detonating civilization's pillars (or idiocracy)
June 30, 2024 8:42 AM   Subscribe

@drvolts: "Now, I'd like you to think about what will happen if Trump takes over, Project 2025 is implemented, & the entire federal bureaucracy (including law enforcement branches) is staffed with ideological MAGA cronies."[1]
That will mean the end of anything like independence or expertise in the civil service. Crime statistics will be engineered to support Trump -- in his mind, and theirs, that's what the bureaucracy is *for*. The gov't is Trump's, devoted to Trump's glory...

And you can broaden that out to economic statistics, trade statistics, GHG emissions, any & all information about the objective state of the country & the polity. It will all be pure propaganda under Trump, which will mean simply that *no one really knows* what's going on.

People lament the "post-truth" era we're living in. Misinformation. Epistemic bubbles. Algorithmic distortions. Etc. But I need people to understand that we really haven't seen anything yet... Take a peek at Russia or Turkey for a preview.

This is what keeps striking me over & over again as we wander backward into fascism, with scarcely any resistance: all the blessings we enjoy in America, the result of so much hard work that came before us, that we are taking for granted & casually frittering away.
@GregTSargent: "Under Project 2025, an army of Trump loyalists would deeply corrupt information gathering by the government and turn it into little more than pro-Trump propaganda."[2] (TNR)
MAGA personalities raged at CNN when it refused to allow a Donald Trump propagandist to smear journalists on air. They exploded again when CNN announced that the debate would be fact-checked. We think this provides an unexpected glimpse into what Project 2025’s implementation might look like. This thought was driven home by a must-read thread from writer David Roberts about Project 2025’s true aims. So we talked to Roberts about what MAGA’s hostility to neutral journalism portends for a second Trump term—one that wrecks the professional, fact-based civil service and transforms government into a tool for manufacturing propaganda. Listen to this episode here.[3]
also btw...
  • Supreme Court decision can't defrost chilling effect on disinformation research, experts warn - "Why it matters: Disinformation campaigns targeting the 2024 U.S. elections are expected to reach further and outnumber what's been seen in past elections, experts warn."
  • The Destruction of Economic Facts - "During the second half of the 19th century... To prevent the breakdown of industrial and commercial progress, hundreds of creative reformers concluded that the world needed a shared set of facts. Knowledge had to be gathered, organized, standardized, recorded, continually updated, and easily accessible... The result was the invention of the first massive 'public memory systems' to record and classify—in rule-bound, certified, and publicly accessible registries, titles, balance sheets, and statements of account—all the relevant knowledge available... for investors to infer value, take risks, and track results... Over the past 20 years, Americans and Europeans have quietly gone about destroying these facts. The results are hardly surprising. In the U.S., trust has broken down..."[4]
Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it's learned may be crucial to Western democracy - "The exercises include examining claims found in YouTube videos and social media posts, comparing media bias in an array of different 'clickbait' articles, probing how misinformation preys on readers' emotions, and even getting students to try their hand at writing fake news stories themselves."[5]
The course is part of an anti-fake news initiative launched by Finland’s government in 2014 – two years before Russia meddled in the US elections – aimed at teaching residents, students, journalists and politicians how to counter false information designed to sow division.

The initiative is just one layer of a multi-pronged, cross-sector approach the country is taking to prepare citizens of all ages for the complex digital landscape of today – and tomorrow. The Nordic country, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, is acutely aware of what’s at stake if it doesn’t.

Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online.
Comparing Trump to 'political chemotherapy' - "Cuban said: '...a lot of [chemotherapy patients] die. A lot of the systems, they change.'"[6]
"My kids, when they're 60 years old and say, hopefully, say, look, we went through, the country went through the s*** when I was a kid, but we learned from it," he continued.

"I think we're starting to learn from what happened. You're seeing them throw him under the bus."
"In the Democratic party, not everybody gets their way, but everybody gets a voice. In the Republican party, there's just one voice." --Christopher Gibbs, Farmer, Shelby County Ohio

You Are Entering the Infernal Triangle - "Authoritarian Republicans, ineffectual Democrats, and a clueless media."[7]
posted by kliuless (80 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Trump loyalists plan to name and shame ‘blacklist’ of federal workers: "Armed with rhetoric about the “deep state”, a conservative-backed group is planning to publicly name and shame career government employees that they consider hostile to Donald Trump."
posted by BungaDunga at 8:47 AM on June 30 [9 favorites]


I just wish everyone was taking all this more seriously.

QFT

I think Trump's one true trick is to make it so that taking him seriously makes one look ridiculous.
posted by chavenet at 9:14 AM on June 30 [28 favorites]


If you think things here are fucked up at the moment, wait until Trump destroys what's left of US global hegemony and it can't keep sending out scraps of cotton and linen for real physical goods.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:24 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]


Maybe [someone else] can save us from [bad thing that threatens everyone] so that I don't have to [spend money, time or take risks]. This is the code running on so many of the beneficiaries of public goods and collective achievements and it has neutered our society. The enemies of freedom of speech/press, freedom of and from religion, diversity, equality, consumer and environmental and worker protection etc, they are pulling off the coup, in steps and the moonshot is within range.

That many of these would be warlords and oligarchs and gauleiters and blockwarts will suffer under the revolution they are conspiring toward, but too late for it do them or any of us any good. Civil wars last on average about 16 years now, up for 10 in the past. Dictators tend to stay in power about 13years, but dictatorships last much longer, as the most likely successor to a dictator is another dictator. It's not a black-hole, but its worse than quicksand... the time to do something to prevent your life, your family, your friends and neighbors lives and your countries life from going down the drain is right now, not 4 months or 4 years from now. It will be too late by the time the procrastination crowd becomes certain.
posted by No Climate - No Food, No Food - No Future. at 9:32 AM on June 30 [18 favorites]


John Oliver went over what a second Trump term would look like a couple of weeks ago. There is also a section explaining Project 2025, and Schedule F (the firing of career civil servants to replace them with Trump loyalists):

Trump’s Second Term: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


(This is the video that is accessible from Germany, apologies if it happens to be blocked in the USA).
posted by LaVidaEsUnCarnaval at 9:40 AM on June 30 [11 favorites]


This strikes me as a key point, and something that has worried at me since 2016 before Trump was elected and I heard people who really should've known better proclaiming "Burn it all down!"

This is what keeps striking me over & over again as we wander backward into fascism, with scarcely any resistance: all the blessings we enjoy in America, the result of so much hard work that came before us, that we are taking for granted & casually frittering away.

I've been working on how to understand this. We already have language for it, which Roberts uses here, to "take things for granted." But this, I think, isn't near strong enough.

What we face is something closer to the sunk cost fallacy. A blind spot of faulty reasoning that is both extremely common and persuasive, and can lead to devastating effects.

I propose we call this the sunk benefits fallacy. Importantly, it is frequently more persuasive the more a person has to lose, because they can less imagine losing it.

Safe food, safe drinking water, accurate and agreed upon facts about so many things (per the OP), minimal but real workplace safety requirements, the absence of neighborhood and regional regimes of corruption and violence, all of these are things that are not only unusual within the course of human history, but within the history of the United States. Critically, however, they are more than two generations in the rear view mirror, and the mechanisms by which we moved beyond them as a society are neither celebrated or even well remembered.

We briefly saw Congress members shocked out of their privilege post-January 6th, but most of them were all too eager to go back into the anodyne comforts of their station. As Leon in Bladerunner says, "Painful to live in fear, isn't it?" And I think this is at the root of the motivation behind people's observable willfulness towards engaging in this fallacy. To really see all of the things we take for granted as impermanent and conditional, perhaps dependent on our own actions in ways that inconvenience us or on things far beyond our agency, or even worse, some nebulous combination of the two, is to an extent psychologically painful.

Unfortunately, as with the editorial staff who per Paul Krugman's not exactly cryptic Xeet are quite sanguine about what a second Trump administration would mean for them and for the country, many in positions of power in this country simply cannot imagine outside of their privilege, and we are all in peril for it.
posted by Smedly, Butlerian jihadi at 9:44 AM on June 30 [21 favorites]


I find that in the US, there's a lot of "yeah, maybe [X] would make things worse, but the world has winners and losers, and I secretly take comfort that me and mine will be winners".
posted by Artful Codger at 9:51 AM on June 30 [13 favorites]


pundits’ predictions are most useful when they are wrong. They provide an invaluable record of the unspoken collective assumptions of America’s journalistic elite, one of the most hierarchical, conformist groups of people you’ll ever run across. Unfortunately, they help shape our world nearly as much, and sometimes more, than the politicians they comment about. So their collective mistakes land hard. (from the last link aptly named 'infernal triangle.)

This, so much this. It is getting harder and harder to stay a Democrat. The journalistic elite are joined by the political elite - see for example the last Virginia governor's race. There were so many much better candidates than McAulife but he was a political insider with deep ties to the Democratic party elite (think 'super delegates').
posted by bluesky43 at 9:56 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


It is getting harder and harder to stay a Democrat.

In all the lamentation and garment-rending, there's still not enough attention directed at the systemic factors, especially the rigidly bipolar US party system.

A principled and courageous faction of the GOP might have been able to purge Trump... but it would now certainly be electoral suicide, and maybe even party-ending as well.

Similarly, what in the Democratic party has led to the vacuum where a past his best-before date octogenarian is the last bulwark against Trump?

It seems that stuff needs to break, cos evolutionary change seems impossible in the present setup.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:06 AM on June 30 [13 favorites]


But there's no reasonable alternative to the Democratic party for keeping fascists out of office (with their genocide against trans people, women, children, etc). Leaderless leftist groups like Occupy & DSA are often made up of wonderful people, but I can't see a mass movement gaining momentum without a charismatic figure at the fore. Far right populism's power is in its populism, moreso than in its policies.

The Left is understandably skeptical of populism. Is it possible to harness it without it turning into demagoguery? If the leader ends up just being another billionaire or celebrity, what does that mean for "democracy"? What happens when your figurehead inevitably Milkshake Ducks?

Our political system is truly awful, but I don't see a realistic way to a better one that doesn't involve rivers of blood. So I keep working for the Democratic party. If I were in my 20s instead of my 50s I don't know what I would do.
posted by rikschell at 10:12 AM on June 30 [12 favorites]




Mod note: One comment removed. Reminder: there is a whole wide internet for wishing murder on people. Not here though.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:44 AM on June 30 [10 favorites]


To get an idea of a Trump future just look at countries and states where Dominionist/ Christo-Fascist ideas are usurping real politics, a d destroying anything good.
New Zealand
Alaska
Florida
United Kingdom
Uganda
in the deeper past
Honduras
In every case it is straightforward to link the religious fundamentalist politicians and activists to the US Council of National Policy, they are driving this, oil is paying for it. And evangelical Christians have allowed themselves to see their salvation as contingent with support for libertarian policy.

This is not your grandpa's GOP, Trump will end America. Gonna have to hold your noses and vote DEM, or be led by the nose to horror.
What went wrong is that America failed to see the need to maintain the 1776 Revolution.
posted by unearthed at 11:11 AM on June 30 [11 favorites]


There are several different aspects to the threat here. In the sciences, I'm reminded a bit of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union. Eventually, people figure out that the ideologically-driven pseudoscience is all hooey, but the process to get past the ideologues is long and painful.
posted by gimonca at 1:20 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I'm in the UK and I don't think Dominionists/Christofascists are in charge here. Our two main strains of fascist are hypercapitalist oligarchy and white racist foot soldiers. They're currently fighting each other, with the oligarchs suddenly claiming to care about the country they've bled dry and the racists claiming not to be racist.

If you're looking for European Christofascists in real time, try Hungary, Slovakia and Italy.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:44 PM on June 30 [13 favorites]


It seems that stuff needs to break, cos evolutionary change seems impossible in the present setup.

The reason the US doesn't have third parties is almost certainly due to first-past-the-post voting and the electoral college. You can't win the Presidency without an absolute electoral college majority. Two "parties" that together have >50% voting share and would be willing to govern in coalition would have extremely large incentives to support a compromise presidential ticket. If they don't, neither candidate can win the electoral college. There just isn't room for third parties in national politics.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:47 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


Leaderless leftist groups like Occupy & DSA are often made up of wonderful people, but I can't see a mass movement gaining momentum without a charismatic figure at the fore.

And the problem here is that the kinds of people seen as charismatic leaders by these sorts of leftists are just anathema to the rest of the population. Look at Saint Bernie, who's the closest thing to a leftist charismatic leader, and how though his fans love him so much I've still got people in my social media feed claiming we should swap Biden out for him, everyone else is like are you fucking serious.

If I get to engage in wishful thinking, it's that when the next primary season comes round, if we're permitted one, the leftists/progressives pool their cash and hire a focus group of people from all the other factions of the Democratic "Party" coalition: educated suburbanites, socially-conservative black people, retail workers, union people... you name it, everyone who *doesn't* think a "progressive firebrand" would win an election outside of a college town. Parade would-be progressive candidates in front of them and let each of them talk for ten minutes, and then pick the ones everyone else is okay with. Someone who seems like they could get along with anyone else, would be a start.

Because when the same friends who are posting Bernie memes are like whhyyy won't you vote for the progressive candidate, I get tired of saying, it's not the progressive, it's the goddamn candidate. Purity Progressives being easily trolled into staying home or voting for idiot third parties that as BungaDunga clearly states have no chance of winning is only one of the many causes of All This Shit, but maybe that one can be fixed.
posted by outgrown_hobnail at 1:53 PM on June 30 [12 favorites]


Meh. Or you could start organizing for politics that wasn't catastrophic and stop asking me to vote for a candidate who wasn't actively supporting and bankrolling the death of my friends.
posted by constraint at 2:03 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


^^ Yep. Pretty much the response I expected.
posted by outgrown_hobnail at 2:14 PM on June 30 [15 favorites]


On the plus side, after November none of you will ever need to worry about voting again.
posted by aramaic at 2:19 PM on June 30 [22 favorites]


I guess my question is, is it easier to organize for a non-catastrophic politics under Biden II or under Trump II? Will the DSA and the like be more successful under Biden II or Trump II?

Because from where I sit, a Trump II that really gets it teeth into installing an Orbanist regime will smash any chances for the Left for a generation.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:20 PM on June 30 [15 favorites]


It is getting harder and harder to stay a Democrat.

While admittedly I work inside the Beltway (but not for the USG), I find this position baffling.

The institutional Democratic Party is both doing better left policy and more *open* to left policy ideas than it has been in a long, long, long time. What matters to left policy is what you do with power. And by that standard, this White House (who annoy the shit out of me, to put it bluntly) are way better than the Obamas and way better than anything in Congress during the bleak years of GW Bush’s reign.

So. harder and harder to support…why would this change? Terrible people have always had power in the Democratic Party, because politics selects for terrible people. (And even more terrible people have had power in the Republican party for my adult life.)

What matters is what you can make them do.

The IRA was fundamentally a Dem vehicle, and it is so good that it’s now what Republicans are trying to bargain on it the Ag Bill. That is, they are willing to give up stuff in the Ag Bill to get rid of things that didn’t exist in 2021. So that's new.

The Labor Department is revitalized and using tools it’s nominally had for years, like “Hot Goods,” to actually go after labor violations. That’s new — it didn’t happen with Obama.

The Child Tax Credit expansion lifted 3.5 million children out of poverty. So Manchin refused to extend? You know who else refused to extend? Literally every Republican Senator. The Dem Party was behind a permanent extension, unified, behind the White House. That’s new.

I could go on.

Does the White House immigration policy suck? Absolutely. The attacks on asylum will lead real human beings to be kidnapped in Mexico and to die waiting for a chance to seek safety. Is the White House abetting war crimes in Gaza? I would say so. But America has been doing this for ... well at least 40 years, regardless of administration, regardless of party. Given that Biden is an old-school Democrat, are either of these changes within the Democratic Party? Absolutely not.

Let me say one last thing. As part of my job, I am now in coalition spaces doing scenario planning for Trump 2.0, including major organizations that you know (and the employees of those resisters recently featured in the NYT). It would be imprudent to share more, but it's happening, and we are all taking it deathly serious.

Trump 2.0 will be a thousand times worse that Trump 1.0, if they get power. I no longer believe that there is a morally neutral position on the upcoming election. One cannot have clean hands by abstaining or sitting it out. Because what matters is what the Trumpers *will* do, and they will harm millions of people — harm millions of people, some of whom you will know. That's the fight, that's the world, not the world I would choose but it is a fight where I can choose a side to fight on.
posted by migrantology at 2:38 PM on June 30 [92 favorites]


One side is so confident in their success that their 900 page playbook for fascism is freely available, the other side has checks notes “we’re coming up with a plan, trust me bro”

I find zero comfort in this.
posted by dr_dank at 3:00 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


migrantology, thank you for your comment. I hope people here will understand what you are doing.
posted by mumimor at 3:01 PM on June 30 [11 favorites]


Something I've been thinking about over the last week: Does it make sense for less evil people (e.g. leftists) to register with project 2025, in order to obstruct some of the more toxic policy implementations should the worst happen? Better yet, does there already exist an Internet's worth of k-pop stans who are boaty mcboatfacing the project 2025 website into uselessness?
posted by eraserbones at 3:08 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


I'm in the UK and I don't think Dominionists/Christofascists are in charge here

21C English Fascism is (largely) polite, non-performative, stiff upper lip stuff, and (apart from the PM and Braverman - who are simply colonised persons working out their angst) all of the Cabinet & senior level tories are seriously Christian but in a very British way. Some examples:

Jacob Rees-Mogg - Anglo-Catholic
Steve Baker - Baptist, but has a very strong Peter Dutton vibe
David Burrowes - former MP, founder of .theccf.co.uk which many Tory MPs belong to.
Fiona Bruce - hard core evangelical (makes safe noisesto placate the press and social liberals), paywalled FT article worth hunting out - Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine

and on and on, Journalists generally lack the understanding to ask questions of religious politicians, and many of our societies have these silly social rules that 'religion is personal, it's off-limits for journalists'. And as soon as questions do get serious the Christian pols and their lackeys are baying about persecution.

But at the end of the day a fascist is a fascist, and whatever they believe in they favour thousand-year thinking, and this bunch have a theology where they will rule the earth for a thousand years - no rapture for the properity gospel crowd.
posted by unearthed at 4:16 PM on June 30 [8 favorites]


Purity Progressives being easily trolled into staying home or voting for idiot third parties

Precisely. If our "I'm not voting for Biden" friends here think the Genocide Joe memes didn't come from Team Trump, they're dreaming.

when the next primary season comes round, if we're permitted one

I think it's more a question of how many Dems will be left. We're about to find out why QAnon has been kept on a slow boil for eight years.

The cruelest fates, however, will be reserved for Michael Cohen, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger... I don't even think they can flipflop at this point.
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:13 PM on June 30 [12 favorites]


It's really not that difficult to see how badly the Democratic Party has failed to deliver a meaningful vision to its base other than "we're not as bad as the other guys ."

Kamala Harris was on 60 Minutes earlier this year, chortling about how she couldn't keep track of how many felony counts Trump had this year. Then Morley Safer asked her why they weren't polling 30 points ahead of the Republicans, and all she had to say was that come November, people will look at us, and they'll look at them, and we're gonna win... Hey, how'd that work out in 2016 with Hillary on the ballot? Oh, right, not great.

The Democrats need to deliver more than just a promise to return to 90s Clinton-era neoliberalism, because that system has never worked for almost anyone who's under 50 old and it is never coming back, and it's long gone and unsustainable anyway. And if you're still thinking the Dems' platform is fine, and their unpopularity is all the fault of "Purity Progressives," then you are a fucking dinosaur and wayyyy out of touch in your little bubble of privilege and myopia.
posted by tovarisch at 5:56 PM on June 30 [12 favorites]


The Democrats need to deliver more than just a promise to return to 90s Clinton-era neoliberalism

Bidenism is not neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is dead:
Bidenism posits industrial policy as the core answer to all of these problems. Through subsidies and direct public investment, the U.S. government can channel capital toward forms of production that render U.S. growth more sustainable and resilient to geopolitical shocks. By promoting domestic semiconductor production, the CHIPS Act mitigates America’s perilous reliance on Taiwan for those key inputs. The Inflation Reduction Act, meanwhile, encourages critical mineral mining in both the United States and allied countries; currently, China processes more than 80 percent of the world’s critical minerals. And, of course, by subsidizing the innovation and deployment of green technologies, the IRA also encourages decarbonization.
you may not like Biden-style industrial policy but it's real and it's happening
posted by BungaDunga at 6:09 PM on June 30 [20 favorites]


When people don't vote for your favored Strong Man Of Hoarsebreath, it doesn't mean they are "staying home". Lots of people don't vote because they can't get time off from work. What have you done to mitigate that? Did you vote for a guy? Because voting is not doing something. Voting is just expressing a preference, which may or may not count.

America is not "stumbling backwards into fascism". That's a stance ignorant of history. America is a rogue state, because it has flouted its own Constitution since the beginning. Over and over this has happened, and each time Americans just gloss over it and pretend that the idea of America as a duly constituted democratic republic is somehow still valid in the face of constant unconstitutional and anti-democratic behavior.
Some breaches occurred within living memory. You can't throw out stare decisis and keep the Constitution. The Constitution itself holds the US' treaties as "supreme law of the land", and breaches of treaties have taken place regularly since the beginning of "America". This is happening now and there are many living people available to explain in great detail and with the passion of the personally affected.

Left-wing movements don't begin when some charismatic figure steps to the fore. They begin when some people decide to move together. They grow when more people join in. Sometimes the movement doesn't scale well, and then it breaks apart or winds down. This is well-known and sometimes applied by design. The left, or parts of it, deliberately designs organizations to manage movements. There is no need for charismatic leaders except to appease curious outsiders. The movement moves on.

In the case I'm making, the movement is pushing away from fascism. America is, as it has all along, trying to contain or to stop this push. America wants fascism: it generates and exports fascism. Voting is good to do- perform your civic duty as you can- but it is not the only nor the primary tool of democracy.

Democracy means the people decide. Either some leaders can come together and decide for the people what they want ("representative democracy") or the people can decide together what they want. One of these is very difficult. The other one is not democracy

When you're done voting, or not voting, you don't just go home. People don't sit at home until vote time and then go home again until the next vote. If you care about democracy, you have to get with the demos. If you care about "America" I invite you to actually think about what that means, and to investigate the process of thought that takes you from your idea of America to your actions, or lack thereof, among your neighbors.
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 6:41 PM on June 30 [9 favorites]




you may not like Biden-style industrial policy but it's real and it's happening

BungaDunga, thanks for the reality check.

I'm really bummed by the large number of lefties who basically haven't taken notice of anything good that Biden's done, because of their personal loathing for the guy.

Clinton-era neoliberalism is not just dead, it's buried in a lead coffin with a stake thru its heart and a whole clip of silver bullets in its brain. If you haven't noticed this, you just haven't been paying very good attention.

Biden is straight-up protectionist on trade. He's poured tens of billions into making sure high-tech manufacturing jobs happen in the U.S. rather than abroad. He's virtually barred Chinese solar panels and EVs from getting into the U.S.

His response to the pandemic, right after he got into office, was to drop huge money bombs on ordinary people, freeze rent nationwide for almost 2 years, and attempt an enormous student loan forgiveness program (which he is still fighting to do, despite endless rounds of court obstruction).

It is the exact opposite of the austerity politics that Dems practiced from 1992 to 2016 (tho the party was already reconsidering austerity by that point -- realizing that the response after the 2008 collapse had been inadequate). In fact, Bidenomics is considerably more progressive than the policies of many of the social democratic parties in Europe... which is why our post-pandemic recovery has been so much better than the other G7 countries' recoveries. That's not my opinion -- that's a widespread consensus among economists.

I note that much of this was done with the collaboration, support, and approval of Saint Bernie... if anyone needs his sign-off to feel good about it.

Then there's Biden's environmental and energy policies (which happen to be a major focus of my day job at a specialty news publication). He has done more to shift the U.S. toward renewables and away from fossil fuels than any president in our history, by an order of magnitude... and possibly more than any other single world leader in history. He's authorized huge offshore wind farms all around the coasts of the contiguous U.S. He's repeatedly tightened auto emissions standards and power plant emission standards. His EPA has truly taken the concept of environmental justice seriously -- it's baked into every initiative they roll out now. He's thrown billions at conventional and high-speed passenger rail. The list goes on and on and on.

I'm not gonna hold my nose and vote for him again, I'm gonna vote for him again with pleasure. Is he perfect? Far from it. Is he better on progressive policy than any president in my lifetime? (Hint: I was born when Nixon was in office.) Yep -- nobody else even comes close.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:09 PM on June 30 [40 favorites]


If I get to engage in wishful thinking, it's that when the next primary season comes round, if we're permitted one, the leftists/progressives pool their cash and hire a focus group of people from all the other factions of the Democratic "Party" coalition: educated suburbanites, socially-conservative black people, retail workers, union people... you name it, everyone who *doesn't* think a "progressive firebrand" would win an election outside of a college town. Parade would-be progressive candidates in front of them and let each of them talk for ten minutes, and then pick the ones everyone else is okay with. Someone who seems like they could get along with anyone else, would be a start.

In my experience, the people who most need to do this never would.

They believe that all those folks are either (1) people who want exactly the same types of candidates they want, or (2) people who are stupid, selfish, evil, and not worth paying attention to.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:20 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I know it has not been in the news quite as often but I gotta say I'm still stuck on this whole "Boy genocide, I don't know" thing.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:12 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


drop huge money bombs on ordinary people

I'm gonna vote for him again with pleasure.
posted by iamck at 10:22 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


OK, if our economy isn't "neoliberal," then whatever economy we have now feels even worse to most of us, it isn't working for the vast majority of Americans, and the more the Democrats try to force the idea on everyone that Bidenomics has been a paradigm shift and the economy is doing fine, the more people feel gaslit and resentful towards the party. But go ahead, keep scapegoating progressives and watch yourselves lose another election.

We're overdue for a revolution in this country and one party recognizes that. Unfortunately they are fascists.
posted by tovarisch at 12:03 AM on July 1 [5 favorites]


We're overdue for a revolution in this country and one party recognizes that.

You do not, regardless, gotta hand it to them.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:14 AM on July 1 [10 favorites]


OK, if our economy isn't "neoliberal," then whatever economy we have now feels even worse to most of us, it isn't working for the vast majority of Americans, and the more the Democrats try to force the idea on everyone that Bidenomics has been a paradigm shift and the economy is doing fine, the more people feel gaslit and resentful towards the party.

Some ideas need to be separated here.

Bidenomics has been a paradigm shift. Biden's policies have been notably pro-union and pro-worker, they've helped America weather some storms better than other countries, inflation is levelling off*, and there really is a tremendous clean energy construction boom happening right now.

The economy feels bad to a lot of people. *Inflation levelling off doesn't mean prices are coming down; they're just not continuing to go up so fast. This is not in contradiction with a paradigm shift. A clean energy boom feels good. Inflation feels bad. Sometimes there is more than one feeling.

(Aside: so much of the tension between progressives and mainstream Dems seems to be focused on national-level issues, but a significant chunk of the upper-middle-class-pandering Dems whose policies are eating our paychecks are in city government.)

But go ahead, keep scapegoating progressives and watch yourselves lose another election.

calm blue ocean calm blue ocean

Being scapegoated feels bad. I want Democrats to think hard about to incorporate progressive policies and voters into their tent. Since a Democrat is more likely to advance progressive interests than a Republican, I think that in the current milieu when a Democrat loses an election, it's not just the Democrat that has lost the election, but everyone broadly left-of-center in the region served by the election.
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 5:05 AM on July 1 [10 favorites]


It's just kind of funny how almost all of Black Twitter is utilitarian in their voting and meanwhile white progressive Twitter is a mix of deontological and utilitarian...

One can talk the talk all you want about equality and anti-racism but if my fellow progressives and leftists truly want to walk the walk they need to take themselves out of their cocoons, wake the fuck up, and go listen to what Black people, especially Black ladies, are saying about this election and follow their lead.

"Love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love."
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:35 AM on July 1 [9 favorites]


whatever economy we have now feels even worse to most of us, it isn't working for the vast majority of Americans

serious question, where was this energy in 2012? Unemployment was a lot higher, bankruptcies were higher, we were still digging our way out of the Great Recession, and the whole reason why it took so long was because Obama and the Democrats stuck with the neoliberal consensus on how to respond to recessions. In 2020-21 we instead airdropped trillions of dollars into the economy and drove unemployment straight back down; this response was an enormous change from past precedent. But people are much, much, much more angry about Biden's economy than about the decade of higher unemployment post-2008.

If the lesson is "inflation matters more than anything else, it's better to destroy demand by inducing a recession" then that's just the old neoliberal consensus come back around again.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:14 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


What matters is what you can make them do.

i dunno, if mass protests around the country can't make the Dems stop a genocide, it really feels like we can't "make" them do anything
posted by numaner at 6:35 AM on July 1 [6 favorites]


people were pissed off in 2012, for sure- occupy wall street and all that- but it didn't seem to translate into widespread anger at Obama personally. But people seem pissed (from the left) with Biden to a degree that I just don't recall from 2012.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:40 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


It is getting harder and harder to stay a Democrat.

While admittedly I work inside the Beltway (but not for the USG), I find this position baffling.

The institutional Democratic Party is both doing better left policy and more *open* to left policy ideas than it has been in a long, long, long time. What matters to left policy is what you do with power. And by that standard, this White House (who annoy the shit out of me, to put it bluntly) are way better than the Obamas and way better than anything in Congress during the bleak years of GW Bush’s reign.


The far left is working hard to fortify its cognitive bubble and stay in denial about this.

Including here on Metafilter.
posted by ocschwar at 7:56 AM on July 1 [6 favorites]


The far left is working hard to fortify its cognitive bubble

The far left is, just like the freedom convoy folks, bedazzled with social media memes crafted by the fascists. That's why they are so much angrier about the Biden economy than the Obama economy.

Propaganda is very powerful and, if you have ever tried to talk a freedom convoy person down from their artificial rage, very difficult to defuse.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:08 AM on July 1 [10 favorites]


I am in awe of what the Biden administration has been able to do during this administration. Biden is the most progressive president since Roosevelt (IMO). Would any of the other candidates in that primary have done more or done better? That's unknown (I was an Elizabeth Warren supporter) but Joe Biden has pulled together an amazing administration of incredibly effective people. I have also been a strong supporter of Biden to those in my political circle who say he's old (so what? look at what he's accomplished) and declare I would vote for him if he was being held up with a stick. I completely agree with sentiments upthread concerning Biden's successes.

That said, I find the political elite of the Democratic party to be difficult to stomach. So when I say it's becoming difficult to be a Democrat it is the political elite who I am referring to. I donate to candidates, not the DNC and I work hard to elect those candidates. Is the GOP demonstrably worse? Of course. And I'm afraid for my country.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:13 AM on July 1 [4 favorites]


One can be impressed with Biden's accomplishments in this term (and thanks to those here who have highlighted them), and also wishing someone else would be the Democratic presidential nominee this time around.

But people seem pissed...

The world is a bit more unsettled at this time, and despite the good stuff happening structurally in the US, the average person is still feeling a pinch, or fear they will soon. People are anxious. And of course populists and autocrats are expert at pointing out and amplifying any anxiety.

In a democracy, you are often waging a war of feelings, not fundamentals. And I still believe that many average American don't think that they have much to fear from a Trump presidency, and/or not seeing the antidote in Biden.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:24 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


That said, I find the political elite of the Democratic party to be difficult to stomach.

The more conspiratorial side of me thinks part of that is to some degree cynical and intentional. The present elite, from the more conservative wing of the democratic party only have a narrow majority of party support. If that many more leftists and progressives get active in the party machinery, they're out of power. At some level it's in their best interest to drive the left away.

And I certainly don't think any of them are above that sort of maneuvering.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:27 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


But people seem pissed (from the left) with Biden to a degree that I just don't recall from 2012.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:40 AM


Well, I am kind pissed that Biden had such a fucking awful 'debate' performance.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:28 AM on July 1


The more conspiratorial side of me thinks part of that is to some degree cynical and intentional.

Zalzidrax - my statement was perhaps intentional but certainly not cynical. Part of my feelings of the DNC stem from what happened here in the Virginia governor's race. From a slate of outstanding primary candidates, the party put their money behind one of the candidates who is arguably one of the elites - McAulife. He was a horrible candidate and the election was lost to a trump-wannabe who, without any pushback, turned the race into CRT and crime. The conservative wing controls a lot of the financial support to candidates and decisions are made in light of their priorities. Just my view.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:33 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


If that many more leftists and progressives get active in the party machinery, they're out of power. At some level it's in their best interest to drive the left away.

You're not wrong, but that's also incomplete. They're also well aware that leftists and progressives get slaughtered in elections outside hothouse environments like college towns and gerrymandered deep-blue districts. Active leftists in the party machinery means electoral defeat and Republicans everywhere. Non-leftists can't stand leftist candidates, even though an appealing candidate who advocated for progressive policies might do pretty well. But for way too many progressives, not being enthusiastic about their awful candidates means you're stupid or evil.
posted by outgrown_hobnail at 8:41 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


good, good, let it all out. It's true - anyone to your right is evil, and anyone to your left is deluded and a little bit gross.

there, I've done it - you're absolved. go forth, and sin comment repeatedly about how correct and visionary you are in your disdain no more.
posted by sagc at 9:00 AM on July 1 [3 favorites]


Mod note: No comments deleted yet, but, let's try to avoid turning the thread into a 1-on-1 discussion.
posted by loup (staff) at 9:25 AM on July 1


I'll note that I'm actually responding to anyone claiming that people to their left are foolish dupes being led by fascists and incapable of observing reality, unlike our clear-eyed commenters.
posted by sagc at 9:31 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


The Biden administration in general has made a lot of communications missteps, in my opinion, well before the debate. Arguably it started as soon as he got in office, when people felt he had said they would get $2,000 stimulus payments, then went with $1,400 since $600 had already been given out.

I'd argue the administration has done a poor job communicating its accomplishments, its economic and governing philosophies, and its goals. I think another administration would have sent Pete Buttigieg or Kamala Harris on a trip on a new Amtrak line, for instance, and highlighted people who've benefitted concretely from the infrastructure and industrial policy programs. I think young, charismatic FTC chief Lina Khan should be much more publicly prominent in the fight against price gouging and monopolies, including on social media and podcasts. I think basically the same of Janet Yellen, who is full of energy in a way Biden frankly is not, and obviously from a different generation than Khan. Kamala Harris should have a more prominent public role—it feels like this was a goal from the beginning that was never delivered upon. It would be great to see the surgeon general take on health care affordability and access as a public health issue.

I think the administration erred seriously by not having a forceful response ready to the abortion ruling, by claiming victory on inflation while people are still dealing with elevated prices and rents, by not ever seriously rhetorically addressing the hardships, losses and anxieties of the pandemic, by reacting condescendingly and then recanting when people asked for free covid tests, by not having a clear policy aimed at getting at least middle-class-affordable housing built (complete with golden shovel photo ops), by not clearly articulating its desired policies on cannabis, and by not taking a firmer stance not only on student loans but on education costs overall.
posted by smelendez at 9:34 AM on July 1 [7 favorites]


Came to metafilter comments and learned that Biden is actually a black bloc anarchist.
posted by iamck at 12:24 PM on July 1 [6 favorites]


> The world is a bit more unsettled at this time, and despite the good stuff happening structurally in the US, the average person is still feeling a pinch, or fear they will soon.

one way to reconcile bidenomics leftward lurch away from neoliberalism -- and most people's indifference -- is that since 2019, real median household incomes have fallen (though the latest datapoint is 2022... and the census bureau could be compromised next year ;) despite dropping "huge money bombs on ordinary people." so median voter theory and all that. my takeaway isn't that bidenomics failed per se, but that it's insufficient. more leftward lurching please -- which is of course why capitalists and christofascists cahoot! this isn't new.

> On Tyranny

reading the excerpt on anticipatory obedience, "Snyder likened NBC's pre-2024 election hiring of former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel" to it, with apparently more bargaining happening now.
posted by kliuless at 7:35 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


He's authorized huge offshore wind farms all around the coasts of the contiguous U.S. He's repeatedly tightened auto emissions standards and power plant emission standards. His EPA has truly taken the concept of environmental justice seriously -- it's baked into every initiative they roll out now.

My opinion on this: fine if they are paradigm shifts, but none has produced much of anything of value yet. "All 12 of the wind farm’s towering turbines are now in place and producing enough clean electricity to power roughly 70,000 homes in Long Island, New York." America's first offshore windfarm has 12 turbines. Amarillo TX probably has thousands. 10 years from now, offshore wind will be a big deal, but now? It's marginal.

I also disagree that Bidenomics' takes 'social justice' concerns seriously, but I have a really big anti-highway bias, and it's like 85% road construction, 15% transit (maybe less) in terms of actual money. Also auto emissions in the US are a joke being played on the people and Biden didn't fix that - Telsa did, and the sanctions against Chinese EVs are an extension of his protective but dumb policies.

Again, 10-15 years from now, when maybe a high speed rail project is maybe completed, more clean energy projects are done, and electric cars have dominated the market, then he'll have a sizable legacy. But as for actual accomplishments during his term? It's not that much.

Finally, economics say most of this stuff would be done either way, unless the US really turns into a plutocracy.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:46 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


A president can both be better than the alternative, better than nothing, and not enough. That is the terrible situation the climate crisis, the neoliberal political economy, and the revolutionary reactionary politics of our times confront us with. Biden has governed much better than I would have expected, and it is not enough, and now clearly, he is not enough.

Call it unfair, call it cruel, call it doomerism, but the fact remains that your democracy is now worse off, for most of your people your economy is worse (even if the luck 10% pull the average up), your health and longevity is worse, and of course, your climate is worse than ever, even though he has done the most of any president.

9/10th of a bridge is no bridge, surviving 11 of 12 months does not bring you a new year, solving 10 out of 15 mortal challenges still leaves you lost.

The republican packed courts, the project of decades, have delivered for their patrons a system of exquisite performance. Any rule they do not like is a major question, any presidential action potentially immune or not based on SCOTUS whim, any regulation potentially an overstep, and any bribe is really just a gratuity.

The legal coup succeeded where the lumpen building-storming failed, because democrats would not obey the people who grabbed the podiums and desks in the capital riot, but they will faithfully felate the new rules as sacred, just as they embraced the filibuster, the parliamentarian, the blue-slip for judicial nominees, the bipartisan vote for republican presidential appointments, the election-year no-nomination of supreme court nominees, the censure of progressive congresswomen, the banning of funding for any firms that worked with progressive candidates, the supporting of funding for any firms that work with both republicans and democratic campaigns, and the maintenance in office of vegetables that used to be political figures.

law is a game, and you have lost. there is either another game to fight and win, or there is tyranny. Choose to build a new and more perfect union by rejecting fealty to a corrupt adhoc court and an undemocratic system.
posted by No Climate - No Food, No Food - No Future. at 10:50 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


and yet...
The key states driving the US solar power boom - "California remains the top state in terms of solar generation capacity, with just over 20,482 megawatts (MW) as of early 2024, according to the EIA and energy data platform Cleanview. That capacity sum is up by 44% since 2020, and indicates that California's generators continue to build out clean capacity at a rapid pace. However, in terms of total clean electricity generation, California has lost the top spot to Texas, which has sharply increased both wind and solar output over the past five years."[1]

in europe...
Eurelectric: renewable power generates more than half of EU’s electricity in H1 2024[2]

while globally...
Clean energy on the cusp of rolling back fossil fuels: Report[3]

the moving finger having writ, jeremy rifkin (who apparently helped convince merkel on the path of Energiewende) has talked about the information age being only half a revolution:[4]
The human race is in a twilight zone between a dying civilisation on life support and an emerging one trying to find its legs. Old identities are fracturing while new identities are too fragile to grasp. To understand our situation, we need to step back and ask: what constitutes a fundamental change in the nature of civilisation? The great turning points occur when new, more complex energy regimes converge with communications revolutions, fundamentally altering human consciousness in the process.
if an energy transition completes it -- atoms join bits (and our asses follow) -- what will replace the major institutions of the industrial age as all that is solid, once again, melts into air? in ernest gellner's formulation, the industrial revolution swept away the ancien régime's 'plough, sword and book' of the agrarian age. folks moved from farms to factories for their means of production, and science/learning establishments displaced the clergy substantially on its grip over our cognition -- and imaginations. but it wasn't immediately clear who and what would take over from feudalism, as nationalisms and ideologies erupted -- leading to great violence over control of societies' coercive powers.

it seems plutocratic capitalism now reigns, but it also doesn't look as if that center is holding. capital may be ascendant, but it is also in great abundance (for those with access) -- at least judging by interest rates that seem to keep crashing back to zero (present cycle notwithstanding) -- so much so that our modern-day robber barons go to increasingly great lengths to maintain artificial scarcities. while the new private equity warlords with their lobbyists and enablers may invade your 401(k), i'd say these would-be colonizers of your attention are losing the plot, if not people's hearts and minds and the public goods they cherish that by nature (literally!) can't be enclosed.
posted by kliuless at 2:13 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


kliuless, I'm certain you are right, that what we are seeing is the civilizational conflict where people from the old regime are struggling to hang on to their wealth and power while the new lords are trying to figure out how to assert theirs. And most of the time we are all just confused onlookers. But apart from energy and information technology, and the growing food crisis there is a connected but separate element: the demographic collapse in Europe and Asia, which is coming to the Americas sooner rather than later.
Greece introduces ‘growth-oriented’ six-day working week
Pro-business government says measure is needed due to shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers
. The US isn't feeling it much yet because of the large number of immigrants, but in Europe and Asia, shortage of labor is the biggest issue the politicians should be dealing with, but can't, because they have painted themselves up into an anti-immigrant corner. There are simply not enough people to handle the transition to green energy, and to sustainable farming.
One might think this could be outweighed by the unsustainable population growth in Africa, but even I, as a pro-immigration person, can see how the problems of scale, global warming (with its consequences for farming) and education can overwhelm everyone involved.
One aspect of the demographic collapse that the US is experiencing pre-maturely for reasons rooted in the old regime, is the exponential growth of the medical-industrial sector, both the big drug companies, the hospital and care companies, the medico-tech and the bio-tech companies, all necessary for dealing with an aging population in bad health. This sector spans the old and the new, and will probably survive whatever it is that we stand before now. But they are sector that benefits mostly from ordered, well-functioning societies. Yes, the seedy bottom feeders will get rich from distributing opiates to the weakest in Western societies and milk substitutes to the weakest in the developing world, but the big machine likes wide-spread functioning healthcare that can pay huge amounts for hospitals with well-educated doctors and nurses distributing expensive medicines. I wonder how that will affect the medical-industrial sector's input in the struggle.
posted by mumimor at 3:38 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


people from the old regime are struggling to hang on to their wealth and power

... I think it's more the case that the powerful people have read the tea leaves. They have finally figured out that you can't have limitless growth on a finite planet, and they know that there is and will continue to be pain and disruption as we bump up against the planet's limits. Already it's understood that the current and future generations are not likely to do better than the preceding ones, as they are forced to pick up the cheque for their elders' overindulgence.

So, those with the means are squirrels busily hoarding nuts for a coming winter. There's going to be winners and losers, and moats and walls must be funded to protect the winnings.

This mostly unspoken conclusion is a big, perhaps the primary driver of the stepped-up rush for wealth accumulation, and why even the middle class is cooling on progressive goals, and ok with weakening governments, and greenlighting tax cuts and other moves that facilitate wealth hoarding.

I came into 2024 very cynical about the world, and so far it's not failed to not disappoint. I'm still enough of a (Tom) Swiftie to believe/hope that once again we'll eventually wizard ourselves past the current crises, but this time around there will be serious and lasting pain for more than a few of the planet's inhabitants. And some of the current crises have nukes or famine in the mix.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:10 AM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Already it's understood that the current and future generations are not likely to do better than the preceding ones, as they are forced to pick up the cheque for their elders' overindulgence.

Take a look at this chart of comparable generational wealth. It's easy to see why Gen-X is so cynical. The median millennial has 2X the net worth of Gen-X going into their 30s, after the majority of their college debt is paid off, and they have more money than boomers at every relative (ie: at the same age) income decile too. You could probably make the point that maybe Gen-X and boomers got some stuff for free that Millennials have to pay for, so it's not a 100% like for like, but higher paying jobs and increasing access to college education are having positive effects. That's not to say there aren't plenty of suffering millennials in terms of income. Heck yes there are. But they are not as a 'generation' suffering, and currently they are doing better than their predecessors.

Gen-X wasn't. They are right to be cynical.

Of course, this says nothing about what is going to happen in the future either.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:46 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Interesting charts, thanks. The data are US only. They do acknowledge showing exceptional gains concentrated at the top end of the wealth deciles (2nd chart). They don't show the bottom 10% decile, but mention in the text that the gen Xers and millenials in that bottom slice are doing notably worse (...more debt, even after inflation adjustment) than boomers.

Here's an older article showing percentage of wealth held by different age cohorts, against time that seems to suggest different conclusions about the change in relative wealth of the different groups.

Also consider house prices, which have shot up more steeply than inflation, leading to a decline in home ownership in the younger cohorts, compared with boomers when they were the same age. And of course we know about being "house-poor" once you're in.

There are some smoke and mirrors in the currently low unemployment stats; many of the new jobs are low-paying no-benefits gig and part-time work.

Age aside, the rich have definitely gotten disproportionately richer.

But again thanks for the data. I'm maybe shooting from the hip more than I should, and I will keep looking for data. But then there's perception: why exactly do the younger generations feel more anxious and pessimistic about their futures?
posted by Artful Codger at 3:06 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


There are some smoke and mirrors in the currently low unemployment stats; many of the new jobs are low-paying no-benefits gig and part-time work.

this report says that the strongest wage growth has been in the lowest deciles. all else being equal, that should compress inequality
posted by BungaDunga at 3:32 PM on July 3


of course, both things can be true: the 1% are concentrating wealth, but among the 99%, there's been more real wage growth at the bottom end than at the top or middle.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:35 PM on July 3


US minimum wage vs time. Not shown: states who have higher min wage.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:37 PM on July 3


that report does talk a lot about minimum wages and finds that
Low-wage workers experienced fast wage growth in all states, regardless of changes to their minimum wage. Even in states without an increase to their minimum wage, low-wage workers experienced a 7.3% wage increase between 2019 and 2023. Also, low-end wages grew about 50% faster in states with minimum wage changes compared to states without any change in their minimum wage, 11.0% versus 7.3%... We need to lock in the real wage gains that occurred for low-wage workers over the last four years. Increasing the federal minimum wage is the best way to do that.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:44 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


One of the things that Shepherd and I griped about--with today's election in the UK, the impending US one, and next year's in Canada--is why ostensibly liberal parties (Labour/Democrats/Liberals) race to the middle instead of the actual left. The middle benefits only the comfortable.
posted by Kitteh at 7:54 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


That's a funny perspective. One of the worst things about the US political system is that a blend of policy leanings - eg social progressive but also pro-business - is almost unthinkable. R or D; choose. You can't properly represent the breadth of policy options and political thought with just two parties.

The UK, Canada and many other western countries have more than two parties. Which means that yes, you can end up having a party whose ideals place them near to the center of political thought. In Canada the Liberals are a centrist party, the New Democrats are the champions of the left.

In Canada, people are much less likely than Americans to vote out of habit or identity. It's common here for a voter to switch support depending on dissatisfaction with the incumbent, or to support a specific new policy proposal, or to choose an outstanding individual on the local or higher level.

The middle doesn't have to be pablum or status quo. Centrist parties are often the way progressive ideas actually get implemented.

(and it's also limiting to think that all political ideas fit neatly on a single left-right axis)
posted by Artful Codger at 2:56 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]


That's fair. I mean, I dream of an NDP majority and PM myself, but I know that even here in Canada, that is very unlikely.
posted by Kitteh at 3:01 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


... but remember Alberta elected Rachel Notley as premier! Hope springs eternal...
posted by Artful Codger at 3:05 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Artful Codger, thank you for that - this is something that's been bothering me for years. The binary, black-or-white, R-or-D team sports version of politics is not how most countries work, and it does an absolute shit job of doing what political parties are supposed to do - represent the will of the people. People are complex creatures and do not do well being crammed into boxes.

Unfortunately I think a lot of Americans have let the team sports version of politics warp their view of how politics are supposed to work - I have multiple otherwise very smart left-leaning friends who are stuck in that binary mindset and simply cannot grasp that it's possible to be, say, pro-business on certain issues but pro-government or even far leftist on other issues. Or, say, pro-social healthcare and also for reasonable limits on immigration. I think it's a system (and mindset) that has done massive damage and does not get the attention it deserves. Hell I didn't realize it myself until I moved abroad.

Sadly it's not an easy problem to solve.
posted by photo guy at 11:53 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


In the UK election yesterday, Labour just took almost 2/3 of the seats in their Parliament. They more than doubled their seat count. A landslide, if there ever was one.The reigning Conservatives lost more than 2/3 of the seats they had.

In the US, if one party ekes out a 53%/47% victory, that's called a landslide.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:17 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]


That's fair. I mean, I dream of an NDP majority and PM myself, but I know that even here in Canada, that is very unlikely.

It happened in Ontario and the media went batshit crazy and started an all out opposition media campaign from day one of the Ontario NDP government under Bob Rae and ultimately sank the government. The big press issue was unpaid days off for the government that the press labelled "Rae Days".

The crazy thing is after it was all over everyone got shafted even worse by the Common Sense Revolution of Mike Harris and people would probably have loved to have had the chance to go back and settle for the horror of 'Rae Days'.
posted by srboisvert at 6:56 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


In the UK election yesterday, Labour just took almost 2/3 of the seats in their Parliament. They more than doubled their seat count... In the US, if one party ekes out a 53%/47% victory, that's called a landslide.

2/3 of the seats but less than 35% of the popular vote. First-past-the-post is weird.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:46 PM on July 5


US voter turnout.

In 2020, Biden won with 51.3% (!) of the popular vote, and the voter turnout was unusually high ay 66%
. 2/3rds of 51.3% is 33.9%. So Biden was elected by less than 34% of eligible voters.

About a third of the under-30s didn't vote.

If those two links don't convince every American that their leaders win/lose on the thinnest of margins, so voting matters... I dunno.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:20 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


> There are simply not enough people to handle the transition to green energy, and to sustainable farming. One might think this could be outweighed by the unsustainable population growth in Africa, but even I, as a pro-immigration person, can see how the problems of scale, global warming (with its consequences for farming) and education can overwhelm everyone involved.

coming late to this, but gordon brown comes to mind -- as UN Special Envoy for Global Education :P
The link between climate change, forced displacement, and education has never been more glaring. Without a global mobilization to devise more creative solutions and ensure the necessary resources, the education crisis will only worsen, depriving tens of millions of children, and their countries, of the futures they deserve.
and robots![1]

also btw, critically, i think it helps to interrogate 'wealth and power' -- what does 'wealth accumulation' mean in a post-industrial age? during the feudal-agrarian age, wars were fought over land. in national-industrial society the scarce resource was capital.[2,3] if we're living in an attention economy, i'd argue it's know-how -- technology. witness the chip wars. i like this more general formulation:[4,5,6,7]
And therein lies the difference between a poor society and a prosperous one. It isn’t the amount of money that a society has in circulation, whether dollars, euros, beads, or wampum. Rather, it is the availability of the things that create well-being—like antibiotics, air conditioning, safe food, the ability to travel, and even frivolous things like video games. It is the availability of these “solutions” to human problems—things that make life better on a relative basis—that makes us prosperous.

This is why prosperity in human societies can’t be properly understood by just looking at monetary measures of income or wealth. Prosperity in a society is the accumulation of solutions to human problems.

These solutions run from the prosaic, like a crunchier potato chip, to the profound, like cures for deadly diseases. Ultimately, the measure of a society’s wealth is the range of human problems that it has found a way to solve and how available it has made those solutions to its citizens... The more and better solutions available to us, the more prosperity we have.
but what is the political unit of an attention economy? its systems of control -- you and what army? -- that comprise and command its coercive institutions? if the tribe defined hunter-gatherer political life, fiefdoms -- from lord to emperor -- agrarian civilization, and working-class armies (rather than nobility) bound by nationalism were fodder for industrial warfare, are there post-national groupings[8,9] out there that make more sense -- are more stable/effective -- than the current lot?

or, how can we more effectively harness collective cognition?[10,11,12]
posted by kliuless at 1:23 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]




One of the things that Shepherd and I griped about--with today's election in the UK, the impending US one, and next year's in Canada--is why ostensibly liberal parties (Labour/Democrats/Liberals) race to the middle instead of the actual left. The middle benefits only the comfortable.

The largest single voting bloc in the Democratic coalition is what the Pew Research Center calls the "Democratic Mainstays", but who might better be described as multiracial moderates:
Democratic Mainstays

Racially diverse, older, steadfast Democrats: Economically liberal, pro-military and moderate on immigration and social issues

Democratic Mainstays are one of the largest groups in the political typology and the largest single group as a share of the Democratic coalition. They generally favor policies that expand the social safety net and support higher taxes on corporations. But they are somewhat more hawkish than other Democratic-oriented groups on foreign policy and less liberal on immigration policy and some social issues. ...

Democratic Mainstays also are more religiously observant than other Democratic-oriented groups. ... Democratic Mainstays are slightly older and have less formal education than other Democratic-oriented groups. They are the group with the largest share of Black non-Hispanic adults (26%), and six-in-ten are women.
This is the actual base of the Democratic party electorate. They are the voters who delivered the nomination to Biden in 2020 (and 2024).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:26 AM on July 18


Artifice_Eternity: and that's fine! But it means that those of us on the actual left don't feel any obligation to or solidarity with the Democrats. We're not actually in the coalition except when the aforementioned moderates need to blame us for their candidates losing!
posted by adrienneleigh at 11:03 AM on July 18


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