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Note to Cynical Liberals and Useful Idiots

“Cynicism is nothing but intellectual cowardice”.
~ Henry Rollins

“Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.”
~ Peggy Noonan

“A cynic is a coward …. Cynicism always takes the easy way out. It is a form of laziness that provides someone with an excuse for not making any attempt to change the world …. Cynicism is a way to hide …. Cynics are afraid …. So, instead, they pass judgment on anyone who is trying to make a difference. They ridicule the efforts of individuals and organizations that are working hard under incredibly difficult circumstances …. Being cynical is often thought of as being composed and detached. It is considered to be a sign of sophistication. Cynics are mistakenly given credit for possessing a deep awareness regarding the limits of what humans can accomplish which is somehow lacking in those who spend their time in passionate efforts to change the world …. Being filled with cynicism is indeed a cowardly and sad way to go through life. ”

~ Michael Crawley

I came across one of the best examples I’ve seen of what is wrong with US politics and the American public. It’s a blog post by someone who calls himself the Rude Pundit.

He theoretically is for Bernie Sanders, but in the end he is a blind ignoramus partisan Democrat. As a Sanders supporter, he said to someone who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Tennessee primary that he should tell those feeling the Bern that, “Oh, tell them to shut the fuck up. They’re gonna vote for Hillary and they fuckin’ know it.”

This guy is the Rude Pundit. And he lives up to the name. But I’d just call him a clueless asshole. The motto of his blog states, “Proudly lowering the level of political discourse.” Well, mission accomplished! Not just the level of discourse, reading his blog will also lower your level of intelligence.

Explaining a bit of where he is coming from and the swell kind of guy he is, he writes:

Look, this here blogger is a future Bernie Sanders voter when the primary rolls around. He’s not a slavering Bernie whore, ready to take all the Bernie chowder he can handle the way he was with Obama in 2008. But, as the Rude Pundit’s said before, Bernie’s beliefs line up with his own better than Hillary’s, so logic would seem to dictate that he vote his heart here. However, he is well aware that Hillary Clinton may end up winning the Democratic nomination for president. In that case, he’ll go to the middle school down the street in the fall and hit a button for Hillary. How is this even a question?

Jesus Freakin’ Christ! Did he really admit to being an Obama knob gobbler? I saw right through Obama’s bullshit in 2008. That didn’t take a genius. Sanders is pretty much just a moderate progressive, somewhat in the New Deal tradition, although nowhere near as far left as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Compared to Sanders, Obama looks like a right-winger. I never thought Obama was going to particularly change anything and I wasn’t disappointed. Anyway, because the Neutered Pundit was stupid and gullible in 2008, he has learned his lesson and so will vote for Clinton if she is nominated. WTF!?!

This is why I despise Democrats and all partisan politics. I barely can get excited by Sanders’ campaign. The only reason I support him at all is because he is broadening the range of possible issues to be discussed in this campaign season. But for damn sure I’m not behind him because he is a Democrat. As far as I care, the Democratic Party and all of the lame liberals who suck on its teats can go to Hell, riding along on their road paved of good intentions.

I’m not a Democrat. And I’m not a welfare cutting, corporatist deregulating neoliberal. Nor for that matter am I a war hawk, tough-on-crime neocon. I don’t particularly favor oligarchy, plutocracy, crony capitalism, big money special interests, or any other such crap. So, why would I be so idiotic and masochistic as to vote for the likes of Clinton? To be honest, Trump is more of a progressive than entire Clinton dynasty combined. The Donald might end up reforming government just by accident.

To continue with the Clueless Pundit:

Everyone pretends like there is some Rosetta Stone to understanding some aspect of Hillary Clinton’s putative corruption or criminality, some email that says she personally ordered the Benghazi attack, some document that says she killed Vince Foster to protect her lesbian cocaine affairs, some speech where she explicitly promised endless golden whores to Wall Street executives. This shit is like searching for Bigfoot. You see something move in the forest and instead of being satisfied chasing a deer, it’s gotta be a giant, mythical man-beast. Except it’s always just a deer unless you are delusional or full of shit.

Apparently, he is both delusional and full of shit. Wanting information to be released so that voters can make an informed decision is what is called democracy. He is pretending to be obtuse about why this matters.

‘Cause, see, this Sanders voter understands the motherfucking system as a shitstorm of mindless, violent jingoism competing with people who are trying to keep the whole fucking place from falling apart. The Rude Pundit wants Sanders to be the nominee. But he wants Donald Trump or Ted Cruz not to be president even more. Like his support of Sanders over Clinton, it’s just that simple, logical an equation. And if his vote for Clinton in the general will prevent the nation from being ass-raped by the cruel nativism and brutalist capitalism of the GOP, then he has a moral and ethical obligation to do it, even if we take every negative thing said about Clinton as true. It’s still not as bad as Trump running the joint.

It’s pure cynicism, realpolitik all the way. It’s lesser evil voting, no matter how evil it gets. So, if Hitler and Mussolini were the two main choices for president, the Cynical Pundit would be forced to hold his nose while voting for the latter because at least Mussolini didn’t send a bunch of Jews to death camps. How about not voting for either?

I’m not joking. It’s lesser evil voting that pushes the US ever closer to all out authoritarianism. It’s decades of lesser evil voting by Democrats that has made possible the rise to dominance of the reactionary right-wing and has made inevitable someone like Trump.

Like nearly every Bernie voter, he’s gonna line the fuck up, shut the fuck up, and punch that touch screen for Hillary. Or he deserves whatever fucking hell awaits on the other side.

He should wake the fuck up instead of lining the fuck up. Democracy really does matter. We either defend democracy or it dies a horrible death.

People like this, I just don’t understand. Did they ever care about democracy? Heck, do they even understand what democracy is and why it matters? Or have they simply given up on everything but fear, endless fear? This guy expresses no sense of hope. If the Democratic Party is the best we’ve got going for us, then we’re doomed anyway. What’s the point?

It’s like being in prison. There are all these dangerous and violent criminals surrounding you. Knowing you’re a wimp, you fear for your life. So, you look for the biggest, meanest looking goon around and you offer yourself up to be his personal bitch to take his big cock up your ass, in exchange for protection. You don’t fight the system, you don’t challenge why you were imprisoned in the first place, you don’t try to escape. No, you accept this horrible, unjust fate and try to make the best of it. Hey, maybe decorate your cell to make it feel more like home.

I came across the Rude Pundit’s post because a person I know posted it on social media. It seems this expressed their own views. In the comment section, my acquaintance wrote:

Resolved: Many of the Bernie supporters who would never, ever sully themselves with a Hillary vote are hipster dudebros trying to get laid.

This guy is smart. He is politically informed. Way above average. He is even a professional writer and makes a living publishing his own magazine—small and independent alternative media, I might add. But, Lordy Lordy!, that comment is beneath him… or so I hope. It’s just snarky and condescending, not to mention trying too hard to be clever or something. The sad part is, in making a statement like that, he comes off sounding like a hipster dudebro.

I’m familiar with this kind of person. They are liberals of a particular variety. It’s what happens to liberals when cynicsm comes to rule their minds. Their souls have shriveled up like a man’s ding-a-ling in icy cold water.

There are few things more sad and pathetic than a liberal turned cynical. Such cynicism easily becomes intellectual cowardice. That is what makes it dangerous, for a liberal under the influence of cynicism has no limit beyond which they won’t descend. Like a beaten dog the come cowering back. Like Charlie Brown, they think this time Lucy will let them kick the football.

Let me be clear. I’m not in the mood to be tolerant of intellectual cowardice. Democrats have been dismissing me for my entire adult life, telling me that I’m wasting my vote or else blaming me for the failure of the two party system. I’m plain tired of the endless bullshit. I can’t take it anymore… and I won’t.

If you want to criticize Sanders in favor of third party candidates, then I’m listening. If you think that the corporatist duopoly is beyond being saved, I’ll nod my head in agreement. There are reasonable arguments to be made. People have a right to be angry, maybe even a moral responsibility. But don’t give me hipster cynicism, an ironic stance of being too cool and above it all. Don’t hide behind intellectual cowardice and clever words. Get mad and get righteous, rant and scream. Just don’t be led quietly along. Don’t keep in line, never questioning where it leads. Take a stand and hold your ground.

Here is where I stand. My fight isn’t for a particular candidate nor for a particular party. Rather, my fight is against ignorance, apathy, and cynicism. I’m not a Bernie knob gobbler. But I am a slavering democracy whore.

No one will ever convince me to vote against democracy. I won’t compromise democracy, for without democracy there is nothing left to fight for other than the coming revolution. I’m one of those weirdos who would like to prevent revolution. But there will be no preventing revolution if worthless liberals remain lapdogs of power, rolling over at any potential threat.

Bernie Sanders isn’t a step too far. If we are to be honest, he is nowhere near far enough. We need a stronger political left and grassroots movement to keep liberals honest. Don’t get me wrong, though. We can’t dismiss anyone in our seeking change. The last great American populist movement cut across ideological lines, not just the divide between left-wingers and liberals, but reached far even into the political right. Liberals who think they can go it alone are delusional. Then again, the same goes for left-wingers and right-wingers that hope to force change from the fringe.

We need a new vision, one radical enough to inspire and yet broad enough to bridge ideological chasms. What we don’t need is yet more of the same cynicism that brought us to this point of crisis.

* * *

 

VIDEO: Chris Hedges: In Extreme Times, ‘Liberals Are a Dead Force’ (Part 1 of 3)
interview by Paul Jay, Truthdig

But Paine understood power in a way that Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, all of the leaders leaders, Adams, didn’t, because if you go back and look, when they began their revolt, they were hoping to make an accommodation with the British Crown. And Paine said, you don’t understand how imperialism works, you don’t understand the hubris that comes with that kind of power, you don’t understand that these people are not interested in making an accommodation with you. And so he served many vital functions, not least of which was articulating the call for revolution, not only in Common Sense, but in the Crisis papers. He was by far the most read author of the 18th century, both in Britain and the United States.

Hedges Laments The ‘Death Of The Liberal Class’
interview by Neal Conan, Talk of the Nation, NPR

Economic collapse almost certain to spiral into violence and totalitarianism, environmental disaster. Writer Chris Hedges argues that he knows who’s responsible for that bleak future: the Democratic Party.

Churches, unions, the media, artists and academia, the liberal establishment, as he calls them. Whether the motive was fear, careerism or self-preservation, Hedges argues that timid liberals marginalized themselves, purged the radicals in their own ranks and sold out.

Without a powerful liberal class to check the excesses of capitalism and corporate power, global warming and class warfare could inaugurate centuries of barbarism, he writes.

Liberals Are Useless
by Chris Hedges, Truthdig

Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama—as if he reads them—asking the president to come back to his “true” self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.

I am not disappointed in Obama. I don’t feel betrayed. I don’t wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don’t dislike Obama—I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor—though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.

“You have a tug of war with one side pulling,” Ralph Nader told me when we met Saturday afternoon. “The corporate interests pull on the Democratic Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a ‘least-worst’ voter you don’t want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don’t want to disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point. What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can’t afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral compass.”

I save my anger for our bankrupt liberal intelligentsia of which, sadly, I guess I am a member. Liberals are the defeated, self-absorbed Mouse Man in Dostoevsky’s “Notes From Underground.” They embrace cynicism, a cloak for their cowardice and impotence. They, like Dostoevsky’s depraved character, have come to believe that the “conscious inertia” of the underground surpasses all other forms of existence. They too use inaction and empty moral posturing, not to affect change but to engage in an orgy of self-adulation and self-pity. They too refuse to act or engage with anyone not cowering in the underground. This choice does not satisfy the Mouse Man, as it does not satisfy our liberal class, but neither has the strength to change. The gravest danger we face as a nation is not from the far right, although it may well inherit power, but from a bankrupt liberal class that has lost the will to fight and the moral courage to stand up for what it espouses.

An Interview with Chris Hedges
interview by David Barsamian, The Progressive

The press doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s one of the pillars of the liberal establishment. So I decided to write about all of the traditional pillars of the liberal establishment—not just the press, but liberal religious institutions, higher education, culture, labor, and, of course, the Democratic Party—and show how the foundations of the liberal state have been degraded or destroyed.

When you have a liberal class that no longer functions, when those people who traditionally defend and care about a civil society no longer do so, then you cede power to very frightening, deformed figures, all of which we are watching leap up around the fringes of our political establishment—this lunatic fringe, which has largely taken over the Republican Party. And the legitimate rage on the part of working men and women is directed not only towards government but, I think quite correctly, towards liberals, who speak in a very hypocritical language about caring for their interests and yet support institutions that carry out an assault against working men and women. […]

The disappointment with Obama comes from people who don’t understand the structure of power. The charade of politics is to make voters think that the personal narrative of the candidate affects the operation of the corporate state. It doesn’t really matter on the fundamental issues whether the President is Republican or Democratic. The imperial projects will continue, Wall Street will be unimpeded in its malfeasance and criminal activity, social programs will continue to be cut, maybe not at the same speed as under a Republican Administration, but it’s all headed in the same direction. […]

He never presented himself as a peace candidate, to be fair to him. This was just wishful thinking on the part of the left. He talked about downsizing in Iraq. But, remember, at the time he was saying that Afghanistan was the war we really have to fight. So the failure was not Obama but the fecklessness of the left, which was seduced by the propaganda. People believed somehow that he didn’t really mean what he was saying, that once in office he would carry out a progressive agenda. But if you look at the two-year voting record he had in the Senate, it’s awful. It’s one corporate giveaway after another. There wasn’t a bill he supported that wasn’t an embrace of corporatism. I got the voting record, I read it, and I made my decision to vote based on that voting record. And that’s what we all should have done. […]

I think that it was an understanding that the two-party system, the corporate duopoly, no longer functions to further the rights or interests of citizens, and that the longer we’re fooled by this belief that reform can come through these formal structures of power, the more disempowered we’re going to become.

If we don’t hold fast to our moral principles, nobody’s going to. We don’t have to have a majority, but once ten, fifteen, twenty million people start voting left, we’ll scare the piss out of the Democrats, and they’ll have to respond. But they’re not going to respond to us until that happens.

We are facing another economic meltdown. The ecosystem, on which the human species depends for life, is being destroyed at a rate that has not even been anticipated by climate scientists. We don’t have a lot of time left. So either we get out and fight or we’re finished. Fear is the only thing the Democratic Party has to offer—fear that the Republican Party is worse.

The question is, how do you stop the power elite from doing as much damage to you as possible? That comes through movements. It’s not our job to take power. You could argue that the most powerful political figure in April of 1968 was Martin Luther King. And we know Johnson was terrified of him. We have to accept that all of the true correctives to American democracy came through these movements that never achieved formal political power and yet frightened the political establishment enough to respond.

The last liberal President we had was Richard Nixon. He signed the Mine Health and Safety Act, and he agreed to create OSHA and the EPA, not because he was a liberal but because we still had the remnants of movements that scared him.

So it’s time to turn your back on the Democrats and begin to regain a new kind of democratic militancy. If we don’t do that, if we remain fearful, then we will be further stripped of power as we barrel towards this neofeudalistic state where there is a world of masters and serfs, a kind of permanent underclass. That’s what’s happening; that’s what’s being created. Rapacious corporate business interests have shattered all kinds of regulations and controls. They have carried out a coup d’etat in slow motion. And it’s over; they’ve won.

Liberal Pundits Aren’t Amused By Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Anymore—They’re Terrified
by Kevin Gosztola, In These Times

Democrats, along with President Obama’s administration, have spent the last eight years protecting capitalism from populist calls for reform, which would diminish the power and influence of corporations. The Affordable Health Care Act was a prime example, where Medicare for All was immediately taken off the table, and the political party manipulated citizens into believing requiring private insurance companies to offer insurance to all consumers was the best that could be accomplished.

It is one thing to vote for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, who are more than happy to serve the moneyed elite, if you actually believe in what she stands for as a presidential candidate. But it is quite another thing to delude people into voting for her simply because it is your view that Bernie Sanders’ vision is difficult to make a reality. That position accepts the status quo and embraces a politics of low expectations, where the best elected officials can do is triage the effect of wealth and power becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of the few.

Is Bernie Sanders an American Empire Denier?
by Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

Setting himself up as a one-man vanguard to define socialism on behalf of the benighted and brainwashed masses, Hedges preaches with the certainty of those who have seen the light and know the way to secular salvation, whether in Athens, Barcelona, or Peoria. But he loses himself in a sectarian wilderness, offering no way to get from where we are to where we want to go.

Welcome to the old-time religion. In nearly every American election, purists like Hedges push the left into the same sterile debate. Should we fight within the Democratic Party, where we will likely be co-opted? Or should we create a third party, where we will likely be ineffective? Both are usually dead ends, convincing many of us to put the majority of our energy into organizing and direct action outside the electoral and Congressional arena, as we did in the civil rights, free speech, and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

But that was then, this is now. Thanks primarily to the energy and common-sense proposals of Bernie Sanders, millions of Americans have opened their minds to the possibility of a democratic and egalitarian control of the economy, which is not a bad working definition of socialism for the 21st century. We need to talk to, work with, and learn from these Americans, and most of them will vote in the Democratic primaries.

A Response to Chris Hedges Concerning Bernie Sanders
by Vincent Emanuele, ZNET

Without doubt, a lot of smart and talented organizers are working on Sanders’ campaign. It would be useful to challenge these folks. The Left can do so, but only by approaching these activists and organizers with respect, not by mocking or dismissing their efforts.

If the Left consistently isolates itself during election cycles, or sits on the sidelines, making armchair critiques, while offering very limited alternatives like voting for the Green Party/Jill Stein, how can we expect people to become radicalized? Moreover, why should people even pay attention to us?

Leftists can formulate devastating critiques, but we can’t organize for shit. And that is the Left’s primary dilemma: the inability to provide alternatives to the dominant political parties and institutions of our time. When people are exposed to the Left, they are often turned-off by the experience. Until the Left can provide serious alternatives, we’ll be relegated to the sidelines.

In the end, the Left should spend more time looking in the mirror, and less time critiquing liberals.

Liberalism and the Millennials
by Corey Robin

The only reason Clinton and her supporters on Twitter can so reflexively attack Sanders over this issue—not his support for the Sandinistas or Castro, but his opposition to US intervention—is that, thanks to two decades of liberal support for regime change and humanitarian intervention, the whole discourse of liberal anti-interventionism has practically disappeared from the scene. Today, the only solid and reliable anti-interventionists you can find are either left-wing anti-imperialists, paleo- or other brands of conservative at outlets like The American Conservative, or an ever narrowing circle of IR realists like Steve Walt.

Which brings me to the millennials. I know a number of young leftists, in their 20s or early 30s, who have no experience or memory of this liberal anti-interventionism that I’ve been describing here. When they think liberal, they think of the Clintons and their allies, who are not only terrible on the issue of US power around the world, but also terrible on the question of economic justice and equality at home. They have no memory of a generation of left liberals who fought firmly for labor unions, who pushed hard for universal health care, public housing, and the like. They have no memory of a young Arthur Schlesinger rejecting Communism but nevertheless affirming that “class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination.”

For liberals or leftists of my generation, or for even older liberals and leftists, the discourse of anti-liberalism on the left has a resonance. It calls to mind some of the most bruising battles of the 20th century—Communists against parliamentary socialists, Popular Fronters and Henry Wallace Progressives against the Americans for Democratic Action, Irving Howe-style socialists against the New Left, and so on. For someone like myself, who identifies with the left but who nevertheless has a great deal of respect for the tradition of liberalism, it is imperative that there be a good and productive tension between liberalism and the left.

So I can imagine when liberals and leftists of my generation, or those who are even older, hear the flat refusal of millennials on the left to even entertain the possibility of a dialogue with liberalism, it can seem scary, like a return to some of the worst moments of intra-liberal/left fratricide. But this is where history can get in the way. For the millennials, the bankruptcy of liberalism is not Walter Reuther or Hubert Humphrey or A. Phillip Randolph or Bayard Rustin; it’s Clinton, Clinton, and Clinton.

The gulf today between liberalism and the left is not of the millennials’ or even of the left’s making; it’s the product of a liberalism that has been moving right for decades and that, whatever feints to the left it has been making more recently, still has some way to go before there can be a useful and productive dialogue of difference.

 

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33 thoughts on “Note to Cynical Liberals and Useful Idiots

  1. There hasn’t been too many things that have pissed me off more than the post by the Rude Pundit. It was an audacious combination of cynical liberalism, useful idiocy, condescending arrogance, hipster cleverness, etc. It is dismissive and yet it lacks any passion or conviction.

    The author pretends to not care, but I think that is bullshit. Someone who never cared would never bother at all. This is a person who has given up on not just on democracy but life itself.

    All that he has left is his ironic stance to protect him from a harsh world. He has given up and given into it. He sees no point in fighting and so he attacks those who still have a spirit to fight, in order to assuage his own sense of guilt and failure.

    Worse still, such a person shows neither insight nor self-awareness. It’s not exactly belligerence. It’s more of someone who once opened their eyes and saw the world, but didn’t like what they saw and so closed their eyes again. I couldn’t necessarily even call this willful ignorance. I don’t know that this person is ignorant at all, but there is an obvious lack of thoughtfulness. If he were to think too deeply about any of it, he might start to care again.

    There is an incomprehension in it. For some reason, it is beyond his capacity to understand someone who would hold to their principles and not sell out.

  2. Posts like this show how much of an INFP I am.

    What the Rude Pundit wrote I found personally offensive, in an INFP sense. It was a lack or betrayal of principles. I’m not sure which would be worse, lack or betrayal. Either way, my dominant Introverted Feeling does not approve.

    If you don’t have anything worthy to say, then it’s best to remain silent. Attacking those who actually are trying to contribute and make the world better is just being an asshole.

  3. Well, I shall wade in again, as I did a few years ago when you made these same points, conflating practicality with liberal cynicism in the context of presidential voting, and otherwise proclaiming assumptively, and on my behalf, that demos and repubs are all the same somehow. I respect your appreciation for third parties, even admire it, and have voted third party many times. And I’m an anarcho-syndicalist of sorts. Yet I respectfully and profoundly disagree with you asserting that my likely eventual vote for Clinton makes me a cynic, in any useful sense of the term, or that I’m ‘destroying democracy’ thereby. You may, once again, tell me to fuck off, or whatever it was you said in your apoplexy at the time, but I’m not going to sit here and let you proclaim yourself the keeper of the flame of liberalism and democracy again, on the strength of your unique insight about Nader or anyone in the Green party being the best theoretical candidate, nor based on your notion of just what constitutes acceptable morality in the realm of my particular vote. I don’t live in a theoretical world, with only your principles to guide: i live in one in which Trump could beat Clinton, the one where Bush beat Gore and then killed a half-million Iraqis in my name, for about 2 Trillion dollars.

    In the end, the Left should spend more time looking in the mirror, and less time critiquing liberals.

    • “conflating practicality with liberal cynicism”

      I’ve never in my life made an argument against practicality. But I have often argued against cynicism of all varieties. Also, I wouldn’t limit cynicism to liberals. Nor would I argue that there is any inherent connection between practicality and cynicism.

      In this post, none of that was part of my thought process. I actually see the attitude expressed in the linked blog post as impractical. Or at least it shows no evidence of being concerned about practicality and its results.

      “proclaiming assumptively, and on my behalf, that demos and repubs are all the same somehow”

      I also don’t argue that Democrats and Republicans are the same. I have written endlessly over the years about the differences. In particular, I’ve often referred to “Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others”
      by James Gilligan. The evidence is clear that the differences are real and matter. I’ve stated this openly many times in posts and comments.

      “Yet I respectfully and profoundly disagree with you asserting that my likely eventual vote for Clinton makes me a cynic, in any useful sense of the term, or that I’m ‘destroying democracy’ thereby.”

      You’re free to have your opinion. But there isn’t much evidence to support that a vote for Clinton can lead to much good, at least from a liberal perspective. My criticism of her is because she is a conservative. Voting for her is a vote for conservatism. I guess it depends if you support conservatism or not. I don’t, at least not mainstream American conservatism.

      “You may, once again, tell me to fuck off, or whatever it was you said in your apoplexy at the time, but I’m not going to sit here and let you proclaim yourself the keeper of the flame of liberalism and democracy again, on the strength of your unique insight about Nader or anyone in the Green party being the best theoretical candidate, nor based on your notion of just what constitutes acceptable morality in the realm of my particular vote.”

      I honestly don’t remember what I may or may not have said to you. I don’t mince words. I never have and I never will.

      I’ve never proclaimed myself any such thing. If you knew anything about my views, you’d know that over the years I’ve explored how complex and diverse liberalism is. I would have thought you were familiar enough with my writings to know that about me.

      About Nader, I’ve never proclaimed much about him at all, in terms of specifics. I voted for him, but I’ve never worshiped him or anything. I don’t even follow his career.

      I’ve also never told anyone who to vote for. I have made clear what particular votes will likely result in. As I said above, if you like conservatism, then vote Clinton. It’s just not liberalism in any normal sense of the word.

      “I don’t live in a theoretical world, with only your principles to guide: i live in one in which Trump could beat Clinton, the one where Bush beat Gore and then killed a half-million Iraqis in my name, for about 2 Trillion dollars.”

      Maybe you could look at the actual data. All the data shows that Clinton is a weak candidate against Trump and Sanders is a strong candidate. Those are the facts, whether or not you like the facts.

      As for Bush, he wasn’t elected in 2000. He was put into office by the Supreme Court. The most full recount ever done showed that Gore won Florida. You’ll have to ask Gore why he chose to give up his presidency without a fight.

      “In the end, the Left should spend more time looking in the mirror, and less time critiquing liberals.”

      I’m a liberal critiquing liberals. I’ve often seen problematic when left-wingers hold themselves above it all. It was for similar reasons that I criticized the post in the blog, as it expressed a condescending attitude of being above it all.

    • Everything is personal, in a sense… politics most of all. I express my personal perspective. I speak truth, as I know it.

      But just because I vent some emotions, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If I told you to fuck off, it was a response to a specific moment. Emotions come and go. I won’t hold a grudge about any of it. In fact, I don’t even remember the specific altercation we had. It simply doesn’t matter to me.

      I think Americans deserve what they get. From Democrats voting for Richard Nixon to Democrats voting for Bill Clinton, conservatism took over mainstream American politics. Now, we have two parties where one is conservative and the other is right-wing. I’d prefer to have more choices than that.

      Decades of lesser evil voting made someone like Trump inevitable. It is a harsh truth we Americans must face. I compassionately understand why people are driven by fear. But that won’t stop me from pointing out the harsh truth. I speak with passion because I care about this country and my fellow citizens, as I care about humans around the world. It is simply a sad truth that Democrats, like Republicans, have participated in immense political evils that have led to the harm, suffering, and death of millions of people just in my lifetime.

      I don’t write to be well liked. If that was my goal, I’d write fluff pieces about neutral topics. The all time most popular post on my blog is about Myers-Briggs. It is far from representing the deepest thoughts and most careful analysis I’ve ever offered, but it’s the type of thing that lots of people like to read. I could pump out those endlessly and have a vast following. What would be the point of that?

      MLK wasn’t well liked by blacks who were mainstream, moderate, and middle class. Thomas Paine wasn’t well liked by the more respectable founders. Well liked people don’t point out harsh truths and demand radical change. I will always stand by my principles, no matter what. I’m crazy like that. I don’t care about dogmatic ideologies and groupthink political parties. I will always choose the greater good over the lesser evil. I won’t apologize for this.

      If my stance makes you uncomfortable or mad or frustrated, that is just the way it is. I don’t take responsibility for your response to my positions. And I don’t expect you to take responsibility for my response to your positions. Our respective personal responses aren’t the issue, as far as I’m concerned.

      I’m just one of the many gadflies of democracy. I’m nothing special. I do what I must do, according to what my nature compels me to do. This is who I am, like it or not.

    • BTW part of my frustration expressed in this post is very much in response to comments like the one you just posted here.

      Gore won Florida, refused to demand a full recount, and bowed down to anti-democratic forces. And then people like you are brazen enough to blame me for the moral and political failure of the Democratic Party, failure that had been ongoing for decades before even the 2000 election.

      Democrats brought this on themselves, but they refuse to take responsibility. They find themselves in a hole and they go on digging. Maybe more of the same is not the answer, after all.

      You claim that I’m telling you how to vote. I did no such thing. I simply told you the reality of what votes mean and the consequences they would entail. The funny thing is that my frustration is from years of Democrats telling me how to vote, and then trying to blame me for the failure of their candidates.

      I finally got tired of this hypocrisy. Hence, what I wrote in this post.

    • I’ve been arguing that Hillary Clinton is a conservative. In this audio, she basically admits that this is what she is. She makes a fair point that conservatism isn’t the same thing as the radical right-wing, but it still is conservatism. The point being that it isn’t liberalism.

  4. There is something many people don’t seem to understand about me. I am genuinely an equal opportunity critic. People find my blog and cheer me along when I criticize someone or some group they disagree with. But as soon as I turn my criticism toward them or their cherished belief, cause or whatever, they often act personally hurt as if I betrayed them.

    I even criticize myself and that which I love. I’ve refused to give up on liberalism and yet I go on demanding liberals live up to their potential. In fact, I often criticize most harshly what I see of greatest value. I’m a liberal. I see it as my right and responsibility to criticize liberals and liberalism. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, then we have morally failed ourselves. We shouldn’t cynically accept our own failures, while attacking others for their failures.

    At the same time, I’ve praised liberalism. I’ve also pointed out all the ways Democrats are better than Republicans. I point out the good as well as the bad. I throw it all out there. I prefer to keep everything out in the open. Honesty with others must begin with self-honesty and that requires self-humility. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. And, so, you see what you get and you get what you see. Warts and all.

    I expect the same of others. I won’t cry like a little baby if you criticize me. I might get pissy. But so what? Get angry. Get passionate. Don’t hold back. If you think I’m stupid and ignorant, tell me so. If you make a worthy criticism, I’ll even take it seriously. Just don’t play games with me or expect special treatment. Everyone is equal here in this blog.

  5. I wasn’t upset with the vehemence of your response the first time around; it was entertaining at the time. I was and am troubled by the temerity and carelessness of your argument. I’m refuting two logical points: one, you think of lesser-evil voting as a kind of source of all problems in America, one that somehow ‘got us here’ all by itself, when I see lesser-evil tactics as necessary at the coffee shop, in war, in politics, and in relationships- as a common tactical requirement that you and everyone accept, easily and typically unwittingly, every day. Yes, Hillary’s conservative- she wrote the preface for Kissinger’s latest book, for Christ’s sake. I think Obama is, for that matter. That’s beside the point of why I’ll likely end up having to vote for her eventually. As a liberal American, my vote is virtually always against somebody, not for somebody. It’s quite possible for this to be the right thing for me to do, even though such behavior en masse continues to relegate third parties to the fringes, against both our wishes.

    Two: though you do make distinctions between the two main parties often, your argument for third parties often includes minimizing differences between repubs and demos. Both are admirable and helpful perspectives which I’ve learned a lot from through the years. But you then go right to ‘so therefore all good liberals must vote for either Bernie or, if he’s beaten in the primary, a third party, otherwise you’re a cynic, unprincipled, and part of the problem’, which I find nonsensical and intermittently dangerous. Dangerous as in as effectively right wing a voting strategy as one can have. Pretend, for instance, that Nader didn’t have that magical realism zero impact you’re so fond of asserting, or, if that’s a cognitive bridge too far, that similar close scenarios can exist, where siphoning off my particular vote to Medea throws an election to a Cruz or Rubio; or, if you like, that the Democrats didn’t ‘deserve’ to lose sometimes, whatever you meant by that; or that Trump may actually win. A third-party vote does nothing to keep Trump out of office, just as it did nothing to keep Bush out. Accordingly, unless the Democratic candidate has a clear win going here in California then, I will not vote third-party in the presidential election.

    It’s a simple goddam point, Benjamin, and one that deserves a place at the table; moreover, it’s just plain incorrect to label me a cynic, or even that numbskull you quoted. We’re trying to prevent 3,000 mile walls, nuclear war, and corporate corruption the best we know how.

    • “I was and am troubled by the temerity and carelessness of your argument.”

      That is ironic. I was troubled by the temerity and carelessness of your lack of argument. I was also troubled by your falsely stating I told you how to vote while blaming me for the consequences of the voting of others.

      If you have a valid argument to make, then make it. But projecting your issues onto me isn’t helpful. You can rationally disagree with me. Just please don’t project onto me. I have enough of my own issues. I’m not going to try to carry the load of anyone else’s issues.

      In particular, don’t blame me for Gore’s surrender to anti-democratic forces. That is why I didn’t vote for him, he didn’t have the courage to fight for what was right and what was justly his. If he was that weak as a candidate, it demonstrates he would have also been weak as a president.

      “one, you think of lesser-evil voting as a kind of source of all problems in America, one that somehow ‘got us here’ all by itself, when I see lesser-evil tactics as necessary at the coffee shop, in war, in politics, and in relationships- as a common tactical requirement that you and everyone accept, easily and typically unwittingly, every day.”

      There seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on. I never declared I was against all lesser evil tactics on principle. I voted for Obama in 2012. Not necessarily for lesser evil, but somewhat related. I despised the blatantly anti-democratic tactics of the GOP. And I figured Obama should get a second term, so that his supporters would never be able to claim that no one gave him a full chance.

      My actual argument is that lesser evil voting when done in knee jerk fashion inevitably leads to greater evil. That has been the problem of the Democratic Party. It hasn’t been strategic lesser evil voting. It has been continuous with every election for at least since the time Democrats gave Nixon the presidency, although that was one of the weirdest examples of lesser evil voting.

      “Yes, Hillary’s conservative- she wrote the preface for Kissinger’s latest book, for Christ’s sake. I think Obama is, for that matter.”

      I’m glad we agree on that. This is something few Americans yet understand. The majority of Americans think she is a liberal, because that is how liberalism is portrayed in the mainstream media. That is frustrating for actual liberals to have their views distorted and ignored. It could make one passionately and righteously outraged even.

      “As a liberal American, my vote is virtually always against somebody, not for somebody. It’s quite possible for this to be the right thing for me to do, even though such behavior en masse continues to relegate third parties to the fringes, against both our wishes.”

      You should have started out with this. If you want to disagree with me, be direct about it. Get to the point. Be very specific when you criticize me. I’ll probably respond better that way.

      I never said it as impossible. This post wasn’t a grand argument. It was a very specific and focused response to a single viewpoint. It wasn’t an attack on all liberals, the entire Democratic Party, and every example of lesser evil tactics throughout history.

      I understand where you’re coming from. It’s not exactly in my nature to think that way. But I’ve never been an extremist. I’ve written entire posts defending compromise as a practical and moral stance, specifically of the liberal mind. I’ve also pointed out that this is the Achilles’ heel of liberalism. It is why lesser evil voting has continuously led to an endless shift rightward. Liberals forget what their strengths are and so they forget to play to those strengths.

      My purpose is to help liberals to wake up to the strength they have. I love liberalism. I sometimes think I’m a fool. But I can’t help myself. A liberal is what I am. I love liberalism so much that I will defend it against the false idols of pseudo-liberalism that get offered up in the mainstream. I refuse to roll over and die, at least not yet, maybe later.

      There are a number of things most liberals don’t seem to get.

      Liberalism can’t operate under the conditions of conservatism. To concede so much ground to conservatism is self-sabotage. Fighting hard is the only hope liberals have to save their own souls, as the moment conservatism comes to dominate liberals lose the essence of their own strength. Liberals can’t afford to let things get that bad and remain liberals. Liberalism is a rare flower that wilts when the conditions aren’t perfectly right.

      So, liberals shouldn’t compromise as a rule but as a tactic. They should use lesser evil voting rarely and as part of a very clear long term strategy. The vast majority Americans hold liberal views on most issues. Compromise isn’t needed. What is needed is to move from an attitude of defense to one of offense. Liberals must bring the fight to conservatives, instead of constantly retreating from the battlefield.

      “though you do make distinctions between the two main parties often, your argument for third parties often includes minimizing differences between repubs and demos.”

      I’d say often is an understatement. Most of my writing about the parties over the years has been about their differences. Most left-wingers, independents, and third party supporters would probably criticize me for how much I obsess over the two main parties. I rarely ever mention third parties and even then usually only in passing. I was thinking the other day that this was a failing of mine. I should be more fair in presenting other candidates. I have no good reason for not yet having written a post about any candidate who isn’t either Democratic or Republican.

      “Both are admirable and helpful perspectives which I’ve learned a lot from through the years. But you then go right to ‘so therefore all good liberals must vote for either Bernie or, if he’s beaten in the primary, a third party, otherwise you’re a cynic, unprincipled, and part of the problem’, which I find nonsensical and intermittently dangerous.”

      I could see why you take my argument that way. But that really isn’t my view. On this account, I’ll accept responsibility for failure to communicate. Everything I say is in the context of, at this point, years of writing and maybe thousands of posts. Like anyone else, there is a lot of background to anything I say. This post wasn’t exactly an argument in the fullest sense. It was a targeted response. I have made fuller arguments before.

      I don’t care if you vote for Bernie. I myself might not vote for Bernie. I’m just not going to vote for Hillary, under these circumstances. If Hillary was running against Hitler or Stalin, then I’d be strongly persuaded toward a lesser evil vote. But I don’t see any of the GOP candidates as any more tough-on-crime, warmongering, neo-imperialist, etc than Hillary.

      To my mind, Hillary goes beyond even just the moderate conservatism what the GOP used to be. She is fairly right-wing, to the right of Reagan in some ways. This is partly because the entire spectrum has shifted right. Hillary is a neocon and a neoliberal, what I consider a dangerous mix. If she is elected, we will likely end up in another unnecessary and immoral, unconstitutional and illegal war of aggression that will kill many, spread suffering, and destabilize the world further. From my perspective, that isn’t strategic lesser evil voting. That seems like giving up entirely on any worthy vision of liberalism.

      “A third-party vote does nothing to keep Trump out of office, just as it did nothing to keep Bush out.”

      Voting for Gore didn’t keep Bush out either. It doesn’t matter that Gore won when he was unwilling to demand to be given the spoils of his victory. No one can be blamed for that but Gore and those who supported him.

      “It’s a simple goddam point, Benjamin, and one that deserves a place at the table; moreover, it’s just plain incorrect to label me a cynic, or even that numbskull you quoted. We’re trying to prevent 3,000 mile walls, nuclear war, and corporate corruption the best we know how.”

      Have I labeled you a cynic? I don’t recall having done so. You might be right that even the numbskull isn’t a cynic. His attitude seems to be one of being above it all, maybe even cynicism. It’s ironic detachment from moral principles and convictions, just going where the wind blows. Whatever it is, my dominant Introverted Feeling doesn’t approve.

      Anyway, you know and I know Trump isn’t going to build a border wall. Even Hitler and Stalin never built border walls. As for nuclear war and corporate corruption, I don’t see Hillary as a safeguard against any of that. I’d argue that someone like Hillary is more likely to push this country over the edge. She has shown she is an aggressive war hawk and one of the most powerful corporatists in Washington. I’d rather not follow her down that path.

      A case can be made that Gore would have been better than Bush. I’ve even argued that in posts. He was pathetically weak which is why he lost. But if he had won, maybe that pathetic weakness wouldn’t have been so bad. Unlike HIllary, he didn’t seem like a war hawk. He was a veteran who saw war firsthand. That isn’t the true for Hillary, as war is just a neo-imperialist game to her. That’s a major difference.

      How greater does a political evil have to get until voting for it is no longer lesser evil? Or is it an endless lowering of standards, worse leading to ever worse?

      • sorry that I dash in and dash out so- I have a splintered life and a busy one…this is Jon Chait, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/pragmatic-tradition-of-black-voters.html?mid=twitter_nymag , one of our great political analysts, tracing the black tendency for pragmatic voting, which you tend to characterize as cynical or lesser-evil or apathetic voting, as a tested, successful result of a long history of struggle. I think it’s a powerful argument against your point. It’s not chait’s own political philosophy that’s important, his own support for Hilary, which I don’t agree with here in the primaries; it’s because he’s explaining well why black people have had ground in their bones a lesson that you run counter to in your arguments, one I don’t think your argument answers fairly. It should be hard for any of us to characterize their generational mindset around lesser-evil voting, which I have had a great deal of exposure to through interviews and friends, as anything approaching cynicism. More of a determined, steadfast opposite. And their example should give pause to us more enthusiastic progressives about how we make our choices, and why.

        I despise Hilary Clinton, and see her as a poor leader, and roughly as dishonest and disingenuous as Nixon. But the candidate you and I want will almost certainly lose to her. I’m not trying to beat you into the ground here, just make the point that there’s a healthy and highly contingent tension between voting your heart and voting your head, or voting that matters for the ages and voting that might make an immediate critical difference; or any other rhetorical differential one uses to characterize the difference between pragmatic and idealistic voting strategies. I popped in here after this particular entry of yours because, when you and I were disagreeing about your vote for Nader, you went beyond the pale on me, and wildly cursed and castigated my rather modest claim that Bush’s initial victory could be explained by a split liberal vote- as I recall, yours was the common arguments that Gore lost it himself through mismanagement, that there was little difference between Gore and Bush, that it’s unconscionable to lay the Iraq War at Nader’s feet, and I can’t remember what else. At the very least, your arguments were just part of the picture, but you chose at the time to use them emotionally to attempt to stamp out my argument regarding a moral validity for pragmatic voting, as if my argument deserved no place at the table for a real progressive. Even now, though you’ve moderated in your view apparently, you prefer to characterize the choice as moral when it’s not, and you don’t use an even-handed comparison to evaluate when or if there’s any other way to look at this.

        If the election is close, good people (and bad) may end up doing a great thing for the world in November by voting for Hilary; nothing you or I say or feel changes that, and it should be acknowledged. Certainly the black vote, which will end up being seen by history as responsible Hilary’s primary victory and likely the overall election, has the right to be counted as hopeful, if mistaken, and not at all cynical. As always, if the election is close, I will vote for Hilary; if it’s not close, I will likely vote Green, as is my wont. You’ve never stated anything that offered me the slightest logical alternative to do otherwise.

        • Jonathan Chait’s article is not entirely wrong. I would agree with some of it, except for the focus and framing, not to mention that it seems like a shill piece for the Clinton campaign. But I have made similar arguments myself in the past, even in terms of talking about the black vote. I’ve never been against moderation, pragmatism, realism, etc—and I don’t equate any of that with cynicism.

          Before responding to your specific comments, I wanted to make one point. Most cynical liberals are probably middle-to-upper class white people. Liberals are one of the whitest, wealthiest, and most educated demographics in the country—only surpassed by libertarians. As such, the target of my criticisms here was not blacks who have dealt with an entirely different set of circumstances. I live in a liberal college town. I’m surrounded by liberals, mostly white liberals. There are some minorities living here, but the people I specifically had in mind while writing my post were white people. If you look at the poll data for blacks, their politics tend toward conservatism and not liberalism. People wrongly conflate liberalism with the Democratic party and then assume all Democrats are liberals. Few blacks would fit the description of cynical liberal.

          Someone like MLK could be fairly called a liberal, but he was an exception among blacks, especially in his era. It was probably MLK’s liberalism that led him to be in so much conflict with so many other blacks who feared he was being unrealistic and impractical. We forget that the Civil Rights movement began with the work of radical activists, long before it ever gained mainstream respectability. MLK did everything in his power to goad more moderate and mainstream blacks to support the movement. Others saw him as being a mere idealist and ideological purist, but that isn’t how MLK perceived his own beliefs and actions. He was seeking real world results that he thought were well within reach, if people would take hold of it.

          There are obviously a lot of factors going on here. I don’t see the genuine conflict being about idealism versus pragmatism. I think of myself as a moderate in extremist times, a pragmatist in a world dominated by reactionary radicalism. I don’t see establishment politics as practical or even sustainable. It seems downright self-destructive to me. I’d like to avoid revolution, and I’m always perplexed why those in power seem so dead set in forcing the population into such desperation that social unrest becomes increasingly likely. The cynical liberal, to my mind, seems clueless to what is going on and where it is heading. They are neither idealistic nor pragmatic.

          I just wanted you to realize that you were bringing up issues and factors that are separate from what was intended by my blog post. Maybe I should have been more clear about such things as how race relates, but I tend to assume that my readership understands that almost all strongly liberal people are white, specifically those who self-identify as liberals. The problem is, when I assume my readers share some understanding, it easily leads to miscommunication.

          If you’re curious about the demographics, check out Pew’s Beyond Red Vs Blue, an awesome set of data. The demographic called Solid Liberals are those who are liberal across the board. In the breakdown, Solid Liberals are 69% non-Hispanic white, 13% non-Hipsanic black, and 8% Hispanic. So, 87% of (non-Hispanic) blacks aren’t liberals. The largest number of (non-Hispanic) blacks is found in the demographic called Faith and Family Left, which has some liberal views but within the framework of social/cultural conservatism, a traditionally religious demographic. The Faith and Family Left is what in the US used to be part of what was considered the centrist-to-conservative segment of the Populist and Progressive movements. They often have been allied with liberals, but the two are distinct ideological worldviews and demographics.

          This might be a situation where we’ve been talking past one another. Anyway, let me respond to your comment. But I’ll break it up by posting it as a separate comment.

        • About Jonathan Chait’s article, you write:

          “one of our great political analysts, tracing the black tendency for pragmatic voting, which you tend to characterize as cynical or lesser-evil or apathetic voting, as a tested, successful result of a long history of struggle.”

          I’ve never argued against that.

          I simply disagree what is pragmatic and toward what end. If people have different motivations, agendas and goals, they will define pragmatism differently and judge the basis of its success differently. It’s the dismissal of my views as detached from reality that pisses me off. I’m not a partisan Democrat, and so I don’t share the beliefs and values of partisan Democrats. Their self-defined pragmatism leads to results that I think are bad. In seeking my preferred results, there is nothing pragmatic about sacrificing all that would make my preferred results possible. It’s similar to when conservatives judge liberals as impractical because liberal policies wouldn’t lead to the results that conservatives consider good. It is an empty criticism, simply declaring someone wrong for holding a different perspective and using different means to different ends.

          The fact of the matter is, when looking at polling data, my views are rather moderate. I share a large number of opinions with the majority of Americans. But the views of partisan activists, media elite, and the political establishment are disconnected from most Americans. That is problematic, to say the least. This is a large reason our democracy isn’t functional. I don’t see it as pragmatic when the public (i.e., the majority of the population) is silenced and disenfranchised, as is the case in our present system—or, if it’s pragmatic for the few, it certainly isn’t pragmatic for the many.

          “It should be hard for any of us to characterize their generational mindset around lesser-evil voting, which I have had a great deal of exposure to through interviews and friends, as anything approaching cynicism. More of a determined, steadfast opposite. And their example should give pause to us more enthusiastic progressives about how we make our choices, and why.”

          Many blacks supported Jesse Jackson’s campaigns back in the 1980s. So did Sanders at the time. The majority of young blacks (and young Hispanics) are supporting Sanders. I suspect he is also getting much support from poor blacks as well, considering his greatest support in general is among the low income demographic. There is always the possibility that many of his supporters, including young and poor blacks, see him as the lesser evil in this campaign season. I know that I do.

          Anyway, you may have unintentionally hit the nail on the head. We might be talking more about a “generational mindset.” There was a generation of blacks that have a fairly positive opinion of Bill Clinton and the Democrats. Michelle Alexander explained why this is the case:

          http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/extended-interview-with-michelle-alexander-657082435530

          Still, this generational divide goes far beyond just the black demographic. Clinton mostly has the support of older blacks, as she mostly has the support of older whites. This is partly an economic issue, since Clinton supporters on average are wealthier, i.e., middle-to-upper class.. Older blacks and whites grew up at a time of greater economic opportunity than the younger generations are experiencing today. Even when the early Civil Rights Movement was fighting for basic rights, economic mobility was high and the black middle class was growing.

          My generation, GenX, was the first and only generation in US history to experience an economic depression that only effected their age cohort. That hit black GenXers the hardest, of course. This is probably why Sanders also gets strong support from GenXers. These problems have only grown worse for Millennials, although they haven’t had to deal with the high rates of lead toxicity as did my generation.

          “I popped in here after this particular entry of yours because, when you and I were disagreeing about your vote for Nader, you went beyond the pale on me, and wildly cursed and castigated my rather modest claim that Bush’s initial victory could be explained by a split liberal vote- as I recall, yours was the common arguments that Gore lost it himself through mismanagement, that there was little difference between Gore and Bush, that it’s unconscionable to lay the Iraq War at Nader’s feet, and I can’t remember what else.”

          My frustration was in response to the mainstream view which is highly uninformed, misinformed, and disinformed. I’ve met too many mainstream liberals and partisan Democrats who are ignorant about what happened during the 2000 election, whether that ignorance is willful or unintentional—frustrating in either case. I’ll spend long periods of time informing myself while others don’t seem to bother to try. I have more to say about this further on, but suffice it say that anyone who has been paying attention knows that Gore won Florida and then conceded the victory to Bush. That is between Gore and his Democratic supporters, having nothing to do with Nader.

          “Even now, though you’ve moderated in your view apparently, you prefer to characterize the choice as moral when it’s not, and you don’t use an even-handed comparison to evaluate when or if there’s any other way to look at this.”

          My view is no more or less moderate than it has always been. I’m a moderate in a world where extremism is considered the norm, at least the norm for the middle-to-upper class activists, political elite, and mainstream media types. Everything is moral to a moral-minded person. But I realize rationalizing away morality is a common tactic for many. I don’t accept that, in myself or in others.

          “If the election is close, good people (and bad) may end up doing a great thing for the world in November by voting for Hilary; nothing you or I say or feel changes that, and it should be acknowledged. Certainly the black vote, which will end up being seen by history as responsible Hilary’s primary victory and likely the overall election, has the right to be counted as hopeful, if mistaken, and not at all cynical. As always, if the election is close, I will vote for Hilary; if it’s not close, I will likely vote Green, as is my wont. You’ve never stated anything that offered me the slightest logical alternative to do otherwise.”

          This election is up in the air. Sanders supporters aren’t any more partisans than are Trump supporters. Neither partisan purity nor ideological purity is likely to rule this election. Many people might cross the party lines in both directions, depending who is nominated.

          My argument against Clinton is based on her political record. Policies she has supported have led to the harm and death of millions of people at home and abroad. I don’t take such things lightly. Never have and never will. But each to their own. Just remember that you are complicit in what you support and I say that with all sincerity. It has nothing to do with ideological purity, just basic compassion toward humanity.

          I’m not a partisan, but if I were I’d be worried about Clinton. She has an ongoing investigation that could blow up at any time. She has low positive ratings and high negative ratings. She is disliked and mistrusted. She polls weak against the GOP candidates, much weaker than Sanders. She doesn’t have support from the younger generations, not even young women and young minorities. She doesn’t have support from the lower income brackets, which is a large part of the population, although it’s true that at present they tend to vote at a lower rate.

          A Clinton nomination could threaten the viability of the Democratic party for the foreseeable future. She could turn an entire generation away from the Dems. Assuming one is worried about the GOP gaining greater power, this highly probable result would mean that supporting Clinton is the impractical course.

        • I wanted to respond directly to Jonathan Chait’s article. He writes that,

          “The Democratic primary is a reprise of the classic purity-versus-pragmatism conflicts that periodically break out in both parties. Purists (on the left and the right) cast voting in morally absolute terms.”

          I don’t think that is a major division in politics. What is motivating politics now and in similar campaigns in the past is populism. What is interesting about populism is how opposite of ideological purity that it is. Populism tends to bring diverse people together, often those from outside of the main parties, even when a populist candidate runs in one of the main parties. Populism attracts independents and those who otherwise would be non-voters, and also draws people across partisan lines.

          For example, about equal numbers of Nader voters came from Republicans as came from Democrats and an even larger percentage of independents. Strangely, more Democrats and self-identified liberals voted for Bush than voted for Nader, showing that Gore wasn’t likely to get many voters had they not voted Nader. Gore just wasn’t that popular, specifically in Florida,even among many on the political left. Plus, there were several other leftist candidates with diverse supporters.

          It is interesting that Nader supporters were being judged as ideological purists for not being partisan purists because of their refusing to vote Democratic no matter what, even though most of them weren’t even Democrats. Hypocrisy much?

          That doesn’t even consider the issue of voter suppression and voter undercounts. A number of assessments have pointed to the fact that Gore would have shown to be the winner if a full recount had been done. Yet Gore didn’t call for a full recount. Why not? Was he bribed or threatened somehow to back off? Or was he just a weak candidate who wimped out on his own campaign and betrayed his own supporters? Why don’t Democrats take responsibility for the failure of their own candidate’s betrayal, instead of scapegoating others? And why are so many partisan Democrats still spreading lies, spin, and disinfo after all these years? Don’t they ever do basic research to look at the facts? Why do they attack other voters instead of attacking the failed, corrupted, and rigged system?

          Anyway, Nader was the complete opposite of an ideological purist in terms of his supporters. When populism is in the air, diverse people will support a social reformer even when they ideologically disagree on particular issues. Most of Trump’s supporters don’t agree with his demand for universal healthcare and they don’t care about this disagreement. Likewise, many of Sanders’ supporters don’t support socialism or even care about what it means. There is little ideological purity involved—rather much frustration because of a system that has failed so many.

          I didn’t vote for Nader for ideological reasons. I’m not now supporting Sanders for ideological reasons. I’m not Bernie-or-Bust, but I would note it isn’t any more ideologically purist to be Bernie-or-Bust than it is to be Blue-or-Bust. It is hypocritical of partisans to call me purist when I refuse to give up my independence from all simplistic politics, whether ideological or partisan. That is a serious case of projection.

          By the way, here is some info and analysis about the 2000 fiasco:

          Democracy Undone by Dale Tavris
          Too Close to Call by Jeffrey Toobin

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/6/1260721/-The-Nader-Myth
          http://www.cagreens.org/alameda/city/0803myth/myth.html
          http://disinfo.com/2010/11/debunked-the-myth-that-ralph-nader-cost-al-gore-the-2000-election/
          http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/12/21/still-smearing-ralph-nader-for-2000/
          http://www.michaelparenti.org/stolenelections.html

          “They believe a hidden majority of the electorate shares their preferences, and a sufficiently committed, eloquent, or uncorrupted leader could activate that majority. Sanders is a classic proponent of this worldview. He has portrayed conservatism as simply a false consciousness constructed by big money and a biased news media, and something that would, in an uncorrupted system, be reduced to 10 percent of the public or less. Pragmatists read the electorate much more pessimistically. They recognize that the other side votes, too, and, having lowered expectations of what is possible in the face of a divided country, recognize that progress will be incremental and weighed down by compromise — sometimes with truly odious forces.”

          I wish people bothered to do basic research before opinionating. The most basic thing that Sanders has demanded is political reform and then following that social reform. This isn’t an ideologically purist position. It is popular and populist across the political spectrum.

          Pragmatists don’t read the electorate more pessimistically. I question if they read at all, considering this author’s vast ignorance. How can people like this be so disconnected from the beliefs, values, and policy positions of most Americans? Ignorant most of all is dismissing Sanders as lacking compromise when he is well known in political circles as working closely with people in both parties, a tendency of compromise that began when he was a mayor. This really pisses me off, as it comes off seeming like at best uninformed/misinformed opinionating and at worst dishonest rhetoric.

          Before one can speak of purity or pragmatism, one has to know what most people want. Purity of what? Or pragmatic to what end? Public opinion makes this all rather clear.

          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/political-elites-disconnected-from-general-public/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/wirthlin-effect-symbolic-conservatism/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/politics-public-opinion-david-w-moore-on-pollsters/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/liberalism-label-vs-reality-analysis-of-data/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/beyond-the-stereotype-of-the-liberal-elite/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/sea-change-of-public-opinion-libertarianism-progressivism-socialism/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/us-demographics-increasing-progressivism/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/the-court-of-public-opinion-part-1/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/who-supported-the-vietnam-war/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/public-opinion-on-tax-cuts-for-the-rich/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/do-americans-support-unions-union-rights/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/gun-violence-regulation-data-analysis-rhetoric/
          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/claims-of-us-becoming-pro-life/

          “No community in the United States is more aware of the power of its enemies than African-Americans.”

          Well, Native Americans could compete for the number one position in this. Their enemy was so powerful that they were put on reservations where they are still trapped in poverty. Native Americans have worst economic and social problems than African-Americans. Interestingly, Sanders is the first major presidential candidate in my lifetime to take seriously the issues of Native Americans.

          “For most of American history, the franchise itself was denied to black voters, who leveraged their precious vote for whatever they could. That did not mean holding out for politicians who would treat them as equal human beings, but merely supporting the less-bad party.”

          This implicitly argues that the situation for black voters is no better than during Jim Crow. That is a harsh indictment against our society. If blacks still have so little power to force real reform, that supports the arguments made by those like Sanders and myself. It isn’t just Republicans that have kept blacks down. The Clintons and the New Democrats have a long history of oppressing blacks.

          Still, that misses the point. It isn’t just about blacks. Most Americans have supported the perceived less-bad party for most of US history. The very system is designed that way. Lesser evilism isn’t caused by specific demographics but by the system itself. Third parties and party coalitions are excluded by how the system is set up. In other countries, that isn’t the case. Where third parties are viable and party coalitions are the norm, lesser evilism is less common or at least less starkly simplistic.

          Making this an issue about blacks misses the most important point. If we only saw this behavior among blacks, that would be one thing. But that isn’t the situation.

          “And pragmatism inflects the African-American view of how politicians perform in office. Purists see compromise as a sign of moral failure or weakness, an inability to smash a corrupted system. Pragmatists expect political opposition as normal and enduring.”

          That is so simplistic. I want enduring political opposition. The problem is our two-party establishment doesn’t allow for the possibility of strong and diverse opposition. It pushes all politics toward a pseudo-centrism that is off-center from most of the population, both most blacks and most whites.

          “Sanders’s campaign draws much of its strength from the left-wing critique of Barack Obama’s presidency, which it dismisses as largely feeble half-measures.”

          The critique is actually in line with mainstream opinion. The critique isn’t that Obama is failing to do the bidding of left-wingers. Rather, his policies are out of touch with the American public. Most Americans were demanding stronger reform. It wasn’t practical moderates resisting left-wingers. No, it was powerful moneyed interests resisting the political will of the American people.

          “But the critique of Clinton’s African-American supporters increasingly lies outside the realm of calculation altogether. Columnist Shaun King, a Sanders supporter, argues that “Political progressives across this country, in supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, are completely rejecting the Democratic Party,” and should take their actions a step farther and “form our own political party.” Similar logic animates online activists declaring themselves for “Bernie or Bust.” Any drawn-out primary will produce overheated declarations of refusal to support the opposing candidate. But it is not surprising that many of Sanders’s most prominent supporters, like Susan Sarandon, Cornel West, and Michael Moore, not to mention Sanders himself, endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000. (Nader in 2000 drew the support of 3 percent of whites, but just one percent of African-Americans.)”

          The author still completely misses the point. There is no evidence that most of Sanders’ supporters are Democrats or otherwise would vote Democratic. I’m not a Democrat because the Democratic establishment doesn’t share and represent my values. It’s the same reason I voted for Nader and, if not for him, wouldn’t likely have voted at all. Most Nader voters weren’t Democrats stealing votes from Gore and causing Bush to win. I wish people were more well informed because this gets tiresome.

          The same kinds of things said about Sanders were said Jesse Jackson in his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. When Sanders was mayor of Burlington VT, he openly and strongly supported Jesse Jackson’s two campaigns.This helped Jackson win an unexpected victory in that state.

          http://www.blackwestchester.com/civil-rights-bernie-and-jesse/
          http://www.thenation.com/article/recalling-the-rainbow-roots-of-the-bernie-sanders-presidential-run/
          http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/sanders-and-jesse-jackson-the-untold-story/
          http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/bernie-sanders-jesse-jackson-campaign
          http://fusion.net/story/266134/bernie-sanders-jesse-jackson-campaign-comparisons/

          “Rebellious records like “F Tha Police” by NWA and Fight The Power by Public Enemy were on heavy rotation throughout the nation. So it was very noticeable, when a blonde hair, white progressive elected official like the Mayor or Burlington, Vermont, ‘stepped across the color line,” and risked his political career not once but twice, to endorse and support, Jesse Jackson who was trying to make history as the first Black President of the United States.”

          By the way, Jackson’s campaign platform was similar to Sanders’ present campaign platform. Both of them won the youth vote. Sanders has even presently won the youth minority vote.

          It should be noted that Sanders has called himself a socialist for a long time, whatever one might think that label means, although in his case it simply indicates he is a moderate social reformer. His entire career he has worked across party lines and has been willing to compromise. As mayor, he balanced the budget, even while promoting progressive policies to help the citizens of Burlington. He was quite popular and was considered one of the best mayors in the country. Similarly, when the sewer socialists governed Milwaukee for a half century, they cleaned up organized crime, political corruption, and economic cronyism—while ensuring the public’s basic needs were being met, from public municipal services to food programs. They were considered by many to have had the best run city government in the country.

          What is unrealistic and impractical about such proven records of moderate ‘socialism’ in US politics? Maybe our ideas of what is realistic is detached from reality. To portray it as ideological purity is to describe it falsely. Sanders has never been an ideological purist and neither are most of his supporters, which is why Sanders and many of his supporters have been political independents. Seeking the most optimal outcome in a difficult situation isn’t ideological purity. It is a cold calculating realism that forces the establishment to face realities it would rather ignore.

          “That refusal to accept the necessity of compromise in a winner-take-all two-party system (and an electorate where conservatives still outnumber liberals) is characteristic of a certain idealistic style of left-wing politics. Its conception of voting as an act of performative virtue has largely confined itself to white left-wing politics, because it is at odds with the political tradition of a community that has always viewed political compromise as a practical necessity. The expectation that a politician should agree with you on everything is the ultimate expression of privilege.”

          The author is so disconnected from reality. It blows my mind.

          When given a choice between conservative, liberal or progressive, most Americans identify as progressive. The progressive label is the new label for liberalism. This is seen by looking at the poll numbers, which show how liberal the public is on so many issues, both social and economic: abortion rights, gun regulation, higher and more progressive taxation, better corporate regulation, universal healthcare, etc. This isn’t ‘left-wing’. It is the Silent Majority or rather the Silenced Majority.

          Privilege? This allegation being made by an upper middle class white guy who grew up as upper middle class in suburbs. Sanders gets stronger support from low income Americans than any other candidate. Considering he has now won the youth minority vote, that likely indicates he also has the support of poor minorities, the demographic that is unlikely to come out for a non-populist candidate.

          https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/which-candidate-do-the-poor-support/

          http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/young-latinos-bernie-sanders-supporters/

          “Sanders is winning the young Latino vote 2 to 1, according to a recent report from NPR, and also has majority support among young black voters.”

          http://www.npr.org/2016/03/28/472160616/-berniemademewhite-no-bernie-sanders-isnt-just-winning-with-white-people

          “Among African-Americans, who are 17 through 29, Bernie Sanders is actually leading that group, 51 to 48 [percent],” he said. “Among 17- to 29-year-old Hispanics, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 66-34.”

          http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/04/is-538-in-the-bag-for-hillary/

          “If you’re not mathematically inclined, Hatlem’s analysis gets into the weeds but his critique explains a lot of things that 538 and the MSM have gotten wrong or misinterpreted about the Democratic race. For example, the low-voter turnout in the Southern primaries perpetuated the idea that Sanders lacks support among minorities even though, as Hatlem points out, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington (as well as Colorado and Michigan) have significant numbers of non-white voters and Sanders won all of them. There is also the recent hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite and in a recent Dornsife/LA Times poll, Sanders scored a higher favorability rating in California than Clinton amongst racial minorities where he is supposed to be down 23% in the Latino vote, according to other polls.”

          Clinton’s support is mostly among older and wealthier voters and I bet the same is seen with her strongest support among blacks. Even from the beginning, she had weaker support from young blacks. It’s unclear who the majority of blacks would support, especially lower income blacks, since the majority of blacks are so disenfranchised that they don’t vote or show up to caucuses and primaries.

          The younger generations have been hit hardest by economic problems. It’s unsurprising that they show the strongest support to Sanders, the candidate who speaks to economic issues. They are simply part of his having won the low income vote. Sanders support from youth transcends race and gender. The Bernie Bros label was always bullshit, just another way for the mainstream to dismiss populist demand for reform.

          Only someone so immensely privileged could be as immensely clueless as Jonathan Chait. I find his arrogant and paternalistic condescension quite depressing. He knows better what us ordinary Americans want and should do? Really? Jeez!

        • Some good comments to Jonathan Chait’s article:

          EmmaRG 2 days ago
          Really shoddy history here. You cannot explain today’s “African-American vote” by gesturing vaguely to the 1930s. This is such lazy and deeply myopic writing. Pertinent questions for a thoughtful writer to consider: who is actually voting? the middle class? working class? how does party patronage work? who is disenfranchised? when is Chait going to take the time and make the effort to think more deeply?

          RLHotchkiss 2 days ago
          Again the use of incrementalism implies that Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton want to move the nation in the same direction. The reality is that President Bill Clinton didn’t incrementally make this better for the working class. His policies were dramatic policy changes that had dramatic and fairly immediate effects on the working class. Welfare reform dramatically changed the program. It virtually doesn’t exist in many states. The reforms doubled extreme poverty in the United States. Similarly permanent Most Favored Nation status immediately and dramatically changed the labor market in the United States. Not only leading to wage stagnation and employment insecurity but the destruction of institutions supported by stable employment such as working class marriage.

          It is the right of Democratic party that has enacted radical measures. And the measures that Mr. Chait are similarly radical. He proposes the whole sale destructions of teacher’s unions which. In Wisconsin the partial destruction of teacher’s unions lead to the conversion to right to work the decimation of organized labor in in the state, and virtual end of the Democratic party as a serious contender for the governorship. Mr. Chait also proposes the move to chained-CPI which permanently reduce social security benefits just as private pensions and private savings are in worse shape that they have been in generations.

          It is the right’s radical policies that the nation can’t endure. The large numbers of suicides whether from alcohol or drugs, or through other means amongst the working class show that far from getting incrementally better for the working class, things have gotten so much worse that suicide is a very common coping mechanism.

          kai.je 4 days ago
          Who said the Black vote can’t include young voters? This article makes no distinction in either age or gender. Yet, we are to led believe the black vote is a monolith. .

          AliRadicali 4 days ago
          The media keeps insisting that Hillary is (somehow) the better candidate and the polls keep proving them wrong.

          Hillary is deeply unpopular outside of the Washington establishment, so it’s a real shame that most of the talking heads pontificating on the election rarely emerge from that upside-down little bubble world of “conventional wisdom”…

          patriotico 4 days ago
          “The expectation that a politician should agree with you on everything is the ultimate expression of privilege.” Ugh please stop trying to shoehorn the dead horse concept of “privilege” into every article. The fact that Bernie Sanders has actually polled better as a general election candidate seems to play no role in this fantasy world-view of Clinton as the more electable candidate. Both the Democratic Party and the nation as a whole have steadily been moving left for over a decade now (remember when Hillary lost to Obama in ’08?) and she needs to catch up. But yes, next time I go vote I will remember to vote for the candidate who I disagree with more because black people and pragmatism.

          jade7243 4 days ago
          Count me in as another black voter who is NOT voting for Clinton. My reasons for avoiding her like the plague are entirely pragmatic. I’m sick of the Clintons. Not her firewall. Not her doormat.

          JPRVS 4 days ago
          @alynch Sanders is bringing new voters to the polls. Even if those voters don’t vote the same way as 60 year old life-long Democrats, the net result of even 85 percent support from new voters downballot is still better than a Clinton candidacy which does absolutely nothing to grow the party base.

          Your rationale, would actually cost Democrats support downballot. Without the competitive primary Kloppenburg would have lost be even larger margins.

          Even if Sanders supporters had voted at the same rate as Clinton supporters, that would have only netted an additional 50,000 votes. Bradley won by nearly 100,000.

          JPRVS 4 days ago
          @n00chness And that’s not the case in New York?

          Viewed from a true swing state like Virginia, I can tell you there is nothing especially “pragmatic” about running a candidate like Clinton whose base of support is almost exclusively with older Democratic voters. There’s nothing especially “pragmatic” either about fielding a candidate like Clinton who has a net favorability rating of negative 15 percent.

          zname 5 days ago
          Enough with the articles that act like there’s any benefit to Hillary’s pragmatism. Sure, Bernie wouldn’t accomplish any of his domestic goals as president, but neither would Hillary with a Republican house. You’re pragmatic if you support Hillary because you think she has a better chance at winning the general, but this is different than supporting her because she’s pragmatic.

          BruceS 4 days ago
          @easton @zname

          “hillary’s pragmatism would be manifest in foreign trade, in foreign policy (in which Sanders is utterly clueless)”

          Go back and check out the garbage Clinton was peddling when the AUMF was being considered (Saddam is harboring al Qaeda, among other Cheneyesque gems of wisdom) and compare it to the speech Sanders gave in opposition which outlined with precision exactly what that insane proposition would lead to, then get back to me and tell me who is utterly clueless re foreign policy. This is one of the most laughable – and easily disproved by real world evidence -false claims that the Hillary dead-enders haul out in their ignorance and/or dishonesty.

          And your assertion on trade only reinforces the reality – not merely perception – that she isn’t trustworthy but embraces issues when, and only when, they are opportune. Nice.

          And of course, Sanders has far more of a record of pragmatic accomplishment in Congress and the Senate – including incremental improvements by attaching more amendments successfully to bills passed than any other member of congress. The crackpot crap that Hillary fans are pushing is sickening. Dumbest – or most dishonest – people on the planet.

          Daxster 5 days ago
          @onesetofeyes
          What the Hillary people forget is that you have to win. She has lost 6 of the last 7 including the last 4 in landslides. People are rejecting her.

          And Sanders’s also not about to be questioned by the FBI in a criminal investigation. That should be a good press day for her.

          Daxster 5 days ago
          Sanders won Wisconsin by about 13 points. As before, no polls predicted that. He won in nearly every county in the state. If he replicates this going forward, as many have insisted is impossible, he is going to win the majority of pledged delegates.

          It is getting more and more obvious that the voters are turning away from Hillary Clinton.

          Maybe Hillary can turn things around by getting Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem to insult young women again.

          BruceS 5 days ago
          “it is not surprising that many of Sanders’s most prominent supporters, like Susan Sarandon, Cornel West, and Michael Moore, not to mention Sanders himself, endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000.” Either Jonathan Chait is a clever prevaricator or he can’t write a coherent English sentence. “not to mention Sanders himself” is pretty explicit in leading the unsuspecting reader to take it that Sanders endorsed Nader in 2000. This, of course, is a lie. Either learn to write English sentences that are coherent or quit lying about Sanders – whichever is apropos here. Sanders has supported Democratic candidates for President since at least Bill Clinton. Nader as early as 1996 ripped into Sanders for not supporting his third-party presidential efforts. In fact, Nader says Sanders attempted to dissuade his third party ambitions when Bill Clinton was running for re-election and they quit speaking. As for Moore, Sarandon and West, I’ll worry about who supports Sanders and their judgement calls when Hillary Clinton repudiates Lloyd Blankfein, Bob Kagan and Henry Kissinger.

          BruceS 5 days ago
          “African-Americans multiplied their voting power by engaging in social activism”

          More pearls from Chait – social activism AGAINST the Democratic establishment was the only way African Americans in the South were able to realize their right to vote for the very first time. We see this need for grass roots activism time and time again – as today a Clinton Democrat and, unfortunately, Obama ally like Rahm Emanuel proves he’s as capable of treachery against the black community as George Wallace. Still waiting for Hillary to repudiate one of her surrogates – that white Southern governor who made a big show of going back south to execute a mentally incapacitated black man in order to wrangle the white vote when he first ran for President. What was his name? Oh yeah – Bill Clinton, who has never passed up an opportunity to screw over black people if it served his ambitions.

          Daxster 5 days ago
          Why superdelegates will switch to Bernie
          Superdelegates are governors, senators, congressmen i.e. Elected officials.

          Nearly 80% of Democrats ages 19-29 support Bernie Sanders. They are energized, organized, can raise money. They know how to caucus, have the names and contact info of Bernie Democrats and Independents and can turn out the vote……

          A superdelegate who gives the nomination to Hillary WILL have an opponent in his/her next election! Superdelegates understand this.

          BruceS 4 days ago
          @easton @BruceS @DiTurno

          I guess you have special reading comprehension powers – seeing words that aren’t on the page. Read Bernie’s speech on the crime bill of 1994 – compared to Hillary’s fearmongering about “superpredators” at about the same time, if you want to see the difference between someone who has some vision to offer the black community versus an opportunistic hack who isn’t above selling black folks down the river (or as Marian Wright Edelman calls the Clintons – “not our friends politically.”)

          Notevenfromhere 5 days ago
          I’m not defending one candidate or another in this comment, I’m just going to point out that NYmag has consistently published articles with a pro-Clinton and anti-Bernie bias, and while I appreciate NYMag snark in aspects of mundane trivialities like ‘Where to find the most feminist burger’ I guess I was hoping for too much when I expected an equal and unbiased representation of the democratic primaries.

          BruceS 4 days ago
          @DiTurno @Notevenfromhere @ISOK

          Too many times when Hillary has repeated “the exact same things Republicans are saying”…notably when she was parroting Cheney’s insidious crap prior to the AUMF vote, scaring the white folks with tales of “superpredators”, endorsing welfare “reform”, rejected the label “liberal”, etc. ad nauseum. Or getting a thumbs up from Lloyd Blankfein, Bob Kagan and Henry Kissinger. There’s indication of a real problem with MizInevitable. You are yammering about internet comments.

        • To be honest, I don’t care to try to convince anyone to do much of anything. What I choose to do isn’t dependent on what others choose to do, and visa versa. But I hope some people get a better sense of where people such as myself are coming from and why we’re so frustrated.

          Media and political elites like Jonathan Chait have been dismissing people like me for as long as I can remember. It never changes. And they never seem to gain any greater insight about those they dismiss or the larger world. It’s likely that I know American history better than he does. Certainly, I have a better grasp of American demographics and public opinion.

          Initially, Clinton and her supporters dismissed Sanders’ supporters as Bernie Bros. It was the recycled rhetoric from past campaigns, when Obama’s supporters were called Obama Boys. When it turned out that Sanders had won young women, Clinton’s supposedly feminist supporters then said that these women just wanted the boys (i.e., the Bernie Bros) and that they had a special place in hell. The reality is that these young women were attracted to Sanders’ message for the same reason as young men, both demographics having been hit harder by economic problems than older generations.

          Then, everyone kept saying that Clinton had the minority vote cinched up. But it was always empty rhetoric. A smaller percentage of minorities, as compared to whites, show up to caucuses and primaries. The very group of minorities who are the least likely to normally be involved in politics are poor minorities and the poorest minorities right now are the young minorities. It just so happens that Sanders has won the support of young minorities, both blacks and Hispanics. These young minorities haven’t just been the target of the Clinton New Democrat’s corporatist neoliberal ‘free’ trade and slashing of welfare but also the target of the War on Drugs, school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration.

          It’s not just the young that Sanders has won. He has won support from the low income demographic in general. It just so happens that this disproportionately includes the young, impacting the most young women and minorities.

          When you’re poor, when you have been dismissed by the political and media elites, it gives you a particular perspective on the world. At the bottom of society, what looks practical is much different. Also, the poor have a lot less to lose and a lot more to gain. They feel no need to defend the corrupt, rigged system that has mostly benefited the type of person who supports Clinton. The status quo has failed them and they see nothing but misery and heartbreak in defending the status quo.

          After all, to have an arrogant asshole, a privileged upper middle class white guy to claim that you’re simply being purist and privileged for challenging the system that has harmed you, that has left you behind and doesn’t care if you fall through the cracks…. well, let’s say it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Chait and Clinton’s privileged defenders aren’t winning anyone over with their paternalistic condescension in telling poor people what’s best for them. We’re smart enough to figure it out for ourselves.

          I’m one of those relatively poor people. I’ve spent many years living under the poverty line. Looking back at earlier pictures of myself, I was looking gaunt back then. I barely made enough money to get by, having no cable or internet or even a phone. I’ve always had working class jobs. I’m in an economically better position now, but just barely. I’m still not that far above the poverty line. A single economic problem could make my life quite uncomfortable.

          My generation, GenX, hasn’t had it easy. We are the only generation, as I think I’ve explained, who experienced an economic depression that effected us alone. The older generations were so fucking clueless that they didn’t even know that an economic depression was happening, since they were doing just fine. My generation experienced childhood poverty rates and later unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression for the entire country. Older people still don’t talk about this because they still don’t know about it.

          Millennials in some ways have had it even worse. The job market has become ruthless. The remaining unions tended to protect older workers while throwing younger workers under the bus. And, of course, younger Americans have little hope of getting Social Security even as they know their parents and grandparents are or will get it.

          Yet Millennials are the most optimistic generation, despite having so much against them. They seem to have a faith in America and the American Dream in a way that older generations have given up on. Optimism used to be considered a fully American trait. To believe that one had a right and a duty to ensure the world be better for each generation was practically the American Creed for a long time. This was the social compact, but the older generations betrayed their own children and grandchildren. They got theirs and then they pulled the ladder up behind them.

          All that the older generations call impractical purist politics is exactly what helped them when they were younger, before all the New Deal programs were dismantled and welfare slashed. From their privileged position of having been given opportunity after opportunity, they judge the young for wanting those same kinds of opportunities. Why are older Americans so willing to help younger Americans. When they were young, the older Americans of the past helped them. Their privileged selfishness can’t be excused.

          The poor and the young see with clear eyes. They know the game that’s being played and they know it’s rigged against them. What is practical in what can seem like an impossible situation? I guess what is practical is what we as a society choose to make practical. America has a long history of turning the impractical into the practical. We’ve always been an idealistic country, right from the start, doing what others said could not be done.

          Sanders isn’t even presenting anything particularly radical. His opinions are supported by a majority of Americans. And his policies are no where near as far left as what was implemented earlier last century. He just wants to create basic conditions that ensure the good of all Americans, not just wealthier older people. When did fighting for a living wage become radical? A living wage used to be considered the norm.

          It’s easy for the economically comfortable to tell the economically disadvantaged that the best is the enemy of the good. They forget that the ever increasing worst is also the enemy of the good. There is no limit to how far our standards can be lowered, in an economy that is a race to the bottom.

          Besides, why do these privileged partisan Democrats think that the young and the poor owe them anything? Many of Sanders’ supporters aren’t Democrats. Many of them haven’t voted for Democrats in the past and don’t plan on voting for Democrats in the future. Most of them probably have always voted third party or not voted at all. Some even would have voted for Republicans in the past or were raised in Republican families. Sanders has a long history of working with and speaking to people across party lines. He also has connected to many independents and non-voters.

          No one is stealing votes from Clinton. If Sanders wasn’t in the race, many of his supporters still wouldn’t have supported Clinton. She has to earn votes, as does the Democratic party. If they want the votes of the poor and the young, including minorities, then they will have to defend values and offer policies that these Americans care about.

          It is strange the endless uninformed assumptions made about populists and the candidates they support. These aren’t typical partisans. And so standard empty partisan rhetoric won’t be persuasive. These people demand practical real world solutions. Partisan loyalty to political elites won’t help them. Even if they wanted to be partisan, they are more likely to be partisans of third parties. Also, many populists often have right-libertarian and socially conservative views, which easily could lead them to be partisans of the Republican party.

          If you don’t understand populism and populists, you will obviously be confused by what is going on. If you have never experienced poverty and unemployment, you can’t know what is motivating many of these people. You can’t understand people like me.

          • Thank you very much for your kind and considered treatment of pragmatic voting, of populism, and of the perspective of Sanders’ fans. I have read it, though I haven’t the time to go through many of the references. I’m trying to finish a book in about 6 weeks, which is challenging, am struggling with health stuff, and I need to do a lot of family stuff that takes overall precedence as I’m the patriarch of four local kids and their kids, and they get whatever’s left of me after essential work. I just don’t have the time I’d like to review some of the things you’ve covered so well and judiciously. Just a couple of quick points. I’m going to stay general, unfortunately, in the interest of time.

            I’m done making my point about judging what’s moral and what isn’t. I think you answered me just fine. More importantly, it’s not as pertinent as these things you’ve raised, which are largely unrelated, and which I hope you realize I agreed with all along, to the extent I was aware. The only exception to that is the information you included about Nader splitting the vote, which, when I can go through your references and anything else on the subject I can find, I will, as it’s important for me to know that stuff, as it comes up constantly as an almost archetypal event for the left,

            I very much appreciated you taking the time and energy to delve into the problems with Chait’s essay. Although I was troubled by his ending in the same way, I was very enlightened by the many points you fleshed out about other parts of it. And as you said, some of the comments were so insightful and helpful that they make me hopeful for America, as comments often do; there are lots of people out there with great brains and hearts. It’s inspiring to be reminded of that.

            At this point, I’m somewhat an expert in general terms of psychological differentiations along the self-described liberal and conservative continuum. As far as I can tell I know it better than anyone, having devoted the last 6 years to the effort of learning how people like you and I can effectively relate to individual self-styled conservatives, tactically-speaking. Your arguments and attitudes, and mine, toward people like Chait and Clinton are largely a reflection of the same personality differentiations: they are conservatives. Now, please don’t ‘go off’ to spend a lot of your time on that- I don’t want you wasting a bunch of time on ideology defintions and such; I realize you have some good perspective on the affair, and much nuanced compared to how I have to cover it, I just want to make the overall point that the techniques and concerns and frustrations that we articulate are in the same pattern, and I think that’s important. The Sanders-Clinton primary stuggle is noteworthy and bitter because it’s a much more classic liberal-conservative battle than we normally see. It’s being seen as something else, but it has the deep neuronal roots of other great shifts along the simple version of that continuum. Which makes it very useful and interesting for me. The point you often make about our rightward drift (in some ways) is quite important, and I don’t use the argument as much as I should in my work. Any Clinton is spouting conservatism, as well as doing the related excessive following of money and corporate interests. The sucking up to Kissinger et al is evidence that it’s getting worse, not better, and it helps remind about some of the points you made, that we are in for a lot of unnecessary bottom-half heartache with a Clinton presidency.

            Having said that, it was wonderful to be taught by you so well again, and to be reminded that politics, political history, and political psychology are quite afield of each other, and, though you roam about between all of them, that’s not a common skill. I’m only fairly decent at knowing what’s going on in the real world politically; I don’t know my history well; and my grasp of poli psych is relatively narrow and specialized, in a sense– but all three are strengths of yours. Which I depend on. This series of notes is another reminder that I need to remember my place, just like all humans do; that I may do something well, but it’s of narrow scope in the real world, and I should depend on others to take me places I can’t go. It’s a real gift to have you and others helping so much. Part of it is that I have a lot of other things to do and don’t have time, but it’s not just that: you’re a gifted synthesist, in a way that makes your focus on clarity and facts powerful, because you’re able to translate real-world considerations so well into the big picture with rare usefulness. I appreciate Chait, Haidt, Cooke, George Will, and other center or right people in doses (and I have to read them for my work), and I appreciate Krugman and a few others on the left somewhat more steadily: none of these people come close to the breadth of your judicious, independent analysis, and most are not anywhere near as nuanced and tolerant, either.

            People think we wander around and get 80% of the truth as humans, and that the dummies only get 60%– something like that. I think the real numbers parallel physics much closer, that it’s more like 6% and 4%, which mainly translates into more risk than people typically perceive, but also means people should be much more speculative, much more humble, and much more careful about facts. A strength of your perspective is that you are both wide-ranging and carefully independent, which has you off at times, but very on at others. It’s somewhat parallel to being a good scientist who takes risks in a field that’s wide-open, instead of sticking with fleshing out a known field. I find more resonance and explanatory power with your insights than with any other person I follow, and I’m including celebrated and highly respected names in that group, some of whom are friends at this point. I’m very grateful to be able to follow someone who takes the truth so seriously, and does it not out of the need for a job, or an audience, or borne out of ego expression, but just because the gift you bear makes it necessary to translate what’s rattling around your head for us. In my book, you’re a 6 percenter.

            There’s also the generational component that you touched upon. You’re a touchstone for me of your generation and below, as I’m a late boomer, constantly feeling behind and a little stupid about things my kids take for granted and learned about all kinds of things, including politics, by the time they were in their teens.

            So one again, thank you for the education and inspiration. I realize this may seem I’m jumping to the other side of an argument; that’s fine. I never moved from a perspective close to yours politically, though I am not anywhere near as useful or facile with what I believe. I read and appreciate you for the passion and clarity you provide for a liberal perspective for this country, one that, in essence, is pretty straightforward, but that can be lost amid conservative techniques and misinformation.

          • Before I say anything else, I was curious about the book you spoke of. Do you mean you’re writing a book? I’m not sure I’ve ever asked you want you do as a career. If I did ask you, I must have forgotten… my memory often fails me.

            Anyway, I understand you have real life concerns, just as we all do. I really do appreciate your response here. It is nice to be able to discuss these things. I’m always in the process of learning. Much of what I’ve written here is as fairly new to me as well.

            I know I can be an asshole. I like to think of it as being passionate, but depression and irritability sometimes get the best of me. So, let me apologize for when I emotionally lash out. It’s not the kind of person I want to be.

            Even toward Chait, I can’t guarantee I’m being entirely fair. It’s just as a liberal I save my harshest criticisms for liberals. It’s the same reason I recently criticized Kenan Malik, a nice buy I’m sure but something about his view of terrorism just sent me up the wall. And it’s the same reason I’ve criticized Jonathan Haidt in the past.

            Both Malik and Haidt are authors I read. My criticisms don’t mean they are horrible thinkers. But I’m not one to pull my punches, even when sparring with people supposedly on my own side. I’m fiercely in love with liberalism and I will fiercely defend it, but it isn’t a love of ideological purity. I see liberalism as a vision of hope and I see one of the greatest dangers is when the liberalism loses hope, it’s ability to challenge and offer something better.

            After writing all that I did above, I’m not sure what to make of Chait. I called the article “a shill piece for the Clinton campaign.” I said that because I’ve seen so many shill pieces recently in the MSM. But I don’t exactly know where Chait is coming from. I came across this article:

            http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/04/disastrous-clinton-post-presidency.html

            It’s from last year. In it, Chait is highly critical of the Clintons. It’s not clear to me what Chait supports and why. I must admit I don’t feel overly motivated to try to figure it out.

            “More importantly, it’s not as pertinent as these things you’ve raised, which are largely unrelated, and which I hope you realize I agreed with all along, to the extent I was aware.”

            I’m glad to hear that. I wasn’t sure where exactly agreement between us might begin to part ways. I know I come on strong at times. This can polarize people. I sometimes find that I agree with people more than at first is apparent. It is easier to see points of contention.

            “The only exception to that is the information you included about Nader splitting the vote, which, when I can go through your references and anything else on the subject I can find, I will, as it’s important for me to know that stuff, as it comes up constantly as an almost archetypal event for the left”

            I would even be fine if someone came to a different conclusion than I did, as long as it was done so based on having researched it. What irritates me is that it keeps getting casually thrown at me.

            Back in 2000, that was the first time I voted. I had been politically indifferent before that. I had no sense that the government represented me in anyway. Plus, I had been lost in severe depression from my late teens to my early 20s. So, when I voted Nader, I wasn’t a Democrat and had no desire to be a Democrat. If I hadn’t voted for Nader, I wouldn’t have voted. Nader inspired me to vote because he was the first candidate I ever heard who I could sense wasn’t full of utter bullshit. It was a breath of fresh air, after the rancor of the 1990s.

            When Democrats attacked me for finally feeling like someone finally gave me a voice in politics, I just said fuck it. I didn’t vote again for a while. The 2000 election taught me that the system is rigged and that those invested in the system will attack you for pointing out that it is rigged. Because of arrogant Democrats, they loss any hope of having me on their side.

            It’s not that I’m anti-Democrat, per se. In 2012, I was so pissed off at the GOP’s anti-democratic tactics that I voted for Obama as a ‘fuck you’ to Republicans. That is my version of lesser evilism. I’ve been technically registered as a Democrat since 2012, but simply because I don’t really care and it means nothing to me. I’ll eventually probably register again as an Independent or whatever.

            In case you’re curious, here is a post I wrote. It is a simple post, but has some links to articles about the 2000 election:

            https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-complicity-of-mainstream-politics-and-media/

            “I very much appreciated you taking the time and energy to delve into the problems with Chait’s essay.”

            It was a useful opportunity. It gave me something upon which to focus my mind. He brought so many things together in the article that it forced me to counter it with various info and alternative perspectives. It inspired me.

            “Your arguments and attitudes, and mine, toward people like Chait and Clinton are largely a reflection of the same personality differentiations: they are conservatives.”

            We definitely agree about that.

            “Now, please don’t ‘go off’ to. . .”

            And you know I could. LOL

            “The Sanders-Clinton primary stuggle is noteworthy and bitter because it’s a much more classic liberal-conservative battle than we normally see. It’s being seen as something else, but it has the deep neuronal roots of other great shifts along the simple version of that continuum.”

            That is what interests me. What makes Sanders so shocking in the mainstream is that it has been so long since a more strongly liberal-minded candidate was able to be such a challenge in one of the two main parties. People have forgot what liberalism looks like, not just as an ideology but more importantly as a mindset.

            “This series of notes is another reminder that I need to remember my place, just like all humans do;”

            That is important. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten the sense of what my role is in the world. My place is limited, but it is what it is. I try to make the best of it.

            “that I may do something well, but it’s of narrow scope in the real world, and I should depend on others to take me places I can’t go.”

            I’m a generalist. I’m a thinker of thoughts and my mind goes where it will. But I love thinkers who are more of specialists. My generalist mind requires specialist info.

            “you’re a gifted synthesist, in a way that makes your focus on clarity and facts powerful, because you’re able to translate real-world considerations so well into the big picture with rare usefulness.”

            It’s for this reason I’d probably be horrible in academia or mainstream media. My mind is a mess. I might eventually get around to synthesizing, but only after my mind goes in diverse directions and follows near endless tangents. I’m not a well organized person. Even my synthesis can be a bit crude. My strengths are my weaknesses.

            “I appreciate Chait, Haidt, Cooke, George Will, and other center or right people in doses (and I have to read them for my work), and I appreciate Krugman and a few others on the left somewhat more steadily: none of these people come close to the breadth of your judicious, independent analysis, and most are not anywhere near as nuanced and tolerant, either.”

            I appreciate many views as well, including some of the same people you appreciate. Even when I harshly criticize an author, it won’t necessarily stop me from continuing to read them and trying to understand them. My strong responses go hand in hand with a kind of tolerance. I want people to speak their opinions, even when I disagree with them, and when I disagree it might be quite vocal… and they can return the favor. That is fine.

            “which mainly translates into more risk than people typically perceive, but also means people should be much more speculative, much more humble, and much more careful about facts. A strength of your perspective is that you are both wide-ranging and carefully independent, which has you off at times, but very on at others.”

            I totally get what you’re saying. I have a kind of humility that isn’t always apparent. I’m as critical of myself as others. My criticism of liberals, for example, is part of that self-criticism. I’m a liberal and I’m concerned about what it means for me to be a liberal. I want to know the failings of liberalism in great detail because I care about liberalism. It’s a fierce sense of love and passion.

            As for my thinking, I’ve always had a mind that didn’t quite work normally. It was frustrating when I was younger. School was a struggle. But as an adult, I’ve realized that there are advantages to it. Even when I’m wrong and I can be gloriously wrong at times, I eventually come around to why I’m wrong. My views have changed greatly over time. I used to be immensely clueless and largely still am. What matters to me is curiosity. I simply can’t accept the state of my own ignorance, no matter how much I might fail in trying to get beyond it.

            “There’s also the generational component that you touched upon. You’re a touchstone for me of your generation and below, as I’m a late boomer, constantly feeling behind and a little stupid about things my kids take for granted and learned about all kinds of things, including politics, by the time they were in their teens.”

            I’m always curious about the personal details of people I interact with. Knowing that you’re older than me does give some context. That type of thing matters a lot. I’m a late GenXer, which is different not just from the generations before and after but also different from early GenXers. I went to high school in the 1990s.

            For me, everything is personal. It’s part of how my mind works, what I used to describe in terms of my testing as a Myers-Briggs INFP. I’m always looking for the personal angle, such as the fact that Chait grew up in white middle class suburbia. The personal obviously shapes who people are and how they view the world. As such, someone like Joe Bageant who grew up in a poor rural farming town in Appalachia had a different kind of perspective.

            “I realize this may seem I’m jumping to the other side of an argument; that’s fine.”

            I’m perfectly fine with your views expressed here. You were being critical of me and now we’ve come to some agreement. That is how I like it. I believe in fighting hard for what one believes in, but always looking for a common ground. There is no point in fighting for the sake of it.

            “I read and appreciate you for the passion and clarity you provide for a liberal perspective for this country, one that, in essence, is pretty straightforward, but that can be lost amid conservative techniques and misinformation.”

            I’m glad you think that. My own view seems pretty straightforward to me. Yet I realize I’m outside the frame of mainstream media and politics. It makes it difficult to explain myself because I have to explain a thousand different things that have led to my views.

            I’m also glad that you are able to look past my gruff way of acting. I do mean well in my own way. I’m sorry that I don’t always act as friendly as I could. If you catch me in a bad mood, try to not take it personally. Emotions are just emotions. We all have our struggles.

            That is my way of saying, don’t be a stranger. You’re always welcome here.

          • By the way, even Trump is now defending Bernie. I can’t but wonder if both Trump and Sanders are appealing to people for ultimately the same economic reasons, despite their other differences:

          • Many millennials like me aren’t poor at least for now, but we fear an uncertain future and feel like the current path is only one of decline. For me, I feel like I will have grown up relatively privileged, but spend my adult years much less so.

          • “I can’t but wonder if both Trump and Sanders are appealing to people for ultimately the same economic reasons, despite their other differences”

            It seems that way to me. These aren’t partisan Democrats or partisan Republicans. They are people who simply want to reform a broken system.

            “Many millennials like me aren’t poor at least for now, but we fear an uncertain future and feel like the current path is only one of decline. For me, I feel like I will have grown up relatively privileged, but spend my adult years much less so.”

            But many Millennials will find their future is more poor than their parents. That is what the data shows. For the first time in US history, recent generations are doing worse than their parents. This is why so many Millennials are still living with their parents. That was true even for many GenXers. My closest friend has lived with his parents for years right now just so he could pay off his student debt.

    • Here is the problem. Most liberals, left-wingers, and independents who vote end up voting for a mainstream Democrat who helps push the party and the entire political system rightward.

      Every single one of these people think to themselves if all those other people would vote for the greater good I too would vote for the greater good. But because they are all voting for the lesser evil my only choice is to also vote for the lesser evil. It rarely occurs to them that if they all voted for the greater good we would at this point have decades of the everything shifting leftward, with progress and good times had for all.

      Everyone blames everyone else for their own failure of moral courage. It’s a collective giving up of self-responsibility, bowing down to a perceived collective will that doesn’t actually match what most individuals want. It’s a form of mass delusion that manifests as what right-wingers like to call mobocracy. Whatever one wants to call it, for certain it isn’t functioning democracy.

      It’s just fear and learned helplessness… with a large dose of partisan groupthink and corporatist propaganda thrown in.

  6. Let me broaden the scope.

    I’ve argued that decades of Democratic lesser evil voting has made someone like Trump inevitable. Well, I’d also argue that decades of Republican lesser evil voting has made someone like Clinton inevitable.

    More than being pushed to the right, what has happened is that lesser evil voting across the spectrum has allowed corporatist neoliberals and war hawk, tough-on-crime neocons to take over the country. We keep having a vote which of two flavors of koolaid to drink.

    Both sides vote for lesser evil. Collectively, this means that the majority votes for political evil, again and again and again. Neither side ever puts up and fully backs their best candidates. There never is full public debate about issues that matter. The actual problems we face are never seriously considered, much less dealt with.

    The American public has lost the capacity to even think about this situation. Our minds are dominated by fear. This mentality of fear knows no right or left. Or rather, in a state of fear, nearly everyone becomes either a conservative or an authoritarian, sometimes both at the same time. Even liberals stop being liberals and there are few left to defend a progressive vision.

    By default, everything grows worse. The permanent national debt is an example of this. Democrats can claim it grows slightly slower under most Democratic presidents than under most Republican presidents. But that is just bullshit. It keeps on growing. No major Democratic candidate has offered a solution to this problem that could cause the precipitous decline or even collapse of our country or else lead to world war.

    If that is lesser evil voting, we are doomed. Are we just going to throw in the towel or are we going to fight for what we know is right?

  7. Here is the problem with lesser evil voting.

    First, let’s say you want to vote for the strongest candidate to beat Trump. If that is the case, you’d make sure to nominate Sanders. But most lesser evil voters simply support the most establishment candidate in knee-jerk group think fashion, even if they are more likely to lose. It’s not a rational and tactical strategy for most voters. It’s simply is blind partisanship, according to whichever candidate most represents partisan political power. As such, nominating Clinton as the Democratic candidate makes it more likely Trump would win the election, which supposedly is the complete opposite result than what motivates lesser evil voting.

    Second, even if going against all the polling Clinton managed to beat Trump, where would that leave us. Going by Clinton’s record, especially in context of the Clinton New Democrats, her lesser evil is a fairly immense evil. Clinton New Democrats represent the opposite of everything that is liberal in any meaningful sense. A vote for Clinton is a vote for large numbers of people harmed and killed in wars of aggression, free trade agreements that ship American jobs overseas, life generally getting worse and worse for the poor and for minorities, an increasing takeover of corporatism/fascism, a continued undermining of democracy, and on and on.

    Everything that has been getting worse for decades will continue to get worse still. That is the best case scenario. How is that lesser evil? There is no evidence that Clinton would be less evil than Trump, if we are to be honest. She might be less evil, but you can’t tell that going by her political record. How does one vote lesser evil when one can’t even ascertain which is the lesser evil going by the known evidence? Does it just become a decision yet again of blind partisanship and just ignorantly hoping for the best? But that is what got us into this bad situation in the first place.

    We are facing a lose-lose scenario. There is no way for the US to not get worse, if either Clinton or Trump is elected. That massively sucks!

    • I’ve come to the conclusion that Americans will vote for the lesser evil until there is nothing left but absolute evil. It’s some combination of a cynical and apathetic embrace of fatalistic decline. Americans as a country have decided life is no longer worth living and have collectively decided to commit suicide.

  8. I’ve been meaning to comment further on this all week. But it’s taken me a while to get around to it. Now it’s the weekend.

    I was wondering about my response this campaign season. I’m no youngster being taken in by idealism for the first time. Anyway, it isn’t actually Sanders supposed idealism that inspires me (if anything, his grim realism). It’s more about the moment in time, a break in the edifice of power and status quo. The dam of the establishment can only hold back populist outrage for so long.

    I’ve been watching the trends for years now. This is the moment of change. There is no stopping it, no going back. It doesn’t matter if you’re ready for change or not. Nor does it matter if the establishment wants change or not. And, nope, no one can control the change that will happen and predict where it will lead. With possibility comes risk.

    But voting for guaranteed failure such as Hillary Clinton is certainly not a better choice, so it seems to me. Clinton can’t save the failed system. It’s too late.

    Why do I have such a strong response to Hillary?

    I came of age during the Bill Clinton era. I was in high school when he was elected president. His administration lasted from my late teens to my mid twenties. In the 1990s, I honestly cared not a twiddle for politics and, once I hit voting age, I didn’t vote. I didn’t hate the Clintons nor have much opinion about them. I became cynical young or maybe it was just depression-induced apathy.

    Before this campaign season, I couldn’t say I knew much about Hillary. I did know of her husband’s legacy and I had been critical of it. But I didn’t quite know her role in the New Democrats. When she ran against Obama, I didn’t particularly care one way or another. I’m not a Democrat and, generally speaking, one professional politician is no better than the next.

    This campaign season, however, has been educational. It’s been educational for me and for the American public. I originally dismissed the accusations about Hillary’s email situation, until I learned more about it. I tended to dismiss most accusations made by Republicans, just out of principle and not because of any desire to defend Democrats.

    Yet the more I learn of Hillary the more disturbed I am and the more she scares me. I genuinely think she could easily do more damage to what little democracy we have left than could someone like Trump. With Trump (or Cruz), there at least would be a massive backlash. But someone like Hillary knows how to play the game and she could accomplish so much more and not in a good way.

    She represents precisely what is wrong with our society. If we as liberals can’t fight such obvious threats to democracy as Hillary Clinton, then we might as well give up. And if liberals have given up on even trying to defend liberalism, what is the point? So, shall we go on fighting for liberalism or should we just declare it dead?

    That is a serious question, far from hypothetical. Is the liberal dream dead? Has this liberal age proven a failure? What good has liberalism done for mass incarcerated Americans, for homeless veterans with PTSD, for Honduran regugees, for desperate Iraqis, for oppressed Palestinians, for child laborers making cheap products for others?

    Either we take liberal values seriously or we don’t. It’s that simple.

    • sorry, I meant to respond to your question: the book is called “A Liberal’s Guide to Conservatives” and is a personality-and neurology-driven approach, which I find infinitely more useful than talking about morals or particular policy or even historical dimensions. It’s a way to get more cleanly at having a place at the table for both theoretical-levle conservative and liberal approaches, centered in hemispheric observations from the work of Sperry and others, while allowing for radicalism and lots of pluralism. That’s probably the most important part of the book, and I think it’s the coolest shit on the subject out there. The latter end is a bunch of informal advice/essays on things I learned by hanging out, arguing, and trying to get things done around them– tactical and communication theory-based, with dashes into this and that, all just opinion. It draws greatly from Iain McGilchrist, Colin DeYoung, and Daniel Nettles, less from Elkanon Goldberg and Jordan Peterson and a bunch of interviews from all over the states. you were also very important by allowing me to link the notion of boundaries to the personality ‘aspect’ (Deyoung) of Orderliness. That’s a fancy way of saying that thinking in terms of thick/thin boundaries is invaluable when conceptualizing how one mechanically expresses orderliness in life, which is the strongest statistical indicative of self-styled conservatives. I use the notion of boundaries as one of 7 points about their values that fall out of the neurological work, which drive through the personality results to behavior. But the meat of the theory is in the two personality chapters, where I go through 4 of the most ideological of the 10 ‘aspects’ of personality, which are a drilldown of the Big 5 found by Deyoung.

      I feel remiss not mentioning until now that if you haven’t read McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary, you’re in for a treat. You’ll recognize immediately the ideological implications, which everyone seems to have missed. He’s not crazy about my work, but he doesn’t understand it fully, either: a Cameron Brit. He goes a little far in his particular argument, to me, but I suspect you’ll be along for the ride all the way, and not get off near the end like I did. A very nice, though skittish fellow, easily offended and poor in public, but one of the widest-ranging minds I’ve ever talked to.

      • We seem to more or less on the same page about many things. One of my earliest and continuing loves is social science, specifically that of personality traits/functions.

        Despite all of my recent political blogging, my mind is always focused on that. It’s just a more difficult area to write about. I let the challenging material percolate for long periods of time. The changes I ultimately seek are those at the level of paradigm, of what some left-wingers like Althusser call ideology and still others like Robert Anton Wilson call reality tunnel. It generally fits in the type of thing you’re writing about.

        And, yes, I’m familiar with Iain McGilchrist. I learned of his ideas from researching more about Julian Jaynes. I’ve been reading bits and pieces of McGilchrist’s writings for a while now. I’ve actually been reading his book, The Master and His Emissary, more thoroughly this past week or so.

        This politics stuff is surface level. That isn’t to say surface level isn’t important, but there are deeper levels that must be kept in mind. My ultimate goal in life is to create mind viruses, seeds of change that once planted can’t be uprooted. That is why I like to study history, to learn of how those changes of mind happen. Before any revolution of society, there is a revolution of the mind.

      • My ongoing theory is symbolic conflation. It is based on my own insights. But it has since been informed by the writings of others, such as Lewis Hyde in his book Trickster Makes the World. More recently, my thoughts have returned to the subject because of reading Dangerous Frames by Nicholas J. G. Winter where he discusses what he calls group implication in terms of metaphorical frames and psychological schemas. I’m sure I’ll add your book to this list of influences.

      • I’m all about looking personality and neurology, specifically as they relate to worldviews/paradigms and the larger field of social science—not just psychology and sociology but also anthropology, etc. Personality and neurology are inseparable from the larger world, both of the physical and social environment.

        Particular conditions of culture and social order will determine how neurology develops and what personalities form, including the reality and perception of psychological disorders. Different societies have varying rates of depression, schizophrenia, and all the rest—but also different rates of various personality traits/functions.

        It’s when larger conditions change that entire worldviews change. The conditions have to be right and rarely can be forced.

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