Being smugly witty is probably not that helpful
July 7, 2017 5:06 PM   Subscribe

 
I don't think sharp wit will win an argument; I just use it to get laughs from the other folks on my side.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:13 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]


Never mind that most liberal policies are now built around marshalling state violence to immiserate and discipline minorities and working class whites, or marshalling state violence to needlessly carpet-bomb the Middle East or go Zero Dark Thirty on some children (remember: consensus!). This largely took the aesthetic form of lectureporn. It is the apex of narcissistic supply delivery.

what unadulterated bullshit
posted by thelonius at 5:19 PM on July 7 [75 favorites]


I don't know... seems pretty adulterated to me. I mean, I thought the conservatives just elected the apex predator of narcissistic supply delivery.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:28 PM on July 7 [17 favorites]


I'm actually inclined to agree with this kind of preaching-to-the-choir thing being a detriment. Although maybe not for the reason they claim - instead, I feel like it lulls the left into a false sense of security.

I have a Facebook friend who is always posting links about how so-and-so's comments "destroyed" Trump, or how Ryan's policy was "slayed" by one post, or how so-and-so's blog post "completely dismantled" the alt-Right or whatever. Because - no. A single Tweet cannot take down the machine. Choosing to believe that it can is also secretly absolving you of the responsibility to actually join in the action yourself. A single Tweet is preaching to the choir, and we have enough preachers now and it's time for the choir to actually become more active.

(Note that this is not a scold against those who are just like "I get it, really, but I really just can't do anything now" because I'm one. But at the least I know that because this is a participatory democracy, that therefore only participating in the democracy will achieve anything, and that Tweeting snark is not the same thing as participating in the democracy. I try like mad to do what i can, and I don't kid myself that snark is doing anything, that's all.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:29 PM on July 7 [60 favorites]


what unadulterated bullshit

What's bullshit about it?
posted by smithsmith at 5:33 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


It is important to remember that conservatives HATE liberals but liberals have CONTEMPT for conservatives. What a pithy insight. (barf)

I don't disagree with the general sentiment but I think this is a really weak analysis and as a call to arms is pretty inchoate.
posted by Pembquist at 5:34 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


I have no opinion on the linked piece, but I'm gonna piggy-back on what EmpressCallipygos said anyway, because I agree with it.

I'm starting to feel like everyone on the internet needs a "webshit weekly" equivalent that follows them around and relentlessly skewers them at the end of the week, summarising and paraphrasing all their most "witty" contributions in the least charitable possible way. Just to keep us all honest.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:39 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


Tom Lehrer put it best a long time ago in his song "The Folk Song Army".
Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

posted by oneswellfoop at 5:44 PM on July 7 [40 favorites]


This is good: Right now I'm drinking a cheap (but delightful) rose and I need something to chuckle wryly at.

Emmet Martin Penney is a poet and essayist

Ah. Good. Tonight I need angry poets to lecture me about lecturing.

co-hosts the leftist political video/podcast How To Talk To Girls At The Mall

Heavens. Is it possible he doesn't know that Rachel Maddow isn't going to date him, anyway?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:45 PM on July 7 [9 favorites]


Ah. Good. Tonight I need angry poets to lecture me about lecturing.

Heavens. Is it possible he doesn't know that Rachel Maddow isn't going to date him, anyway?


Talk about proving the very point of the article. Crack open another bottle and try to tackle the actual substance of the argument.
posted by smithsmith at 5:52 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]


Well, I have one concern -- I'm a middle-class educated white guy, and I want to impress others with my wit and knowingness while still benefitting unfairly from conservative policies. So as a dominant form of discourse, futile snark is #actually perfect.
posted by officer_fred at 5:55 PM on July 7 [17 favorites]


guys if we're just nicer to the literal nazis i'm sure everything will turn out okay
posted by entropicamericana at 5:56 PM on July 7 [33 favorites]


I'm actually inclined to agree with this kind of preaching-to-the-choir thing being a detriment. Although maybe not for the reason they claim - instead, I feel like it lulls the left into a false sense of security. -- EmpressCallipygos

Yes. In a lot of ways, our little bubbles of samethought, both online and off, both blue and other-colored, definitely brought us to this point.

I'm as guilty as anyone for not treating the threat as real, probably because "everyone I knew" was so firmly opposed to... what we now have. And everyone I knew was all I had around me, and all I let myself be exposed to.

Hindsight is 2017.
posted by rokusan at 5:58 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


I just can't help but feel if they'd called him "Drumpf" a few more times, he would've lost.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:58 PM on July 7 [19 favorites]


Full disclosure: I did just literally this evening finish reading It Can't Happen Here. The main character is of a liberal bent, but a little too slow to action above and beyond mildly tut-tutting against the encroaching fascism until it's too late, and a couple times he ends up kicking himself for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:05 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I just can't help but feel if they'd called him "Drumpf" a few more times, he would've lost.
Personally, I invested in John Oliver's "Make Donald Drumpf Again" but its resemblance to a MAGA hat (and the rarity of MAGA hats in my locality) discouraged me from wearing it.

The article did an inept way of pointing it out, but Bill Clinton is/never was a True Liberal. I still contend that the only reason Hillary got a reputation as Liberal is that Bill shoved his only Liberal campaign promise from '92 (Health Care Reform) onto her, and she failed gloriously at it. There ARE three major constituencies in America today: The Left-Liberals, the Neo-Liberals and the Not-Liberals. And getting the first two mixed up is a common mistake the author is guilty of in the first degree.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:05 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


That’s why it’s crucial to get people on your side. But in order to fight at all, it must be clear who and what you’re fighting for and who and what you’re fighting against.
A little more seriously, what's funny about Emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayist's take is that after several paragraphs of "talking won't do you no good" emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayist's only real point is simply that people aren't talking the way that Emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayist thinks they should be.

And this seems a common theme among many more-leftier-than-your-average-liberal types. The real problem is just that liberals, lacking enough Emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayists, haven't spoken to the People in the right way. But once they do ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:08 PM on July 7 [29 favorites]


This is one of the major lessons to be learned from Jeremy Corbyn’s recent success in the UK general election.
I generally have a weakness for arguments like the one the author makes - I'll admit to feeling a bit dirty when I fire off a one-liner which is high on political snark and low on insight that gets a bunch of favourites here on Metafilter, for example, though I do it now and then anyway - but basing the argument on the quest for power doesn't quite work here. In the end, Corbyn lost his election, and Tony Blair and Bill Clinton won theirs.
posted by clawsoon at 6:13 PM on July 7 [10 favorites]


Also, I'd just like to say that both sharps wits and knives are pretty handy in a gunfight, and even handier when you're trying to avoid one. On the other hand, drawing a gun at a gunfight is a really good way to get shot.

Analogies are like lectureporn. They look great at first, but they're never as good as the real thing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:16 PM on July 7 [18 favorites]


What's bullshit about it?

Well, what's the last big example of a "liberal" policy which was enacted? I'd say, the Affordable Care Act. Where did that call for "marshalling state violence to immiserate and discipline minorities and working class whites"?
posted by thelonius at 6:17 PM on July 7 [30 favorites]


Who cares about that, when liberals went "Zero Dark Thirty on some children (remember: consensus!)". I want to hear about those poor, poor children. I mean: That movie is way too mature to show to children. What were those liberals thinking?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:26 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


Emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayist

So the joke is that he's described as a poet and essayist, and that shows how he's too pretentious or something? I really don't get it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:31 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]


I want to hear about those poor, poor children. I mean: That movie is way too mature to show to children. What were those liberals thinking?!

This raid, which killed 8 women and 7 children (aged 3 to 13), was planned under the Obama administration and was carried out under Trump, largely because there was no moonless evening under the final days of Obama's presidency.
posted by smithsmith at 6:34 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


I don't know that narcissism is the appropriate word, and I don't think the problem he's describing is unique to liberals.

But this is pretty much why I am in despair. We can't make much progress in any direction with only 50% of the country.

I feel like American politics is almost like sports. People have these fierce loyalties to their parties that outweigh everything else. Many people I know seem to think that someone could belong to the other party only if they were stupid or evil. It's really really convenient to be confident that your side is completely right and the other is always completely wrong. It's also a good indicator that you're missing something.

We need to persuade, and you can't effectively persuade people by explaining to them how stupid and evil they are.
posted by bunderful at 6:36 PM on July 7 [13 favorites]


Never mind that most liberal policies are now built around marshalling state violence to immiserate and discipline minorities and working class whites, or marshalling state violence ...

Example, please, because I can't say for sure that there's been a true liberal in the White House in my entire lifetime (b 1954). Kennedy, maybe—in retrospect, he seems more opportunist than visionary. Clinton was certainly not a liberal and most of the liberal in Obama disappeared while he was in office.

Until someone proves otherwise, I agree that this is absolute bullshit.
posted by she's not there at 6:38 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


But the problem isn’t just that lectureporn is snide, tedious, elitist, lazy, and naive—and it is. The problem is that it’s dangerous. It breeds confirmation bias and a lack of empathy—two things liberals saw backfire in 2016 after years of media class scoldkriegs.

The article makes it sound like confirmation bias and a lack of empathy are two things that are really hurting liberals, and lectureporn is a big part of that, but it seems to me that confirmation bias and empathy are two things that Americans of all political stripes have sucked at for quite a while now. Plus, confirmation bias and a lack of empathy seems to have worked out just fine for conservatives, so I'm not sure that lectureporn is as bad at the article suggests.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:39 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I know some conservatives, and they're contemptuous.

There's plenty going wrong on both sides.

This being said, I've gotten very tired of John Oliver talking about people being funny-looking.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:39 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]


Well, what's the last big example of a "liberal" policy which was enacted?

So, all that other not-so-good policy stuff that happily continued or worsened under Obama's presidency (mass incarceration and deportation, draconian criminal enforcement, foreign military interventions and arms supply to dictatorship, growing poverty and inequality etc. ad nauseam) was just completely incidental or, perhaps, irrelevant to your assessment of what constitutes modern liberalism?
posted by smithsmith at 6:44 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


If it's Obama's policies the author is criticizing, maybe he should say so? Instead of diffusing responsibility to "liberals".
posted by thelonius at 6:44 PM on July 7 [17 favorites]


Until someone proves otherwise, I agree that this is absolute bullshit.

No true Scotsman, hey?
posted by smithsmith at 6:45 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


Here's the bullshit:

So what is lectureporn? It is the media spectacle of a lecture whose audience is the opponent of the lecture’s intended target. Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow (again, friend of Roger Ailes), Aaron Sorkin, and a whole host of others have built their careers on this form. Lectureporn pulls off an amazing trick: it simultaneously delivers both elements of narcissistic supply. You sit and watch someone ingratiate themselves to you while they eviscerate someone you don’t like who is, in turn, unlikely to watch said lecture.

So lectureporn is exactly what Fox News does only when lefties do it? WTF? Also, I agree with some of the writer's points but Samantha Bee, for example, did reporting on her show that helped pass legislation in a state (maybe Georgia?) to get old, unprocessed rape kits processed so crimes could be invested that were being ignored. John Oliver helped shut down the FCC's servers during a successful (until Trump got elected) fight to protect the Internet. I think enjoying some witty commentary is one way to survive rather than simply a successful ploy to turn progressives into arrogant narcissists. Like, no kidding we have them. But has this guy checked out Silicon Valley, Republicans, or libertarians lately? Way to paint with a broad brush, dude.

We’ve all seen the the moment when one of these well-coiffed smirks turns to camera three and says, “And I’m talking to you, Red America. You whine so much about taxes and welfare and yet you’re the ones that suck up all that nanny state help. Well, I’ve got news for you. From now on, everytime you say ‘welfare queen,’ or ‘culture of dependency,’ we’re going to personally drive to your house and hold up a mirror to you and remind you that we, the blue states, make your lives possible with our generosity. Be grateful we don’t refuse to pay up because we actually believe in decency.” Or any time an Aaron Sorkin character starts a sentence with, “And by the way,” while talking to any female character ever. The whole point of lectureporn is to get off on a political opponent getting rhetorically owned by the best version of yourself. That’s what the media alleges to present: the best versions of ourselves.

You know what? I have never seen that moment. I have read versions of it here on the blue and I have seen expressions of it elsewhere. But what he describes exactly? I want a citation for this. I want a credible source that someone did this who is not some leftie version of Rush Limbaugh.

This essay frustrates me for the same reason that reading endless essays in the New York Times and Washington Post and elsewhere frustrate me. Broad generalisations and no actual recipes for changing our sucky political situation for the better. It's still all talk. And it's talk that is meant to bolster his own reputation and/or career and/or interests because that what writers and others do. And that doesn't make him any more credible than any other pundit, highly paid or volunteer.

These days, for my well-being, I read very little political analysis. Like, I posted a lot in the main MF political thread over the past two days after ignoring it for a week. And I think I need to mostly ignore it because I don't want to ruminate over this stuff, I want to make it better. So I'm doing online volunteer research for Knock Every Door in hopes of influencing the mid-term elections. Please forgive me, OP, I'm glad you posted this. I'm not down on you, I'm just done with punditry. I'm 60 years old and as far as I can tell, during my entire lifetime, all that pundits have ever done is collect some form of pay check, whether actual or symbolic. They do not contribute to the well-being of this nation, not from the left and not from the right.

Fuck that noise. There's work to do--and I'm trying my hardest to do the amount of work that is manageable for me, while understanding that everyone should contribute, or not, based on their own needs. So your mileage may totally vary and that's fine. But yeah, mostly I think this is bullshit and just another attempt to make progressives feel shitty as though that will somehow magically change our electoral system, redistricting woes, yadda yadda. Good luck with that.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:46 PM on July 7 [51 favorites]


I really don't get it.

I feel the same way about Emmet Martin Penny, poet and essayist. I mean really, maybe I've had too much rose already, but it's a whole essay about how some few people the author synecdochally uses to represent everyone else are "too smug" written in the smugest possible manner. It's basically a Ross Douthat column dressed up like Bernie Sanders.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 PM on July 7 [38 favorites]


There are more reasons for our present political reality than lectureporn, but lectureporn is without a doubt a contributing factor.

I DO HEREBY DOUBT THAT IT WAS A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR.

This seems like just another of the endless series of essays that boil down to "This outcome I don't like is the result of these other things I don't like," except he's not blaming $PROBLEM on how the kids these days wear the big pants and listen to the bad music.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:12 PM on July 7 [26 favorites]


Between MetaFilter, internet communists/Marxists, and radio/TV/mass-market journalism, etc., It has become impossible for me to know what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.
posted by brennen at 7:17 PM on July 7 [59 favorites]


The article did an inept way of pointing it out, but Bill Clinton is/never was a True Liberal.
Well, what's the last big example of a "liberal" policy which was enacted?

Between MetaFilter, internet communists/Marxists, and radio/TV/mass-market journalism, etc., It has become impossible for me to know what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.

^^ - about half this thread so far comes down to general confusion about that, in fact
posted by atoxyl at 7:19 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


Between MetaFilter, internet communists/Marxists, and radio/TV/mass-market journalism, etc., It has become impossible for me to know what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.

There's actually a very clear answer to this.

Unfortunately it requires an explanation of the entire history of the word "liberal" - including the particularities of usage in the U.S. - plus a little bit of context about who is using it...
posted by atoxyl at 7:22 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Wow. I thought liberal was simply shorthand for "non-right-wing folks with whom I disagree."
posted by Bella Donna at 7:22 PM on July 7 [14 favorites]


I am always slightly bemused when people conflate 'liberal' and 'socialist', given that the terms relate to fairly starkly distinct political theories...
posted by a very present absence at 7:27 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


There's actually a very clear answer to this.

Unfortunately it requires an explanation of the entire history of the word "liberal" - including the particularities of usage in the U.S. - plus a little bit of context about who is using it...


it's probably not clear what my joke was here, it's just - I was going to earnestly try my hand at explaining it but I just started to feel like I was explaining everything, like a dickhead
posted by atoxyl at 7:37 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


I would be incredibly surprised to learn that anyone making witty remarks about the horrors that the right wing has visited on us over the past few decades literally believes that those remarks will make the right wing stop, as the author seems to believe they do.

Sometimes you've just got to whistle past the graveyard, or laugh so that you won't cry. When it feels like an abuser is trying to gaslight you, sometimes you need to check in with your people and say, "OMG, can you believe they're doing A, B, and C? Do they not realize X, Y, and Z?!?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:44 PM on July 7 [44 favorites]


smithsmith, you seem to be operating under a very strange premise, namely that Obama = liberalism, and that whatever Obama did is what liberalism supports, which is simply demonstrably false. You don't have to take my word on this: go back through the archives of this site, or any left-leaning site, and you will find many, many, many criticisms of exactly the Obama policies you call out. Much of the opposition from the left to Clinton's campaign that helped fuel Sanders's rise was based on exactly that kind of criticism, particularly of Clinton's role in enabling immoral foreign activities.

The things you listed that occurred under the Obama administration:

(mass incarceration and deportation, draconian criminal enforcement, foreign military interventions and arms supply to dictatorship, growing poverty and inequality etc. ad nauseam)

Are, in fact, completely irrelevant to what modern liberalism is. They are all things liberals routinely criticize and oppose. Find me a liberal writer, thinker, etc. who supports any of those things. They may exist, but they're in a tiny minority compared to the voices calling for an end to inequality, prison reform, an end to foreign interventions, etc. To argue otherwise is not just wrong it's dishonest.

In fact your premise is so strange I'd almost say you're being disingenuous unless you can provide a better explanation of your position than "liberalism is whatever Obama did".
posted by Sangermaine at 7:47 PM on July 7 [32 favorites]


Knock, knock.

Who's there?

People.

People who?

People who stole all 3 branches of government and won't give them back.
posted by onesidys at 7:53 PM on July 7 [19 favorites]


Well, I saw this last week, but I didn't post it here because I figured it wouldn't go over well. I don't think it's a flawless work of genius, but I think it makes a good point overall.

When the world is horrible, it's satisfying to hear some good smackdowns, but over the years I've heard a lot of smack talk about red states and Republicans, and how could you ever be friends with a Republican, and so on. There's a reason people in, say, red states occasionally have to remind people that "hey, we're people too!" I think calling it smugness isn't getting at what's bothersome about it, and I'm not sure I'm clever enough to articulate it well. But I do think that catharsis (and righteous fury, and the clever putdown, and so on) has become a bigger and bigger force behind the way we talk to and at each other about politics. I think it's worth asking if that's ever a bad thing.

shapes that haunt the dusk is a poet and essayist...
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:54 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


I know some conservatives, and they're contemptuous.

I know some conservatives who are honest and fair-minded people. I know some that are more sharply witted than many of the lefty/bourgeois denizens of the blue. I know some that are disingenious, misogynistic, and complete drains on our society. I know some that I would entrust completely with my life.

I also know some liberals who are quite contemptible. I know some liberals that are slow-witted dullards. I know many liberals who spout generic liberal platitudes without the most basic understanding of what they are advocating. I know liberals who talk big game over dinner about how conservatives are exploiting the poor, then leave a 5% tip for their server. I know some who are wonderful, creative people who are an utter joy to be around.

I don't want to derail this thread, but I see a lot this mentality around here and it just feeds the us v them dynamic that allows this current political status quo to continue. For the love of god if you are a liberal, please get to know a conservative and listen to what they have to say. It may make you upset or uncomfortable, but that's citizenship. Democracy is a messy business, it is imperative that we share ideas for it to work properly.
posted by dudemanlives at 8:10 PM on July 7 [25 favorites]


I don't want to derail this thread, but I see a lot this mentality around here and it just feeds the us v them dynamic that allows this current political status quo to continue.

We live in bubbles, all the way down.
posted by rokusan at 8:11 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


It has become impossible for me to know what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.

And thanks to the current administration, we can't even use it to describe a second scoop of ice cream anymore.
posted by rokusan at 8:11 PM on July 7 [9 favorites]


The whole thing is tedious, really. The Republicans have succeeded by being better at campaigning than governing. By having "government never works" as a motto and self-fulfilling prophecy to cover their asses.

They say "liberals don't understand conservative people," but the cities are chock full of people who *left* the rural areas. We understand them and we've actively rejected some of those values. It's the conservative, rural voters who have rarely taken the moment to live in the city and see how the other half lives.

America's electoral system is fundamentally broken, and it just so happens that the Republican party occupies the niche that is heavily favored at the moment. It's not just that the Democrats/liberals have bad tactics. It's that a rural/small state voter fundamentally counts for as much as three times what an urban/big state voter is worth. Acknowledge that we're fighting an uphill battle, and try harder.

I'm so tired of the hand-wringing, and the "this is why Trump won" admonishments, tone-policing liberals out of actually making their points. We need to play hardball the way the conservatives do. The "contempt" isn't the problem. They have just as much contempt for liberals. It's that the Democrats are viewed as milquetoast losers, and there's a core of people who just want to align themselves with the winning team.
posted by explosion at 8:18 PM on July 7 [61 favorites]


But I do think that catharsis (and righteous fury, and the clever putdown, and so on) has become a bigger and bigger force behind the way we talk to and at each other about politics. I think it's worth asking if that's ever a bad thing.

Social media has successfully gamified all thought and communication.

Like, share, and subscribe if you agree.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:19 PM on July 7 [13 favorites]


I'm wondering what kind of usable unified approach can be put together to show the Democrats how to simultaneously be more empathetic (to white conservative voters) AND be more electorally vicious (tactically). I can't put myself in a frame of mind that's suited to doing both.
posted by puddledork at 8:32 PM on July 7


mass incarceration and deportation, draconian criminal enforcement, foreign military interventions and arms supply to dictatorship, growing poverty and inequality etc. ad nauseam

If you are having trouble finding a liberal writer who supports foreign military interventions or has in recent memory this can only be explained by a very different definition of who counts as a liberal writer.

(I think we are, thankfully, exiting the era of liberals getting tough on crime. Poverty and inequality are things few people would say they are for. Whether the current liberal mainstream offers an adequate response to these problems is another argument.)
posted by atoxyl at 8:39 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Norm Macdonald TLDRd this as "I think clever people think poor people are stupid".
posted by Sebmojo at 8:44 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]


I think this gets a bit overdone.

People who are good enough to have a serious audience are simply looking to entertain said audience when they joke about Trump's demeanor or the Rebel-flag waiving ill-educated Trump voters.

They perfectly well know Rex Tillerson worked his way up to CEO of Exxon, Seth Mnuchin became a Goldman Sachs partner and then one of the most successful Hollywood producers in living memory, and that Neil Gorsuch and Jim Mattis didn't come to DC to joke around.

They also know outside the bubble of a dozen or so metro regions, the well-educated and well-off elite are uniformly conservative and their sticking with Trump, like they stuck with George W. Bush (also the butt of jokes) is why Trump is President.

But that stuff isn't very funny, and it doesn't make liberals angry in a keep-my-ratings and keep-my-clicks way, but in a just-change-the-channel-to-ESPN way, which isn't as good.
posted by MattD at 8:46 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]


Some might say that all this "lectureporn" might be an attempt on the part of some who are confused and upset about what is going on to articulate a response and define how they themselves feel about the direction their government should take. What fools.

For the love of god if you are a liberal, please get to know a conservative and listen to what they have to say.


Um, fuck no.

By my nature (and by most liberals' nature) I am conflict avoidant. Yeah, I've always snarked with the best of them from 11-1130 on Comedy Central and here on Mefi, but in my real life I have engaged in constructive engagement with lunacy for almost 30 years. I have pursuaded without alienating, I have respected difference, I have reset expectations for what can happen politically with consensus building and respecting the "traditional values" of red state America ignoring the fact that their "traditional values" were a load of racist horse shit fed to them by the marketing arm of the Billionaire Party of America. What that got us was the Obama presidency -- an intelligent guy with good ideas, who knew not to shake shit up too much, who believed in compromise, only to find the opposition constantly ...opposing...and blowing racist dog whistles. Then the Billionaires, without any real ideas or experience, colluded with a foreign power to cheat their way into power and dismantle the small amount of progress made with consensus building.

I'm sorry but the idea that through the friendly exchange of ideas, we'll find a common way forward is naive and a recipe for holocaust. I'm still talking to (many of my) republican friends and relatives, but in the last year I've felt strongly that the tone must change. These people don't understand subtlety and reason, they understand shouting and righteousness. And the lectureporn helps me to understand and articulate precisely why I find them to be a bunch of unamerican hypocrites.

It's foolish to assume that us liberals/democrats/socialists/hippies/whatever-you-want-to-call-us-reasonable-patriots-who-care-about-our-kids'-future don't have conservatives in our lives we've been talking to all along. We've been tiptoeing around their precious feelings for decades and this is where we are now.

I for one am not going to "get to know" the SS troops marching the Jews to the gas chamber.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:51 PM on July 7 [72 favorites]


Are, in fact, completely irrelevant to what modern liberalism is. They are all things liberals routinely criticize and oppose.

I suspect that "liberal" has become a term much like the term "hipster", no one actually wants to be identified as such - but they damn well exist. So rather than hunting around for examples that will be immediately dismissed with "not an actual liberal" why don't you give me some names of writers, journalists or publications you believe faithfully encapsulate modern liberalism.
posted by smithsmith at 8:56 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


I agree with the premise that none of this stuff really accomplishes anything, but I think at this point most of us have our masturbatory political media. It's less the existence of the clever liberal TV takedowns that feels like a problem to me and more the sense of a general dearth of forward-looking political ideas or momentum backing it all up.
posted by atoxyl at 9:13 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


We’ve all seen the the moment when one of these well-coiffed smirks turns to camera three and says, “And I’m talking to you, Red America. You whine so much about taxes and welfare and yet you’re the ones that suck up all that nanny state help. Well, I’ve got news for you. From now on, everytime you say ‘welfare queen,’ or ‘culture of dependency,’ we’re going to personally drive to your house and hold up a mirror to you...

You know what? I have never seen that moment. I have read versions of it here on the blue and I have seen expressions of it elsewhere. But what he describes exactly? I want a citation for this. I want a credible source that someone did this who is not some leftie version of Rush Limbaugh.

At first I couldn't place the top paragraph. I don't hear it (explicitly) much. After a minute or two some kind of pattern recognition in the back of my brain suggests it sounds like Bill Mahrer.
posted by puddledork at 9:13 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Too impotent to rage,
Toothless tiger caged,
Empathy for whom?
Greasy, Twinkie filled faces,
Levis and guns. T-shirt riding up
Posed by the dead sentient
Tea for the ladies, SLOTUS
In a frowsey dress
For success, trans handshake
Kick in the pants thinking.
We are some simple shit
Complicated by sheer numbers,
Wrath and weaponry to match.
I hate leaving this to those
Enraptured ten year old dreamer, gamers
Asking for ice cream from the truck,
Playing Turkey In The Straw.
Must have been a million degrees today here,
With the mass murderers slapping each other
On the backs. Just looking for an opening
For the knives next time.
Life isn't necessarily funny,
I can't properly cite this.
Law and whoredom=politics, never has been
A very best. Hope is hiking
While the landscape lasts.
Poet and heckler
Glad for AC. Musk make me a battery
For my coffin bedroom somewhere
Out under the stars, but away from
The sound of the pumps, the guns,
The screaming of the shells,
And the cries of restless, hungry children,
Too scared to settle for another uncertain night.
posted by Oyéah at 9:18 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


This seems like just another of the endless series of essays that boil down to "This outcome I don't like is the result of these other things I don't like,"

yeah, bluntly, the porn (or whatever you want to call it) that I'm sick of from the so-called Left is whatever we're pointing our fingers at in order to NOT own our particular part of the BIG fucking political failures of the past year.

Don't tell me what THEY did that allowed the Republicans to win on every level (supported Bernie, didn't support Bernie, supported Jill Stein, supported Hilary, watched too much Stephen Colbert, whatever) -- tell me what YOU did.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


There's a reason people in, say, red states occasionally have to remind people that "hey, we're people too!"

...while literally supporting a leader dedicated to the denial of various human rights to huge chunks of the population. But, hey, it's cool to treat women, minorities, trans folks, etc., as subhuman as long as you're not smug about it, merely openly vicious.

I'm really sick of hearing about how I, who grew up in a conservative state with a conservative (extended especially) family and got the fuck out because I knew I'd never be human there, and now live in a city chock full of people of every description, just don't understand enough because I'm "in a bubble." Whatever. If you want to argue that rich people tend to be insulated and isolated from the struggles of the rest of the population, I'll go along with that, but that is simply not a blue vs. red issue. When, oh when, will people manage to keep a grasp on the concept that the majority of poor voters (sub-$50K incomes) voted for Hillary, not Trump. Were those working-class people just too smug, too obsessive fans of John freaking Oliver? Was their problem that they just didn't understand the reality of the true America? Why do we cede the rhetoric in this simpleton way?
posted by praemunire at 9:47 PM on July 7 [62 favorites]


dudemanlives, I was replying to a bit in the link claiming that conservatives hated liberals, but liberals were contemptuous of conservatives. I should have supplied the context.

I didn't mean that all conservatives were contemptuous, just that the distinction in the article doesn't match my experience.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:53 PM on July 7


There's a reason people in, say, red states occasionally have to remind people that "hey, we're people too!"

...while literally supporting a leader dedicated to the denial of various human rights to huge chunks of the population. But, hey, it's cool to treat women, minorities, trans folks, etc., as subhuman as long as you're not smug about it, merely openly vicious.


We've been over this.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:55 PM on July 7 [9 favorites]


What I find funny/impressive is the perfomativity of the article, which makes me question exactly who is it meant to be written for.
posted by polymodus at 10:07 PM on July 7 [10 favorites]


What I find funny/impressive is the perfomativity of the article, which makes me question exactly who is it meant to be written for.

It's an audition piece to be the token liberal on Fox News.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:29 PM on July 7 [13 favorites]


This reads as just more of "everyone is equally terrible so give up" bullshit to me, to be honest. In the US, liberals must be always be a paragon of their values or it's all hypocritical, false, etc. meanwhile the right continues on in a parade of outright lies and it never matters to any of the people who support them.
posted by notheotherone at 10:31 PM on July 7 [10 favorites]


We've been over this.

By definition, if you're talking about a "red state," which is the phrase originally used and which I responded to, you're talking about a state that elects those leaders. If you cannot say that red states support Republican leaders and their policies, there is literally no usefulness to the term! This is not some gratuitous snide swipe at Southern or Midwestern culture, this is a basic statement of basic electoral facts (just as it's a basic fact that a not-excessively-narrow definition of my current personal demographic also supports Trump and his vile policies in particular). It obviously does not mean that every single person who happens to be living in a red state does. But--aside from Mefi, I suppose, which is quite the special case--it is not beleaguered liberals in red states who are lamenting the cruel misperception of their states by the smug, out-of-touch coastal elites. This is generally David Brooks "I don't understand why you can't have more respect for me, we just have political differences!" tactics, offered up by people who don't understand why you don't think the negotiability of your humanity is a subject for polite debate. (That takes in both a large number of conservatives and a significant chunk of the white male left wing, generally not living in Omaha, like the subject of this post, who can actually look at a leader like Trump and say that conservatives aren't arrogant, because, I'd wager, his antennae generally only pick up on that particular attitude as "arrogance" when it's directed at white men.)

And...honestly. I actually say that I grew up in a red state (and nothing about my socioeconomic background), but the word "city" appears nearby and it triggers a lecture on respect for the poor and rural? Is the "bubble" rhetoric that powerful?
posted by praemunire at 10:36 PM on July 7 [21 favorites]


The other thing that's weird about this article is...okay, it's fair to say that The Daily Show has been lastingly influential, even though Jon Stewart left more than two years before the election and Trevor Noah's style, from what I've seen, is really not the same, but...The Newsroom? Did anyone actually watch The Newsroom? Is it on now? (OK, I just Googled it: it ended three years before the election.) Were there secret liberal watching clubs I just never heard of? Sorkin without a doubt can be a smug jerk, but is anyone actually paying attention to him? It feels like the guy really wanted to complain about The West Wing, but figured it'd been off the air too long for it to be credible.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 PM on July 7 [20 favorites]


By definition, if you're talking about a "red state," which is the phrase originally used and which I responded to, you're talking about a state that elects those leaders.

I specifically said "people in red states."

The MeTa I linked to wasn't only about poor and rural people. I didn't link it for that. I linked it because it addressed "alienating rural posters, Southern posters, and posters in red states, as well as enshrining some really gross classism." That's why I posted it. Not because I associate red states with poor and rural folks, but because this was one of many conversations about what I mentioned: people in red states asking not to be lumped together with the worst among them and hit with righteous fury or clever putdowns.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:02 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


So I got into a discussion the other day with my dear, sweet, mild mannered, kind, otherwise intelligent uncle. He said something about CNN making up the entire Trump-Russia connection, and when I calmly but firmly said that, no, there is much actual evidence and many others are talking about it too (never mind the FBI and Senate investigations), he blew up and then finally sputtered, but what about Saudi Arabia getting Barack Obama elected (I hadn't heard that one before). He then went on to say that Hillary Clinton had a deal with the pharmaceutical companies to kill x number of seniors per year, and that health conscious people supported Trump. When I replied that the Senate under Trump had passed legislation making it much easier for new drugs to be put on the market, he again became unglued and said that was impossible, it must be a lie.

How do you deal with people like that? What do you do when reason and facts utterly bypass otherwise reasonable and decent people? I think humour is way of keeping sanity and reminding ourselves we're not the only ones not agreeing with reigning monstrosities. The piece needs to be much more nuanced to have any valid point. Yes, we need to not mistake making fun for making change, but it can be a start. Has the author never heard of satire in history? Nevermind the fact that there's no peep in it of the vitriol and lies and utter lack of empathy on the other side. Sounds like an undercover piece by a conservative to me.
posted by blue shadows at 11:11 PM on July 7 [19 favorites]


Between MetaFilter, internet communists/Marxists, and radio/TV/mass-market journalism, etc., It has become impossible for me to know what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.

If you're an Australian it gets even more confusing.
posted by h00py at 11:39 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


"Lectureporn," huh? Nice coinage. Except when Republicans do the same thing, when it's called "bracing authenticity" and "acknowledging the forgotten white majority" and "speaking the language of the people."

Come with me to Wilson County, TN, on the border of which I live and commute with hundreds of white GOP folks who come from there to work every weekday, and wager with me whether their self-satisfied smug sense of entitlement, burnished to a fine gleaming sheen under the frothing majesty of the Trump Empire, is not itself a form of "narcissistic supply" or "confirmation bias" or "lack of empathy." I think I'll win the bet.
posted by blucevalo at 11:42 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]


Emmet Penney at Paste descries the way liberals wistfully think their sharp wit knives will be sufficient at a gunfight.

Ironically, the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban immediately cost over 60 seats in the House and gave Republicans control of Congress, though he blames something else entirely. And then he rides his tricycle into the freshly poured cement:

Arrogant people are lazy in general and inept when it comes to empathy. If you can’t empathize with people, you can’t understand them. And if you can’t understand their worldview, you can’t hope to either win them over or defeat them. You’ve played yourself. No one cares if you’re right and ineffective. That’s called being an impotent loser. For all the talk about “bleeding heart liberals” who vote with their tears, they’ve proven to be staggeringly emotionally incompetent.
posted by Brian B. at 11:49 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, the reason I mentioned "people in red states" was because the article says "Each monologue, each snide quip about NASCARnation was meant to affirm the viewers’ sense that they felt the right feelings, saw the world the right way, and, most importantly, weren’t hateful slobs who refused to floss their only tooth while singin’ the songs of that old time religion." Maybe not everyone has seen that attitude on display, but I have, and it's bothered me for a while.

I don't know why people are treating this as if it's just an excuse to blame liberals for everything, when it clearly talks about how horrible Fox News is. I really don't see where it says "conservatives are honest and truthful, but those LIEberals, am I right?" Maybe this isn't the best article to get the point across, but is there any value whatsoever in thinking about the value of slapping ourselves on the back for being smart and rational, and treating political losses as, well, it's not my fault they're such idiots for voting against their own self-interest?

I think it's bad for politics, and I think it's bad for our health. I mean, honestly, we spend so much time worry about how hopeless everything is, and I think that's got to have something to do with how much time we've spent completely writing off half the country. I'm not saying "oh, just listen to the bigots for a change," but it seems like there's no way to question if "our" side might have had any responsibility for political losses without being immediately accused of listening to bigots, or being a sleeper agent, or god knows what.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:56 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


This article is garbage.
posted by ELF Radio at 12:03 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


and treating political losses as, well, it's not my fault they're such idiots for voting against their own self-interest?

Uh, I think there's a lot of folks who feel responsible for the loss. Remember, there was a lot of discussion about what was done wrong post-election. And that guilt or responsibility or whatever you call it galvanized some people with more donations, the Indivisible guide, and participation in the Marches.

And for the record, I never thought they were voting against their self-interest. But I do think they're idiots, BECAUSE they're only voting for their self-interest.
posted by FJT at 12:27 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


As I read it, he is not just creating a straw man, but a whole straw demographic, who live in isolated suburbs, drive Volvos, watch late-night shows and snark about Republicans they don't have any personal relationships with while they ignore *important stuff*. If that demographic had any online presence, it would be here on Metafilter, and I can't see it. We all interact with people we disagree with all the time, even those who live in New York, or San Fransisco. (Or like me in Socialist Scandinavia). Basically it's the same as when someone complains we shouldn't be following Trump's tweets because healthcare, as if we can't don't both and more. I am fully capable of being decent while interacting with racists, voting for the left, feeling outrage that Trump and Putin are palling around in Hamburg, laughing desperately at snarky jokes, engaging in local and national politics, feeding my children and my dog, doing my job and cleaning my house. And a lot of other stuff all during the same one life I'm leading. The garden isn't doing too well though. I should get out there today.

People who write this type of commentary seem immature and inexperienced to me, wether they are 23 or 72. I admit some of these immature people are very influential and draw huge salaries, but that is life.
posted by mumimor at 12:29 AM on July 8 [22 favorites]


I don't know why people are treating this as if it's just an excuse to blame liberals for everything, when it clearly talks about how horrible Fox News is.

It probably has something to do with stuff like "Never mind that most liberal policies are now built around marshalling state violence to immiserate and discipline minorities and working class whites, or marshalling state violence to needlessly carpet-bomb the Middle East or go Zero Dark Thirty on some children", wherein liberals are blamed for the things that are both the primary aim and the primary effect of every Republican policy advanced in the last half-century. His whole argument is that both sides are the same, all this bullshit about how there's no "real distinction" between the parties. Dude needs to pull his head out of wherever he's had it stuck and engage with reality for a little bit; the Medicaid expansion and the groundwork for Obergefell and the ongoing fight against voter suppression and the ongoing fight to extend civil rights to all people and (I can't believe I have to say this) the ongoing fight to keep the minimum wage from being eliminated and about a thousand other things that I or most other people here could name off the top of our heads are all issues of liberal policy and pretty damned significant (and obvious!) differences between the parties.
That level of ignorance isn't confined merely to the political, either. This is a real passage that this author actually wrote on purpose: "The whole point of lectureporn is to get off on a political opponent getting rhetorically owned by the best version of yourself. That’s what the media alleges to present: the best versions of ourselves." What? When has "the media" ever alleged anything of the sort? What would that even mean? I cannot fathom how anyone can be familiar with any media at all and come away with such an idea. Seriously, break this down for a second: he's saying that when Rachel Maddow delivers a snarky lecture to the camera in the guise of speaking directly to conservatives (not something I've ever seen her do, but I guess I don't watch her show very often) she (or the network, I guess?) is alleging that she is the best version of ourselves. How likely do you think that is to be true? This is such an alien idea that I had to look this guy up to make sure he was a real person, because this is so ridiculous that I was briefly sure I was being trolled.
To use his own phrase, Emmet Penney is "an idiot who can’t understand reality", not because he disagrees with me (in fact, I bet we agree on far more things than we disagree on, because I am one of the many many people who think that the Democratic Party is much too far to the right to be the leftmost party in our political system) but because he's much more interested in haranguing than he is in whether or not reality supports his assertions. It's almost like his entire purpose here is simply to get off on lecturing those who disagree with him.
Hmm, something about that sounds familiar....
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:59 AM on July 8 [12 favorites]


It's not my fault they're such idiots for voting against their own self-interest?

I don't think people voted for Trump against their own self-interest. I think the well-off demographics that voted for Trump--and once again, I want to remind everyone that both the sub-$30K and sub-$50K household incomes voted for Hillary, so, no, Trump voting was not even primarily a matter of those abandoned by the economy lashing out, I feel like I can never say this enough to dislodge the image of the poor, distressed, left-behind, misunderstood real heartland "average American" as the Trump voter--understood quite well that their self-interest, at least in the short term, is served by licensing them to treat their employees worse, dump the costs of their businesses on the community, and grab as many of the benefits of a civil society for themselves while giving as few of them as possible to others as they can. Those in the less-well-off demographics that voted for Trump believe their self-interest is best served by re-securing for themselves the dividends of whiteness. This is partially entangled with expectations that those dividends will include some economic and social advantages, but I think that, in an environment with limited hopes for change or growth, the psychological benefits constitute most of what many of them hope to hang on to.

The problem is that there may be some balancing of interests possible with those whose motivations are primarily economic, but people who are out for little else in a leader but a Big Man who will kick the Other to gratify the white, the kind of people who will, e.g., vote for a leader promising the end of the provision of healthcare because black and brown bodies are getting it, too--these are people with attitudes that are entirely incompatible with making any closer approach to having a free and just society or, at this point, even having a functioning government. Their demand for the dividends of whiteness is literally hastening the destruction of the planet. There is no "listening" to my fundamentalist red-state uncle that will convince him that whiteness and maleness are not the foundations of his worth as a person or that those can be expressed through other means than domination of all that they are not. My smugness or lack thereof really has no bearing on it; by my being a woman who has not devoted her life to caretaking of men, I am disqualified in his eyes from any legitimacy in having political opinions at all. Feminists are just crazy, jealous harpies, you know?

People complaining in the national media about how people like me are too smug with regard to people like him are not, I'm sorry, generally saying "oh, but our state also has liberals, too, you can't write us off as all conservatives,", they are saying, "Why are you being so extremist, why can't you just concede that this guy has at least some kind of right to dominion over you, and then maybe he'll give a damn whether about everybody in the next generation we're all depending on will get a halfway decent education or not? Why are you being so dismissive, why can't you just dialogue with him to try to persuade him you're almost as good as him, at least good enough to be granted first-trimester abortions if you were raped?"
posted by praemunire at 1:50 AM on July 8 [53 favorites]


the Trump voter--understood quite well that their self-interest, at least in the short term, is served by licensing them to treat their employees worse, dump the costs of their businesses on the community, and grab as many of the benefits of a civil society for themselves while giving as few of them as possible to others as they can.

praemunire, I favorited your comment already when I read that part, and the rest of it is just as eloquent. At least here on Metafilter, I wish we could stop imagining Trump voters as poor victims, voting against their own interest.
posted by mumimor at 2:41 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


It seems like we're all responding to completely different articles. I'm not getting the messaging from it that other people seem to be getting. Maybe that's due to some major flaw in how I read it, or it's that if I were in the know, I'd pick up on the totally obvious cues I'm currently missing. Maybe I am, in fact, deeply immature and ignorant.

Regardless, it's hard to talk about this article when any comment along the lines of "maybe there's a grain of truth in there" is treated as a defense of the worst kind of dialogue, or like an argument in favor of making concessions to the worst political elements out there today. What should I say, "I was totally wrong in thinking I could get something out of this article?" I read this last week, and like I said, it wasn't a work of genius, but I thought there were some good points in there. I wasn't expecting everyone to agree with it, but I can't agree with the general sentiment that this guy is saying conservatives are basically right, or that maybe men really should control women's bodies. That's literally the worst possible interpretation of what the article is saying, and any defense of that would mean I'm either an idiot who can't read, or I simply agree with shitty people.

I have red state family too. I'm not ignorant of what people think. My point was never whether people actually voted for or against their own self-interest, it was that the way we talk about them as irredeemable, or as idiots, or as any number of things, may not be the most productive way to look at (a little less than) half the country. They're not victims any more than any of us is in a shitty economy, and they're not saints, but there's also been a catastrophic failure to take seriously the aspects of Trump's appeal that might not have been racism, sexism, or simple greed. That doesn't mean Trump is an OK guy after all, but I don't want to miss something here. And yet the matter is effectively settled, and we've already written them off, because we know it's really just racism, sexism, and simple greed. It's a pat answer, I don't think it covers everything, and it's frustrating that that even suggesting there might be some other factor means, to a lot of people, that you're an apologist for literally the worst that this country has to offer.

What I got from this article was just this: when we talk about politics, about each other and about the political Other, are we making major mistakes? I used to enjoy Olbermann and Maddow and John Oliver, but I've reached a point where I think they might not be helping the country as much as I used to believe, and I think a big part of that is that everyone loves a good smackdown. We love to be able to say "fuck those guys," but it's been giving me pause lately.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:55 AM on July 8 [17 favorites]


the aspects of Trump's appeal that might not have been racism, sexism, or simple greed

Not snarky: could you explain what those aspects might be?
posted by mumimor at 3:03 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I think there's an ambiguity here, in that if you believe Trump is dangerous, then it's consistent to theorize that the lumpenproletariat helped elect him, but that this class was not conscious of this greater danger. That's the sense in which a political choice can be made against self-interest.

It's like this. Racists voting for a racist, would be in their self-interest to do so. But if racism turns out to be bad for society, then that would actually be against their self-interest.

So the term hinges on a matter of perspective (which is what the article is about!). What helps is taking care not to be reductive, etc., when using these terms.
posted by polymodus at 3:26 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


TV hosts like John Oliver do something valuable: they provide context to politics, articulate why things are wrong and give people permission to be angry about them. I guess this is similar to what conservative hosts do, but the strategy isn't what's wrong with conservative media: it's the lies, and the populism, and their exploitation of their audience.

As for liberals sitting back and snarking, he possibly needs a different social circle? Because from my 15,000 km distant viewpoint, I was awed by the very serious activism and mobilisation that many Megites engaged in, both during and after the election.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


Not snarky: could you explain what those aspects might be?

I mean, racism, sexism, and greed were definitely factors, don't get me wrong. But there was also a major element of frustration with how shitty politics had become by 2016. It's not a coincidence that there were two extremely and unexpectedly popular outsider candidates. In one sense Trump represented all the jokes you're not allowed to say (totally racism and sexism), but he was also like one of those movies where the no-nonsense New York cop shows up the smarmy guy. He was like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. He didn't give a shit about what the owner of the club thought, and he thought it was hilarious when people turned up their noses at him.

Most people only ever saw Trump on stuff like the Apprentice, where he was always cool and authoritative, always in control. It doesn't matter what the reality was, that he was a shitty businessman and a shameless opportunist, because most people never saw that side of him. They saw self-made success, and they saw loads of confidence, coupled with not giving a shit about how a politician should behave. And in a crop of completely uninspiring candidates, he was the only one people would actually vote for, because he was the only one who could promise to switch things up. If anyone else had been nominated, a bunch of their votes would have just been votes against against Clinton (and I think even votes for Romney were votes against Obama more than anything else). But Trump, that's a message for the shitty politicians on both sides of the aisle who don't do anything but get rick of kickbacks (and also definitely lots of votes against Clinton). The more he fucks up and says something you're not supposed to say, the more he's driving home that he's not like those career politicians.

Of course I think prejudice and bigotry were factors. Of course they were. He said he'd put up a wall to keep Mexicans out. I'm not going to blame all of that on Republican messaging, because that messaging wouldn't work if people didn't already believe it to some extent.

I also think money was a factor, not in the sense that people were poor, but in the sense that inequality keeps growing -- I know plenty of people on the left who aren't poor, but are still deeply frustrated and concerned about the economy. Caring about the economy while being well-off is not only the domain of the left. You don't have to earn below $50k to care, especially if you have family earning far less than you, or if you have kids entering the workforce. Owning a house doesn't mean you're unaware or unaffected. Even someone earning $100k a year still worries about their mortgage payments, still has to pay off their car, and they might have two kids in college with tuition about to go up again. They're relatively comfortable, and they're better off than a lot of people, but that doesn't mean they have nothing to worry about. I don't like the idea that a certain yearly income is proof that money can't be a factor in someone's decision-making. If we can care about the economy, so can they.

I also think frustration with politicians was a major, major factor. Again, not only the domain of the left. There wouldn't have been Tea Party candidates years ago if Republican voters were always totally satisfied with their politicians. There's a shitty economy not getting better except for the top 2%, yet politicians keep saying the country is doing better. It leaves a bunch of people wondering, where are the gains for the rest of us? And yeah, there were lousy candidates in the primary. Ted Cruz was proposing policies that were, in some cases, equally as horrible (or, depending on your position, as good) as Trump's, but with the charisma of a damp sponge. Why choose him over the TV veteran who knows how to mug for the cameras?

Yeah, there was also a sense that he said all the stuff society has been telling people not to say. That's straight up racism and sexism. His "locker room talk" was probably a draw for some people who were uncomfortable with the idea that they had to feel guilty about thinking or saying stuff like that. I'm not going to make excuses for that. Bigotry was undoubtedly part of the package, probably even more than it is with other Republican candidates. The "welfare queen" stereotype has been around for decades, so it's not like this kind of bigotry is new, but Trump definitely brought it out into the open. The attacks on Clinton came after decades of negative messaging against her. Obviously a ton of that was deeply rooted in distrust of women in positions of authority. I'm not going to deny that. I do think she represented "business as usual" politics for a lot of people, and I think there's an element of that that isn't simply rooted in sexism (but any more discussion on that will get us back into the primaries, and no thanks).

The point is, I'm not trying to discount that bigotry and sexism were real factors here. They obviously were. I'm just trying to make an argument that maybe there were other factors. If we don't examine why outsider politicians were so popular last year, if we don't consider that money could be a factor even for the reasonably well-off middle manager somewhere, if we don't get why people might be frustrated with business as usual, we're going to be overlooking significant aspects of politics today. And it's so tempting to write them all off and say "you assholes!" especially when we've had fights with friends and family over this stuff. It's exhausting. I don't think I'm going to convince a 91 year old relative to love Muslims. I know he wants to stop them from coming here, even though they're definitely not going to target his town in the middle of nowhere. But I also know that he's got a grandson with a drug problem, and a great-grandchild whose parents aren't able to look after her, and a daughter who isn't totally well-off financially, among a whole bunch of other stuff that probably plays a role in how he sees the world. Yeah he's racist, but that's not all there is to him, and I'm finding it hard to believe that it's all there is to his politics, either. I could be wrong, but I don't think I'm totally full of shit here.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:28 AM on July 8 [20 favorites]


Shapes that haunt the dusk, I agree with a lot of what you say and I appreciate you saying it.

I also know some conservatives who were very unhappy with Trump as a choice but since they are committed conservatives and really believe that conservative policies are better for themselves and everyone else, they went ahead and voted for him. And I can understand that. I mean - in an alternate universe, if Trump had somehow wound up on the Democratic ticket, promising to act on the issues I care about - but was still an unprofessional, bigoted, harassing ... well, himself, and the Republican candidate was someone like Ted Cruz, promising to repeal marriage equality and Roe v Wade, I probably would vote for Trump, holding my nose, and it would not be about how much I love bigotry and sexism.
posted by bunderful at 5:44 AM on July 8


They also know outside the bubble of a dozen or so metro regions, the well-educated and well-off elite are uniformly conservative and their sticking with Trump, like they stuck with George W. Bush (also the butt of jokes) is why Trump is President.

Help! I still don't know if I'm a good well-educated, well-off person because I live in Georgia and was born in North Carolina, or if I live in a bubble because I live in Atlanta and was born in Charlotte. I swear I have a total redneck accent, but my city voted overwhelmingly for Hillary and so did I.

Please educate me about whether I'm good or bad and whether my opinions on our asshole president should be discounted or not.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:14 AM on July 8 [7 favorites]


In the end, Corbyn lost his election, and Tony Blair and Bill Clinton won theirs.

This is a common mistake amongst Americans, but Corbyn won his election, because he was only standing in his seat. His party didn't get a majority, but they won 30 seats, including seats that were by no means expected to be in play, and more importantly, he denied the other party a majority as well. It's not actually becoming Prime Minster, but an opposition of a weak government in a Westminster system has a lot of room to set the terms of the debate, and Corbyn seems to finally understand this. Corbyn can't legislate, but he has far more room to shape legislation than an American party who loses the Presidency can.

I feel that American liberals beat themselves up a little too much about the media bubble they found themselves in. In other countries, there are things like The Economist who are definitely right-wing, occasionally shitty but generally respectable. In America, there's been a concerted effort to build a bubble around a certain kind of voter, and America is uniquely vulnerable to this kind of action because of its individualistic culture. It's why America has an outbreak of cults at regular intervals.

I might be overfitting, but I think there's similarities between how brainwashing and cults work, and the influence that the Southern Baptist church, who members voted for Trump at about 90%, has over parts of the country. There's strange similarities: frequently, cults will use a technique where people confess to sins they manufacture, because confession is a sign of honesty regardless of the content - and it's hard not to look at the Satanic panic of the 80s, at people coming forward and saying 'I am a reformed Satanist and I did all these terrible things' and not see the similarities.

Still, without actually winning state governorships and senates, the American left isn't going to get anywhere. So get on that.
posted by Merus at 6:58 AM on July 8 [11 favorites]


The urge to summarize, snark, and reject someone else's arguments is rising up in me. So I might be fulfilling the essayist's prophecy. Here goes.

Connecting his complaints with some other commentary about luring Trump voters back in future elections, I'm starting to hear echoes of the notion that working class voters will stop hating college students and college professors when the college folk start being less hateful.

(Off list, I was reading some Joan Walsh about the Hard Hat Riot, so that's tilting my framing somewhat.)
posted by puddledork at 7:19 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Willow: Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles.
Giles: It's sort of an end in itself.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4 Ep. 8 "Pangs"
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:27 AM on July 8 [12 favorites]


Oh yeah, I forgot about the 24/7 media coverage of Trump. I never heard of a single Clinton campaign rally, but if Trump so much as coughed, there was a live feed and a dozen commentators. There were huge crowds cheering for Trump, and whether someone was excited to see them or terrified, they were the only crowds we ever saw or talked about. Outside the DNC, we never saw her addressing huge, cheering crowds of people, but we saw Trump do it all the time.

Part of the reason I think there's some value in an article like this one, if not this one specifically, is that it wasn't enough to have the qualified candidate. Everyone was so sure she'd win that it was offensive to even suggest otherwise. And the media didn't worry about what would happen if they focused all their attention on Trump, because everyone knew who the serious candidate was. Being right wasn't enough, and being the most qualified wasn't enough, as long as only one side was drawing crowds.

Anyway, I also think she would have won if not for Comey's last-second letter. It would have been close anyway, but that sealed it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:47 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


guys if we're just nicer to the literal nazis i'm sure everything will turn out okay

If the grammar nazis are anything to go by this will not end while.
posted by srboisvert at 10:04 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


When people denigrate preaching to the choir part of what they are saying is "take the choir for granted". This is a bad idea.

The choir shows up, does the work and sings the gospel week in and week out. Your preaching should always include the choir.
posted by srboisvert at 10:08 AM on July 8 [22 favorites]


The left is in caretaker mode right now (quoting Harry Reid during his minority leadership). Keeping the discussion alive with relevant ridicule and non-boring sincerity is key. Wishing it gone is stupid, because it doesn't appear overnight. The religious right lacks humor entirely, which shows an apparent lack of something else, so condescending humor is a key element and a human signal which shows intelligence from nobility. The facts are that the right wing is brainwashed, complete with Christian summer hate camps that teach kids to debate abortion and evolution at every turn. Not one Republican voted for Obamacare, to illustrate their obedience training and hypocritical values. But that only works for religious dogma and moral authoritarianism. What the left in the US needs is organizational clarity, a list of priorities by category that people can rally around one election at a time, thus bringing back the notion of making civil progress. We don't have the luxury of a European-style boutique political solution, which allows for mini-parties. We don't need to convert people to a purity of leftism, which copies religion. We just need to organize the majority we've got.
posted by Brian B. at 10:14 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


what the fuck anyone means when they use the term liberal.

If you're an Australian it gets even more confusing.


I was about to say something about how funny/biased it is for us to assume one meaning when it's left-wing in America, centrist in Canada, right-wing in Australia.

And then I realized that the terms "left wing" and "right wing" are also really cultural albatrosses themselves that take a lot of explaining if you don't just swallow them whole. Like, on which physical side of the Australian or Canadian parliaments do the parties sit?

No wonder personalities are the new parties.
posted by rokusan at 12:52 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Given the existence of Rush Limbaugh, anyone making the argument that indulging in straw-man bashing to rally the choir is political disaster is either an idiot or completely disingenuous concern-trolling. Liberals don't need to convince conservatives to change their minds. Liberals need to get liberal voters to the voting booth.
posted by straight at 2:23 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Your preaching should always include the choir.

Include
the choir, sure. Cater solely to the choir, no.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:25 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Rush Limbaugh

On reflection, what immediately pissed me off when I read this last night, is it immediately put me in mind of the effective campaign, which talk radio and the like have promoted for 25 years or more, to Overton window "liberal" farther and farther over to the right, at the same time as they employ Rovian tactics ( "Liberalism is a mental illness" ) to make it a smear. So the political result is, the most status quo, centrist Democrat, or even a moderate Republican of the old school, can be attacked effectively as a dreaded "liberal". This of course goes hand in hand with the idea that merely continuing the moderately progressive taxation and weak safety net in America is, in fact, radical redistributionist socialism.
posted by thelonius at 2:43 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


The problem of guessing what someone means by saying "liberal" is complicated by the academic sense of "liberalism" in political science, which as I understand it comes from like Locke and Adam Smith, and is basically at the core of contemporary business conservatism.

Then comes the dreaded "neoliberal", which, when someone uses it, is even harder to guess what they actually have in mind. But I guess that's how it goes - when a word gets a buzz to it, like "neoconservative" did, the sense broadens quickly as different groups adopt it. "Neoconservative" started life with a clear sense of denoting the PNAC and other think tanks, and their interventionist, militaristic foreign policy. They didn't give a shit about "values voters" issues. But, within a year after Bush took office, I was hearing people call evangelical Christian, one-issue (guess which) politicians "neoconservative".
posted by thelonius at 2:50 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


for an article ostensibly about how liberal sneering and self-satisfaction are bad, it sure does a lot of self-satisfied sneering itself. is this some kind of meta thing that i'm missing, or did the author just lose track of his/her own point?

don't overthink it. maybe winning at politics is just all about proposing clear, simplistic, popular policies (whether or not fully realistic) and running a charismatic candidate.
posted by wibari at 3:13 PM on July 8 [7 favorites]


Yeah I think intentional or not, the "meta" of the piece is a bit of giving the audience a taste of their medicine. The idea that this is what it feels like as a Republican when Democrat media says stuff at/about them. I'd think that a poet would be aware of that, and I can think of a totally different article on a different subject (that piece was about academic world problems), that was published in the nytimes, that rhetorically operates the same way. These kinds of writing operate by criticizing thus raising really uncomfortable feelings in (many) readers, and there's an implicit question of, Where is the space to process and reflect on that? And the ambiguity lies not only in whether you/I think that the author was ethical to do this, but also what each of our responses are regardless. I do think there can be a considered reaction to this sort of writing, that is expressive of liberal values.
posted by polymodus at 3:23 PM on July 8


Trump came in promising to shake up the political landscape and not play by the rules. My sense is the people who most resonated with this message felt left out of politics for some time (maybe eight years) and affluent people who thought Trump would make them richer.

His surprise win empowered his supporters to lose all inhibition and go on a vicious spree of hatred towards everybody who isn't one of them. In response, the people who supported Hillary have circled their wagons and put up a less vicious but still vicious resistance (I'm steering clear from terms like liberal and conservative, as those words are now dog whistles for both sides). Meanwhile, the clown prince happily encourages this behavior.

The result is a country more divided than anything I've seen in the 50 years I've been alive. Civil discourse about politics is gone. The administration is working hard to deprive all Americans of many of their rights. In an ideal world, both sides would see this and work together to rid the country of the current cancer on the Presidency (one can dream). Putin and Bannon have achieved their goal of destabilizing the country and reducing its stature in the world, and most Americans are too busy reacting to Trump's antics or attacking the other side to see that this is what's going on behind their backs.

//Apologies for the rambling nature of this post and any factual errors contained therein. This stuff has been brewing in me for far too long.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 6:33 PM on July 8


Meanwhile, the clown prince happily cunningly encourages this behavior.
posted by philip-random at 9:23 PM on July 8


Democrat media says stuff at/about them.

Please use "Democratic," which is not only grammatically correct but respectful and civil. Frank Luntz, Republican strategist, was responsible for popularizing the use of the noun as a pejorative modifier. Thanks.
posted by tully_monster at 2:04 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


Noam Chomsky, 5 days ago in the NYT:

Of course, ridicule is not enough. It’s necessary to address the concerns and beliefs of those who are taken in by the fraud, or who don’t recognize the nature and significance of the issues for other reasons.
posted by bunderful at 3:35 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


> It’s necessary to address the concerns and beliefs of those who are taken in by the fraud

The Trump Presidency is the apotheosis of modern American conservatism. This fraud could not have happened without the decades of groundwork laid by earlier fraudsters like Atwater, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Luntz, Cheney, O'Reilly, and Rove. The fact that Democrats aren't reaching enough voters doesn't mean that they aren't reaching out to those voters. Trumpism didn't happen overnight, and it can't be undone overnight.

With respect to the larger topic of so-called liberal smugness: the idea that the actions of some comedy show writers has any significant bearing on the posture of liberals writ large toward so-called "middle America" is as laughable as any comedy bit that Stewart, Noah, Wilmore, Bee or Oliver have ever done. The combined TV audiences for all of these shows barely add up to a single Fox News primetime broadcast, but it's too "dog bites man" to talk about how O'Reilly / Hannity / Carlson style smug condescension of "coastal elites" has made the word "liberal" a slur.

It's not a bad thing that TV shows are being made to remind liberals that it's okay to believe that the EPA should exist or that fast food workers should get a living wage, and to do so in a funny and entertaining way. Hatred of liberals by Republicans predates all of these television programs by decades, and it will probably outlast all of them as well.

This essay is dogshit.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:53 PM on July 9 [9 favorites]


I am poor, rural, southern, and religious. I don't especially have my feelings hurt by people struggling to keep me from losing my insurance or allowing me to receive something close to a living wage. Maybe liberal urban elites live in bubbles. I don't know. But I do know lots of Republican voters who seem completely incapable of grasping that people actually disagree with them. They truly believe everyone on the left is either pandering or looking for a handout.

I doubt anyone thinks a clever joke is going to fix our politics. But sometimes it makes the horror a bit more bearable when you see fundamental rights being dismantled and idiocy being enshrined to realize other people see how insane this is and that we can still mock it.
posted by pattern juggler at 8:55 PM on July 9 [11 favorites]


Congressman Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits): I know you like to use that word 'liberal' as if it were a crime.

Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda): No. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have used that word. I know Democrats think liberal is a bad word. So bad you had to change it. What do you call yourselves now, progressives? Is that it?

Santos: It's true. Republicans have tried to turn liberal into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.

Vinick: A Republican President ended slavery.

Santos: Yes, a liberal Republican, Senator. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the liberal party? I'll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, 'Liberal,' as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won't work, Senator, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:23 PM on July 9 [10 favorites]


i think a liberal is just someone who likes capitalism, freedom, and equality, and thinks those things can coexist through state economic/legal interventions. which is why they are reviled by both republicans and marxists.
posted by thedamnbees at 12:16 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


Poets are both clean and warm and most (BUT NOT ALL) are far above the norm.
posted by whuppy at 1:11 PM on July 10


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