OH FOR TWO

A curious pair of totally unconnected articles made the rounds last week.

Bruce Bartlett, a Republican and former Reagan White House hand, wrote a well-reasoned piece for Politico with the says-it-all title, "Trump is What Happens when a Political Party Abandons Ideas." The argument is one that most of us already knew (although there is something refreshing about hearing it stated explicitly) – that in the pursuit of power, the GOP has engaged in so much hypocrisy that it no longer really stands for anything. If everything is OK as long as a Republican does it – and oh my god is it ever OK to the post-Reagan GOP – then there really is nothing that defines the party except the quest to remain in power. Bartlett's argument is not flawless. For example, most people would recognize at least some core policies associated with the GOP; cutting taxes (albeit with no real strategy or goal other than to cut them and keep cutting them) and making the government not work are two things all GOPers seem to embrace. In the larger sense, though, he is right. There are no white papers supporting their policy goals. Hell, in eight years they didn't even bother to assign some junior staffer to grab two interns and bang out some kind of "alternative" to the ACA.

A few days before Bartlett went to press, the usually unbearable Matthew Yglesias noted in response to the Georgia special election, "Jon Ossoff’s Georgia special election loss shows Democrats could use a substantive agenda." The original title of this piece was much spicier, and toning it down is the Vox-iest thing Vox ever Voxed. But in the resplendently logical argument, the author makes the important point that the Democratic Party has nailed "Trump is bad" and "Republicans are bad people, and we are the alternative to Republicans," but have essentially no coherent policy agenda that a normal voter could name. I argued last week that all special election analysis is over-analysis and that these attempts to divine meaning from a House race here or there are ridiculous. That remains true. However, Yglesias is correct that the Democrats have run these races in heavily red districts like some sort of weird referendum on Democrats being Different from Republicans without making it clear exactly how other than being hipper, more charismatic, and Not Republicans.

Some of you can see where I'm going with this.

If both of these authors are correct, then we have two political parties that aren't really about anything. They're competing fiercely and inarguably offering Americans some kind of choice – only someone truly out on a limb would argue that there is no difference at all between having Trump or Hillary in the White House – but they're more like two sports teams than opposing political parties at this point. How can you have two groups locked in fierce competition when neither one of them really stands for or is about anything coherent? Easy: you frame things as the politics of identity. Republicans present themselves as Real America – the red-blooded, gun- and Bible-waving tough guys who like big bombs and shitty gas mileage and women and minorities who Know their Place. Democrats present themselves as the educated elite that lives in big cities and looks down its nose at people who shop at Wal-Mart, think the Earth is 6000 years old, and drive big stupid trucks.

Granted, defining the political process around a cultural or identity based divide is viable. It has been and is done around the world. Sure, it usually results in people trying to purge society of the Other, but besides that I can't think of any drawbacks.

The obvious imperative is to get back to having a political system based on opposing views about the appropriate policy direction of the government. But given that most of the country isn't even interested in learning if the Kremlin altered our election results, let's not hold our breath.

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58 Responses to “OH FOR TWO”

  1. April Says:

    Annnnnd you're back!

    The problem is, the Dems DO have ideas. It's just that thinking hurts and requires effort that a large segment of the population doesn't want (or is able) to do. Over and over again, when Dem ideals are presented to the general public, THEY LIKE THEM! But add in generations of "Dems are evil so anyone with a D after their name doesn't get my vote no how no way" plus faux noise, we can't get our message across.

    I've said this to my family – and gotten verbally beat up for it – but, if we survive, the election of rump and repug congress might be the best thing that happens to the US. When the majority of people are starving, without jobs or health care or fucking HOMES, then maybe..just maybe, they will wake up to reality.

  2. MS Says:

    In Europe, the right-wing parties are actually populist. Beyond their nationalism or white pride or whatever the main identity of the party is, they also run on a set of policies designed to help the common man. But the US can't be like that. Both parties are entirely beholden to the interests of the very wealthy, and any deviation threatens the flow of money, which Must Not Happen.

    So Republican policies are "what the very rich want, plus some social conservatism" and Democrat policies are "what the very rich want, plus some social liberalism" and for most of the issues in the world, they have the *exact same policy*. Not the slightest difference in foreign policy or economic policy. There just aren't enough differences to actually run on. So you have to run on Team Red vs. Team Blue, because otherwise you risk Upsetting The Money Flow.

    (And since we already have a comment about Democrats having ideas, I want to be clear: the leaders of the party. Sure, there are some members somewhere that have ideas. But the party leaders are absolutely opposed to all of your ideas, and they're running things with a firm grip.)

    This piece on Democrats killing their populist soul is exactly right:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/how-democrats-killed-their-populist-soul/504710/

  3. The Jack of Hearts Says:

    Maybe we should start making some simple memes stating a Democratic party policy agenda (what we think it should be), circulate them, and pretty soon the Dems just adopt it for their talking points. It doesn't even have to be 100% accurate. It's like when the flaky person at work can't pull their weight so you just do their part of the project for them because it's faster, better for the team, and less of a hassle than worrying about them letting you down again.

  4. mago Says:

    "Sure, it usually results in people trying to purge society of the Other, but besides that I can't think of any drawbacks."

    Yeah, right.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    Today's Republican Party and Modern Conservatsm are "about" 2 (maybe 3) other things besides two you mentioned – depending on how one views what I'll add :
    – 1 & 2, you covered.. Tax cuts for the rich, and making sure government doesn't work.

    The ones I'd like to add are the following:
    – 3. Doing any and everything you can just to piss-off the liberals/'DemocRAT' Party.
    The best way(s) to do that is to adjust whatever you say, write, or suggest as policy, to reflect your 180 degrees of opposition to whatever the 'DemocRAT' Party positions stands for NOW!

    It doesn't matter a bit if you have to change what you say from one second to the next.
    EXAMPLE:
    "We've always been at war with EastAsia."
    You can always change back to what you said two seconds before that!
    EXAMPLE:
    "We've always been at war with EurAsia."

    Hell, claim a new country 'we were always been at war' with!
    In other words, 'Lie like a rug!'

    The double-edged beauty of THIS is, not only does it piss-off the liberals/"DemocRAT 'Party, but it also confuses the living shit out of the public's rubes, dopes, suckers, marks, fools, losers, dumbassaes, and half/dim/nit/fuck wits, BUT IT DOES THE SAME THING WITH THE MEMBERS OF OUR "HE-SAID/SHE-SAID – BOTH SIDES DO IT!" MSM!!!
    And remember – most if not all of our MSM members have at least a college degree

    And now for my last one:
    4. Always remind people that YOU HATE GOVERNMENT!
    Keep telling people that you hate it, because it doesn't work.
    Keep doing your very worst to make sure it doesn't work.
    Run for reelection every 2/4/6 years* by continuing to tell people that you hate government because it doesn't work, but tell them to reelect you, because at the very least you'll work to keep that hated governmrnt that work doesn't off their backs!
    How can/will that work, since if you're part of the hated govermnent that can't work?
    Who the fuck knows?!?!
    Just trust me, and say it!
    I DON'T KNOW, AND I JUST WROTE THAT FUCKING SENTENCE!
    AND LIKE THE PUBLIC RUBES, AND THE MSM ONES, I'VE CONFUSED THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF MYSELF!!!!!!!!

    * You run for reelection, because even if you really DO HATE the government, you'd have to be a fucking idiot to walk away from a job with the following:
    Great salary.
    Benefits.
    Work hours per day, work-weeks/months/years – aka: long-ass vacations. OFTEN!
    Health care.
    Retirement options – but why retire, when you don't do shit for more than a few hours a day, a few days or weeks at a time?
    Great Pension.
    "Insider Information," since you're one of the greedy political assclowns making laws that can affect company/investor/your- yes, YOUR, profits/losses!
    Hot & cold running male or female interns and staff members – also, if you're daring, LGBTQ ones!
    Access to great hookers and blow – also lawyers guns & money!
    Etc…

    The Democrats are about…
    About…
    Uhm…
    About…

    WAIT, I KNOW!
    They're about trying to get at least SOMETHING(S) done!
    SO, they constantly try to shift positions to meet the Republicans half-way.

    But, since the Republicans move to a new position 180 degrees away from what the 'DemocRAT' Party just moved to, this explains how and why the "Democrats" are always "besides themselves" in frustration!

  6. HoosierPoli Says:

    You said "Democrats present themselves as" but then what you said was how Republicans present Democrats. Maybe Democrats have allowed themselves to be defined as a stereotype, or maybe Republicans are really, really good at propaganda and identity politics.

    The Democrats have dozens of policy positions but nobody ever talks about them or cares about them cause they're boring and it's much more fun to fight a big stupid culture war, with Republicans having been forced from the moral high ground and now reduced to a kind of post-modern critique of truth.

  7. wetcasements Says:

    I think the Dems do have substantive, albeit milquetoast, policy goals — health care, increased minimum wage, doing something about Global Warming.

    But FOX News renders it all useless.

    Was it Kimmel or Fallon who went out on the street and got people to say why they love the ACA but hate Obamacare?

    That's just the tip of the iceberg. When half the country is too dumb to vote for their own economic self-interest, yeah, you've got a fucking problem Kansas, and it ain't smug librul elitism.

  8. Major Kong Says:

    "Both parties are the same"

    Well, except for the fact that one party is taking away health insurance from 20 million people that the other party helped them get.

    And that's just for starters. We're only six months into this thing. Wait until they really get rolling.

  9. Safety Man! Says:

    You all forgot to add that the Democratic Party is for gun control. Out here they got that one loud and clear.

  10. doug Says:

    'we have two political parties that aren't really about anything. '

    YEP. We have a winner. Correct. other than being elected/re elected, there is no there, there.

  11. democommie Says:

    "You all forgot to add that the Democratic Party is for gun control. Out here they got that one loud and clear."

    They may have heard it loud and clear but what they heard was:

    "They're gonna take my gunz away and leave me helpless to resist the meximuslicominvaderz and blackthugz and oppressive gummint stormtrooperz who are gonna come and take my gunz, my wimmen and my proppity!".

    Is that an oversimplification? Hell, yes, it is. Is it EXACTLY what I hear from people who oppose ANY sort of rational firearms legislation at the national level? Hell, yes, it is.

    As of yesterday, Donald FUCKING Trump tweeted:

    "Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie,"

    This was out there for everyone to read. People of course read it and a LOT of them, not just the Trumpliguturdlicans, saw it and said:

    "Well, Donald Trump is a lying sack of shit, a venal scumbag and a pocket Mussolini but, hey–when a guy's right, he's right, right?"

    So, a man who anyone with the critical thinking skills of a tomato KNOWS is just an evil, petulant, lying fuck, gains the tiniest sliver of grudging respect or whatever for actually saying what they were THINKING.

    IF you have a non-democrat in mind to boost for a seat in Congress, one who is not hopelessly anonymous to the voters* and who isn't incapable of working with people he is ideologically opposed to, then by all means, get out there in the hustings and do so. If you don't–and I'm not seeing a lot of that going on where I live–WHAT are you going to do? Will you stay home like so many millions of voters did in 2016? Will you vote for a candidate who has, statistically, no chance of winning, just to feel good about your choice?

    What are you going to do?

    When people say there's NO difference between the two major parties they betray their ignorance. There are substantive differences between policy positions and, more importantly, in the perceptions of what a governments at any level is supposed to do.

    For the dems, government exists to collect taxes, manage societal programs and ensure the safety of the citizens and the republic.

    For the reps, government exists to ensure the safety of the elites and their property, to make it easier for the various oligarchs to plunder the commonweal and to make certain that they have a military establishment and armaments sufficient to take what they want from those who don't want to do business on their terms.

    So, yeah, they are not the same.

  12. NickT Says:

    The Democrats certainly like to tell people that they have ideas. They seem much less eager to explain or sell those ideas.

  13. Major Kong Says:

    How absurd that the Democratic Party would nominate, you know, a member of the Democratic Party to their Presidential ticket.

    Why it's positively unprecedented!

  14. templar423 Says:

    Hillary Clinton ran on the most progressive platform since Johnson and the runner-up in the primaries was a self-proclaimed socialist but the Democrats don't have any ideas or care about the common person or, really, anything but power? I never thought Ed was possessed by the ghost of David Broder.

  15. Tim H. Says:

    Policies? "Capitalism with a Human face" might be a nice start.

  16. DH Says:

    I wish people would stop hating on Vox. Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein have been doing great work on the healthcare issue. They are a great resource for people outside of policy circles who need introductions to complex issues, and this is a resource that did not really exist prior to that site's launch.

  17. Yolanda Says:

    Been voting since 1980. As I see it, politics on both sides has become about one's identity, not just what team a person is on. By identity I mean a very basic thing: defining 'who' you are. That is, both parties argue that in order to be a 'good person' which we all, (except for super villains) are meant to aspire to be. For a Democrat, being a good person is caring about people, often people they don't want to have to actually deal with or go to school with or live near, but nonetheless, whom they have a generally 'let's help them' vibe. Being a good person is defined as being about accepting, caring, helping. And this is done, mostly, though government intervention. For a Republican, it's also about being a good person. But being a good person is defined as being self reliant, respectful of the rules, honouring the military, protecting the lives of the unborn and punishing the guilty. Identifying people by race, gender, what have you, is seen as a form of racism, and divides Americans. And helping people is something to be done through family, community and the church. So when you don't adhere to one of the two camps, you are not a good person. In fact, you are Bad. Hence vilification on all sides.
    What is the answer to stopping this? I wish we could get out of the morality game in politics of finding our opponent morally reprehensible, just because they are our opponent (though they may be because of their actions) and find a way forward. Perhaps a start would be for people of opposing views to just eat dinner together more often.

  18. rustonite Says:

    I don't think Ed or Matt Yglesias actually get what's going on. Democrats simply can't compete with Republicans on policy anymore, because a large chunk of the population (including the media and most voters) is totally disconnected from reality:

    R: I'm going to lower your taxes to less than zero! And get all the Mexicans off welfare! And make your dick bigger! And give you all unicorns!

    D: Um, unicorns aren't real?

    Voters: Boo!

    MSM: Why do you hate unicorns?

    So Democrats can't win on policy. Instead they tried to talk about race, gender, etc. but that went like this:

    D: Unlike our opponents, we don't actively hate minorities.

    R: Why are you so hateful to us?

    Voters: Meanies!

    MSM: Why are Democrats so mean?

    Really, the solution (in electoral terms) is for the Democrats to go for huge lies in their policy positions: Single payer! Free college! Take all the guns! Soak the rich! But it's not a real solution, because then everyone in our politics will be totally disconnected from reality.

    Basically, we're fucked.

  19. Terraformer Says:

    I'm going to get a bit conspiracy-minded here, but here goes. Starting back at the Powell memo, it's clear what roadmap the Rs would follow. I think the last 30 years or so has borne that out. The idea is that that kind of thinking has permeated the D party as well, at least in the sense of ensuring the goals of the Powell memo bear fruit.

    That is, the D side of things needed to be "different", at least in terms of words and goals that can never be met. Why? I propose that the machinations in the R party are also in the D party as well, but largely hidden. The end result is that the power structure is there to ensure that D ideas remain just that – and never move beyond goals and aspirations. No one who truly believes and wants to see progressive ideals enacted gains purchase in the D party. The structure is rotten inside; it won't let someone truly revolutionary get in. Thus, the D party has a much more difficult game to play: talk the talk, but at the end of the day nothing truly of substance, save equal rights and certain "approved" ideas make it to the gavel.

    I know how this sounds. And it's probably not anything anyone's thought of before. But given the clear needs in this country, and the equally clear support for them – yet we see no real moevment toward their enaction other than talk, it seems that nothing truly useful to the general populace can happen so the oligarchs remain in power as we slowly move back toward a feudalistic society. /end rant

  20. Michael Says:

    "huge lies"

    Ok, I'm ready for the huge lies!

    "Single payer! Free college! Take all the guns! Soak the rich!"

    These are all fully implementable policies with upsides and downsides.

  21. Squeaky Wheel Says:

    "Two political parties that aren't about anything"

    Sums it up rather nicely. Welcome to the Monkey House.

  22. Mo Says:

    I have never forgotten Rude Pundit's account of his Louisiana brother-in-law trying to convince himself to vote for the Dem candidate, know full well how toxic the Repub option was.

    "I couldn't do it! It just felt dirty!"

    The Republican party now controls everything, has rigged the game, and their voting base always turns out.

    Well, here we all are. Now what?

  23. Mo Says:

    Pat Bagley:

    Fucking Dumb Democrat Dilemma

    Now loud sing, "Goddamn!"

  24. templar423 Says:

    Mo, we explain to the rest of the country that they can't be snowflakes who are so lazy or self-righteous that they can't be bothered to vote for Democrats when that is the only realistic option of not have a Republican win and institute awful policies. We explain that the Democrats have significantly different policies that will help lots of people, including themselves. Everyone complaining about how the two parties are the same are full of it. This is objectively untrue, it's just a lot more fun to pretend you are above the fray and therefore don't have to dirty your hands with practical politicking. Don't like the Democratic Party, join up, change it, and go vote every time. Otherwise, keep posturing while we watch 23 million fellow citizens lose health care and many die. That will really show Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

  25. mojrim Says:

    I think your framing is wrong, Ed. Both parties do have policies, very clear ones you can see when they're in power. The problem is that they are either unwilling or unable to explain them in accessible ways. Thus we are delivered into RvB territory. Here republicans self identify as RealAmericans(tm)(the aforementioned guns, trucks, etc…) while dems identify as… help me out here. Cosmopolitan, inclusive, and educated, liking hybrid cars, foreign food, and gun control. Identify your preferences; identify your tribe.

    There are some clear differences (in the ruling cadres) on economic policy, but they're not what most people think. Minimum wages and social insurance are social policies, how we order society within the capitalist schema. The distinction lies in which economies they support (and are supported by) with the Rs tied to older, labor intensive, industrial and extractive sectors and the Ds tied to newer, cleaner, knowledge intensive sectors like finance and IT.

    The problem for the Ds is that those sectors (broadly) create a few high-paying jobs but not much in the middle band, leaving most people to fall into shitty service sector and retail jobs. Raising the minimum wage and providing healthcare will ameliorate some of the pain but they're not a viable replacement for widely available, good paying jobs.

  26. MS Says:

    > We explain that the Democrats have significantly different policies that will help lots of people

    You can't explain that Democrats have significantly different policies that will help lots of people because it just isn't true.

    Progressive parties elsewhere are talking about solid minimum wages, union boosting, single payer healthcare, guaranteed income, carbon taxes, raising taxes on the wealthy, economic justice, regulating corporations in the public interest, making sure lawbreaking CEOs go to jail, gun control, worker protections against unfair dismissal, universal daycare, lengthy parental leaves, and so on. The Democratic Party leadership is opposed to all of these things.

    So many people in the US get caught up the tiny, tiny Overton window available in between the two major parties. More abortion or less abortion? A bit more handouts for healthcare insurersd or a bit less? Should we cut welfare a lot (Republicans) or cut it a little (Democrats)? And… that's it. They think that's all there is to politics, arguing about those couple of things.

  27. rustonite Says:

    @Michael

    They're theoretically implementable, in the sense that I could theoretically marry Kate Upton. Reality is different.

    Take single-payer. To get it in the next four years, we'd first need to get 51 Democrats in the Senate, so we've got to hold all our current senators and pick up three more. Then we have to put together a single payer plan that can attract the vote of the right-most Democrat: something that Joe Manchin or Claire McCaskill will vote for. Then we have to get Trump to sign it.

    None of those things are likely in the least to happen: Trump wouldn't sign it, Manchin wouldn't vote for it, and we're not going to pick up seats in 2018: the most likely outcome is actually a 57-43 Republican Senate, with a strong likelihood of 60 Rs.

    But you don't want to hear that. You want to hear "argle bargble Bernie socialism bullshit unicorns." Because you're part of the problem.

  28. mothra Says:

    only someone truly out on a limb would argue that there is no difference at all between having Trump or Hillary in the White House

    Looking at you, Susan Sarandon and Glenn Greenwald.

  29. templar423 Says:

    MS, we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Secretary Clinton ran on a rough outline those things you listed. If you then argue she would not have implemented those policies, I'd remind you that we have a LOT of veto points in the system and that this is a long-term project. Hence my statement that it's time for you to get a handful of friends and show up at every local Democratic Party meeting for the next 20 years. That's how conservatives took over the Republican Party after Goldwater got creamed in 64. Liberals and left-leaning people need to realize it's not 1996 anymore and start working more and bitching less.

  30. democommie Says:

    "The problem for the Ds is that those sectors (broadly) create a few high-paying jobs but not much in the middle band, leaving most people to fall into shitty service sector and retail jobs. Raising the minimum wage and providing healthcare will ameliorate some of the pain but they're not a viable replacement for widely available, good paying jobs."

    The good paying jobs are gone primarily because of technological obsolescence, off-shoring or union busting. Democrats, for all of their faults–and there are a fuckton of them–are the ones who SUPPORT unionization; and yet, they do not receive union votes. So, is it that they don't "sell" their brand or is that the well-paid union guy who likes to shop at Walmart and other union killing companies is handing a knife to his assassin?

    @Rustonite, Mothra and Templar 423:

    You saved me having to repeat myself.

    This battle with the Repborg will not be won on the plain, it will be won in the trenches. I live in a city where the average D committee meeting could take place in a closet while the R's get the use of a boosters conference facility. Money talks, decency walks.

  31. Dave Dell Says:

    I have one question when they knock on my door or send me something in the mail (I receive both R and D letters and emails) asking for money. Are you Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. It tells me everything I need to know about a candidate. Even a candidate for the Airport Authority or weed control board.

    While I have a host of issues about which I'm concerned, if they're not Pro-Choice I don't care if they're an R or a D. No money. I don't care if they're purposely ignoring the question and might be secretly Pro-Choice. No money.

    Generally, the Dems are Pro-Choice, with blue dog exceptions. So generally I vote Dem. That leaves me, here in one of the deepest red states, to choose a lesser of two evils. Once again, it's basically a Dem vote.

    How's that working out for me? Not well but at least I don't waste my money donating to out of state Dem Senate and House candidates that won't take a position.

  32. Aurora S Says:

    Most of my fellow commenters nailed it: this piece, while making a few good points, has a whiff of Both Siderism to it. The nail in the coffin was the "elitist ivory tower" business about the Democrats. That might as well have come from the mouth of Ann Coulter. (Actually, it has. Many, many times over.) The Dems aren't and never have been any more "elitist" than the GOP. The GOP's form of elitism is that the white, bible-beating, Muslim-hatin', country-dwellin', red-blooded Real Muricans are the superior True Americans (and that the GOP represents them in any conceivable way), while Everyone Else is somehow counterfeit and inferior. Which, in the words of Jon Stewart, must have made Bin Laden feel like a real asshole.

    It describes the Democrats as the GOP has pounded it into our skulls daily since at least Reagan, when they formally hijacked Jesus and made him part of their brand. In rhetorical debates, the pathos wins over ethos every time. If you want to win, appeal to ego, not logic. Logic is boring. The Republican ethos became Winning long before the Dems, arguably the Dems still put principle before Winning, which is further proof of their being total pussies, according to the GOP.

  33. Periscope Says:

    @ Rustonite
    The only way we are going to get to single payer is if the health insurance industry were to fail and the government is forced to step in and take over. That would be Medicaid for all. The prospect of legislating the private health insurance industry out of existence is a unicorn. One sixth of our economy is shunted through the health care industry via these companies who collude on medical procedure rates to make them more profitable to their investors. If the health insurance companies were to fail, the government is way more likely to bail them out than to assume their job. So, you Bernie bros (I voted for him in the primaries – OK), just how is health care going to be administered as a right for all citizens?

  34. doug Says:

    I want to 'display my ignorance' one more time.
    D's led the charge to not bring down drug prices.
    D's don't give a shit about you, unless you are a donor.
    R's don't either.
    Sure, I know and am friends with some hard working earnest local D's that do care and do want to make a difference in a positive way.
    But on a state and national scale, the operatives have to raise so much money every day they are in office, they really can't give a shit about you and I. Sorry that is the truth.
    As long as it costs what it costs to campaign , there can't be much difference between the two parties, and there is not.
    You hard core D's can choose to think otherwise.
    I say all this as a lifelong D voter.

  35. MS Says:

    > Secretary Clinton ran on a rough outline those things you listed.

    That's fantasyland that you're living in. Clinton ran on "I'm not Donald Trump". The Democratic Party leadership opposes every single one of those things I listed – actively opposes. If Democrats controlled House, Senate and Presidency, none of those things would get done. In 2008, Obama ran on increasing the minimum wage, and then, once elected, didn't say a single word about it despite controlling H, S and P. As Clinton says, there are public positions and private positions. Any talk of a notable increase is just for the rubes.

    Go, watch the ads:

    https://newrepublic.com/political-ad-database

    "I'm not Donald Trump", every one of them. Not a single concrete policy proposal anywhere.

    Here's a direct quote from one of Clinton's ads (her speaking):

    "People ask me what'll be different if I'm President. Well kids and families have been the passion of my life and they'll be the heart of my Presidency." (end of ad)

    She serves herself up a softball question… and then can't answer it! She literally has no answer to the question "what'll be different if I'm President". Because the Democratic leadership thinks the status quo today is just fine.

    I get that this offends people who have bought into Team D. Too bad. That's the problem in a nutshell. Your offense – because your identity is being challenged – serves the interests of the neoliberals running Team D. And that offense is being weaponized against you to keep the same old losers in charge of a party that has been losing for decades. The Democratic Party is the main obstacle to progressive change in the USA.

  36. democommie Says:

    "@ Rustonite
    The only way we are going to get to single payer is if the health insurance industry were to fail and the government is forced to step in and take over"

    The GOP WANTS that to happen, except for the gummint takin' over part. They want the poors in all of their various shades, ethnicities and genders to simply STOP consuming resources better reserved for the use/hoarding of the top tier of non-tax payers. That's all it is. Everything else is kabuki.

    "D's led the charge to not bring down drug prices."

    Thank the Blue Dogs for that and other narrow victories for the GOP. Gutless fucks, a fair number of whom decided that their districts had become safe enough for them to become republicans AFTER they got the DNC to support their election bids once or twice.

    As a basic rule, the dems are not in lockstep–EVER. But to have up to 20% of your membership in open revolt against your party's platform is a recipe for disaster.

    The blue dogs are the ideological offspring of the boll weevils, dixiecrats and other racist, reactionary democrats who actually HELPED Roosevelt push through New Deal legislation (largely out of self-interest) and so long as the rest of the democrats turned a blind eye to their murderous racism were content to use their position with the majority party to get a lot of pork in the form of military spending and Corps of Engineer projects among other goodies.

    NO CANDIDATE EVER gives a shit about any donor except the ones who write checks with about 5 or 6 zeroes, before the decimal point. That's a fact. Rep or dem, makes no difference. The only real difference in that regard is that the democrats don't ignore their poor constituents between elections.

    The GOP wants to fuck everybody who isn't them.

  37. democommie Says:

    "In 2008, Obama ran on increasing the minimum wage, and then, once elected, didn't say a single word about it despite controlling H, S and P."

    Why do you and others keep beating that dead horse? Obama had a "numerical super majority" that included something like 50 Blue Dog d's. They actively opposed everything that smacked of "liberal giveaways" in the form of Healthcare Reform.

    As for the Senate, Ben Nelson, among others was also "Blue doggin'" more often than not.

    There are plenty of things to criticize the democrats about, particularly the DNC, but don't make shit up.

  38. MS Says:

    > Blue Dog d's. They actively opposed

    No. The leadership of the Democratic party opposes. Accept it. Stop trying to deflect blame and make excuses.

    If the leadership supported it, they would whip the party to vote for it, take away committee memberships from anyone who didn't, etc. It would pass, or conceivably, fail. But….. they didn't bring it up. Didn't bring a bill, didn't discuss it, didn't mention it. Pay attention to actions, not words.

    The neoliberal Clinton group (starting with Bill, torch passed to Hillary, etc.) has fought tooth and nail against progressive change for decades. When Bill Clinton ran on his promise to "end welfare as we know it", he was telling you the truth about what he believed. And he and his people have run the Democratic Party ever since.

    Here he is, proud as can be:

    https://www.ssa.gov/history/welref.html

  39. democommie Says:

    "No. The leadership of the Democratic party opposes. Accept it. Stop trying to deflect blame and make excuses."

    Fuck you. You want to make that claim, it's gonna take A LOT MORE than a picture of Bill Clinton signing a bill 21 years ago to support your charge.

    You BernGarJill types want to go that route, do it, on your own fucking dime. Raise the money, run a campaign, see where it goes. Trump hijacked the GOP and as fucked up as it was before it's much worse now.

    Do you really want to see the day when the so called Progressives are responsible for keeping Trumpligulamygdala for another term?

    Say whatever the hell you like. Go raise the fucking money and become the party of the future. Have a nice 30-40 years doing so.

  40. jcastarz Says:

    I have voted across party lines in the past, and will not get into the debate about what issues the Dems have with what all they stand for. So I'm probably not going to add much about the Dems relative to Ed's post. Suffice it to say I voted for them in 2016.

    My view on the Dem's ability to take on the GOP? They need to borrow some tactics from the GOP's own handbook:

    1. Develop quality** sound-bite talking-points that describe your positions/policies/platform in ways that the average voter can understand, and then Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat …

    2. Defend yourselves when attacked. It's exasperating to listen the GOP exault at how Dem's policies aren't working when the GOP helped snuff them out in the first place. Example: is the ACA "failing" so much as Congress didn't fund the risk pools? Make certain your side of the story gets properly represented, and then Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat …

    3. Be quick to point out any/all Dem efforts that were promised during campaigns, but were blocked from implementation by a GOP-dominated government, to get across the message that *** consistent voting *** is needed in every election. And then Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat …

    From my perspective, the Dems are sitting on enough ammo in the above three points alone to at least counter the campaign against them somewhat. But the Dems just keep sitting on it like deer in the headlights…. until ol' Bubba comes along with his truck and flattens them.

    (** Quality is not part of the GOP book – at least for the little man – but important; also: remain on topic, focus on real world problems and solutions, avoid spitting and name-calling contests as much as possible. Also focus on jobs of some sort in the real world economy… in the last election, any fly-over dweller who needed to feed his family next week had a choice between a businessman, and "I'm with her".)

  41. Aurora S Says:

    Arguably, this Democratic clown-car routine may just be an act. For instance, a throwback: the Bush tax cuts and not putting an end to them outright. Why? Well…a lot of the Dems themselves could benefit monetarily by being completely disingenuous and bullshitting around, letting the GOP get its way and cashing in as well.

    Cynicism has served me well in life and I'm not going to stop now, but let's hope this isn't the case. What other (legit) choice do we have, anyway? The Republicans? Ha!

  42. Mo Says:

    Periscope – you have observed the elephant in the room:

    One sixth of our economy is shunted through the health care industry via these companies who collude on medical procedure rates to make them more profitable to their investors.

    They have some big get-together to cut up the cake once a year in Missouri (?) to define the procedure codes, etc? I forget.

  43. Mo Says:

    Periscope –

    Here we go:

    http://delong.typepad.com/annmariemarciarille/2013/11/rucs-secrecy-double-secret-probation.html

    The American Medical Association panel that recommends values for physician services to CMS for DRG payment purposes or the AMA Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee is known as RUC.

    RUC is impenetrable.

    Criticized consistently for its top secret (invitation only attendance) meetings that, essentially, determine the relative valuation of physician services (achieving an 85% or 95% ultimate approval rating by CMS), RUC has decided to publish minutes of its meetings and group voting outcomes for individual current procedural terminology codes. (How do I know this undoubtably formerly top secret information? I read it in Modern Healthcare and you can too: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20131104/NEWS/311049944/amas-ruc-panel-to-provide-minutes-in-limited-transparency-move&template=mobile.) Yes, I am among RUC's critics. You can read some of my more detailed thoughts on RUC here (co-authored with Brad DeLong) : http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1983721.

    Although I am grateful that the very existence of the new policies was released as publicly available information, I am underwhelmed. Why should the individual votes of RUC's 28 voting members not be identifiable? What incredible source of pressure could we be protecting a board with almost no primary care representation from by releasing only non-identified voting results? From the overwhelming power of the two primary care RUC seats added just last year? From the possible disclosure of voting blocs and coalitions between and among the medical specialties that dominate RUC?

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

  44. Aurora S Says:

    @MS

    "I'm not Trump" is good enough for me, and let's not forget–it was good enough for a majority of voters. I would've voted for a ham fucking sandwich over Trump.

    The Mainstream Beltway Media Complex did Clinton a disservice, though. Conventional wisdom was that this was going to be a slam dunk for the Dems. All they had to do was be the Adults In The Room, while waiting for the GOP take a dump and eat it right on camera. They underestimated the GOP's media prowess and ability to manipulate the public. The Dems ran a lazy campaign because they thought they had this one in the bag, not necessarily because they have no principles. They do; they just thought their principles would sell themselves and they could kick up their heels. Now they're eating crow for it.

  45. greatlaurel Says:

    Well, Ed, this was not one of your better efforts. This effort rates a fail. The evidence is mounting that the Democratic Party did not run bad campaigns, but was stopped by the collusion of the GOP and the Trump campaign with Russia to install Trump as president. The traitorous GOP leadership was happy to collude with a foreign power to change the outcome of the election. Of course that is not anything new to the GOP. The vast amount of collusion and disruption of the voting process was taken to an incredible level. The loss of the democratic processes is the ultimate goal of the GOP. They have no ideas for governing. The GOP has determined to follow all tinpot fascists and enrich themselves at the expense of the public. They are no longer trying to disguise it.

    Blaming Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party for failing to have a progressive enough message for the loss of the election is just giving cover for the crooks and foreign actors who stole this election from the American people. The crooked GOP are acting quickly to steal as much of the public commons for the very few. The Kochs, DeVos' and Tillerson have been in cahoots with the Kremlin for a very long time. The Koch's daddy got his riches aiding Stalin. The boys know where their power comes from and it is not from pullling themselves up with their bootstraps.

    There are a couple of folks posting here saying that the Democratic Party prevents the US from progressing to a more fair society. That is patently false. The right wing propaganda machine has been pumping that garbage out for a long time. I remember Hubert Humphrey being painted with those lies and many young people fell for that propaganda in 1968. The right wing never tires of that calumny. 35,000 dead American boys and millions of dead Southeast Asians proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what a lie that was. The traitorous GOP and Nixon got the peace talks stalled in 1968, to help them take the White House with their version of "peace". Dealing with foreign powers against the interests of the US is a feature of the GOP.

    Unfortunately, Clinton bashing, both Bill and Hillary, is a favorite activity by some here. Hillary Clinton was one of the most progressive candidates to run for president and she had the policies written and easily available for review. Hillary was, by far, the most honest of any of the candidates and there was actual studies, but the misogynistic press could never speak about anything positive about her . It was and still is, a real disservice to the voters, the news media chose to never talk about her proposals. We still have not seen Trump's or Bernie's taxes. The Bill Clinton POTUS era was a vast improvement over the two previous GOP presidents. Much damage had been done by Reagan/Bush and great strides were made to repair the damage. Of course, all that went to hell once the Shrub was installed by the SCOTUS.

    8 million people are living healthy lives thanks to the Clinton Foundation's work on supplying HIV/AIDS drugs.

  46. Periscope Says:

    Mo,

    'Collude' might be a bit hyperbolic. It seems like there is some kind of awareness among providers about standard rates for procedures – which kind of goes against the whole idea of competition driving prices lower.

    The prevailing health care discussions appear to revolve around solvency of hospitals and health insurance providers who are not making enough money on sick Medicaid patients, but what is not discussed is that some of the insurance providers are for-profit corporations with stock and investors. So, for some politicians to suggest we can just 'switch over' to single payer would have some tumultuous economic consequences.

    I don't see how we move beyond trying to make (ineffective) incremental corrections at this point. It seems there is too much vested interest in the status quo. But, the current HC system is obviously not sustainable. The predatory Ayn Randians want to push the "poors" outside the gate to fend for themselves so that the system remains profitable. Somewhere the moral compass was lost…oh yeah, 'god helps those who help themselves'.

  47. SVB Says:

    As an addendum to c u n d gulag:

    This is a game alright. Lucy is holding the football. Charlie Brown repeated kicks and fails. Guess which one is the Democratic Party?

  48. Mo Says:

    Periscope – I quoted the text from this link and the post went into moderation because it contained hyperlinks. But if you want to follow the breadcrumbs…

    http://delong.typepad.com/annmariemarciarille/2013/11/rucs-secrecy-double-secret-probation.html

  49. democommie Says:

    @ Great Laurel:

    One minor quibble. I think it was 58,000+/-, not 35,000 U.S. servicemen killed in Vietnam. There were also hundreds of thousands of young men/women permanently damaged by traumas both physical and psychological.

    To have a sitting president who weaseled his way out of serving (likely by having a medically fraudulent 1-Y exemption) is an insult to their memory.

  50. doug Says:

    @MS, thanks. cogent discussion, and on the money.

  51. Alan C Says:

    "Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos." – Walter Sobchak

  52. Periscope Says:

    Mo,

    Thanks for the link. I wasn't aware of these secret rate setting meetings. Turns out "collude" wasn't hyperbolic.

  53. mojrim Says:

    demmoocommie@1320:

    It all really comes down to offshoring, technology, not so much. The world still makes cars and stoves and shit, just less and less in the united states. While the D leadership is pro-union, that's utterly hollow without some plan to rebuild the manufacturing base, the only thing capable of providing widespread, good paying jobs. Unionizing McDonald's would certainly be a good thing, but nothing is ever going to make them pay $50/hr. Thus the union leadership continues to support the dems while the rank and file are increasingly drifting away.

    Dave Dell@1327:

    So, you'd support a libertarian over an anti-abortion catholic labor organizer? That's the exact kind of "I can't choose the lesser evil" sort of reasoning that Sanders supporters are being accused of. Single issue voting and purity tests are how we get into messes like this.

  54. Brian M Says:

    "35,000 dead American boys and millions of dead Southeast Asians proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what a lie that was"

    Funny, though. I seem to recall that it was a Democratic Part President (Kennedy) who first got us into the mess (and was possibly killed for second guessing that decision) and a second Democratic Part President who really ramped up the war.

  55. Brian M Says:

    Party. Damn careless typing.

  56. greatlaurel Says:

    @democommie. You are correct on total casualties. I was referring to the lives lost after "Peace with Honor" Nixon came to power. The lives lost in 1968 should be assigned in large part to the traitorous Nixon, since he secretly dealt with the North Vietnamese to prevent Johnson from negotiating a peace deal. I should have been clearer. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Ho Chi Minh was an evil bastard. He willingly sacrificed hundreds of thousands of his own people and the citizens of Laos and Cambodia by refusing to negotiate an end to the war during the Johnson presidency.

    Now Vietnam sends the US cheap farmed shrimp and has even cheaper.labor than China.

  57. greatlaurel Says:

    @Brian You are mistaken. Eisenhower started the whole mess in Vietnam. It is always so convenient for right wingers to forget Eisenhower's extremely important role.

    Of course, right wingers, also, always coveniently forget how any Democratic politician was slandered as a "commie pinko" anytime they even hinted at policies that were not foaming at the mouth red scare statements. The John Birch Society used a lot of the tactics from their secret helpers in the Soviet Union. Founder Fred Koch would not have had all that money if he had not been Stalin's pal. He did learn from the master, after all.

    Your right wing defense of blaming Kennedy and Johnson while ignoring Eisenhower's founding stupidity and Nixon's traitorous actions does not cut it.

  58. democommie Says:

    Eisenhower–or more precisely, the Dulles Boys and Bill Casey–managed, in a few short years to destabilize regimes in a number of places including Vietnam, Guatemala and Iran.

    The biggest single problem ANY democrat who becomes president has, in the area of foreign policy, is having advisers who have always been mostly warhawks and mostly incestuously wedded to the U.S. defense industry and big o'l.

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