Are Democrats elitist?
November 12, 2014 10:30 AM   Subscribe

The Affordable Care Act was "put together by a bunch of elitists who don't really fundamentally understand the American people," said former DNC chair Howard Dean. A few years ago, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland voiced concerns about Democrats' "intellectual elitism" and hesitancy to "talk using populist language." Republicans have long used accusations of elitism against Democrats as an electoral tactic. Did elitism lose the Democrats the 2014 midterms?
posted by shivohum (303 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Elitism" is a bullshit term of art used exclusively by anti-intellectual shitheels.

You know what "elitism" entails? Consulting people who know what they're talking about. Quel horreur.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:34 AM on November 12, 2014 [190 favorites]


No, voter suppression did, as all the post-election analysis showing that turnout was the Dems main problem bears out. But there are probably some good points made here about the ACA.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:36 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Did elitism lose the Democrats the 2014 midterms?" Yeah that's it - that explains why a Congress with an 11% approval rating saw a re-election rate of 96% ... Jeez - the American electorate is smarter than it looks - hell - we even know when a 'fix' is in - and I'm starting to believe that's what really explains this election.
posted by mctsonic at 10:36 AM on November 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


Quel horreur.

Ooh lookit Frenchy over here.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:37 AM on November 12, 2014 [161 favorites]




Eh, it can be part of the problem at times. Definitely not the whole problem or the leading problem in my view. That said, more populist language more consistently is probably a must. People need leaders to lead and campaigners to campaign. All this talk of blaming voters for not showing up is missing the point that they need to be given a reason to show up, especially when the other party is actively trying to suppress turnout. They aren't sheep who are just gonna show up and pull the Democratic straight ticket lever every time there is an election.

So people talk about how it's counterproductive that the voters don't do that because of various political realities about how our system works, but people aren't insiders and they aren't politicians engaging in pragmatic dealing with their voting decisions. That message is not going to resonate, especially when it comes out so vitriolically after terribly run campaigns, but Democrats seem to expect that pragmatism from their voters. You have to loudly tell them what they stand to gain from electing you. As far as I can tell, that did not happen this year for Democrats on a national scale.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:39 AM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


"MY Congressional Representative isn't the problem, it's all of the OTHER ONES. Mine is solid and gets my vote."
posted by radiosilents at 10:41 AM on November 12, 2014 [19 favorites]


In the end, 2014 may mean the same thing for 2016 as 1994 did for 1996 and 2010 did for 2012: nothing at all.

This is a strangely limp ending for an article with such an aggressive premise.
posted by winna at 10:41 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


20 or so years of an organized, overwhelming right-wing media assault on anything even remotely "liberal" (including letting brown people vote, I guess) lost the Dems the election.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:42 AM on November 12, 2014 [41 favorites]


Would we really want input from the sort of slack-jawed yokel who enjoys eating at Olive Garden and owns a TV? Those people are too stupid and tasteless to know what's good for them. Better that our Harvard-educated ruling class takes care of us.
posted by indubitable at 10:42 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think there's at least two kinds of elitism -- the "elite" who think of themselves as the rightful winners of whatever game they play, better than the rest and therefore more deserving of their wins and winnings.

Then there's the elitism of the studied/trained/experienced, who believe they have better ideas and expertise.

Getting close to either makes for some measure of awe and unease. It's easy to not like either, even when the second type can help you and wants to.

And they can overlap. Which makes for easy conflation, often on display when invoked in the context of politics.
posted by weston at 10:43 AM on November 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


History is why the dems lost the mid-terms. Clinton is the only prez since 1938 to gain seats in a second term mid-term election.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:43 AM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


And, no, elitism didn't lose the Democrats the election -- populism did. All those candidates distancing themselves from Obama instead of highlighting a) what he has accomplished and b) why he's been unable to accomplish all he set out to.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:43 AM on November 12, 2014 [54 favorites]


Unlike Howard Dean, who transparently does "understand the American people" - whatever that means. Which people? What is meant by "understand"? If you "understand" a group of people who have terrible beliefs, are you then obligated to act in their interests out of populism? What if you "understand" a variety of groups, all of which have contradictory beliefs?

And of course, given that people's "beliefs" are easily manipulable not just at the level of what they actually believe when left to themselves but at the level of how questions of belief are phrased, it's unclear just how we can get at "understanding" "the American people" in any conventional populist sense.
posted by Frowner at 10:43 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jesus H.W. Christ. The party occupying the White House got punished. There's only one party to turn to. That's what lost the Dems the mid-terms. Full stop.

Now buckle in for the ride, it's going to be bumpy.
posted by djeo at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


All those candidates distancing themselves from Obama instead of highlighting a) what he has accomplished and b) why he's been unable to accomplish all he set out to.

100%. I had an argument with my Fox News devotee father about this exact thing this weekend - the GOP did an amazing job of pinning their own refusal to compromise on Obama and the Democrats. And the Democrats didn't fight that assertion at all.
posted by troika at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2014 [25 favorites]


Did elitism lose the Democrats the 2014 midterms?

Did elitism put South Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Alaska in class II of Senate seats?
posted by aaronetc at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


No, voter suppression did, as all the post-election analysis showing that turnout was the Dems main problem bears out.

If you mean self-suppression, yes. Republican voter suppression is evil and needs to be stamped out but Democrats do not vote in midterms even in the absence of suppression. Which we need to work on.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 AM on November 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


I could so Godwin the fuck out of this thread.

But no, I'll avoid the lazy analogy and just note the incredible irony of the party of billionaires, the party of concentrated social and political power in a Faux-Populist glove, the party of the Koch Brothers and the Walton clan, smugly accusing the party that draws its electoral support from a broad alliance of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups (and so must struggle to balance their divergent needs and interests) of elitism.

But looking more closely, I note it's actually Democrats that are being quoted here. Good lord.
posted by Naberius at 10:49 AM on November 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


Elitism has fuck-all to do with it. Sys Rq has it: "elitist" is an anti-intellectual dog whistle.

The Democrats' biggest problem, IMO, is that they don't have the courage of their convictions. The Republicans, time after time after time, have shown their willingness to march lockstep into oblivion backing bills they know won't pass. The Democrats hardly ever do that (even though, when they do, they often win). The Democrats need to learn that you don't have to have a united front, but you do have to look like you do.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:50 AM on November 12, 2014 [22 favorites]


Howard Dean is kind of a yutz. I never understood why people were so excited for his candidacy; He always struck me as a somewhat more serious version of Alan Grayson. (Yes, I realize he predates Grayson by a lot but you get the idea).

I can't stand buffoonish people.
posted by Justinian at 10:51 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yes, as I think people are saying here in this thread, when you call somebody an 'elitist' - it's a code word for 'that is a person who thinks about things' - as opposed to the knee-jerk reactions of the people throwing out the term 'elitist'. I'm sorry to hear Howard Dean use that term, as I think it was effectively used against him in 2004. - ('The latte sipping, Volvo driving Vermonter' or something like that.) - with apologies to Vermonters and Volvos, especially the old square ones.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 10:52 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


20 or so years of an organized, overwhelming right-wing media assault on anything even remotely "liberal" (including letting brown people vote, I guess) lost the Dems the election.

What? As opposed to the good old days more than 20 years ago, when George Bush was denouncing card-carrying members of the ACLU and running Willie Horton ads, or when anti-war and civil rights protesters were getting killed, or when Jim Crow was in effect? Yeah, a black guy named Barack Obama could never get elected in this sort of horrible media environment, the media has simply destroyed this country.
posted by leopard at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


An out-of-context video about Obamacare (Dean later says that Gruber was a consultant, not an "architect"), three links from 2010 (with the Strickland quote being cherry-picked, by 2012 he seemed to have changed his mind), and a HuffPo editorial from the "Distinguished Senior Fellow and Resident Scholar at Third Way" seems all kinds of sketchy.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Gotta hand it to the Frank Luntzs of this world. They're going to find a way to make "competence" sound like a bad thing.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, one of the poll wonks at fivethirtyeight looked at one state (Iowa) where the Republican candidate for Senate beat the polls by 7 points and the analysis revealed "White voters in Iowa without a college degree have shifted away from the Democratic Party. And if that shift persists, it could have a big effect on the presidential race in 2016, altering the White House math by eliminating the Democratic edge in the electoral college." Sounds like the GOP Billionaires are more in tune with the 'common folk' than the Dem Elitists to me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:55 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had an argument with my Fox News devotee father

I've tried this and it never works.
posted by colie at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


perhaps a national day of voting as a federal holiday would help

"why people didn't vote"
posted by zenwerewolf at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you mean self-suppression, yes.

Well, sure, I consider promoting cynicism about voting and encouraging non-participation by whatever means vote suppression. Every election is supposed to represent the will of all the American people, whether they think they have anything to gain by voting or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget gerrymandering, please, as it is provable with simple data that there isn't actually real representation available for a lot of voters even if they do show up.

(Of course, we know how much Neo-Cons believe things like "data.")
posted by tzikeh at 10:59 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


It's so sad that the true (shamelessly, egregiously wealthy) elite have habituated the rest of us to eat cake, and we happily do.
posted by riverlife at 11:00 AM on November 12, 2014


turnout was the Dems main problem

You hear this canard a lot. "We couldn't get our voters to turn out!"

If they aren't voting for you they aren't your voters. Maybe they have a reason for not turning out.
posted by clarknova at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


Dean later says that Gruber was a consultant, not an "architect"
Dean wasn't just talking about Gruber.

with the Strickland quote being cherry-picked, by 2012 he seemed to have changed his mind
Actually your link says nothing about him changing his position on elitism; the article doesn't even mention the word.

Distinguished Senior Fellow and Resident Scholar at Third Way

Bill Schneider, a leading U.S. political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow and Resident Scholar at Third Way. Along with his work at Third Way, Bill is the Professor of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University and is a contributor to the AL Jazera English network. Bill was CNN's senior political analyst from 1990 to 2009 and was a member of the CNN political team that was awarded an Emmy for its 2006 election coverage and a Peabody for its 2008 coverage. Schneider has been labeled "the Aristotle of American politics'' by The Boston Globe. Campaigns and Elections Magazine called him "the most consistently intelligent analyst on television.''
posted by shivohum at 11:03 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Gotta hand it to the Frank Luntzs of this world. They're going to find a way to make "competence" sound like a bad thing.

Yes, and Luntz got his inspiration from Karl Rove who got his from Lee Atwater and so on and so on, like the old shampoo commercial. People have been decrying this behavior since Seneca, but it still goes on. The incompetent will always work to make the competent seem to look bad - though I think it's in a particularly acute phase. The meritocracy is struggling to keep its head above water more so than usual, or that is my impression.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 11:04 AM on November 12, 2014


But no, I'll avoid the lazy analogy and just note the incredible irony of the party of billionaires, the party of concentrated social and political power in a Faux-Populist glove, the party of the Koch Brothers and the Walton clan, smugly accusing the party that draws its electoral support from a broad alliance of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups (and so must struggle to balance their divergent needs and interests) of elitism.

I'm as down on bought elections as the next man, but given the numbers, even on this last round of politicking, you want to drop the rich republican meme. I see your Charles Koch and raise you a George Soros.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:04 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


If Dean's point is that the ACA was a failure of marketing, I agree wholeheartedly. Republicans have controlled the narrative every step of the way through persistent, negative, dishonest messaging. But the whole elitism angle is fucking bullshit.
posted by echocollate at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


1) When Howard Dean says something, he's usually worth listening to. His 50 State Strategy was a good one, got results, and has since been abandoned. He's great at taking on the Republicans, but is usually too blunt to make as much headway within his party. This is a problem. We need two-fisted brawlers running the show.

2) "Elitism" of the ivory tower sort isn't why the midterms were lost. This is a load of baloney, and plays right into Republican propaganda.

3) Elitism of over-ambitious party wonks is why the midterms were lost. The Democratic party needs to put a lot more effort into state and local races. "Friends and Neighbors" on the ballot gets people to the polls in the mid-terms. The dems seem to think that the only races worth worrying about are for statewide office. This is a problem.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2014 [27 favorites]


Dear Howard Dean,

Go fuck yourself for feeding into the GOP market-tested bullshit narrative of anti-intellectualism and the ACA being anything other than an extremely necessary vast improvement over what it replaced.

The problem with Dems isn't elitism. It's shiftless chickenshit cowardice like you so perfectly personify.

Thank you,

Navelgazer.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think it was the full court press in the media regarding Obama's failures. Ebola, day-in, day-out. Ebola is Obama's Katrina. (Bush's Katrina 1830 Americans died. Obama's Katrina: 0 Americans died (plus one foreigner in America). Even Metafilter was wall-to-wall Ebola.

Elitism goes back a long way. Adlai Stevenson was elitist. Eisenhower was not. You could go bowling with Reagan. Dukakis was elitist (how dare he spell words correctly!). Quayle wasn't.

To paraphrase Hawking: it's turtle crap all the way down.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oooh, the spectre of Soros! Have we done Ivy League yet? What about politically correct? They're coming for your guns? Objectively pro-terrorist? Any of those helps my buzzword card.

The ACA is a failure compared to single-payer, which was never on the table.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm as down on bought elections as the next man, but given the numbers, even on this last round of politicking, you want to drop the rich republican meme. I see your Charles Koch and raise you a George Soros.

it's almost as though political parties of any ideological stripe have to rely more and more on plutocrats' money as more and more money goes to plutocrats, hampering any efforts toward reform that would require plutocrats to have less money
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:10 AM on November 12, 2014 [31 favorites]


Gotta hand it to the Frank Luntzs of this world. They're going to find a way to make "competence" sound like a bad thing.

Indeed. To even begin parsing the question of "elitism" and its effect on voters requires diving deep into the fetid swamp of political discourse where you can barely tell down from up thanks to propaganda work of the right.

Populism (and progressivism and radicalism) is hardly incompatible with intellectualism as the history of reformers shows. So Strickland's wrong on that point, or at least confused, but he's right about the value in talking about what we're for (i.e. policies supported by most Americans).
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:11 AM on November 12, 2014


Schneider has been labeled "the Aristotle of American politics'' by The Boston Globe

So, basically, an elitist.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:15 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]




but given the numbers...
Indigo, those numbers are misleading enough to fall somewhere between "damned lies and statistics", considering the final paragraph of the article itself.
The Federal Election Commission data reviewed by the Sunlight Foundation does not account for so-called "dark money" spent on political nonprofits that are not required to disclose their donors and that appear to be an increasing factor in election advertising.
So the Moderate Democratic Supporting Billionaires are OPENLY giving more money, which is what you'd expect from people who "have criticized the Citizens United ruling" while those who love it are fully invested into Dark Money. The Kochs are laughing their asses off at you.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:17 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Elitist" seems to be the "hipster" of politics; it means whatever you want it to mean, and nobody will admit to being one.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:17 AM on November 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


If Democrats are elitist, Republicans are disingenuously populist.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:17 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Are Democrats elitist? Yes.
Are Republicans elitist? Yes.

By definition, anyone who has a credible shot at becoming one of our nation's 535 voting members of Congress is part of the elite. They're not even one-percenters, they're 0.000168 percenters.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:18 AM on November 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Not having a message and running away from the signature legislation of the Democratic Party lost the Democrats the election. If anyone can list 3 things the Democratic Party ran on as a platform in the last election, I'd be surprised. Give it a try yourself...
posted by Chuffy at 11:21 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Did elitism lose the Democrats the 2014 midterms?

It's part of the reason, yeah.

I'm not sure what's difficult about simply saying "We worked and voted to make sure as many people as possible could have healthcare, so that a medical emergency won't bankrupt your family. Every single Republican has repeatedly stood in the way of that. Your life could be so much better if you don't elect these shitsbags. "

Christ, if negative campaigning works, then try it out a bit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on November 12, 2014 [35 favorites]


and as for... The Affordable Care Act was "put together by a bunch of elitists who don't really fundamentally understand the American people," it WAS mostly the same plan developed by the very-GOP Heritage Foundation and passed in Massachusetts as "Romneycare". Sounds pretty elitist to me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:22 AM on November 12, 2014




it means whatever you want it to mean, and nobody will admit to being one.
noun
adjective: elitist; noun: elitist; plural noun: elitists

1.
a person who believes that a system or society should be ruled or dominated by an elite.
Seems pretty clear to me.


If Democrats are elitist, Republicans are disingenuously populist.

And also elitist.
posted by clarknova at 11:26 AM on November 12, 2014


oneswellfoop: it WAS mostly the same plan developed by the very-GOP Heritage Foundation and passed in Massachusetts as "Romneycare". Sounds pretty elitist to me.

FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU KILL THIS MEME WITH FIRE

Romneycare didn't expand Medicaid. Romneycare didn't regulate how much insurers had to pay out in benefits. Romneycare didn't do away with lifetime caps. I could go on, but can we stop pretending "Obamacare" is just the fucking exchanges?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:26 AM on November 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


Get Your War On addressed this back in the George Bush era: If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room," I'll be an elitist!
posted by exogenous at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


"We worked and voted to make sure as many people as possible could have healthcare, so that a medical emergency won't bankrupt your family." Of course, if you're one of the millions who already have halfway-decent healthcare and don't give a flying fuck if 'everybody' has it, as long as the cost to YOU doesn't go up, then the ACA is not helping you. One vote from a person whose life was saved is offset by one vote from a person who blames Obamacare for raising their insurance costs 6%.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


And also elitist.

Hence "disingenuously."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:29 AM on November 12, 2014


"Well, sure, I consider promoting cynicism about voting and encouraging non-participation by whatever means vote suppression."

I'll grant that to you to a limited degree. It's surely part of this pattern of unrepresentation by the Democratic colatiion in mid-term elections. But I think there's a number of broad trends that are contributing to this and it's not just the result of opposition activism.

Or, rather, I think that you have the focus wrong. Longer-running trends of declining voting are the first-order explanation for why mid-term elections are in general relatively low-turnout. But what we're seeing is that conservatism has gotten quite adept at GOTV for mid-term and more local elections, so the result is a relative advantage in mid-terms. I'm not saying that vote-suppression isn't a factor at all, just that I don't think it's a big or deciding factor.

And there's two things driving the conservative success in GOTV in mid-term and local elections. The first is, yes, just strong, long-lived, effective organization that has largely been absent on the left. We could improve there; that's been a puzzle and frustration for a long time. But the second is more intractable -- the fact of the matter is that conservatism is increasingly a low-diversity social identity that feels threatened. The left and center-left (and center) of American politics is just the rest of us, very diverse and a coalition of greatly varied interests. The right inherently has an enthusiasm advantage these days. That's not going to change until this cadre dies away and the American political right becomes the rightward version of the rest of us. If that happens before we fully become a plutocracy, that is.

"Let's not forget gerrymandering, please, as it is provable with simple data that there isn't actually real representation available for a lot of voters even if they do show up."

That's not really true. Gerrymandering is really important in that it's made congressional districts across-the-board very unlikely to change hands. But with regard to a GOP advantage, multiple authoritative analysis show that it's an advantage that accounts for only a few seats. Gerrymandering is bad, generally, and it gives the GOP an advantage, but it's a small advantage that is not so important compared to other factors.

Maybe it's just because I'm old (I just turned 50, so forgive me for indulging in feeling like I'm suddenly an old person), but when I read and hear people making these sorts of claims about elections -- that we lost because we're "elitist" or we lost because we didn't pound on inequality or we lost because we didn't focus on the GOP's obstructionism or we lost because of vote suppression or we lost because of gerrymandering, and in the context of a mid-term election where a large number of defended seats were ones that the Dems had gained in the last election in particular favorable conditions in states that are fundamental difficult for Democrats -- well, I just feel like I'm hearing myself twenty or thirty years ago, when I thought about elections the way that the press likes to cover elections, as if it's all about a particularly good advertising campaign or whatever. I'm not a hard-core poli-sci "fundamentals" sort, I do think that how campaigns are ran, the press, and all sorts of other things matter. But fundamentals matter a lot and, more to the point, all of this stuff goes into the blender and produces the outcomes of any given election. It's just not one thing and there are no easy answers. A lot of this "here's what we/they did wrong" is simply false and often counterproductive because it sets up false narratives and creates unrealistic expectations.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:30 AM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Why the Republicans Won.
posted by wittgenstein at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: That's not really true. Gerrymandering is really important in that it's made congressional districts across-the-board very unlikely to change hands. But with regard to a GOP advantage, multiple authoritative analysis show that it's an advantage that accounts for only a few seats. Gerrymandering is bad, generally, and it gives the GOP an advantage, but it's a small advantage that is not so important compared to other factors.

Sam Wang said gerrymandering alone accounted for a swing of 26 seats in 2012. That sounds like a lot to me. Care to cite something that suggests it's smaller?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Remember that gerrymandering has no effect on Senate elections and that's where Democrats got seal-clubbed this election cycle!
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


One vote from a person whose life was saved is offset by one vote from a person who blames Obamacare for raising their insurance costs 6%.

Is this provable? Insurance costs go up every year like clockwork. Where is the homework showing a 6% cost increase because of ACA, and what is the proposed cause in that law specifically?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:36 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would rather have a politician who is elitist as all get-out than one of these bottom-feeders willing to say any stupid anti-intellectual bullshit to tighten the pants of Joe Sixpack.
posted by Legomancer at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Elitism is certainly a problem for the democrats, though I doubt it's a really big one. It's really part of a larger portrait which has been painstaking limned by the GOP. The reason it sticks, however, is because there is some truth to it. If you don't think that democrats have a tendency to look down on "rednecks," or you don't think there's anything elitist about that, then you may need to take a step back and look at yourself from the outside, if possible. I can't count the number of times here I've seen someone chastised for disagreeing with feminists to be slapped down with the criticism that they haven't "read enough." It's intellectual elitism, and it's a very real thing among democrats.

Obviously, the republicans greatly exaggerate and play up the elitism thing every time that they can. But they do it because it works, and it works because there is some truth underneath it all. It doesn't mean that every democrat is an elitist, and I certainly think that republicans cleave to their own form of elitism which is actually far more extreme. It's a wealth elitism versus an ivory tower elitism. But it's hard to bash them for it without also seeming to simply hate people for being successful.

But was elitism part of the problem with Affordable Care? I personally don't think so.
posted by Edgewise at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


Is this provable?

Oh YOU! Thinking something needs to be proved for people to believe it.

I heard a lot of employers passed off health care increases as "due to Obamacare". Never mind that they've been rising for years.

Look, the numbers were stacked from beginning against the Democrats, with so many seats to defend. They didn't do themselves any favors by running from Obama and having any sort of coherent message.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Justinian: Remember that gerrymandering has no effect on Senate elections and that's where Democrats got seal-clubbed this election cycle!

Yeah, but you have to consider that only 1/3 of the seats were up, and the specific states involved were very unfavorable territory for the Democrats. They likely still underperformed compared to how things would have gone if the map were different, but a lot of the reason Senate results look so much worse is that there were hardly any gimme Democratic wins like there will be in 2016 and even 2018.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:41 AM on November 12, 2014


Sounds like the GOP Billionaires are more in tune with the 'common folk' than the Dem Elitists to me.

You could look at that one election in Iowa or you could look at nearly every other election ever and the mountain of research on them to see that Dems do better among the uneducated.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:43 AM on November 12, 2014


Gerrymandering is how we have a structurally Republican House. State Senate and House races actually matter because the party that dominates at the state level gets to stack the deck in their favor especially now that VRA protections continue to be eroded.

It's also why Republican donors have made state legislatures races so expensive because a) those people represent your bench and b) a surprising amount of political decisions are still made at the state level and state legislatures and supreme courts can do a lot to undermine any liberal agenda especially if everyone is playing with the ALEC playlist.

But back to the essential argument, no elitism didn't cost the Democrats the election. Obama was always going to get trounced in this election because every two term President gets trounced in that 3rd election cycle especially because turnout is typically shit.

I'd say the fundamental lack of a compelling counter-narrative to Republican talking points is the major issue holding back Democrats. Instead of letting Republicans define what they are and who the Democrats are the Democrats are always playing defensive, having to defend themselves as true Americans.

Of course developing a counter narrative is harder given the lack of philosophical purity in the Democratic party.
posted by vuron at 11:43 AM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Edgewise: If you don't think that democrats have a tendency to look down on "rednecks," or you don't think there's anything elitist about that, then you may need to take a step back and look at yourself from the outside, if possible.

Is a "redneck" in this case someone who merely lives in a red state and/or a rural area, or just the ones who shun knowledge, and who proudly and incorrectly claim they don't use any government benefits? Turning down your nose at the former would be elitism, whereas not turning down your nose at the latter would be pandering.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:44 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


My words: "a person who blames Obamacare"... with a title like Affordable Care Act, it set up an expectation of healthcare costs dropping. The GOP didn't even have to try hard to create a widely-held belief that ANY rise in costs is due to the ACA, because "it's not a free market anymore". Not saying it's a reasonable belief, just a common one.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's part of the reason, yeah.

I'm not sure what's difficult about simply saying "We worked and voted to make sure as many people as possible could have healthcare, so that a medical emergency won't bankrupt your family. Every single Republican has repeatedly stood in the way of that. Your life could be so much better if you don't elect these shitsbags. "


Let's go the next step.

How many people in this thread declared the "red" portions of the country to be "Dumbfuckistan?" To the extent self-identified Democrats/liberals are calling voters dumb, that's elitism (even if it's true).

How many of these self-identified Democrats/liberals could legitimately go into a working-class bar in a working-class neighborhood - and I'm not talking some hipster joint with PBR tallboys at the ready - and fit in? And FEEL like they fit in?
posted by kgasmart at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


not turning down your nose at the latter would be pandering.
If you're not pandering to somebody, you'll never win an election in the USofA.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


kgasmart: How many of these self-identified Democrats/liberals could legitimately go into a working-class bar in a working-class neighborhood - and I'm not talking some hipster joint with PBR tallboys at the ready - and fit in? And FEEL like they fit in?

For those keeping score, this is the seventh unique definition of "elitism" in the thread. I think we all get free arugula salads at 10.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on November 12, 2014 [27 favorites]


I would have expected better from Howard Dean. I understand his larger point, but I think his phrasing is terrible. There's this very old strain of anti-intellectualism in America that poisons our civic discourse and which naturally favors conservatives. Democrats will at least acknowledge that complex problems require complex, imperfect solutions (like the ACA), while Republicans just cynically exploit the ignorance of the electorate and tell people what they want to hear.

If you take longer than 10 seconds to explain something in America, that's elitism. 25% of the country automatically hates you, and another 20% are at least suspicious. Taxes are always too high. Regulations are always too much of a burden on business and they kill jobs. Deregulation is always the answer, regardless of the question (unless the question is about abortion, because that stops a beating heart). Global Warming? That's a scam concocted by socialists to take your freedom. How do we stop Ebola? Let's impose travel bans and punitive quarantines, even though the experts disagree. Fuck the experts, what do they know? Et cetera.

The Democrats' main problem these days is that while they are willing to acknowledge complexity and at least make an effort to actually govern, they're still beholden to the money that funds their campaigns. So where a little bit of populism and simplification might actually guide policy-making in a productive fashion (like, say, allowing anyone to buy into Medicare), the Democrats can't take advantage. Add this all together and the party ends up exciting almost no one, even though they've provided reasonably competent, center-right governance.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


For those keeping score, this is the seventh unique definition of "elitism" in the thread.

I'll give you a quick and easy definition that covers all the bases: If you think someone is too dumb to know what's good for them, but YOU know what's good for them, that's elitism.
posted by kgasmart at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


kgasmart: I'll give you a quick and easy definition that covers all the bases: If you think someone is too dumb to know what's good for them, but YOU know what's good for them, that's elitism.

Then the founders were elitist, because they eschewed direct democracy in favor of proportional representation, which makes all of the representatives elitist for daring to vote in any way that would go against a straight referendum of their constituents.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Why are you trying to create a faux dichotomy between supposed limo liberals and the common folk?

Plenty of Democrats/Liberals come from lower and middle class socio-economic strata and can blend in perfectly well. It's a Republican talking point since fucking Reagan that anyone liberal is automatically part of an ivory tower elite that won't deign to tread the same ground as the plebs.

I work all the time with salt of the earth types and while most are Republicans (I live in Texas) there are also more than a few salt of the earth types that are vehemently liberal and feel that government can be part of the solution.

It's just that the Democratic narrative tends to blatantly steer away from the sort of economic populism that typically fires up the working-class.
posted by vuron at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


"Sam Wang said gerrymandering alone accounted for a swing of 26 seats in 2012. That sounds like a lot to me. Care to cite something that suggests it's smaller?"

Well, we're making relative comparisons. In Wang's analysis, it still didn't account for the full swing in votes, which itself is distinct from the overall winning margin. In popular discussion, people claim that in the absence of GOP-controlled redistricting, the Democrats would control the House. But it would just be more competitive; gerrymandering isn't itself the reason for the GOP advantage. It's part of the reason, but it's usually overstated.

Anyway, I'd not seen Wang's analysis but I had seen both Silver's and the Monkey Cage's analysis he was responding to, and some others I can't recall -- weirdly, two years seems like a long time. After a quick look, I think that Wang's analysis looks pretty good and so I'll accept the correction to some degree -- it's not just a "few" seats. But I hope you understand that I was responding to the popular idea that without gerrymandering, it would be the 70s and 80s House again. That's not true.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:53 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


History is why the dems lost the mid-terms. Clinton is the only prez since 1938 to gain seats in a second term mid-term election.

History, like that, is not a reason for anything. That's simply what's happened before, it says nothing that addresses why that happened, or happens.

100%. I had an argument with my Fox News devotee father about this exact thing this weekend - the GOP did an amazing job of pinning their own refusal to compromise on Obama and the Democrats. And the Democrats didn't fight that assertion at all.

Fox News devotees are not the people to talk to to figure out if people in general remember the big congressional ruckuses. You're testing for the presence of Kool-Aid in a sample composed entirely of Purplesaurus Rex.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


The real elitism problem with the Democrats is that a strong populist message would anger a large section of their donor class. The right-wing populism of the GOP is just fine with their donors, because it's not a threat.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


I think Strickland is right to some degree about the elitism--when one looks at Ohio very specifically and our particular state dynamics, not on any kind of a national level. We have had a serious problem with not being able to find state-level Democrats who are capable of actually acting like they can simultaneously govern urban and rural Ohio, which are very different places. I would not say that the same problem exists nationally. In particular, Ohio is a reliably swingy state when it comes to the presidential election, and yet the state offices have been running very red, and I think that says something, here. But, again, our particular problems are not necessarily the nation's problems. I really do wish that the Democrats in Ohio would stop treating rural areas like lost causes and just collecting their reliable urban votes and hoping for turnout. Gerrymandering aside, we are all still stuck as a single state.

But I don't think it's a general problem with elitism; I think it's a particular problem here that comes from the party being nearly-nonexistent in much of the state and completely entrenched in other areas. We have a lot of problems because of this. Stuff like--Capri Cafaro, a state senator, is about my age, has been serving since she was in her twenties, and the general opinion at the time was that her family was trying to buy her a seat in Congress but settled. (Her family owns one of the largest real estate development companies in the country.) But that's just the kind of thing that's regarded as oh, well, yeah, that happens in Ohio. We're expected to be okay with the fact that our party works that way. It's not been doing us any favors.

A lot of Ohio's Republicans are certainly being funded by wealthy people, but a lot of the Republican voting base here is poor country folk who've been taught to blame blacks/gays/etc for their problems. Making common ground there is complicated but not going to be achieved by people who treat state offices like they're internships for the children of the wealthy. But this is not to say that I think this is the problem elsewhere.
posted by Sequence at 11:55 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'll give you a quick and easy definition that covers all the bases: If you think someone is too dumb to know what's good for them, but YOU know what's good for them, that's elitism.

Laws: Ideas so good, they have to be mandatory
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


>The Kochs are laughing their asses off at you.

Don't see why they should single me out. I acknowledged that they spend money in large amounts, I merely point out that Democrat billionaires do the same. The comment I was responding to, in addition to many other of cliches and generalizations, suggested that the rich were exclusively republican, which is demonstrably nonsense. Politics tends to narrow focus in the blue as elsewhere and I think the odd reminder that the game is not entirely Manichean is no bad thing.

So whether the bribes are above board or below, I kind of don't care. I'm not trying to make my party look virtuous, because I don't have one.

That said, of senators I appreciated the likes of Bernie Sanders and a very few of his underclassmates simply because their personal wealth suggests living strictly on salary. (Though I suppose the dark side might be that they care more for power than for themselves, which makes them unpredictable. Complex, as I say.)

Final point - I'm old enough to remember the Gingrich Contract With America. Given what happened after that, I wouldn't get overly excited about this last election.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyone who feels that there is no room for experts in the realm of public policy discourse is being ignorant. The argument can be made that bureaucracy is how the technocrats subvert the will of the electorate because at the end of the day someone actually has to make the "trains run on time" but I don't think it's somehow demeaning to the average voter to suggest that sometimes experts in a variety of fields are essential to arriving at good public policy.

I don't think you should call in an scientist if you have a stopped drain in your house or need a new addition to your home but you also shouldn't be afraid to call in climate scientists if you are discussing energy policy either.

Anti-intellectualism where "good ol fashioned common sense" is routinely portrayed as somehow superior to peer reviewed scientific evidence is fundamentally damaging to our democracy as it's essentially being used as a tool for silencing experts by villifying expertise as elitism.
posted by vuron at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Final point - I'm old enough to remember the Gingrich Contract With America. Given what happened after that, I wouldn't get overly excited about this last election."

Haha. Wow, is that true. I'd just turned thirty. I was at a science/engineering school that skewed rightward, most folks there were happy about the election. But, um, those same folks were really pissed off about the plans to reduce student financial aid. Funny how that works. I kept wanting to punch people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


The main problem with the ACA is that it's a bandaid on a fundamentally broken system, and basically a gigantic hand-out to insurance companies.
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on November 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Justinian: Remember that gerrymandering has no effect on Senate elections and that's where Democrats got seal-clubbed this election cycle!

Extremely wrong. Gerrymandering is, among other things, a voter-depression tactic.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


How many of these self-identified Democrats/liberals could legitimately go into a working-class bar in a working-class neighborhood - and I'm not talking some hipster joint with PBR tallboys at the ready - and fit in? And FEEL like they fit in?

This is not a definition of elitism, this is elitism wrapped up with condescending populist bullshit. "Oh those working class people in the working class bar, they are so salt of the earth that I feel embarrassed by my fancy pants city living and the fact that I use a computer at work. Man, I am so out of touch with reality."

Meanwhile, in actual reality, the median member of Congress is a fucking millionaire and the median Senator is worth $3 million.
posted by leopard at 12:16 PM on November 12, 2014 [17 favorites]


This is not a definition of elitism, this is elitism wrapped up with condescending populist bullshit. "Oh those working class people in the working class bar, they are so salt of the earth that I feel embarrassed by my fancy pants city living and the fact that I use a computer at work. Man, I am so out of touch with reality."

The point being - these "salt of the earth" types, do you actually know any of them, and I'm not talking about the people you met when you volunteered down at X or Y. Do you live where they live, do you know who they are and what their actual concerns are?

Or do you think the net worth of their Congressman is their primary concern?
posted by kgasmart at 12:23 PM on November 12, 2014


Is a "redneck" in this case someone who merely lives in a red state and/or a rural area, or just the ones who shun knowledge, and who proudly and incorrectly claim they don't use any government benefits? Turning down your nose at the former would be elitism, whereas not turning down your nose at the latter would be pandering.

Your question is very revealing!
posted by Edgewise at 12:23 PM on November 12, 2014


This is not a definition of elitism, this is elitism wrapped up with condescending populist bullshit.

And obviously predicated on "working class" as being white, rural, and red-state.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:24 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


As problematic as ACA is in some ways it still delivers on expanding access to a medical insurance system that is basically essential for Americans to survive without being constantly at risk of bankruptcy or worse.

Of course a single payer system would've been superior for most Americans (but not Insurance executives and shareholders who obviously lobbied extensively to defeat any hope of a single payer system) but the US was never going to get that as long as the bulk of the electorate still had employer provided insurance.

The decrease in the rate yearly cost increases will probably keep a substantial number of employers offering insurance for a while yet which let's be completely honest was somewhat at risk given the double digit annual cost increases prior to ACA.

So maybe long term undermining ACA would ultimately be good for the nation as more and more consumers would be priced out of the medical markets and thus there would be more eventual demand for a single payer system down the road but in the meantime things would probably suck for a lot of Americans.

Ultimately I'd prefer to get a mediocre law that provides increased medical access to a larger percentage of Americans than wait for a time when a perfect solution could be achieved but I'm very much an advocate of idea that the perfect is an enemy of the good. The US got something less than perfect but for a good number of Americans the individual good of increased health insurance access (and the consequental access to routine health) has resulted in a net social benefit.
posted by vuron at 12:25 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


My words: "a person who blames Obamacare"

Sure, sure. I was just wondering if there is anything at all, whatsoever in the way of numbers behind this, regardless of it being a damned lie/statistic, or if it's (as I suspect) completely hot air and based on nothing other than Republican noise.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2014


And obviously predicated on "working class" as being white, rural, and red-state.

Which a lot of them are. I'm in semi-rural Pennsylvania; guess what the working class looks like here?

I guess I should just tell them all to "check their privilege" and expect them to vote Democratic?
posted by kgasmart at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's hard to believe Dean, who I have always considered a fairly intelligent man, would blithely hand the GOP yet another facile contextless talking point in their ongoing war to brainwash average Americans against their own self-interests. Afuckingmazing. (I do agree with other comments Dean has recently made that the national Democratic organization lacked a game plan for the mid-term elections, however.) As a physician and former leader of the DNC, Dean should know that the core problems with the ACA are that it was a compromise attempt with corporate America and GOP opponents who had no intention of reasonably compromising and every intention of scoring cheap 24/7 news media points at every possible opportunity.

How many of these self-identified Democrats/liberals could legitimately go into a working-class bar in a working-class neighborhood

Uh. This seems like an oddly limited definition of "non-elitist" (speaking as someone who has spent his fair share of time drinking in working class bars over the decades).
posted by aught at 12:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Where is the homework showing a 6% cost increase because of ACA, and what is the proposed cause in that law specifically?

Yeah, that's not the way it works. The burden of proof, as far as the public is concerned, is the other way around. "The Democrats re-jiggered healthcare, now you're paying more." That's what people are going to hear, and have been hearing, and the response to that has been very weak.

Of course, it's difficult to respond effectively to that given that what the ACA basically does, by intent, is shift costs. But what we saw this week is that the administration never really sold the public on that. They seem to basically have gambled on the pubic not really understanding it but liking the effects enough they they wouldn't mind once they figured it out. It's not clear whether in the long run that will be regarded as a winning strategy.

Anti-intellectualism where "good ol fashioned common sense" is routinely portrayed as somehow superior to peer reviewed scientific evidence is fundamentally damaging to our democracy

"Common sense" has a long history in American politics. It's not new, and it's unlikely to go away.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:27 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The point being - these "salt of the earth" types, do you actually know any of them, and I'm not talking about the people you met when you volunteered down at X or Y. Do you live where they live, do you know who they are and what their actual concerns are?

Of course I don't know any of them, I'm a pro-choice liberal who believes in a higher minimum wage and universal health care. How could an out-of-touch elitist like myself possibly have the chance to know them when Mitt Romney, Rick Scott, and Sam Brownback know where they live, who they are, and what their actual concerns are?
posted by leopard at 12:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


I guess I should just tell them all to "check their privilege" and expect them to vote Democratic?

In my elitist circles, people have their own political views and aren't just sitting around waiting for me to say something elitist so that they can feel justified voting for a Republican.

Does it work differently in semi-rural Pennsylvania?
posted by leopard at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


"MY Congressional Representative isn't the problem, it's all of the OTHER ONES. "

As a DC resident, I can say this, and have the bonus of it actually being true.

Seriously. There are 600,000 of us who do not have a meaningful vote in congressional elections (not to mention the additional 3.6 million Americans in Puerto Rico who also do not have access to a democratically-elected government).
posted by schmod at 12:32 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Does it work differently in semi-rural Pennsylvania?

In semi-rural Pennsylvania they're already voting Republican. They've voted Republican all their lives, as did their parents before them. But they might actually listen to "the other side" so long as they got the idea that the other side wasn't lecturing them or sneering at them and their hillbilly ways.
posted by kgasmart at 12:36 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


How could an out-of-touch elitist like myself possibly have the chance to know them when Mitt Romney, Rick Scott, and Sam Brownback know where they live, who they are, and what their actual concerns are?

I think this is disingenous. I don't think the GOP leadership actually knows them--but they're clearly good at pretending they know them. If I want the Democrats to do any better, in particular in my state, then I really want them to be actually reaching out and addressing concerns and NOT just fear-mongering the way the GOP does. It's clearly not something that's going to feel very fun or rewarding in the moment, but I used to do some major holidays with an ex of mine and his family out in rural NW Ohio, and it was like going back in time. Not fifty years, but like--more like a hundred. Homes that hadn't been through any major renovation since the Hoover administration, people who still clearly saw college as a fancy-people luxury and thought that men should work in farming or manufacturing or mayyyybe one of the trades and women should be at home. I did not like them one bit, but shouting at them was hardly going to make them support progressive causes. A lot of people in the US still need to be sold on what the modern world is going to offer them that 1940 didn't.

I think the answer to that is "a lot", but that doesn't mean that making snarky comments and just expecting them to catch up is going to be a working strategy.

Now, I think that in some states, it is legitimately a tougher sell to much of the base because Southern evangelicals in particular are for the most part doing Just Fine. But here, yeah, there are actually a bunch of rural people who need someone to help catch them up to the last 50 years that have largely passed them by while they were just trying to make ends meet.
posted by Sequence at 12:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


A lot of those salt of the earth types are justifiably scared about their economic futures and their place within a new 21st century America.

They've been told (as have we all) that hard work means that the lives of their children will be better than theirs. They were told that hard work and high school education (or a college education) was enough to get a factory job and support a wife and two kids and still be able to buy a new car every couple of years.

They've been told that if they just want something they need to go out and get it.

And unfortunately the truth of the matter is that economic pressures are eroding that sense of ease at the same time the competitive pressures that keeping up with with the Joneses. Now they look around the US and see jobs going overseas, and their kids that they worked hard to put through school and college struggling to find good jobs post-graduation and they are wondering what is wrong.

And the truth of the matter is that the Democratic explanation is very satisfactory to them because it deals with complex issues of globalization and competition and it's very very easy to buy into this Conservative narrative that the Minorities are stealing jobs or that Democrats aren't very business friendly and thus companies are fleeing to more capitalist friendly areas.

They look at their kid's friends and shit that would never be tolerated back in the day like boys kissing boys and girls kissing girls is somehow acceptable and they go to church on Sunday and they hear from the pastor about Leviticus and it becomes easy to villify them.

I venture that almost every liberal in this thread has family members just like that because almost every family has members just like that. It's not necessarily ignorance or hatred or stupidity driving people to any one party it's the fundamental comfort of being given a prepackaged meal of "it's not your fault" that is very very compelling to a large percentage of the electorate. And it's not a matter of pulling the wool back from over someone's eyes, many times people will continue to believe something despite all evidence to the contrary.
posted by vuron at 12:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm the one sneering at their hillbilly ways?

You: these hillbillies only vote for people who would feel comfortable in their local bars
Me: they feel comfortable voting for people with net worths in the 9 figures

You: these hillbillies are so offended by your horrible elitism that they will never support your political party just because you're so elitist
Me: most voters have fairly well-established political beliefs and party allegiances and semi-rural Pennsylvanians are no different from any political demographic in that regard

I don't know, it looks to me like you're the one sneering pretty hard.
posted by leopard at 12:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't understand the theory that working class people and/or their kids can't be on metafilter or can't be democrats or whatever. Is the idea that people here tend to be smart and relatively well-read so of course we couldn't be working class and are snobs? Or is it because people here are liberals? Liberals can't be working class? Have you met a union voter?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:42 PM on November 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


(I always wonder - as a queer and gender-non-conforming person with a pink collar union gig - just how successful I would be in a "working class" bar....since "working class" here never means, like, "class mixed queer bar" or "bar that is secure for people who are not men". I mean, no, I would not personally go in and belly up to the bar at my local authentic working class bar...not least because it just now occurs to me that the most authentic "working class" bar close to my house is the bar where Cece McDonald was attacked by a man with a swastika tattoo and his buddies. This whole business of "elitism" versus "working class people" never takes into account the fact that not all working class people are white or straight or men.)
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on November 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


Let's go the next step.

How many people in this thread declared the "red" portions of the country to be "Dumbfuckistan?" To the extent self-identified Democrats/liberals are calling voters dumb, that's elitism (even if it's true).

How many of these self-identified Democrats/liberals could legitimately go into a working-class bar in a working-class neighborhood - and I'm not talking some hipster joint with PBR tallboys at the ready - and fit in? And FEEL like they fit in?


What makes this the next step from Brandon Blatcher's clear appeal? What is that step, exactly? Why do these questions matter?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:44 PM on November 12, 2014


Also, as far as I can tell my grandma doesn't vote democrat anymore because she buys into anti-immigrant racism. Not because democrats are sneery elites, because they are black or Mexican or tolerant of black people and Mexicans. Poor white people being turned against poor people of color: truly a time-honored tradition. God bless the USA.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:47 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Which a lot of them are. I'm in semi-rural Pennsylvania; guess what the working class looks like here?

In 2012, 41% of the electorate had an income of less than $50,000 and 60% of them voted for Obama. So whatever's happening in Pennsylvania, it's not strictly about being "working class."

I guess I should just tell them all to "check their privilege" and expect them to vote Democratic?

Hey, it was your stupid thought experiment and your choice to define "working class" as semi-rural Pennsylvanians. Don't blame me that it falls apart in a light breeze.

But they might actually listen to "the other side" so long as they got the idea that the other side wasn't lecturing them or sneering at them and their hillbilly ways.

You're the one (incorrectly, it would seem) stereotyping the working class, how they vote, what they do with their spare time, and what their socioeconomic motivations are. As leopard points out, it's not us who's sneering. At either side, for that matter.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:47 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE SLACK-JAWED YOKELS
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


The burden of proof, as far as the public is concerned, is the other way around.

Insurance costs have been going up--as long as I have been working--every year like clockwork, as I mentioned. Willfully ignoring that in favor of Republican bloviation is both dumb (woo hoo, I'm elitist!) and, I suppose, par for the course.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2014


I don't know, it looks to me like you're the one sneering pretty hard.

Right, because I'm sneering at you and your apparent belief that the net worth of their congressman is the primary concern of the working class.

The people in this semi-rural part of Pennsylvania just re-elected their high net-worth Congressman. And his pay, his net worth, is a distant second to their impression that he represents their interests. Well, what are those interests? Protecting the "traditional family" is one. Low taxes is another.

Democrats traditionally write off those voters as unreachable. But they're not. Because important as the "traditional family" may be in the face of the gay marriage onslaught, the fact that their own incomes, their standard of living, has stagnated is equally as important. Well, Democrats really couldn't run on that either this year, Obama having been in office six years and their paychecks having continually eroded over that period.

But if you're going to make that case to them, credibly, you have to actually represent them, be representative. Instead, what I get in this thread is - income inequality! THAT'S what those people out there in places I don't live and never visit care about! Hey, we know what they want - I learned it in school! Look at the pollls! Look at the statistics!

That's great. Then there's this:

In a forthcoming paper in the American Political Science Review, Ryan D. Enos, an assistant government professor at Harvard, and Eitan D. Hersh, an assistant professor of political science at Yale, describe how they surveyed more than 3,000 Obama campaign volunteers in the midst of the 2012 election. They found that “individuals who were interacting with swing voters on the campaign’s behalf were demographically unrepresentative, ideologically extreme, cared about atypical issues, and misunderstood the voters’ priorities.”

Obama campaign volunteers in 2012 were often more liberal, better-educated, whiter and richer than the voters they were attempting to persuade or mobilize through phone calls and knocking on doors.


They misunderstood the voters' priorities? But how could that be! They learned all about those priorities at the academy!
posted by kgasmart at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll give you a quick and easy definition that covers all the bases: If you think someone is too dumb to know what's good for them, but YOU know what's good for them, that's elitism.

We live in the most powerful and influential country in an increasingly complex world. The particular Jacksonian flavor of our style of representative democracy has never been stronger. That, coupled with rank partisanship and a general anti-intellectualism doesn't give me much faith that the average American can competently pick his own ass, much less vote responsibly for legislators principled and capable enough to effectively address the great problems of the day.

If I'm elitist for believing that, then I happily embrace the label.
posted by echocollate at 1:00 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mr. Enos said the imbalance most likely extended to Republican campaigns as well.

Huh.

And, I forget, how did that 2012 election turn out for Obama and his demographically unrepresentative campaign volunteers?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


That paper is by Ivy League elites so I will ignore it. If they can't go to a bar in my hometown without getting punched they have bad opinions and don't understand REAL voters.

Btw I always thought the charge of elitism was both anti-intellectual and a bit of an anti-semitic dogwhistle. The people where I'm from wouldn't know a Jew if one ran up and bit them but they still toss "Jew" around as a slur.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


the working class around me have a phrase for those who vote republican - "you're living/working democratic but voting republican"

they're quite aware of who's on their side and the exceptions tend to be hung up on the cultural issues

unfortunately, the democratic working class don't feel that anyone's really listening to them anymore

so, my definition of the elite is this - people who are talking to you, but aren't listening to you - you don't get to tell them what you want, they get to tell you what you want

oddly enough, i see this reflected in some of the comments here - people telling others what's good for them and not even bothering to listen to what they think about it

as far as experts are concerned, wasn't it experts who created the atomic bomb? - wasn't it experts who created the massive clusterfuck that is our health and insurance system? - wasn't it experts who created the industry and infrastructure that is now causing global warming?

four out of five doctors prefer camels - or was it chesterfields?

go ahead and sneer at "common sense" if you like, but understand that our society is in the process of shitting our own nest, pissing away our children's future, and eating up our seed corn - all with the justification of experts

call a dirt farmer ignorant if you like, but he probably wouldn't do those things - why are we?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait, lemme get this straight: Rural Pennsylvanians are fine voting for candidates who aren't like them, and it's fine for people to vote for candidates who aren't like them, but the problem with Democratic volunteers is that they aren't like rural Pennsylvanians?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


In other words - they weren't representative. And when that's the face of your campaign, then yeah, you're not going to drum up much support at that theoretical bar.

And yet Obama won that election fairly comfortably, and in most swing states. And "whiter" didn't seem to dissuade voters who weren't white from voting for him in higher-than-usual percentages, either.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean citing a paper by a guy at Harvard and a guy at Yale and then sassing about the academy is a new one for me
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Right, because I'm sneering at you and your apparent belief that the net worth of their congressman is the primary concern of the working class.

Right, I'm such an idiot. What really matters to them is not the net worth of their Congressman, but whether me, random Metafilter commetner leopard, who doesn't even live in their state, would feel comfortable drinking in their bar. *That's* what really matters to them, that's basically the foundation for their entire worldview.

Your respect for these people is truly remarkable.
posted by leopard at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Democratic campaign volunteers are often young college educated individuals without a ton of responsibilities tying them to careers and children. A large percentage of them are also minorities. There are also a significant number of unions members but union members is kinda a double edge sword because of years of Republican talking points about how union members are corrupt and lazy and killing jobs.

Obama did a very good job connecting with young voters in 2008 and those young voters still make a very significant percentage of his volunteer base. Unfortunately though they weren't very successful in getting their peers to come out this time. Part of the problem was of course that the vast majority of the Democrats ran against their own president rather than actually claiming his successes as their own.

But let's be honest a true economic populist would never really be nominated by either party at the current time.
posted by vuron at 1:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


They misunderstood the voters' priorities? But how could that be! They learned all about those priorities at the academy!

So I met one of the authors about a week ago when he was presenting his research at our department. His evidence also shows that the Obama campaign was more effective than the Romney campaign. So if they were out of touch elitists and the Romney campaign were salt of the earth, then why were they more effective?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:08 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Competence is elitist.
posted by JHarris at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


TWIST: the department was also at an IVY LEAGUE institution and I grew up working class so WTF DO YOU THINK NOW?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pennsylvania (my own home state) is actually an interesting case. Most Republican incumbents cruised to re-election last Tuesday, and the GOP even picked up a couple surprise wins in Maryland (!) and Massachusetts (!!!). Meanwhile, Tom Corbett got his ass handed to him. Tom Corbett, the guy who invited massive energy companies to turn the Keystone state into "the Texas of natural gas", and instead of taxing them for it, took money from education funding. What could be more elitist than that?

Notably, Corbett got slaughtered in precincts blue, red, and purple all over the state, because even "semi-rural Pennsylvanians" know that's some bullshit. His mistake was not being as cagey about hiding the ball as the GOP is at the national level.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


What the fuck is "working class"? Is it an income range? A lifestyle? A culture? Everyone's got their fucking knives out in this thread over a bunch of nebulous concepts.
posted by charred husk at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Liberty County in Florida is about 70% Democrats. They voted 80% for Romney, so I guess they're maybe somewhat "elitist".
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:20 PM on November 12, 2014


charred husk: What the fuck is "working class"? Is it an income range? A lifestyle? A culture? Everyone's got their fucking knives out in this thread over a bunch of nebulous concepts.

zombieflanders actually tried to come up with a working definition above. Others are welcome to offer their own, but that one seems as reasonable as any, and certainly more concrete than anything else that's been offered pertaining to one's choice of watering holes.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The net worth of any given congressman is probably immaterial for most voters because if we are being honest being able to run for national office at this point in time basically requires 7 figure wealth in the vast majority of cases. It's just that you need that much wealth to generally even get through the gauntlet of challengers to get pushed by the party.

So in the vast majority of cases both candidates for a seat are wealthy and it's really about how a candidate can put on the trappings of being down with the working class that matter. That's why you see countless photo ops where the candidate is wearing flannel and a carhart jacket and shaking hands and kissing babies because even though it's all a charade the electorate expects the shadowplay and failing to deliver it gets you punished unless you are in a hopelessly gerrymandered district where you could probably light a voter on fire and still get elected.

Democrats are elitist or Republicans are elitist is generally a bullshit complaint because under the faux folksy bullshit they are all elites and they are surrounded by elites and meet with elite lobbyists daily.

A lot of politics in the US is just tribalism, you vote Republican or Democratic because everyone in your peer group votes that way and that guy running for office at least superficially represents you in some way. For disaffected white male voters it's harder to make the case that the Democrat represents when it's a woman, or a black man, or a latino, or a gay person.
posted by vuron at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Howard Dean is kind of a yutz. I never understood why people were so excited for his candidacy;

Here, let me give you the short version:

In March 2003 he gave a speech strongly critical of the Democratic leadership at the California State Democratic Convention that attracted the attention of grassroots party activists and set the tone and the agenda of his candidacy. It began with the line: "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"

He buffoonishly opposed a war that resulted in mass deaths of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers that more stately and less clownish Democratic leaders had voted in favor of. He was willing to stand up to the President when most of his party was too cowardly to do so. He had a spine at a time when the party as a whole lacked one.

Bill de Blasio: Don't Soul-Search. Stiffen Your Backbone.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:23 PM on November 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


Notably, Corbett got slaughtered in precincts blue, red, and purple all over the state, because even "semi-rural Pennsylvanians" know that's some bullshit. His mistake was not being as cagey about hiding the ball as the GOP is at the national level.

Plus look what he did to poor Joe Pa!
posted by Drinky Die at 1:27 PM on November 12, 2014


What the fuck is "working class"? Is it an income range? A lifestyle? A culture? Everyone's got their fucking knives out in this thread over a bunch of nebulous concepts.

Here's a study (PDF) from Pew that describes them as "non-Hispanic white Americans without a four-year degree who hold non-salaried jobs." Interestingly, they offer up a couple more facts in opposition to kgasmart's characterizations:

It definitely skews based on region, faith, and gender:
* In mid-August, Romney held a commanding 40-point lead over Obama among white working-class voters in the South (62% vs. 22%). However, neither candidate held a statistically significant lead among white working-class voters in the West (46% Romney vs. 41% Obama), Northeast (42% Romney vs. 38% Obama), or the Midwest (36% Romney vs. 44% Obama).
* Romney enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage over Obama among white working-class Protestant voters (56% vs. 27%), but white working-class Catholic voters were nearly evenly divided (44% Romney vs. 41% Obama).
* White working-class men favored Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 (55% vs. 28%), but white working-class women were evenly divided between Romney and Obama (41% each).
[...]
Southern white-working class Americans stand out from white working-class Americans in the Northeast, Midwest, and West on a number of cultural attitudes and attributes.

* White working-class Americans in the South (62%) are more likely than white working-class Americans in the West (50%), Midwest (48%), or Northeast (38%) to live in households with firearms.
* There is much greater opposition to same-sex marriage among white working-class Americans in the South than among white working-class Americans in other regions. Less than one-third (32%)of white working class Americans in the South favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to 44% in the Midwest, 47% in the West, and 57% in Northeast.
And it sounds kind of like they definitely care about inequality:
Seven-in-ten (70%) white working-class Americans believe the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy, and a majority (53%) say that one of the biggest problems in this country is that we don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


If the one percent of the one percent of the one percent got to put their pet Congressmen in power because the other guys were too "elitist," that is certainly a remarkable thing.
posted by edheil at 1:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


What the fuck is "working class"? Is it an income range? A lifestyle? A culture? Everyone's got their fucking knives out in this thread over a bunch of nebulous concepts.

My first full-time job was for $24K a year in the 90s, plus company-paid pizza delivery as long as I was at work. When the pizza got taken away I had to eat instant ramen. And sometimes I had to work 19 hour days (that is not a typo). But I wasn't "working class" apparently because it was in software. I wore the wrong clothes and listened to the wrong music and I had a bachelor's degree, and would not feel comfortable in bars generally.
posted by Foosnark at 1:44 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


But I wasn't "working class" apparently because it was in software.

I'm guessing you weren't "working class" in part because you had significant opportunity for salary advancement, something not often available to those without a four year degree. When in the 90s was this, and what do you make now?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:51 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


When Republicans use the word 'elites' as an epithet, they don't mean the Koches and the Waltons and the big money families actually changing the living conditions and future prospects of whole swathes of America. They mean people who drink Starbucks and subscribe to The New Yorker and don't attend the same kinds of sporting events or watch the same TV shows or listen to the same kinds of music as they do. It's tribal and it has nothing to do with being elite in any sense of that word.
posted by newdaddy at 1:54 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Working Class" = Blue Collar. Software development ain't it.
posted by empath at 1:56 PM on November 12, 2014


The Republicans approach issues in terms of "we're right, they're wrong", if not "we're good, they're evil".

The Democrats approach issues in terms of "reasonable minds can differ", so let's make sure the other guys get a "seat at the table".

I guess that to your average low-information voter there might be something appealing about a party that thinks it's right verses a party that isn't quite sure.
posted by moorooka at 1:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's a great example of how the GOP noise factory does such a bang up job of turning the elitism trope on its head. Bruce Springsteen sings CCR's "Fortunate Son" at a concert for veterans, and Fox News goes all "LOL latte-sipping troop-haters", even though any idiot knows that the song has nothing to do with being anti-war, and everything to do with who actually gets sent to war by elites whose children aren't sent to war.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:09 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


pyramid termite:
"go ahead and sneer at "common sense" if you like, but understand that our society is in the process of shitting our own nest, pissing away our children's future, and eating up our seed corn - all with the justification of experts

call a dirt farmer ignorant if you like, but he probably wouldn't do those things - why are we?
"
Farmers, scientists divided over climate change:
"Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both.
More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities.
In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


As long as anyone on the Democratic side is using "working class" as a class signifier or categorization method, we are participating in the narrative that has been built for us. It perpetuates an "us vs. them" mentality, no matter which side of it you are on, and by virtue of it's name, it is divisive. Using the term alone simply fuels the accusations of elitism.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:11 PM on November 12, 2014


> In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring

Well, that's what happens when you ask the ones who will be the last affected by the blight -- Go talk to the wheat and okra farmers, see what they have to say.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]




The Democrats never say "working class", it's always "middle class" with them. Only Sarah Palin says "working class".
posted by moorooka at 2:21 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


He buffoonishly opposed a war that resulted in mass deaths of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers that more stately and less clownish Democratic leaders had voted in favor of.

Also worth noting: as New Englanders, my whole family was pretty impressed by his attempts to expand publicly-funded healthcare throughout Vermont, bringing it to minors and pregnant women especially. I still quite like Howard Dean, and wish he'd been the winner of the 2004 primary.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:21 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Basically every voter likes it when a politician feels at home in their community. Religious black voters like politicians who feel comfortable in black churches, hedge fund managers like people who have worked in finance, immigrants are more fond of politicians with immigrant backgrounds or who speak their native language. And due to the nature of politics, virtually every demographic has to suck it up and vote for people who are outside of their community.

As far as I can tell there is exactly one demographic that is supposedly so enraged by people outside of their community that they basically cast their votes out of spite.
posted by leopard at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Working Class" = Blue Collar.

Wanna see something funny? (This is not it.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2014


Ron White is easily the best comedian out of the four. Couldn't you have picked on Dan Whitney?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:30 PM on November 12, 2014


Oh, I see you did. Duh.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:31 PM on November 12, 2014


Howard Dean is kind of a yutz. I never understood why people were so excited for his candidacy; He always struck me as a somewhat more serious version of Alan Grayson. (Yes, I realize he predates Grayson by a lot but you get the idea).

I can't stand buffoonish people.


Because the Democratic party was supporting a horrific war, not trying to do anything about Bush running rough-shod over the constitution, and was giving up on trying to win races in half the country while trying to run to the middle in the 'swing' districts and losing, and alienating liberal voters in blue districts. He pioneered internet campaigning and implemented a '50 state' strategy as head of the DNC that won the Democrats both houses of congress. And he pushed for a real, single-player plan, not the heritage foundation-designed insurance company handout that Obama put into place.

He gave terrible speeches and was a gaffe machine, but he wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a 'buffoon'. He correctly diagnosed what was ailing the Democratic party and was basically destroyed by the corrupt media in washington and so-called 'mainstream' democrats whose only constituency is wall street and big business.
posted by empath at 2:34 PM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


Corbett is...something. He was elected with about a 4% margin, which in a sane person would have signaled caution, and then proceeded to alienate not only the electoral opposition, but virtually every possible constituent group in the entire state. There were polls that put him simultaneously as the least-popular governor in the country and in Pennsylvania history. I am honestly not sure what he possibly could have done worse.

He wasn't even consistent. In particular, he managed to anger conservatives (!) by not limiting collective bargaining a la Scott Walker, which most people expected him to at least try to do. This after he had lost any of the teachers' unions or education-focused voters' votes already, by cutting higher education funding, and the public employee unions via budget cuts. It doesn't even make sense. The fracking, obvious signs of corruption, and the whole Joe Pa thing were the candles on the icing on the cake.

Every time I visited family up in PA and picked up the paper there would be another "well, surely this..." moment. It wasn't really even clear what he was trying to do. At some point I think he actually transcended merely being conservative, crossed through villainy, and achieved the rarely-seen Chaotic Evil.

Even then, the dude still got ~45% of the vote.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:44 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


The buffoon of 2004 was Kerry. "I still would have voted for the Iraq War even if I knew there were no WMD". That's just the type of excellent judgement that qualifies him as a Democratic Secretary of State.
posted by moorooka at 2:46 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just because being a pro-interventionist liberal is incredibly unpopular in general doesn't mean that Kerry's necessarily stupid. He just believes that America can be a useful force in the world and that force is sometimes a useful strategy for advancing American objectives.

In general I disagree with that position or at least I disagree with the tendency of using force to solve what should be solved through other means but there are definitely a substantial minority in both parties that feel like the US should use force to achieve foreign policy objectives, they just tend to disagree with objectives and criteria.
posted by vuron at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's not fair. Buffoons are rarely as boring as John Kerry.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hate that boringness is a relevant axis on which to decide the suitability of a president.
posted by JHarris at 2:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Necessarily stupid" aptly describes anyone who thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a good idea, let alone anyone who still thought that by late 2004 and said so while running a Presidential campaign against Bush.

On the other hand, maybe Kerry's shockingly hopeless campaign in 2004 was part of a crafty strategy to let Bush win and fuck things up as much as possible so that by 2008 the Democrats would get the White House and a supermajority in Congress. In which case he did brilliantly.
posted by moorooka at 3:03 PM on November 12, 2014


What the fuck is "working class"?

Here's a study (PDF) from Pew that describes them as "non-Hispanic white Americans without a four-year degree who hold non-salaried jobs."


If "working class" means "white," as it seems to for many in this thread, then yeah, they're Republicans. But that's because the white community, working class, middle class, or upper class, is Republican. White America voted for Mitt Romney by a margin of 59-39, making it as Republican as North Dakota and Tennessee. No Democratic Presidential candidate since Lyndon Freaking Johnson has won a majority of the white vote. White Americans are really, really different from the average American.
posted by escabeche at 3:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


The right hit on a winning tactic back when Gingrich was in office, and have been rolling with it ever since. Simply put, you just say whatever it takes to make the opposition look bad, even if you have to make shit up. And just keep piling on the criticism hour after hour, from every direction possible.

There really is no defense for the tactic, because, by the time you've come up with a reasonable response, they've already moved-on to/made-up a new topic. The lie has been told.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:07 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a conservative, I do not believe that liberals are inherently elitist. Rather, they are only perceived as elitists because there causes and appeals are only directed at whatever demographic they are trying to gain favor with at a particular point in time. Liberal politicians, it would seem, have a much more difficult time than Conservative politicians, because the good intentions they are required to promise to Grievance Group A, are usually only of moderate of interest, at best, to Grievance Groups B through Z.

For all but the most attentive and disciplined members of Grievance Groups B through Z, the Liberal politician's spoken intentions are directed at a different group (Group A), and therefore elitist sounding to the marginally attentive of the other groups. [If one of the Grievance Groups is truly elite, then the liberal politician does not sound elitist, but condescending instead. (What Mefite doesn't cringe when Hillary slips into her southern drawl when speaking to mostly black audiences?)]

In any event, the perception that Liberals are elitist is just an unfortunate outcome of the requirement to pander to myriad constituent groups of the confederation they have assembled over the past forty years. Probably because Conservative Politicians are not as intellectually gifted as their Liberal peers, and the ability to present a nuanced argument is essentially non-existent, their pandering at anyone time is less specific and therefore reaches a much larger base. Also, I used the wrong their, there in the second sentence on purpose to see what happens.
posted by otto42 at 3:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I used the wrong their, there in the second sentence on purpose to see what happens.

But what about the other 3 grammar errors?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:17 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems to me Republicans do a pretty bang up job of confusing people when it comes to minor but important distinctions. Their whole approach to political rhetoric is to encourage disorganized thinking almost as a kind of weapon. So gungho Republican voters make no distinction between elitism and competence, because anyone who's sufficiently competent is by their reasoning both elite and manifestly elitist because, well, obviously to be elite makes you an elitist, too. I mean, they always imply that anyone with special expertise, education, or skills is only saying they are wrong about things because they are elitist, and there's been no shortage of Republican pols discovered to have lied about various credentials. I think the importance of exploiting social resentment cannot be overstated as key to Republican electoral success. They run on resentment and they win on resentment.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:37 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Basically, they are a giant, corporate embodied inferiority complex.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:40 PM on November 12, 2014


they are only perceived as elitists because there causes and appeals are only directed at whatever demographic they are trying to gain favor with at a particular point in time. Liberal politicians, it would seem, have a much more difficult time than Conservative politicians, because the good intentions they are required to promise to Grievance Group A, are usually only of moderate of interest, at best, to Grievance Groups B through Z.

I'm surprised you think is a particularly leftish tendency, given the way the right periodically tries to court Hispanics, Christians, Libertarians, the Military, the NRA, pro-Security State citizens, etc. Both major parties are kind of weird mishmashes of small groups who frequently disagree with each other.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is something very silly about opposing groups of millionaires calling each other elitist.
posted by srboisvert at 3:53 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gruber was basically right about the stupidity of the public, but for fuck's sake everyone knows you can't say that. It sorta defeats the purpose of the obfuscation.

Upshot is that the attacks on elitism are totally fair game. If someone says the American public is stupid - whether right or wrong - it's game on.
posted by jpe at 4:01 PM on November 12, 2014


That someone like Howard Dean is labeled a buffoon by Democrats is why Democrats will always defeat Democrats and help the right-wing. Pepsi will never beat Coca-Cola at its own game.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Re: Bill Schneider's post

Does support for Obama/Democrats vary with education level across other demographic categories, e.g. race and gender? Based on past exit poll stuff, I'll bet education level turns out to be extremely predictive for white men, slightly less predictive for white women, and then starts to fall apart altogether. But then, it's a strange kind of "elitism" that white voters are especially sensitive to relative to other voters.
posted by batfish at 4:08 PM on November 12, 2014


But what about the other 3 grammar errors?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:17 PM on November 12 [+] [!]


Let those errors serve as a testament to the intellectual superiority of Liberals over everyone else.
posted by otto42 at 4:27 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


when you call somebody an 'elitist' - it's a code word for 'that is a person who thinks about things'

No. When you call someone an elitist, it is a code word for 'this is a person who thinks they are better than other people and know better than other people how everyone should be living their lives." You can talk a lot about "But we really DO know what's best for everyone!" but that doesn't erase that, at base, that's what it is. And it may not have lost the Democrats the election, but that's absolutely what it is. People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better if everyone else would just eat their kale and tofu wraps and bicycle to work.
posted by corb at 4:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


When you call someone an elitist, it is a code word for 'this is a person who thinks they are better than other people and know better than other people how everyone should be living their lives."

It's so strange how selectively we apply the term "elitist" if that's what it means. Why don't we call Christian Republicans elitists, then? They think they have better moral judgment than everyone else and want to legislate how everyone should live (no abortion, contraception, gay marriage, drugs, etc). Seems like that should fall under the stated definition too.
posted by dialetheia at 4:32 PM on November 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


Jeez, doesn't anyone have a dictionary handy?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:33 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better if everyone else would just eat their kale and tofu wraps and bicycle to work.

Soy beans are truly elite among legumes.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:34 PM on November 12, 2014


This is true, but only in Korean food. But that doesn't mean I want to impose it on the rest of the country.
posted by corb at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2014


I'm surprised you think is a particularly leftish tendency, given the way the right periodically tries to court Hispanics, Christians, Libertarians, the Military, the NRA, pro-Security State citizens, etc. Both major parties are kind of weird mishmashes of small groups who frequently disagree with each other.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:41 PM on November 12 [+] [!]


Conservative pandering to Hispanics has not exactly been productive; likely because conservatives have never really adjusted their message that would attract more to their side.

Christians are a pretty big and diverse group in the US; I don't see how crafting a message for 90% of the country (75%, I don't know) is the same as appealing to Grievance Group "F".

The rest, Christians included, I don't see as being a core Grievance Group that is targetable. They are not oppressed in a way that some well meaning government intention could be prescribed as a cure.
posted by otto42 at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2014


This is true, but only in Korean food.

today, soy beans, tomorrow, live squirming octopus

our way of life is in danger
posted by pyramid termite at 4:38 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah Obama's vegetarian shock troops ARE pretty fucked. I don't even like to bicycle :'( this new world order is the worst

P.s You forgot to mention arugala and the fact that liberals look like fucking TOOLS in their effeminate bike helmets gonna steal your guns make you wear spandex recycle noooooooooooo
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


They are not oppressed in a way that some well meaning government intention could be prescribed as a cure.

but they've been led lately to believe they are - just as the businesspeople of the nation think they are oppressed by the government - and don't get me started on the libertarians

it seems that the key to get people going is convince them they're oppressed - (of course, some people are and can't seem to convince a lot of other people of that fact)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:42 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wait liberals like spandex? I had no idea of the true horrors. I'm so sorry. You poor people. No one should be tricked into wearing spandex.
posted by corb at 4:45 PM on November 12, 2014


People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better if everyone else would just eat their kale and tofu wraps and bicycle to work.

Right, conservatives never think, "The world would be so much better if..."

Also, this whole "Grievance Group" language is pretty ridiculous.

Bottom line is, conservative language makes me think they live in a completely different world from me.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:49 PM on November 12, 2014


Didn't you live in NYC? Don't pretend you don't know what living in a liberal dictatorship is like. The mandatory farmers markets. The tiny meat rations, only available for welfare queens. The random porno scan junk food searches. You know how elitist ivory tower people are and what they truly want just as well as I do, don't play dumb.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:53 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


NYC is actually a perfect example of elitism - rich Dems trying to get sin taxes upped and sugary drinks banned so the poor people don't choose wrongly, because who are they to have agency?
posted by corb at 4:55 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Um, Bloomberg was a Dem?
posted by saulgoodman at 4:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yes, all those rich "Dems" like Mike Bloomberg and
posted by tonycpsu at 4:59 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The left, the progressive movement, social justice, whatever - not only the Democratic Party - needs to figure out how to do populism again. Hard-right xenophobes are in the EU Parliament, and misogynist trolls are co-opting hobbyist movements on the internet. People laugh at Dark Enlightenment types as dorks, but they're just the smoke before the fire; as liberal democracy breaks down and market capitalism swallows itself, more and more people are going to be turned towards an ultra-regressive hard-right douchebag conservatism that seeks to undo everything that's been established in the postwar era. Progressives need to stop with the tu quoque arguments and getting offended by these criticisms, and see how to adapt the message, innovate the message, whatever to win over hearts and minds. Writing off entire populations of people is not how you win over the petit bourgeois or the proletariat. Remember Weimar.

If the left is to be taken seriously as serving the cause of the people, they need to learn how to speak the language of the people again.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


NYC is actually a perfect example of elitism - rich Dems trying to get sin taxes upped and sugary drinks banned so the poor people don't choose wrongly, because who are they to have agency?

Meh. I guess you think your kale comment is clever, but true agency would be making sure poor people have grocery stores in their neighborhoods, so that they can pick between something healthy and something that causes measurable sickness. It's a false choice to make taxpayer-subsidized soda cheap and plentiful and call it freedom, but whatever; your anti-elitist approach is just as much a part of American society's larger problem set, too.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:04 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, this is a little bit of a rant, but here goes: I grew up in rural Indiana and Kentucky and now I live on a coast and hearing people say "flyover states" makes me want to punch someone in the face. About a third of the responses to the olive garden fpp make me want to stop reading metafilter forever. We can lol all we want at the idea of people getting insecure about not speaking French or let this discussion descend into a bunch of ridiculous stereotypical jokes about bike riders. But in my experience, whether 'elitism' is the right word for it or not, the perception that the democratic party is out of touch with "the common man" (whoever he is??) is a huge deal.

So instead of being reactive about whether it's fair or right that this is a perception many people have, we could think about why they might have it and what we could do to shift it.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:04 PM on November 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


Elitists according to corb: People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better if everyone else would just eat their kale and tofu wraps and bicycle to work. had access to health care, quality education, a non-toxic environment and a dignified retirement.
posted by moorooka at 5:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


the perception that the democratic party is out of touch with "the common man" (whoever he is??) is a huge deal... we could think about why they might have it and what we could do to shift it.

Sure, let's have a clear discussion about this.

Whatever you can say about the Democratic party, it is clearly to the left of the Republican party on economic issues. So from this I conclude that in general, someone who votes for Republicans is one of the following:

(a) right-wing on economic issues
(b) left-wing on economic issues, but finds the difference between the parties on economic issues to be not as important as the difference on other issues (either because the economic differences are perceived to be very small, or because the other issues carry considerable weight)
(c) completely uninformed

The Democrats can appeal to people in category (a) by shifting to the right on economic issues. Presumably this is not what people mean when they wring their hands about Democrats losing touch with the "common man" so let's move on.

I see no reason to think that people in category (c) are very critical to elections. Most voters have pretty stable party preferences, so I don't think (c) is a very large group. I also think it is difficult to consistently reach people who are not paying attention at all, or who are paying attention to purely random trivia.

So that leaves people in column (b). The Democrats could appeal to people in this category by moving dramatically leftward on economic issues and/or by moving rightward on non-economic (social?) issues.

Now in the midterm elections my impression was that there was a "backlash" to President Obama's ACA overreach. I could be wrong, I did not get the sense that the people who were voting for Republican governors who had refused funding to expand Medicaid were disappointed that the Democrats were too right-wing and centrist.

So now we're down to moving rightward on non-economic issues. You know, immigration, abortion, gay marriage, and so on. It sounds so tempting. Sure, women, minorities, young people, and gay people are an important part of the Democratic coalition, but they lack the down-to-earth authenticity that only rural white males possess. Real Americans.
posted by leopard at 5:36 PM on November 12, 2014


Elitists according to corb: People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better ........ had access to health care, quality education, a non-toxic environment and a dignified retirement.
posted by moorooka at 5:05 PM on November 12 [5 favorites +] [!]


That comment is about as elitist sounding as you can get.

Conservatives are all in favor of those things. We disagree with liberals about the ability of government to provide those outcomes. Keep assuming we hate health care, a clean environment and a dignified retirement and keep assuming you know the best way achieve those outcomes.
posted by otto42 at 5:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Howard Dean's 50 state strategy elected Obama and gave the house and senate to the democrats after a decade in the hands of Republican's. For his sins he was exiled by Rahm Emanual and The DC insiders who held far too much sway over Obama. I miss Howard Dean and I hope Hillaru brings him in from the wilderness.
posted by humanfont at 5:45 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


So there is a market solution to the need for insurance? Or a market solution to the problem of global warming? Or a market solution to widespread poverty and malnutrition?

I know free market purists feel that the market can never fail only be failed but for those who are a slight bit less dogmatic how do you solve problems that capitalism generally fails to solve or situations where the marketplace itself fails?
posted by vuron at 5:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


leopard, you're talking about issues. I'm talking about feelings-- like, are you going to trust someone to care about your region's interests if you suspect that behind closed doors they refer to your home as 'flyover country?' Republicans have successfully planted this doubt in people's minds and the left has done a pretty bad job of showing that it isn't true.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:14 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Conservatives are all in favor of those things. We disagree with liberals about the ability of government to provide those outcomes. Keep assuming we hate health care, a clean environment and a dignified retirement and keep assuming you know the best way achieve those outcomes.

I'm willing to buy that. So where are the market solutions? Oh, yeah, it's simpler to ignore anything that doesn't lead directly to profits. It might be good business to solve those problems, but let your company try it first. Money speaks for money. Rules, regulations, and government solutions didn't pop out of thin air. I mean, I'm all for theoretical political and economic philosophies, but we have hundreds of years of actual history to look at.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:16 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


People sitting in their ivory towers thinking the world would be so much better if everyone else would just eat their kale and tofu wraps and bicycle to work.

This is a recognizable description of, say, msnbc pundits or atlantic contributors, but not the Democrats losing in red states, or even Obama.
posted by batfish at 6:22 PM on November 12, 2014


Mod note: A couple comments removed; you can try and have a discussion about this stuff if you want, but cut it out with the arch sarcasm if that's the case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to buy that. So where are the market solutions? Oh, yeah, it's simpler to ignore anything that doesn't lead directly to profits. It might be good business to solve those problems, but let your company try it first. Money speaks for money. Rules, regulations, and government solutions didn't pop out of thin air. I mean, I'm all for theoretical political and economic philosophies, but we have hundreds of years of actual history to look at.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:16 PM on November 12 [+] [!]


Thank you for acknowledging that conservatives care about the same matters Liberals have built a franchise around.

As mentioned in my just previous post, I am not here to propose market solutions. The thread is about the perception that Liberals are elitists. The perception has been reinforced by many on the thread and your comments above are also reinforcing.

Consider that I have not articulated a market solution nor have any intention of trying to persuade you that one or several exist. Consider that the market is an amoral force or component that effects every aspect of everyone's lives. A government, a company, an army or a college is only along for the ride. To the extent one believes laws or persuasion can be written or argued that is capable of steering the market away from its natural course is an elitist position. For good or bad, there is always a market; please make adjustments along the way.
posted by otto42 at 6:48 PM on November 12, 2014


People sitting in their ivory towers

The "flyover country" of the right wing.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:57 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


otto42: As mentioned in my just previous post, I am not here to propose market solutions.

It's dirty pool to say that conservatives "disagree with liberals about the ability of government to provide those outcomes" and then dodge the question of how else those things can be provided. If you have no answer for that question, then being "in favor" of those things means nothing. I'm in favor of immortality, but I have no credible plan for achieving it. Regardless of what this thread may be about, you're the one who decided to steer it toward whether liberals are being unfair when they criticize conservatives for leaving people up to the whims of the free market, and you don't get to just punt when people call your bluff.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:00 PM on November 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


. To the extent one believes laws or persuasion can be written or argued that is capable of steering the market away from its natural course is an elitist position.

That does not read as an argument that liberals are elitist, it's an argument that practically every attempt to improve the human condition is. Which is kind of...not too useful.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


are you going to trust someone to care about your region's interests if you suspect that behind closed doors they refer to your home as 'flyover country?'

Is this why New Yorkers make for terrible Senate candidates in the midwest? The Democrats should stop doing that.

Once again, every single demographic is like this. People want to vote for people they trust. Do Hispanic people want to vote for people they suspect want to kick them out of the country? Do hedge fund managers want to vote for people they suspect want to raise capital gains taxes? Do middle-class college-educated people want to vote for people who call them "out-of-touch elitists"?

But somehow there is exactly one demographic that people wring their hands over. A demographic that has feeeeeeelings about how they're being looked down upon, feelings so strong that they apparently trump policy considerations. One demographic so dumb that they consistently vote against their self-interest out of fear, and yet so important that it's the Democrats' fault for not winning their vote.

All the other demographics seem to have their shit figured out. No one seems worried that women aren't voting right. No one argues that blacks would vote Republican if the Republican Party simply changed its tone and none of its policies. No one worries that insurance executives are only voting Republican because the Democrats hurt their feelings once. It's just this one demographic group that's so amazing and special.
posted by leopard at 7:09 PM on November 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Haha you do realize that the market as you understand it is a relatively modern invention and that it is no means the final say in terms of economic thought? Even if we are willing to concede to assume that the fundamental tenets of neoclassical economics are inviolate it's well understood by most economists that the market cannot solve all human problems. Capitalism is a wonderful tool at developing wealth but very few economists would suggest that capitalism is inherently good at distribution of wealth. Plus governments are typically required to fix markets during market failures such as monopoly actions or to enforce an open and transparent market with reasonable barriers to entry.

I mean just about anyone other than hardcore libertarians tend to acknowledge this and then you have to wonder how they are willing to hold their nose at how intrusive Conservatives are concerning civil liberties.
posted by vuron at 7:09 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think this whole derail about the white working class is beside the point anyway; what Howard Dean was talking about is fundamentally a different kind of elitism. I understood Dean to be talking about the way that Democrats seem to pitch their ideas to think tanks, other politicians, and Washington Post editorialists* instead of pitching those ideas directly to average working people (most of whom actually don't fit the restrictive white working class stereotypes perpetuated in this thread by their supposed defenders). That is, instead of going out and saying "you will get health care, this is how much we will pay for, this is how we will pay for it, we don't want you to get sick and die miserably in bankruptcy" they went out and said "this will bend the curve, this is endorsed by numerous think tanks, this is objectively the best solution to the problem as decided by a bunch of experts and insurance executives, this is politically the best we can do."

It's not that the aim of government providing healthcare is itself elitist, it's that the Democrats perpetually aim their appeal at the media and Washington insiders (I call it "What Will Politico Say?" syndrome) instead of communicating their ideas directly with the American people in immediate, concrete, emotional terms. Health care is only one of a thousand issues they do this with; if Democrats could channel one tenth of the fire that Bernie Sanders has when talking about economic inequality, they would be in a much better position. That's also why everyone loves Elizabeth Warren so much: she communicates directly about her beliefs and values instead of arguing things like she's trying to convince a law professor or just trying to avoid stirring shit in the next insider circlejerk newsletter.

* i.e. the class that Eschaton used to call Villagers
posted by dialetheia at 7:14 PM on November 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


I've heard the "oh the Democrats have the right positions, they're just bad at communicating" complaint for my entire adult life. I'm honestly a little tired of it: not to get all efficient-markets-y, but at some point the results speak for themselves, right? Good communicators apparently simply never rise to positions of power within the party, which makes me skeptical that they are the key to gaining power outside the party. At some point the complaint just seems like a failure of imagination, an inability to understand that many actual real people and interests are opposed to you.

everyone loves Elizabeth Warren so much

Progressives love Elizabeth Warren. Conservatives think of Elizabeth Warren in the same way that liberals think of Ted Cruz. And no matter how much "speaking directly to the people" either of those politicians try, that's not going to change much.
posted by leopard at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly a little tired of it: not to get all efficient-markets-y, but at some point the results speak for themselves, right?

Which results would those be? I see a whole lot of blue on this graph. And we know about this one as well, where those "tax and spend Democrats" seem to have done a better job controlling the deficit than those "fiscal conservatives Republicans".

Or were those not the results you were talking about?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Good communicators apparently simply never rise to positions of power within the party, which makes me skeptical that they are the key to gaining power outside the party.

I tend to agree with many of your other points, but I'm much more inclined to believe that there are misplaced structural incentives within the Democratic Party that prioritize other things (money, party loyalty, networking politics) above ability to communicate and win. I'd also argue that Obama was the best liberal communicator we've had in years, at least while he was campaigning, and he was able to rise to a position of power within the party (with some difficulty, again pointing to those structural issues) and gain a great deal of power outside of it. If most Democrats used the kind of rhetoric Obama used when he ran in 2008, I believe they'd have better results.

Progressives love Elizabeth Warren

Yup - and many progressives stayed home this midterm (not that I condone not voting!). Mobilizing your base is clearly recognized as an important objective in conservative circles, but liberals endlessly resist it for some reason. Nobody was ever going to win over that impassioned Ted Cruz voter with any amount or type of rhetoric - the key is getting non-voters to come out and vote for your guy, not convincing the other guy's voters to switch teams.
posted by dialetheia at 7:38 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


tonycpsu, I just meant that while I could understand that in a particular situation, a political party could drop the ball and shoot itself in the foot, this would be unlikely to persist for a stretch of years and years and years across multiple Presidential administrations.

Mobilizing your base is clearly recognized as an important objective in conservative circles, but liberals endlessly resist it for some reason.

Really? Why do you say this?

This is me again with the efficent markets stuff, but presumably most of these Democratic politicians are experienced people with a track record of winning. (Martha Coakley excepted.) "Mobilizing your base" is Electioneering 101. It's literally the first thing that a political candidate would try to do. It doesn't seem that likely to me that there was one simple trick that would have netted the Democrats control of the Senate, but they refused to use it because they weren't that invested in winning.
posted by leopard at 7:52 PM on November 12, 2014


Populism is conservative by composition. A populist movement would have religious and folk overtones and usually the blessings of the local pastor. Progressive politics is typically an agitation for radical cultural changes that appear to be elitist by association, because only rich people can afford to do what they want, and it looks just like that.

What is more relevant to American politics is the genetic differences that shape the appeal to either party influence.

Differences in Conservative and Liberal Brains
posted by Brian B. at 7:53 PM on November 12, 2014


All the other demographics seem to have their shit figured out. No one seems worried that women aren't voting right. No one argues that blacks would vote Republican if the Republican Party simply changed its tone and none of its policies. No one worries that insurance executives are only voting Republican because the Democrats hurt their feelings once. It's just this one demographic group that's so amazing and special.

Well, women as a group tend to vote democratic, so no, we're not having that discussion here, when we're talking about why people aren't voting democrat. ditto Hispanics and Blacks and young voters. But on the Republican side, yes, they're wringing their hands over women and people of color and appealing to the feeeelings of those groups is something they attempt to do (also not necessarily successfully). The reason I'm talking about working and lower-middle class white people here is because they are a huge demographic that the Democrats don't solidly have, not because they are particularly unique in politics as a whole.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:59 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


A populist movement would have religious and folk overtones and usually the blessings of the local pastor. Progressive politics is typically an agitation for radical cultural changes that appear to be elitist by association, because only rich people can afford to do what they want, and it looks just like that.

This is a good example of a circular definition. Somehow the local pastor is a populist while the middle-class college-educated civil rights protester is an elitist. Of course conservatism is going to be populist if you define your terms this way.
posted by leopard at 8:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Mobilizing your base" is Electioneering 101.

And yet the Democratic national message this year was "I promise, we don't have anything to do with that Obama guy you all came out and enthusiastically re-elected only two years ago."

I won't argue with your "efficient markets" stuff because I think you're making a ton of unwarranted assumptions with that framing, but I can very easily imagine structural issues (money, gerrymandering), misplaced incentives, and feedback loops perpetuating a problem like this at multiple scales of party leadership. Ultimately, I have no idea why they were so stupid in this election either, but I think poor leadership is a better answer than that their ideas must be worse since we clearly have an efficient market for political leaders. Honestly the idea that you could say that political leadership selection process is anything like an efficient market just boggles my mind a little bit - I can barely imagine a system more prone to inefficiencies and petty human shortsightedness.
posted by dialetheia at 8:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's also why everyone loves Elizabeth Warren so much

Elizabeth Warren won her Senate race in Massachusetts by 7.5 points. Not that close of a race -- but this is Massachusetts we're talking about. I was unable to find any other Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts in the last 30 years who won by that little, with the exception of Martha Coakley, who lost. So people love Elizabeth Warren more than they love Martha Coakley. But John Kerry, the perfect figure of the compromising, wishy washy Democrat progressives love to hate, routinely won by much bigger margins.

If Elizabeth Warren ran against Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary, do you truly think the general public would rally to Warren's full-throated progressivism and reject Clinton? I'm not saying it couldn't happen. But I think it would be a weird thing to expect to happen.
posted by escabeche at 8:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


But on the Republican side, yes, they're wringing their hands over women and people of color and appealing to the feeeelings of those groups is something they attempt to do

Please point me to a discussion where someone is scolding Republicans for having the wrong tone to people who don't vote for them, and blaming this wrong tone -- and nothing more substantive -- on why people don't vote for them.

And yet the Democratic national message this year was "I promise, we don't have anything to do with that Obama guy you all came out and enthusiastically re-elected only two years ago."

Where do you think this message came from? Do you think it came from the White House? Seriously, where did this come from? Obama himself? Historically speaking, the pattern of the siting President's party losing seats in the midterms is not unusual at all. Especially a second-term President.

I can barely imagine a system more prone to inefficiencies and petty human shortsightedness.

Well, it's efficient in that people who are shitty at gaining power are not going to gain power and people who are good at gaining power are going to gain power. I'm not making any stronger claim. So I'm skeptical that there are very simple ways of expanding power that are being left on the table, especially when you say it's as simple as affiliating yourself with the guy who easily won re-election two years ago (why on earth *wouldn't* they do that if it worked -- there's not even an ideological compromise involved!)
posted by leopard at 8:15 PM on November 12, 2014


If Elizabeth Warren ran against Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary, do you truly think the general public would rally to Warren's full-throated progressivism and reject Clinton? I'm not saying it couldn't happen. But I think it would be a weird thing to expect to happen.

I'm not saying it's likely, but I think that's basically what happened in 2008, substituting Obama for Warren. It's easy to forget his full-throated liberal rhetoric from 08 since he's made so many compromises as president, but he actually ran quite a progressive campaign, and as a result he was able to access young, disenchanted voters who absolutely didn't show up for John Kerry in 2004.

(why on earth *wouldn't* they do that if it worked -- there's not even an ideological compromise involved!)

Because they're listening to villager blowhards bellyaching about Obama's approval "plummeting" instead of listening to the actual voters about the real policy changes they want to see (like meaningfully taking on the banks, for example). The voters who showed up to this midterm voted for weed legalization and minimum wage increases, and turned down personhood bills, yet Republican leaders got elected. This seems like fairly clear evidence that there is support for Democratic policies but not always Democratic leaders.
posted by dialetheia at 8:25 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Conservatives are all in favor of those things. We disagree with liberals about the ability of government to provide those outcomes. Keep assuming we hate health care, a clean environment and a dignified retirement and keep assuming you know the best way achieve those outcomes.

You'd rather not have these things than have government provide these things. Since only government does provide these things it's fair and accurate to say you don't want these things.

For example, you're happy if people with pre-existing health conditions can't get insurance and will go bankrupt and die, if the alternative is the greater evil of government denying the insurance company's "right" to deny coverage to these people.

Human welfare is a lower priority than the irrational hatred of public action. A government's role is not to provide for fundamental human needs where the market fails, it's to run tenders for private prison-management companies and police the nation's wombs.
posted by moorooka at 8:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


tonycpsu, I just meant that while I could understand that in a particular situation, a political party could drop the ball and shoot itself in the foot, this would be unlikely to persist for a stretch of years and years and years across multiple Presidential administrations.

As the first graph I linked to shows, it's happened to both parties for various 20-30 year stretches throughout the duration of the D/R two-party dominance era, and, quite frankly, the same graph shows that we're actually in a period of a pretty much even split between the parties, or maybe leaning just a bit to the right if you start the clock with the Gingrich revolution but don't count the 40 years (!) of Democratic ownership of the House.

So I pretty much dispute your entire premise. The Dems are in a minor funk with respect to the House recently, but Senate and White House control has pretty much been even. If the GOP holds the House for the next 40 years, maybe you're on to something.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:34 PM on November 12, 2014


Remember that gerrymandering has no effect on Senate elections and that's where Democrats got seal-clubbed this election cycle!

Are you kidding? The Senate is the nation's most egregious example of gerrymandering. Senate seats are assigned by state borders, not by population, the ultimate gerrymander. The first 50 seats in the Senate represent only 16% of the U.S. population.

The conservative state of Wyoming, with a population of less than 600,000 has exactly as many senators as the state of California with more than 38 million. Every Wyoming vote counts for 60 times a California vote.

Without the dominance of mostly conservative, mostly rural low-population states, the Senate wouldn't be even close to 50:50 and the recent election would not have even mattered.
posted by JackFlash at 8:38 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Martin Luther King Jr. was a local pastor, too.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Onion: "Senate Democrats say their last legislative hurrah will showcase everything their party does best, including steadily backtracking on their ideas and dozens of concessions"

Please point me to a discussion where someone is scolding Republicans for having the wrong tone to people who don't vote for them, and blaming this wrong tone -- and nothing more substantive -- on why people don't vote for them.

To be clear, if we're going into all of the Democratic Party's failings in the midterm (I was specifically responding to Dean's elitism charge), I wouldn't endorse the idea that it was just about tone at all. I would argue that Dean's critique extends from their tone to their actions; that Dems too often lack the courage of their convictions because they're overly timid about stepping even a tiny bit outside of the outrageously narrow Overton window in our current political climate, which window is largely enforced by cable news and David Brooks and scolding editorials. It's not just their words but their actions that are pitched at the villagers (sorry for using the shorthand but it's easier than naming talking heads all the time).

Voters were widely in favor of marijuana legalization but nobody in the Democratic party wants to touch it; voters passed minimum wage increases but we've all but given up on that at a federal level because our political system is so broken. Maybe some Dems campaigned hard on minimum wage, but I didn't hear much about it, and yet the popular support is absolutely there if they'd been more serious about accessing it, even if the idea is procedurally dead for the time being.
posted by dialetheia at 8:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Um, Bloomberg was a Dem?

In most of the country, yeah.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:46 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a good example of a circular definition. Somehow the local pastor is a populist while the middle-class college-educated civil rights protester is an elitist. Of course conservatism is going to be populist if you define your terms this way.

It's not circular in any meaningful sense. Perhaps you meant counterintuitive. However, whenever the local pastor is a college educated civil rights protester, as in your examples, things are often reversed.
posted by Brian B. at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2014


he was able to access young, disenchanted voters who absolutely didn't show up for John Kerry in 2004.

2008 Voter Turnout

Voters age 18-24, 2004 election turnout: 47%
Voters age 18-24, 2008 election turnout: 49%

This seems like fairly clear evidence that there is support for Democratic policies but not always Democratic leaders.

Sure. The question is why. Is it because the Democratic leaders are less clearly aligned with Democratic policies than Republican leaders are? Is it because voters are confused about which leaders stand for what? I'm presuming that most voters understand that personhood amendments are more associated with the Republican Party and that minimum wage increases, and marijuana legalization are more associated with the Democratic Party. That they still voted for Republican governors and Senators doesn't mean that the Democrats should have mentioned Obama more often in their campaigns.

it's happened to both parties for various 20-30 year stretches throughout the duration of the D/R two-party dominance era

I think you're still misunderstanding me. My comment was in regard to the complaint that the Democrats have popular positions but can't communicate clearly to the public. In other words, it referred to the idea that the party is less popular than it should be based on the merit of their positions. This has nothing to do with historical patterns in party dominance, it has to do with the difference between "actual" and "potential" performance due to "bad communication skills". Now obviously "potential" performance is unobservable but I find it ridiculous for people that people have been blaming adverse election results on "communication skills" my entire adult life.
posted by leopard at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


voters passed minimum wage increases but we've all but given up on that at a federal level because our political system is so broken. Maybe some Dems campaigned hard on minimum wage, but I didn't hear much about it, and yet the popular support is absolutely there if they'd been more serious about accessing it, even if the idea is procedurally dead for the time being.

Look, here's a NYT article from 2013:
Democratic Party leaders, bruised by months of attacks on the new health care program, have found an issue they believe can lift their fortunes both locally and nationally in 2014: an increase in the minimum wage.

The effort to take advantage of growing populism among voters in both parties is being coordinated by officials from the White House, labor unions and liberal advocacy groups.
So yeah, maybe the political hacks who thought up this strategy weren't fully aware of its potential. Once again, that seems rather unlikely to me.
posted by leopard at 8:59 PM on November 12, 2014


JackFlash: The Senate is the nation's most egregious example of gerrymandering.

Well, that's malapportionment, not gerrymandering. We don't redraw state boundaries based on which party controls the state legislature.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Voters age 18-24, 2004 election turnout: 47%
Voters age 18-24, 2008 election turnout: 49%


Yup! It turns out that 2% increase represents a hell of a lot of votes. If you include voters under 30, there were 3.4 million more young voters in 2008 than in 2004, and that demographic skewed roughly 65/35 for Democrats. It wasn't all youth either, there are disenchanted voters of all ages that voted in 08 - voter turnout in 2008 was higher than in any year since 1968. Hell, that's part of why the deck was stacked against many Dem senators this election: this group of Senators were all elected in the Obama election and many of them rode to office on his coattails.

Once again, that seems rather unlikely to me.

Well, if we're making arguments based on what seems more likely to you based on some unsupported efficient-market theory that everyone is always going to get the best results they could possibly just because it's in their self-interest, then I guess we're at a stalemate.

I mean, if they had that plan, why didn't they actually follow through on it? I didn't hear a single word about labor this election.
posted by dialetheia at 9:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


that's malapportionment, not gerrymandering.

A distinction without a difference. The effect is the same, a tilt toward over-representation of conservatives in the House and Senate.
posted by JackFlash at 9:15 PM on November 12, 2014


there were 3.4 million more young voters in 2008 than in 2004

True. But Obama also beat McCain by 9 million votes and overall there were 8 million more voters in 2008 than in 2004. So there were plenty of other things going on.

if they had that plan, why didn't they actually follow through on it? I didn't hear a single word about labor this election

You did hear about all the minimum wage initiatives around the country, and they all did very well, and you heard about that too.
posted by leopard at 9:21 PM on November 12, 2014


So there were plenty of other things going on.

Yup, not least the epic voter turnout in all classes as I noted. I generally agree that there was a lot more going on in that election but it's absolutely a mistake for Democrats to forget one of the most important lessons from that election: that there are other voters that can be accessed besides the mushy middle.

You did hear about all the minimum wage initiatives around the country, and they all did very well, and you heard about that too.

Yes, exactly, that was my original argument: I wondered why Democratic politicians didn't take advantage of the popular support for those initiatives and campaign on issues like it, preferably at the national scale. I think we're talking in circles at this point though.
posted by dialetheia at 9:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


So Democratic politicians across the country deliberately put forth minimum wage initiatives, with the explicit intention of improving their electoral odds in the midterms, with the explicit backing of the White House, and these initiatives both make the national news and do very well at the ballot box, and your takeaway is that Democratic politicians were simply too foolish to take advantage of these popular initiatives that just happened to magically appear on ballots around the country?
posted by leopard at 9:48 PM on November 12, 2014


leopard: your takeaway is that Democratic politicians were simply too foolish to take advantage of these popular initiatives that just happened to magically appear on ballots around the country?

"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."
- Will Rogers
posted by tonycpsu at 9:55 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


your takeaway is that Democratic politicians were simply too foolish to take advantage of these popular initiatives that just happened to magically appear on ballots around the country?

I'm not arguing that they were too foolish, I'm arguing that they failed. Which seems self-evident since those initiatives passed but Democratic politicians generally weren't sufficiently able to position themselves with those sorts of policies to get elected as economic populists, as has been argued repeatedly in this thread.

I'm stepping away from this conversation but I'm still unclear at this point, why do you think Democrats lost the election? If you're simply arguing the null hypothesis that it was just structural midterm issues and seats reverting from the Obama wave, I won't disagree, but it sounded like you were arguing that their policies were the problem and they should tack toward the middle more to capture Republican/centrist voters, which I strenuously believe would be a mistake.
posted by dialetheia at 9:56 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll stop hogging this thread, but I don't think I argued anywhere that the Dems should tack to the center.

Obviously the Dems failed, I'm just saying that if you were in charge of national strategy they wouldn't have done any better. For example, your idea of running on issues like the minimum wage probably would have failed, since they actually tried that and still failed.
posted by leopard at 10:04 PM on November 12, 2014


keep assuming you know the best way achieve those outcomes.

So you admit that you don't?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:09 PM on November 12, 2014


To paraphrase an axiom, never attribute to elitism that which can be most easily explained by stupidity.
posted by dry white toast at 10:11 PM on November 12, 2014


For example, your idea of running on issues like the minimum wage probably would have failed, since they actually tried that and still failed.

Fair enough in a circular way, although even if they successfully took advantage of that support to the greatest extent possible (which I still don't buy), it's still basically the very least they could have done in terms of campaigning on liberal values and policies, which was the original point. I'm sympathetic to the structural argument about this election, although my understanding is that they did worse than expected even given those issues. But their inexplicable backpedaling away from Obama and their own liberal policies was followed by an overwhelming defeat, and so it makes sense to entertain the idea that they made a mistake by backing away from their values and policies. Reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which they actually backpedaled, but the national narrative that I heard over and over is that everyone was Very Concerned that Obama was dragging people down with e.g. ACA backlash.
OK really done now. Thanks for an interesting discussion.
posted by dialetheia at 10:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


You'd rather not have these things than have government provide these things. Since only government does provide these things it's fair and accurate to say you don't want these things.

For example, you're happy if people with pre-existing health conditions can't get insurance and will go bankrupt and die, if the alternative is the greater evil of government denying the insurance company's "right" to deny coverage to these people.

Human welfare is a lower priority than the irrational hatred of public action. A government's role is not to provide for fundamental human needs where the market fails, it's to run tenders for private prison-management companies and police the nation's wombs.
posted by moorooka at 8:26 PM on November 12 [5 favorites +] [!]


Your presumptions about me make you sound like an elitist. A little humility for a lot of our liberal leaders (not all, and it would not be fair to paint with a broad brush) would appeal to more potential voters.

I believe most liberals are sincere in their beliefs and do not carry any innate sense that they are better than anyone else.

I believe that many liberals are over confident in their ability to predict the future, and that over-confidence (or lack of humility in one's own predictive abilities) comes across as elitism.

As a conservative, I know that I don't know enough to reliably predict an outcome [ignoring very near term personal subjects, where I can maybe influence the outcome (only maybe because my two grade school age daughters and wife are also influences on the outcome.)] I (or conservatives in general) therefore am (are) less susceptible to being perceived as an elitist.

As a matter of policy, or bigger issues that may or may not have a political component, such as the economy, laws, technological advances, demographic trends, leisure preferences, enlightening historical discoveries, etc., I am very confident my predictive abilities are close to zero. To the extent my predictive abilities of the outcome of one or more issues is greater than zero, I remain confident that my predictive abilities on all of the outcomes of all the issues combined is back to zero.
posted by otto42 at 5:34 AM on November 13, 2014


Please point me to a discussion where someone is scolding Republicans for having the wrong tone to people who don't vote for them, and blaming this wrong tone -- and nothing more substantive -- on why people don't vote for them.

That's pretty much been a discussion in every recent election when blacks and latinos vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


You'd rather not have these things than have government provide these things. Since only government does provide these things it's fair and accurate to say you don't want these things.

That is just not true. There are nonprofits that provide free health care, and there are businesses who provide a dignified retirement for their workers. These things are obtainable without government - it's just that government is the only entity that can force people to do things that they don't want to do. If you want to argue that charities aren't wide-reaching enough, that's one thing, but to argue that government is the only entity that provides social services is just plain wrong.
posted by corb at 6:26 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


My favorite thing about conservatives is that they seem by and large completely ignorant of history beyond a couple generations back and seem to assume that whatever existed then must have always existed completely independently of the specter of "government action". Markets, retirement, etc.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:52 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


You really expect that religious charities can fill the public health needs of all Americans? You really expect that private businesses will provide adequate retirement packages without the existence of social security and medicare to offload expenses to? You really expect that industry will suddenly decide to capture the externalities of 200+ years of fossil fuel exploitation? You really expect industry to step up and make sure that workplaces are safe and that polluters are fined/put out of business?

The simple fact of the matter is that government despite being inefficient at times is often the only party willing to actually tackle big systemic issues that cannot be monetized efficiently by the market. Just about any economist that isn't dogmatically Austrian is willing to concede that government is necessary to achieve some public policy needs. Why is it that Republicans are so blatantly unwilling to accept that government can be a part of the solution when research very often shows that the public sector is actually as efficient or more efficient at provisioning service than an open market?
posted by vuron at 6:56 AM on November 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


The market is great if all you want is a solution that is amenable to the market.

Let's say you are a unusually socially-minded business person. You've recognized a social ill and devised a way to address both the social problem and your need for profits. In a reasonable world, you've created a success. But what if your system, while successful, has put you at a competitive disadvantage to your competitors? The market will speak. It will probably say that your system is not good, and you and everybody else in your market will learn that lesson.

So, if you want to address social problems in the market you have to serve more than one master. But profit is the master with control of everything.

The other way to address social needs is to declare, as a society, what is acceptable and what is not. The only way to do that is through government. Here, profit can certainly inform the setting of standards, but it doesn't run the show.

There is a place for both ways. But, market-based solutions will only get you what you can get - not necessarily what you want.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:39 AM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


That is just not true. There are nonprofits that provide free health care, and there are businesses who provide a dignified retirement for their workers. These things are obtainable without government - it's just that government is the only entity that can force people to do things that they don't want to do. If you want to argue that charities aren't wide-reaching enough, that's one thing, but to argue that government is the only entity that provides social services is just plain wrong.

Well, maybe it needs rephrasing to "the only entity that can reliably provide social services whose existence isn't subject to the whims of the privileged who may or may not support other organizations according to the vagaries of their fancy."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:58 AM on November 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


I miss Howard Dean and I hope Hillaru brings him in from the wilderness.


This is basically the least likely of possible outcomes because Dean was essentially opposed to everything that Clinton-style 'centrists' supported.

I am fairly sure that there will be a challenge to Hillary from the populist left, and at least speaking for myself, if there isn't one, I'll probably spend my time and money in the primaries backing Rand Paul. There needs to be at least some chaos in primary season, or it isn't any fun.
posted by empath at 7:59 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


By definition, anyone who has a credible shot at becoming one of our nation's 535 voting members of Congress is part of the elite. They're not even one-percenters, they're 0.000168 percenters.

Well, being part of the eilte one's self doesn't automatically make one an "elitist." I mean, look at FDR - you can't get much more elite than his background, but his agenda wasn't to increase or even maintain the power of the elite at the expense of the common worker.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:03 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I believe that many liberals are over confident in their ability to predict the future

Conservatives are not? Really? Because I see predictions from conservatives all the time. They do not seem to have any better track record on the frequency or accuracy of their predictions than liberals do.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:03 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


We will be greeted as liberators. The war will pay for itself. The smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud! Global warming is a hoax! Just wait and see!
posted by Drinky Die at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Please point me to a discussion where someone is scolding Republicans for having the wrong tone to people who don't vote for them, and blaming this wrong tone -- and nothing more substantive -- on why people don't vote for them.
----
That's pretty much been a discussion in every recent election when blacks and latinos vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 AM on November 13 [2 favorites +] [!]


That's not an issue of *tone*, that's an issue of 'the party actively supports and rallies behind policies which demonstrate open antipathy towards that group'. It's not like the Repubs are the bastions of immigration reform and worker amnesty but they just can't stop calling black guys 'boy' or something.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:23 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's not an issue of *tone*, that's an issue of 'the party actively supports and rallies behind policies which demonstrate open antipathy towards that group'.

That's not what Republicans tell themselves though, so you do see the scolding and the tokenism efforts like nominating Palin to try and steal Clinton voters and pumping up of folks like Cain or Carson despite not really being fits for a Presidential campaign. They don't accept anything that would require changes in conservative policies or beliefs.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:26 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


But also, tone is an issue for them because quotes about rape really sabotaged them in 2012. Some Democrats banked on using "War on Women" as a campaign slogan again but it kind of backfired when Republicans didn't give them fresh outrage fodder for it.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:28 AM on November 13, 2014


Yes, let's waste all our time talking about touchy-feely personality and identity related crap always, please. That will bring us to a new golden era of peace and prosperity in no time, I'm sure.

I've always said adults just weren't enough like neurotic status and self-perception obsessed middle school students in the past. That's what's been dragging us down. Let's spend all our time gossiping about each other and arguing about who really respects and likes who and who doesn't.

Well, being part of the eilte one's self doesn't automatically make one an "elitist." I mean, look at FDR - you can't get much more elite than his background, but his agenda wasn't to increase or even maintain the power of the elite at the expense of the common worker.

Being elite in no way makes someone an "elitist." Elitism isn't the mere idea that a person might be more knowledgeable on a particular subject or better at certain things. It's the idea that because someone is an "elite" in some way, they should be treated better and enjoy more privilege than non-elites in general. But the reality is, more people than just a tiny elite have elite skills or knowledge in some subject or specialty. We're almost all elite in at least one subject.

Does anybody in the world really deny that some people are genuinely and authentically more elite than others when it comes to specific abilities and knowledge? Well, wait, actually, I have met people who deny that. But I still can't believe that anyone could flatly deny that some people really do know more about specific subjects in a world of specialization like ours, or deny that it makes sense to defer to people who actually know what they're talking about.

Well, anyway, what the Republicans do it seems to me is accuse people with any kind of actual specialized domain knowledge of being "elitist" as a way to discredit them to credulous people more worried about protecting their self-esteem than dealing with reality.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:33 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


maybe it needs rephrasing to "the only entity that can reliably provide social services whose existence isn't subject to the whims of the privileged

But that comes down to the core of it. Do you believe in consent? How much do you believe in it? When liberals talk about how they have to "force" the people making more money to fund the programs they want, all I hear is that they are fully aware that there is no way they can convince people willingly to donate for these programs, that they are doing these things over the consent of others. What's wrong with letting people fund things according to their desires? If it's the will of the people to fund these things, then it will get funded. If not, then it won't. The goal should be to convince people that it's good for them to fund such structures, not to see how we can jail or punish them if they don't.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on November 13, 2014


Libertopia will never exist. There will always be someone standing there with a weapon saying, "submit or be punished". Always. The only question is, to whom will this person be accountable?

Force is inherent to the human condition. No matter how many people decide to eschew violence, it only takes one defector to ruin it. Current economic claims are at best the descendants of those staked in the hoary past by violence. Nothing makes those claims "legitimate" outside of force other than age and forgetfulness, nor should they be privileged above other claims, by which I mean drawing a line in the sand and saying, "The economic arrangements that exist at this time are hereby legitimate, and no 'force' should change them; all is voluntary," as libertarians do, is nonsensical.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:25 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Do people who are born into poverty or with debilitating health problems, get the benefit of consenting to being born into those circumstances? Do people whose lives and communities get shuffled when a company decides to move its operations to bump their profits by a few percentage points to net their CEO a bonus get to consent to having their lives upended?

Why does only the consent of the wealthy factor into your analysis corb? No one's asking the haves to consent to becoming the have-nots. They're just asking them to honor the social contract and give back some of what they got in no small part because there was already a reasonably functioning society there that they didn't build for themselves that made it all possible.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


What's wrong with letting people fund things according to their desires? If it's the will of the people to fund these things, then it will get funded. If not, then it won't. The goal should be to convince people that it's good for them to fund such structures, not to see how we can jail or punish them if they don't.

The right to own property is not a natural right. The natural state of man is that one only owns what one takes and keeps by force. That you have any right to own property by anything other than over the barrel of a gun is part of the social contract, and in America, that includes democracy, laws, taxation and other forms of coercion. In other words, I don't have to convince you to give up some of your property willingly, I just have to convince enough other people to take it from you, with due consideration to the constitution and whatever rights you're afforded under it (keeping all of your stuff is not one of them).
posted by empath at 9:38 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


If it's the will of the people to fund these things, then it will get funded. If not, then it won't.

This presumes the people have money to fund things with. It turns out, the rich people have all the money so now they are the only people we can tax for big projects. Tough shit, the people might decide they want to fund them less by taxing them.

Anyway, I would like to not fund things like the Iraq War or the NSA or the Drug War or subsidies for animal agriculture (You will eat the tofu wrap and LIKE IT) so there are some positives to your proposed model.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:49 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is all pretty much pissing in the wind, though. Anyone who wants to know why the rightward march keeps happening, this is it. Reality is hard to understand--especially social reality--difficult and complex. Simplified-to-the-point-of-absurdity scenarios are easy to construct and easy to understand. As is on display here, many people who like to think of themselves as "hard headed realists" are in fact fabulists guided by gut feelings. They encounter a "theory," go, "that sounds correct to me," and voila, it becomes part of their mental landscape and cannot be easily dislodged. The right knows this and takes advantage of it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


And then when you try to talk someone out of a position they arrived at by gut feeling, a propagandist who wants to keep the person invested in that position comes by and calls you an elitist lacking common sense, in the hope of convincing the person to discount everything you say by making them resent you.
posted by burden at 9:58 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


White Americans are really, really different from the average American.

Yep, and this is only going to become more true:

By the 2016 presidential election, 28 million Latinos will be eligible to vote, up from 25 million now. Even more eligible Latino voters are on the horizon. More than 900,000 Latinos will turn 18 every year from now until 2028 — more than 12 million over 14 years — and Latinos who turn 18 in the United States are more likely to be eligible to vote because most were born here.

Obviously not all Latino voters vote Dem, but the political landscape is about to change irrevocably and the voice of the blue-collar socially conservative white man is about to get quieter nationally. I think maybe in light of this that "extinction burst" is a more appropriate descriptor of the current situation than "rightward march."
posted by oinopaponton at 10:02 AM on November 13, 2014


Um, Bloomberg was a Dem?
...
In most of the country, yeah.


He's really a Democrat, because those are the people who outlaw Big Gulps everywhere else. Republicans are pro-Big-Gulp as a party
posted by Greg Nog at 10:30 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


But that comes down to the core of it. Do you believe in consent? How much do you believe in it? When liberals talk about how they have to "force" the people making more money to fund the programs they want, all I hear is that they are fully aware that there is no way they can convince people willingly to donate for these programs, that they are doing these things over the consent of others.

I'm sorry, did I miss the popular progressive movement to do away with proportional representation, or is this yet another straw man of yours? The first person to use the word "force" in the way you're describing it here was you. Tax increases passed by majority vote of proportionally-elected representatives isn't "force", it's "government." Your hostility to government doesn't entitle you to change the meaning of words, or to burn straw men rather than engaging with the actual ideas under consideration, which are, at the most, passing laws to change tax rates.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:50 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Consent and force are good rhetorical tools, just like tofu, kale and bikes and oh my god, the Big Gulp thing. Rhetorical victory is way more important than the reality of the situation so if liberals care about consent in a sexual context, go ahead and insinuate that they actually don't. Whatever wins the point.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:01 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a common conservative rhetorical tactic to pretend to believe that a word must mean the same thing in every single context, when it clearly doesn't. Clearly if one requires consent for sexual penetration, that one must also require consent for collecting property taxes. It's exactly the same thing.
posted by empath at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, that and the fact that consent is often outweighed as a consideration when other interests are at stake. Example: if someone is trespassing in my home and I want them to leave, their consent or lack thereof to leaving does not matter to me. Weighing considerations like this against each other is not always simple or easy, which is why law and ethics are not simple or easy. Of course it is simple in the specific case of sexual assault, because sexual access to someone else's body is not a valid interest that needs to be weighed against that person's lack of consent.

Or, you know big gulp liebertarians nanny state stop insulting Dwight Yokam's honor my gunnnns
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:17 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Well if it's a legitimate tax increase, the GOP base has ways to shut that whole thing down."
posted by tonycpsu at 11:18 AM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Tax increases passed by majority vote of proportionally-elected representatives isn't "force", it's "government."

I don't really see the problem with calling it force. Government rests on force. Let's not muddy the waters by playing rhetorical games. Own it. This falls in the same area as where in the ballkicking thread someone stated that self-defense isn't violence. Well, sure it is. We don't have to give something a different name just because it is considered justified in one context and not another.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:19 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't really see the problem with calling it force. Government rests on force.

Well of course, but "consent of the governed" doesn't mean each person consents to each action.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


No, obviously not.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2014


Conservatives have learned the Frank Luntz style of rhetoric quite well. They create and capitalize on a gut-level "truthiness" that works like Steely-eyed Missile Man described above. Words that the right use all the time are actually placeholders for whole generalized conservative feelings. It doesn't even really matter what the word actually means; what's important it the whole string of images and innuendo that the word represents. And, as it's been said many times, it is very hard to counteract. The connections have been made on a emotional and irrational level, and appeals to logic don't often dislodge them.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Weighing considerations like this against each other is not always simple or easy, which is why law and ethics are not simple or easy.

I agree with you, but it seems like people are just really quick to disregard this issue of consent at all. It doesn't appear to be being pondered very deeply.

As Drinky Die notes above, the ability to consent to various taxation would also mean, say, that you could elimininate on an individual level other things people are morally opposed to - such as funding for the Defense Department
posted by corb at 11:29 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, and I can agree that the state uses force and has close to a monopoly on force without allowing someone to rhetorically mash all instances of force together and demand that I decide whether I care about all of them or none of them, with the strong implication that if I don't support the Iraq war I can't then support the arrest and detention of a serial killer. It's bad argumentation to imply there's no difference between the two cases and that my different opinion about two very different cases is an indication of hypocrisy or self-delusion.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2014


Well, and I can agree that the state uses force and has close to a monopoly on force without allowing someone to rhetorically mash all instances of force together and demand that I decide whether I care about all of them or none of them, with the strong implication that if I don't support the Iraq war I can't then support the arrest and detention of a serial killer. It's bad argumentation to imply there's no difference between the two cases and that my different opinion about two very different cases is an indication of hypocrisy or self-delusion.

I am not implying there is no difference between the two cases, nor am I accusing you of hypocrisy.

it seems like people are just really quick to disregard this issue of consent at all. It doesn't appear to be being pondered very deeply.

Of course you think this because people don't agree with you on the subject. On the contrary, it seems obvious to me that it has been pondered deeply enough for folks to reject the extremely shallow libertarian idea that GOVERNMENT = FORCE but (air quotes) "freely" engaged in economic activity (as it is understood in a modern context, all other contexts being left out of the picture) NEVER EQUALS FORCE.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:37 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe people can't ponder it deeply because they're being forced to limit their soda and/or intake by straw elitist democrats. Pretty sad that unions are too corrupt to help and that illegal immigrants are taking all the black market welfare.

Or, in other (liberal elitist) words, be the argument you want to see in this thread instead of peppering it with empty rhetoric and specious claims.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:41 AM on November 13, 2014


I know you're not, SEMM. That was directed at corb's post asking us if we truly care about consent. Quoting is impossible on this old, not-so-smart phone.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:43 AM on November 13, 2014


As Drinky Die notes above, the ability to consent to various taxation would also mean, say, that you could elimininate on an individual level other things people are morally opposed to - such as funding for the Defense Department

It would mean an end to government because bad actors wouldn't consent to any taxation, while benefiting from the services paid for by others' taxes, until no one consents at all to anything. It's not merely stupid to propose this, it's nihilistic.
posted by empath at 11:45 AM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


people are just really quick to disregard this issue of consent at all

No, I'd say pretty much everyone recognizes that we live under something resembling majority rule rather than unanimous consent. Why should we take seriously complaints that government is operating under the principles it was founded on?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:52 AM on November 13, 2014


As Drinky Die notes above, the ability to consent to various taxation would also mean, say, that you could elimininate on an individual level other things people are morally opposed to - such as funding for the Defense Department

Well, a public Defense Department, anyway.
posted by weston at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


We don't have to give something a different name just because it is considered justified in one context and not another.

Exactly. Remember the complaints about media coverage that said the U. S. was "occupying" Baghdad? Am I a Nazi for saying that the Allies "occupied" Berlin following WWII?
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


When liberals talk about how they have to "force" the people making more money to fund the programs they want, all I hear is that they are fully aware that there is no way they can convince people willingly to donate for these programs, that they are doing these things over the consent of others. What's wrong with letting people fund things according to their desires? If it's the will of the people to fund these things, then it will get funded. If not, then it won't. The goal should be to convince people that it's good for them to fund such structures, not to see how we can jail or punish them if they don't.

To be clear, the elitists are the ones who want to provide equitable benefits by forcing people to commit equally to the benefit for society at large, and the non-elitists are the ones who are in favor of the people with discretionary income being able to spend it any way they want with no interference or say from anyone else?
posted by cjelli at 12:46 PM on November 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


When liberals talk about how they have to "force" the people making more money to fund the programs they want, all I hear is that they are fully aware that there is no way they can convince people willingly to donate for these programs, that they are doing these things over the consent of others. What's wrong with letting people fund things according to their desires?

Thanks for making my point for me corb. Private charity has never, and will never, provide for guaranteed and universal health care, education and retirement. You think that they should be gifts rather than rights, because only government can establish them as guaranteed rights. Can't afford those medical bills? No kindly rich person feels like paying them for you? Then it's only fair that you should die, you worthless wretch!

Corb, you are agreeing with me that you don't want these things for people, if it means that someone out there has to pay marginally more tax than they would otherwise. You're perfectly happy for people to go without these things, even in a society that can afford to provide them many times over, so long as the pre-existing concentration of wealth goes unmolested by the tax collector - which is where your moral universe begins and ends.

And so, pretending that you're taking a principled stand on the issue of "consent", you throw your support behind the party that wants to remove women's consent to carry a pregnancy to term. Obviously a trifling issue by comparison to the injustice of billionaires having to contribute to the general welfare if they don't feel it. The twisted moral priorities of the "conservative".
posted by moorooka at 1:15 PM on November 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


Mod note: Few comments deleted. This thread really, really needs to not become about corb's personal version of libertarianism, thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:05 PM on November 13, 2014


Ignorance of history and taking a snapshot of current economic relationships and using it as a baseline for How Things Out to Be are features of libertarianism I have noticed many times in many places around the web. In fact, I mentioned it in a previous comment of mine in this very thread.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2014


Many charges of elitism are aggressive xenophobia pretending to be defensive. If the fact that other people live differently from you (ie eat tofu or commute by bike) leads you to assume hostile intent, that is xenophobia, pure and simple. Most to all of my friends back home are absolutely not xenophobic in this way. They don't think there is a war on Christmas, either. I'm so sick of seeing them painted as xenophobic rubes by the Republican party and amoral pundits looking for ratings.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:16 PM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ignorance of history and taking a snapshot of current economic relationships and using it as a baseline for How Things Out to Be are features of libertarianism being human I have noticed many times in many places around the web.

All of those complaints from the middle class, many of them Democrats, about how the middle class is being squeezed out? That's thinking how they grew up is the baseline for how things should be. They don't realize their experience wasn't a baseline, a lot of people had it much worse than they did. It turns out the rich are perfectly content with a much lower baseline.

I recently tried to read Atlas Shrugged. I could only get about halfway through because I found it boring and repetitive, but I was surprised by how much her veneration of the market differed from how I often see it expressed in modern America. Her biggest hate on was for businesspeople who took advantage over other competitors via manipulating the government. Much more so than her hate for the government, to my halfway reading.

The people she would hate most in modern America are the bailed out bankers. (Looters, I believe would be the word she would use.) When are my libertarian friends gonna start their occupation on Wall St.?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:38 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


All of those complaints from the middle class, many of them Democrats, about how the middle class is being squeezed out? That's thinking how they grew up is the baseline for how things should be.

Maybe. How many of those people are really liberal, though? Those of us who are are well aware of how different things used to be, and how hard our crust of the pie was fought for. I like to think I'm not alone in that. I am speaking more about how libertarians assume that neoliberal economics is some kind of natural law.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:22 PM on November 13, 2014


For my part, it's not at all the case that I am mistaking the economic order of the last 70 years for the baseline of all history. I see it as a great, hard fought political achievement that certain interests in our society are now dead set on dismantling and replacing with the default/less optimal state of things we always had before.

I don't assume the function of government is to preserve the natural order. Just like I don't assume the function of a house is to provide no protection from the rain.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:27 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everybody who's interested in politics, social psychology, and the whole magilla of how humans live together in a society really should do themselves a favor and read Chimpanzee Politics. It was one of the biggest eye-openers of my young adult years, and puts so much in perspective.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:31 PM on November 14, 2014


Mythbusting The Punditry Class' Election Postmortems
'Populism' is the cure-all/won't work for Democrats

Nothing was more ubiquitous in Democratic campaigns this year than support for such "populist" economic themes as a higher minimum wage, which polled well nearly everywhere and sometimes split Republicans. But even in states where voters approved minimum wage ballot initiatives, Democratic statewide candidates did not benefit, leading some observers to conclude "populist" appeals to reduce inequality might be less effective than a pro-growth message while others countered that a sharper populist message was needed when the Democratic Party holds the While House and is deemed responsible for the economy.

This is a dilemma for Democrats that goes back at least to the Clinton years, and will be partly ameliorated by the imminent departure from office of President Obama, making it easier for his successor as Democratic nominee to make 2016 a "two futures" choice of economic policies rather than a referendum on a status quo still suffering from the mistakes of the Bush administration. I'd personally argue that what Democrats most need isn't "less" or "more" populism, but a more comprehensive economic message that explains how income equality is critical to growth and offers not just one but various ways to boost paychecks. Princeton professor Alan Blinder has made a pretty good start.

Meanwhile, a separate argument is that some Democrats spent too much time on "culture war" issues or talking about a "war on women." I'd just note that the single biggest difference between the 2010 and 2014 votes were that Democrats won women last week by four points and lost them by a point in 2010. Something went right.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:36 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did they really lose women by one point in 2010? Wow, I thought they already had women by a good margin before that point even if it was a Republican wave year. More kudos to the democratic campaign leaders in 2012 for changing that story, I think, for the next few decades.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2014


Senate Democrats are elevating Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to a new leadership position on Thursday. She will help shape policy and messaging for the party.

Even if this is just a cynical ploy to capitalize on Warren being just about the only Democrat that the liberal base trusts at this point, it seems like a good move.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't think it matters why they did it, I think Democrats will just appreciate that it's done. It puts her right where she wants to be, I think, in a position of influence and power while she builds herself up for a potential run in the post-Clinton future.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:45 PM on November 14, 2014


I don't think she'll run, honestly, and she might be more valuable to the party in Congress than she'd be in the White House.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2014


Go Warren! Yaaaay! </kermitflail>
posted by JHarris at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


She might or she might not, it depends on what the country and politics look like a decade from now which none of us can predict. Her Senate win and a leadership position put her in position where the most potential options are open to her. Best we could hope for right now.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Tax increases passed by majority vote of proportionally-elected representatives isn't "force", it's "government."

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic."

Benjamin Franklin
posted by IndigoJones at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2014


“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic."

That's plain old-fashioned elitism right there.

Our biggest danger as a republic, completely blind to the founders, is that a default two-party design has created a one-party possibility.
posted by Brian B. at 10:13 AM on November 15, 2014


“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic."

Benjamin Franklin


1) That attribution is probably bogus.

2) Even if the attribution weren't bogus, the sentiment certainly would be, unless you think the people are idiots. We've had the vote for long enough to figure out that we can just "vote ourselves money," and yet I'm posting from the Commonwealth (!) of Massachusetts, not the People's Republic.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:23 AM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


the word "lunch" is not known to have appeared anywhere in English literature until the 1820s

Those poor primitive bastards.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2014


the word "lunch" is not known to have appeared anywhere in English literature until the 1820s

Those poor primitive bastards.


Don't worry, they just called it elevenses or twelvses.
posted by MikeKD at 3:59 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


This makes me worry about a link that seems well researched, but isn't. Lunch is a shortening of "luncheon" and has been recorded since 1580 - luncheon itself was a derivation of "nuncheon", an amalgamation of "noon" and "schench" (to drink a liquid) which meant a mid-day repast. It came to mean specifically a slice of bread and cheese at mid-day as it was playfully adapted from the period's Spanish "lonjo" - which means a slice of something - and rhyming slang abbreviation for the mid-day meal, luncheon.

So, yes, Ben Franklin had lunch.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:51 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Regardless of whether the quote is legit or not, the whole formulation of "vote themselves money" is absurd. If you have a plan for a functional nation state that doesn't involve collection of enough taxes to at least fund at least a military, please share that plan with us. If not, then we're all socialists to some degree or another -- we're just haggling about the price.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:36 PM on November 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


In fantasy land, the lazy poor vote to give themselves all the rich people's money.

In reality land, the rich keep their money in tax havens and governments fund tax cuts by setting up lotteries designed to extract money from gambling addicts and the financially illiterate.
posted by leopard at 6:28 PM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


2) Even if the attribution weren't bogus, the sentiment certainly would be, unless you think the people are idiots.

Well, our lords and masters clearly think so. I suppose Gruber gets credit for being open about it. Perk of tenure, I suppose.

Me, I agree with Agent K: "The person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals...."

I'm also okay with the notion that brains need 25 years to get up to speed.

we're just haggling about the price.

I actually agree with this entirely. But I would add to it, are we getting our money's worth or are we paying Tiffany prices for shoddy goods, or even outright poison? Goods we don't want, can't use, and don't really benefit us. And is it real money or the credit card? All things considered, I'd have to say that our lords and masters are not the best stewards of the commonwealth, especially with the current cheek to cheek between DC and Wall Street.

Ask yourself, do you know anyone who has ever turned down a government check because they didn't think it was warranted? If yes, was this taken as admirable or foolish?

Money changes everything.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:12 PM on November 16, 2014


Well, our lords and masters clearly think so. I suppose Gruber gets credit for being open about it. Perk of tenure, I suppose.

Me, I agree with Agent K: "The person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals...."

I'm also okay with the notion that brains need 25 years to get up to speed.


damn, that's enough dodges for a dealership
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:56 PM on November 16, 2014


IndigoJones: Ask yourself, do you know anyone who has ever turned down a government check because they didn't think it was warranted?

FTFY.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:19 PM on November 16, 2014


The 1% vote themselves money all the time, ever since buying elected officials was declared to be free speech.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:48 AM on November 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Poor people don't even vote -- turnout among people who make under $30k/year is generally less than 50%.

But I'm sure the rich people who do vote and finance our politicians are doing a great job guiding our republic with the wisdom of the ancients, so it's all OK.
posted by leopard at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2014


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