AVOIDING CONSEQUENCES

I like political science. It's interesting, which is helpful given that I do it for a living. Theories that help us understand the political world change over time out of necessity because the political world changes. Some people find this unsatisfying or use it to argue that the term "science" is not applicable. These people prefer the iron certainty of the hard sciences and their various laws, and that is a valid preference. A social science combining rules, institutions, and human behavior has a different type of appeal and value.

When major events happen in the political world, my social media lights up with a lot of interesting comments from people who know a great deal about the process of legislating, bureaucratic theory, and other specialized topics. I like this a lot. I'm starting to feel, however, that the behavior of the American electorate and the state of the American political system no longer conform to logic or reality enough for any kind of rigorous analysis or application of findings from previous research to be useful. That sounds chicken little-ish, I know. It sounds like an overreaction. It also sounds terrifyingly plausible.

As people who study Congress and congressional elections debate the strategy (and consequences) of the House vote on Thursday, the basic assumption is that voters will respond to decisions made by their Representatives in a way that is predictable. I have doubts about the usefulness of that assumption in modern politics. The post-reality world that a lot of Republican voters inhabit is the culmination of a decades-long process of false equivalence and a Choose Your Own Adventure approach to facts. What does it matter that the bill reduces the number of people who will have health insurance if you can simply say it doesn't and a not-insignificant proportion of voters will accept that and applaud? Does it increase costs? Sure does. But once "This will lower costs!" comes out of the President's mouth, that's Problem Solved for all but the most marginal Republicans in Congress.

Seeing modern American politics as having crossed the Rubicon is no longer a belief confined to permanent pessimists and doom-and-gloomers. There now is a substantial number of us for whom reality and facts simply do not matter, and that turns any attempt to understand or analyze the behavior of political actors on its head. Republicans control the narrative to the point that convincing voters that the economy is better since Trump took office can be accomplished by saying "The economy is better now" and repeating it until it becomes accepted as fact. We have taken a step backward, or maybe sideways, or perhaps through a portal to another dimension. I don't feel like this is temporary, or limited to Trump, or a phenomenon that affects the entire political spectrum evenly (liberals, if anything, insist on Fact Checking everything to death until there is no coherent policy they can be identified with). And I'm dealing with the nagging sense that the knowledge that has been accumulated over the years will be of limited use now.

Imagine if a chemist could combine table salt with mud and declare that the result is 24 karat gold. Or diamonds. Or magical potion. Or anything else he or she felt like calling it. That would render most if not all of the knowledge accumulated by practitioners of chemistry over the millennia useless, would it not?

Be Sociable, Share!

73 Responses to “AVOIDING CONSEQUENCES”

  1. Aimee Says:

    This is why I drink.

  2. D.A. Madigan Says:

    It wouldn't invalidate all scientific knowledge. Because if he declares the salty mud a magic potion, and people drink it, they're gonna die.

    The fantasy world conservatives choose to live in will have real life consequences for them. Sadly, it will have real life consequences for all of us. They can deny reality, but reality won't deny them.

  3. satrap Says:

    @Aimee: And why I wish I hadn't stopped..

  4. satrap Says:

    D.A. – I don't think that the intended message is that science is invalidated, so much as rendered useless, as the paradigm in which those facts were collected no-longer exists in a meaningful way.

  5. mago Says:

    All bets off the table for damn sure.

  6. April Says:

    This should be sent to all those pieces of shit rethugs….

  7. BruceJ Says:

    "the basic assumption is that voters will respond to decisions made by their Representatives in a way that is predictable."

    That assumption is correct, they will continue to vote for republicans fucking them over because they like punching hippies. That what they do. That's ALL they do. And they won't stop until all the hippies get punched. Sociopathic monsters like Mo Brooks will not be punished even as their own constituents suffer because he tells them what they want to hear, that as bad as they have it, the people they hate have it worse.

    "If it pisses off the libtards , that's all I need to know" is the animating political strategery of the Trumpentariat, and it has been for decades.

    The key failing in the science approach (like the key failing in nearly all of modern economics) is this peculiar notion that people will always behave rationally.

    I'll quote the esteemed social philosopher Kay on the subject "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals."

  8. Talisker Says:

    America used to be good at reality. It became the richest and most powerful nation on Earth by application of scientific advancement, engineering know-how, and a can-do spirit.

    It became so rich and so powerful, it could afford to ignore reality for a while. No matter what absurd things its leaders said or did, it had a big enough cushion of inherited wealth to ride out the consequences.

    So various strands of unreality rose to power. The theraputic ethos of the New Age hippie: The facts are such a drag, man; how do you feel? The religious fanatic: Never mind the godless facts, what does our highly selective interpretation of the Bible say? The Randian: Facts are unimportant, so long as you're a superior person who has the will to be awesome. The Extropian: Have faith that technology will save us all, regardless of whether it is doing so in empirical reality. And so on, and so forth.

    After forty years or so of this, the wealth is running out. Too many are retreating into ever more grandiose fantasies, with Trump as fantasist-in-chief. When reality finally asserts itself, as it will, the results will not be pretty.

  9. Mo Says:

    "If it pisses off the libtards , that's all I need to know" is the animating political strategery of the Trumpentariat, and it has been for decades.

    The key failing in the science approach (like the key failing in nearly all of modern economics) is this peculiar notion that people will always behave rationally.

    Wanna kill a bottle of cheap rye with me in my box under the bridge, Bruce? We can chortle over choice passages from Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government.

    ["They demonstrate that voters—even those who are well informed and politically engaged—mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues."]

    There is no rationality. Just validation for authoritarian, bigoted, misogynist brains – political crack, and the Republican party is The Kingpin.

  10. NickT Says:

    The crucial factor in all of this is not post-truth politics, but post-democratic structuring of the electoral system. The GOP have managed to game things so that they can more or less pass whatever they want and the Democrats will be unable to take back power. Not that the Democrats have done much recently to convince people that they deserve power either. We know that they are against the GOP, which is presumably "good" – but we don't really know what their plan for the future might be or how they propose to carry it out. People tend not to vote for well-intentioned but vague messaging with a strong flavor of INSERT PLAN HERE, especially if redder meat involving "freedom" and "lower taxes" is the alternative.

    The Democrats failed to play the game effectively and lost. Sadly, they are taking a lot of good people down with them.

  11. April Says:

    @Nick – While I agree that dems don't "play the game effectively", I strongly disagree that they don't make clear "what their plan for the future might be or how they propose to carry it out".

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-most-progressive-democratic-platform-ever/2016/07/12/82525ab0-479b-11e6-bdb9-701687974517_story.html?utm_term=.e510fda4e1ec

    It's just that the platform, and Democrats in general, don't include hating people not like me, or scream-able slogans that can get the masses riled up (although with the rise of rump, protesters are getting better at this!)

    Of course low-information voters can't or won't take the time to read and think about what the Dems actually want. Plus, obstruction. But when these policies are separated from the Democratic position, the majority of Americans support them.

    http://www.politicususa.com/2015/06/03/polls-americans-socialists-bernie-sanders.html

    (Links to various polls in article.)

  12. NickT Says:

    "I strongly disagree that they don't make clear "what their plan for the future might be or how they propose to carry it out"."

    Look around you at any given Democratic blog. There's lots of hating on wicked Republicans and defending the not very impressive status quo, very little in terms of policy or serious discussion of where the Democrats want to take America.

    Consider the Clinton campaign: lots of denunciation of Trump and an occasional squeak of "Look at my web site" plus reliance on flawed campaign data to achieve the inevitable.

    The Democrats as a party don't have a plan that they can be bothered to communicate effectively (or a unified voice for that matter). That's a recipe for failure and deserves to be.

    Hell, half the time Democrats can't even turn out their voters. When they bother to run candidates, that is.

  13. Brian M Says:

    I would split the difference between April and Nick T. Tribalism is not a partisan reality. April did have a point that there were plans and studies and ideas galore, but Nick ultimately nails it here:

    "The Democrats as a party don't have a plan that they can be bothered to communicate effectively (or a unified voice for that matter)."

    The problem with Nick's position is it soft-pedals the main point of this post: a culture that is post reality, post-truth, dedicated ONLY to tribal group self-reinforcement. And I don't know how we solve that. Especially given that things are NOT going to get better no matter what policy prescriptions are put in place. There will be few jobs. Terrorism will ramp up. Environmental changes will really begin to bite. No intellectual committee will really solve these things. Maybe they cannot be "solved", only survived.

  14. NickT Says:

    "The problem with Nick's position is it soft-pedals the main point of this post: a culture that is post reality, post-truth, dedicated ONLY to tribal group self-reinforcement."

    I don't soft-pedal it – I think it's flat wrong. Politics has never been about truth triumphing. It's always been an emotional and often physical fight between gangs of moderately evolved apes for control of the banana tree. Trump is just the logical culmination of that fact. Until Democrats understand this they will keep losing. Stop being so ridiculously, unrealistically high-minded and learn to fight like bastards. Until you do, you are in the position of treating the arena as a slumber party – and the ones who walk off the bloody sand are not going to be those wearing fluffy pajamas and clutching a packet of marshmallows.

  15. April Says:

    I guess we read different blogs. The ones I read are constantly promoting such progressive ideas as a higher minimum wage, health care for all, lower higher education costs, higher taxes on the rich, rebuilding infrastructure, job-training programs, paid family leave, reproductive choice, LGBT rights….

    Hillary DID discuss these things, but, to be fair, she's a very boring speaker. Even I, who like her and (obviously) support her policies have a hard time listening to her delineate these ideas. They just don't chant very well. Let's face it – serious policy is pretty boring to listen to.

    A couple more things – the ratings-driven media and the "both sides do it", the Russian interference, and, she DID WIN BY 2 MILLION MORE VOTES – if a rationally-speaking adult is in the same room with a 2 year old having a temper tantrum, who's going to get all the attention?

    Look, I agree with you that the Democratic party (and Democratic voters) don't work as the monolith the repugs do. This is an issue. I see hope in the grass roots.

  16. Noskilz Says:

    One qualification I'd like to add is that while GOP voters have been largely insulated from actually getting what they've been demanding for years, I'm not so sure they'll be terribly happy at having it delivered on in any meaningful way.

    Up until relatively recently, it was all noise and bullshit and a largely(for them) cost-free exercise in raging against everyone who was in the way of their Utopian fantasies. How they react to having to live with the consequences of those demands may be another matter – but the best indicator of that will be midterm elections, and that's some distance away yet.

    The Senate GOP has already announced they're going to make their own bill, and they don't sound very enthused about having to do that much.

  17. Big G Says:

    You're absolutely right in that the Democrats don't stand for anything at all; what have they ever done to make anything better for anyone? I mean sure there was that whole saving the country from a second Great Depression, but my portfolio still took a massive hit, what's up with that? Yeah, I suppose they did something about health care, in the face non-stop screaming opposition and shitheads like Joe Lieberman, but I still have to make a co-pay! Sure Hilary had a wall of binders full of policies she wanted to enact, but man that shit is boring. Why didn't she just make a commercial that gives out a list of six-figure job offers for everyone in the US? Now that's how you run a campaign.

    Holy Christ. Maybe the Republicans are better at running things. At least they are not in continuous circular firing squad mode.

  18. Leroy Says:

    Violence needs an absence of facts. Oh lord I want to be wrong but the diminishing importance of facts and it's replacement being emotion driven action seems inevitable. I have no advice on how to curb this, but we must or accept the consequence.

  19. April Says:

    "The Onion's" (yes, I know it's The Onion) twitter has a great video of an old white man (rump voter) who "changed his mind after reading 800 pages of queer feminist theory.

    The Onion‏
    Verified account
     @TheOnion May 2

    More
    Trump Voter Feels Betrayed By President After Reading 800 Pages Of Queer Feminist Theory

    It's funny as hell and kind of illustrates what we're talking about, here.

  20. Michael Kimmitt Says:

    We elected an African-American President, and white people seriously suffered a collective psychotic break.

  21. Steve in the ATL Says:

    @NickT: "Not that the Democrats have done much recently to convince people that they deserve power either."

    Jill Stein/Bernie Sanders 2020!!!!!

    Fuck off.

  22. geoff Says:

    As a poor who has benefited from Obama's very half-assed health care "reform", I wonder. Sure an x percent of "folks" who have decent healthcare through their employer will be ok, but their numbers are surely declining. What are the deplorables who work at Wal Mart gonna think when they can't afford health insurance anymore? Who are they gonna blame?

    I am pretty damn done with the Dems, but this is an opportunity. I'm sorry to disagree, but the reality of not being able to afford to get sick or have a baby could wake a lot of people up if someone would simply point it out.

  23. RP Says:

    Maybe the electorate isn't responding as the PoliSci's expect because 35 years of right-wing propaganda have created a reality-distortion field in which political cause and effect has ceased to exist.

  24. Marty Says:

    @April Of course Democrats have a plan, but their communication efforts continually suffer from the curse of knowledge: we know the Democratic plan, therefore everyone knows the Democratic plan; because we know that trickle down economics doesn't work, we assume that everyone does, and don't bother to spend the effort to explain why it doesn't work, or what might work instead. Because we think our plans are obvious, we don't do the hard work that would make them comprehensible to others.

    End result: everyone on the right just hears "What you don't understand our plans, then you must be a moron." Then they rationally choose to vote for the party that says "we are going to bring back your jobs by supercharging American business." After all, at least the Republicans are trying, at least they have a plan and are willing to tell you about it; whereas the Democrats never told anyone how they were going to make people's lives better.

    When you don't point out things that seem to be obvious to you, you aren't making it clear "what your plan is, or how you might carry it out."
    Instead you are assuming that the Republicans already understand these things; when it is obvious that they don't understand these things.

  25. April Says:

    @Marty – I've already agreed that the Democrats' plans don't translate easily to sound bites that can be shouted in Nuremburg-style rallies (although protesters are changing that) but come on, the plans are out there everywhere. And what's so difficult to understand about 15$ minimum wage? Health care for everyone? Equal rights? Fixing bridges and roads? This stuff isn't quantum mechanics or magnets.

    Of course it's true one would have to watch something besides Faux Noise and read something besides Breitshit. I think the biggest problem with Dems is that we treat rump voters as intelligent people, and they just aren't. Plus racism/sexism/other isms keep them huddled in their echo chambers where they are constantly being told all their problems are the Dem's fault.

    Look, I know that RWNJ people hate me, but I'm still willing to engage with them (until they stop talking to me because they can't answer my reasonable questions) and I do read the alt sites and conservative bloggers from time to time to see what they are salivating over now, just on the off chance they might be right about something…..is it so unreasonable to expect them to do the same? After all, government policies affect them and their families too.

    I do think Nick has a point; we're bringing textbooks to a fist fight. But I think it's wrong to constantly blame Dems for the right-wingers shooting themselves (and us) in the foot.

  26. April Says:

    Also amoral. Seriously. What kind of people vote for a self-admitted sexual abuser and pedophiles?

    Republicans. Only Republicans.

    We Dems throw ours out the airlock. (Bill Mahar actually did a piece on this a while back.)

  27. NickT Says:

    @Steve in ATL

    I have no idea what you think you are communicating.

    @April

    "What kind of people vote for a self-admitted sexual abuser"

    *cough* Bill Clinton got quite a few votes, despite being on the distinctly dodgy side of the line.

  28. April Says:

    Eh, affairs are not assault.

    http://rackjite.com/bill-maher-new-rules-democrats-need-their-own-vulgar-alfa-male-march-3-2017/

    (Not saying I agree with him. Just pointing this out.)

  29. Hondo Says:

    There has to be a line that Trump cannot cross without many of those who voted for him realizing that it was the last straw, and that republican policies have just caused too much damage and pain to their own lives, and fuck this, and fuck him.
    There has to be a point where even they get sick being abused for the sake of tax cuts for the wealthy.
    Does it happen when they lose a child a year after they lose Obamacare coverage, and realize their child would have received the bone marrow transplant if they still had their old Obamacare instead of the nothing that republicans handed them?
    Does it happen when they lose their jobs and can't find another, ending up living in their cars and finding out that there is no government assistance to be had?
    I often wonder if there is a breaking point for these people, but as you say Ed, these are not rational people.
    With the situation as it currently is, I think we have no choice but to endure the ride that these assholes committed us to. We can only protect ourselves as best we can, which includes leaving the country, and hope we can survive these dark days.
    Republican domination of this country will continue for a very long time. They have the courts, the election commissions, the noise machine, the money, the power of the state. I think we have lost our republic as Ben Franklin alluded to when asked what the constitutional convention had wrought. It lasted for a long time, but we just couldn't keep it. I guess it was inevitable.
    But, the Rangers won tonight, so there's that.

  30. other bill Says:

    As a "permanent pessimist," I now feel comfortable saying "SEE," so, thanks.

  31. Jrod Says:

    Trump was being sued by a woman claiming he raped her when she was thirteen. She apparently dropped the suit because of threats.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/donald-trump-rape-lawsuit-dropped-230770

    I really have no idea how legitimate this suit ever was, but come on. A solid year of Hillary's emails, but somehow a Presidential candidate is accused of raping a child and nobody cares.

    Trump hides his finances and refuses to stop running his business while President. He's raking in millions just from renting space to the Secret Service and from Mar-A-Lago memberships and who the hell knows what else he's bringing in that we don't know about. And apparently that is what his voters wanted. Meanwhile Clinton lost because the fucking FBI made a special announcement in late October that they found some of Clinton's emails on a laptop. That's it. Just that some of her emails existed somewhere, and several million people changed their vote to the alleged child rapist. And alleged sexual assaulter. Alleged by himself.

    Democratic strategy: find the most reasonably sane person with a high q-rating and draft them to run for President. Because if you're not gonna keep the rubes entertained they'll vote for someone who will. Christ, at least get someone who can work a crowd.

  32. rustonite Says:

    @Jrod Oprah. Oprah is the answer.

  33. Talisker Says:

    @Marty, @April, @NickT: Fact is, the Democrats are crap at messaging.

    A political message is a story you can express in one sentence. Preferably a very short sentence.

    From this point of view, "Make America Great Again" was marketing brilliance. It encapsulates a return to the 1950s, when blacks, women and gays Knew Their Place, and white men had Good Jobs. Exactly how Trump could achieve this was unimportant, making the offer was enough.

    What was Hillary Clinton offering? A 12-point plan for incremental improvement in conditions for the middle class by better insurance regulation and targeted tax credits for small business and elimination of the Sprocket-Gumshoe capital gains loophole and investment in renewable energy and blah blah blah…. that's not a sentence, and it's definitely not a story.

    It's the same binder full of policies offered by decent, boring, charisma-free Democrats for more than 30 years. It's the path followed by Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry, all of whom would have made perfectly reasonable Presidents if they'd only won the election. You'd think Democrats would have learned by now, but like Charlie Brown with the football, they keep making the same old mistake.

    Insofar as Clinton had a story, it was "steady as she goes". She offered a continuation of Obama's policies without his charisma. This didn't greatly impress people who were not doing so well under Obama, and left an opening for Trump.

  34. J.D. Says:

    The key is that it takes participation from both parties to make things better, but a refusal to participate by only one party to make things worse.

    So when Republicans spread the message that we're all fucked, and then set about fucking everybody over, they can tell people that they were right all along. Meanwhile, when Democrats tell people that these advances are going to work, and Republicans throw a hissy fit comma Republicans are right again, the advances won't work.

  35. geoff Says:

    @Talisker, "MAGA" WAS kinda brilliant, although of course it was ripped off from the odious Reagan campaign. I am in no way defending the Giant Evil Baby, but in some ways he ran to the LEFT of Mrs. Clinton. He has of course already abandoned those positions, but he did promise to revisit (US) job-destroying trade deals and openly criticized the intervention in Iraq and so on. His medical plan: "we're gonna take care of everybody!"

    I don't know why anyone believed him, but like I've said here before (h/t Matt Taibbi) when Presidential elections become reality tv shows, we shouldn't be too surprised when a reality tv star gets elected.

    MY question is whether or not Trump's flip-flops will cost him politically. Hell, Obama was reelected pretty handily after bailing out the megabanks and doubling down (quadrupling down?) on war, so hell, who knows? Maybe politics is nothing but a goddamn popularity contest.

  36. Talisker Says:

    @geoff: I disagree with your evaluation of Obama. He never specifically promised to destroy Wall Street. The too-big-to-fail banks survived, but he did bring in more regulations and the CFB, so I'd call that a draw on points.

    Similarly with war, the sad fact is that most voters don't care if American missiles, drones, and high-altitude bombers drop explosives on faraway places. They care if their sons and daughters are coming home in body bags. To be fair, Obama got almost all US combat troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and military casualties fell to near zero.

    None of this is to say Obama lived up to all expectations, just that he met some of them.

    In four years, if Trump can point to a similar mixed record with a few wins (or "wins") to balance out the losses, he might well win re-election. If he's such an unmitigated disaster that even the most ignorant voter has to take notice, he won't. Reality does eventually seep into even the most impermeable media bubble, it just takes longer than it used to.

  37. Major Kong Says:

    “Sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield” – George Orwell

  38. doug Says:

    'the behavior of the American electorate and the state of the American political system no longer conform to logic or reality enough for any kind of rigorous analysis'

    Not a new thing. Never has been 'rigorous analysis' of such. Plenty of mumbo jumbo, which is fine and all…

  39. Major Kong Says:

    "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

    H.L. Mencken

  40. Matt Says:

    @geoff "What are the deplorables who work at Wal Mart gonna think when they can't afford health insurance anymore? Who are they gonna blame?"

    Immigrants and gay people, duh. No, it doesn't make a particle of fucking sense. But you're dealing with people who can yell about how "patriotic" they are while simultaneously wishing the US had lost the Civil War and WW2.

  41. democommie Says:

    The democrats are crap at messaging?

    The democrats don't have FuckTheNew'sCorpse, The WSJ, Moonie Times, dozens of other "papers of record", hundreds to thousands of websites and radio outlets, RUSSIAN fucking interference and the Kochsuckers, Mellons, et al.

    It is exceedingly difficult to "get your message out" when the organs of communication are in the hands of enablers of the Reichwingers or active partisans like Murdoch.

    Air American, anyone? NOBODY listened to Al Franken. He got so fed up he became a U.S. Senator and only does comedy when he debates RefucKKKliKKKlansmen on the merits (his humor is intentional, there's is unconcious and unavoidable).

    "Maybe they cannot be "solved", only survived."

    I'm too old to work at the former or have any illusions about the latter.

  42. Jestbill Says:

    Everybody knows what the Democratic message is: "Eat your carrots."

    The adults in the room get no respect until all the fun has gone out of peeing in the sandbox.

    We were in this situation in the '20s. Technology had changed the world decisively but nobody cared–most didn't even notice. They didn't care until the Great Depression forced them to.

    Now, we have the New Deal structure in place so we *don't have to* notice that technology has changed our world again. Yet. Trump is the new Hoover, elected to fix the economy by changing tariffs!! Where is Father Coughlin?

  43. Tim H. Says:

    Might be costly enough having a "SCROTUS" who's mental picture of the nation is from before he started skirt-chasing and FSM knows what else, the past it's freshness date development ideas and closing of barn doors after the horses have not only got out, but died of old age will put a large dent into national competitiveness. And then, there's the possibility of a monumental "Charlie Foxtrot" that convinces the rest of the world to do business in almost any other currency than the dollar. BTW, lots of luck finding the money to protect coastal communities from the probably inevitable rising sea levels and storms, the .001% found the cookie jar.

  44. Tim H. Says:

    Oops, forgot to add, whatever calamity happens because the GOP won all the marbles, will be blamed on liberals or sinners or something, anything but the authors of catastrophe.

  45. Safety Man! Says:

    …Saying Hilary won the election by 2 million votes… She *received* 2 million more votes. Saying she won is as factual as claiming that Trump swept the coveted Unicorn vote…

    I have been much distressed lately that Republicans have been moving on things that can be construed as reforms, such as the proposal claiming to close tax loopholes. Alternative facts or no, if the day comes when Democrats are out-maneuvered on reform by Republicans we should just hand over the keys to China.

    A last ray of hope, yesterday my brother, who voted for Bush and Romney, called me frothing mad that the Republicans voted to nix the no preexisting condition provision. So that's one vote they lost.

  46. Mo Says:

    Rude Pundit gets it:

    Congressional Democrats have a chance, as they so often do, to not fuck this up, to break out the guillotines and behead the GOP in front of a crowd. On this issue, at least, Democrats are simply better human beings. They might be shittier politicians, but they are better human beings.

    Now they have to step up their goddamn game and create a simple message that can be hammered into voters' skulls like the dunce-yawp of "MAGA": Do you think you or your family members or your friends or your co-workers should be able to get cancer treatment? Or should a billionaire get a few million more? Chemo or yachts?

    OK, fellow geniuses, let's hear some suggestions for that "simple message."

    Here's mine:
    YOU'RE NOT SAFE. YOU'RE NEXT.

  47. democommie Says:

    "Where is Father Coughlin?"

    AM radio, 24/7/365/Ever.

    "called me frothing mad that the Republicans voted to nix the no preexisting condition provision."

    I gather he, or someone he actually cares about, has one.

    "YOU'RE NOT SAFE. YOU'RE NEXT."

    They're already in line at the doors of the abbatoir and they don't even know it.

  48. sluggo Says:

    She did not win by 2 million votes.

    HRC had 2,864,974 more votes than that fucker.

    People, if you're going to round numbers, do it right. 2.9 mil or 3 million.

  49. L2P Says:

    Consider this. The Republicans can be thought of as a grab bag of people who believe "This is the way the world is, and ain't nothing changing my mind." They will be very organized and very on message, b/c the answer to any question is going to be a mix of more free market and/or lots of violence. The Republicans depend on having a lot of people who think that way, and that they all see the same world.

    Right now, we're at a point where there's still a sizable minority that we can put in that "Republican" grab bag. By manipulating the media and the election process they can, just barely, keep control of the Federal government and a bunch of states that, all added up together, are like half a California. And this lets them just barely keep control.

    But it doesn't convince, in the long run. That sizable minority is shrinking. Hilary easily won the popular vote. A hundred thousand dead old white guys in the rust belt, and she wins the presidency outright.

    And that's 2020.

  50. Ursula Says:

    Sadly, I don't have time to read the thread, so keep that in mind, I guess.

    What is said about the affect of facts on the American electorate can also be said about appeals to compassion. The right wing has inoculated their base against compassion for anyone outside their tribe. I worry that a lot of the upcoming calls to Senators about this health "care" abomination will try to appeal to a sense of compassion, empathy, or just humanity and will, therefore, fall flat.

  51. democommie Says:

    @L2P:

    I don't like Hilary, I didn't like her campaign, most criticisms of Hilary are valid. If she was given the nod by the DNC in 2020, I'd vote for her, as often as possible.

    There is not ONE fucking chance in a million that anybody who isn't tied to a major party can win a national election. The money to buy tv time, radio and organizing costs is not sitting in anybody's bank account, except the Kochsuckerbros and other fascistwannabes. That Trumpligula touted his outsiderness and STILL got in is proof of just how deep seated the loathing of the OTHER and the rest of the Reichwing's many irrational phobias run. The entire GOP noise machine hammered Hilary relentlessly for nearly 30 years and now it's time for Hilary to work with the various groups to find some way to break the GOP's stranglehole on gummint.

    I can't see anyone, at the moment, from the democratic party or 3rd parties that is a viable candidate. A coalition could work if the dems, progs, lefties, etcl., could coalate–I don't know if that is possible, it does not seem at all likely.

  52. Major Kong Says:

    I'm no great fan of Hillary but she's smart, tough and capable. I think she would have made a good chief executive.

    Joe Biden would have been my first pick but he wasn't in the running.

    Bernie is a bit left for me but I'd have voted for him had he been nominated.

  53. Safety Man! Says:

    @democommie

    Everyone has a pre-existing condition, if you read the fine print far enough.

  54. Hondo Says:

    Mr. Pierce is angry:

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a54896/republican-healthcare-bill-pass/

  55. Bitter Scribe Says:

    Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times had a good take on this today:

    Is this complicated? What’s the part Walsh and so many others can’t understand? Is it just the Republican habit of putting negative names on things they don’t like? So that any system of apportioning health care becomes a “death panel.”

    We don’t do that outside of politics. Nobody says, “Eww, I don’t want any of that fermented yeasty malt beverage; give me a beer instead.”

    So why do people fall for it concerning an issue as vital as health care?

    Because they’re stupid. I know we’re not supposed to say that. As the Trump presidency grinds on, acknowledgment bordering on respect is being timidly extended toward the churning broth of emotion, ignorance, malice and fear sloshing around inside GOP heads. Sense has become just another lifestyle choice. For the moment. Linear, logical reasoning and basic human decency lost a battle on Nov. 8, and has to go sit on the red stool of shame while all manner of yahoos, yokels, dim-bulbs and half-wits pour screeching and gibbering into the public square and start barking commands.

    I highly recommend Neil's blog, Every Goddamn Day.

  56. mothra Says:

    Safety Man! beat me to it. I am sure there are people on this thread who remember how insurance companies scoured medical records to locate a pre-existing condition. Did you go to the doctor for chest pain only to find out it was indigestion? Bingo! Heart condition AND ulcers. Didn't matter if they were right, they still used it to deny people.

    I am sure the Republicans will blame all the bad shit on the Democrats and it will work. As many have alluded or outright stated here, Republicans are INVESTED in embracing false narratives. As long as libruls are mad, they're happy. So libruls and Dems need to start praising this abomination. I guess.

    "You're Not Safe, You're Next" conveys what is happening, but is too negative. The motto needs to be positive. Get to work, kids.

  57. Katydid Says:

    @BitterScribe and @mothra: the stupid has been out there awhile. Shortly before the 2008 election, one of my neighbors down the road shot himself in the head. Turns out he'd been suffering end-stage cancer and his family had just lost the house because of medical bills. I didn't know the family personally, but a couple of my neighbors did and filled me in.

    Simple human decency didn't stop one of the neighbors from running around announcing that the deceased neighbor was "forced to die because of Obamacare–the death panels made him kill himself!" I tried to explain that the election had not even happened, so whatever she imagined Obamacare was, it certainly wasn't responsible for anyone's death since it hadn't even been enacted. There was no speaking sense to her. She had a McCain-Palin bumper sticker on her super-sized SUV, she "knew what she knew" and nobody was going to tell her any differently.

  58. HoosierPoli Says:

    The Republican party has slowly been eating itself whole since the Fox Revolution. What was originally a way for the party elites to mislead their base has become the milk on which the new generation of party elites was raised. They are too young to know that Fox is just what you feed the proles so they vote for your tax cuts – they ACTUALLY THINK THE WORLD WORKS THIS WAY. So they can cast a big vote on a bill that fucks basically everyone who isn't in Congress and turn on Fox and see what brave heroes they are, and they actually fucking believe it.

    I won't say that voters aren't stupid, but they are reactionary. When health insurance premiums went up, they blamed Obama, even though the premiums had been increasing even FASTER before and many of those people affected didn't even HAVE health insurance. But if this shitburger actually passes it's going to be healthcare armageddon for a lot of these people, and they will blame the Republicans for it, and for once they'll actually be right.

  59. Katydid Says:

    Back in the 1980s, one of my many in-school jobs was working at the computer lab. We were high-tech–so high tech that we actually had a television in the office! One of the few stations we could get (this was pre-cable) was the brand-new Fox network, which aired shows like Married with Children and fare like that. One of the managers was a "don't trust THE MAN" self-proclaimed hippie from the 1960s. He used to yell at us to "quit watching that trash!" He was objecting to the news, which he kept calling "Propoganda!" and telling us we were poisoning our minds with it.

    Turns out he was right.

  60. democommie Says:

    The single event which, imo, turned the tide for the Reichwingerz was the repeal of The Fairness Doctrine.

    While it did not REQUIRE that the FCC withhold licensing from people who wanted to present just one side of a controversial issue, it allowed them to do so. It also did not affect the mulitiplicity of non-broadcast stations. However, the practical effect of it being in place was that broadcasters (and to a lesser extent) other programming entities were aware of it.

    I haven't seen it stated anywhere but my strong suspicion is that the Doctine was put in place because of idiots like Father Coughlin back in the 30's and 40's.

    In the event, we now have completely unregulated 24/7 bullshitspewin'hatemongerin'OTHERin' programming running on numerous radio stations and of course, FuckTheNew'sCorpse.

    There is some buzz on the net about Trumpligula's goonz ordering people at FDA to tune all their televisions to FUNC. The story is not clear but it appears that it did happen and that now they're walking it back.

    As has been the case, basically forever, when the organs of communication turn from their trust of educating and informing the public to servicing the organs of whichever demagogical fuckbag they think they can persuade or control the republic is in danger.

  61. Frank Wilhoit Says:

    Your last graf summarizes the rationale for the creaton of the FDA.

  62. democommie Says:

    @ Frank Wilhoit:

    What?

  63. Davis X. Machina Says:

    It's the Masada stage of white resentment politics.

    I'm ok with having neighbors, friends, even family sicken, suffer and die unnecessarily, because in exchange I'm getting vicarious participation in a vast, glorious, white tribal victory!

  64. Davis X. Machina Says:

    @ democommie

    There is not ONE fucking chance in a million that anybody who isn't tied to a major party can win a national election.

    That's what The Man wants you to think.
    'Soyez realistes, demandez l'impossible'

    Peace. Out. Because it's always 1968 somewhere.

  65. Some guy on the Internet Says:

    Unlike Dems, GOPers are masters of "kayfabe"… don't recognize that word?

    It's from the world of professional wrestling.

    The rubes don't want facts, they want a showdown between good guys and bad guys, and they don't care if it's fake…

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/opinion/wrestling-explains-alex-jones-and-donald-trump.html?_r=1

  66. democommie Says:

    "That's what The Man wants you to think.
    'Soyez realistes, demandez l'impossible'"

    Whither a candidate who is NOT currently in office who is NOT a democrat who is NOT going to have to BEG people for money? It's a simple fact of life in the media these days that the only way the democrats or anyone else gets the FREE ink that Trumpligula got is to outcrazy him. I'm not sure that I want a candidate from nowhere who is crazier than Trump.

    Paint me an alternative.

  67. Matt Says:

    I think it's interesting that you feel that a disconnect from reality is only a republican problem, when all people on the left can focus on is what gender they feel like today. Liberals are the ones who have to have safe spaces from hearing things they don't like. Democrats are the ones going around saying trump is literally hitler.

  68. Matt Says:

    I think it's interesting that you feel that a disconnect from reality is only a republican problem, when all people on the left can focus on is what gender they feel like today. Liberals are the ones who have to have safe spaces from hearing things they don't like. Democrats are the ones going around saying trump is literally hitler.

  69. democommie Says:

    Matt:

    You're a truly stupid man. You have some citations for people saying "Trump is truly Hitler"? If so, bring 'em. If not, STFU.

  70. maurinsky Says:

    If Nick is suggesting Dems need a better motto as a brief explainer, I know several people who HATE Obama because he wasn't able to make partisanship disappear in his first term, which is what they believe "Hope and Change" meant.

  71. maurinsky Says:

    How about: COME TO THE POLLS AND VOTE DEM WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE

  72. democommie Says:

    @Maurinsky:

    What would be really fun is to have teh Ahnuld decide that he has seen enough of Cirque de Shitheel and actually do a PSA with that tagline. I know it's next to nahgunnahappen, but it would be fun.

  73. www.Blogs.soberocity.biz Says:

    http://www.Blogs.soberocity.biz

    AVOIDING CONSEQUENCES | Gin and Tacos