Self Defeating "Pragmatists"

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Professor Senator Elizabeth Warren are making Republicans nervous by threatening them where it really hurts- their wallets.

Unfortunately too many Institutional Republicans with a '(D)' weep with their crocodile tears and parrot their concern trolling.

The real reason Republicans are freaked out about Democrats’ move to the left
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
February 1, 2019

For a long time, Republicans were used to beating the daylights out of easily frightened Democrats who were constantly trying to prove to voters in the middle that they weren’t too liberal. We’re tough on crime, the Democrats would say. A war in Iraq? Sure, we’ll support that. Let’s just not talk about guns, OK? I too enjoy NASCAR and hunting!

Those days are over, and the Democrats in ascendence now offer a contrast to the past that is both substantive and stylistic. They aren't hesitant to propose liberal policy solutions, and they don't act like they're afraid of Republican criticism.

In response, conservatives are offering liberals the friendly advice that if they don’t tack toward the center, they’re doomed. Here’s a brief roundup of recent right wing punditry along these lines:

  • If Democrats “really want to beat Donald Trump and outflank any independent challenge they should consider running a more moderate candidate,” says John Fund.
  • “The rapidly growing Democratic field has collectively moved so far to the left that it is about to fall off the edge of the political charts,” writes Michael Tanner in National Review.
  • “In playing to his base, President Trump has left millions of voters up for grabs. Democrats appear set to make the same mistake.”
  • “The more full of themselves the Democrats get, the more voters learn about this new breed of radical zealots,” writes Fox host Laura Ingraham. “The less they are going to want to roll the dice with this crowd, and the more they’ll start to appreciate President Trump.”

And of course, every new liberal idea will inevitably send us tumbling toward one destination: Venezuela. “Democrats now pushing many of the same socialist policies that destroyed Venezuela,” reads the headline of another story on Fox’s website.
...
But there's a pattern developing: First, a Democrat proposes a new policy idea, like Medicare For All or increased taxes on the wealthy. Then Republicans say, "My god, are you insane? If we do this we'll become Venezuela!" Then some polls are taken and it turns out that the crazy socialist idea is in fact extremely popular with the American public.

For instance, when Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax on fortunes of over $50 million, conservatives were aghast, crying that this was horrifying socialism. But the progressive group Data For Progress just polled the idea and found out that people supported it by a rather dramatic margin of 61-21.

Likewise, a 70 percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million, which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proposed, garnered the support of 59 percent of respondents in one poll, which isn’t too surprising given that taxing the rich more is consistently one of the most popular ideas in American politics. And for years, polls have shown majorities of the public favorably disposed to Medicare For All.

You could quibble with one or another of those results, or argue that they'll change if you alter the wording. But the point is that on their face, these supposedly wacky socialist ideas Democrats are proposing are things Americans think are perfectly worthwhile.

That's only part of the story, however. The fundamental premise of the conservative warnings is that when voters go to the polls next November, they'll be making an ideological judgment, and if Democrats are too far from the center they're guaranteed to lose.

This is what political scientists call the Median Voter Theorem, which assumes that you can array both candidates and voters on an ideological scale from left to right, and the candidate closer to the median voter is the one who wins. The problem with the Median Voter Theorem is that in the real world it seldom works.

That's because it's just not how voters understand candidates and how they make decisions. Ideology plays a part, but if it was just about aligning your positions with the median voter, Republicans themselves wouldn't have won the White House any time in the last few decades. That's the irony of their advice to Democrats: Nobody knows better than Republicans how little relevance ideology really has.

So many of the issue positions they hold — tax cuts for the wealthy, opposition to increasing the minimum wage, dismantling environmental regulations, loosening oversight of Wall Street, outlawing abortion, privatizing Medicare — are deeply unpopular. They understand this perfectly well, which is why they run shrewd campaigns built on identity, not ideology, and capitalizing on their voters' higher propensity to turn out. The last presidential candidate who lost because the public judged him to be too far outside the mainstream was George McGovern, and that was nearly half a century ago.

That’s not to say that Republicans aren’t sincerely horrified when they hear someone like Ocasio-Cortez suggest higher taxes on the wealthy, or when they see all the Democratic presidential candidates advocating universal health coverage. But it’s not because Republicans actually think those policies will be electoral poison, let alone that they would turn the United States into Venezuela.

The reason Republicans are so frightened is the prospect that the American public might hear what Democrats are offering and say, “You know, that sounds like a pretty good idea.”

Buying in to concern trolling is rarely a good idea. You want an example of inspiring leadership see Nancy Pelosi's recent humbling of Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio.

(Well, of course it's cross published at The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma)

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Comments

I wouldn't cite Paul Waldman so much except he is so often correct.

(corrected for spelling)

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arendt's picture

Second, Red Flags:

1. The man works for Jeff Bezos/CIA WaPo. He is, by definition, an official mouthpiece - not someone that people at C99P are going to buy into.

2. According to Wikipedia, he co-authored a book with David Brock - a Clinton creatures and master propagandist for TPTB.

3. He co-authored a book with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a person who speaks only in statistics and thereby manages to bury politics under an ashheap of boredom.

If this is what you think is incisive political reporting, I'm here to tell you this article is nothing but officially approved "inside baseball" "analysis".

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@arendt

And when he makes a point I agree with.

As for length I take my cues from digby.

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arendt's picture

@ek hornbeck

You like the words so you quote them?

That's not how arguments are usually done here. You're supposed to back up your opinion with some kind of facts or logic.

The WaPo is about as close to Cthulu as it gets for me and a lot of other people on this board. Ditto David Brock.

Saying you like Waldman is not a defence for someone with his credentials.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@arendt

I would make a lousy Hall Monitor.

I can see why JtC chose you, instead.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus

@Pluto's Republic
are the hall monitors. But I sense you are wearing your snarky shoes. If so, well played.

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@arendt
is an ad hominem fallacy. Why don't you address the arguments instead of attacking the person making them?

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arendt's picture

@FuturePassed

An ad hominem is to say something personal about a person, such as he is dirty, or smelly, or ugly.

The man chose to work for the WaPo. The man chose to be a co-author with David Brock.

Sorry, those aren't character assassination. They are germane facts about the man's career choices. They reveal the man's political leanings. He can be called on them.

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Anja Geitz's picture

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Professor Senator Elizabeth Warren are making Republicans nervous by threatening them where it really hurts- their wallets

Frankly, I think it would be more accurate to say that the Marvelous AOC and Senator Warren are merely playing to their intended audience while the Republicans pull out their schtick of outrage in response to play to their own audience. Political theater, I think they call it.

So what's different here?

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Shahryar's picture

@Anja Geitz

I like AOC and I think Warren is a lightweight Republican.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@Shahryar

The Democrats handcrafted version of a smarter Sarah Palinish megawatt star. Feels exactly the same as Obama's burst on the political stage, and all the free media attention he garnered. Except, we probably won't get a picture of the Marvelous AOC baring her chest in an ocean swim like we did with Barack. Sorry guys.

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Shahryar's picture

@Anja Geitz

10 years ago, by Feb. 11th, 2009, it was apparent what Obama was and how he wasn't what he projected in his campaign.

AOC is saying things I'd like to say. You may be right, she might turn out to be another sheepdog. But it seems to me the main "evidence" that she is, is that others have been before her and that she's getting publicity.

But as of Feb. 11th, 2019 I don't see it.

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dance you monster's picture

@Anja Geitz

Look, I get the cynicism about AOC around here.

But Obama was groomed to deceive us. Remember the 2004 Convention speech? Groomed.

AOC came out of nowhere, with no party backing, in one season, to topple as solid a Dem establishment seat as there was. She may get co-opted, she may get played, but she was not groomed for years to deceive us.

If she gets co-opted, by all means note it, but give her a chance to do something right before you tack her across the dart board.

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arendt's picture

@dance you monster

AOC came out of nowhere, with no party backing, in one season, to topple as solid a Dem establishment seat as there was.

It was just so convenient that Joe Crowley "never saw it coming". Major politicians with national ambitions don't bother to keep track of polling data for their rotten borough? Puhleez. Also, do you honestly think, given all the vote rigging in this country (and NY under Cuomo is near the top of such rigging), that TPTB couldn't have found a few hundred votes (turnout was that low) to stop AOC if they wanted to? Come on. This is Queens. This is NYC, the city that gave America Tammany Hall.

Then, post-primary, Crowley just rolls over and vanishes; and no one ever says a word about him again. How convenient. Gee, I guess Crowley never heard of Joe Lieberman. Joe L. got beat in a medium turnout primary by one Ned Lamont. Shameless Joe ran as an independent and kept his seat, even though he was a loathsome toad disliked by many Dems for being a DINO and a neocon.

On July 30, Lamont received the endorsement of The New York Times editorial board. That same day, The Sunday Times reported that former President Bill Clinton was believed to have warned Lieberman not to run as an independent if he lost the primary to Lamont. Throughout the election, Lamont significantly funded his own campaign, with donations exceeding $12.7 million, as he had pledged not to accept money from lobbyists.

Lamont won the primary with 51.79% of the vote as opposed to Lieberman's 48.21%; it was the only Senate race in 2006 where an incumbent lost re-nomination. In his concession speech, Lieberman announced that he would stand by his prior statements that he would run as an independent if he lost the Democratic primary. Lieberman won the general election with approximately 50% of the vote; exit polls showed that Lieberman won the vote of 33% of Democrats, 54% of independents, and 70% of Republicans.

-Wikipedia, Ned Lamont

The whole "she came out of nowhere story" is part of the "legend".

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@arendt

If you're backing LIEberman (and I may be misunderstanding) I must respectfully disagree.

I have met him personally and he is a slimy loathsome liar with a limp and insincere handshake that makes you want to scrub with Brillo (I tried that, doesn't work). I've also met Ned Lamont and while he's not my ideal advocate he's dimensions less creepy than Joe.

It's hard to understand what you're saying here. Do you reflexively support a 3rd Party Politician regardless of policy?

Don't you think that's a little shallow?

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arendt's picture

@ek hornbeck

I'm saying he was a major national Dem who lost a primary - just like Crowley.

But, unlike Crowley, Lieberman went independent and won. Its just an example to show that such options were open to Crowley. And, with a leaderless national party at the time of the primary, the risk to Crowley for an independent run would have been zilch.

My point is that his behavior and his immediate vanishing from the scene just doesn't smell right for an ambitious politico.

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dance you monster's picture

@arendt

. . . that Crowley did leave that option open until wiser voices, less interested in seeing NY torn apart, weighed in.

And the primary in NY *is* the election, so the media attention that came from the surprise win was neither an anomaly nor the sign of conspiratorial support for AOC that you suggest.

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arendt's picture

@dance you monster

Do they have names?

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dance you monster's picture

@arendt

But the conversations were reflected in statements made on social media by those closer to the action than I. It was a tense couple of days, post-primary, but I don't have any inclination to search for evidence for you.

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arendt's picture

@dance you monster

If you choose not to, that's your business. But "unnamed sources" don't make for a compelling argument.

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dance you monster's picture

@arendt

. . . for allegations challenging AOC's backstory (residence, high school, college, etc.) was a well-known right-wing troll, so you'll understand if I don't want to debate you further on this candidate.

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divineorder's picture

@arendt twice for cites in different threads but so far none.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@arendt

When Lamont beat him in the primary, Clinton and Obama encouraged and supported Liberman's third party run. Beating Lieberman was that last damn progressive thing dailykos, Stoller, and the rest of them ever did.

The Republicans also voted for Lieberman because it was a way to assure Lamont's defeat and get their boy back. The same way a D doesn't make one a Dem, a third party run doesn't make Lieberman or anyone else an independent.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

@arendt @arendt For starters: Joe Crowley maintained a residence in Woodside Queens but lived in a suburb of VA for more than a decade. His kids go to school in Virginia. When asked about it on TV in the single debate Joe said it was his duty to give his kids the best possible education. I can only imagine how that went over in the homes of his constituents.

2) Joe is the Boss of the Queens Democratic party. Still. And that was the money-producing prize he kept his eye on.

3) Crowley did see it coming. He attempted to close polling places where AOC was expected to do well. His basis was that they weren't sufficiently accessible. AOC had a team of lawyers and they defeated Crowley's moves in court.

There's more of this but I was covering this race on the ground in detail and IMHO there was Nothing Joe Crowley or anybody else could have done once NYC got to know Alexandria.

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NYCVG

arendt's picture

@NYCVG
I do remember that Crowley was one of the non-resident folks. I remember that hurting him. But, it wasn't the kiss of death. Just one factor.

2) Joe is the Boss of the Queens Democratic party. Still. And that was the money-producing prize he kept his eye on.

That is pefectly consistent with my feeling that he was OK with disappearing if the party asked him to. OTOH, I'm supposed to believe he wanted to be in DC for his kids, but his highest priority was to keep his Queens party leadership position. The explanations contradict each other.

3) Crowley did see it coming. He attempted to close polling places where AOC was expected to do well. His basis was that they weren't sufficiently accessible. AOC had a team of lawyers and they defeated Crowley's moves in court.

Given the abyssmal turnout (I read it was like 2%), I fail to see how closing a few polling places would make much difference. Its Queens, not Nebraska. You walk, ride a bike, take the subway to another polling place. With 2% turnout, its not likely there would be long lines even with insufficient polling places.

once NYC got to know Alexandria.

If the primary turnout was 2%, that means 1% of the voters got excited enough to vote for her. That is hardly justification for your glowing endorsement.

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Shahryar's picture

@arendt

and the highest turnout anywhere was, according to this, 18%.

https://nypost.com/2018/06/28/most-voters-stayed-home-for-stunning-alexa...

where'd you get the 2% number?

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@arendt One of the places that Crowley tried to shut down was an enormous complex with no other polling place nearby. It was a low turnout election and Team Alexandria fought for every vote.

She's not a savior or anything crazy like that. Nothing magical happened here.

She and her people understood how to put together a win in that one particular district and that's what they did.

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NYCVG

Big Al's picture

@NYCVG LOL. She got less than 16K votes. Let's not get too carried away here with the new democratic party political savior.
I think it's pretty amazing someone who only got 16K people to vote for her is holding so much influence in this country of 330 million. I sure didn't vote for her and neither did 330 million other people.

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@Big Al @Big Al

"Let's not get too carried away here with the new democratic party political savior."

It is too soon for anyone to get carried away against or in support of her personally. Right now she speaks out in favor of much we agree with. Her motives are yet to be revealed. The truth will win out and when it does, we'll all know.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Big Al's picture

@dkmich @dkmich She's a democratic party politician, part of the duopoly political system. It doesn't matter to me what her intentions are, her avenue for achievement is a failure from the start. And I've done my homework on this, so what she's speaking "out against" doesn't necessarily include me. I'm seeing something different from you.

My point relative to "let's not get carried away" (less it be viewed by you and management that I was bitching someone out) was simply about her only getting 16K votes out of 330 million people. I still think under the circumstances that's pretty amazing and it says something about our overall political system, which isn't democracy no matter what the AOC supporters (or on the fencers) might want to think.

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dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

. . . is chosen by a tiny minority of the nation's people. Would you have all 330 million Americans, ages 0 to 100+, vote in each and every Congressional race? Or would you eliminate representative government altogether and have everyone from infants on up vote in national referenda for every decision -- major, minor, and post-office-naming-small -- that ever comes up in the country?

Let's look at the votes AOC got first: In a district with 214,750 registered Democrats, she got 15,897 votes to Crowley's 11,761 in the primary. So your 16k is roughly correct, and Sharyar's 13% number upthread for the total count in the primary is correct as well; arendt's 2% number is not. In the general election, AOC received 110,318 votes, considerably higher than your 16k, so you're actually fudging the statistics. That's how representation works: a tiny group of people propose that somebody run, a slightly larger group supports that person with canvassing and so on, a larger group votes that candidate to the next level, a larger group to the general, and then that candidate gets elected to an office, not the big office, just an office. There are elections after that, with larger groups voting, to get that person a bigger office. So by your version of the numbers, it's that first little group who is the cabal putting someone in that bigger office. It's a specious argument -- what outsize influence that first tiny group had! -- but it's consistent, I guess.

As for AOC's influence on national politics, that is not the effect of the primary voters of New York's 14th, but of the policies and the arguments for those policies that she is bringing to her office. Those policies resonate for many voters outside her district, so she gets more support in the larger arena, and the media notice this and give her still more attention, and the effect snowballs. So, once again in case this is hard to follow, it was not 16k voters dictating their will upon 330 million Americans; it was a large percentage of those 330 million who found a voice they like in a particular one of the 438 Congresscritters who each and every one got elected by a small portion of the electorate.

I can't believe I am having to stand up for a Congressperson, but the arguments being leveled against her are . . . I'll be kind . . . disingenuous.

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Big Al's picture

@dance you monster and the correction of the numbers. I used the wrong ones from the primary. My bad. But my point still stands, this isn't democracy. Like, when do I get a say on this Green deal?
As for the representation system, obviously we disagree. Let's just leave it at that.
At any rate, good defense of AOC, fits right in. I believe you had to do it. She'd be proud of you.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@dance you monster

....but give her a chance to do something right before you tack her across the dart board.

In what way will the outcome of this election be any different than all the others preceding it? Did I miss something?

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

gulfgal98's picture

@Shahryar Warren is definitely a leftish Republican. I would never vote for Warren for many reasons. Her time has passed. AOC certainly is getting a lot of press which always makes me wonder. Compare her to Tulsi Gabbard who is being bashed and/or ignored by the MSM. That makes AOC a red flag for me, but the jury is still out on AOC as to whether or not she is a sheep dog or the real deal.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

"Propaganda is one hell of a drug." Abby Martin

"Politicians are cowards." Mike Gravel

Pluto's Republic's picture

...and their use of identity politics:

So many of the issue positions [Republicans] hold — tax cuts for the wealthy, opposition to increasing the minimum wage, dismantling environmental regulations, loosening oversight of Wall Street, outlawing abortion, privatizing Medicare — are deeply unpopular. They understand this perfectly well, which is why they run shrewd campaigns built on identity, not ideology, and capitalizing on their voters' higher propensity to turn out....

That’s not to say that Republicans aren’t sincerely horrified when they hear someone like Ocasio-Cortez suggest higher taxes on the wealthy, or when they see all the Democratic presidential candidates advocating universal health coverage. But it’s not because Republicans actually think those policies will be electoral poison, let alone that they would turn the United States into Venezuela.

The reason Republicans are so frightened is the prospect that the American public might hear what Democrats are offering and say, “You know, that sounds like a pretty good idea.”

Essentially, that would give Democrats a win based on ideology. Very powerful stuff, indeed. Republicans are trying to convince Democrats to drag their campaign back to the middle/center, or they will lose the Independents. But the truth is:

The last presidential candidate who lost because the public judged him to be too far outside the mainstream was George McGovern, and that was nearly half a century ago.

But there is another truth at work here: The Democratic Party Bosses have no intention of supporting higher taxes on the wealthy or universal health care or any sort of war resistance. They have sworn to their Big Donors that they would subvert movements in these directions and continue to divert government revenues to war spending.

So, they need a candidate who is an accomplished liar, although after Obsma, American's have gotten pretty good at spotting the bullshit (which is what doomed Hillary's campaign for more of the same). Or, they need to discredit these "far left" ideas immediately. All we know for sure is that those policies will not come through the Democratic Party in 2020.

This would be a good time for the Independents to rise up and become a People's Party.

Nancy Pelosi's recent humbling of Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio.

Remind me who this is again?

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus

@Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic

I think it's obvious and the only thing I will use to identify him in print ever again, unless it gets worse.

I think you're unduly pessimistic about the direction of the Democratic Party which is at least getting better in terms of messaging the values of, as you call them, USAians and I am hopeful that the newly liberated debate will effect the outcomes of elections and make the old Neo Liberal consensus of the past obsolete.

But if not, Allez Les Barricades!

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@ek hornbeck

I think you're unduly pessimistic about the direction of the Democratic Party which is at least getting better in terms of messaging the values of, as you call them, USAians

I don't remember Democratic messaging of American values being worse than it is now. Or even different. There was that one time at the last convention when everyone jumped to their feet and started chanting "USA USA USA!" I thought that was a little unusual, but it wouldn't surprise me to see it again at the 2020 convention.

I don't think it is pessimistic to believe that the four-decade-long downward trajectory of the American standard of living and the American level of ignorance about the world — is going to veer off its plunging trajectory by even one degree as a result of the 2020 election.

The outcome will match the trajectory. Until, that is, the duopoly is broken and there are three or more fully active parties.

I'm certain you can see how the Donor-owned Duopoly will not allow any policy that might divert government revenues from flowing into the black war hole that takes it out of the country without a trace. The lies of the candidates are nothing more than lies. Candidate promises that are forbidden (Like closing Guantanamo or pulling out of Afghanistan) do not happen. Increasing taxes will merely feed that same beast. Where are voters going to go?

I am optimistic that the rest of the world may bring change to America (as you call it). Change for the better. I fear the Cold War generations are too damaged by the brainwashing and may need to die off first — since we are trapped in a degrading form of unregulated democracy.

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The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
arendt's picture

@Pluto's Republic

I was a little confused in the Pinocchio thread, and responded to you with "Dude, its all Kabuki".

I guess I just wasn't following that thread clearly. Sorry.

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@Pluto's Republic

You must mistake me for someone else. I never call it that.

It's always 'Murika or U.S.A.. I recognize we share a Hemisphere with 36 other countries, most of which speak Spanish.

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snoopydawg's picture

@ek hornbeck

after Her lost to Trump.

the Democratic Party which is at least getting better in terms of messaging

No they don't need a better message. They need to start representing their peeps again not their donors. Obama had an outstanding message. But once in office that's all it became.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

...in the 1980's (Lieberman in the early 80's; Lamont in the late 80's). Making any comparisons between the two of them (Lieberman/Lamont v. AOC/Crowley) in some of the threads here is apples vs. oranges. The political landscapes in the state of Connecticut versus NY-14 are about as disparate as it gets in northeastern U.S. Democratic politics.

NY-14 is bigtime, totally captured, Democratic turf. Connecticut, while becoming slightly more Democratic in recent years, is still quite quirky in terms of party loyalties (this is also the state that delivered up Independent Senator/Governor Lowell Weicker, not just Joe Lieberman), and is still more comparable to party politics in places like Maine (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Massachusetts, a state that's elected Republican governors like Ed King, William Weld, and Charlie Baker virtually as often--if note moreso--than they've voted for Dems in the past 30-40 years) than it is in NY-14, which is more akin to machine stereotypes in cities like Chicago.

Lieberman is the quintessentially captured, old-time pol; totally pwned by healthcare, real estate interests, AIPAC and centrist labor groups. Lamont's personal wealth, and substantially left-ish leanings, combined with minimal practical, in-office experience (at the moment, I'd peg him slightly to the left of the Kennedy crowd--and I worked with Lamont when he was elected to the only office he'd ever held, a two-year stint on the Greenwich Town Board, prior to being elected CT governor--but I'm fairly certain after a couple of years as CT's governor, and spending some time dealing with the Nutmeg state's recent tax revenue losses, he'll move more to the middle), make him, for now, anyway, one of the most liberal sitting governors in the U.S.

Bottom line: I'm pretty much aligned with EK's sentiments on this one.

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"Freedom is something that dies unless it's used." --Hunter S. Thompson