party rhetoric, Trump goes a step further, and always seems to be pushing the envelope of radicalism. To ignore this is to ignore reality.

At the very least, I think Rothman is incorrect to dismiss Trump as a mere “entertainer.” For much of Donald Trump’s public career, I suppose, this has been an accurate description of him, something I can attest to given the fact that growing up in the NYC area in the 1980s means that I’ve seen the Trump phenomenon from the beginning. Back in those days, Trump was very much the entertainer, with his displays of ostentatious wealth, the beautiful wife he eventually dumped for a younger woman, and ambitions that seemed to have no end. Indeed, Trump was being asked about a career in politics as early as the late 1980s. Trump’s public image took some hits over time, especially in the 90s thanks to messy divorces and financial troubles, but the style, and Trump’s ostentatious style and admittedly remarkable ability to play the media game better than virtually any celebrity out there remained. By the early 2000s, Trump was back as a media star and bigger than ever thanks largely to The Apprentice, and Celebrity Apprentice, which were often more displays of the Trump brand and Trump’s media stardom than anything else. Trump used that stardom to extend his “brand” and his empire further, with new building projects around the world, golf courses, and even a winery in Virginia.

On some level, it was fun to watch all of it unfold, and, yes, Trump was a supreme entertainer and media manipulator so when he wrote books in the early 2000s expressing political opinions a lot of people just seemed to dismiss it something a celebrity said. Even Trump’s brief flirtation with a Presidential campaign in the early days of the 2012 cycle, which was concerned primarily with allegations regarding the President’s birth, seemed to be more entertainment spectacle than serious political venture, especially since it was all capped off with an epic take down of Trump by President Obama at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner that was taking place just as SEAL Team Six was preparing for the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

That, however, was then. This is now.

Donald Trump isn’t just an entertainer now, he’s a candidate for President of the United States, and one that is doing very well in the polls. If he were someone down at the bottom of the pack like Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, or Mike Huckabee, it would be easy to dismiss. He’s not at the bottom of the polls, though, he’s at the top and has remained there for months now. Dismissing him as a mere entertainer as Rothman does, while likely meant as something of an influence, also tends to discount the seriousness that his dangerous rhetoric ought to be viewed with. It’s possible that Trump’s popularity will not last much longer, or that he will be unable to translate that popularity into votes, but for now he should not be dismissed and neither should the dangerousness of what he represents and the fact that it is garnering so much support among the members and supporters of a major American political party. Moreover, I’d suggest that if analogies to Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco are inappropriate at this time, and they may well be, it still seems to me to be entirely appropriate to equate Trump with the likes of Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest from Chicago who rose to fame on the back of radio sermons dripping with Antisemitism. Charles Lindbergh, whose aerial heroics must be balanced by the political views he embraced in the 1930s, and George Wallace, who led the last major reactionary political movement in American politics. Those three men are remembered for the dangers they posed and only one of them ever ran for political office. Trump is saying things very similar to what they did, and he’s leading in the polls. That ought to cause people to be concerned, and while I can’t speak for others I know that I am.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    Doug–it’s the logical result of the conservo-entertainment complex. It’s as if Rush Limbaugh were to run for president.

    Donald Trump has been steeped in this world, where you can make up whatever you want, because it’s all a barrel of laughs, and hey, I was just making a joke, and who cares if you rile up some lunatic shooter who takes what you say seriously and goes after some poor schlub who happens to fit his idea of Enemy of the Day?

    For these people, reality doesn’t exist. You’re right when you say Trump is a master media manipulator. It’s a self-contained world where truth doesn’t mean anything and the only thing that counts is how many fools in your audience you can convince of whatever story you make up about yourself. Carly Florina got into the habit of lying to herself and others–pretending that she was a “great CEO” at H-P and Lucent. Now it’s easy for her to say that she saw an abortion of an 8th-month-old baby on the Planned Parenthood tapes. It fits the story she wants to push, so she’ll say it–even if everyone shows her there is no instance of such film in any of the tapes. She’s probably even convinced herself she saw it–which shows that sincerity has nothing to do with validity.

    Forget right vs. left. Our problems are between those who think there is something called Truth that you shouldn’t lie about and those who look at Reality as just another thing to manipulate for power. Hey, so what if we’re making up stories about Black people/Islamic people/Jews/whatever! As long as I get more money, more adoration, more power, All is Good.

    THAT’s the background from which Donald Trump is deriving his strength, and THAT is the morally corrupt viewpoint that he is spreading like AIDS.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    This serves as an indictment of a significant portion of the GOP base…that they would support this odious blowhard and the poison that come out of his mouth speaks volumes…

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    Trump is a fascist but he doesn’t promise a better world. He’s like an American ISIS. His lure is purely based on resentment. Trump voters love the way America is right now–they just want to be on top, pushing everybody else around and walking away from any consequences. If they have to punish immigrants or organize mobs to beat up dark-skinned voters on election day, they’ll do it, complaining and whining about their lot in life as each blow falls. They’re no different than investment bankers chortling over ripping off their clients and then complaining about class warfare when someone says something mean about them in public. It’s about the privilege of the stalker, the public menace, the scumbag, the troll…

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans are trying to turn this country into an authoritarian plutocracy.
    But make no mistake…it’s not just Trump; there is a host of SCOTUS decisions that lead to geared toward that, as well as a Republican Congressional Caucus that is trying to do the same.
    If you vote Republican, that’s what you are voting for.
    Period.

  5. Scott says:

    In Texas, we have a right wing radio talk show host (an entertainer) who is now the Lt Governor. He also wants to be Governor. So don’t dismiss the Trump because he is an entertainer.

    As for fascism, it is one thing for the rhetoric to fly but watch out for the next step: Support of establishment power whether it be big business, big religion, etc. Hitler didn’t get to power without the support of the business and property elite or the Lutheran establishment. Franco had the support of the Catholic church.

    Right now, I just can’t take Trump seriously. I just can’t believe it is not some kind of performance art. I may be wrong. I hope I’m not. And how will we know when the moment is upon us?

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    First off, Trump is the crazy uncle at the T-day dinner, the fact that he has so many followers is reflective only of how absolutely bat guano crazy today’s GOP** has become.

    Rothman is also correct to point out that using this type of rhetoric to combat Trump, even when correct, likely doesn’t do much to dissuade his supporters, who seem to only adore him more the more he says things that are offensive or controversial. Given that phenomenon, an attack that links Trump to fascism is likely to mostly appeal to people who already dislike Trump and are unlikely to support him, and not at all likely to cause those who have been strongly committed to him for some five months now to change their minds.

    Secondly, I really don’t give a rat’s hiney about his supporters or what they think (a rather generous decription of their thought processes) These people are a gaping oozing abscess on the hind end of this country and it needs to be lanced and drained. NOW.

    Lastly, the only thing Rothman cares about is the brand name of conservatism in general and the GOP in particular, both of which at this point are deserving of a tarring so deep and thick, it will take years of scrubbing with very strong solvents to remove the stain.

    This is what FOX news has done for the GOP and they have Roger Ailes to thank.

    **it’s not just trump, listen to the rhetoric from all the gop candidates and the only difference is trump says it with a bullhorn while they with a dogwhistle.

  7. James Pearce says:

    for now he should not be dismissed and neither should the dangerousness of what he represents and the fact that it is garnering so much support among the members and supporters of a major American political party.

    Trump’s constituency is more concerning than Trump’s candidacy. He may yet flame out, although predictions on such a thing are getting more and more unlikely with his sustained (over months now) support.

    But that constituency will be around for a long time, and if Trump doesn’t end up speaking for it, someone else will.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Yes, Trump is a fascist. And worse, more than half of GOP voters either support this overt fascist, or his mini-me, Ted Cruz, or one of the several available theocrats.

    Decades of lectures from conservatives on how they represent freedom, they speak for liberty, they are the true children of the Founders, and now they are revealed as fascists and theocrats, racists and nativists. Which surprises me not at all. 47 years ago the GOP faced a fateful choice: to embrace the civil rights movement, or to exploit racial division for political power.

    We know the choice the GOP made in 1968. It was a choice validated by Ronald Reagan, he who rose to power on the backs of “welfare queens” and other coded language. And from Nixon and Reagan grew Roger Ailes and Fox News. Roger Ailes is the Goebbels of Republican fascism.

    And through it all, “good” Republicans stuck their heads in the sand, and cashed their blood money tax cuts, and went right on denouncing those of us using rude words like, “fascist.”

    This cannot all be put on Mr. Trump. Trump did not create the fascism at the heart of the Republican Party, he just exploited a pre-existing a condition. He is the logical heir to Nixon and Reagan, the child of Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes. .

  9. nitpicker says:

    “Trump has done nothing to deserve the indictment but to talk,” writes Rothman, as if every evil bastard didn’t start out talking before getting around to doing actual harm.

  10. Rafer Janders says:

    Oh, I don’t know, Doug. I think Trump remains something of an enigma, and while both sides of the political aisle have chimed in about his candidacy it isn’t clear at all that he is particularly or specifically motivated by fascism to commit his demagoguery…..

  11. Pch101 says:

    Fascism is a dictatorship with a corporatist structure. By that definition, Trump isn’t a fascist; he’s the modern version of a textbook Jim Crow Dixiecrat who stokes fear of the Other. We can denounce him for what he is without misusing terminology.

    In any case, it’s disingenuous to pigeonhole Trump as a particularly bad actor, when he is articulating many of the types of bigotry that are part of the standard operating procedure of populists within the Republican Party.

    The establishment Republicans thought that they could manage these xenophobic yahoos and throw them a few rhetorical bones in order to keep their votes. But the lunatics are now feeling their oats and want to run the asylum.

    The GOP leadership wrongly believed that birtherism and the rest of this nonsense would only hurt their Democratic opponents, so they have allowed it to fester and even encouraged it. They didn’t expect the monster that they had nurtured to turn on them.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    Rothman almost gets to the truth, which is simply that while Trump says things that are clearly fascist, he’s lying his arse off, so what he says is not evidence for what he believes or what he might do. That’s what makes this so entertaining. The Tea Party are tired of being lied to by the GOP establishment, so they’re embracing being lied to by billionaire Trump. Fracking hilarious.

    RW populism does tend toward racism and endorsing a strongman. Trump’s doing a great job of exploiting it.

  13. Joe says:

    @James Pearce: I think this constituency has been around for a long time. Like poverty, it will be with us always. From time to time, someone like Trump (or Wallace or Coughlin) gives it a voice and the rest of us are appalled, like we are appalled when we are occasionally truly confronted with the sort of abject poverty or wanton violence that is a constant way of life for millions of people we share the planet with. Hopefully, our electorate as a whole (or even as a Republican party) will bring a better voice to the table.

  14. SenyorDave says:

    My Personal Experience with a Die Hard Trump Supporter

    My stepson came over for day after Thanksgiving dinner. He has always thought Trump was great, he’s very into bling and showmanship. So we talked about Trump for about half an hour. No matter what I brought up about Trump, my stepson could excuse it. Even his latest thing about mocking the reporter, although he finally admitted that even he thought Trump was mocking the guy’s disability, he still excused. I also pointed out that since my wife (his mother) has a movement disorder, we (and I thought he) have a real problem with Trump making light of someone’s disability, especially since it hits home. Not my stepson. Trump does what he wants, and he’s fine with that.
    The re-tweeting of the racist fake “crime statistics”? Well Trump is very busy and it really was somebody else’s fault and … He’s never accountable. The conversation was pointless, and he interspersed it with occasional references to how Obama is anti-capitalist, and the greatness of America is 100% due to capitalism.
    He admitted that Trump does/says whatever he wants, and doesn’t know the details of policy. But Trump’s personality will fix everything. It was like listening in on alternate reality conversation. And pretty scary.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @SenyorDave:

    occasional references to how Obama is anti-capitalist

    68 straight months of private sector job creation or over 8 million jobs…compared to Bush 43 under whom zero net private sector jobs were created…If Obama is anti-capitalist then he’s failing miserably at it.

  16. JKB says:

    There is some similarity Trump’s popularity and the rise of Fascism in the early 20th century. Trumps bellicose rhetoric finds favor in the current revival of the goals of socialism as Fascism found favor in opposition to the Communist (socialist) push of the 1920s. It would be unfortunate if Trump won office, but if he does, it will have been the aggressive acts of the DemProgs to push their oppressive socialist agenda that puts him there.

    The fundamental idea of these movements— which, from the name of the most grandiose and tightly disciplined among them, the Italian, may, in general, be designated as Fascist— consists in the proposal to make use of the same unscrupulous methods in the struggle against the Third International as the latter employs against its opponents. The Third International seeks to exterminate its adversaries and their ideas in the same way that the hygienist strives to exterminate a pestilential bacillus; it considers itself in no way bound by the terms of any compact that it may conclude with opponents, and it deems any crime, any lie, and any calumny permissible in carrying on its struggle. The Fascists, at least in principle, profess the same intentions.

    ….

    As soon as the first flush of anger had passed, their policy took a more moderate course and will probably become even more so with the passage of time. This moderation is the result of the fact that traditional liberal views still continue to have an unconscious influence on the Fascists. But however far this may go, one must not fail to recognize that the conversion of the Rightist parties to the tactics of Fascism shows that the battle against liberalism has resulted in successes that, only a short time ago, would have been considered completely unthinkable. Many people approve of the methods of Fascism, even though its economic program is altogether antiliberal and its policy completely interventionist, because it is far from practicing the senseless and unrestrained destructionism that has stamped the Communists as the arch-enemies of civilization.

    Mises, Ludwig von (2010-12-10). Liberalism (p. 48). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.

  17. dmichael says:

    I found this analysis helpful in discussing “fascism” not as a political philosophy, which it is not, but as a phenomenon with multiple causes: http://weeklysift.com/2015/11/30/the-political-f-word/.

  18. Pch101 says:

    Incidentally, this appeal to bigots has its origins in the Southern Strategy. Notably, Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign included a stop near Philadelphia, Mississippi, which is not a city of brotherly love but is best known for being the place where three civil rights workers were murdered just sixteen years earlier.

    Reagan told this crowd that he supported “states rights.” I’m pretty sure that they knew what he meant. The GOP has spent decades trying to win over the xenophobes and racists who were alienated by Truman’s desegregation of the military and LBJ’s civil rights legislation. The plan worked, apparently.

  19. al-Ameda says:

    Americans SAY they want government to be run like a business, however, I doubt that they’d be happy with a CEO-type like Trump was running the federal government by making unilateral decisions to round-up and deport 12 million illegal immigrants, or build 1,500 mile walls at the Mexican and Canadian borders, etc.

    The myth of the avenging efficiency expert CEO remains strong, especially among Republicans, for whom it’s represents a romantic return to some Capitalist Nirvana that never existed.

  20. cian says:

    Whether Trump can be classified as fascist, is open to debate, I suppose, if you think words don’t count. What is harder to argue against is the growing sense that the country is sleep walking itself into a place of great darkness- Trump’s call out to his supporters to start spying on their neighbours is one thing; armed militias in Texas stalking Muslims is another; police forces the length and breadth of the country increasingly seen as nothing less than official vigilante forces, their sole purpose to monitor African Americans and other minorities, is a third. Just three items from a long list compiled by a frightened country taking a frightening turn.

    America has known darker periods and has survived them. A majority always emerged to call the country back from what seemed total collapse, but with the divide between blue and red states growing ever wider, and with the mainstream media abandoning their responsibilities, and the right wing noise machine turning up the crazy, I’m not sure that majority exists anymore.

  21. cian says:

    Whether Trump can be classified as fascist, is open to debate, I suppose, if you think words don’t count. What is harder to argue against is the growing sense that the country is sleep walking itself into a place of great darkness- Trump’s call out to his supporters to start spying on their neighbours is one thing; armed militias in Texas stalking Muslims is another; police forces the length and breadth of the country increasingly seen as nothing less than official vigilante forces, their sole purpose to monitor African Americans and other minorities, is a third. Just three items from a long list compiled by a frightened country taking a frightening turn.

    America has known darker periods and has survived them. A majority always emerged to call the country back from what seemed total collapse, but with the divide between blue and red states growing ever wider, and with the mainstream media abandoning their responsibilities, and the right wing noise machine turning up the crazy, I’m not sure that majority exists anymore.

  22. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    the aggressive acts of the DemProgs to push their oppressive socialist agenda

    Please elucidate; I’m fascinated to hear all about this oppressive socialist agenda. Or at least link to wherever right wing nut job site you copy and pasted your opinion from.

  23. Guarneri says:

    Thanks for the laughs, people.

    Now I have to go cling to my guns and religion, throw grandmas wheelchair over a cliff, bankrupt a few cities like Detroit, Chicago and San Jose, shout down a few conservative speakers on college campuses, sue “global warming deniers,” coverup for the Democratic mayor of Chicago as his police force executes a few blacks, confiscate guns “for my own good,” renig on my public employee pensions for lack of funds, and on promises I made to voters on funds for the poor and other services, and use my position at a State to sell influence……

    Well, that’s a full day. I have to check my calendar for tomorrow.

  24. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Well… Fascism in America. An endpoint of blind American Exceptionalism?

    When OTB and DailyKOS agree, you know that there is something going on that has now gone beyond the control of the GOP.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/29/1453681/-This-is-fascism-and-we-should-say-it-clearly-while-we-can

    Doug — As a Libertarian, if Trump should win the nomination, will YOU still vote for the GOP candidate for president?

    Please expand on your answer. Show all work.

    .

    (ps: D’y’all think Trump Il Duce saw “The Man in the High Castle”… and thought it was a guide?)

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @dmichael:
    Wow, that is a great link. Thanks.

  26. Gustopher says:

    By demonizing Hitler, and portraying him as the ultimate evil, we have created a culture that is completely incapable of recognizing someone who is appealing to the same base instincts. We claim Hitler was something exceptional and unprecedented, when the only unprecedented thing was the industrial scale genocide.

    We always forget about the other fascists. Generalissimo Francisco Franco is not dead at all.

    I’m not saying that Trump is going to be creating concentration camps, but the barbed wire will be gold plated, because he’s classy. And what will we do with the 12 million illegal immigrants if their countries of origin are unwilling to absorb 12 million people all at once?

  27. Monala says:

    Shining a spotlight on Trump’s demagoguery and labeling it as such isn’t about trying to dissuade his supporters, who won’t be dissuaded. It’s about reaching the low information voters, who might be tempted to vote for him because they know who he is and enjoyed The Apprentice. Among them are people who might be horrified by his fascist rhetoric.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @dmichael:

    discussing “fascism” not as a political philosophy, which it is not, but as a phenomenon

    I say the same about conservatism. That’s why it’s hard to define consistent conservative principles. Is Communism liberal? In theory and early on, yes. Is a Russian who wants to return to Communism liberal? No. He’s conservative.

    I’ve yet to see a definition of “Conservative”, at least a short definition, that isn’t clearly at odds with current reality. Conservatism is more a psychological leaning than a political philosophy.

  29. Bill Lefrak says:

    Ego tripper. Socialite. Trust fund baby. Park Avenue debutante. Vail and Aspen habitue. Womanizer. Reality TV celeb. Remarkably dumb and ineffective businessman for someone which such an of sorts reputation. Rode the wave of a big inheritance, OPM, three wealth manias and the bankruptcy code, to build a business orders of magnitude less than what a real businessman could have achieved.

    Fascist? Nah. You’re giving him way too much credit. He’s a new-age rabble rouser. A carnival barker. He’s tapping into a retarded demographic. It’s extraordinarily unlikely he actually believes any of the nonsense he’s been spouting. In the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, he probably could not even have spelled illegal immigration. But he needs to get through this farce of a primary if he wants to be president and when in Rome you have to behave like the Romans.

    The chances of him winning a national general election are about zero. But if somehow that happened, he’d be the lamest duck ever and the lease relevant president ever. It would be akin to Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian winning the presidency. Or Obama but without the lockstep underclass voting and without Franken and Stevens and then the reconciliation fiascos in the Senate.

    The only thing Trump could accomplish in the Oval Office is mugging for the cameras and making a fool of himself. He’d be in waaaay over his head. No part of his putative agenda would happen. Even Congress is not that dumb. Years later his presidency would be looked at similarly to the Jesse Ventura gubernatorial era in Minnesota. A laughable mistake that went nowhere.

  30. PJ says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Doug — As a Libertarian, if Trump should win the nomination, will YOU still vote for the GOP candidate for president?

    Please expand on your answer. Show all work.

    That’s not the question to ask, cause he’ll probably just say that he’s going to vote third party. I’d be more interested to know that if the GOP nominates a facist if he would then actively vote against that candidate in a way that actually makes a difference, i.e. vote for the Democrat. Or if not, if that’s because he thinks that Clinton is worse than a facist or there’s some other reason.

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    He’s tapping into a retarded demographic.

    The Republican base.

  32. James Pearce says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    Vail and Aspen habitue.

    What’s wrong with Vail and Aspen?

  33. jewelbomb says:

    “On some level, it was fun to watch all of it unfold”

    Nope…Not even a little bit.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    Trump is a symptom, not a cause. The problem is not him, but the voters.

    There is a great deal of anger in the electorate. There are a lot of people feeling disenfranchised – rural and working class whites on the Right, black people on the Left. And both groups are responding (however poorly) to actual, real-world problems. Working-class white people are losing status, they don’t like it and they are lashing out.

    If we (Dems) intend to win we should resist any notion that this is going to be easy. Whites are still 2/3 of the population and the worried ones are very, very motivated, rather more motivated than liberals who are busy whining that they’re stuck with Hillary. I suspect in a head-to-head, Rubio would hold an edge, and even Cruz or Trump will start with 40-45% of the vote.

    Arrogant dismissal of the concerns of whites who feel stressed, dissed and weakened, is foolish. The GOP holds the Senate, the House, the bulk of governorships and state legislatures. This ain’t over. It is not time for a victory dance.

    We should be pushing an economic message largely aimed at women. Any news cycle that is not about child care, wages, education, the environment, etc., is a bad day for us. We cannot afford bad days, let alone bad weeks or months. The Left needs to curb its suicidal tendencies, unite, and bring the conversation back to things that matter to voters.

    Don’t forget, if Hillary is going to win, and then to govern, she needs more Democratic senators, more Congresspeople, and she needs a mandate. We need a win, and a big win at that, which means we need some of those disaffected white people.

  35. Pch101 says:

    @Bill Lefrak:

    I avoid word salad due to the empty calories.

  36. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds: If this is true:

    Working-class white people are losing status, they don’t like it and they are lashing out.

    Why propose this?

    We should be pushing an economic message largely aimed at women.

    I got to hang out with some of my white, right wing relatives last week. I assure you, none of them can be won by “an economic message largely aimed at women.”

    They care about “child care, wages, education, the environment” not in the slightest and, indeed, are skeptical of liberal proposals on every single one of those subjects.

  37. Scott F. says:

    @James Pearce:

    James Pearce has the gist of it. Trump could drop from the race tomorrow, but his supporters would still be there and they are going to vote. Where is their support going to go? Steven and James would have us believe they’ll still find their way to one of the “plausible” candidates, but my sense of it is that this time will be different.

    For one, the “plausible” candidates aren’t that far removed on the political spectrum from the extremists. When even Kasich is calling for Judeo-Christian indoctrination around the globe, you know all your choices on the menu are from the same low-calorie family.

    For another, I believe the chickens have finally come home to roost after 35 years of bait and switch from the Republican party. The GOP primary electorate may not, in the end, go for the completely unprepared anti-establishment candidates, but it ain’t gonna be Bush or Kasich either. Look out for Cruz!

    Trump may be a demagogue, but Cruz is the truly dangerous one.

  38. Hal_10000 says:

    I agree with the analysis of Trump as a demagogue and fascist. I disagree with the portrayal of his supporters that way.

    Trump has tapped into some very powerful feelings in parts of the electorate. One of the things I hear from his supporters is that they are tired of political correctness and everyone being so sensitive about what they say. They like his “bluntness”. When he mocks a reporter for his disabilities or says Muslims are disloyal, they see that as speaking the truth that no one else will, as rattling the cage of political correctness, saying the kind of things that people used to be able to say.

    I think he’s also tapped into some fears of automation, immigration and technology taking away people’s jobs and futures. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there about where this country is going. A lot of people — very reasonable people — fear that their kids will not have it as well as they do. He’s tapping into that too.

    He’s also tapping into some resentment against “fact checkers”. There’s a faction of the conservative base that is tired of seeing “fact checks” that aren’t. Fact checks that check matters of opinion or things that haven’t happened yet (e.g., Politifact having to back off their previous conclusion that you could keep your health plan). There’s a perception that the media plays games of gotchya with politicians (which, to be fair, they sometimes do). And so when the media says Trump is lying, they see that as a vindication of him. If the fact-checkers think Trump is full of it, he must be saying something “they” don’t want to hear.

    The gripping hand, however, is that we are still a long way away from the actual primaries and most people aren’t paying too much attention. Trump is dominating the news and the only time most people hear about him is because the media is ticked off about something he said, which only makes them like him more. Maybe I’m over-optimistic, but I think, when voting time comes, the GOP’s flirtation with crazy will taper and they will, as they always do, go home with the sensible candidate.

  39. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “I got to hang out with some of my white, right wing relatives last week. I assure you, none of them can be won by “an economic message largely aimed at women.”

    They care about “child care, wages, education, the environment” not in the slightest and, indeed, are skeptical of liberal proposals on every single one of those subjects.”

    I think this is correct. Alienated working class white people would view such proposals as taking taxes away from themselves and giving it to others. It will be Hillary’s task to show them that these proposals benefit themselves (or at least their families).

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @Hal_10000:

    One of the things I hear from his supporters is that they are tired of political correctness and everyone being so sensitive about what they say.

    If they’re tired of political correctness and everyone being so sensitive about what they say, why do they demand that I say “Merry Christmas” or get so sensitive when I mention that black lives matter?

    Let’s face it, much of this whole anti-PC jive from these people is simply them being upset that they can no longer spout the nonsense they’ve been used to saying their whole lives without getting some pushback. They’re fine with speech codes — they just want it to be THEIR speech code that gets enforced.

  41. Cian says:

    @James Pearce:
    I’m not sure your relations are the people Michael’s proposal is aimed at. The woman in Kentucky who recently voted against her best interests (healthcare) is. And she did so knowingly. While her healthcare is important to her, it is not as important as stopping gays marrying, or as important as doing something to stop the takeover of the country by immigrants. However, should her governor follow through on his promise and end obamacare, she may change her tune, particularly if, on a weekly basis, as Michael suggests, she is informed as to who is to blame and how to get it back. It’s a long game and one democrats can win.

  42. SenyorDave says:

    @James Pearce: I would guess that they are not going to be swayed by anything in the short run. I wonder how many of them live in an alternate reality world. The one where 40% of Republicans now believe that Obama was president when the 2008 recession occurred. Or that 60% of whites now think they experience more racial discrimination than blacks do.
    The right wing message machine is very effective. You would think unemployment is 10%+ instead of 5%. I do believe that a large portion of the whites are pissed that blacks and Hispanics aren’t worse off. The old adage about some people being perfectly happy to live in a refrigerator box as long as their neighbor doesn’t even have a box seems to be coming into play.

  43. James Pearce says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    If they’re tired of political correctness and everyone being so sensitive about what they say, why do they demand that I say “Merry Christmas” or get so sensitive when I mention that black lives matter?

    The old “Tit for tat.”

    By the way, it’s not “politically incorrect” to say “Merry Christmas,” no matter how many right-wingers want to wear that like a badge of honor.

    (Who’s demanding you say Merry Christmas anyway?)

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @SenyorDave:

    The salient fact of American politics is that there are, at any given time, enough people to elect a president who would also volunteer to live with their family in a cardboard box under a bridge, and eat sparrows toasted on an old curtain rod, if you only promise them that the black-gay-foreign-liberal-Mexican in the next box over doesn’t even get the sparrow.

    Posted by: Davis X. Machina | September 04, 2008 at 12:32 AM

  45. gVOR08 says:

    Part of the Democrat’s problem is that conservatives blame everything that changes on liberals. Some time ago I read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. IIRC he blamed enclosure, urbanization, and industrialization in England on liberals. GOPs blame abortion on Dems, although there was no particular political push leading to Roe v Wade.

    Republicans are able to blame Dems for the effects of globalization, income stratification, and demographic shifts. They are able to blame Dems for the non-existent wave of illegal immigration and barely-existent inflation. They blame Dems, who mostly tried to sit it out on the sidelines, for gay rights. And it’s working for them.

    I don’t know what Dems should do, but they should certainly be pointing out that if you don’t like the direction of the country, that direction was largely determined by Republicans.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    We aren’t after the hard Right, we’re after the mushy middle. National elections are about 10% of the vote, the other 90% are decided. In fact, they’re about 10% of the vote in about 10% of the states – Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa. If we hold those states and add North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, we will have killed the GOP as a national party. Bear in mind we came within 5 points of taking Georgia in 2008, but lost by 8 four years later, despite demographics moving our way.

    Our coalition is hispanics, blacks, working single white women, college kids, Jews, gays and coastal elites. We want to shave off some of the white working class with practical policies that will actually make their lives better – wages, child care, paid leave, etc… And we want to reduce the tide of hopelessness and pessimism that fuels anger that in turn fuels support for the GOP.

    If Democrats spend the next 11 months talking trans rights, free college, micro-aggression, Syrian refugees, racial justice and open borders, we could actually lose. Even to Trump.

    We have abandoned (or are at least perceived as having abandoned) the white working class, and we need at least a share of those people. The essence of the thing is simply: will life be better under Hillary than under Trump/Cruz/Rubio. We need a positive, optimistic, can-do, practical message that will make people feel better, because if we can’t sell optimism the other side will sure as hell sell resentment, and scared people are perfectly capable of saying, “What the hell, let’s try the crazy guy.”

    We lost ground between 2008 and 2012, and then we lost more ground in 2014, all this despite the demographics going our way. Clearly something is wrong with our message, no?

  47. Hal_10000 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Oh, I agree. I’ve made that point myself.

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @gVOR08:

    Some time ago I read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. IIRC he blamed enclosure, urbanization, and industrialization in England on liberals.

    It’s kind of the inverse of Andrew Sullivan’s old shtick, where he would ascribe every desirable human trait to be an innate feature of conservatism….

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Our coalition is hispanics, blacks, working single white women, college kids, Jews, gays and coastal elites. We want to shave off some of the white working class with practical policies that will actually make their lives better – wages, child care, paid leave, etc… And we want to reduce the tide of hopelessness and pessimism that fuels anger that in turn fuels support for the GOP. If Democrats spend the next 11 months talking trans rights, free college, micro-aggression, Syrian refugees, racial justice and open borders, we could actually lose.

    Our coalition is Hispanics, blacks, working single white women, college kids, Jews, gays and coastal elites, but we’re not supposed to talk about civil rights, the cost of college, racism, or immigration?

    So, basically, we don’t talk about the issues that will motivate our coalition to get out and work and vote for us, in order not to piss of people who aren’t going to vote for us in the first place. Seems like a winning formula to me….

  50. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We need a positive, optimistic, can-do, practical message that will make people feel better…

    When I look at my fellow Americans, left and right, I don’t see much appetite for a “positive, optimistic, can-do, practical message.”

  51. Chip Daniels says:

    As a religious leftist, I am of course biased, but I do think that the universalizing worldview of religion can be useful in helping the working class recognize a common interest.

    The individualist ethos of liberalism (either the big or little L varieties) did a lot of useful work in liberating people from oppressive structures, but there is also something to be said for a shared vision, something in which our individual concepts of the good are merged to a larger picture.

    The stuff that Jonathan Haidt talks about, the communitarian ethos of the world’s great religions, these can be put to secular use to paint a picture of a society that is generous and confident in its ability to accommodate diversity and produce justice.

    Progressives can’t win with fear- that’s a small temporary tactic that fails in the long run. We can’t even win with self-interest, since everyone’s are in conflict with somebody. Obama won in 2008 by crafting a narrative in which black grievance wasn’t in opposition to the dreams of white people. We need more of that, not less.

  52. Kylopod says:

    Even though I’ve been arguing over the last few days that Trump is unlikely to win the nomination, I have a confession to make: I’ve been repeatedly having this fantasy that Trump ends up sweeping the primaries, he collects enough delegates to nab the nomination, the mainstream GOP press starts to panic, and after a few stray comments by some pundits and operatives hinting at the idea that the convention should just ignore the results and pick a more conventional candidate, causing a mass freakout on the right, the GOP establishment finally settles into the idea of Trump as the nominee, the convention is set up in Cleveland, a slot of speakers is introduced including Rubio, Kasich, Jindal, and a host of other figures who had previously bashed Trump, and they now all tout Trump’s business experience and talk about how he’s going to bring back greatness and about the corruption and incompetence of “the Clinton machine,” then after several days of this, Trump is introduced to speak, and he walks triumphantly across the aisle, and his speech is being aired all across the country, and he steps up to the podium and says, in front of America and in front of the entire world:

    “Fooled ya! This whole candidacy has been a joke, and you fell for it! I just did this to prove once and for all how dumb Republican voters are, and to destroy their chances of winning. Which I just have, ha ha ha! Of course Mexicans aren’t rapists and Muslims didn’t cheer on 9/11, but by giving me your support you just proved beyond any doubt you’re all a bunch of racist, backyards lunatics who are so moronically predictable you’ll believe someone who’s totally faking it! What a sad, pathetic bunch of a$$holes you all are, and don’t blame me: you brought this on yourself. And oh, one more thing: God bless America.”

    **********

    The above may just be a fantasy, but to be perfectly honest I’ve had a sneaking feeling ever since Trump’s 2011 flirtation with the presidency that it’s all one giant Borat-like social experiment designed to expose the GOP base’s stupidity and parochialism. Even if it’s not something that sophisticated, I still can’t bring myself to believe that his candidacy is anything more than a giant act, a work of performance art. Call me deluded, but even at this late stage I still refuse to believe he has any serious intention of ever becoming president.

    Truth be told, I’ve had similar feelings about other figures of the right–Ann Coulter especially, but if you think about it, it’s a style that goes back to Rush Limbaugh and it pervades talk radio. I’m not saying any of those people are closet liberals, but they do very often give the impression that they’re engaged in some bizarre type of trolling or performance art.

    This is not a quality I associate with any of the demagogues of the past. If you’ve ever read any of the monologues of Charles Coughlin (I have), he doesn’t sound like he’s doing performance art. Compared to most modern righties, in fact, he sounds almost intellectual. And the same is true about others on this list. I’m not saying they were necessarily “true believers”; some, like Wallace, were political opportunists to some degree. But whatever their motives, their behavior wasn’t especially trollish. They were simply extremists, or at least pandering to extremists for political gain. People who think that’s all what Trump is about are missing something, in my view.

  53. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Even before I read the comments, I kept being reminded of something von Clauswitz wrote about societies getting the governments they deserve…

  54. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    As much as I’d like to say you’re wrong, I just can’t get the words out. Sadly, we are living in interesting times. Can hardly wait for the 2017-2020 show, “Celebrity President” Or will it be “President Apprentice?”

  55. Kari Q says:

    @Kylopod:

    I imagine him stepping up to the microphone and just laughing the way Sideshow Bob did when elected mayor of Springfield. Except Sideshow Bob would do a better job as president.

  56. KM says:

    @Cain:

    While her healthcare is important to her, it is not as important as stopping gays marrying, or as important as doing something to stop the takeover of the country by immigrants.

    Betting on people coming to their senses is not exactly a winning combination for exactly because of your example. These kinds of voters have gotten screwed over again and again by the Republican agenda they continually vote for. They’ve been bled dry economically for decades and they willing to bend over for it again for the chance to stick it to the Others. Because when she loses her healthcare, she isn’t going to blame the Republicans, she”ll blame liburals like the echo chamber tells her and ignore any facts otherwise.

    How exactly do you propose to circumvent this built-in tribal explanation? It’s proven highly effective to date; what specifically can be done to persuade someone who willingly walks into a trap for the upteenth time?

  57. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: Yeah, it would be something if Trump were just trolling the Republicans. However, even if he were, there’s always the risk of getting caught up in it himself. I remember seeing an afterschool special as a kid about a teacher who tried an experiment with fascism in his classroom because his students couldn’t believe the Germans could fall for Hitler. The experiment spiraled out of control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave_%28experiment%29

  58. Monala says:

    @Monala: Or a better link: http://www.thewavehome.com/ – which begins with this quote from a student who went through the program, “Be careful who you follow, because you never know where they will lead you…”

  59. DrDaveT says:

    Why would Doug be worried about Trump being a fascist? He’s already assured us in a parallel article that rhetoric doesn’t matter, and individuals are ultimately responsible for their own actions. Whatever Trump says, it’s not his fault if his followers are inspired by it to go do evil…

  60. dazedandconfused says:

    I still hold Trump is a businessman seeking free publicity and indeed one who is seeking to be fired. He must be wondering how silly he is going to have to get to get off this trail.

    However his appeal is based on a desire for a strong man to fix our broken government. Code words for “fix the economy”. People have lost faith in our republican form of government, one that features a heck of a lot of democracy, because no matter how they vote nothing seems to change. There is no faith in Congress accomplishing anything meaningful and with good reason. When we elect people who are convinced government can’t do anything right we have a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s based on a notion that less government equals less taxes and takes all that has been built and maintained by our government for generations utterly for granted.

    There’s a reason democracy is rare and short-lived in history. When the people lose faith they go for a strong man and grant him whatever power he needs to affect change. The most efficient form of government is an intelligent, benevolent dictatorship. When people get hungry ( a condition very few Americans have ever had -most think that feeling in their belly that tells them they are ready for supper is hunger!) they don’t ask for efficiency, they demand it.

    Trump is unlikely to be that guy and we aren’t “there” yet. This is just the first sign our system is breaking down IMO.

  61. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: This is different. The other post was about things that happened to people at a Planned Parenthood clinic. This post is about things that could happen to Doug. Completely different.

  62. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    The Left need to stop being babies and focus. If after Trump, Cruz, etc…, they still need Hillary to come by and kiss their asses for them to be motivated, then they are inert.

    Are you simply blind to the fact that the Left is now mimicking the Right in demanding ever more ideological purity? Do you not see that the MSNBC/HuffPo bubble is as defining as the Fox/Limbaugh bubble? Are you so lacking in self-awareness and distance from your own assumptions that you can’t see that a lot of what we want on our extended wish list is alienating to voters who could otherwise be persuaded?

    We do not have the votes yet. We have lost legislatures, governorships, the House and the Senate. Let me say something that I doubt you’ve noticed: people don’t like the Campus Left. The more we hear in the next 11 months from chanting college kids or bloviating professors, the more likely we are to lose.

    Houston should have been a wake-up call, a classic example of overreach leading not just to a failure to advance, but to losing major ground. Not only did we not prepare the ground, we totally overlooked the rather glaring fact that a major component – black voters – was not on-board with us. Overreach.

    “Our” side must not be defined by campus lefties, it should be defined by working women and their agenda, because their agenda can travel and campus leftism can’t. People broadly like the idea of some help with child care, access to health care, equal pay, a living wage. And they throw up in their mouths every time they see some pampered college kid chanting this week’s buzzword.

    Every day Hillary wastes pandering to Leftwing extremists is a day she’s not winning new voters.

  63. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    People broadly like the idea of some help with child care, access to health care, equal pay, a living wage.

    But don’t like Obamacare, expanded Medicaid/Medicare, minimum wage hikes, pointing out women should be paid more, increased maternity leave, implementing paternity leave, etc. They like the theory but not the application… or perhaps I should say, the applicators.

    I understand where you’re coming from but without specifics, how do you plan to get undecided people to accept these things and get over the icky libural thing? Hillary could promise partially subsidized child care to every woman in America for a year and will get nothing but scorn for pandering and being fiscally irresponsible. She could propose a law prompting tax breaks for companies that offer onsite child care or pay for it for their employees and will get hit with accusations of burdening small businesses. How do we save the messenger from getting shot?

    Are you so lacking in self-awareness and distance from your own assumptions that you can’t see that a lot of what we want on our extended wish list is alienating to voters who could otherwise be persuaded?

    By this logic, we will lose them next election (2 short years) if we don’t give them what they want. Or the next. Or the next. This millstone is currently hanging around the GOP’s neck, where they sold their soul to the TEAs/fundies and now can’t be rid of them least the votes go bye-bye. We need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes. Yes, we need fence sitters but their views will most likely alienate them for a very long time. We can’t afford a Dem version of the TEA Party…..

  64. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    stop being babies and focus.

    This, I think, will make a better slogan than “I have a positive, optimistic, can-do, practical message.” (Isn’t it, in some way, already Trump’s message?)

    Are you so lacking in self-awareness and distance from your own assumptions that you can’t see that a lot of what we want on our extended wish list is alienating to voters who could otherwise be persuaded?

    I have often asked myself this same question of the activist left and the incontrovertible answer has to be yes. God, yes. You don’t have to be a knuckle-dragging Reaganite to see that much of the left’s social justice agenda, while well-intentioned, is total folly. Forget about the persuadables. I’m already persuaded and I’m not on board.

    But….

    “Houston should have been a wake-up call”

    Houston was a minor battle in a larger war, and considering how it relied on a pretty bogus media campaign, no major cause for alarm. “Losing major ground?” Take the long view. In most places in America, the kind of discrimination prohibited by the CRO is already inconceivable, with or without ordinances to that effect.

    Is the result concerning? Yeah, but no need for a fresh pair of underwear. It’s not yet open season on minorities in Houston, and it probably never will be.

    Let me say something that I doubt you’ve noticed: people don’t like the Campus Left.

    A-frigging-men, although some of the worst aspects may not actually come from colleges but from online communities of a more diverse (and uneducated) perspective.

    But I have to disagree here:

    “Our” side must not be defined by campus lefties, it should be defined by working women and their agenda,

    Our side shouldn’t be defined by any one demographic’s agenda. Not “red states” and “blue states” but the “United States.” Maybe I’m just an Obama homer, but I think that’s what put him over the top in 08, and though he hasn’t actually lived up to that (thanks mostly due to hardcore opposition), I think it’s a message still worth fighting for.

    Here’s a real quick revision that will make this pitch fly off the shelves: “It should be defined by working families.”

  65. bookdragon says:

    @michael reynolds: Speaking as working mother of two, my agenda isn’t limited to “what’s in it for me?” and implying that is is insulting. The agenda that motivates me is “What will result in a better world for my children?” and that is NOT limited to economics. Safety matters – and that includes not only domestic security and sane foreign policy, but justice. ‘No justice, no peace’ may be an old leftie chant, but there’s a lot of truth in it. I don’t want them to grow up in a society where it’s okay to gun down black kids or threaten Muslims, and I certainly don’t want to grow up thinking that ‘keep your head down and don’t advocate for any change that might upset someone’ is the way to be a responsible citizen.

    If that’s the message you want me to give to my kids, why not just say that I should tell them to sit out politics entirely until they’re 30 or so? Because, you know what? I almost did. I volunteered for Tsongas bank in grad school, and when he didn’t make it and all I heard was the sort of ridicule coming from you now, I gave up on the Dems. Since I’d been raised in a GOP family, but the party walked out on me somewhere in the mid-80s, I pretty much gave up Period. It was over a decade before next time I did more than vote, i.e., got out and volunteered with GOTV efforts, and it sure as heck wasn’t because the candidate was offering the same middle-of-the-road centrist “ooo, don’t lean too far left” BS you’re advocating.

    Everyone left, right and center promises people stuff. They just do it in different ways. Dems talk about providing assistance. GOP talks about taking it away from ‘those’ people so they won’t be a drag on the economy thereby keeping the ‘deserving’ white working class down. Which message do you think the demographic you’re advocating targeting will vote for?

    You want to win, don’t tell our candidates to be milquetoast centrists afraid to champion issues that the up-coming voters in my kids’ (old enough to care but too young to vote) and my nephews’ (newly voting age) generation care about. For them it isn’t just economic issues, although those matter, but issues of justice. They are young and want to be part of something bigger than themselves, something that makes a better world. You want a ground game – they are the foot soldiers. But if Dems look weak and afraid to stand up for principle, we will lose those kids. Not just this election cycle, for the next several if not permanently. “Sit down, shut up, and don’t rock the boat so older middle class people don’t get nervous.” is not a message that will get them out to vote, much less affiliate with a party.

    But by all means, keep mocking college kids and kids dreaming of going to college. Keep calling people taking on debt and often working several jobs to pay for an education ‘pampered’. Go on. You’re advocating a much better prescription for losing this election,and the next one, and the next one, than any ‘deluded’ progressive I know.

  66. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    For them it isn’t just economic issues, although those matter, but issues of justice. They are young and want to be part of something bigger than themselves, something that makes a better world. You want a ground game – they are the foot soldiers.

    With all due respect, lefty activism these days is mostly an exercise in self-aggrandizing attention-seeking.

    If my soldiers were doing little more than “occupying” a park or standing in the street disrupting traffic, instead of, you know, digging trenches and manning the guns, they would be up for some severe discipline.

    One thing that would be nice, especially among self-proclaimed lefties, is if a difference of opinion on tactics wasn’t seen as a difference of opinion on goals.

  67. bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: Quite a lot of activism, left and right, these days and always, has been an exercise in “self-aggrandizing attention-seeking”.

    Quite a lot of it too is an exercise in trying to change something that those involved see as needing changed.

    The thing about the kids I’m referring to is that they are not self-proclaimed lefties (nor am I). They are frequently not involved in politics, though frustrated and wanting to do something. So, they are not soldiers you can discipline for not falling in line. They are the pool of potential new recruits. We can either reach out and get them to sign on, or send a message that they should either go sit on the sidelines or join the other side.

    If the goal is to win elections, now and in the future, then the I strongly disagree with the tactic of driving them away.

  68. Deserttrek says:

    name calling . the refuge for those with no answers or questions

  69. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    Quite a lot of it too is an exercise in trying to change something that those involved see as needing changed.

    Is it though?

    Or is just narcissism coupled with a poor understanding of cause and effect?

  70. Kari Q says:

    I gotta say, free college is going to appeal to a lot of people other than “college lefties.” Everyone with a child under the age of 20 wonders how to pay for their child’s education. Free college wouldn’t be a loser for any demographic group the Democrats care about.

  71. WR says:

    @JKB: Just a it was those sneaky Jews who were responsible for Hitler’s rise. If they hadn’t been manipulating the world economy like that, he never would have had to try to exterminate them.

    Good ol’ JKB always knows who the real victim is…