"Young Americans are sounding the alarm."
December 2, 2021 9:51 AM   Subscribe

According to the most recent Harvard Youth Poll (NPR, Politico, The Harvard Crimson), 52% of 18-29 year-olds in the U.S. believe that the country's democracy is either "in trouble" or "a failed democracy."
posted by box (79 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
The HYP article really pumps up the "kids are alright" volume:

When they look at the America they will soon inherit, they see a democracy and climate in peril -- and Washington as more interested in confrontation than compromise,” said IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe. “Despite this, they seem as determined as ever to fight for the change they seek.”


I hope that's true.
posted by chavenet at 9:59 AM on December 2, 2021 [8 favorites]


They're not wrong.
posted by gimonca at 10:01 AM on December 2, 2021 [20 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that the stat on believing that the US is "a failed democracy" is primarily driven by the right wing, being yet another demonstration that when the right cannot achieve its desires through democracy, they will just reject it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:03 AM on December 2, 2021 [47 favorites]


Whoa, this is pretty chilling: A plurality across every major subgroup measured preferred that “Elected officials meet in the middle –– at the expense of my preferred policy priorities,” compared to “Elected officials pursue my preferred policy priorities –– at the expense of compromise."

I mean...have they met the current right wing?
posted by mittens at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]


I mean...have they met the current right wing?

The left sees Manchin/Sinema, and the Right sees McConnell not going along with Trump's little coup attempt, so both sides have a point about their policy objectives being sandbagged by people on their own side.

Of course, the Right's policy objectives include the overthrow of representative democracy, so.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:16 AM on December 2, 2021 [18 favorites]


I've seen (and experienced) extremes from both sides. If the kids are saying that peace is more important than victory, I'm not going to lose any extra sleep.
posted by philip-random at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


^ you have extra sleep to throw around?? I don't suppose you'd sell some

compromise between reasonably sane perspectives where conflict arises from degrees of perspective is one thing.. I sure hope we don't revisit the policy of appeasement that turned out poorly for e.g. Chamberlain in the way-back.. you simply can't compromise with crypto-fascist ethno-Christian theocratic terrorists
posted by elkevelvet at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2021 [20 favorites]


> NoxAeternum: "It's worth pointing out that the stat on believing that the US is "a failed democracy" is primarily driven by the right wing, being yet another demonstration that when the right cannot achieve its desires through democracy, they will just reject it."

Indeed. There's a difference between thinking that democracy in the US is in trouble/failing because of the rise of voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, obstructive counter-majoritarian institutions like the filibuster, and transparent attempts to allow state legislatures to override election results they don't like versus thinking the US is a failed democracy because occasionally people from the opposing party get elected.

Meanwhile, from the article:
While Democrats are divided (44% healthy/somewhat functioning and 45% in trouble/failed) about the health of our democracy, 70% of Republicans believe that we are either a democracy in trouble (47%) or failed (23%).

[...]

Nearly half (46%) of young Republicans place the chances of a second civil war at 50% or higher, compared to 32% of Democrats, and 38% of independent and unaffiliated voters.
posted by mhum at 10:27 AM on December 2, 2021 [15 favorites]


"Meet in the middle" has different meanings based on where you define the spectrum.

For a US leftist, "meeting in the middle" is halfway between fascism and Marxism, getting you somewhere around European social democracy, or perhaps the New Deal (minus the part where minorities were left behind). That's not fully automated luxury communism, but it's preferable to a civil war.

For a US conservative, Hillary Clinton is "the left", and Sanders and AOC are the "far left," so they're cutting the window down. Their far-left is the leftist's "middle," so their idea of "meeting in the middle" is a Democratic president who capitulates to every right-wing policy, like Bill Clinton.

It totally tracks that everyone's willing to "meet in the middle" if they have different ideas of where the true middle stands.
posted by explosion at 10:32 AM on December 2, 2021 [43 favorites]


I wonder if their concerns about democracy are shared by older folks, but the latter feel that they are both powerless to do anything about it, and it doesn't matter because they'll be dead soon anyway.

less than one-third believe that “America is the greatest country in the world”

I am amazed this is a question on a serious poll.
posted by meowzilla at 10:34 AM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]


I sure hope we don't revisit the policy of appeasement that turned out poorly for e.g. Chamberlain in the way-back..

the key is not to compromise with extremists from whatever side but rather acknowledge that there's a vast grey area in between that's NOT worth fighting/dying for, but it is worth living for.

I don't view this as "meeting in the middle", more about choosing less intense, more thoughtful means to accomplish one's ends.
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


Brings to mind this SNL sketch
posted by airmail at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


less than one-third believe that “America is the greatest country in the world”

reminds me of a bit of conversation I witnessed way back when. An annoying young guy (a Canadian) proudly claiming that Canada is the greatest country in the world. To which a young German responded, "Oh, you've been to all of them, have you?"
posted by philip-random at 10:37 AM on December 2, 2021 [25 favorites]


"Despite this, they seem as determined as ever to fight for the change they seek." - IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe

That immediately reminded me of a comment I posted in early January about the amazing teenagers phone banking for Georgia - all these incredibly committed, engaged, dedicated young people helping Dems win back the Senate. It was one of the most inspiring moments I experienced in the past five years.
posted by kristi at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]


“Young Americans sound the alarm” is some really bad spin, given this li’l quote by NPR from the article:

There are significant partisan divides. While young Democrats are roughly evenly split on whether U.S. democracy is functioning or in trouble, 70% of young Republicans reported that the country was either a democracy in trouble, or a failed democracy.

In other words, 70% of young Republicans have brain worms due to repeated lies about voter fraud from the former President. American democracy is in trouble because one party is insane. It also has lots of problems related to minority states being over-represented in the Senate, etc., but that isn’t the crisis that these folks are worried about.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:52 AM on December 2, 2021 [37 favorites]


Brings to mind this SNL sketch

I saw that sketch! I laughed! And I also felt really mad because it was too smart for its own good, I couldn’t tell if the writers realized that, and the people I was watching it with probably didn’t get the point. Democrats and Republicans are quite distinct, but vague polling questions make it really hard to tell them apart. They aren’t weird mirror images, each mad at opposite things (as the sketch kind of implies), rather they are mad about very different issues and you need a better question than “do you hate cops?” to get at those feelings.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:57 AM on December 2, 2021 [13 favorites]


Meeting in the middle is a weird idea when the right has been shifting towards totalitarianism for most of my life. Most of the "out there" positions on the left (child care, paid leave, not being poisoned by businesses, etc.) are table stakes in any functioning country.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:08 AM on December 2, 2021 [26 favorites]


In Seattle, we have a recall vote coming up for a city councilperson who has a few allegations of malicious behavior against her. On our local public radio station the other day, some locals were interviewed about the recall and asked how they would vote.

What seemed interesting to me was how, of those who were interviewed, just about everyone had a solidly confident response as to how they would vote, but not many could seemingly explain the reasons why a recall was allowed by the courts, in the first place.

Unquestionably, many problems stem from the right dismantling democratic institutions, but I suspect part of it, too, is that enough people (of all ages and political views) are not too deeply invested in participating in what democracy we do have, which erodes trust in its own way. It's a lot of work, and that makes it more difficult to protect against malicious entities who are just a little more motivated.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:30 AM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


The “It’s a lot of work” problem is real, and one thing I find kind of distressing is that the fixes people suggest (mandatory holidays for elections, all elections on the same day) are good but also don’t really go far enough. There’s plenty of truth to “if you’re not mad, you’re not paying attention.” but not enough to the fact that paying attention sucks.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]


paying attention sucks

Especially if you are a young person facing crises of various degrees, from paying off student loans, to trying to find a job and a place to live, to trying to keep from getting gunned down by police and mentally disturbed individuals, all the way to the existential extreme of climate apocalypse.

It's a lot for the kids out there to take on, as the polling about mental health hints at.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:47 AM on December 2, 2021 [17 favorites]


The question of whether or how much to compromise is academic if we don't win more elections. The latest major opinion research study from Virginia reinforces the idea that "It's the economy, stupid."
posted by PhineasGage at 11:51 AM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


And it's not just anyone in Seattle. It's Kshama Sawant. Who has been about the most progressive elected official in these parts. On the other hand, she very clearly broke some laws...

Suppose I kind of have to vote Nay on the recall. but I'd rather just not vote at all on it. But, will probably have to. Makes me uncomfortable.
posted by Windopaene at 12:13 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


"It's the economy, stupid."

Great! Let's forgive student loans, make the child tax credit permanent, provide free community college tuition, childcare, provide paid leave, and a whole bunch of other things which directly impact individuals lives for the better.

I mean, it's obvious right? How many people who otherwise don't follow politics end up reliably voting Republican simply for the tax breaks? As simplistic as it may sound, why can't Democrats have their own Santa Claus?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:16 PM on December 2, 2021 [5 favorites]


Look, it’s bad. Did anyone else here listen to the This American Life episode recently, What We’ve Got Here is a Failure to Communicate?

The first segment is a Republican State Senator from Michigan who certified the 2020 Presidential Vote and led the effort to find voter fraud. He found none, published a report, and now tries to convince fellow Michigan republicans in his district one-by-one that their theories on a stolen election are not truthful. Guess how he’s faring? Not so well.

The things I hear from the limited “moderate” Republicans in my family/neighborhood are so distressing and disturbing, I have to hold my tongue for at least a few minutes or else I will very unproductively engage. Is there any point to engaging? I do believe there is, but it has to be done patiently and with little hope of actually changing minds. But I do think it’s worth pushing back, if you are able.

Nobody knows where this moment leads to a certainty, and my thoughts or beliefs on how this plays out in the next few years are grim, but things can change. In other words, Americans will need to keep voting as if their rights and lives depend on it for many more election cycles. Sad, but true.
posted by glaucon at 12:18 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]


Suppose I kind of have to vote Nay on the recall. but I'd rather just not vote at all on it. But, will probably have to. Makes me uncomfortable.

Yes, you have to vote No on it. It shouldn't make you uncomfortable in the slightest - Durkan broke laws, Sara Nelson has been breaking laws and continues to break laws now that she's elected, Orion broke laws during his campaign against her, the state can't pass functioning traffic enforcement because the state legislators all get together and write public articles on how they break these laws all the time, and the only noteworthy accusation against Sawant is an actual lie (that she leaked Durkan's otherwise secret home address or lead the march there). The Recall campaign themselves has done their absolute best to break campaign finance laws and only failed because they are too stupid to not leak their own plans to hide things. A significant thrust of their campaign is the lie that 'the supreme court said she is guilty'.

It shouldn't be 'uncomfortable' to vote against them - it should be infuriating that this contemptible mendacity has gotten so close to success.
posted by bashing rocks together at 12:51 PM on December 2, 2021 [10 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that the stat on believing that the US is "a failed democracy" is primarily driven by the right wing,

I beg to differ. I interact with a lot of millennials and gen z, and this right here is a really common sentiment. They’re the same “bring down capitalism” kids that give me hope, so it’s a real mixed bag. On one hand, I’m ecstatic to see so many beliefs I share are now mainstream, or at least common, on the left. But frightening that the younger generation thinks we don’t have a way to get there.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:55 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]


the younger generation thinks we don’t have a way to get there

Ever since before I could vote, back when my generation was the one everyone older was heaping their hopes upon that we could be the ones to break the spiral, the consensus "What can we do to get there?" answers have been:

• Vote harder! (and related variants, "Vote blue no matter who", etc)
• Donate more money, you kids have plenty of that, right? (and then the ensuing wave of NGP VAN spam)
• ???

What've we gotten since then? Student debt forgiveness is still a punchline, we're no better about school shootings, we're about to get round 2 of redistricting gerrymandering, any sort of ground-up organizing gets crushed between the one-two of police militarization (even in solidly-blue cities & states) & "don't be extreme about this, trust the system!", climate change is still talked about like something we can maybe make commitments to start phasing things out in 20 years...

What's the message today?

@senatedemocrats: 🗣 ELECT DEMOCRATS TO PROTECT ABORTION RIGHTS!
posted by CrystalDave at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2021 [24 favorites]


What've we gotten since then?

Well, the ACA for one thing. And probably a lot of other things, depending on when you you were in the younger generation. Heck, we just got the BIF but it’s already vanished in a haze of cost complaints and extremely vague messaging about what it actually does. “elect democrats to protect abortion rights” is definitely a troll and democrats do many things that are dumb, but there’s a general problem that gains that aren’t a single headline (and even some that are) simply disappear.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:25 PM on December 2, 2021 [5 favorites]


(And this sucks absolutely for inspiring young people! We have a system that essentially accepts as a given you’ll have to become disenchanted and then just keep slogging on after you’ve been jaded, and that’s a really hard sell and something I wish we knew how to change.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:28 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


Nearly half (46%) of young Republicans place the chances of a second civil war at 50% or higher, compared to 32% of Democrats, and 38% of independent and unaffiliated voters.


In all fairness, one of the prerequisites for self-identifying as a Young Republican is a deep-seated and overwhelming sense of nihilism. These are people cheering for an asteroid to wipe out humanity because it'll pwn the libs. I'm frankly surprised that number isn't higher.
posted by Mayor West at 1:37 PM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


Okay, so last year hundreds of thousands of Americans died while Trump and the Republicans did everything they could to downplay the virus and hamper any sensible effort to contain it. And then for good measure they refused to accept the results of the election and organized an unprecedented and violent insurrection against the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the counting of votes.

And now we're so concerned about....[checks notes]...inflation...that they have the inside track for retaking Congress next year, having thus far evaded any consequences legal or otherwise for anything they've done?

How can one not be utterly dispirited and demoralized by this?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:40 PM on December 2, 2021 [34 favorites]


🗣 ELECT DEMOCRATS TO PROTECT ABORTION RIGHTS!

This made me so angry and I couldn't help but notice that virtually every reply and quote tweet was something along the lines of "we did and you've done nothing" or "you have control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, what more do you want from us", stuff like that. These are not exclusively from leftist accounts, a lot of these are people who are more liberal (I say this as a leftist who does reluctantly vote for Dems but oof it's getting harder and harder to feel like it's worth it. I'll keep doing it, please don't yell at me, I'm just saying).

When the Democrats get slaughtered in the midterms, and I believe they will, do you suppose they'll keep blaming the left? I feel like that's not working but the fact that something isn't working doesn't seem to be stopping the Democratic party from doing it.
posted by an octopus IRL at 1:42 PM on December 2, 2021 [14 favorites]


I feel strongly that 99.999% of Republicans and 58% of Democrats elected to the house / Senate have been purchased by dark money / oligarchs. Democrats in greater percentage want to make a real difference but have too many of their own fully ensnared by big money to do anything effectively.
posted by glaucon at 2:07 PM on December 2, 2021 [6 favorites]


And it's not just anyone in Seattle. It's Kshama Sawant. Who has been about the most progressive elected official in these parts. On the other hand, she very clearly broke some laws...

And has yet to learn that a person can catch more bees with vinegar than with sulfuric acid.
posted by y2karl at 2:23 PM on December 2, 2021


It's worth pointing out that the stat on believing that the US is "a failed democracy" is primarily driven by the right wing,

I beg to differ.


From TFA:

While Democrats are divided (44% healthy/somewhat functioning and 45% in trouble/failed) about the health of our democracy, 70% of Republicans believe that we are either a democracy in trouble (47%) or failed (23%). A majority (51%) of independent and unaffiliated young Americans also say we are in trouble or failed.

If you have contrary findings from a comparable survey, that'd be useful. If you have concerns about the methodology of this survey, that's also useful. But please don't say "my anecdotal experience differs from these findings; therefore I reject the findings". Data and anecdote are not comparable.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


that something isn't working doesn't seem to be stopping the Democratic party from doing it

This for me is the fulcrum issue. After only a little close study, it was clear that elected D's just dgaf. I started off pretty far on the right, but observation has led me to believe it's pretty clearly a class war.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 2:35 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


How is it even remotely debatable that the US is a failed democracy? You have an electoral college designed to permit the election of presidents with fewer votes. You have a senate that is purposefully designed to cement permanent minority rule. You have a filibuster as a second line of defence in case a majority is elected in the senate, but in case that’s not enough you also have an absolutely bogus “parliamentarian” to thwart the winning electoral agenda, plus one, two or as many senators as required (manchin, sinema, and if it weren’t those two someone else would step up). And then on top of that a permanent conservative minority on the Supreme Court as the ultimate veto - but just keep voting , just keep voting! You have one of your two parties being a literal death cult that cannot concede an electoral loss and the other party trying to find bipartisan common ground and refusing to countenance any institutional change to permit the implementation of a democratic agenda. Is the US a “failed democracy”? How could that be a serious question?
posted by moorooka at 3:14 PM on December 2, 2021 [33 favorites]


As a non-American, the really glaring thing in this and similar polls is the division of everyone along political party lines (the results of this poll are themselves unremarkable). From the outside, it seems really clear that this identification of who a person is based on such arbitrary divisions is, in and of itself, a major problem and contributor to conflict.

I do feel that this is much more visible in the US than elsewhere and the labelling of people based on irrelevant traits contributes to the polarisation of the community and drives out any sort of reasonable discourse. I see it here on MetaFilter, with the overarching view seeming to be 'what the fuck would they know, they're a Republican?', as if that alone defines a person as worthless.

If, even among a group of people with the inclination to accept facts as facts and a disinclination to accept bullshit, people are written-off because of such a label, what hope is there for the broader community to ever find common ground? Democracy in America may well be under threat, but maybe not for the reasons you think.
posted by dg at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


The other thing which sends me into a desperate, white hot, Frank Grimes-like rage is death panels. Remember how Republicans successfully spread the lie that the ACA would include rationed care and government panels that would decide who gets to live and who gets to die? Remember all those tense, confrontational town halls that Democratic reps had to endure which contributed to the "shellacking" of the 2010 midterms?

And now a decade later during a devastating pandemic we have Republican-controlled states which either didn't take the pandemic seriously or actively encouraged infections where the hospitals are overwhelmed and medical professionals have to ration resources and choose who gets treated and who doesn't. Actual death panels!

But of course campaigning on or even just pointing out this actual thing where the differences between Democratic and Republican policies are literally the difference between life and death would be gross and uncouth and any public investigation would be 'too soon', so we're just going to forget about it during the midterms.

It's awfully hard to get excited about the future of the country when Republicans can openly celebrate policies which lead to the creation of actual death panels without impacting their electoral chances one iota.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:18 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]


Is the US a “failed democracy”? How could that be a serious question?

Are you confused about the 'failed' part or the 'democracy' part?
posted by pwnguin at 3:19 PM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


I do feel that this is much more visible in the US than elsewhere and the labelling of people based on irrelevant traits contributes to the polarisation of the community and drives out any sort of reasonable discourse. I see it here on MetaFilter, with the overarching view seeming to be 'what the fuck would they know, they're a Republican?', as if that alone defines a person as worthless.


One, thanks for admitting you don't know what you're talking about.

Two, oh man. I don't want to find common ground with Republicans. What common ground is there. Why do I want to join with them. If these people had it their way, and they're very close to doing so, many women in the US would be forced to give birth to babies they did not want, against their will.

On the contrary, I want to give every Republican free health care and have them never suffer from starvation or poverty. They think if a woman gets raped, its their fault.

and the labelling of people based on irrelevant traits


How are what people believe and what they do 'irrelevant'?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:21 PM on December 2, 2021 [16 favorites]


with the overarching view seeming to be 'what the fuck would they know, they're a Republican?', as if that alone defines a person as worthless

For the past decade, an overwhelming majority of Republicans have enthusiastically defended and/or voted for literal fascism.

They may yet succeed in their effort to assassinate American democracy.

It's extraordinarily difficult to extend the benefit of the doubt to someone who has a knife to your throat.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:34 PM on December 2, 2021 [16 favorites]


you have control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, what more do you want from us

Voters stepped up did what needed to be done in 2020 to keep Trump out and restore some measure of balance. It's fair to ask what we have to show for it in 2021.

For instance, the NYTimes has a story on its front page about how Roe v. Wade may be overturned and how we all need to prepare for a post-Roe reality. This is in 2021; this is actually in the paper of record; we're now actually talking about an America where we have deliberately undone established law to protect women's healthcare and privacy rights.

There has been no sabre rattling from a Democratic-majority Congress about passing whatever laws necessary to make abortion legal everywhere, on demand. Nor anything from the Democratic-run White House about what the sitting President can and will do about the illegitimately-packed Supreme Court, if it undoes 50 years of precedent and moves us further towards a minority right-wing Gilead.

The ongoing evisceration of civil rights is serious and will likely cause life-altering damage to many young girls — and those who we voted in to keep this precise travesty from happening — among others — are apparently not doing much actionable to put a stop to this.

I'm not surprised young people are despondent about how things are and about what is coming.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2021 [22 favorites]



For the past decade, an overwhelming majority of Republicans have enthusiastically defended and/or voted for literal fascism.


And Democrats have voted for people happy to concede power to literal fascists even when they win more votes.
posted by moorooka at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2021


There has been no sabre rattling from a Democratic-majority Congress about passing whatever laws necessary to make abortion legal everywhere, on demand. Nor anything from the Democratic-run White House about what the sitting President can and will do about the illegitimately-packed Supreme Court, if it undoes 50 years of precedent and moves us further towards a minority right-wing Gilead.

‘Almost’ like they’re more invested in having legal abortion as a convenient electoral wedge issue than they are in having legal abortion.
posted by moorooka at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]


How are what people believe and what they do 'irrelevant'?
They aren't, obviously. But suggesting that every person who identifies as Republican holds every view that party espouses is just as wrong as saying a person who identifies as a Democrat does the same. Why do you feel so strongly that your preferred political party is such a key identifier of everything you believe and do? Surely you're capable of independent thought?

The view that you can't possibly have any common ground on any topic with someone based solely on their preferred political party is nonsense. Even someone like me that doesn't know what they're talking about can see that.
posted by dg at 4:00 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


Sure, they keep on voting for politicians that want to set up concentration camps and identifiying themselves as members of the Let's Put People In Concentration Camps Party, but hasn't anyone ever considered they might feel bad about it?
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 4:09 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]


But please don't say "my anecdotal experience differs from these findings; therefore I reject the findings". Data and anecdote are not comparable.

My issue is more along the lines of suggesting it’s primarily driven by republicans when the characterization that the US is a failed democracy is still high in Dems and independent/unaffiliated, or that the reason for it is due to the same motivated reasoning (“democracy has failed therefore the rules don’t matter” vs a disenchantment with democracy because it’s failed.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:09 PM on December 2, 2021


But suggesting that every person who identifies as Republican holds every view that party espouses is just as wrong as saying a person who identifies as a Democrat does the same.

Republicans are not a fandom or even a descriptive label like 'conservative' or 'totalitarian', they're an actual political party with an official platform. While not all Republicans agree with all Republican-policies (same as not all Democrats) the whole purpose of identifying as a member of the party is a way of signaling that one more-or-less supports everything the party stands for.

The view that you can't possibly have any common ground on any topic with someone based solely on their preferred political party is nonsense.

Certainly there's common ground to be found, however Republicans in general are anti-vaccine, so I'd recommend wearing a mask and making sure you've had your booster before you try to find it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:15 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]


Why do you feel so strongly that your preferred political party is such a key identifier of everything you believe and do? Surely you're capable of independent thought?

Where are you pulling this from? Saying that the left in the US monolithic is, frankly, one of the most patently untrue things about US political life and really betrays a complete lack of understanding about what people believe. I'm not a Democrat and have basically spent my entire public life bashing Democrats (I have a PhD in political science and research and write about politics for a living). But go ahead jumping into contexts which you admit you know little about and blame us who are fighting the good fight.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:46 PM on December 2, 2021 [7 favorites]


suggesting that every person who identifies as Republican holds every view that party espouses is just as wrong as saying a person who identifies as a Democrat does the same. Why do you feel so strongly that your preferred political party is such a key identifier of everything you believe and do? Surely you're capable of independent thought?

While I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've just said, Duverger's law is a hell of a thing.

"Independent thought" is great in theory. In practice, though, I get to vote for one of two parties. One of them is literally fascist. The other is not.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:46 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]


To be perfectly frank, I don't care if someone agrees with every policy of the Nazi Party in 1939, if they openly identify as a Nazi, that tells me enough about them that I don't feel the need to interrogate how closely they cleave with that platform.

So too with the Republican Party in 2021.
posted by explosion at 4:51 PM on December 2, 2021 [16 favorites]


Sorry for the sidebar, but:

Duverger's law is a hell of a thing

In that link: "In recent years the validity of this law has come under increasing quantitative scrutiny"

So I'm not a student of political science, but I think even more than the hair splitting about the structure of voting and parties is this: when corporations are people and money are votes you can stick a fork in it.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:06 PM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]


The view that you can't possibly have any common ground on any topic with someone based solely on their preferred political party is nonsense.

I suppose I could find some mutually agreeable statements (handwaving for a moment), but I'm less sure that we would be in alignment on what those statements mean; and that's where common ground springs up, I think. Not just an agreement of statements, but at least agreement on a first derivative of those statements.

"Less violent crime is good" => Does that mean "Less people should feel the need to resort to violent crime"? "Anybody who attempts violent crime will be deterred by public execution"? etc.

And I'll even spot you "people differ from their party", absolutely. But there has to be *something* about a party that makes someone think that they're the closest to getting what they want. Many, many Americans fancy themselves Independent, but that doesn't mean much of anything in terms of voting patterns & policy preference. It's like "middle class", a significant portion of everyone in the US self-describes there, and the definition is often more dependent on "do you shop at Walmart or Target?" than economic power. A lot of party identification is cultural, sure.

But whether someone's a Republican because their parents were, or they're all about that tax policy, or they're full-on QAnon "baby tunnels under the White House"; they don't find the other stuff too objectionable.

And that has a nasty effect of poisoning the rest of it.

With any luck I may some day have to answer for what I threw in with in supporting the Democratic Party over the alternative. I don't want to come off like I'm immune to this. But I'm also really wary of "Red/Brown alliance"-type talk that tries to go "if both sides want healthcare, we can fight on the racial supremacy issue after". (cf. Andrew Yang)
posted by CrystalDave at 5:15 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]


Wait... The USA is a democracy? Since when? Not noticeably in my lifetime, and I'm, uh... 43, supposedly.

It is and has been completely controlled by corporate interests since like at least the second world war, if it was ever any different. Most readings of history suggest it wasn't much different before.

An interesting question is... What kind of person understands this dynamic and its ultimate implications yet still advocates for its continuance.

A literal death cult.

It's fucked up, yo.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:27 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


are we talking about people who are

A. members of the Republican party or,
B. people who voted Republican last election?

Pretty sure that they are not one and the same.

Or maybe look at it this way. As of September, 59% of GOP Voters said 'Believing' Trump Won in 2020 was 'Important' to Being a Republican. That's a shocking number but it's also less than two-thirds.

This pushing for "all Republicans are this or that" isn't just unhelpful, it's inaccurate.
posted by philip-random at 7:42 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


"Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes exhausts and murders itself. There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to Say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and no where appears in history. Those Passions are the same in all Men under all forms of Simple Government, and when unchecked, produce the same Effects of Fraud Violence and Cruelty. When clear Prospects are opened before Vanity, Pride, Avarice or Ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate Phylosophers and the most conscientious Moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves, Nations and large Bodies of Men, never."

-John Adams.
posted by clavdivs at 8:01 PM on December 2, 2021 [7 favorites]


What kind of person understands this dynamic and its ultimate implications yet still advocates for its continuance.

“You need all kinds of influences, including negative ones, to challenge what you believe in.”

-Bill Murray
posted by clavdivs at 8:04 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


Well, this fifty three year old Gen-Xer will be out there in the streets and at the polls helping right the ship.
posted by AJScease at 8:25 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


Power is always been on the street, that's why it's called street.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2021


But suggesting that every person who identifies as Republican holds every view that party espouses is just as wrong

What exactly are the views of the current Republican party that your ethical Republicans support?

What did they accomplish in the years where they controlled Congress and the Presidency? The modern Republican party only cares about power, low taxes (for the very wealthy), and a handful of social wedge issues. The 2020 agenda was literally "Trump good, Obama bad, America (which is to say white Christians) first!"

Demanding that I respect people who can't see through that as bullshit because at some point in the past the Republican party had actual values is as intellectually lazy as they are.

It's fair to say that voting for the Democratic party doesn't mean that liberal and progressive voters support all of the party's views is fair, because there are actually actual planks in the platform and a range of views and positions within the party. Whereas the Republicans only stand for power, awfulness, and lies.
posted by Candleman at 8:54 PM on December 2, 2021 [6 favorites]


This pushing for "all Republicans are this or that" isn't just unhelpful, it's inaccurate.


Not all fascists.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:30 AM on December 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


This pushing for "all Republicans are this or that" isn't just unhelpful, it's inaccurate.

Hilarious, coming from the guy who looks at an ongoing, murderous white supremacist coup versus trans people getting mad at Dave Chappelle and says "both sides are extreme."
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 4:44 AM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


But suggesting that every person who identifies as Republican holds every view that party espouses is just as wrong as saying a person who identifies as a Democrat does the same.

In the UK as in the US: the "right" is more homogeneous, and acts more self-consistently (in general) than the "left". While it might look imbalanced, it is far more fair to tar the "right" all with the same brush. Both-sides-ism is invalid.

Caution: Massive oversimplification ahead

"Conservative", by definition, wants to keep things the same, or to make things smaller. As they are, or as they were in some past that may or may not bear relation to reality. There is only one history to draw that inspiration from, and vested interests are vested, and interested. Things can only shrink in one direction.

Progressives, on the other hand, typically want to do something that hasn't necessarily been done before. There are far more directions that can go in, rather than the simpler matters of degree that you tend to find on the right. The interests of progressive-leaning groups overlap less, so you get more in-fighting to the degree that coordinating between these groups becomes viciously hard. The failure mode is nothing happens.

Couple that with a tendency towards hierarchy and authority on the right-hand side of the spectrum, and you end up with fewer cooks with individually more control, which ends up with more coordinated behaviour than the "left" usually musters. Buying into that as a voter does carry meaningful information.
posted by regularfry at 4:50 AM on December 3, 2021 [5 favorites]


Back to the actual FPP, in Georgia, USA, young Americans are embracing democracy and working within the system. In this week's runoff election, the Atlanta City Council lost several members who had served for 20 years to a bunch of millennials, including a queer Muslim who got her start leading occupy Atlanta.

In the city of South Fulton, the newly elected mayor is a prominent Black Lives Matter leader and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

All four progressives were supported by the Georgia Working Families Party

Not all young people have given up on democracy.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:08 AM on December 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


Although democracy has given up on them.
posted by Gadarene at 6:48 AM on December 3, 2021


Power is always been on the street, that's why it's called street.

Ohhh, won't somebody please think of the boulevards?
posted by y2karl at 8:37 AM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


This pushing for "all Republicans are this or that" isn't just unhelpful, it's inaccurate.

What you say is true, and yet I still find the acronym ARAB endlessly amusing.
posted by pwnguin at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


Voters stepped up did what needed to be done in 2020 to keep Trump out and restore some measure of balance. It's fair to ask what we have to show for it in 2021.

That runs into one really key issue:

Voters generally have no idea what's involved in governing.

"Democrats are in charge, why didn't they fix everything?"

It shows a near-total lack of understanding of how the system actually works (or doesn't)

When one party is literally totally uninterested in governing, compromising, and willing to let the place burn to get power, it's a monumental task to accomplish anything at all. It requires that literally every Democratic Senator and nearly every House member vote for it, and that's not enough for anything subject to the Senate filibuster (which is almost everything). Since we have a pair of said Senators who are against filibuster reform/abolishment, there are huge structural limits to what can be accomplished.
That parties are weak and there's essentially nothing that can be done to "force" Manchin and Sinema to back the party on these votes is a massive impediment. People tend to believe the "Green Lantern theory of the Presidency" that if Biden would just "try harder", he can get them to do so is fantasy.

So, voters will punish Democrats and reward the nihilistic republican behavior, since nuance is hard.

The underlying issue here is that the system as designed is too unwieldy, has too many choke points, and requires unrealistic levels of consensus to get anything done. It's far too easy for a nihilistic party to essentially make it impossible to govern, and now we have such a party to amply demonstrate the system's flaws and weaknesses.

It's not that Democracy is failing so much as our system is failing Democracy.
posted by CaffinatedOne at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


When I was young I thought that things would get better when the old politicians died off and more forward thinking younger people aged into power. What the heck happened?
posted by joelr at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2021


When I was young I thought that things would get better when the old politicians died off and more forward thinking younger people aged into power. What the heck happened?
I think one part of that seems to be that, by and large, those same politicians are still in power. The big names of Democratic party leadership are still around, and it's been a topic for years about the difficulties with building up a back-bench of rising talent like the GOP's been doing.

I'm reminded of how, even when I was a kid, my mom spent a decade plus as a perpetual substitute teacher for grade school, always being told "there'll be a permanent position as people retire, and when that happens you'll be first in line since you've spent so much time putting in your dues as a substitute". You can guess how that went. Eventually she had to give up on the field. Not enough pay/hours to survive as a substitute, & no room for new teachers to get a foothold so there'd be someone to step in as deferred-retirement comes due.

(there's also the broader trouble with the concept, but skipping right to "what went wrong in the specific?")

Looking at who *would* be best described as the "rising talent, more forward thinking younger people" for the Democrats, the Squad... it's been a bit of a rough time for them. They seem to have to fend off members of their own party trying to primary them out for not respecting the decades-long established order. When they're attempting to do things, they get sniped at for being too forward-thinking & not waiting their turn. And then there's ~1/3 of the country being convinced every night that they're the reincarnations of Marx & Engels, with threats of violence seeping into Congressional halls (when that's the place that they should be *most* supported, safety-wise).

I still don't think we've publicly found out what happened on 1/6 where their office alarm-boxes in particular were removed in advance & their offices mapped out by other Congresspeople. And that's haunting, to say the least. Shades of the caning of Charles Sumner building up.

And they're probably some of the best examples of talented people trying to work within the system, trusting that it's reformable. If you've come of age any time in the last... 10+ years maybe?, and you have that drive that would in the past have maybe led you to trying to make a swing of things; and you see how they've been treated, how the Iraq War 2 protests went, how Occupy went, how last summer's protests got turned into "those kids asked for too much, too unstrategically, & even though we didn't actually pass the things they wanted, they're still to blame", etc. etc. ad infinitum...

Would you be so quick to step into the lion's maw trusting that the system can be reformed so long as you engage with it the right way?
posted by CrystalDave at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2021 [7 favorites]


That parties are weak and there's essentially nothing that can be done to "force" Manchin and Sinema to back the party on these votes is a massive impediment. People tend to believe the "Green Lantern theory of the Presidency" that if Biden would just "try harder", he can get them to do so is fantasy.

Trump, as a disgraced ex-president, exerts such discipline over his party that few of them have the courage to publicly dispute even the most comically ludicrous of his lies. Any republican senator who stands in Trump’s way knows that their future in politics will be short.

The Democratic Party has no such discipline, because the Manchins and Sinemas of their party are a feature, not a bug. If it wasn’t those two, it would be two others. If the majority was one bigger, there would be one extra obstructionist senator.

If the majority were ten bigger, reconciliation would be off the table and the threshold would rise to that of the filibuster. The Democratic Party is not trying to abolish the filibuster for the same reason that they are not trying to abolish the electoral college, for the same reason they are not trying to expand the Supreme Court, and for the same reason that they appoint a “parliamentarian” to tell them they can’t implement their stated agenda. Because that agenda is not their actual agenda.

The Democratic Party is a fake, fraudulent swindle that exists as an ancillary organ of Republican fascism. It is there to rotate into power, temporarily, when the fascists wear out their welcome, and then to “bumble along” finding excuses for being unable to govern until the fascists are able to rotate back in.
posted by moorooka at 4:13 PM on December 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


That's a weird, pointless fairy tale. Trump has continuing power over his party because of the Republican primary electorate, who are deep in their cult of personality for him and who - thus far - are following most of his dictates on whom to support.

The Democratic Party is made up of voters with a more diverse mix of beliefs, which makes it impossible to enforce either a progressive OR moderate party-wide agenda, even when we have a charismatic party leader like Obama. If Manchin weren't the Senator from W. Va., it sure as hell wouldn't be a more liberal Democrat.
posted by PhineasGage at 4:39 PM on December 3, 2021 [12 favorites]


The Democratic modus operandi is to pretend that there is some huge popular constituency for naked corruption of the Manchin variety. There isn’t.
posted by moorooka at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2021


When I was young I thought that things would get better when the old politicians died off and more forward thinking younger people aged into power. What the heck happened?

"The designers reckoned after a few years, they might develop their own emotional responses. You know, hate, love, fear, anger, envy. So they built in a failsafe device."

"Which is what?"

"Four-year lifespan."

-Inspector Bryant conversation with Deckard.
posted by clavdivs at 7:09 PM on December 3, 2021


@moorooka: Manchin got elected in his state. He was popular enough to pull that off. Other democrats can't threaten or bribe him into playing along. How is that some kind of Big-D conspiracy?

Personally, I think the biggest tactical mistake is focusing so much ire on the two difficult dems, rather than constantly pointing the finger at the dozens of Republicans voting in lockstep. This makes them MORE vulnerable to Trump capture, IMO. Their only threat is from him. If they had to defend their voting records every other week, they would have more incentive to vote for popular programs. The fixation on two dems has thrown a cloak of invisibility over an entire party.
posted by ®@ at 7:13 PM on December 3, 2021 [10 favorites]


The Republicans are elected in their states. They are popular enough to pull that off. They are elected on a coherent party platform of pure nihilistic opposition to the Democrats. So pointing out that they are doing what they were elected to do isn't exactly a slam dunk. All you’re doing is “pointing the finger” at the type of effective party discipline that the Democrats lack. And what cements this Party discipline is the willingness to primary a traitor even if it risks losing a seat.

Pointing out that Manchin is a bought-and-paid for millionaire who opposes his own Party’s agenda out of his own corrupt pecuniary interest might, on the other hand, make some type of difference. Bernie and AOC have very gently made this case - much to his indignation - but what makes them completely unlike the Democratic Party leadership is that they aren’t happy to have him as a foil.
posted by moorooka at 11:51 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


The Republicans are elected in their states. They are popular enough to pull that off.

No, they're not. Why do you think that they've gone all in on systems to enshrine minority rule such as voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering? Because it's not because they're popular - and the actual vote totals make that abundantly clear.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:28 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


I agree with NoxAeternum. The Republicans' tactics over the past several decades -- going all the way back to establishing a separate propaganda media arm all to itself all the way thru hyperpartisan gerrymandering, vote suppression, and stacking the Judiciary all the way up thru the Supreme Court -- is a tacit admission that the Republican "transfer the other half of the nation's wealth to the top 1%" agenda is not actually popular, and they know it.
posted by Gelatin at 7:46 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


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