The center
December 29, 2015 12:11 AM   Subscribe

In the 1960s, riots and the Black Power movement sparked a furious white backlash. In April 1965, 28% of non-Southern whites thought President Lyndon Johnson was pushing civil rights “too fast.”

By September 1966, after riots in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland, and the S.N.C.C.'s turn from racial integration toward Black Power, that figure had reached 52%.

This time, however, the opposite is happening.
posted by four panels (90 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
The next Democratic president will be more liberal than Barack Obama. The next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush.

I'd love it if this were to be true, and it's an interesting article, but watching the leading candidates makes it hard to buy the author's main assertion.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:46 AM on December 29, 2015 [44 favorites]


Yeah, if the polling is any indication (and we are getting pretty close to the primaries), then it's Trump vs Clinton. And there's no way that those two candidates are more liberal than their predecessors in their respective parties. Clinton is a darling of Wall Street and Trump is channeling Goebbels. Big Money seems to be the real leading candidate.
posted by darkstar at 1:49 AM on December 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


Is Obama to liberalism as Nixon was to conservatism?*

In­stead of turn­ing right, the coun­try as a whole is still mov­ing to the left. That doesn’t mean the Re­pub­lic­ans won’t re­tain strength in the na­tion’s state­houses and in Congress. It doesn’t mean a Re­pub­lic­an won’t soon­er or later claim the White House. It means that on do­mest­ic policy—for­eign policy is fol­low­ing a dif­fer­ent tra­ject­ory, as it of­ten does—the terms of the na­tion­al de­bate will con­tin­ue tilt­ing to the left. The next Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent will be more lib­er­al than Barack Obama. The next Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent will be more lib­er­al than George W. Bush.

I'd love it if this were to be true, and it's an interesting article, but watching the leading candidates makes it hard to buy the author's main assertion.


trump still looks like a longshot
[1,2] but at least (for white america) he's campaigning against 'crony capitalism' while clinton has also said 'the deck is stacked'; i suspect it's an electoral thing where urban/metropolitan areas -- "the coun­try as a whole" -- are 'leftward' leaning, whereas rural/red states retain political influence where: "White working class populists cannot be bought off with redistribution or regulation..."

Can right-wing populism be stopped?
When Frum and Galston and Obama and Sanders suggest that Trump's success is fueled by the economic decline of the white working class, I find myself nodding along. But it's important to realize that Trump's supporters don't appear to see it that way — or at least not so straightforwardly.

Yes, they seem drawn to Trump because of his hyperbolic talk of a national crisis that has left the American dream "dead." But there is no evidence at all that they think the proper response is to propose some additional child tax credits and new regulatory tweaks.

To judge from what gets them going at campaign rallies and on Twitter, Trump supporters think the appropriate response to white working-class decline is to shut the border, keep out Muslims, deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, oppose political correctness about race and gender, lash out at the journalists who supposedly encourage all of the social and cultural trends that need to be turned back and reversed, and kick out the elites leading both parties in favor of vastly smarter and tougher men like Donald Trump.

Which means that the response of the white working class to its own economic struggles is to embrace nationalism and identity politics — in a word, to look for solutions to economic problems in culture.

Liberals have been confounded by the incorrigibly cultural character of right-wing populism for a long time. Sociologist Daniel Bell and historian Richard Hofstadter reflected on it in the 1950s and '60s. More recently, commentator Thomas Frank explored the question of why so many working-class Kansans vote against their economic interests by supporting plutocratic Republicans. His answer: Because the Republicans manage to dupe those voters into believing that issues wrapped up with the culture war (abortion, gay marriage) are far more important than economics.

Today, sensible centrists of the left and right are confronting the same issue with Trump's supporters, who appear to be motivated by economic concerns but are uninterested in an economic response — at least as economics is usually addressed by policy experts. They are left cold by the piecemeal, technocratic proposals of candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. But neither can one imagine them gravitating to Bernie Sanders, the real economic populist in the race — or, for that matter, to Hillary Clinton, who has been goaded by Sanders' (and Elizabeth Warren's) strength to embrace an economic agenda far more economically populist than the one that her New Democrat husband championed in the White House.

No, what Trump's supporters appear to want is someone to rail rudely against economic, racial, ethnic, and demographic aspects of contemporary American life that they find distasteful, dangerous, and unfair; to place the blame for these trends on somebody besides themselves (immigrants, liberals, big business, stupid people, Muslims, big government, the media, the president); and to promise a magical fix brought about by superhuman feats of commonsense competence. Trump gives them all of this, and his followers love him for it. That makes him a textbook example of a demagogue and them a political force that everyone from Aristotle to Alexander Hamilton would recognize as a mob.

How can the members of this mob be persuaded to abandon their cultural populism and the candidate who assures them he will turn back the tide?

I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure a list of sensible, wonky policy proposals isn't going to do the trick.
posted by kliuless at 1:49 AM on December 29, 2015 [63 favorites]


How can the members of this mob be persuaded to abandon their cultural populism and the candidate who assures them he will turn back the tide?

Free tickets to Rammstein
posted by wam at 3:24 AM on December 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


In 2011, the Democratic Leadership Council—having lost its influence years earlier—closed its doors.

Whoa! I have not been following. That is awesome!
posted by ignignokt at 3:42 AM on December 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


How can the members of this mob be persuaded to abandon their cultural populism and the candidate who assures them he will turn back the tide?

Slowly and one or two at a time and we all need to pick a couple folks we know and work on them as patiently as we can. No getting angry, no hurting their feelings, and largely by making them think that they came up with the less racist solutions themselves.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:54 AM on December 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


> Slowly and one or two at a time and we all need to pick a couple folks we know and work on them as patiently as we can. No getting angry, no hurting their feelings, and largely by making them think that they came up with the less racist solutions themselves.

We on the left having been trying to do this for several decades now. A classic example of this strategy is the "Oppose the war, support the troops" strategy.

Do you think it has been successful?

Also - is this slow, steady strategy really the one to use when we have immediate, desperate issues? If this takes twenty years, will there be any middle class even left?

As an embattled minority, isn't such a strategy doomed? For every person we convert over the years, won't there been ten others born and inculcated against us that we never see? It's not like the right has lost interest in competing just because they've had two generations of wins...

---

All in all, this was a depressingly unconvincing article by someone who is willing to glue together a bunch of disparate ideas under the rubric of "liberalism".

Let us make one thing completely clear - America has become more socially liberal. You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

(Basically none of this has been pushed by political figures on the left. Your Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton have had a very poor record on gay rights - following the society they are supposed to be leading. But it's irrelevant, we are winning and will continue to win on these issues...)

But in terms of being economically liberal, or having a compassionate foreign policy, respecting the rights of its citizens and the Constitution - by that key standard, which for the majority of people is far more important, we have steadily moved to the "right" my whole life and see no hope (aside from Bernie Sanders, of course) of change there.

I mean, it's been 45 years since Operation Menu, and yet there's still no movement on the idea that the US gets to bomb any country it likes, whether or not there is even a declared war, and other countries can't even really express disapproval of that.

Imagine if some other country did to the United States a fraction of the damage that the US has done to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Nicaragua (fun fact - the US at one point in my life mined Managua Harbor), Iraq, Afghanistan etc etc. - the US would be whining about this for the next thousand years, but other countries are supposed to be thankful for the US's kind bombing strategies. I mean, if you scale for size, during the war Iraq had a violent death rate great than 9/11 each week for a decade, and yet many Americans really resent Iraq for their "lack of gratitude for our sacrifice".

The idea that society exists to serve the needs of the 0.1% barely existed in 1970 - now it's the guiding ethos of our entire economy.

Unions are a shadow of their former selves. While unions have in the balance between tremendously beneficial to your average American, somehow people have become convinced from a tiny number of over-hyped news stories that unions are corrupt criminal organizations that need to be crushed.

The idea that you, the worker, might in general need protection from your employer has all but vanished for most Americans. The idea that as a worker from the lower 40%, you might want to be treated in a human way that allows you to live a life with dignity - basically gone. The number of people who think e.g. fast food workers are contemptible beings who deserve to be paid less than a living wage shows how the ideas of fairness and compassion have vanished from public discourse.

The writer is living in a dream. I personally hope that people will soon be disgusted enough that many of these things will change, but unless Bernie Sanders is elected or some conversion miracle happens with another major politician, there's no immediate hope whatsoever of our fixing any of the real "liberal issues" of our age.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:54 AM on December 29, 2015 [98 favorites]


What are these riots?
posted by Artw at 5:33 AM on December 29, 2015


> All in all, this was a depressingly unconvincing article by someone who is willing to glue together a bunch of disparate ideas under the rubric of "liberalism".
> there's no immediate hope whatsoever of our fixing any of the real "liberal issues" of our age.

To borrow from Sam Harris, to many a moderate is a failed extremist.

There are always more convincing arguments, tying together centuries of tragedy to just now, standing beside someone you don't know in the elevator.

Maybe though there's utility in following how the person arrived to where they are. Some common point between origins. If we are always fighting for everyone, who is everyone fighting against? Maybe the few fight for the many? I wonder what percentage of everyone is the few. 10%? 1%?

Surely the center can hold, revelation not quite at hand.
posted by four panels at 5:34 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


And there's no way that those two candidates are more liberal than their predecessors in their respective parties.

Why do people keep claiming Clinton is more conservative than Obama when it's not at all supported by the data? Are they confusing her with her husband? Or is this one of those truthiness deals where everyone just knows she's more conservative without actually examining where she's voted?

It's so bizarre. Conservatives see her as a liberal commie harridan. Liberals see her as a conservative, corporate witch. She can't be both.
posted by schroedinger at 5:38 AM on December 29, 2015 [49 favorites]


Because if they didn't say that they'd have to pay attention to congress or the senate and the left wing has a weird mental block against that, much to their deficit.
posted by Artw at 5:41 AM on December 29, 2015 [17 favorites]


Speaking of riots, an incident after Xmas in my home town of Louisville, Kentucky involving some unruly teenagers at a mall was vastly overhyped by the police and media, who called it a "riot" despite there being no property damage, no serious injuries and no arrests.

Yes, many of the kids involved were black.
posted by Gelatin at 5:50 AM on December 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


For intellectual guidance, centrist Democrats looked to the Democratic Leadership Council, which opposed raising the minimum wage; to The New Republic (a magazine I edited in the early 2000s), which attacked affirmative action and Roe v. Wade; and to the Washington Monthly, which proposed means-testing Social Security.

This piece defines and presents President Obama as an objective example of a left-leaning president so effective in his agenda as to have steered the ship of state in that direction. It was conceived as a scaremongering warning intended to apply pressure to bring Clinton to what the author conceives to be the center. This is the source of the author's use of scare words such as riots, even as he admits he found little evidence for his original thesis. The author's intellectual heritage may account for his apparent inability to coherently define what he is writing about, which is really the declining power of reactionary code-word politics within the Democratic party, in my opinion.
posted by mwhybark at 6:25 AM on December 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm going to suggest cellphone coverage showing them to be obvious liars as a more likely cause of a decline in police trust over the country becoming less biased. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far when faced with that.
posted by Artw at 6:32 AM on December 29, 2015 [20 favorites]


I don't know if I believe that America is becoming more liberal but at least we are hearing a few leftist voices lately. It's somewhat amusing that this author seems so pissy about the fact that the Democrats didn't get 100% taken over by the DLC.
posted by octothorpe at 7:11 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would go farther than claiming cell phone coverage being cause of less bias.

I think technological changes, especially those in communication ie Internet, cell phones etc will ensure that we become more liberal. Increased communication makes it difficult to sustain stereotypes.

The current batch of vociferous fundamentalists are just a last ditch attempt to reverse the course of progress, doomed to failure. All they can do is slow it down.

But not all voices protesting are fundamentalists, there are genuine grievances about economic inequality which are voiced or hijacked by fundamentalists.

Problem is tech can't do a lot about inequality, that requires a political or social solution
posted by TheLittlePrince at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Or it'll be like gun violence and people will just accept that things are bad but nothing can be done about it.
posted by Artw at 7:23 AM on December 29, 2015


The author's intellectual heritage may account for his apparent inability to coherently define what he is writing about, which is really the declining power of reactionary code-word politics within the Democratic party, in my opinion.

more like the decline of the code phrase "even the liberal New Republic..." as noted above, the DLC is closed and the gravy train had gotten thin for "new Democrat" flacks like Beinart. The Clintons needed callow media types like Beinart to finally kill off the labor wing of the party, but "triangulation" always required accomplices in the Republican party willing to call Democrats who reject 'social democracy', like Beinart and the Clintons, "liberal". Who knows what it means to say that the country had become more left wing, but what has been decisive is the ongoing radicalization of the Republican party.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:24 AM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


The next Democratic president will be more liberal than Barack Obama. The next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush.

If only that were true, but it's not. We're not going to be allowed to vote for Bernie, and instead we're going to get a war hawk corporatist so far to the right of Obama that she's only a democrat during certain interviews.
posted by trackofalljades at 7:28 AM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I believe that America is becoming more liberal but at least we are hearing a few leftist voices lately.

Here's data if you like. There's some up-tick over the years but even assuming recent trends continue indefinitely (which is unrealistic), I don't see a crossover any time soon.
posted by BWA at 7:38 AM on December 29, 2015


It's so bizarre. Conservatives see her as a liberal commie harridan. Liberals see her as a conservative, corporate witch. She can't be both.
posted by schroedinger


Eponymous perfection.
posted by Octaviuz at 7:41 AM on December 29, 2015 [48 favorites]


Let us make one thing completely clear - America has become more socially liberal. You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

Meanwhile, access to abortion and emergency contraception are in many places hanging on by a fingernail while the Trumpist strain of thinking is accompanied by an uptick in open affiliation with white supremacy. As hopeful as I am some days about what people are accomplishing around Black Lives Matter, the emerging movement that's starting to feel like it has the most long-term consequence for life in America is a howling pack of enthusiastic griefers who check just about every box on a long list of well-established shithead political principles while organizing around a core ethos of really hating women. (Oh, and a side of racial politics every skinhead dumbfuck I've ever met would be happy to embrace.)

I'm not saying we haven't become more socially liberal in the aggregate, but it's sure not uncomplicated.
posted by brennen at 7:42 AM on December 29, 2015 [42 favorites]


People, start posting more boring replies. I can't favorite Everything.
posted by evilDoug at 7:50 AM on December 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the real issue here is semantics.

What the author defines as "liberal" is probably not what most "liberals" would define as "liberal."

re: Schroedinger, the same goes for Clinton. She might be "liberal" by the measure of Republicans and a lot of people in the Democratic party, but I think the people who lean left but have never really fully identified with the DNC are not likely to refer to her or her DNC ilk as a "liberal."
posted by deadaluspark at 7:51 AM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why do people keep claiming Clinton is more conservative than Obama when it's not at all supported by the data?

From the article:
When Clinton has shifted left, she has usually done so with her party and — on the issues she’s highlighted in the 2016 campaign so far — the country.

She's liberal, for a senator. She's liberal, for a Democrat. But she's not liberal.

There's a lot of feeling, fair or otherwise, that she and Bill Clinton were a team while he was in office. She certainly didn't dispel that notion when it was politically expedient. So she's shifted to the left as it's become necessary.

So maybe we can credit her for not dragging her heels, but she's not a leader for liberal causes. She still opposes legalizing marijuana, for fuck's sake.

Too many people too close to the system forget that America doesn't have a liberal and a conservative party. We have a conservative party, and an arch-conservative, insane party. The Democrats, especially at the national level, don't embrace anything "liberal" anymore unless there's already a huge groundswell of support.
posted by explosion at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2015 [28 favorites]


Ya kliuless I liked that one from twitter!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:20 AM on December 29, 2015


Let us make one thing completely clear - America has become more socially liberal. You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

More liberal, or more libertarian? I am not seeing any broad move towards effective governance or towards redistribution, but I am seeing a lot of changes resulting in increased personal freedom. And as noted just above, this gets at why we are simultaneously seeing the extension of marriage equality while witnessing the rollback of abortion rights -- the selective extension of libertarian privileges does not extend to pro-choice issues, because there is not liberal consensus or societal shift.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2015 [32 favorites]


Let us make one thing completely clear - America has become more socially liberal. You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

More liberal, or more libertarian?


Exactly. More libertarian, more "this is what some white men want, in addition to guns, in order to feel free." It's nice, and I'm in favor of marriage equality + decriminalization of marijuana, but it's telling that the big gaps in our freedom--basically, everything that specifically concerns women (access to contraception and safe abortion) and minorities (not being shot at the whim of a police officer) and poor people (fair wages) don't directly affect middle-class white men.
posted by witchen at 8:43 AM on December 29, 2015 [39 favorites]


Yes, we re becoming more socially liberal and can't pat ourselves on the back enough for it. Go, us! We don't care who you marry and go ahead and smoke weed if that helps. Americans feel very differently about things that effect their own pocketbook.

The rise of Trump and the anti-immigrant fervor (and it is pretty damn strong) is fear of the working class falling even further from the middle class that they self describe themselves as. They don't see 'Income Inequality' as relating to them, they see cause and effect. For most of the country the loss in value of wages came in the same decades that there was a noticeable growth in non-European immigrants. They will tune out the elites with talk of the 1% when their eyes tell them a different story, a story that someone like Trump of some even more fascist waiting in the wings will capitalize on. Fascism plays on fear and the right is drumming up the fear, both internally and externally. I hope it doesn't catch fire.

I fear the fascist element because I also think that liberals are lazy. And often are only as liberal as long as they live in comfort. But I come from this from a place of doing people's taxes and seeing if they indeed put their money where their mouth is (no), and after years of having kids in schools where parents will talk about equality and services for all, but only if their own kid is in classes that are not more than about 20% minority. When things look diverse it looks good, but the hard work to assure that all kids have the same opportunity as their own? Not if it means their own has ANY less of a chance of attending a top college.

The only way out is to educate the poor, both poor whites and POC to expect better and demand more. Without the fear and finger pointing that is the easy answer offered by the Trumps of this world. But that education can only take the form of empowerment. Right now the left is content to feel holier than thou and point and laugh at the stupidity of the masses. Look at those idiots that believe everything that Fox/Ailes/Murdoch/Limbaugh foists on them! They have made it easy to lean to the right and they do so by telling people that their worse fears are true, they do not pander. As long as low information voters feel pandered to by the left they will continue to see them as contemptible elitists. I hoped that Obama could break thru and I continue to hope that Hillary will in the future. I bet she will play to her new strengths as a grandma, getting almost folksy. Wise elder women are familiar to every class and ethnicity, I hope she finds this niche and can lead from there.
posted by readery at 8:50 AM on December 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


I bet she will play to her new strengths as a grandma, getting almost folksy. Wise elder women are familiar to every class and ethnicity, I hope she finds this niche and can lead from there.

I was with you until right here. Hillary already tried to capitalize on that and it blew up in her face under the hashtag #NotMyAbuela.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

I don't see this. I mean, other than as a Manhattan/LA MSM construct, or for pockets of the country where nobody cared in the first place, or along the coasts and in the big traditionally liberal cities, or all of the above.

You can bet your bottom dollar that many, many aggrieved and cornered people do care about these things in so-called flyover country, and that pot-smoking-welfare-loving-hippie-gay-liberal punching is about to become a favorite sport if the 2016 election goes in the GOP's direction -- even if a Democrat gets into the White House, the GOP will still control the vast majority of governorships, state legislatures, and city and county councils, and that's where everyday, ground-level, life-impacting legislation gets sponsored, enacted, and entrenched, and ultimately filtered up to Congress's attention.

Democrats have not had less control over state legislatures than they do now since at least 1978. They are well on their way to permanent minority status in the House of Representatives. Nothing they're doing right now is likely to change that.

The social issues may not play so much on a national stage -- the coming election is likely to be won on "national security" issues, not the economy, and not social issues -- but the folks who are pushing back against the "no one cares" issues like it that way, because they can get the changes they really want done under the radar at the state and local level, and by doing so push the Overton window for getting those changes talked about -- and later enacted -- on a national basis. They're thinking in terms of the long game too, just as those who appear to believe in a new era of "liberal dominance" are. And the long game in US politics is that the GOP controls the chessboard for the foreseeable future, no matter what polls or pundits say, until the Democrats have a way to disrupt the GOP's control of state and local politics.

The "liberal dominance" thesis of Beinart's article seems to be subject to a kind of "arc of history" fallacy. As often as it's predicted that things will progress in an inevitable desired direction, along comes the pendulum swing in the opposite direction to mess up the pretty picture. Beinart's complete focus on presidential politics misses the rest of the picture.

Even if Bernie Sanders were to win the White House, odds are that he'd still have to work with a completely gridlocked Congress and a House no less full of angry obstructionist white GOP tea partiers than before. Good luck with that.
posted by blucevalo at 9:01 AM on December 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was with you until right here. Hillary already tried to capitalize on that and it blew up in her face under the hashtag #NotMyAbuela.

That was one of those marvelously tone deaf moments that highlight just how hard campaigns try to pander and "connect" without knowing enough to actually connect.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:03 AM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


When Hillary Clinton is campaigning she talks Liberal. When she is doing she does Conservative.
posted by DanSachs at 9:04 AM on December 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not buying the premise. If the GOP wins the White House, owns Congress and controls most state houses exactly where are the "liberals"? I'm guessing exactly where they are now: outside looking in.
posted by tommasz at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why do people keep claiming Clinton is more conservative than Obama when it's not at all supported by the data?

Because it's still primary season and I think it helps the Sanders campaign if Clinton is portrayed as close to the Republicans as possible.
posted by FJT at 9:10 AM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why do people keep claiming Clinton is more conservative than Obama when it's not at all supported by the data?

Iraq. It's Iraq, dammit. That war was transparently bullshit from day one, and anybody who said that was completely shut out of the national conversation, and most of the Democratic party went along with it all out of a mixture of spinelessness and gullibility. Including fucking Hillary.

The Democratic party failed its constituents and the whole country, in a huge and damaging way. And Hillary is representative of that Bad Old Democratic Party, that stood for nothing when it mattered most, and shut out the voices of the sane.

I'll vote for her over any Republican in a general, but I'm never going to like it.
posted by zjacreman at 9:18 AM on December 29, 2015 [41 favorites]


I don't think it's just primary season. Hillary is pretty hawkish. I fear she will end up trying to show a woman can be "tough," to appease conservatives. She'll be "tough" on crime, and "tough" on terrorism, which means the status quo for American LEO's will be safe, and we might end up in another mire of a war because she just has to prove a woman "has the balls" to pull the trigger.

As others have pointed out, part of the problem continues to be that even with a woman in the White House, she continues to be surrounded by a bunch of cranky old conservative white men, and those are the people she has to prove herself to and work with.

As has been discussed heavily in this thread, the majority of "liberal" things happening by and large benefit white males (both straight and gay) and rarely benefit women.

Do we really think that Hillary can make headway against these morons without playing their game? I mean, isn't that what the New Democrats always were, anyway? The only ones willing to play the game the same way as the Republicans, to get their foot in the door? They do a little dance to entertain the conservatives they need to ply and get the support of, but then basically just pay lip service to liberal ideals.

I mean, I see her pretty much having to prove herself as "tough" to a lot of idiot conservatives in government to just get them to work with her (in pretty much a similar manner that Obama had to, and they still had no intentions of working with him.). I mean, if these guys are the religiously oriented conservatives, they probably don't like the idea of a woman speaking for herself, let alone truly holding a position of power. How can she even begin to do that job without almost immediately shifting to the right to prove herself to them?
posted by deadaluspark at 9:20 AM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


(As an aside, lets not forget that the Democrats are indeed in bed with Hollywood and that the vile Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which has seen more use to censor legitimate criticism and content online than any other law lies pretty much at the feet of the Democratic party. Let's be real, censorship under the guise of protecting copyright, the dissolution of fair use and public domain, and copyrights that last 100 years after the authors death are not liberal ideals. Don't even get me started on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which had wide bi-partisan support [Including Joe Biden, no less] and how we went from having a large, diverse media to having 6 companies own 90% of the media in the country. [It should also be noted both the TAo96 and the DCMA were both signed into law by Bill Clinton.] These are the ideals of the current Democratic party. While some of these issues might have bi-partisan support, I see far more Democrats ruining my online experience than Republicans. Not to say the Republicans sure don't want to try to ruin the internet, they just aren't as good at ruining it as Democrats so far.)
posted by deadaluspark at 9:37 AM on December 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


My two cents: America isn't becoming morel liberal in the sense that most people have far more liberal ideologies than have been represented in congress since before Clintonian Triangulation, before Reagan, really not since Carter has American liberals' baseline ideologies been served. The American public is increasingly growing disheartened by their misrepresentation in congress and now even by the media, who is all too willing to cast Obama as a bonafide liberal. News flash to the media: Obama ain't that liberal!
posted by Perko at 9:44 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let us make one thing completely clear - America has become more socially liberal. You can marry a same-sex partner, or smoke pot, and really no one cares.

> Meanwhile, access to abortion and emergency contraception are in many places hanging on by a fingernail while the Trumpist strain of thinking is accompanied by an uptick in open affiliation with white supremacy.


Exactly. White mens' issues in regard to social liberalism have been thrown some bones while rights for women and other minorities are under aggressive, largely uncontested, siege.
posted by winna at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


I might as well put it here:
from 2012: The Once And Future Liberalism
Now it has happened again. The success of our institutions and ideas has so changed the world that they don’t work any more. We cannot turn back the clock, nor should we try. America’s job is to boldly go where none have gone before, not to consume our energies in vain attempts to recreate the glories of an unattainable past. We need to do for our times and circumstances what other Americans have done before us: Recast classic Anglo-American liberal thought, still the cultural and moral foundation of American life and the source of the commonsense reasoning that guides most Americans as they evaluate policy ideas and party programs, in ways that address the challenges before us.
Sadly, examples of "commonsense reasoning" that the author gives in paragraphs preceding this one are similarly founded on economic and social conditions that cannot be recreated, to use the authors own words.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:55 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Until we remove the scales from our eyes and launch our discourse toward the future, our politics will remain sterile, and our economy will fail to provide the growth and higher living standards Americans continue to seek. That neither we nor the world can afford.

Nailed it. When I talk to my Socialist friends and they get angry when I trot out the "human nature" argument, which they are dismissive of, because most people trotting it out are flat-out saying socialism doesn't work (because human nature), whereas I am saying, hey, you need to critique socialism because it didn't work before. If you want it to work in the future, you have to figure out what went wrong and try to structure a system of government in a way that it will be resilient against the problems of human greed and desire for power. Just writing me off and being unwilling to accept that socialism might need a critique at all is a great pathway to continued irrelevance.

I mean, I could make the same argument about any system of government, they are all susceptible to despotism, and thus they all still need work and critique.

Wanting Bernie Sanders to be the next FDR is about as regressive as the Republicans wanting abortion illegal again or Ron Paul wanting us to go back to the Gold Standard. Going backwards is never, ever the way forward.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:04 AM on December 29, 2015


"Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) devil" by Chris Ladd at GOPLifer

For all his many insights, [Martin Luther] King seems to have failed to perceive what professor Derrick Bell would describe thirty years later. In the strictest sense, blue collar white workers were not voting against their interest by supporting racist politicians. They were rallying around their last tie to a form of racial solidarity that for centuries had delivered meaningful, material rewards. Voters in the Kentucky counties most desperately dependent on the welfare state voted overwhelmingly for Romney in 2012 and elected a Tea Party extremist Governor in 2015. By the same logic, that cohort of voters is flocking to Donald Trump and ignoring Bernie Sanders.

...

An obvious solution might be to deliver a basic level of income and lifestyle for everyone, without regard for old concerns about “need.” Pay for it with taxes on the higher earners who made it into the express lanes of the knowledge economy. Those who want to reap the rewards of the knowledge economy will be free to do so. Those who either don’t want that high-pressure, high-speed lifestyle, or for some reason cannot perform there, will be prevented from falling into penury.

One glaring political problem blocks this move. A large minority of US voters who might seem like the prime beneficiaries of this reform are determined not to go there. Lower income whites, especially in the South, are not interested in a new deal. They want to restore the old one.

...

Want to convince lower income white Americans that they are voting against their interests? Explain how you can offer them something better than white supremacy. When we understand what white supremacy actually delivered for these folks, the scale of our challenge in building a just post-racial society becomes evident.

Perhaps King failed to recognize the depth of the challenge he faced in trying to forge an alliance with lower income whites. That said King didn’t become an American secular saint by setting modest goals. No one who is serious about challenging racism in America should ignore the structural, functional importance of bigotry.

...

Until we address this imbalance we will continue to be hounded by populist politicians profiting from fear and hate. The longer we ignore the problem, the more powerful will be our reckoning. This devil will have his due.

posted by Apocryphon at 10:05 AM on December 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


In 2011, the Democratic Leadership Council—having lost its influence years earlier—closed its doors.

An alternate interpretation would be that it had achieved all its goals and was no longer necessary.
posted by euphorb at 11:11 AM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you don't want to define Clinton as liberal because she's not left-wing enough for you, fair enough, you do you.

What pisses me off are the people--including people in this thread!--who claim she's more conservative than Obama. She is not more conservative than Obama. Here is the analysis that I'm posting a second time indicating that, however you feel about the use of the term "liberal", Clinton is as far to the left of Obama if not more.

If you continue to insist that Obama is more leftist than her then either provide proof or acknowledge that you are basing your opinion on your personal biases rather than her voting record.
posted by schroedinger at 11:12 AM on December 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think this follows the long arc of justice pretty well. The sixties saw a violent clash of minorities finally having enough political capital to push for change. In 1948, a Truman adviser was pushing for civil rights primarily for electoral gain. Johnson and Nixon were both fighting against the racists in their parties to get a civil rights win.

The civil rights movement proved they had enough political will to exist as a protected minority. But it was still a minority that existed in stark defiance of a backwards majority. And once one party staked out their claim to protect that minority, the other party was bound to inherit all those racists suddenly disenfranchised from their party.

Of course that win was going to have a political backlash. The very electoral mechanisms that allowed us to force the protection of minorities onto an unwilling majority have been perverted to force a conservative agenda over an unwilling majority. Electoral systems don't have a moral compass, so protection of minorities inherently carries a risk of corruption by aristocratic influence. While liberals fought tooth and nail to force change before America was ready to believe in it, we taught them new ways to extend their influence beyond just Majority Rule.

Here, we're finally seeing the right break down. And it's going to be as ugly and brutal as the sixties, because they've lost the center. All they have left is appeal to their radical wing, until eventually even that can't win. And when the dust settles, almost everyone here will be disappointed we didn't move as far left as they wanted. But it will be to the left. Even if Hilary Clinton is secretly more conservative than Obama, she will be beholden to a Democratic party that now includes #BlackLivesMatter and a 15 dollar minimum wage, and even the nascent rumblings of a guaranteed income.
posted by politikitty at 11:18 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you continue to insist that Obama is more leftist than her then either provide proof or acknowledge that you are basing your opinion on your personal biases rather than her voting record.

"b-b-b-but Obama ran a campaign on Hope and Change and Hillary is running a campaign on supporting the status quo!"

For real, even though I consider myself well farther to the left of both of these people, I would be remiss to argue that Obama is far more liberal than Clinton. Neither candidate is for me, but you've certainly made the point that these two are not so different from one another. I wonder if its just how Obama sold himself as a candidate has somehow seared itself into people's minds. The Obama I think about is one who has stomped all over my civil rights to appease Republicans, including signing CISA into law instead of having the balls to shut down the government and say "We're not going to let you ram bullshit through congress on a spending rider to strong-arm us." Fuck it, shut the government down, show them two people can play that same stupid fucking game.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


> "b-b-b-but Obama ran a campaign on Hope and Change and Hillary is running a campaign on supporting the status quo!"

It's really not top shelf political discourse until someone brings in the stammering caricature.

Hearts and minds in the bag.
posted by four panels at 11:48 AM on December 29, 2015 [14 favorites]


Schroedinger, I think the problem we are dealing with, RE Clinton's voting history and interview/speech statements, is that it's pretty obvious (to me, anyway) that she's been running for President for at least the past 10-12 years. I don't for a minute doubt it was behind her move to run for Senate in a state she'd just moved to, nor the (what I strongly suspect was a) brokered deal for her to serve as Obama's Secretary of State in return for some Clintonian political capital along the way.

If that's the case - and it's my operating theory - then we are left trying to read tea leaves as to what kind of politician she really is. Of course, the trouble with that is confirmation bias, which I recognize I am just as susceptible to as anyone.

That being said, I do look at things she says - and sometimes what she remarkably doesn't say - as an indication. Some folks would like to think of her vote on Iraq as ancient hisrory, but I have to agree with zjacrema in his comment, above. She completely abdicated her responsibility to the country when it mattered most, and that kind of lapse in judgment - especially given the apocalyptic consequences for our country (how many thousands of lives and trillions of dollars is it projected to cost when it's said and done?) - does not simply fade away in time, despite how she may have learned to talk about it today.

There are other areas where her statements, or silence, are troubling. And it seems that even when she ends up on the liberal side of an issue, it's the result of an "evolution" or in response to a much more vigorous position taken by a political competitor, and thus seems very much as the result of political calculus.

I will grant a couple of points, on reflection, though:

The first is that, by approaching Clinton as being in perpetual campaign mode, it renders the data to which you linked suspect. It prevents a strict reading of the statistics from redounding to her benefit, and leaves evaluating her in a very subjective domain. This is not fair to Clinton, full stop. And it is fraught with potential cognitive bias. That said, it is in the nature of trying to evaluate a politician based on actions and statements they make when in campaign mode, which, as I say, I believe she has been in for at least the past decade.

The second point is that Obama, while very liberal on some issues of great significance, is decidedly, infuriatingly not liberal on others. And thus, the degree to which I place personal value on these oarticular issues is going to affect the degree to which I consider him "liberal". So perhaps I cannot say with objective surety that Clinton is less liberal than he is.
posted by darkstar at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Rubio bits of this article were just weird and not thought out. Saying that he isn't likely to push some insane right wing agenda is irrelevant if a GOP Congress is pushing it, the question then becomes whether or not he will veto it when it comes across his desk. There's no difference in practice between a far right president and a president who's nominally moderate-right but just a rubber stamp for far right legislation, and if he would just be a rubber stamp all you'd have standing in the way of a GOP Congress would be Dem filibusters and procedural stalling.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:57 AM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hillary voted for the war on Iraq, which was a Republican war, argued for on the basis of Republican lies that she chose to subscribe to. If we are going on her voting record, that vote alone puts her well to the right of a centrist like Obama. She has also hedged her bets on civil rights like same-sex marriage and is cozy with Wall Street. Presented with the choice between her and a Republican, I would vote for her, but given an unedited view of her record, I have no delusions about who she is and about those whose interests she represents, above all else.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:59 AM on December 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also - is this slow, steady strategy really the one to use when we have immediate, desperate issues? If this takes twenty years, will there be any middle class even left? 

One thing I've learned from years of being in education is that every year, you get a new batch of students who are just as bright and just as ignorant as the last batch. We keep working on educating them because the alternative is to surrender to ignorance.

I think the same thing is true in politics. You're always going to find two ignorant heads popping up for every one you enlighten.

If we are going to give up on educating them and are acknowledging that arguing and evidence don't change the minds of the Trumpholes, then our options are limited. We can give in and let them have control of the country (which is only a viable option to the very privileged ). We can work to keep them from voting (for example, by getting them to repeat the "both sides are the same" mantra that keeps many progressives away from the voting booths or by actually finding ways to disenfranchise them). We can try to educate the apathetic and disinterested to get them to vote "anyone but Trump." Etc.

If we don't at least try to educate some of them, they're always going to be there. They raise their kids in the same red bubble they live in.

But educating them will never end because there will always be more.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:28 PM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Schroedinger, I think the problem we are dealing with, RE Clinton's voting history and interview/speech statements, is that it's pretty obvious (to me, anyway) that she's been running for President for at least the past 10-12 years.

Her record extends beyond the last decade.

Your entire comment seems to imply that Clinton's entire political career has been centered around tricking people into believing she's more liberal than she is so she can gain the Presidency and take it over for Corporate Interests. Am I getting that right? That way back into college, when she was protesting for women's rights and various liberal causes, that has all literally been a giant long-game in pursuit of handing the Presidency to Wall Street?

-------

As I've said: if people want to claim she isn't liberal enough for them, it's one thing. Sanders is more economically leftist for sure. But to insist she's more conservative than Obama, that she's somehow the most conservative Democrat out there, that somehow she's this corporate crony beyond all politicians . . . Well. All I can say is that the term "truthiness" applies here in spades.

There has been a long history of the Republican Hate Machine spreading bullshit about a vast Clinton Conspiracy. A major focus of 1990-2000 was on how Hillary Clinton is an evil, misandrist bitch. I think it is ridiculous that many liberals pretend like this drumbeat didn't affect them.
posted by schroedinger at 12:37 PM on December 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


Her record extends beyond the last decade.

The problem in these discussions is highlighted when the 538 link that you keep pointing to tries to sweep less savory parts of her record under the rug. Hundreds of thousands are dead, mostly innocent civilians, because people like Hillary Clinton voted to kill them. She can apologize for that vote, but she and Nate Silver can't ignore the past by just saying "sorry" — and not only shrugging and walking away, but promising more war elsewhere in the world if and when she takes office! If you want to call her a liberal or put her on some liberal scale somewhere next to Obama, that's all well and good, but it just goes to show how the meaning of the word "liberal" is mostly disconnected from modern leftist policy.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:48 PM on December 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why do people keep claiming Clinton is more conservative than Obama when it's not at all supported by the data?

The haters for Clinton came first- facts will be interpreted to match.
posted by happyroach at 1:16 PM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The haters for Clinton came first- facts will be interpreted to match.

I'm waiting for someone in this thread to use her role as SecState in American "interventions" in Syria and Libya, as they have been, as proof she's more hawkish than Obama.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:28 PM on December 29, 2015


I'm waiting for someone in this thread to use her role as SecState in American "interventions" in Syria and Libya, as they have been, as proof she's more hawkish than Obama.

I don't see any comparison to Obama in that comment. (I may be missing some further context in that thread.)
I would bet that most of us who think Secretary Clinton is a center-right politician also think the same of President Obama. There's no shock there. What I don't really recall reading(even on Metafilter) are arguments that she is to the right of the President.

I think the problem with this whole argument is that there is no one definition of Liberal (or conservative).
Anyone who wants to can look up her voting record and read her position statements, now and in the past, and determine where she fits on a political scale and whether they will a) vote for her in the primary and b) vote for her in the general if she wins the primary.

The general tone of conversations between supporters of the candidates in the Dem primary has gotten really weird this year. But then . . . I am probably just saving my sanity by forgetting the same sort of stuff in the 2008 (what with the PUMAs and all).
posted by Seamus at 1:38 PM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hillary voted for the war on Iraq, which was a Republican war, argued for on the basis of Republican lies that she chose to subscribe to. If we are going on her voting record, that vote alone puts her well to the right of a centrist like Obama

Whereas Obama has been far more directly responsible for deaths than Clinton. Sure, he didn't vote for Iraq war. But _as President_ he has been very aggressive in use of drone strikes and the military, which is a lot more direct than one vote in the Senate. Neither Obama nor Clinton are as insanely hawkish as, say, Lindsay Graham, but both believe in fairly aggressive use of the US military even in the face of large civilian casualties. Obama is still using the 2001 AUMF to support US military actions, even against ISIS which didn't exist at that time (AFAIK).
posted by thefoxgod at 1:55 PM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


With regard to Secretary Clinton's political positioning relative to Obama, it really comes down to the Iraq War and her vote in favor for it. That single issue overshadows everything else that occurred between the two candidates in 2008 because it was the biggest issue among grassroots Democratic voters at the time. Economic issues simply weren't as big of a focus then as they are now. People seem to forget that the financial crisis and recession occurred after the Democratic primary was over and the general election was well underway.

It may very well be true that Secretary Clinton was always to the left of Obama on domestic issues, but that simply didn't matter at the time. It also is true that Secretary Clinton can point to long tradition of military interventionism dating back to FDR as belonging to a political tradition defined as "liberal" in an American context.

Still, we are long way from the days of the Popular Front against Fascism. Definitions have changed over the years. It certainly doesn't help that she still sounds like the most hawkish candidate in the current primary. It also doesn't help that, now that economic issues are more salient, Secretary Clinton is faced with a genuine challenger running to her left on everything except gun control.
posted by eagles123 at 1:58 PM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


People on the left also liked Obama's healthcare platform because at the time he campaigned on the public option. People think Obama is more liberal because when they campaigned against each other for months he did a better job of persuading people that he was.

Campaigns matter. The quality of the campaign determines if the voters are going to show up or not. They want a leader.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:12 PM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I don't really recall reading(even on Metafilter) are arguments that she is to the right of the President.

Are you kidding? Second comment in this thread:
Yeah, if the polling is any indication (and we are getting pretty close to the primaries), then it's Trump vs Clinton. And there's no way that those two candidates are more liberal than their predecessors in their respective parties. Clinton is a darling of Wall Street and Trump is channeling Goebbels.
posted by schroedinger at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is Hillary to the left of Obama on Wall St issues?
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on December 29, 2015


Yes, schroedinger, that's my comment, which I subsequently retracted, in favor of a much more nuanced, and I think reasoned, one.

As I also said in my later comments, I take your point regarding the data, but that due to other factors, it is probably not a straightforward matter to say exactly where and how Clinton and Obama compare in any objective way, because of the values we place on different issues, and the distorted lens of what I view to be long-term campaigning.

Though, for those using her college activism as evidence of her liberalism, it does require completely ignoring her quite active support for Goldwater, of all people. So I'm not sure that is an undiluted source of evidence for her progressivism.

Enough from me, in any event. Except to note that, honestly, being called a Clinton hater or suggesting that my criticisms of her are simply the result of pretending not to be brainwashed by Republicans, isn't all that constructive. Or.persuasive, for that matter. :-)
posted by darkstar at 2:44 PM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I don't really recall reading(even on Metafilter) are arguments that she is to the right of the President.

I prefer not to think of politics as two-dimensional because it eliminates nuance. "Could be worse." "Could be better." "Could be leftier." I don't see MeFi recommending doing so in interpersonal relationships. We're basically talking about breaking up with HIllary's career aspirations. For me she made too many voting mistakes, which in the case of war is a deal breaker.

Pay attention to red flags! I want a more progressive-type of direction for the country, and I just don't see her ever wanting to get married. Note that the fundamentals of our travails in the Middle East are not up for discussion, some saying give it more time and talk while others say DTMFA. This would be a very progressive thing to do, IMO. Maybe that's something Hillary can do to convince me she's serious about my vote.
posted by rhizome at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. If you're inclined to get personal in here, please take a step back from the thread for a while.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:58 PM on December 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is Hillary to the left of Obama on Wall St issues?

That's a difficult question. Both her and President Obama are against bringing Glass-Steagall back, the controversial repeal of which by former President Bill Clinton made the 2008 crash arguably worse. While she has received a great deal of campaign funding from Wall Street executives and companies, President Obama also hired a number of executives from major Wall Street banks after the 2008 crash. Instead of reforming a broken financial system, he staffed his economic team with the same people who effectively caused the disaster.

On this issue, generally speaking, I think their positions are arguably both right-of-center, or at least not "liberal" as it is commonly understood, in that the Democratic Party has been demonstrably friendly to a laissez-faire approach where the gilded are concerned. It is a moral hazard arrangement, where risks are to be assumed by the general taxpayer, and all rewards are concentrated in the hands of a few well-to-do shareholders at the top.

Where Wall Street is concerned, I'm not sure it even makes much sense to try to put one candidate to the left of another. The butcher's bill from the general practice of deregulation has been about the same, either way.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:13 PM on December 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am confused by many of the comments that seem to focus on Clinton or Trump or this or that possible president , when, in fact, there is a Congress and a Senate...and yes, even a Supreme Court...and they all play into the movement of this nation. Hillary as president will have a lot of problems no matter how left or centrist she is if the Senate and the Congress are controlled by the GOP.

Yes. We move to the left. We do because social issues have been moved by the times, our population, etc. Example: integration, marijuana, gay marriage, rights for trans-gendered, women in the military, etc. And then there are economic changes: social security, Obama care, climate treaty, etc.
Both social and economic issues reflect this leftward trend. But like Darwinian evolution, the changes are very slow in coming about and seem wrought not by a God in the sky but my necessary change being made to enable the species to survive .
posted by Postroad at 3:32 PM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Except to note that, honestly, being called a Clinton hater or suggesting that my criticisms of her are simply the result of pretending not to be brainwashed by Republicans, isn't all that constructive. Or.persuasive, for that matter. :-)

First nobody called you a Clinton hater or being brainwashed, so settle down. You are exaggerating and kind of creating a strawman of what schrodinger said. It isn't a simple 1:1 affect where somebody simply becomes a "Clinton hater" by merely being exposed to constant Republican anti-Clintonian message. But it does affect people, kind of like how an egg cooked in tea leaves has a slight tea flavor. I can only go by my own experience, but just speaking among people in general, not even people who necessarily identify as liberal, there's a weird vibe with Hillary Clinton. A sometimes automatic dismissal or expression of doubt about anything related to her. It goes beyond just typical American cynicism of politics to kind of thing people do when they don't like a certain celebrity.
posted by FJT at 3:50 PM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's so bizarre. Conservatives see her as a liberal commie harridan. Liberals see her as a conservative, corporate witch. She can't be both.

Obama has spent the past 8 years being a Muslim Atheist Corporatist Hippie Dictator nicknamed "Obambi". Hillary can match that.

And the Iraq thing is funny since Sanders kept voting to fund the war. So he knew it was bullshit but gave Bush & Co. money because he trusted them to do the right thing with the finds even though he didn't trust then when it came to the war?

Or maybe it's because the same guy who clams up whenever the conversation turns to gun control knew that he could make his stand on the Iraq War but if he pushed it while the country was all war-happy, he'd be risking his seat. He's a politician just like Hillary and politicians know how to compromise.

And don't even get me started on the idea of President Sanders having an easier time getting shit through this Congress. People who believe that need to start passing along whatever they're smoking because if Sanders did win I know we would be hearing the same cries of "he sold us out" from left as he has to pick and choose what he can achieve.
posted by bgal81 at 6:01 PM on December 29, 2015 [3 favorites]



And the Iraq thing is funny since Sanders kept voting to fund the war. So he knew it was bullshit but gave Bush & Co. money because he trusted them to do the right thing with the finds even though he didn't trust then when it came to the war?


I'm sorry. That is ridiculous. Why do we have to re-write history?

The Iraq War was the single biggest political issue from 2003 until 2008. When the time came to vote for or against the resolution authorizing the Bush administration to use force in Iraq, Hillary Clinton along with many other Democrats voted to give the Bush administration that power. Bernie Sanders did not. Barack Obama wasn't in a position to vote for or against the measure, but as a politician he took a measured stance against it.

Maybe Obama would have voted for the war had he been in the House or Senate at the time. Maybe he wouldn't have. We will never know. All we know is what he did in fact do. The fact that Sanders chose not to cast a meaningless vote against funding the war when it was already being waged doesn't change any of the above either. Such a vote actually would have been irresponsible considering the U.S. needed to enact some sort of plan to leave Iraq and support the troops already on the ground, rather than just cutting and running without any plan or forethought.

The Iraq War happened. The phony intelligence leading up to the Iraq War happened. The disastrous but entirely predicable aftermath of the Iraq war happened, and is still happening: Hello ISIS. Hello PTSD. Hello death and destruction.

And, Senator Hillary Clinton's vote for that war also happened. I'm not going to erase pivotal moments of U.S. and world history from my memory just to appease the sensibilities of certain super-partisan Democrats. I'm also not going to relent in my judgement that the opposition of both Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders to the Iraq War causes me to think better of them relative to a politician who supported the war but should have known better.

Sorry, I'll vote for Clinton if she is the nominee, but I'll do so with both eyes wide open.
posted by eagles123 at 7:50 PM on December 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's kind of funny to me that a publication that tried to paint students with trauma and PTSD raising awareness of and asking for accessibility features like trigger warning as whining entitled babies even dares to give a headline title like "Why America Is Moving Left".
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:02 PM on December 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Trump has about the same level of support as Sanders. Imagine that 10-20 years ago.

The author is generally right.

MLK said it in a quote that gets overused so I won't repeat. We are slowly arcing toward justice. Keep it up, folks.

I stopped reading about 80 percent in b/c I was curious of your response (about what I expected: "author is batshit").

What's curiously missing from the analysis is the major media's role in perpetuating this 50-50 split between "conservatives/liberals" - damn it gets good ratings.

Simple solution to make this country 5x more progressive: 1) create a citizen's wage ($30,000). you make less than that (each adult plus something for each kid), the government gives you the difference; 2) make that citizen's wage dependent on voting, i.e. compulsory voting

Or just do #2 anyway. 95-100% voting turnout (instead of what, 50%?!?!) would change this country more than any other single political development. #my2c.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:28 AM on December 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really don't care what the Right thinks of Hillary, it all just sounds like my mom: "I just hate her. I don't know."

And the Iraq thing is funny since Sanders kept voting to fund the war. So he knew it was bullshit but gave Bush & Co. money because he trusted them to do the right thing with the finds even though he didn't trust then when it came to the war?

You don't get a pass on voting for war, period.
posted by rhizome at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are Trump supporters driven by economic anxiety or racial resentment? Yes.
To these voters, Democrats are a) hurting the economy by b) taxing productive, upright citizens in order to c) funnel benefits to minorities and immigrants who will then d) vote for Democrats and reinforce the cycle. The economic and demographic anxieties are part of the same story...

To the bafflement of the GOP elite, Trump's supporters haven't objected to his various dissents from Republican orthodoxy — his promise to protect Medicare and Social Security, his odd mix of isolationism and belligerence, his relentless, crass mockery of Republican politicians. His voters are not animated by abstractions like small government and low taxes, or by party loyalty. They are animated by demographic interests.

They don't mind government benefits as such. They mind losing some of their benefits to others who haven't worked for them, who don't deserve them, lazy minorities and illegal immigrants. Trump is standing up for Us, and denouncing Them, in a clearer way than any other politician.

This kind of ethnic chauvinism — socialism for me, Darwinian capitalism for thee — is orthogonal to the policy disputes between the two US political parties. For years, it's been subsumed under the plutocratic economic agenda of the GOP elite; Trumpism reflects its full flowering. (Such chauvinism is more familiar, and better represented, in European splinter-right parties.)

For the Americans rallying around Trump, economic insecurity is tied to the rise of minorities. Traditional white, Christian, small-town, patriarchal culture, along with the high-paying jobs that sustained it, is being assaulted, invaded, corrupted by the rise of demographic groups that do not share its values and a political party that manipulates those demographic groups to further its own power.
as to what to do about it -- in the absence of 'genuine immiseration' (for white folks) and a 'labor movement'* -- check out john judis in TPM (and robert reich) or in other words:
  • either: 'the GOP is going to stay on this path -- control states and say no to everything for the next decade or two -- until some kind of crash'
  • or: "Don't ask 'why do they vote against their interests'. Ask 'How are we so unappealing they'd prefer to hurt themselves than be with us?' "
that is default identity politics and tribalism vs. "the 'messy politics' of actually building coalitions"
posted by kliuless at 12:56 PM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


judis on sanders (via)
In Sanders’s speech Thursday at Geor­getown Uni­versity—which was in­ten­ded to cla­ri­fy what he means by so­cial­ism—he cited New Deal re­forms and his own pro­pos­als for free tu­ition at pub­lic col­leges, Medi­care for all, and a $15 min­im­um wage as ex­amples of “demo­crat­ic so­cial­ism.” These may be com­mend­able goals for the coun­try, but they are part of an ef­fort to hu­man­ize rather than ab­ol­ish cap­it­al­ism. In­deed, when asked by Steph­en Col­bert this past Septem­ber about be­ing a so­cial­ist, Sanders replied, “I prefer the term, ac­tu­ally, to be a ‘pro­gress­ive.’ ” This puts him very much in a tra­di­tion that has coursed through Amer­ic­an polit­ics for more than a cen­tury—from Teddy Roosevelt to the New Deal to Ral­ph Nader. Pro­gress­ives want to sub­or­din­ate the im­per­at­ives of the mar­ket and of private busi­ness to the pub­lic in­terest, and to re­move the spe­cial in­flu­ence of busi­ness from the polit­ic­al arena. They want to achieve liberty and equal­ity. They do not seek to elim­in­ate cap­it­al­ism but, through reg­u­la­tion and very se­lect­ive na­tion­al­iz­a­tion, to re­duce the in­equit­ies of wealth and power that a mar­ket sys­tem cre­ates...

Sanders is prom­ising a re­turn to a purer pro­gressiv­ism—one where Wall Street will no longer have a say and where end­ing polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic in­equal­ity will be a cent­ral gov­ern­ment con­cern... His proph­et­ic per­sona, won­der­fully pro­filed by Mar­garet Tal­bot in The New York­er, stands in sharp con­trast to most oth­er can­did­ates. (In­ter­est­ingly, the Sanders sup­port­ers I spoke to de­scribed his ap­peal—he’s “free of spe­cial in­terests,” he’s “con­sist­ent,” he “tells us what he really be­lieves”—with vir­tu­ally the same words many Trump sup­port­ers use to praise their can­did­ate.)

[W]hile he has aban­doned his earli­er view of so­cial­ism, he still has not fully ad­ap­ted his new­er ver­sion of demo­crat­ic so­cial­ism to Amer­ic­an polit­ic­al tra­di­tions. Many Amer­ic­ans, for in­stance, are not likely to warm to the ex­ample of Scand­inavi­an coun­tries, with their very high taxes and cent­ral­ized gov­ern­ments. But his cam­paign may non­ethe­less rep­res­ent a wa­ter­shed in the de­vel­op­ment of a new pro­gress­ive polit­ics. The group from which Sanders has drawn his sup­port—pro­fes­sion­als and tech­nic­al work­ers; es­sen­tially, the high-edu­ca­tion mid­dies—is con­tinu­ing to grow...

And there is no sign that the pres­sures that have moved theses voters to the left will abate. They will con­tin­ue to be sub­ject to wage and autonomy pres­sures from ad­min­is­trat­ors, man­agers, and ex­ec­ut­ives. Even doc­tors are now be­com­ing em­ploy­ees of hos­pit­al chains. The so­cial and eco­nom­ic dis­tance between them and the bil­lion­aire class will con­tin­ue to grow. And while a new re­ces­sion does not ap­pear im­min­ent, there is also little sign of the kind of buoy­ant re­cov­ery that the United States ex­per­i­enced in the 1990s.

The res­ult of these changes over the next few elec­tion cycles could be a more as­sert­ive Left in the Demo­crat­ic Party—which could, in turn, res­ult in in­creased po­lar­iz­a­tion and even, in re­ac­tion, a fur­ther turn of the coun­try to the right. But as the ranks of these voters swell, they could also help to cre­ate a more pro­gress­ive coun­try over the long term. If that hap­pens, then his­tor­i­ans may, dec­ades from now, re­gard Bernie Sanders’s 2016 cam­paign as a har­binger of what be­came a sub­stan­tial chal­lenge to the powers that be.
as to clinton's leftwing bonafides, "Policy malpractice: Hillary's tax arguments amount to a rejection of a robust welfare state, which amounts to a rejection of poverty reduction."

Simple solution to make this country 5x more progressive: 1) create a citizen's wage ($30,000).

-The Argument for Universal Basic Income
-reddit: Forget Raising the Minimum Wage, Bernie: We Need a UBI
-Would a basic income work? How large could it be? Here - model your own. /r

also btw...
-The Price of Union: How the South Won the Civil War
-How Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Are Battling for the Future of GOP Foreign Policy
posted by kliuless at 9:49 AM on January 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Simple solution to make this country 5x more progressive: 1) create a citizen's wage ($30,000)"

my problem with money handouts (and minimum wage increases too) is that it doesn't really solve the issue of rising living costs, especially in housing.

Handing out $10,000+ to people will just result in housing rents going up $10,000+, since we bid up the cost of housing among ourselves, based on ability to pay.

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=31s6 shows how per-capita housing costs have risen 12x since 1970 while wages have gone up 6x.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:33 AM on January 1, 2016


"You don't get a pass on voting for war, period."

Democratic votes in the Senate in 2002 against the war were empty protest votes, just like 1991.

The war was going on whether or not Hillary voted yes or no, as there were enough true pro-war (red state) Democrats to overcome any filibuster. Her yes vote was not a profile in courage, but I understand the political calculation.

She has my pass, not that I don't prefer Bernie over her, but come November that's not what the system is going to be vending to me.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:43 AM on January 1, 2016


Democratic votes in the Senate in 2002 against the war were empty protest votes, just like 1991.

The war was going on whether or not Hillary voted yes or no


Too bad for her that even when a protest vote is at its weakest, she still sides with war.
posted by rhizome at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


my problem with money handouts (and minimum wage increases too) is that it doesn't really solve the issue of rising living costs, especially in housing.

a basic income isn't a panacea, you'd have to break the housing cartel* among other things -- my ten point plan :P -- re: 'baumol's cost disease' wrt economic rentierism!

more judis! (and nj ;)
The Return of the Middle American Radical[(*)*]
The fi­nal ma­jor ele­ment of the Wal­lace-Perot-Buchanan-Trump world­view has to do with lead­er­ship and gov­ern­ment—and like oth­er parts of their agenda, it’s com­plic­ated. All four, like many con­ser­vat­ive politi­cians of the past 50 years, harshly cri­ti­cized Wash­ing­ton. Wal­lace charged that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment “was run by pointy-headed bur­eau­crats who can’t park a bi­cycle straight.” Buchanan called for dis­mant­ling four Cab­in­et de­part­ments. Perot pop­ular­ized the term “grid­lock” in de­scrib­ing Wash­ing­ton polit­ics. Echo­ing his pre­de­cessors, Trump has de­nounced the “total grid­lock” in­side the Belt­way...

But in subtle and not so subtle ways, these four men have also en­dorsed a more power­ful ex­ec­ut­ive at the top. Wal­lace, who had thor­oughly dom­in­ated Alabama’s polit­ics, was seen by crit­ics as a po­ten­tial “dic­tat­or.” Buchanan, who had served Richard Nix­on through Wa­ter­gate, touted the leg­acy of his former boss. Perot called for plebis­cites to de­term­ine key eco­nom­ic policies—which would have had the ef­fect of es­tab­lish­ing a dir­ect re­la­tion­ship between the people and the pres­id­ent, thereby by­passing Con­gress. For his part, Trump en­vis­ages the pres­id­ent act­ing as the “deal-maker in chief.” In a 1982 es­say, “Mes­sage from MARS,” Sam Fran­cis, who would later ad­vise Buchanan dur­ing his cam­paigns, called this out­look “Caesar­ism”; it is also re­min­is­cent of Lat­in Amer­ic­an pop­u­lists like Juan Per­on.

In­deed, none of these can­did­ates ne­ces­sar­ily op­posed big gov­ern­ment. Wal­lace was the can­did­ate of right-wing ra­cists, but he also wanted to in­crease So­cial Se­cur­ity be­ne­fits and make the tax sys­tem more pro­gress­ive. Perot was ob­sessed with de­fi­cits and debt, but he wanted to bal­ance the budget by rais­ing taxes on the rich. He also favored a pub­lic-private part­ner­ship to en­sure uni­ver­sal ac­cess to health care. Buchanan and Trump re­jec­ted calls to privat­ize or elim­in­ate So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care. “We’ve got So­cial Se­cur­ity that’s go­ing to be des­troyed if some­body like me doesn’t bring money in­to the coun­try,” Trump said in his an­nounce­ment speech. “All these oth­er people want to cut the hell out of it. I’m not go­ing to cut it at all; I’m go­ing to bring money in, and we’re go­ing to save it.” Trump also prom­ises to fix aging bridges and air­ports. “I want to re­build our in­fra­struc­ture,” he says...

Who are the voters who fueled these cam­paigns? If you take ac­count of changes over the years to the edu­ca­tion­al level and oc­cu­pa­tion­al pro­file of the Amer­ic­an work­force, there is a straight line between the MARS who flocked to Wal­lace and those who have backed Perot, Buchanan, and Trump. In 1968, Wal­lace’s greatest sup­port was among white, male, middle-in­come, and lower-middle-in­come work­ers and small farm­ers who had not gone to col­lege. In Septem­ber 1968, at a time when over a fourth of Amer­ic­an work­ers be­longed to uni­ons, an in­tern­al AFL-CIO sur­vey found that Wal­lace was backed by a third of uni­on voters...

The es­sen­tial world­view of these Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­als was cap­tured in a 1993 post-elec­tion sur­vey by Stan­ley Green­berg, which found that Perot’s sup­port­ers were more likely than Clin­ton’s or Bush’s to be­lieve that “it’s the middle class, not the poor who really get a raw deal today” ... hey agreed with Clin­ton voters that cor­por­a­tions don’t “strike a fair bal­ance between mak­ing profits and serving the pub­lic,” but they also agreed with Bush voters that “too many of the poor are try­ing to get something for noth­ing” and that “we have gone too far in push­ing equal rights for dif­fer­ent groups in this coun­try.”

[...]

TO SEE WHERE all of this may be headed, it’s help­ful to con­sider why bursts of Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­al­ism oc­cur at cer­tain mo­ments. Sev­er­al con­di­tions have, in the past, proved cru­cial. One is a wide­spread sense of na­tion­al de­cline... The second con­di­tion is pro­nounced dis­trust of the lead­er­ship in Wash­ing­ton... But can he suc­ceed where Wal­lace, Perot, and Buchanan fell short? Can a MARS can­did­ate ac­tu­ally win the White House? ...the big­ger lim­it­ing factor for Trump is that there are only a cer­tain num­ber of MARS in the coun­try: They con­sti­tute maybe 20 per­cent of the over­all elect­or­ate and 30 to 35 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans. That was enough to al­low Trump to lead a crowded GOP field. But as the field nar­rows, he will have dif­fi­culty main­tain­ing his lead un­less he can ex­pand his ap­peal bey­ond the MARS. And it will be hard to do that without threat­en­ing his base of sup­port.

It there­fore seems un­likely that we will end up with a MARS pres­id­ent in 2016 or bey­ond—es­pe­cially since their per­cent­age of the elect­or­ate is con­tinu­ing to shrink. Still, that doesn’t mean MARS will ne­ces­sar­ily fail to have a polit­ic­al im­pact. After all, tea-party act­iv­ists—a group Har­vard so­ci­olo­gist Theda Skoc­pol es­tim­ated at 250,000 dur­ing Obama’s first term—have had a de­cis­ive in­flu­ence on the bal­ance of power in the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives since 2010.

The size of the MARS role go­ing for­ward will ul­ti­mately de­pend on wheth­er Amer­ic­ans be­lieve their na­tion is in de­cline and wheth­er they think the politi­cians in Wash­ing­ton are cap­able of, or even in­ter­ested in, re­vers­ing that de­cline. Ron­ald Re­agan dis­pelled fears of de­cline and was thus able to ab­sorb many former Wal­lace sym­path­izers with­in the GOP. Fol­low­ing Bill Clin­ton’s re­pu­di­ation by voters in Novem­ber 1994, he moved to the polit­ic­al cen­ter and was able to lim­it (though by no means elim­in­ate) the ef­fect of middle-class rad­ic­al­ism. Both Re­agan and Clin­ton be­nefited, however, from a grow­ing eco­nomy and ap­par­ent suc­cesses over­seas. Will the next ad­min­is­tra­tion en­joy the same good for­tune? With the world eco­nomy still in the doldrums, an on­go­ing crisis in the Middle East, and a po­lar­ized and para­lyzed Wash­ing­ton, I doubt it. What’s most likely is that Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­al­ism will keep sim­mer­ing, un­til it finds a new cham­pi­on and boils over once again.
oh and on trade, economic nationalism and trump's popularity in 'Rust Belt + Appalachia + Confederacy'
Trump has gone even fur­ther on trade. He has prom­ised to rene­go­ti­ate or junk NAF­TA and to slap a pun­it­ive tax on Chinese im­ports. In his an­nounce­ment speech, he pledged to “bring back our jobs from China, from Mex­ico, from Ja­pan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs, and I’ll bring back our money. Right now, think of this: We owe China $1.3 tril­lion. We owe Ja­pan more than that. So they come in, they take our jobs, they take our money, and then they loan us back the money, and we pay them in in­terest, and then the dol­lar goes up so their deal’s even bet­ter.”

...Trump’s rail­ing against il­leg­al im­mig­ra­tion got ap­plause. But so did his at­tacks on Chinese cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion and cor­por­ate ex­ec­ut­ives who ship jobs over­seas... I was sup­posed to meet up with a tea-party act­iv­ist whom I had in­ter­viewed for an art­icle two years ago, but we nev­er found each oth­er. So I cor­res­pon­ded with him af­ter­ward about why he was back­ing Trump. Asked about Trump’s eco­nom­ic na­tion­al­ism, he wrote back: “I do not have any prob­lems nor does my wife with any of Trump’s na­tion­al­ist po­s­i­tions. We are all for them. It is long past time that we get our fair share from the Chinese, Ja­pan­ese, Mex­ic­ans, and oth­ers.”
i found these charts interesting...
-Global income distribution moving to the right
-The Great Compression[*] (viz. cf.)
-Technological Deflation[1,2,3,4,5]
-The relationship between 'rents' and inequality
-Who's the fiscally conservative party, again?

---
some responses!
-A response to Interfluidity
-What's driving me is driving you
-San Francisco's strange detour from paradise to parody
posted by kliuless at 5:43 PM on January 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Democratic votes in the Senate in 2002 against the war were empty protest votes, just like 1991.

The lack of that empty gesture cost her the Presidency in 2008, it obviously mattered more than she thought.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:47 PM on January 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Perhaps even enough for a "no" vote to rise above "empty."
posted by rhizome at 7:33 PM on January 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get more worked up over the 600-odd Nader purity voters in FL (and/or the 7000-odd Nader voters in NH) who put that cretin Bush into the WH in 2000, making the war vote possible in the first place.

If you want purity in our current system, go to the bath soap aisle.

Purity voters in 2000 don't bear exclusive blame for the Bush administration, but I'm sure we could find the 600 out of the 97,000+ Nader voters in FL who wish they could change their vote to Gore/Lieberman.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 2:44 PM on January 2, 2016


More Democrats crossed over to Bush than that. Democrats blaming their problems on powerless random voters instead of their own incompetent campaigns is the most pathetic thing ever. But using it to excuse a Senator voting for war is a new one.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:13 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I get more worked up over the 600-odd Nader purity voters in FL (and/or the 7000-odd Nader voters in NH) who put that cretin Bush into the WH in 2000, making the war vote possible in the first place.

308,000 Democrat voters chose to vote for Bush instead of Gore.

Only 538 Democrats who voted for Bush were needed to vote for Gore instead, which would have him win the state of Florida by a margin of one vote.

Democrats need to start taking responsibility for Democrat failures, and start by taking responsibility for the next eight years of Bush-led catastrophes that Democrats had a hand in by electing Bush to power.

Taking responsibility also means taking ownership for Hillary's choice to vote in support of the war on Iraq and the resulting murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Without reservation. Without excuses.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:58 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


purity voters

This is dismissive and marginalizing of people voting their conscience, as is "you're wasting your vote."

I'm sorry your team didn't win or whatever, but neither did Nader voters'. Would that this sentiment held to other areas of life and the Pittsburgh Pirates are kicked out of the MLB.
posted by rhizome at 12:39 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


[Let's maybe drop the nth round of calculating-the-precise-level-of-blame-of-Nader-voters already.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't see Hillary making a mistaken vote in 2002. The war was going on with or without her, and people like her in the Senate.

Nader voters in FL and NH, and Democrats who voted for Bush in those states, and other voters who didn't bother to go to the polls also share a COLLECTIVE responsibility for putting Bush in the White House in 2001.

That was a mistake of the first water, and rhizome's purity tests above is evidence of not understanding or appreciating that simple fact.

Now, if purity is pursued in the desire to see this nation go through more GOP mismanagement if we can't have our hand-picked person win the presidency, that is at least a consistent position, if a little insane.

This is dismissive and marginalizing of people voting their conscience,

Nader voters (in FL and NH) voting their conscience in 2000 made the Iraq War possible in the first place.

Our system is not designed to "vote your conscience". It is a mechanism for who runs the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

Choose wisely. Or not. Actually, if you're conservative, vote third, fourth, or nth party all day and twice on Sunday.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:03 PM on January 3, 2016


Saying I'm advocating for purity is disingenuous. Please don't do that.

Nader voters (in FL and NH) voting their conscience in 2000 made the Iraq War possible in the first place.

Absurd and irrelevant. The people who voted to go to war made the Iraq War (and beyond) actually happen.
posted by rhizome at 6:16 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


We owe China $1.3 tril­lion. We owe Ja­pan more than that. So they come in, they take our jobs, they take our money, and then they loan us back the money, and we pay them in in­terest, and then the dol­lar goes up so their deal’s even bet­ter.

Actually the US side of the deal is better. China doesn't want to see the US to decline, because it will never get to collect any of that interest and not to mention they lose one of their largest business partners and investors. China is basically voluntarily subsidizing the US government and taxpayer. Why is that bad?

And speaking of Japan. Japan's debt to GDP is nearly 200% (vs. the US which is 96% or so). And Japan is still fine.
posted by FJT at 1:16 PM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is Japan in danger of a 'fiscal crisis'? - "Japan's government debt is often overstated. We were surprised that Ito repeatedly cited the gross public debt figure of 245 per cent of GDP. That's correct, but a bit misleading, since much of the debt is held by other branches of government and because the government owns many valuable assets. Net all this out and the debt burden plunges below 140 per cent of GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund. (Here is a claim that Japan's Ministry of Finance estimates the net debt figure at just 90 per cent.) And that doesn't even include the 210 trillion in JGBs held by the Bank of Japan. Cut that out and the actual debt burden is closer to 50 per cent of GDP."

but that's just 'public' gov't debt; you can also look at total debt (to GDP) including the 'private' financial, corporate and household sectors (not including derivatives), but is GDP -- a flow -- the appropriate denominator to compare it to, esp with interest rates/debt service so low (and why is that?); typically you'd also want to compare liabilities with assets -- 'stock' or level items -- on the balance sheet (b/s), which means that: Debt should be compared to wealth, not just to GDP
If there’s one asterisk to put after the shocking comparative figures, it’s that the debt-to-GDP ratios don’t take into account Japan’s huge asset holdings. At the end of March 2012, Japan’s central government had assets totaling some Y600 trillion, roughly half of its total liabilities projected for next March, separate MOF data show. And those assets include Y250 trillion in cash, securities and loans. Critics often say Japan’s fiscal health could quickly improve if the government sells some of those assets, a step the MOF is reluctant to take partly on worries that doing so could deprive lawmakers of incentives to improve government finances.
like in the US case, using mckinsey estimates from 2014, where total debt is 233% of nominal GDP of $17.4tn, you have around $40.5tn outstanding, but that's against ~$77.5tn in US net wealth for a 'debt to worth' ratio of about 52%; is that high or low?

i'd like to see international 'apples to apples' comparisons (for global wealth tax purposes!* ;) with other countries, but calculating/accounting for national 'net wealth' can be tricky, if not flawed, particularly around the treatment of 'financial assets' and 'intangibles'...

which gets back to the question of interest rates (and also inflation and foreign exchange rates) -- the price of money within a domestic economy using the same 'currency'* (and against a basket of 'real' goods and services, as measured by the gov't, and against all other currencies, respectively) -- as one way to gauge confidence in an economy, to the extent that markets can be an accurate 'voting and weighing' mechanism; "Japan is still fine," because it can borrow low, inflation is negligible and its currency, while not 'strong', hasn't fallen apart to the same degree as the currencies of, say, zimbabwe, venezuela or argentina have... the problem is 'sudden stops' in these 'credit channels', the causes of which appear to be shrouded in deep mystery an area of some disagreement :P

anyway, without getting too unsatisfyingly circular -- investors are confident, until they're not -- or arcane -- 'informationally insensitive safe assets' anyone? -- one (intuitive!) way to look at the problem is through a country's 'economic complexity'* or, roughly, what a given nation produces/exports relative to how hard (or easy) it is for another to do so too; think commercial jets vs. bauxite, or cars vs. tobacco. in other words, you're probably more likely to lend or invest in a country that can produce stuff other people want, but cannot make for themselves; countries with higher economic complexity.

the other thing to note is that it's a lot harder to achieve higher economic complexity without a stable political environment. as tyler cowen says: "I have never been convinced that the debt-to-gdp ratio is such an important variable. I myself put greater stress on the ability of a government to rule its territory, command the wealth and allegiance of its subjects, and continue to generate a more or less stable political equilibrium. Every developed country has the wealth to pay off its debts, if at least it has the political willingness to do so." that is, the quality of governance -- or the 'intangible' public goods a gov't provides -- can be just as important as the products and services an economy produces... so i guess the question then is, who better to trust: right-wing populists, liberal progressives or a (feckless ;) technocratic, market-oriented, third-way 'center' elite? oh wait, that's political instability!
posted by kliuless at 2:24 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


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