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The Strategic Incompetence of Democrats

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I haven't even finished an economics course but I feel comfortable calling the invisible hand as a strategy to run an economy a goosy move, I know enough about economics to grasp that and I don't feel like I'm overextending myself by calling someone out on it.

    Similarly if someone tells us that homeopathic medicine cured their cancer I don't need to be an oncologist to point out why that's bullshit.
    I think that part of the problem may just be that Econ professors tend to see the above view a bit more and want to interject "No, actually markets are pretty efficient methods of organizing human behavior all in all" and end up giving lectures as if they need to instill this respect for the power of human action and market mechanisms.

    To give an anecdote. When i talk with conservatives I typically end up bashing market mechanisms. But the other way around when I talk to my more liberal friends. Granted; I always try and qualify my statements to the specific area or a general principle that may not hold up. But I can see how a kind of fatigue can set in, and an automatic response in favor of the market comes out when dealing with people who are assumed to hold anti-market views.

    Goumindong on
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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Goumindong wrote: »
    I haven't even finished an economics course but I feel comfortable calling the invisible hand as a strategy to run an economy a goosy move, I know enough about economics to grasp that and I don't feel like I'm overextending myself by calling someone out on it.

    Similarly if someone tells us that homeopathic medicine cured their cancer I don't need to be an oncologist to point out why that's bullshit.
    I think that part of the problem may just be that Econ professors tend to see the above view a bit more and want to interject "No, actually markets are pretty efficient methods of organizing human behavior all in all" and end up giving lectures as if they need to instill this respect for the power of human action and market mechanisms.

    To give an anecdote. When i talk with conservatives I typically end up bashing market mechanisms. But the other way around when I talk to my more liberal friends. Granted; I always try and qualify my statements to the specific area or a general principle that may not hold up. But I can see how a kind of fatigue can set in, and an automatic response in favor of the market comes out when dealing with people who are assumed to hold anti-market views.

    Well my understanding is that when left to its own devices, the market ends up being significantly less free than with some measure of regulation (after all, who's to stop you from putting startup competitors out of business by simply extorting their suppliers? even with regulation the big companies try this all the time)

    I'm aware there's a whole level of market complexity that is beyond my grasp. To use my above analogy, I am aware that the science of cancer research is tremendously complicated. I still know water with 1 part in 10 billion cyanide won't cure leukemia.

    override367 on
  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    Ah, professors with agendas.

    Honestly, even if I don't agree with something a professor is teaching, it isn't worth anyone's time to paralyze the class because you disagree. Take it up with him after class / during office hours.

    Is it, however, a little sad that most students will take a professor's personal interjections at face value? I would say so.

    Well when my psychology professor tells us that video games have a proven causal link to violence and cites a correlative aggression study from the APA, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut

    Then of course half the class gets the question wrong on the test because that's not what the teacher said (even though she is demonstrably, factually wrong), and I feel bad

    This is what I mean. For the purposes of the course, I'm just going to bite my tongue and work within the framework reality the professor has established.

    I mean, if it's something absolutely egregious, like someone talking out of their ass about, say, Islam or something else that I have a first-hand knowledge of... well all bets are off, then.

    Hamurabi on
  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    (Unregulated) markets always tend toward monopoly, is my understanding of the thing.

    Hamurabi on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    To be fair to Z0re's professor, in my own experience it is far easier to talk a committed thinker espousing orthodox neoclassical theory into supporting certain kinds of interventions, than it is to talk conservatives or liberals into grudgingly accepting elements of orthodoxy that they don't like rather than just the elements they do like.

    (on a side note: it's somewhat funny how overwhelmingly the neoclassical framework has succeeded in shaping the discourse; implicit in the idea of "externalities" is the notion that somewhere out there, there is a Pareto optimum to be external from; and that if we could internalize said externality, the invisible hand will [strike]give us all a pony[/strike] restore the Pareto optimum. And implicit in this is a range of assumptions ranging from ethical ones like relative non-importance of distributional issues to conceptual abstractions like "infinite number of consumers and produce" or "complete contingent-claims markets". For all the weaknesses, however, implicit acceptance of externalities and their overarching framework seems to have penetrated ideological camps that would otherwise reject it.)

    ronya on
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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    (Unregulated) markets always tend toward monopoly, is my understanding of the thing.

    Well, this is an empirical judgment. There are, in practice, very few examples of purely unregulated markets, so the occurrence or lack of occurrence of monopolies can always be blamed on whatever regulation or failure to regulate that does exist.

    Hong Kong doesn't tend toward monopoly, for instance. But one might point out that a monopoly in Hong Kong would face competition from neighboring economies where monopolies would be broken up, and then the monopolist would lose its monopoly.

    Theory doesn't suggest a tendency toward monopoly, although it doesn't militate against such a tendency either.

    e:
    Well my understanding is that when left to its own devices, the market ends up being significantly less free than with some measure of regulation (after all, who's to stop you from putting startup competitors out of business by simply extorting their suppliers? even with regulation the big companies try this all the time)

    [...]

    To extort suppliers, you need to either have some monopoly power to begin with, or be willing to temporarily run a loss in order to force the startup to take a loss too (and possibly shut down if their ability to tolerate losses is less than yours, as is typical of startups vs. established businesses). The question then is whether the market runs out of startups before you run out of money. Either way, the implicit assumption is market failure, so the unsurprising conclusion is that regulation can fix said market failure. :P

    (more empirically, antitrust action has historically never been very effective at breaking up monopolies, which does suggest that some other forces - like the allure of shiny, shiny extranormal profits, or the implicit threat of legal action if the monopoly behaves egregiously - act to discipline monopoly behavior)

    ronya on
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  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    (Unregulated) markets always tend toward monopoly, is my understanding of the thing.

    Well, this is an empirical judgment. There are, in practice, very few examples of purely unregulated markets, so the occurrence or lack of occurrence of monopolies can always be blamed on whatever regulation or failure to regulate that does exist.

    My understanding is that this is exactly why economics isn't as black-and-white as other academic disciplines, and why you have room for, say, a Krugman and a Friedman in the same field.

    Hamurabi on
  • LynxLynx Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Try having a US Government professor that is a Tea Partier, treats Reagen like he was te Second Coming and is an asshole about it all.

    I have to bite my damn tongue every class.

    Lynx on
  • HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I had a libertarian-ish "Social Environment" (social science survey course -- we dabbled in economics, anthropology, sociology, world and US history, etc.) professor, but he was pretty cool about it. He studied in Mexico (and spoke Spanish), practiced martial-arts, and apparently also flew experimental aircraft. We exchanged Churchill quotes. :P

    Hamurabi on
  • Dr Mario KartDr Mario Kart Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lynx wrote: »
    Try having a US Government professor that is a Tea Partier, treats Reagen like he was te Second Coming and is an asshole about it all.

    I have to bite my damn tongue every class.

    How does an educated Tea Partier deal with Reagan having tripled the national debt?

    Dr Mario Kart on
  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lynx wrote: »
    Try having a US Government professor that is a Tea Partier, treats Reagen like he was te Second Coming and is an asshole about it all.

    I have to bite my damn tongue every class.

    How does an educated Tea Partier deal with Reagan having tripled the national debt?

    COMMUNISM

    Cervetus on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Lynx wrote: »
    Try having a US Government professor that is a Tea Partier, treats Reagen like he was the Second Coming and is an asshole about it all.

    I have to bite my damn tongue every class.

    How does an educated Tea Partier deal with Reagan having tripled the national debt?

    He's probably aware that policy-wise Carter started deregulation and Volcker ended inflation and Reagan pretty much just continued either. But Reagan did mark a shift in the public consciousness; he was an effective orator, to be sure. Just a few elections before Reagan, worrying about the size of the federal government was used to mock Goldwater.

    ronya on
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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    Lynx wrote: »
    Try having a US Government professor that is a Tea Partier, treats Reagen like he was the Second Coming and is an asshole about it all.

    I have to bite my damn tongue every class.

    How does an educated Tea Partier deal with Reagan having tripled the national debt?

    He's probably aware that policy-wise Carter started deregulation and Volcker ended inflation and Reagan pretty much just continued either. But Reagan did mark a shift in the public consciousness; he was an effective orator, to be sure. Just a few elections before Reagan, worrying about the size of the federal government was used to mock Goldwater.

    That's because Reagan treated worry about the size of the government as a dog whistle.

    AngelHedgie on
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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Oh, certainly, at least in the South. Strapping young bucks and all. But the South is, well, the South; Reagan managed to talk the coasts into buying the idea as well.

    It is almost certainly the case that the modern tea parties are, as racially-motivated as they are, less so than in 1976. Almost certainly less explicitly so. Nobody, except Rand Paul, is willing to openly criticize the CRA, and even he waffled on that when the pushback became clear. Regardless of intent, in the longer run Reagan talked the South into adopting a weakened federal government as an ideological plank, not just a means by which to restore segregation.

    ronya on
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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    Oh, certainly, at least in the South. Strapping young bucks and all. But the South is, well, the South; Reagan managed to talk the coasts into buying the idea as well.

    You have heard of the Boston busing riots and sundown towns, right? One of the problems with our grasping racism is that too often we look at it as being something unique to the South.
    ronya wrote: »
    It is almost certainly the case that the modern tea parties are, as racially-motivated as they are, less so than in 1976. Almost certainly less explicitly so. Nobody, except Rand Paul, is willing to openly criticize the CRA, and even he waffled on that when the pushback became clear. Regardless of intent, in the longer run Reagan talked the South into adopting a weakened federal government as an ideological plank, not just a means by which to restore segregation.

    It's still a dog whistle. Note how all the tea partiers love to talk about "taking back America" - who, exactly, are they taking it back from? Again, Atwater said it best:
    You start out in 1954 by saying, "N*, n*, n*." By 1968 you can't say "n*" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "N*, n*.

    We're a bit more sophisticated now, hence what happened to Paul. But if you honestly don't think there is a large racial element to the Tea Party movement, then you're deluding yourself.

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Oh, there is. But the 76 conservatives were obviously more motivated by race than our 08 batch, however racially-motivated the latter still are. I daresay this much is obvious.

    ronya on
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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited September 2010
    Guys, I don't think anyone coming in and reading this thread on page 10 or 11 could tell that it was a thread called "The Strategic Incompetence of Democrats" without being told. Let's try and refocus a bit.

    Jacobkosh on
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  • Psycho Internet HawkPsycho Internet Hawk Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ronya wrote: »
    Oh, there is. But the 76 conservatives were obviously more motivated by race than our 08 batch, however racially-motivated the latter still are. I daresay this much is obvious.

    I think this only appears true because the '76 racists had a much more recent group and event that they could point to and get mad about.

    Current racists have a much more nebulous racism because a) There's a much larger minority presence in the US that extends far beyond black people and also includes asians, latinos, indians, muslims, etc, and b) the US has slowly and steadily become more multicultural over such a long period of time that rather than being able to point to a specific event all racists have is the feeling that the country is changing.

    Psycho Internet Hawk on
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  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Seriously, the Dem leadership is so consistently ineffectual that this should be a 50 page thread by now.

    Oh, and now Joe Biden is telling liberals not to whine. You know, I love Joe, but he and others that say shit like that can kiss my ass. Liberals aren't the fucking problem. We're going to vote for Democrats, and we're not going to be avoiding the polls. It's conservative Dems and independents and young people that are depressed right now, and it's entirely due to Dems being crappy at politicking and selling themselves and their agenda. They're depressed because they were promised sweeping change and don't feel like they're getting it.

    Liberals aren't the problem. We're the ones motivated to vote. We're the ones working for the campaigns. We're doing the fucking work. Don't tell us that we can't complain or that our criticism is killing the effort. We're not the ones running from our accomplishments or giving mealy-mouthed appeals to conservatives. We're not the ones whining about obstruction and using it as an excuse to not do anything politically difficult. We're not the ones that are afraid of playing hardball even when poll after poll shows that the public is on our side. We're doing our fucking job. You guys need to stop the fucking whining and do your damn jobs.

    wwtMask on
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  • nstfnstf __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    We're a bit more sophisticated now, hence what happened to Paul. But if you honestly don't think there is a large racial element to the Tea Party movement, then you're deluding yourself.

    Which tea party? Referring to them like they are some sort of monolithic group just doesn't work. It's really four different groups. The classical libertarians, anti tax rich and business, anti liberal reflexives, and the radical social conservatives. Only one of these really has a racial motive.

    Libertarians aren't racists and aren't comfortable with government backed religion and any of that nonsense, they are by in large social liberals. They just advocate a really skewed view of minimal government that will somehow lead to a utopia, even if they can't articulate how. The anti tax group are one issue voters who feel that the government is somehow robbing them of their share of the pie in favor of slackers. The anti liberal group falls more into reactionary fears of socialism and some twisted sense of sense of American exceptionalism. You could at the worst call this block neutral, and that's only if you ignore the libertarian bend towards social liberalism, they are really at odds with social conservatives.

    Now once you get into the social conservatives then you do see the demonization of brown people, muslims, gays, and women. These people make great TV when they get up on stage and say really crazy things, but that doesn't make their pet agendas the tea party movement.

    It all gets mixed up because the only way for these people to get what they want is to tear down the current system as we know it. That's really the crux of the movement. What they want to do after our current government is dead is in many cases conflicted, but they all need to kill it first.

    If I had to predict I'd say the movement will fracture if they get enough TP'ers into office only to realize that they are beholden to only one part of the group. A libertarian will shit bricks watching what a radical christian starts to do, and the religious right won't be happy with a classical libertarian.

    nstf on
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The tea party won't fracture, so much as it'll be absorbed into the mainstream of the GOP once the party is back in power. It's a protest movement that can only really exist when its members feel politically disenfranchised.

    If the next two election cycles turn out to be disastrous to the Democrats, you'll probably see the rise of some grass-roots left-wing movement.

    Modern Man on
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  • OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    ntsf wrote:
    Which tea party? Referring to them like they are some sort of monolithic group just doesn't work. It's really four different groups. The classical libertarians, anti tax rich and business, anti liberal reflexives, and the radical social conservatives. Only one of these really has a racial motive.

    Unfortunately they all willingly and knowingly choose to share the same name.

    Edit: I know there has been the occasional ostracism of some members who are a little too outspoken in their bigotry (See: The previous Atwater quote), and a lot of "no true scotsman" going on within the movement.

    Octoparrot on
  • Psycho Internet HawkPsycho Internet Hawk Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    The tea party won't fracture, so much as it'll be absorbed into the mainstream of the GOP once the party is back in power. It's a protest movement that can only really exist when its members feel politically disenfranchised.

    If the next two election cycles turn out to be disastrous to the Democrats, you'll probably see the rise of some grass-roots left-wing movement.

    The reason TP members feel disenfranchised isn't because their party isn't in power, it's because the country is changing around them and they're mad about it. Having a black guy with a funny name become president was just a more visible and disarming sign of that change.

    Having Republicans back in power won't stop people from moving into cities more, and it won't make white people start reproducing more. If nothing, TPers will go even more batshit when they realize having their guy in office won't change what scares them.

    Psycho Internet Hawk on
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  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    This video is a great microcosm of why progressives aren't good at controlling the national discourse.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lvVuj_rakU

    The professor, while representing a reasonable and logical and empathetic position with plenty of moral force behind it, is utterly lost in the argument. I mean, yes, the Fox anchor is acting like a butthole (big surprise), but I think to your average swing-voter, Independent-identifying American (i.e., not a Fox News regular viewer) he's a persuasive butthole.

    She's lost as soon as she responds to his question: "Do you think it's moral to take more than half the income of successful people?"

    Game over, man.

    This is a beautiful microcosm of how we lose debates over legislation, how we lose campaigns, how we lose media narratives day in and day out. The conservatives get out front and define the debate on their moral turf, and then Democrats spin their wheels trying to argue from within the conservative-framed debate.

    His whole framing of the question brings in huge, heavy-hitting conservative moral precepts encoded in that simple question. The correct answer to this question isn't "yes," it's to ignore the question entirely and re-frame it in your own moral worldview. That's the only way to win here.

    Because, to anyone who even remotely identifies with this worldview (and swing-voters tend to identify somewhat with both), the only correct answer is "NO!" That's because what the question really represents is "Do you not believe in concepts of earning, ownership, fruits of one's labor? Do you not believe in a system of reward and punishment that keeps the very moral fabric of this country from falling apart? Do you believe that we should punish hardworking people who have earned their success to give money to a bunch of slackers who obviously don't deserve it, proven by virtue of the fact that they don't have it?"

    And more! This one simply questions contains an entire worldview. You couldn't write 50,000 words that would contain as much explicit meaning and emotion as that one question contains implicitly. You can't fight a worldview with facts -- the human brain is designed for confirmation bias -- a worldview trumps fact, because it's used to interpret and frame and understand fact. The only option is to fight it with another worldview -- one that values caring and empathy and helping our brothers and sisters. Good ol' fashioned progressivism.

    And conservatives get that. They don't answer Democratic questions, they don't have a debate within someone else's framework -- they ignore the person they're ostensibly talking to, and realize that the real conversation is not with the person in front of you, the opposition party, or your opposing candidate -- it's with the voters. The Fox News anchor here is talking directly to the audience; he couldn't give less of a shit about having an earnest interview with the professor.

    Instead of fumbling about tax loopholes and trying to say that rich people don't pay half, but they should, blah blah blah, she should have said "Do you think it's moral for children in the wealthiest country in the world to go without proper food, shelter, and healthcare? Do you think it's moral that the top 1% sees their wages skyrocket and unemployment stay near 0 while the rest of us are getting laid off and facing pay cuts?"

    You cannot answer them on their ground. It's not about the actual literal words in the conversation -- it's about pitting two opposing moral systems against one another. And the problem is that Democrats always fucking forget this and end up answering the questions from within the framework of the conservative moral system -- and that's something where we can only lose.

    That's what happens when Democrats run from their own party. That's what happens when Democrats talk about deficits. That's what happens when Democrats talk about national security. That's what happens when Democrats talk about crime.

    There are, frankly, entire issues we should not even be addressing in the public discourse.

    When a conservative bloviates about being tough on crime and you respond with how the prison-industrial complex arguably actually increases violent crime by creating a cycle of poverty which non-violent drug offenders get caught up in, blah blah blah, you lose.. You fucking lose. No one gives a shit if it's true. It's not compelling. You're still arguing within a framework that's been built by someone else. If you must talk about crime, you have to re-frame the issue. You can't cave to framing the discussion in terms of safety, toughness, and punishment. You have to frame it in terms of empathy, least-of-our-brothers shit.

    Honestly, I think we really need, as a party, to get in touch with our religious base. We need to go out to the progressive pastors and congregations out there that fight for the poor, the homeless, the drug addicts, the prisoners. We need to understand their language and their moral framework and translate it into political terms. That's what the right does. And actually, progressive denominations outnumber conservative ones in this country. The fact that we don't have an explicit religious base on the left besides "Black Churches" is pathetic.

    Fartacus on
  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The polling from the first quarter of this year showed tea party support for Palin as less than enthusiastic. Now it appears to be solidly for Beck and Palin. There likely are still libertarian pockets in the tea party movement, but their voices are drowned out by the social conservatives.

    lazegamer on
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    This is a beautiful microcosm of how we lose debates over legislation, how we lose campaigns, how we lose media narratives day in and day out. The conservatives get out front and define the debate on their moral turf, and then Democrats spin their wheels trying to argue from within the conservative-framed debate.

    His whole framing of the question brings in huge, heavy-hitting conservative moral precepts encoded in that simple question. The correct answer to this question isn't "yes," it's to ignore the question entirely and re-frame it in your own moral worldview. That's the only way to win here.
    Joey Naylor: ...so what happens when you're wrong?
    Nick Naylor: Whoa, Joey I'm never wrong.
    Joey Naylor: But you can't always be right...
    Nick Naylor: Well, if it's your job to be right, then you're never wrong.
    Joey Naylor: But what if you are wrong?
    Nick Naylor: OK, let's say that you're defending chocolate, and I'm defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: 'Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream', you'd say...
    Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
    Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can't win that argument... so, I'll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and the all of ice-cream, do you?
    Joey Naylor: It's the best ice-cream, I wouldn't order any other.
    Nick Naylor: Oh! So it's all chocolate for you is it?
    Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
    Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
    Joey Naylor: But that's not what we're talking about
    Nick Naylor: Ah! But that's what I'm talking about.
    Joey Naylor: ...but you didn't prove that vanilla was the best...
    Nick Naylor: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong I'm right.
    Joey Naylor: But you still didn't convince me
    Nick Naylor: It's that I'm not after you. I'm after them.
    [points into the crowd]

    Modern Man on
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  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Yup.

    I mean this isn't a new idea. It's SOP in the GOP, and people on the left have been aware of it. They're just really shitty at doing it.

    And it's not because we're more principled, because our elected officials try to be self-interested all the time, but their idea of compromising their values to cede ground in the debate to the opposition and to pass weak legislation, not to spin and lie and tell a persuasive story even if it's inauthentic or disingenuous.

    For some reason the one value Democrats never seem to be able to compromise is that of rationality and open discourse.

    We keep trying to win arguments by winning arguments, but that just doesn't work.

    Fartacus on
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    nstf wrote: »
    We're a bit more sophisticated now, hence what happened to Paul. But if you honestly don't think there is a large racial element to the Tea Party movement, then you're deluding yourself.

    Which tea party? Referring to them like they are some sort of monolithic group just doesn't work.

    Why does this sound familiar?

    Styrofoam Sammich on
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  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Joey Naylor: ...so what happens when you're wrong?
    Nick Naylor: Whoa, Joey I'm never wrong.
    Joey Naylor: But you can't always be right...
    Nick Naylor: Well, if it's your job to be right, then you're never wrong.
    Joey Naylor: But what if you are wrong?
    Nick Naylor: OK, let's say that you're defending chocolate, and I'm defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: 'Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream', you'd say...
    Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
    Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can't win that argument... so, I'll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and the all of ice-cream, do you?
    Joey Naylor: It's the best ice-cream, I wouldn't order any other.
    Nick Naylor: Oh! So it's all chocolate for you is it?
    Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
    Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
    Joey Naylor: But that's not what we're talking about
    Nick Naylor: Ah! But that's what I'm talking about.
    Joey Naylor: ...but you didn't prove that vanilla was the best...
    Nick Naylor: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong I'm right.
    Joey Naylor: But you still didn't convince me
    Nick Naylor: It's that I'm not after you. I'm after them.
    [points into the crowd]

    I think maybe what Dems have always failed to grasp with this is that it's not totally deceitful. There is a real, living, breathing, massively persuasive and widely-believed moral code here that's being spoken to, and the policies being advocated for are a real extension of it.

    Yes, there's guile. Yes, it's manipulative, and yes, it's not in a spirit of good faith or honest discussion. But it is (well, not in the case of Nick Naylor, but in the case of much of the GOP) motivated by a genuine belief in the values that are being called upon to make the argument.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is what's wrong about the above quote is that it's not just a game of trying to tie in as many fuzzy-feeling words and comforting ideas into your speech or your policies. It's about triggering the moral underpinning for your argument in your audience. And that means that you can't simply parrot the same shit as the other guys for your policies, because they aren't empty words -- they're the precise opposite of that. They're so pregnant with meaning that it's hard to believe they don't burst.

    When someone asks if it's moral to take half of what "successful people" make, it instantly calls up centuries-old arguments about the individual, about choice, about social responsibility, individual responsibility, ownership, earning, deserving, moral accounting, reward and punishment.

    One of the core principles of conservative ideology is sort of like strict parenting -- people won't know what's right and what's wrong unless you reward them for what's right and punish them for what's wrong (but especially the latter). Spare the rod spoil the child, etc.

    This is the true root of the conservative love of the market. The invisible hand might be more aptly called a Divine Hand in conservative ideology, as it has almost supernatural implication. It is an impartial, natural order (and therefore an order designed by God, hence the divine aspect) which applies punishment and reward fairly and evenly. If you are hard working, ambitious, disciplined, and self-reliant, you will be successful. Not "might" or "can," but "will." That's a necessary assumption at the foundation of this worldview. Therefore, success is congruent with morality -- rich people are, by definition, morally superior to poor people. Their wealth is proof, divinely-given, even, of their morality.

    And this is how it should be, because moral behavior should be rewarded so as to continue to produce a society of moral behavior. Otherwise, everything collapses. By the same token, poverty is a sad but necessary punishment to make sure that people aren't immoral. This is how Orrin Hatch gets off on wanting to make unemployment benefits hinge on a drug-test -- there's a fundamental belief in conservatism that people deserve what they get, always. That the poor are poor because of their own choice; it's all on them. And they need the stinging whip of poverty to get them to reform their ways -- and if they don't, well, it's their own fault.

    Government taxes, redistribution of wealth -- that all undermines the moral order of reward and punishment. It creates welfare queens and greedy, lazy public unions. It creates decadence and decay. This is also related to the obsession with the deficit, which isn't hated for economic reasons but moral reasons of undermining a system of earning and ownership.

    I could go on.

    But the point, again, is that question -- however crafty or disingenuous it may be -- calls up the whole history of this line of thought. It calls up a lifetime of teaching in this moral worldview.

    That's maybe part of the problem with liberals. We see that Fox News anchor as just another Nick Naylor -- selling hollow words that test well in focus-groups, and shit, we can do that too! Let's just do some polling and cram all the stuff people want to hear in our speeches. People like responsibility right? And they don't like the deficit? Well we can totally win on the deficit issue because we're the ones actually doing more to reduce it!

    But it's all flawed because they're not hollow words. They're absolutely crammed with history and meaning and persuasion. You can't simply subvert them to any cause.

    It's disheartening, because we should know this. We should have our own words, and our own questions, and our own powerful dog-whistles, and if we did maybe we wouldn't think that it's just empty gamesmanship.

    Fartacus on
  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Sometimes I feel like, as a party, we're so fundamentally out of touch with our own values.

    Even working in progressive politics, I feel like so many people would rather seem themselves as moderates, technocrats, and sensible pragmatists than as hard-charging liberals. Or, maybe that's not exactly right, but when they're espousing truly progressive policy, they still don't speak about it in moral terms. They don't like to get emotional about it. They still want to frame it in terms of it being sound, fact-based policy.

    It's like there's just no uncynical passion. Like we're ashamed to admit that, yeah, there's moral and emotional feeling at the heart of our beliefs.

    Until we sack up and admit that we don't just make our decisions based on some objective, rational truth, then we'll probably continue to fuck up.

    Fartacus on
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus, you've hit the nail on the head. We always seem to play defense, on the other team's court, and by their rules. Our messaging sucks, and the people who are supposed to be good at it are constantly conceding shit and putting us at a disadvantage. The Obama campaign did a better job of it, but it was still often on the defensive. We need better message creators, and we need them yesterday. And they can't be scared to pull punches and use dirty tactics either.

    wwtMask on
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  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I think the TL;DR of all of that is that whether or not you'll question the sincerity of the messaging machine that's flinging rhetoric like oh-so-much shit at oh-so-many walls, you can't doubt the sincerity and earnestness of the audience which agrees with that rhetoric.

    As far as playing defense on someone else's court goes: Yeah. Personally I think a large component of that is that we allow the blue dogs to drive so much of our messaging since they're perpetually in the tightest races, and most of them all come from conservative districts where most of the friends they've grown up with and beg for campaign funding or votes think about the world in terms of all the conservative shibboleths, and they feel compelled to plug into that same sort of cognitive and linguistic framework.

    SammyF on
  • nstfnstf __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Fartacus wrote: »
    For some reason the one value Democrats never seem to be able to compromise is that of rationality and open discourse.

    We keep trying to win arguments by winning arguments, but that just doesn't work.

    Because the argument is ultimately an ideological one and the Democrats are playing a losing hand.

    When you look at the tax argument it's easy to break down. Democratic argument, we know better how to spend your money to fix this country and we are going to focus on the issues that we see fit. Republican argument, you know better how to spend your money so we are going to try and take as little of it as possible and let you spend it on things as you see fit.

    It's really not hard to see why people gravitate towards the Republicans on this one. And even though most people are in general happy with a good portion of their public services, a good portion of their money is still funding things that are utter cluster fucks, being eaten up by various interests groups that don't help them or even screw them over.

    Furthermore when you get into nuts and bolts policy many on the left are offering up solutions that people don't want. When people talk about problematic commutes and gas prices, they are upset and they do want a solution. But when you speak to progressives and the grand solution is trains, subways, denser population, people moving into cities, you've already lost. You're now trying to push a product that many of the people don't want. Which makes the "we know what's best" line of logic dubious at best, and creates knee jerk reactions to any sort of proposed liberal solution

    The Republicans trot out "the private sector will do it", which isn't an actual solution in any real sense of the matter. But at least they aren't trotting out a solution that will instantly turn people off and then asking them to pay for it.

    In the end people will go for no solution and to keep some cash rather than a solution they don't want and having to pay for it. The right knows this and that's what they count on.

    nstf on
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it the GOPs tax ideas don't work

    thats the problem

    nexuscrawler on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    wwtMask wrote: »
    Fartacus, you've hit the nail on the head. We always seem to play defense, on the other team's court, and by their rules. Our messaging sucks, and the people who are supposed to be good at it are constantly conceding shit and putting us at a disadvantage. The Obama campaign did a better job of it, but it was still often on the defensive. We need better message creators, and we need them yesterday. And they can't be scared to pull punches and use dirty tactics either.

    Dammit yes.

    I am always annoyed by progressives who wring their hands and say that they don't want to get their hands dirty. You know what? The other side is fucking crazy, so paint them as such. That's why Alan Grayson's "Taliban Dan" was so shocking, because oh my gosh, a liberal is being an attack dog and taking control of the debate. Now his opponent is playing defense. Not to mention, it helps that it's a relatively factual claim.

    DoctorArch on
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  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Republicans skip into office on the promise of a free lunch for everyone, but what they won't tell you is that when the bill comes around, they don't have a plan beyond "dine and dash."

    That's the American value I think we should be tapping into here. Real Americans know and embrace the moral responsibility to pay one's way. We don't skip out on the bill at a restaurants, we don't sneak into movie theaters or hide when the cable bill comes around.

    SammyF on
  • CommunistCowCommunistCow Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    wwtMask wrote: »
    Seriously, the Dem leadership is so consistently ineffectual that this should be a 50 page thread by now.

    Oh, and now Joe Biden is telling liberals not to whine. You know, I love Joe, but he and others that say shit like that can kiss my ass. Liberals aren't the fucking problem. We're going to vote for Democrats, and we're not going to be avoiding the polls. It's conservative Dems and independents and young people that are depressed right now, and it's entirely due to Dems being crappy at politicking and selling themselves and their agenda. They're depressed because they were promised sweeping change and don't feel like they're getting it.

    Liberals aren't the problem. We're the ones motivated to vote. We're the ones working for the campaigns. We're doing the fucking work. Don't tell us that we can't complain or that our criticism is killing the effort. We're not the ones running from our accomplishments or giving mealy-mouthed appeals to conservatives. We're not the ones whining about obstruction and using it as an excuse to not do anything politically difficult. We're not the ones that are afraid of playing hardball even when poll after poll shows that the public is on our side. We're doing our fucking job. You guys need to stop the fucking whining and do your damn jobs.

    This....sortof.
    I was at the campaign office last night making vol recruitment calls while bitching about Obama's internet wiretapping bullshit.

    (Anecdotally) On the flip side in my congressional district roughly 1 out of every 6 people who are registered as democrats don't even know our House Rep is running in this election.

    Oh great now obama is repeating a version of Biden's statement.

    CommunistCow on
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  • FartacusFartacus __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    nstf wrote: »
    Because the argument is ultimately an ideological one and the Democrats are playing a losing hand.

    Not on every issue. And most issues are winnable. The problem is that we argue on their terms, is what I'm saying. We try to win the public argument by trying to respond earnestly to the arguments of conservatives, but they're not actually having an argument with us where anyone gives a shit about the merits of the ideas -- they're talking to voters.
    When you look at the tax argument it's easy to break down. Democratic argument, we know better how to spend your money to fix this country and we are going to focus on the issues that we see fit. Republican argument, you know better how to spend your money so we are going to try and take as little of it as possible and let you spend it on things as you see fit.

    Well of course that's a losing argument, but you don't need to fucking frame it that way. Conservatives frame it as "they want to spend your money" because they're obsessed with entitlement and ownership and reward/punishment.

    At the end of the day, we're all having a discussion of who deserves what. Nearly all arguments about government are really arguments of allocation. And if the choice is you or government, you win.

    So don't frame it that way! Frame it as a choice between "we can let a greedy few take from everyone else, or we can take it back from them and spread it around fairly."

    I don't know if you've heard of something called socialism? Or maybe the labor movement? The industrial backlash that was the 1870s through the 1940s? That's the sort of language they used -- it wasn't about giving money to government and taking it from successful people, it was taking it from greedy industrialists and giving it to the needy and deserving working man. It was persuasive for a long time, and it can be again.

    The fundamental issue of allocation has no objective way to be framed. There's nothing especially more true about the conservative framework than the early 20th-century progressive one. And that's what we need to be doing -- we need that FDR-style fire. We need to be telling people to break out their pitchforks and shove them up billionaires' asses.

    Because, frankly, people right now want to fuck someone in the ass with the pitchfork, and Republicans figured that out and made that someone into government (and, by extension, the incumbent party).

    We could have easily channeled all this dissatisfaction in this country into left-populist anger and hardcore regulatory and stimulative legislation. That's our fault. We missed that opportunity.

    Fartacus on
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Wealth redistribution rhetoric would certainly work better if we could kill off the idea that social and economic mobility is actually a reality for the majority of Americans. People clinging to the belief that they'll somehow become rich someday influences the wealth redistribution discussion way too much.

    wwtMask on
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  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    wwtMask wrote: »
    Seriously, the Dem leadership is so consistently ineffectual that this should be a 50 page thread by now.

    Oh, and now Joe Biden is telling liberals not to whine. You know, I love Joe, but he and others that say shit like that can kiss my ass. Liberals aren't the fucking problem. We're going to vote for Democrats, and we're not going to be avoiding the polls. It's conservative Dems and independents and young people that are depressed right now, and it's entirely due to Dems being crappy at politicking and selling themselves and their agenda. They're depressed because they were promised sweeping change and don't feel like they're getting it.

    Liberals aren't the problem. We're the ones motivated to vote. We're the ones working for the campaigns. We're doing the fucking work. Don't tell us that we can't complain or that our criticism is killing the effort. We're not the ones running from our accomplishments or giving mealy-mouthed appeals to conservatives. We're not the ones whining about obstruction and using it as an excuse to not do anything politically difficult. We're not the ones that are afraid of playing hardball even when poll after poll shows that the public is on our side. We're doing our fucking job. You guys need to stop the fucking whining and do your damn jobs.

    This....sortof.
    I was at the campaign office last night making vol recruitment calls while bitching about Obama's internet wiretapping bullshit.

    (Anecdotally) On the flip side in my congressional district roughly 1 out of every 6 people who are registered as democrats don't even know our House Rep is running in this election.

    Oh great now obama is repeating a version of Biden's statement.

    I honestly disagree -- a lot of liberal activists are feeling depressed. I'm one of them. And I think we have a reasonable point.

    Here's the paragraph in the Washington Post that I think epitomizes my disgust with Biden's "stop whining" comment:
    The president's advisers privately wonder why the left hasn't cut Obama more slack, given all the criticism that has been heaped on him from conservatives who claim he has moved the country toward socialism.

    Because we know it isn't fucking true. You can't expect me to get all weak in the knees because Glenn Beck is accusing you of instituting socialized healthcare. Beck's tea-bag waving sheep may believe that's true, but I actually know more or less what's in the legislation and I know there's not actually a public option. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of what you've accomplished, but you don't actually somehow get more credit out of me just because someone accused you of being a socialist. If you want to reward conservatives for successful political lies, that's your prerogative; however, you cannot expect to be entitled to a reward from me in turn.

    Seriously, I really am outraged on behalf of liberal Democrats in Congress and the White House over how the tea party's constantly dredging up the old chestnut accusations of "socialism" like we're living in the 1950s again and Joseph McCarthy's writing all the NRSC's press releases, but it would be helpful if you stood up for yourselves and your policies, as well. Bonus points if you could occasionally take a moment to stand up for us, in turn, rather than calling us "the professional left" and acting like we're all fucking editors of communist party newspapers or whateverthefuck.

    SammyF on
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