Democrats and the Politics of Crazy

PoliticsOfCrazy_YLW2Over the past two decades America’s second political party has devolved into a circus of the bizarre, an open revolt against reality. As the tide of crazy swamps the GOP, many on the left entertain fantasies of an impending Republican implosion that will fulfill all their dreams of power.

A stark realization awaits them. The political dysfunction that has swallowed the GOP is not a distinctly Republican phenomenon.

Republicans individually are no dumber, crazier or more venal than anyone else. The GOP has simply been the first to tumble into a vortex that is pulling at our entire political culture. Republicans aren’t worse than Democrats. We are just running a little ahead.

This observation is outlined in more detail in The Politics of Crazy: How American Lost Its Mind and What We Can Do About It. In summary, the case unfolds as follows:

While the global triumph of capitalism has brought massive benefits, any revolution on such a scale creates dangerous new challenges. Collectively, humanity is freer, wealthier and safer than we have ever been in history, but the same forces delivering these impressive results are eroding the social capital institutions on which our political system is constructed.

Democrats have always enjoyed a sturdier network of institutional support than Republicans. As a consequence, Democrats have been slower to feel the impact of our declining engagement in public institutions of all kinds. Nonetheless, that impact is coming. What Republicans are experiencing now waits on the horizon for Democrats.

Potential remedies are described at length in the book, but putting them into practice will not be easy. Responding effectively to the demands of a radically freer, more prosperous culture will require a new policy template, updated expectations about what government can and should deliver, and a greater willingness among the public to invest their most precious asset – their time – in public life.

Before any of these things can happen we must come to terms with what we are experiencing. Most Democrats see the surprising support for Bernie Sanders as a sign that the country’s mood is leaning leftward. What they should see is the rise of their very own Pat Buchanan.

Democrats chuckle gleefully as Republicans stumble over climate denial or face pressure to endorse creationism. They marvel as otherwise competent adults ignore indisputable scientific evidence to protect cherished myths.

Meanwhile pressure grows on the left to ignore the scientific consensus on genetically modified foods, nuclear energy, homeopathic medicines, and the nutritional value of organic foods. Where the right mythologizes the past, the left mythologizes nature. The right reserves its strangest outbursts for matters related to sex while many of the left’s most persistently irrational fixations relate to food.

Contrary discoveries can rarely penetrate the fog of cognitive dissonance. From The Food Babe to The Mattress Girl, the Whole Foods Wing of the Democratic Party has no more respect for objectively discovered reality than your average Pentecostal evangelist.

Democrats, up to now, have distinguished themselves from their sad cousins on the right by their capacity to keep their lunatics in line. They can reap the votes of political oddballs, at least in Presidential Election years, without having to grant those voters much influence.

The Politics of Crazy explains why they are slowly losing control. Democrats can limit the influence of their noisy fringe though the lingering, though diminished power of certain key institutions. As those institutions continue their steady decline, Democrats are dragged toward an inevitable tipping point, the event horizon beyond which their Republican rivals have already slipped.

Massive crowds are greeting Bernie Sanders, the honorable Senator from Baja Canada, as his “message” campaign for the Democratic nomination threatens to become an actual campaign for the nomination. President Obama just suffered a crushing defeat on a crucial Pacific trade bill, only to be rescued by Republicans. Five years ago Obama’s press secretary had this to say about the President’s critics on the fringes of the left:

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

He’s right, but reality will probably matter less and less in Democratic politics in the future. The days when a Democratic President can govern in open defiance of “the professional left” are coming to an end.

Democrats may get a lot of entertainment from the absurd spectacle of the 2016 Republican primaries. They should also recognize the shadow of their future in the antics on the Republican debate stage.

Institutional barriers that stunted the influence of the craziest voices on the left are crumbling. Between the laughs, Democrats would be wise to start thinking about how best to respond when the Politics of Crazy sweeps over them.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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105 comments on “Democrats and the Politics of Crazy
  1. […] great global devolution of power. That neglect has been more severe on the Republican side, but the same forces are catching up to the Democrats. The power of the 1% is […]

  2. Steve C. says:

    Chris, I just finished reading this yesterday. I very much enjoyed your observations on the ownership society, and your thoughts on work, guaranteed minimum income, and health care. I don’t absolutely agree with everything, but I do share your opinion that the divisiveness we’ve witnessed over the last few decades is something that needs to be overcome.

    Good luck to us – we’re gonna need it.

  3. Anse says:

    You mentioned Bernie Sanders…here’s the thing. Bernie Sanders is considered a bit of a kook. A “character,” you might say. But why? Because he’s a true believer? Because he’s a socialist? Because he’s an unapologetic leftist? Because he’s not very photogenic, and doesn’t feed the media with great bombastic soundbites every five minutes? I recently sent Bernie’s campaign $30 and got a t-shirt (my first political donation in my entire 41 years of existence) and this is why: Bernie Sanders’ politics *are* the politics of the Left. If you don’t like Bernie’s views, you aren’t a liberal.

    Of course some people may find bits and pieces they like and some things they don’t like, and that’s okay. I just feel like liberals have spent too many years, a good three decades really, feeling a little apologetic and not too confident about our platform. Maybe it’s because of the baggage socialism has had for so long; it is the ideological undercurrent of left wing politics, and that should not be denied. I believe that kneejerk anti-socialist atmosphere is changing a bit. But anybody who worries about embracing the “socialist” tag should at least take comfort in knowing that there aren’t any real libertarian capitalists in office, and there likely won’t be any real socialists in office, either. The best government is always a compromise between those two ideological extremes.

    But I like Bernie. I like him because he’s not crazy, he’s not a flame-thrower, he’s not somebody that’s going to spit drop-the-mike quality lines at every appearance or debate. He’s doing what he’s always done. He’ll probably lose, it’s true, but he’ll be the conscience that Hillary so desperately needs, the true liberal voice calling her out for her shortcomings as she is crowned the Democratic Heir Apparent.

    Will Dems have a Tea Party-style caucus of screamers in the future? Maybe. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. But I hope not. I’d rather lose some elections that resort to scraping the bottom of the populist barrel. Maybe it’s easy for me to say that as a Democrat in Texas who is used to disappointment.

    • 1mime says:

      As another Democrat in TX, I can relate to your disappointment. As for Bernie, the biggest, best thing Bernie has going for him is that he is genuine. He has never veered from his commitment to a level playing field for all people and he is putting specific program proposals out there for all to see and take pot shots at. Personally, I think Bernie is probably having the time of his life – for the first time, he is being successful in getting real concerns out in the public arena so that there will be an opportunity for issues to be discussed. THAT is valuable.

      At this point, I don’t care if Bernie wins the nomination, he has already won the title as the most honest candidate from either party to seek the office of President. It will be tragic if the media ignores him and his message, but it won’t surprise me. The only people more focused on themselves than the candidates are the media. They need to do their job and help the American people see a real Presidential contest on real ideas.

  4. 1mime says:

    The theme here is looming Democratic dysfunction. The major difference between the GOP and Dems is the hard line on following the party position. Republican members are punished in many ways if they don’t do what they are told to do…or, they are primaried…or starved for campaign funds. Dems are much more tolerant of divergent opinions and allow a more democratic dissent process without all the penalties imposed by the Republican Party.

    This article from The Hill neatly illustrates a major weakness in the Republican Party. It also clearly highlights how passive incorporation of Tea Party membership has increased the penalty process within the GOP. Punitive? Yes. Too late? We’ll see.

  5. Creigh says:

    There are some good comments on Chris’s theory of crazy here. I think most agree with his analysis of the R’s fundamental problem, which was certainly caused by the cultural changes he writes about. But it was also enabled by the Republican Party’s conscious decision to adopt a Southern strategy. There’s much less agreement on whether these cultural changes will result in the same crazy infection with the D’s. I might argue that the D’s have a fundamental problem too, but it’s different. The D’s fundamental problem is that pandering to a set of special interests, even if they are diverse, will probably not add up to a public policy that makes sense for the nation as a whole.

  6. 1mime says:

    Lest we celebrate too soon the 6-3 SCOTUS decision in King v Burwell, upholding subsidies for the ACA, here’s the latest response from Republican leadership.

    (Spoiler alert – they are still gaming the issue for all its worth)

  7. GG says:

    Verdict in. SC legalizes same-sex marriage across US.

    • flypusher says:

      It may be dangerous to talk to some in my family this weekend.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Awesome. Great news. I look forward to reading the complete text of the ruling to see the logic and reasoning used, and the precedents cited, from both sides.

    • texan5142 says:

      I went over to Fox Nation, The Blaze, etc. to see the comments. The freak outs over there are something else.

      • GG says:

        INCEST, POLYGAMY, CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER!!! Seriously, some of them have lost their minds. I always find it hilarious how much they obsess at what some people do in their bedrooms.

    • vikinghou says:

      Tomorrow’s Pride parade is going to be especially festive.

      • Crogged says:

        As is the party going on at the family law section of the American Bar Association.

      • Crogged says:

        The Onion
        News in Brief: Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Most Buck-Wild Pride Parade Nation’s Ever Seen

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Now there will be no excuse for people with cold feet – Of COURSE I would marry you, dear, if only it were legal . . .

  8. Adam R. says:

    The thing that I find interesting about that argument is the extent to which single-issue Democratic pressure groups are both highly diverse and highly quarrelsome. I’d agree with you that there are various constituencies who wind up on the Democratic side of the aisle that are pretty far out there; my first thought was that I have a fairly hard time imagining them all working together strongly enough to co-opt the Democratic party from the inside the way the Tea Party has.

    Basically, to my understanding you’ve got the Whole Foods crowd (that would be the anti-vaxxers, the anti-GMO people, etc.) who as near as I can tell are mostly white, upper middle-class, skew somewhat female and tend to be fairly uptight and terrified. Completely separate from that, you’ve got more mainstream progressives (the Bernie Sanders contingent, of which I am not one but am fairly sympathetic towards) and then when you get farther out you get a massive mishmash of different kinds of socialists, communists, anarchists, etc, most of whom could all agree on similar incremental measures that would bring America closer to being the place they wished it were but will instead fight to the death over minor dogmatic differences. On top of that you have third-wave feminism and the modern Internet social justice community (which is what I presume you’re referring to when you mention Emma Sulkowicz and the mattress incident), which is still in the process of figuring out what it is and is not but is currently very loud and messy.

    There’s some overlap between those three groups, and if somehow they all managed to arrange themselves into a single coherent voting bloc they’d probably wield a considerable amount of power. One of the most concerning (and more likely) possibilities would be the creation of such a bloc in which the Whole Foods people wind up making most of the major policy decisions, and then the progressives, the far-left mishmash, and the social justice warriors all get a great deal of loud lip service and a few bones thrown their way when convenient. The Whole Foods people tend to have the same sort of massive blind spots around how working-class and poor people live as upper-class conservatives, and they have their own brand of scary anti-science rhetoric (no nuclear power, no genetically modified anything, no vaccines), only founded in the naturalistic fallacy rather than the Bible.

    I do feel like you’re giving Bernie Sanders and the mainstream progressives somewhat of a bad rap here; I’m pretty sure there are actually far fewer differences between Bernie’s policy platform and the policy guidelines you’ve espoused here than there are between his platform and Hillary Clinton’s. In fact, I would argue that a significant number of Bernie’s followers would consider your policy guidelines a somewhat less perfect (but more feasible and perhaps better overall in the long term) substitute for his. You might be able to get them to hold their nose and vote for Food Babe if the alternative was Ted Cruz, but I’d be surprised if they stood by and let the Whole Foods crowd take control of the party (especially if the alternative was a policy slate reasonably similar to yours). They’ll disagree with you on things like trade policy and public employee unions, but I’d be surprised if those differences escalated to the point of irrational self-destructiveness. Given the choice between the party of Chris Ladd and the party of Food Babe, a majority of mainstream progressives would most likely choose you.

    The third-wave feminists and social justice activists are a group that I really have mixed feelings toward. On the one hand, there are definitely subgroups within that demographic (fans of Andrea Dworkin, members of the far-left mishmash who happen to also be twenty or so and believe that their particular brand of leftism has the answer to America’s social justice problems, and the usual batch of hustlers and showmen that get involved in any movement that has elements of populism) that range from being actively harmful to out-and-out malicious; even leaving those elements aside, the space itself can get quite noxious sometimes due to massive trust issues between different social justice sects that tend to represent different groups of people. It is bad enough that the party of SJW Tumblr is only slightly less scary than the party of Food Babe.

    That said, it would appear to me that most people in that group are trying to react as best they can to real long-running societal issues (police brutality, the cycle of disinvestment in poor and minority neighborhoods) and trying to actively design and iterate replacements for harmful models of social interactions (the transactional model of sexual activity, the moral models of disability and poverty, etc.). It’s complicated, messy work, and I feel like the language of morality, prejudice, and privilege isn’t necessarily best suited for discussing long-term changes in public policy and social norms. My hope is that a lot of the irrationality and vitriol will die down both as people get older, and as society as a whole becomes more willing to let the saner ones in the rooms where policy gets made.

    I would argue that the alternate course the Democratic Party could take would probably involve a controlled tack in the general direction of both you and Bernie Sanders, as well as the development of a new set of community-based pragmatic organizations to replace the old ones. I’m thinking of things like RAINN, NCSF, La Raza Unida, and smaller organizations designed to promote economic development and empowerment in struggling communities. I would guess that a big enough tent comprised of community- and service-oriented nonprofits would allow the Democratic Party to address the real, long-term policy goals that progressives and SJWs believe while still permitting the trains to run on time. In that scenario, the Democrats keep a good chunk of the SJWs and most of the progressives while containing Food Babe and her ilk and remaining focused on pragmatic policy rather than pandering to the idiots.

    In any case, I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing, and I hope that at some point within the next one or two decades the national GOP evolves into the sort of multiethnic Bull Moose Party you’ve described here. If you succeed, and (as I hope) you turn out to be wrong about the Democrats, then for the first time in a long time there will be two parties striving for the vote of sane Americans. If you succeed, and you turn out to be right, then at least I’ll have a political home while I wait out the long twilight of the Democratic Party.

    • RobA says:

      The difference I see is the extremists of the left are fringe and marginalized.

      You don’t hear Hillary talking about “parent choice” with regards to vaccines, or about tougher rape punishments.

      Whereas the lunatics on the right are the mainstream party right now. Every single GOP candidate is pandering directly to them on almost every issue.

      Republicans like Chris are the “fringe” in the GOP right now

      • Adam R. says:

        My guess is that Chris’s concern isn’t necessarily for this election, but rather for 2024 onward. We currently have our crazies on a firm enough leash that we don’t have to worry about them writing major planks in our policy platform, and many of us don’t see any reason why that would cease to be the case. Chris’s argument (as best I can understand it) is that having things under control *now* doesn’t guarantee they’ll stay that way, nor does belief in sanity and stability automatically create it.

        I would agree with Chris on that, and I’d say that I don’t necessarily have a strong enough anthro/polisci background to critique his model of the Democratic and Republican Parties. I don’t believe that we have to worry about Food Babe for President just yet, but I feel like keeping that possibility in the back of our minds and actively working to prevent it is the most reliable way of ensuring that it doesn’t happen later.

      • johngalt says:

        Honestly, the right and left have wrapped around to meet each other in some ways. Several prominent GOPers have questioned mandatory vaccines under the guise of that being too much government power. It mitigates the damage nutjobs on the left can do if there is a fringe on the right with the same delusions (I doubt the Dallas megachurch with the measles outbreak had too many “Hope and Change” bumper stickers in the parking lot).

  9. neko says:

    Chris, the difference I see between the left and the right is that while there are elements of the left that is moving further from reality in your words, on topics of GMOs, nuclear energy, homeopathic medicines, etc, the people who are most involved in resisting these elements are also structurally, inherently left-leaning (professors, scientists) making this an intra-party struggle. Moderately-left voters are still weighing arguments from within his own party. They still won’t vote Republican nationally.

    I haven’t seen the same from the right: Are there any cohesive, powerful, inherently conservative blocs that resist the confederate wing from within the Republican party?? Moderate right voters are being forced to consider moderate left candidates.

    another point: the topics you listed aren’t single party issues as you seem to presume. I have seen no evidence that the right is overwhelmingly more educated or well informed about these issues. Why does this matter? Because it diffuses the crazy into both parties; well informed voters on the left on these issues aren’t torn between crazy democrats and rational republicans, they are choosing between crazies and rationals from both parties. As an aside, have you seen the fox coverage on anti-vax?

    Thirdly, I have immense respect for your intellect and insights, so please do example Bernie more carefully before you label him as a sign of the impending arrival of left-crazies. Bernie only seems radical because American political discourse has been unusually conservative lately. Many of the “conservative” Presidents from the first two-thirds of the 20th century were surprisingly progressive (on certain issues) by today’s standards….

    • RobA says:

      I’m seriously c9nsidering voting for Sanders. I even have my “left wing nut bar” on full alert, looking for reasons to eliminate him. So far, seems th onky thing radical about him is his reputation.

      I don’t consider prioritizing education investment, taking seriously climate change, getting serious about income inequality (prob the biggest problem facing the nation), raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich (or at least STOP tax breaks for them) and strength ing labour rights.

      I know what many here think about unions. And I’m the first to admit they are not all good. They almost bankrupted GM, for example (although to be honest, the blame for that mostly lies with GM. It’s the unions JOB to seek the best possible deal for its members. It’s management job not to acquicise to demands that will destroy the company should thw economy downturn).

      I think it’s important not to throw out the baby with the bathwater though and oppose all union activities because of isolated examples of negative outcomes.

      The fact is, unions first created the middle class. If workers did not unite and demand better pay and benefits after the industrialists started making A LOT of money, nothing would have changed. We would have had a feudal system of Lords and serfs,American style.

      A graph that had a lot of influence on me is the following

      It’s almost uncanny the relationship between union membership and the middle classes share of national income.

      We’ve had enough time to figure out trickle down doesn’t work. If we give the rich more money they do not spread it around. They bank it and make more. Without unions, corporations will pay the bare minimum in wages, regardless of their employees welfare, even if it means that full time employees working 40 hours/week are STILL below the poverty line.

      America is a giant club, and we’re expected to be good citizens if this club. We all need to pull in the same direction. And that goes for companies too. Corporations that pay low enough that their full time employees are on food stamps is NOT being a good corporate citizen, and in cases like this, it is entirely appropriate for the government to ensure that they become one. Raising the minimum wage and supporting unions would go a long way to do that.

      I’m a capitalist, but unregulated capitalism is an inherently flawed system. Inequality and concentration of wealth at the top is not a POSSIBLE outcome of unfettered capitalism, it is the ONLY outcome of unfettered capitalism.

      I’m a big proponent of a regulated capitalism system, where innovation and entrepreneurship is rewarded, but also with a safety net to prevent the less successful from falling behind too far.

      If that means that a brilliant tech guru “only” makes $5 billion instead of $7 billion, I’m ok with that.

      It’s not like this is such a wacky idea. We already HAVE regulated capitalism. Strong anti trust laws, for example, are an example of capitalism regulation.

      So we’re already doing it. It’s nit that radical. The only issue is, we haven’t quite found that sweet spot yet, where we have free ENOUGH market to spur innovation and reward innovators, and enough regulation to protect society as a whole.

      This while religious dogma that “the most free market is the best market” is just wrong. A purely free, unregulated market is inherently immoral and unstabalizing.

      So, long story short, Bernie Sanders MIGHT be too radical. But absolute ly nothing he’s said so far leads me to believe that.

      • johngalt says:

        The decline in union membership largely corresponds to the decline in the proportion of our workforce that is engaged in the kind of blue-collar jobs that are heavily unionized (manufacturing, skilled trades, transportation-related). These are either being mechanized or off-shored so that fewer (and more skilled) people are needed. Unions have played some role in this by being unwilling to accept economic reality to make their members more flexible and competitive in a global market.

  10. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    For clarity’s sake, I’m going to address each point in subsequent order, starting from the beginning of your article to the end:

    >] “Before any of these things can happen we must come to terms with what we are experiencing. Most Democrats see the surprising support for Bernie Sanders as a sign that the country’s mood is leaning leftward. What they should see is the rise of their very own Pat Buchanan.”

    Purely on points of similarities between the two, I would say that they both have their very limited ceilings of support. Just like Buchanan in ’92, Sanders’ ceiling will probably start to show itself in a couple of months, if not sooner. He draws in the crowds well enough and has, to his credit, seen his support rising, but it’ll never be enough to pose a credible threat to Hillary Clinton, let alone overtake her.

    That aside, I honestly don’t see much in the way of a comparison. Pat Buchanan was, essentially, the first Tea Partier of the Republican Party before there was a TP. He gave goodness knows how many headaches to the first President Bush and gave a national voice to the growing fringe elements, IMO, of his party while the president he campaigned against did, to his credit, try to keep them under control before he lost to Bill Clinton.

    I would argue that Bernie Sanders isn’t so much trying to capitalize on a fringe element of the Democratic Party as he is trying to bring them back to where they were before they lost their way during the Reagan Era and are just now beginning to return to their roots (by which I mean their FDR-esque roots).

    >] “Democrats, up to now, have distinguished themselves from their sad cousins on the right by their capacity to keep their lunatics in line. They can reap the votes of political oddballs, at least in Presidential Election years, without having to grant those voters much influence.”

    For argument’s sake, let’s entertain the idea that the Democratic Party’s “lunatics” (I personally don’t like that word, but whatever) are on the ascent. Let’s look to the other side of the aisle and ask the all-important question: what was the tipping point for the Republican Party that sent them spiraling into their current quagmire? They lost the presidency.

    Without a unifying figure to coalesce around or keep them in line, the fringe elements of the Republican Party were able to grasp the reigns of power and exert their influence. Democrats on the other hand, as you yourself should know better than most anyone, aren’t in a position to worry about that, at least for the immediate future. If Hillary Clinton locks down the presidency for the next eight years, that is eight years in which the so-called “lunatics” have no trigger with which to wreck the kind of havoc that the Republicans have had to deal with.

    And a lot can happen in that time, for better or worse. Could things still take a turn for the worse on the Democratic side? Sure, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

    >] “He’s right, but reality will probably matter less and less in Democratic politics in the future. The days when a Democratic President can govern in open defiance of “the professional left” are coming to an end.”

    Well, we’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it.

  11. I suspect that big government is becoming passé. Most of the people I know are increasingly disconnected from, and disinterested in, politics. They look upon the shocking incompetence of the federal bureaucracy, the increasingly obvious impotency of federal programs, the morass of incoherent, unending regulation, the unending parade of scandal, and they just shake their heads and go back to whatever it is they were doing.

    The media isn’t helping, having become increasingly partisan on either side of the political divide. It doesn’t matter whether you tune in to MSNBC or Fox, what you’re most likely to see is people shouting over each other. That’s about as entertaining and informative as fingernails scraping down a blackboard; people just tune out or turn off.

    And then there’s the totally out of control government spending, fueled almost entirely by so-called non-discretionary spending. Ecological sustainability is all the rage with the tree hugger faction, but gluttonous pols on both sides of the aisle seem blissfully oblivious to any concept of sustainable government. I have no idea whether it will end with a bang, or a whimper, but end it will, sooner or later, one way or another.

    I’m not a big Libertarian, but Kevin Williamson offers some interesting ideas in his latest, “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure”:

    • johngalt says:

      You’re half right. People are increasingly disinterested in politics. Yet they kind of like the things that big government provides, roads, schools, a security net, increasing access to health care. It’s not government they dislike, it’s politicians.

      We’re not going broke. That’s a myth peddled by Glen Beck trying to get you to buy gold. We have the only plausible reserve currency, the largest economy (which is 7-8 times larger per capita than China), the largest military, the best scientific and engineering environment, the best entrepreneurial climate, and we remain the country to which the poor huddled masses around the world want to come. Sure, we have problems, but they are solvable and our upside remains much brighter than our downside. If you turned off both MSNBC and Fox, you might see that.

      • Doug says:

        “We’re not going broke. That’s a myth peddled by Glen Beck trying to get you to buy gold. ”

        Beck works for the CBO? I did not know that.

      • Crogged says:

        The CBO works on baselines and assumptions. If we don’t change current tax and spending policies then some decades away-doom-all GDP goes to our debt. Why worry about today when we have 2040 to fret about.

      • 1mime says:

        Interesting analysis by conservative Chantrill. In the historical narrative he notes the big increases in debt to GDP resulting from the Great Depression and WWII, then 35 years of decline to single digits….only to zoom up during Reagan’s cold war effort and Bush’s (W) wars, to today’s President Obama – who he states (and I paraphrase) – increased the federal deficit to help the nation recover from the Great Recession……

        Hmmm……Economists differ on what a healthy debt to GDP should be, but we can all agree that it is impossible for a complex nation to operate without debt. Key is, how much is too much? Surely, if debt is such a pressing issue, it should have a much higher priority than the time required to pursue 50 votes to repeal the ACA, and two US Supreme Court appeals….

        Just sayin’

    • 1mime says:

      Tracy, you have really bought the whole “government is bad, incompetent, over-regulatory, fiscally irresponsible, corrupt” view. I am sorry for you. How, then, do you explain the leadership role America holds in the world? The deficit being halved, jobs and the economy recovering after a catastrophic fall (NOT UNDER DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP), a nation that is looked upon (even with its weaknesses) by all as a beacon of democracy and a financial powerhouse…

      You may not like the regulations, or those leading our government, or the distribution of tax revenue to help the poor and disabled (AND old), but as clumsy as the process is, it is working better for more people than any other country of its size in the world.

      That should temper and inform your opinion, but it isn’t. Is it possible that you are wrong?

  12. Turtles Run says:

    BTW: Did I get left off the little marxist email distrobution list? I paid my rubbles. Who the bloody heck are Food Babe and Mattress Girl?

  13. antimule says:

    Goplifer, what is your take on “mattress girl”?

  14. Tom says:

    IMO, the two are not really comparable. The right fringe is far larger than the left fringe, both in numbers and financial muscle.

    The right fringe has essentially created its own shadow Republican Party with the backing of a few billionaires who happen to share their views. The RNC can barely control the Presidential primary process at this point. There is no such thing going on with the fringe left: while Bernie Sanders is polling around 15 percent, much of that reflects the absence of any other credible anti-Clinton alternative. In a competitive primary, Dennis Kucinich barely registered.

    • BigWilly says:

      That’s so unlike Greg Abbot. Do you think he’s off his rocker now?

      • 1mime says:

        Are you kidding me? “unlike Abbott??” Mr. “voucher” proponent reincarnate.

        She has a great smile though. Guess she can’t believe her good fortune………

    • 1mime says:

      What can I say? This is an affront to professional educators and to the many families who send their children to public schools. I guess the next best thing to not passing the voucher in TX is appointing a leader of the public school system who has abandoned it for her own children.

      Wow! Just, wow!

      • BigWilly says:

        I support the Governor’s policies. A public school education is worth about nothing in the job market.

        On the other side of the ledger. I suppose if the kids are environmentally conscious and equitable regarding homosexuality then public education is just peachy.

        If there were a re-boot, in a different universe, I would have rather have had the old fashioned pre-commie classical education. Greek, Latin, science, math, Turgenev, the good stuff. The stuff that gives life meaning. I’ve had to avail myself of the good stuff outside of the educational system because it is now more concerned with inculcating kids with the absurd notion of white privilege.

      • 1mime says:

        “A public school education is worth about nothing in the job market.”

        BW, that remark hits a new low for you. Just wait til I tell my son and daughter that our grandchildren have no future due to their pitiful public school education unless they lean towards environmentalism or homosexuality…It’s legitimate to point out the flaws in public education, which certainly exist, but your sweeping disdain is insulting to education professionals, families and children who support public education and try each and every day to make it work. Maybe Ms. “what’s her name” who is now heading up the TXDOE will turn things around since her real world experience homeschooling her children qualifies her to administer the $53 million dollar DOE education budget which serves 5,151,925 children in elementary and secondary public schools, thousands of education professionals, curricula, benefits, enrollment.

        Now, keep that $53 million dollar figure in your head. TX allocated $800 million for border security. Hmmm, kinda lopsided spending, wouldn’t you admit? As bad as you think public education is, imagine if our legislature had given our schools $800 million and our border security $58 million. Think what a properly funded public education system would look like. Heck they might even be able to squeeze in a course in Latin or Greek (oops – that might not be so relevant right now…). Yeah, all public education is crap and all teachers are socialists and all parents who send their kids to public schools are fools and all children who attend will be unable to get a job. Wait! Ms. “what’s her name”who was just appointed the home school education czar of TX is on the job!

        There’s nothing cute or insightful in your remarks. Just for your information, enrollment in public schools in the U.S. has been increasing and is expected to hit a new high of 57 million in 2016, or an increase of 3% over time; private school enrollment, on the other hand, is declining from a rate of 11.7% in 2001 to 9.6% in 2011, with an enrollment of 5.1 million students. I wonder why that is?

      • RobA says:

        BW that’s just hysteria.

        My son and step son are in 3rd and 7th grade respectively.

        About 95% if their curriculum is the classics. History, Math, Social Studies, English, music and physical ed.

        Just because Rush Limbaugh screams about something (“they’re teaching our kids about anal sex in 5th grade!!!”) Doesn’t make it true.

        The public education system is probably the most valuable and important institution this country has.

        It’s not perfect and its appropriate to improve it where applicable. But public education is absolutely essential.

        How can you say it has “no value” in the job market? I don’t know many jobs that are really good that can be gotten without education or training of some sort.

        And by far the most common feeder system into unis and colleges is……the pubkic education system!

        Just because they refuse to teach that the Earth is older than 6000 y/o and that the biblical story of Genesis has absolutely no place on a science class doesn’t mean public education is useless.

        On the contrary, it would be useless if it DID.

      • BigWilly says:

        Latin and Greek are the root languages of science. Not having them available to high schoolers certainly does not serve the cause of scienter. What a beautiful word. Skei-in PIE it means “to split, to dissect.”

        I suspect the increase in enrollment of more kids in US public high schools is the result of…more kids.

        Your responses are typical. I would have expected no less. RobA you won’t find the world in a marketing text, only a shallow simulacrum. I haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh in years, I’m glad you’re on top of it. How would I know, and why would I care? I’ve been listening to Stravinsky, Wagner, and the tires while driving so, like I said, thanks for the inform.

        If your understanding of the Bible is limited to the limited understanding of the 6,000 you are a chili dog. Why? Because I said so. A thousand years is “as” a day is taken, out of context, from Psalms 90:4 and is, in my opinion, what we call a “simile.” Do you know what a simile is RobA? It gives the reader some frame of reference. It’s like a day, to you.

        You throw out the Holy Scripture as a valid pursuit of study simply because you don’t know what a simile is?

      • 1mime says:

        So higher number of kids in public schools is a result of “more kids”. What does the 11.7% decline in private school enrollment mean? Fewer kids? Or, maybe fewer with the means to go to private schools? Or, more who think public education with all its faults still does a pretty damn good job of preparing kids for post secondary options. BTW, graduation rates in public schools are approaching 81% (…This will never be as high a percentage as private schools for obvious reasons, but it is a solidly improving number and that bodes well for public education.

        Don’t “throw the baby out with the dishwater”, BW. I’m sorry your educational experience was such a disappointment but that doesn’t mean everyone else’s was too. Try to be positive and understand the challenges faced by public education. It’s humbling.

      • johngalt says:

        There is zero need for fluency in Latin or Greek to be a scientist, even a biologist, where words rooted in those languages are common. Yes, I probably know a few more Greek letters than most people and am comfortable pronouncing words like Saccharomyces, Arabidopsis, Caenorhabditis, and Plasmodium, but I don’t need to (and do not) know much beyond that.

      • BigWilly says:

        If you don’t understand the origin of a word, how can you truly understand what it means? As for responses the whole “I don’t know, and I don’t need to know” thing is what I would expect from a redneck, not from you.

        It’s sort of like the Business School guys grousing about music appreciation because it has “nothing” to do with their field.

        Regarding the Texas state budget I consulted the budget itself which is available online here;

        Click to access Fiscal_SizeUp_2014-15.pdf

        Agencies of Education and Health and Human Services account for 73.9% of the total budget for the 2014-2015 biennium or approximately 1.48 billion dollars. The evil, Republican led, state of Texas spends almost 3/4 of its revenue on “liberal” causes.

        So let’s see. That math won’t mean much if we don’t have something to compare it to like…CA.

        CA-I generalized K-12, higher education, and HHS would equate to similar terminology in the TX budget-spends approximately 1.2 billion dollars out of total revenue of approx 1.7 billion, or about 71% of its revenue.

        This is quick and dirty, I know, but if you want more than that you gotta pay for it.

        It looks to me like TX uses its resources a little bit better than Shangri-La Cali Baby!

      • 1mime says:

        My response was specific to public education for TX at the elementary and secondary level. To bring the entire TX budget into a little more “user friendly” format, here’s a link with a pie chart.

        Note that the TX education budget (which includes higher ed as well as elementary/secondary/trade…all education areas) comprises 23% of the entire state budget. I don’t think this is a bad investment of my tax dollars, in fact, I wish the Legislature had not cut public education while spending $800 million on border security, but, hey, to each his own, right?

        Keep that 23% figure in view. It’s important. And, yes, a significant portion of the state budget is spent on health, education. Why is that a bad thing? It directly helps the people who pay taxes, even those who only pay sales taxes contribute. I guess our priorities are different, BW. Never have been compared to a redneck before – that’s a first!

      • BigWilly says:

        1mime-the redneck remark was directed at JG, who said that Greek and Latin were unnecessary languages for a scientist to know. I thought that was a bit of a lazy minded approach, given that so much of the nomenclature is Greek and Latin. If Tyrannosaurus Rex was unknown to you a fundamental knowledge of Greek or Latin would tell you that this one was the king of tyrannical lizards.

        That’s all.

    • Crogged says:

      Well, we have this ridiculous document, some sort of unread Texas version of the US Constitution, which floated out the loathsome idea of a free public education for all children of Texas citizens. It’s hard work, turns out free means you have to pay teachers and teachers have to be trained themselves and some of the kids just don’t learn as well as others, or play football. And since they wrote these words back in the 19th century, well, we learned some things which we can’t find in the Bible. And then those same author’s of our constitution, stupidly, included the word ‘equitable’ in this crazy idea. So yeah, screw all that. Get what you pay for, that’s the American way.

      • BigWilly says:

        The system’s not functioning. I don’t know exactly what combination of inputs would yield the preferred output, but conditioning them to be sensitive to the environment and accepting of homosexuality have got to be pretty low on the need scale. That’s why so many parents bolt to anything else when given the opportunity. They know that the “knowledge” which I shall redefine as “information” is not sufficient to enable their child’s well being.

        My experience in the “education” environment sucked rotten eggs. College was the cigarette butt on top of the turd pile in the Effingham Valero john of my experience with it. Like some kind of perverse ice cream sundae. Oh, with your diploma you get the payment book.

        There’s your equitable.

      • Crogged says:

        Any idea that Texas public schools are a hotbed of liberal nanny patties teaching our kids how to hug gay trees is slightly removed from reality. Sorry you felt your education was so bad, I felt a little let down myself.

        Don’t know the reasons why so many parents ‘bolted’ as soon as they can from public schools, in my own lifetime the bolting accelerated about the same time I got to go experience the results of sixty years of ‘separate but equal’ schools via bus tours.

        I believe you are an accountant and I worked at Enron, thus I understand how creative accounting can be at times. If you have some way for private schooling to be free, let er rip, willing to listen to what you have to offer.

      • 1mime says:

        It goes without saying that there are two distinct populations being served by public and private school systems. And, yes, desegregation was the tipping point in a mass white exodus from public schools. It has produced enormous social and academic challenges for our school systems and our families.

        Public schools have an enormous challenge – They must accept children from every walk of life and frequently must function in the dual role of “family” and educator. This makes the job incredibly challenging but critically important. Private schools enroll a small percentage of American children – by choice. Public schools lack this option. There have been some interesting suggestions about bringing public school control back to the local level. That has merit if the people responsible for insuring educational equality would do so. Absent that commitment, it won’t work, resulting in federal intervention via the Green v Board of Education landmark decision. Given the current political environment, this would be a disaster. So, where to go from here?

        Might I suggest to those who criticize the job public schools are doing, to invest some personal time in the classroom. Volunteer to substitute, assist a teacher with a special group, or wherever you can be of help, to learn first-hand, what the challenges are. Recognize that our public schools need to be adequately funded for the more difficult job they must perform. Work in your community to recognize great teachers and outstanding administrators . Participate at local school board meetings or on state committees.

        Or, you can simply write off all public education as bad – as many have chosen to do. If you choose instead to engage in a positive, helpful manner, I promise it will be an eye-opening, rewarding experience. This doesn’t mean that the weaknesses and shortcomings of the public school sector should be glossed over nor that constructive changes aren’t necessary to improve the quality of public education. My personal experience and view are that our nation’s youth are worth the investment. The consequence of a poorly educated populace is a weak nation. America can and should invest in our youth. It is both right and necessary.

      • BigWilly says:

        Actually, I looked into teaching a few years back and it was pretty clear that I would not fit into that environment.

    • GG says:

      I was just reading this. Unbelievable.

  15. AgentG says:

    I just Reconstructing the GOP today on This was perhaps one of the very best pieces of political commentary I have ever read and certainly by far the best analysis of the GOP in my memory. Ladd was the first person to show sanity in the GOP and he shows us how the underlying racism affects all political positions, while no other explanation fits as well into the behavior of the political right. Ladd also shows us that the modern GOP does not practice conservatism, depite their loud bullying about that, but rather racist radicalism. This is such an important point of discussion. I truly hope the media will pick up on this. But I also expect Mr. Ladd to be excoriated from people like Bill O-Reilly and other rabid voices that keep the barking loud and the thinking level low. Just wow and thank you Chris Ladd!

  16. johngalt says:

    I’ve been reading about the recent UK election, in which a Conservative Party (that is, in fact, modestly center-right by UK definitions and center-left by ours) eked out a win they had no business winning. They did so thanks to overt fragmentation of the political system. The Tories are pressed on the right by UKIP, who have a singular focus on hating the EU. The Tories look moderate by comparison in seeking to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership in that institution (even if David Cameron is making a mistake to put it to a vote). UKIP took some votes, but they won only one seat (I think). The Tories have also seen off challenges from the left by totally dropping any semblance of social conservatism.

    Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in contrast, are well and totally screwed. The Lib Dems alienated their constituency by selling out for a coalition with the Tories and got crushed. Labour was undercut by another single issue party, the SNP, which occupies ground well to the left.

    It will be hard for Labour to win back the Scots, because doing so will compromise the integrity of the UK. The Conservatives can probably let the UKIPers rant on about Europe and just let them go. UKIP has already had a leadership meltdown. I see analogies to our state of affairs: the Democrats can let single issue voters, whether anti-vaxxers, socialists, or whatever, rant about their concerns, but no cohesive political party can come from those. The Republicans’ ability to move to the center is limited because a huge part of the core comes from the hard right. If the Tea Party were to say, “screw the GOP” and start fielding candidates, they’re the SNP occupying ground that a more nationally competitive GOP would have a hard time clawing back.

    • AgentG says:

      I just Reconstructing the GOP today on This was perhaps one of the very best pieces of political commentary I have ever read and certainly by far the best analysis of the GOP in my memory. Ladd was the first person to show sanity in the GOP and he shows us how the underlying racism affects all political positions, while no other explanation fits as well into the behavior of the political right. Ladd also shows us that the modern GOP does not practice conservatism, depite their loud bullying about that, but rather racist radicalism. This is such an important point of discussion. I truly hope the media will pick up on this. But I also expect Mr. Ladd to be excoriated from people like Bill O-Reilly and other rabid voices that keep the barking loud and the thinking level low. Just wow and thank you Chris Ladd!

  17. Turtles Run says:

    Looks like Obama is 1 for 1 at bat with the SCOTUS. In a 6-3 decision the court ruled in favor for the federal Obamacare subsidies.

    • 1mime says:

      No, Turtles, it’s 2 for 2 – SCOTUS also ruled in favor of the TX challenge to the Federal Fair Housing Act.

      Outstanding major rulings: same sex marriage, census changes re counting undocumented persons.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I stand corrected. I read that after my original post. That is a great ruling that is being overshadowed by the Obamacare ruling.

    • flypusher says:

      RWNJ response is as expected:

      Probably NSF brain cells.

      Can our long national temper tantrum FINALLY be over??????????

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Can our long national temper tantrum FINALLY be over??????????”

        Surely you jest. I never underestimate the RW’s ability to carry on a temper tantrum. Look at civil rights and reproductive rights for examples.

  18. briandrush says:

    I’m going to call your reasoning into question here, Chris. Let’s start with the word “crazy.” It’s easy to toss that word out there in reference to Republicans’ out-of-touch-with-reality political positions, but I’m going to argue that it doesn’t really apply.

    The Republicans are responding to a constituency that is culturally distinct from the United States and always has been: Southern white males who are the cultural descendants of the Confederate States, and that I like to call the Confederacy in recognition of that. At heart, these people aren’t crazy. They’re foreign. And they’re also anachronistic, holding to the values, mores, and cultural norms of pre-capitalist agrarian society. These people see themselves — rightly — as an isolated enclave surrounded by hostile forces. That was the motivation behind the secession of 1860-61 and the Civil War. The same motivation animates them today, although we may hope that the consequences will be less bloody.

    Everything Republican politicians do in service to this constituency is intended to make them feel like someone represents their interests, and that they may have a hope to survive as a culture, which in fact they don’t. But politicians always pander either to voters or to campaign donors or both; pols with real integrity are a rare breed. One of the most striking examples of this is Michelle Bachmann, someone that we on the left love to call a lunatic, but she’s not. I watch videos of this very smart, very capable politician spouting nonsense, and I can tell that she doesn’t believe the things she’s saying, but she knows that her constituents do, and she’s playing them like a fiddle. She’s not the least bit crazy. In fact, she’s a genius.

    Politically, all of this is quite rational, although ultimately self-destructive due to ongoing demographic shifts. The Southern votes kept the Democratic Party alive (if barred from national power) for decades, and was the most reliable constituency the party had. Taking advantage of that loyalty after the Democrats abandoned the South was an irresistible temptation for Republicans, although it’s proven to be a poisoned dinner and the Democrats weren’t as foolish in dropping it as it might have seemed at the time.

    The other side of what Republicans are doing today is more in tune with the party’s origins as the political voice of capitalism. That’s still there, although somewhat obscured by the current Confederate tie-ins. It’s the explanation for Republican stances on climate change: very powerful big-business interests (the fossil-fuel industry) would be hurt by action to remedy this problem. Again, this is not crazy, even though it’s reality-denying. There’s a political reality involved.

    Now over to the Democrats. There are voices on the left that are at least as out of touch with modern reality as the Confederates, true. You named some of them: the anti-vaxxers, the anti-GMO crowd. But on both of these issues, there is a great deal more flexibility once you get away from the hard core than one finds in the Confederacy. Currently, very large majorities favor labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (count me in the “no” column on that, because I know that to be properly informative such a label would have to be the size of a football field), but they still eat them without much concern. Labeling is sort of a how-can-you-oppose-that apple pie issue: how can anyone not want the public informed about what they’re eating? And the problems with that approach lie in details of the science that most people just don’t know.

    There is no politically sound reason to serve the fringe on either of these issues, unlike the ones that currently define the GOP, and so we have no reason to expect the Democrats ever to do so. There would be nothing to gain in their doing so.

    And now to the final point: Bernie Sanders. It’s simply absurd to toss him in with the anti-vaxxers or the anti-GMO people as an indication of potential craziness in the Democrats. He’s nothing of the sort. The policies that he is recommending are not in the least out of touch with reality. They’re things that other advanced democracies have been doing for a long time, quite successfully. He’s addressing the biggest economic problem we have in the United States today, unsustainable income inequality that is not only unfair, but economically damaging as well. He labels himself a “socialist.” My guess is that you’re responding to the label, not to what he’s actually proposing.

    In fact, movement towards socialism is a natural progression when a capitalist economy is fully mature, as ours most certainly is. Exactly how that move is implemented makes a big difference, but there’s nothing crazy or reality-denying about the ways that Sanders proposes to implement them.

    Short version: the Republicans aren’t crazy. They’re serving a foreign constituency. Our current dysfunction is caused by the latest (and hopefully final) phase of the American Civil War, not by loss of sanity. And so there’s no reason to think the Democrats are going to go insane, either.

    • texan5142 says:

      ” One of the most striking examples of this is Michelle Bachmann, someone that we on the left love to call a lunatic, but she’s not. I watch videos of this very smart, very capable politician spouting nonsense, and I can tell that she doesn’t believe the things she’s saying, but she knows that her constituents do, and she’s playing them like a fiddle. She’s not the least bit crazy. In fact, she’s a genius.”

      I live in Minnesota, and that bitch IS flat out crazy.

      • 1mime says:

        I have two lawyer lady friends who worked with her at the IRS. Their up close and personal impression was that she was “out there”. In fact, if she doesn’t believe the pap she spouts, that is even more damning as it further supports her shallow reasoning.

        Nope, not gonna give Bachmann any points just because she is “smart”. She’s a shallow, manipulative figure who has wasted a good mind. Intelligence doesn’t always equate with wisdom.

      • RobA says:

        Even if it were all a ruse, you could consider spouting batshit crazy opinion solely to please the batshit minority of your base to be a “crazy” politically strategy, in th sense that it has no other option other then failute4

    • Bobo Amerigo says:


      while I like Chris’ term Baja Canada, your points about Bernie Sanders are right on.

      I feel Chris’ list of things to fear actually follows a Pat Buchanan rant template.

    • goplifer says:

      This is going to be a very difficult process for Democrats to come to terms with. I predict that they will have a much more traumatic experience that takes much longer to process than what we are seeing on the Republican side. Your post is a perfect example.

      It all starts with an idea that runs something like this: “You’re crazy. I’m just eccentric.” My far-out loonies are harmless while yours are alien and scary. There’s a line at the start of the comment that really stands out, explaining that Republicans represent “a constituency that is culturally distinct from the United States and always has been: Southern white males.”

      First of all, check my history here but I seem to remember that the plantation states were not only part of the US at its founding, but were part of the Revolution as well. Their interests are written into our founding documents and our founding ideals. They are Americans. And let’s not forget that most of the most prominent remaining Democratic figures still come from the slave states (that includes O’Malley).

      Second, your reasoning about the influence and importance of these fringe constituencies is so haunting that I almost want to cry. I’m pretty sure I wrote those exact same paragraphs twenty years ago using a slightly modified collection of proper nouns.

      For me to be wrong about this prediction, Democrats will have to take some action in the near future to change their policy template and their institutional character. Frankly, that’s almost impossible at this point.

      Having a lot of decent folks involved in the party isn’t enough. Trust me. I can show you the scars. Politics is built on institutions, not individuals. The institutions that made the Democrats briefly more sane and predictable than the Republicans are deteriorating beyond critical mass. If someone is bringing along new ones that will function just as well, I haven’t seen them.

      Buckle up, buttercup.

    • 1mime says:

      Republicans rolled the dice on including the white supremacist interests and they have lost. This party has much to offer in their understanding of capitalism; they have much to learn from the more flexible ideology of Democrats. Surely, there is a middle ground that can serve both parties while not sacrificing their deeper responsibility to govern for all of America.

  19. 1mime says:

    Good points, Creigh and Turtles, with which I am in complete agreement. To the diverse group you mentioned, Turtles, add women (as a group which has been under attack), students (who have been ravaged by the loan process), and homosexuals. The Democratic “tent” has had to be nimble and inclusive. That has strengthened and challenged the party. The monolithic message of the GOP is central to their inability to be inflexible – in all sorts of areas. The article I cited earlier about the weakness of the basic Democratic political structure at the local and state level is the greatest threat I see ahead. The greatest strength of the Democratic Party, has always been inclusion and the “freedom of thought” it allows its leaders.

    As for the relative danger of the issues of “sex” and “food”, even as I admit the latter can be “out there”, how much personal harm does that issue cause? Compare that to closure of womens’ health clinics, onerous abortion laws, income disparity for women, lack of paid leave for families, vilification of homosexuals, rape laws, and, more, much more.

    No, Chris, I’d say plant paranoia does a lot less harm than sexual paranoia. Your point about Democrats needing a gut check on government dependence is valid. The point about the Pentagon not going away is one that deserves much deeper analysis. There are finite resources in America and if nothing else, there has to be a realization by ALL that priorities are changing that will impact how our tax dollars and efforts are focused. That’s not a political reality yet but it is coming and hopefully will find a more reasoned consensual process than we have seen in past years.

    As for the days of Democratic leadership being insulated from the professional left (I assume you mean unions), finances will solve that problem. When the parties can come together and put a jobs agenda in place, the need for unions will decline. It is vitally important that leadership in both parties hear from all parts of their base, but true leadership involves distillation of competing and common needs and developing initiatives that do the most good. That is not a “party” matter, that is good government. I’m ready and waiting for it to happen.

    As always, Chris, you continue to provide great insight into how America functions. I finished reading your book and heartily recommend it to all. We can all learn from it and we should be willing to make changes that will make our nation a better place for all. Thank you for your road map to that goal.

  20. Turtles Run says:

    Chris – To add to Creigh point. Dems have traditionally had to work with various groups with different wants. Thaditionally it has been Unions and African Americans but now the list includes Hispanics, enviromentalists, moderates, and liberals. That is a heck of a juggling act that forces compromise. The modern GOP is much more monolithic so compromise is not needed as much so it is not a valued trait.

    Now the Democrats could steer hard left like they did before but the Clinton years, that is not the case now. Hillary and Obama despite the cries of the right wing are very pragmatic centrists. We want Warren and Sanders but we know they are virtualy unelectable in a general election.

    • goplifer says:

      The book goes into a lot more detail about the unique characteristics of the institutions that promote compromise as opposed to those that benefit from conflict and stalemate. Institutions that pushed the Democratic Party toward pragmatism are dying off at an alarming rate. They are being replaced by a variety of single-interest groups nearly identical in structure to the ones that have destroyed the GOP.

      It’s true that certain bedrock elements of the old Democratic structure pressed it toward pragmatism. Those elements are being steadily replaced by bomb-throwing, professional manufacturers of outrage. The best thing Democrats can do right now is take a hard look at what happened to the GOP, what really happened, and start preparing for how to deal with it when it arrives.

      • 1mime says:

        Chris, could you be a little more specific as to the special interest groups you see emerging in the Democratic arena? Of course, unions are one, and I assume extreme environmentalists are another. What others am I missing?

      • Turtles Run says:

        1mime- Unions are a traditional voice but their decline in numbers are making them less of an influence.

      • goplifer says:

        No the unions are an example of a relatively pragmatic interest group. Planned Parenthood is another. Both of those groups have to do more to survive than just raise money from donors and publish press releases. They have vital interests in the real world that depend on effective support from a functioning government.

        Compare Planned Parenthood to NARAL or NOW. Those groups have absolutely no vital interest served by compromise. They do nothing other than issue advocacy. If a policy resolution of any kind was ever achieved on their core program they would die overnight. They are built from the ground-up to sponsor and perpetuate gridlock.

        Unions are dying and Planned Parenthood is losing its connection to government. Organizational forces rising in their place look more like or Code Pink. The future of the left is being sketched out by the Food Babe. Brace yourself.

      • 1mime says:

        Chris, I hope you will plan a blog post on the Food Babe. I assume that emergence of a special interest is not a “bad” thing. I liken it to those who oppose fracking out of concern for seismic changes and ground water pollution as well as water shortage issues. There are extremists in this group but there are legitimate concerns. There are reasonable ways to both address legitimate problems without destroying this incredible technology. The GMO fear and warring interests between agricultural interests and market needs is yet another. Bear in mind that these special food interests are driving an entirely new market – whole foods, organic foods, hormone free foods, home gardening, etc. While there will be some who lose, the new industry has created a huge opportunity that the marketplace is happily embracing. What’s not to like about this market-driven change? Capitalism at its finest?

        Don’t you think this dialogue is important in a nation that is propelling itself into a sea of massive change as you pointed out in your book? Is the issue then, controlling the outcome or limiting the discussion or “who” can participate in the process? What is legitimate to one group may be seen as radical by another…hence the volatile gun control issue, as one example. Middle ground is expensive turf.

        Personally, as long as people aren’t hurt, I think the wide-ranging discussion is fascinating and critically important in a bold, vibrant Democracy. Bring it on, but let the discussion be tempered by reason and inclusion of all who bring a sincere interest to the table. Then, let the chips fall where they may.

        Am I missing something here?

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Indeed, mime.

        Who are the bomb throwers?

        Please identify a hard left position. Is it clean air? Clean water? What? Feminism? Trophies for everybody instead of merit?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Chris – But the Dems already have an infrastructure in place to deal with these groups. As before these groups know many of their interests do not intersect but they have to work collectively to achieve their goals. While I cannot deny the possibility of a looney tunes take over the party infrastructure the history of working together should make such an event less likely to happen.

        Interestingly, a huge left swing by Democrats should also result in a swing to the middle by Republicans. I find it difficult that two extreme parties could co-exist at the same time in American politics.

      • BigWilly says:

        Feminism? Ick. That would be a hard left position that directly impacts my life in a truly screwed up fashion.


      • 1mime says:

        BW, for your benefit, a WIKI definition of feminism:

        “Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.”

        If you have sisters or daughters, do you not want them to have equal rights as described above?

  21. Creigh says:

    I like the explanation of how modern life is distracting us from public participation. I’ve always felt that TV in particular was very destructive of public society. As a young adult in the mid 70s I lived for some time in a town without TV and it was amazing how much richer social interactions were. But I’m not entirely convinced that the crazy will infect Democrats in the same way it has infected Republicans. For one thing, dysfunction “works” for Rs, who generally want government to do much less. Ds in general want more action and that requires working together.

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