The 2018 Midterms Game Day Thread of Angst, Worry, (and maybe some hope?)


What does any of that have to do with my statement?

If you think that the Democrats don’t have gullible masses, then guess what? You’re part of those gullible masses.


Nothing anyone says has anything to do with any of your statements, apparently, since you keep uprooting the windmill you’re tilting at and carting it well past any goalposts that may have originally existed.

There is no hard left in US politics in the same sense that the Tea Party is hard right. Unless you think Bernie is equivalently hard left, in which case you’re far more deluded than you’ve generally seemed here.


Many of Bernie’s supporters absolutely were hard left nutjobs. You saw it at the DNC. You saw it in interviews where, days prior to the convention they were absolutely certain that Bernie was going to win, and how the infinite set of evidence suggesting otherwise was all some kind of complex lie set up by “the establishment.”

Those people were totally disconnected from reality.

The reality is, Democrats aren’t some magically enlightened group of people, as much as you want to tell yourselves you are. A bunch of your voters are JUST AS DUMB as the GOP base… They are just as incapable of parsing logical thought, they just happen to have irrational beliefs that better line up with reality. But that’s not the same as actually knowing stuff. It’s just being lucky at a coin flip.


I don’t think that everyone on the left has pure motives. Nor that people on the left are smarter or more savvy than people on the right. My case is solely about the political incentives and strategies of the two parties. The GOP relies on being able to feed lies to its constituents because its preferred policies are not popular. Democrats try to distill complex ideas to simple ones in order to campaign effectively, but are generally trying to craft consensus for some iteration of an already popular policy. Democrats do coalition building with policy proposals (and, to some extent, by opposing Republicans.) Republicans do coalition building by brainwashing and lying and coded appeals and dog whistles and wedge issues. The long-term outcomes of these strategies are somewhat predictable: something like the Tea Party and Trumpism was inevitable.


I know it’s hard for you to admit that you’ve spent a lifetime voting for racist, sexist, anti-choice, anti-LGBT policies and policymakers, thus making you a bad person. But you don’t need to lash out at the people who’ve been doing the right thing that whole time. Just come into our welcoming embrace, make your penance for every Republican vote you’ve ever cast, and accept that you are a better man now :)


And, please take these pamphlets about the evils of GMOs and vaccines. There will be a purity test on Twitter at an unannounced time.


Aha! A policy traitor!

True far leftists haven’t produced physical, wasteful, environment-destroying pamphlets since the 70s, you Koch-enabling cur!


I don’t have any problem admitting that, that’s why I left the party. But I can see the same sort of blindspot in the left, that folks on the right had.


Many of Bernie’s supporters were hard-right nutjobs who just didn’t like Trump.


lol, no they were not.


In his defense it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between anarchists and the alt-right. The extremes of both ends tend to converge in some ways.


Most definitely not delusions that are restricted to Left or Right. They transcend that divide.


Maybe there are two concurrent things going on here.
If the issue is ideology over reason is bad, then no one here would disagree.

But you keep throwing around the phrase “far left” without defining it, and I’m trying to find out what in your opinion constitutes “far left.” Doesn’t seem like it’s beyond the pale to ask what that is.


That’s exactly the issue.

It’s not that the Democrats are currently as bad as the GOP. I mean, jesus, I’m a registered Democrat now. I changed my party affiliation because they weren’t as bad as the GOP.


That’s like saying the Allies weren’t as bad as the Nazis though. I’m worried about how all this bullshit “torch the place as we leave the building” the GOP is doing on their way out is going to affect things. I assume it’ll result in court challenges, possibly ruled on by Trump-appointed judges, or the shiny new conservative SCOTUS eventually.


Also those driving the party platform (cross post from neo-nazi thread):

At the Texas Republican Party’s 2018 convention, Ray Myers was a part of a select group of activists charged with crafting the platform for the biggest and most influential state party in the country. Myers is also a white nationalist, a fact that he declared last week. “Damn Right, I’m a WHITE NATIONALIST and very Proud of it,” Myers wrote in a Facebook post last Tuesday.


Not only that, it’s like saying guys be sure not to be like the Nazis a day after you defeat them and start setting up trials. And it’s like yeah, we know… we weren’t in the actual parade, maybe the people marching alongside and waving flags shouldn’t be the ones trying sound the call… acting like the rest of us didn’t see it. That’s why we weren’t in the parade and didn’t have flags… we saw it decades ago.


So the bigger issue, possibly related to Timex’s point, is what level of truth-bending, straw-manning, and / or tribal signalling is appropriate for politicians to employ in the interest of getting their message out and getting people energized to tackle real problems?

The answer can’t be “none, you must always and in every way tell the whole truth” because no one has time or expertise enough to understand the full details of, say, climate science or the economic impacts of Medicare-for-all or a UBI.

On the flip side, I think the GOP has clearly shown how crazy it would be to have no limit on how much distortion is accepted by voters. Likewise, stuff like GMO scares and anti-vaxxers show how certain brands of conspiracy theory can end up having policy weight even among otherwise-rational liberals. And of course, no one is immune to snake oil like fad diets and homeopathy and so on, so there’s always a chance of similar tactics creeping into your politics.

But those are some pretty extreme boundaries. To give some narrower examples, I think AOC’s tweet about the article where the Pentagon “lost $21 trillion” goes too far on the distortion side, possibly unintentionally (that is, she may have believed the Pentagon actually doesn’t know what it spent that money on, as opposed to the truth, which is that the sum represents the same money going back and forth between different accounts without sufficient oversight). Mainly, I think it goes too far because she implies that there’s some $21 trillion pot of gold that’s been sitting in the DoD for the past 20 years, which we could have used to pay for healthcare. This kind of thing plays into the narrative that you can institute Medicare-for-all and just pay for it with magical savings from somewhere.

Digging a little deeper here, how do you make the policy case for single-payer insurance? Most people would rather have free healthcare than pay insurance premiums and medical bills. If you raise taxes to pay for it, though, people will be angry about the taxes, even if the taxes they pay are less than their previous medical expenses. So somehow you have to give people an informed choice about that, despite opponents who are willing to distort and exaggerate to muddy the waters and convince people the status quo is safer. This is a single policy, but it highlights the broader problem of how to “govern” in the age of fake news.

One way to be totally clear about the tradeoffs would be to give people an accounting of where their tax money is going. Like, rather than just making people put in “I earned X, I paid for Y, I own Z, I owe $$$”, what if the different “worksheet” areas lead to a specific bill targeted at specific services? So you work out, based on your income and various deductions or other personal circumstances, how much you owe the government for healthcare, how much you owe for the military, how much for national parks, welfare, debt service, and so on. I know politicians have no desire to do this, since it makes the costs really salient to people, but it might also encourage some more deliberate thought about creative ways to finance important stuff. I’m sure there would also be tons of wrangling about how to break down the costs and the whole thing would lead to people going nuts about not wanting to pay for anything they don’t specifically benefit from.

Another way to do it would be to stop treating taxes like money the government is taking from you for working hard, and instead treat it like money your employer or revenue source is obligated to pay. So everything that pays you sets aside some amount for taxes. If you get income from a side gig, you charge people a % tax on top of your rate, and the bank or credit card software automatically forwards it to the government; when your employer tells you your salary, it is your take-home salary and they pay the taxes to the gov’t. At the end of the year, you get to update your tax situation if anything has changed, and that adjusts the rates for these various charges; otherwise, the IRS just sends you an accounting that tells you what your rates are for the following year. That way, everyone can stop worrying about the damn federal budget and just let it be whatever makes the most sense to get stuff done, perhaps running more new debt when it’s cheap, tightening the belt a bit when debt is expensive, getting people to buy bonds for specific policies, or whatever else needs to happen. People don’t notice much when the employer pays a lot more for healthcare, because the extra cost is tax deductible and not reported as part of their top-line salary.


That is a good, reasonable post.

The only problem with rejiggering taxes so people understand them better, is that the genie is already out of the bottle.


The appropriate level is, of course, whatever the electorate will stand.

Blame the idiot voters (for buying it), as well as the media for this (for peddling it for profit), not the politicians.