Clinton and Sanders and Me

Question in email:

A couple months back you posted about the GOP presidential candidates but you haven’t said anything about the Democratic candidates. Any thoughts? 

My thoughts are thus:

I suspect that despite people getting hopped up about Bernie Sanders that the nomination is still going to go to Clinton in the end, and I’m fine with that. But if it goes to Sanders instead, I’m fine with that too. And if both Sanders and Clinton are suddenly trampled to death in a freak spontaneous elk stampede and Martin O’Malley is the only Democratic candidate left standing, I’m fine with that, as well.

I recognize that there are material differences in the personalities and policies of each of the Democratic candidates, and that these differences are not insignificant. But at the end of the day, what matters is that each of them, any of them, is so drastically preferable to any member of the howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field that, to me, and for the purposes of my presidential vote in November, the policy and personality differences between Clinton and Sanders and O’Malley are immaterial. Whoever the Democratic candidate is, they will get my vote.

Note well that this does not mean that in any election year, any Democratic nominee would get my vote; if the Democratic field in another year were as pathetically mashed-potato-brained as the current GOP field, it’s entirely possible I’d kiss off the lot of them, too. As a matter of political honesty I admit it would take more for that to happen, as there are consequences to a GOP president that I wouldn’t like (see: Supreme Court as the obvious example), and that’s not insignificant. But it’s possible. However, this year I judge all three Democratic nominees competent enough that this isn’t a problem.

As I don’t really have a problem with any of the Democratic candidates from a competence perspective, I’ve been largely unengaged regarding the current tsuris brewing between Clinton and Sanders (O’Malley has no chance and is in this for a cabinet position or maybe a Vice President slot). Again, in the end I think Clinton’s going to pull it out and I suspect in the long run that’s better for the Democrats because she and her machine are likely to be better engaged in the downmarket congressional races, but if she doesn’t? Well, fine, Sanders it is, and he’ll have fun with his veto stamp.

I recognize there are a lot of people who feel very passionate about Bernie or Hillary, in what to me feels like a “Kirk or Picard” sort of way. That’s nice for them, but I find the spitty sort of rage they appear to feel about their less-favored Democratic candidate kind of stupid. I do hope people realize that after the primaries are done there is still the general election, and the GOP standard bearer will be delighted if a large portion of the potential Democratic electorate has ragequit in a fit of pique because they didn’t get exactly the presidential candidate they want. This is how you end up with a President Trump, or President Cruz, people. So suck it up, be an adult and vote for either Clinton or Sanders, even if you wanted the other one instead.

(But — third party candidate! Oh, my sweet summer child. You’re adorable. I mean, if you were always going to vote Libertarian or Green or whatever, or were otherwise honestly up in the air, then don’t let me stop you. Groovy by me. But if you were going to vote Democratic but then didn’t get your way in the primaries, so screw it, then yeah. Maybe think beyond your own fit of foot-stomping pique. I suppose this also holds true for you potential GOP voters who might ragequit if Trump/Cruz/whomever doesn’t get the nomination, but my point of view, since that field is filled with people I wouldn’t vote for even if you promised me all the ice cream I ever wanted for the rest of my life, delivered by a unicorn that farts gold coins and diamonds, I’m less concerned if you do it.)

From my own point of view this year I think it’s important to recognize that this GOP field is easily the worst in any election cycle I can remember, and in particular its top candidates — Trump and Cruz — are just appalling. I was not going to vote for McCain or for Romney in the last two elections, but in both cases I could see the valid argument for them (and for keeping them alive so their respective vice-presidential picks never took up residence at the White House). I didn’t think they might actually offer lasting damage to the office. I don’t feel the same way this year. Barring the sudden ascendancy of Kasich, or the now-increasingly-unlikely chance of Rubio finally finding his ass with a flashlight, the GOP standard bearer this year will either be a populist racist or a preening, deservedly-disliked tub of self-regard, neither of whom I want anywhere near the levers of executive power.

Neither Clinton or Sanders is perfect — Clinton in particular comes with a healthy load of baggage — but the qualitative difference between the two of them as presidential candidates, and Trump and Cruz, is the starkest contrast between the two major parties in my political lifetime. This isn’t even a contest. Or shouldn’t be. I’m embarrassed for the country that it actually is.

So, yeah: Democrats, pick Clinton, pick Sanders, hell, pick O’Malley. From my point of view, given the competition, they’re all equally likely to get my presidential vote. I mean, I’d like to have the luxury of actually caring about the policy differences between the Democratic candidates. But this election year, it just doesn’t matter. Democratic positions are generally closer to my own, but this year, I’m mostly voting against the GOP valorizing the horrible people it’s made as its choices for front runners, and, likely, for whichever of those horrible people it will choose as its candidate.

188 Comments on “Clinton and Sanders and Me”

  1. Notes:

    1. It’s a political discussion! Hooray! That means the Mallet is out. Please be polite to each other. If you’re new here, this is the comment policy. Read it. It applies to you.

    2. With regard to Clinton specifically, we’re going to take BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI as read, and likewise that email thing. Which is to say that these are things I realize concern people (accurately or otherwise) but soapboxing on them or pretending that you have anything new or novel to say about them is tiresome in the former case and deeply unlikely in the latter. So trim those up, and if you can’t, and gout forth on them anyway, be prepared to be Malleted. Likewise, if you can’t comment about Clinton without getting sexist about it, your comment will also meet with the Mallet.

    3. A reminder that I am not a registered Democrat; I’ve consistently registered independent since I could vote. I am unlikely to vote in Ohio’s primary, either Democratic or Republican. Also that as recently as the 2014 election, I’ve voted for Republicans (for local offices). While generally liberal (for an American), if you want to paint me as a straight-ticket-voting Democrat, you’re gonna have a bad time.

    4. If you wanted to know my thoughts on the individual candidates in the GOP field and have not yet seen it, here you go. Note a couple have dropped out since I wrote it.

  2. “even if you promised me all the ice cream I ever wanted for the rest of my life, delivered by a unicorn that farts gold coins and diamonds”

    That would get me to switch my vote. Just sayin.

  3. “…the howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field.”

    This is quite possibly the best description of that militant, rabid clown car that I’ve yet heard! I have a small number of friends who are moderate, old-school, small government republicans … most of them are as horrified by the current GOP field as I am.

  4. I think if Sanders does get the nomination, there’s going to be a lot of anti-Semitic rhetoric going around and I’m kinda worried for my Jewish friends and family members if that happens. There’s already enough anti-Semitism in the US – even in San Francisco my cousin got hassled for being Jewish when she was in school, and we know the right-wingers aren’t exactly fond of non-Christians (their relationship with Israel seems to be out of wanting to bring about the End Times, from what I’ve seen – if there are other explanations I’d love to hear them). I’d love Sanders as president – he’d do a great job and has less baggage. Clinton knows how to get things done but I’m not as keen on her economic policy. I think you’re right that O’Malley is cruising for a VP slot, but I also think Julian Castro might be a better pick – younger, good ideas, well-liked (by those who’ve heard of him) and iirc he was well-liked during his tenure as mayor of San Antonio, too.

    If a Christian theocrat like Cruz wins, I’m leaving the country. I doubt a disabled queer person like me (who is also the wrong kind of Christian by their standards) would be welcome given his policies and the kind of people the Supreme Court would wind up getting. As much as Australia has its issues, and ditto Canada, they’d be infinitely better than an evangelical theocracy.

  5. I teach civics, and I’m trying to convince my students – many of whom will vote for the first time next year- to vote on actual issues. Sadly, I have several who continue to talk about who “looks Presidential” or “sounds Presidential” rather than pay attention to any actual issues.

    I’ve been an Independent for 12 years, and while Republican positions are usually closer to my own, in this particular election cycle they’ve lost me completely. For the first time since I turned 18, I’m at a loss when it comes to voting – I feel none of the candidates accurately represents my view.

  6. I’m older than you by 12 years and I agree… the GOP has put up the worst of the worst to date. You’d think they would try harder to find someone more qualified. The fact is they’ve become so fractionalized that no single candidate could hope to blend them back into a single cohesive party.

  7. Pretty much my stance too. As with the Dems in ’68, I think the Rs will need a huge Presidential loss to shake them up and my hope is that if it’s Trump or Cruz as their nominee they lose by 60-40 and the radical right is discredited enough that we don’t see this silly crap in 2020 because I’d LIKE two possible choices. We’re stronger when each party presents rational arguments about why their policies are best for the country, not when one does and the other talks racist fantasy.

  8. For the reasons you illuminated, I’ll support any Democratic nominee this side of Kim Jong-Il. If they do nominate The Supreme Leader,and I’d have to choose between him and Cruz, well, like Jack Benny, ‘I’m still thinking.’ – I

  9. My gut tells me that Clinton is much more polarizing for the GOP leaning people, and Republicans that don’t particularly like whomever the GOP nominates will be more likely to vote against Clinton than Sanders.

  10. Bernie hasn’t changed since when he was walking down Church Street, looking for votes to serve as mayor of Burlington… he’s always been WYSIWYG.

  11. “…the howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field.” The lesser of two evils, despite how you perceive which is the lesser or greater evil, is still evil.

  12. The biggest flaw with Clinton, for me, is a two-part thing. One, her willingness to cozy up to bad actors (like Saudi Arabia or Egypt) because they are ‘our’ bad guys and they go easy on Israel. And two, her default position to bomb, invade and topple governments given any situation. The intervention in Libya (separate from the conspiracies!) has been a bloody mess, the Iraq war (which she backed and I have no doubt would have launched herself if she’d been President) has produced an escalating series humanitarian disasters that has now engulfed a half-dozen countries, and if she followed through on half her tough talk about Syria (enforce a no-fly zone against Russia?!?) we’d be looking at WW3. These aren’t small things! I fully expect all of middle east ‘adventures’ to increase under Clinton along with the predictable, bloody chaos that comes with it, as well as the victim-blaming when all our humanitarian bombing fails to produce more democracies.

    I’ll back her over any Republican, because everything about Clinton I dislike is goes to 11 with those guys, and because as awful as her foreign policy is, its small potatoes compared to what will happen if we don’t prevent the worst outcomes of globing warming.

  13. That pretty much sums up my recent thinking on this situation too. I am disappointed in the Republicans, they should be offering me a choice.
    On another Note either the poll numbers are totally wrong or a fair chunk of the people are really not very pleasant individuals.

  14. I grew up a Democrat when that was thing to be in Tennessee. My father was in the House of Representatives and has been a party chairman at various levels. I’m still decidedly progressive (or a damn liberal to those in Marsha Blackburn’s TN 7th) but I’m like John in that I don’t vote straight down party lines. Local offices are non-partisan but you can tell who is who by the color of their signs.

    That said, this has got to be the biggest dumpster fire of a primary that I can remember. There are so many non sequiturs in any speech given by these clowns that it is hard to keep up. “I’ll tax all imports but I’m in favor of free trade!” “We should all be thankful to Martin Luther King, Jr. but we can’t stand to help out the impoverished with affordable health care.” It goes on and on.

    Personally, I favor Bernie since I’ve never been a huge Hillary fan and Martin O’Meh-ly is an also-ran. I think that he’s been more concrete in his answers and his plans than Hillary (and I absolutely don’t care about Benghazi or her emails and I really don’t care about her Benghazi emails).

    What I’m looking forward to is the series of debates between the eventual nominees. If Trump is indeed nominated then it will be time to actually present plans instead of “It’ll be great. Putin and I will arm wrestle over Syria.” It should be an interesting summer.

  15. General point: from what I’m seeing here in Australia, Ms Clinton is running on a platform of “here’s what I’ve done, vote Me if you want more of the same”, while Mr Sanders appears to be largely saying “vote Me and I’ll perform The Miracle Of Making The USA Political Scene Left-Wing, despite my prior record”. As a voter, I tend to prefer voting for the candidate/party who is most likely to achieve what they promised. For first time voters: can you see a way to the “there” the candidate is promising from the “here” you’re starting out with? Is there any evidence the candidate can see how they’re getting from “here” to “there”? (Be wary of candidates who appear to be full of lots of good ideas and promises, but low on practical details about how they’re going to implement them. Those are the ones who will say anything to be elected).

    The core political question which needs to be asked of all politicians about any political promise is “how?” “How are you going to do that?”

    About the only thing I’d add to any of this is: please, remember your country’s elections don’t just affect your country.There are a lot of other nations which will be directly affected by your choice of president outside your own, and really… the world doesn’t need what some of your presidential candidates would be bringing to the table.

  16. I admit, Sanders reminds me strongly of another George McGovern – which, given the current GOP candidate field, scares me. In the current political climate, with all the ‘socialism!!!’ witch hunts, I’m afraid he’d turn off too many of the vague amorphous ‘center’ and/or spur turnout on the right-wing side.

    OTOH, Charles W is right about how polarizing the name ‘Clinton’ is, and how much rabid venom it stirs up among right-wing people, so I dunno. :(

    Our Host is very right about how utterly atrocious the current GOP field is, but I’m not real happy with the current Democratic field either – at least in terms of electability.

  17. Thanks for this thoughtful look at the 2016 primary season. I’m currently a Sanders supporter though I try not to be rabid about it (I recently tweeted, “I am not a Clinton supporter. I am not supportive of sexist attacks on Clinton. These positions are not mutually exclusive.”) I also assume that whatever razzle-dazzle Bernie manages in the early primaries and caucuses, Clinton is the likely nominee. I’m not sure about the general election at this point. To me Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq war is disqualifying, but like you, John, I am deeply worried about the Supreme Court. That is a bridge I will have to cross later.

  18. Clinton is the Democratic Party’s “establishment candidate.” Sanders is the “insurgent.” Clinton may win the nomination in the end, but Sanders is looking stronger by the day. If Clinton can’t seal the deal by spring . . .

  19. I describe myself as an independent who tends to lean somewhat to the Dem side of the slate. I vote for the person, not the party, but in general the Dems come closer to my values.

    If it came down to just pure policy statements, history and personal preference, Sanders hits more of the points I look for than Clinton does. And I worry a lot about Clinton’s baggage, to say nothing of the not inconsiderable portion of the voting public who consider her the Antichrist.

    All that said, though, for me it comes down to who I think is more electable. And that is especially true in a year when the other party’s list of potential nominees is so genuinely horrifying. I do not exaggerate when I say that a Republican victory in November would bring with it the very strong likelihood that I would seek to emigrate elsewhere. And since I’d really rather not uproot for another country at my time of life, the biggest criterion in my eyes is electability.

    I suspect Clinton is marginally more electable than is Sanders. And consequently that is likely who I’ll vote for in the primary.

  20. You’ve stated my opinions much better than I ever could have, but then you are the professional writer here. This cycle I’m happy to support any of the Democratic presidential candidates.

  21. Ditto. I have a good friend who was Dianne Feinstein’s Chief of Staff for a number of years when she was in SF and who knows the Clintons well (they were even at his wedding; wotta kick!) and he feels that Clinton is an *excellent* politician, someone who would be brilliant dealing with a potentially recalcitrant Congress, and that she’d make an excellent President. I like Sanders’s politics more for a lot of reasons, but I will be glad to vote for any of the three vs. the knuckledraggers, ideologues, and outright Christian fascists on the GOP slate. (And OMG, I had always that that George W. was a fool, but I’ve been following Jeb’s campaign and wincing at his gaffes, and I’m forced to say “Wow, George was the pick of the litter!”)

  22. I don’t think there’s anything to add about the Republican field; which is a shame, because I would like to see two viable candidates offering valid points of view on current issues.

    My biggest concern with Sanders is that, for all of his claims that he’ll change the nature of politics, dismantle the big banks, etc., he simply will not have the power to follow through. Republicans won’t work with any Democrat as it is, but if Sanders is elected what motivation do Democrats in congress have to work with him? Given his previous rhetoric, and the fact that his platform appears to center around moving the US toward precedents set by other countries (not necessarilly a bad idea, but one I’m not convinced will work), I fear that the gridlock would only solidify further.

    That’s not to say that I’m a big fan of Clinton; but I do feel that she has the experience and savvy to be able to work at least a bit more effectively with congress as president. I think she has the diplomatic ability to handle foreign affairs in (at least slightly) a more effective manner; and I think that Bill Clinton (whatever his title would be) could be effectively utilized on that front as well.

    In the end, I agree with the assesment that all of the Republican field is a joke, and my vote would go to the “not Trump/Cruz” camp, but if I had my preference I think I would choose Clinton over Sanders.

  23. I had a horrible nightmare that Trump was nominated by the GOP and chose Palin as his running mate. I think our choice in this upcoming election are as poor as I have ever seen on both sides.

  24. Yeah, I pretty much agree. Many of Sander’s positions are closer to my own, but I’d vote for Clinton over the festering dung heap that is running as GOP candidates this time around…

  25. For me I am lucky, I live in California where the state so blue I’m can add a bit of green to the color palette with my one vote. I do it because while I respect Bernie Sanders, it’s just that the whole Democratic Party is a bit too centrist for me. As Sanders is running for a Democratic nomination, he’s beholden to the Democratic machine. Fair enough, I understand the system. But if you’re part of that system, you’re going to make reasonable compromises to get it’s support once becoming the nominee. I have a liberal vote and want liberal politicians to get that vote. Now from my point of view, people will only go out and run if they think that they can make a statement by having some people vote for them. Stein got 85,000 votes in California in 2012. Thats twice as many as in 2008. And the Green party only got 500K in the whole country, I would like to see more. So I’ll be one of them and asking my friends to do the same. Because there really is a fat chance in hell the California is going to vote Republican in the general election, so I can use my vote to enlarge (by one) a truly leftist party here in the USA.

    Perhaps it is naïve, but there you have it. The reason why am going to be voting Green.

  26. I’m registered democrat because the local scene that matters for me is largely democrat. and I typically vote republican in the presidential elections. but to quote Scalzi “the people you elect scare me,” I have a simple rule for presidential candidates, leadership experience (i.e. governors and mayors, and maybe CEO’s but that’s stretching it a bit). Any candidate hailing from the senate or from congress AUTOMATICALLY does not get consideration from me as a worthwhile candidate.

    And even though the GOP has fielded far more acceptable candidates by that rule than the democrats have, TRUMP! ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME? If that’s the best they have, I’m sorry, I kind of hope he DOES get the nomination because there is no way he will get in. As for me, I think O’Malley has the most experience of the candidates on the field.

    Personally, as long as the government goes off and does its thing (waves hand) over there somewhere and leaves me alone. I’ll be good with just about anyone.

  27. And thanks for calling my thinking adorable, perhaps only you and my wife would think so….

  28. I’m 27 and a veteran. I tend to lean just right of center politically, but with this election I’m terrified. Trump, Cruz and the rest of these GOP hyenas scare me. I’m completely on the Democratic side this time.

  29. In 1980, disgusted with the Democratic and Republican nominees, I voted for John Anderson. Biggest political mistake I ever made, and I swore I would never again vote for a third party candidate. These days, I would vote for a Democratic dog catcher before I vote for any of the Republican so-called candidates.

  30. I understand that you prefer any Democrat to any Republican candidate, but since no primary has happened yet, why not offer commentary on the Democratic candidates?

  31. I’m currently a registered Republican. Who knew? (My current state has open primaries but they keep track and when my decidedly right leaning landlady and I went to our last local primary [caucus?] she was the one who had to sign the pledge because the last primary I had voted in was republican. Capish?) That aside, I’m a flaming liberal. I came out as an Obama supporter at work and I swear, they would have prefered it if I were gay.

    I pray for Ted Cruz on a regular basis, ’cause he ain’t right. I worry for his immortal soul. Trump I find hard to take seriously. My family has known Bernie Sanders since before i was born, and I will support him as far as he can go. If nothing else, he keeps Hillary from feeling that she must move to the right. I quite like Martin O’Malley and I’m sorry he hasn’t gotten more play. His healthcare reform for cost control in Maryland is truly wonderful with minimal disruption to the current system.

    I have no idea what kind of president Hillary will be. I suspect neither worse nor better than she should be. Sanders or Trump would be way to interesting for my blood. Cruz? Well, I’ve always kind of wanted to spend a few years working in new Zealand.

  32. Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election? I don’t.

  33. Here’s how I see it. Whoever the Democratic nominee is will be painted as a far-left socialist, so I don’t see Sanders actually BEING a socialist as a mark against him. I like what he stands for more than I do Clinton’s positions, so he’s got my vote in the primary.

    Not that it’ll matter. I live in a bright red Southern state. The GOP could run a moldy turnip and take this state. My vote for the eventual Democratic candidate won’t change that. My only hope is that the GOP candidate is so over-the-top odious and flat-out offensive that he actually breaks a goodly chunk of their voters off and drives them to the other side… or that Trump loses the nomination, runs as an independent, and splits the vote.

  34. As a foreigner who finds you entire political system terrifying and confusing, I have a question for you if you don’t mind Mr. Scalzi.

    Given that you are letting other people (the Republican party) choose who you will vote for in the general election, why would you not want to express your opinion regarding your preferred policies in the primary election where casting that vote doesn’t imperil the country? It seems odd to me that you say you want both parties (seriously what is wrong with you people having only two parties!) to put forward viable candidates for you to make a choice from but given that whomever the Democratic party nominates will win the general election in a landslide (presuming either of the current Republican frontrunners get the nomination) why would you take such a disinterested attitude in voting on who will be your next president in the primary election where that decision will actually be getting made?

  35. @fuzznose “The lesser of two evils, despite how you perceive which is the lesser or greater evil, is still evil.”
    Well sure, but that’s true of so many decisions one has to make in life, & in this case, “none of the above” isn’t an option.

  36. An unenthusiastic ‘Hear, Hear’. Never heard of one, like the character of another but don’t agree 100% with positions of another, and really starting to dislike the third… But the Republicans are quite literally forcing me to vote Dem. I will have no part in inflicting Cruz, or especially, Trump on my home.

  37. Nop:

    Also, there’s the question of whether this is actually a “lesser of two evils” scenario at all. For me it’s not; it’s a “perfectly acceptable vs OH HELL NO” scenario.

  38. @Mike “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election?”

    People who say that don’t seem to realise that other first world nations are just as fussy about immigrants as the USA is; you can’t just buy a one-way ticket to another country & expect to be given residency.

  39. @Scalzi
    Indeed. Many years, it’s like choosing between losing a toe & losing your foot; this year, the worse option amounts to having your head cut off.

  40. I’m an uppity woman of east and west Indian descent who likes bodily autonomy and sass. Only one of our political parties in this country thinks I’m human. So…I’m going with them, and the other group fills me with Lovecraftian horror.

  41. I land solidly in the left end of the American political spectrum, If I were making up jargon I’d be a Burkean Communist, motto: The Revolution will not save you. (I also like the Anarcho-Syndicalists, really all leftists, just depends on my mood and I fully acknowledge that I’m indulging in pure political fantasy) I would be very happy to vote for Bernie in the Ohio primary in march and then vote for Clinton in the general. Shift the party leftwards, but not so hard and fast it scares the stupids. All ’bout that overton window people. But if Bernie actually has a chance to win the primary? I get hella nervous. Internet socialists simply don’t get conservatives in America (As an Ohioan there’s no escaping a deep, deep familiarity), and most of them seem to have forgotten the lessons of ’00 and ’04, or hell, ’10 and ’14, namely fear and fraud are POWERFUL.

    All that said, I’m mostly with John here, the GOP is more terrifying than ever, and all three of the democratic candidates would do just fine from my perspective. Some better than others, but there is no getting the the mold out of the blue cheese of politics.

  42. I think the comment about Clinton having a better machine for congressional races is interesting. From what I understand, the Democrats are currently doing an extremely poor job of running races for everything that’s not the presidency, in particular in the states. They’re not going to be able to find enough compelling senatorial candidates if they don’t have the opportunity to learn statecraft beforehand.

    I’m seriously considering writing my member of Parliament about preparing to disentangle ourselves from America in case we have to go along with whatever President Trump thinks.

  43. @Mike asks “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election? I don’t.”

    If you count the Vietnam War as the outcome of elections, the last time Canada welcomed a wave of American refugees, then yes, well over 1% of the population of Toronto, including the amazing Judy Merril, would be in that number.

    Remember that Republicans have been spewing negative propaganda against Hillary Clinton for more than twenty years, because she’s a woman, and because they know she knows them. Karl Rove created American Crossroads as a fake progressive voice to attack Clinton from the left. Sad that a lot of Sanders supporters talking points come from Karl Rove.

  44. I’d consider myself to be pretty liberal, but I don’t disagree with anything here. I do distinguish between the Democratic candidates and lean toward preferring Sanders, but whatever my qualms with Clinton might be, she’s an experienced and sane politician who agrees with me on a good number of issues. On the Republican side, the best they could offer were a couple candidates who were experienced and sane and who disagree with me on most issues, and those candidates have either dropped out or are polling very poorly. Trump and Cruz both frighten me, and while I didn’t vote for McCain or Romney, I wasn’t nearly as concerned about either of them as a prospective world leader. Even Bush looks good in comparison.

    @Mike “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election?”

    I know an American citizen married to an EU citizen, and they chose to relocate in part due to dissatisfaction with some aspects of American politics and culture, but that’s nowhere near the usual case. Most people can’t easily immigrate to countries they’d prefer to live in, and I think people who make pronouncements about elections haven’t necessarily thought about how logistically and emotionally difficult an international move can be.

  45. dreampodd says: JANUARY 20, 2016 AT 8:00 PM why would you take such a disinterested attitude in voting on who will be your next president in the primary election where that decision will actually be getting made?

    There are a couple of reasons for such “disinterest”:

    1) Ohio (and Illinois) primaries happen mid season, after about half of the states have already voted. Only once in the modern primary system has Ohio or Illinois primary mattered for president. (2008) The rest the of the time, the decision was already made before we had a chance to vote. This is an insane problem with the current primary system.

    2) Hillary and Sanders both have multiple pros and cons. Most of the pros are the same for each candidate: pro-choice, pro-equality, etc etc. This is why we are voting for any democratic candidate. The cons are a mixed bag, amounting to “can they beat the GOP candidate”.. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

  46. If Hillary is elected, it will be because the Obama administration chose not continue going thru the unmentionable stuff at the top of the page.

    Unfortunately, the Republicans will hold the house and may continue to have a slight majority in the Senate.

    You may end up getting a new trivial pursuit question.

    What was the only husband/wife team to ever to be impeached?

    The unmentionable stuff at the top will give Congress grounds to continue the hearings, and her low poll numbers for trustworthiness and like-ability will contribute to the likelihood of her impeachment. She is not the lovable rogue that Bill was and the tea party wing of the Republican caucus will be out for blood.

  47. Nop says:
    January 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    @Mike “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election?”

    It’s not all that easy to move to another country (except for temporary visas for school or sabbaticals) if you’re an American, unless you are married to someone who is a citizen or have dual citizenship in a country that has residency rights there. If you have a unique or very in-demand job skill (one where they have trouble finding qualified locals to fill the job) or are independently wealthy (so you don’t need to get a job in the place you’re moving to), it’s possible. But for a community college biology instructor like me? Dream on.

    But that’s just as well. If all us liberal types are stuck here come hell or high water, then we’ll fight all the harder to keep this country (just as much ours as it is theirs) from falling to the likes of Trump or Cruz.

  48. So what if they did try to impeach Clinton? That’s a whole different thing from actually being convicted. Oh, by the way, how did that work out for the GOP the first time? Not so well.

  49. My personal take is that unless Sanders wins a whole bunch of primaries and caucuses early, Clinton will win because she’s been courting the state super delegates since before Obama first considered running for President. It may be a close Presidential election, because the anti-Hillary campaign has been running non-stop ever since Bill chose her to try to reform healthcare, and even people who like her have been hearing so much anti-Clinton rhetoric, that they will wonder if some of the big lie is actually true. For the most part, it is not, but she’s a politician, she’s been in politics for at least 40 years, so there’s always a little mud available for some slinging.

  50. For the first time I can recall in my voting life, I face a dilemma. NO, not over Hillary or Bernie. I lean more toward Bernie but if the pick is Hillary I’ll be in line voting for her.

    Here’s the PROBLEM:
    I live in South Carolina where I’m free to vote in either primary. I’m a Democrat for all intents and purposes, but I usually vote in the Republican primary because I know there is always the chance the R candidate may win, and when that happens, I want to know that I voted for the best they had to offer. THERE AIN’T NO STINKING BEST this time around!

    These jackadoodles are either escapees from Arkham Asylum being advised by the Joker, or are a bunch of spoiled, ill-mannered brats who need to be grounded until they grow up. In either case, none of them needs to be at the steering wheel. EVER! I can’t believe I’m actually going to have to skip the primary vote this time around. Unless someone has a suggestion on who to toss my vote at.

  51. I live in Japan and though I moved here for the career, I stay because it’s a remarkably safe and civilized country with a strong sense of mind-your-business. I might retire back to the U.S. but I will admit to a guilty sense of relief, knowing I have options should the patients finally take over the asylum.

    I admire many things about the U.S. and its people (hell, I’m one of ’em!) but folks, the political system is on a fast dive towards the bottom of a shit sack of stupid and it’s embarrassing. Stop already! The GWB reign was a never-ending series of people asking me ‘what the fuck is wrong with you people!’ such that when he departed, I was left with a profound feeling of relief, ‘Great, that’s over with!’ — Holy Mother of Pearl was I wrong.

    It’s not just a GOP problem and it’s not just about Trump or Cruz; it’s about a sizable percentage of U.S. citizens who think it’s a grand idea to hand over nuclear codes to sociopaths who really couldn’t give half a shit if any one of us got sick or died working our asses off to pad their pocket just that little bit more. Vote Democrat and thank you, but maybe, just maybe, each of us can take the additional responsibility to show up at GOP events and write GOP office holders to make it clear that we hold them responsible for their party’s actions. You don’t let the halfwits run the party. Listen to them, sure, fine. But let the ignorant determine foreign policy? Oh HELL no! Standing by and letting the GOP nominate a fool is akin to allowing the passengers vote for their choice of pilot. Training, experience and a commitment to leading or get out. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people!

  52. Well, that was special. @11:59

    Personally, I’ll be voting for Hillary every chance I get. Primary, General so on. My wife likes Kasich and laughs about how far down the GOP line up she has to go before she finds someone that doesn’t strike her as a buffoon or a Madman. When I ask her about Christie of Rubio, she just mutters about pandering and walks away…

  53. Rev Bob said:

    “Not that it’ll matter. I live in a bright red Southern state. The GOP could run a moldy turnip and take this state.”

    In my state they did and the turnip won. Then Perry tried for President and crashed.

  54. Well, although I doubt I can compete with F***Y***’s 11:59 posting above for stirring commentary (although I see a mallet in its future) I’ll give it a shot. A friend recently commented that the U.S. is turning into a plutocracy. In reality, it looks more like we’re heading towards an oligarchy (actually, we’re nearly there). Far too large a percentage of monies (and the power it wields) is in far too few hands, and with the terrible decisions the SCOTUS has made in recent years, it is becoming increasingly difficult for “We the People” to determine the course of America’s future.

    Unfortunately, a large number of the very people who are hurt the most by this alignment of wealth and power are in many ways responsible for getting us into this mess in the first place. It’s extremely ironic to me, yet not entirely inexplicable (there’s a lot of culpable ignorance out there), the number of middle-class and blue collar workers who now identify with the Republican Party when in the past they typically voted Democrat and supported labor unions.

    Besides the other obvious political crimes like gerrymandering, voter suppression, massive cuts in education and the enormous right-wing media lie machine that provides the kool-aide for low-information voters, I think a lot of this can be blamed on the culture of the south (just look at what happened awhile back with the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant union vote) and middle-American states with large rural populations (my state of Indiana is a fine example) in which creation trumps evolution and thus religion trumps education, as if there has to be a definitive choice of one or the other in each case.

    I once read that ignorance and stupidity are the batter in the cake of fascism. It’s no secret that the Republican Party is behind this orchestrated deconstruction of America, with the Tea Party – despite its innumerable embarrassments – goose-stepping in the parade with their poorly spelled banners, lead by their new xenophobic, blathering fool of a Drum Major, The Donald.

    Regardless of all that – no, knowing all that – unless Liberal, Progressive, Democratic and even Independent voters get off their collective bottoms and vote in record numbers in 2016, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves should Republicans regain the Whitehouse with one of their “howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger” (LOVE that, btw!), then it becomes a product of our own ignorance.

  55. @RJ: (Chattanooga VW plant)

    Fun epilogue: There actually is a union going into that plant now. A small one, for one subset of the workers, but it’s coming:

    “The [December 2015] vote pertains to a small group of skilled tradesmen but allows the UAW to set up a bargaining unit for them to negotiate for wages, benefits and work rules with the German auto maker, and will open the door to wider representation. The group includes a little more than 160 electricians, welders and other repair workers that maintain the assembly line.”

  56. Re: People leaving countries because of elections.

    I’m a scientist–in particular, a physicist. As a class, I think scientists are some of the most internationally-mobile groups in the world: almost every physics department I’m aware of has at least a foreigner or two.

    I certainly know multiple people that have changed their country of residence as a result of elections/regime changes, either directly (by choice) or indirectly (Harper’s Canada was a bad place to do certain kinds of research, the same goes for various places in the US). When I go to look for a new job, there will be more jobs in places with policies that are pro-reason than there are in places that aren’t, so I’m more likely to wind up in the US if the Ds win than the Rs do (and ditto at state level, of course).

  57. From down under it’s a bit scary. Not least because our glory-arse leaders have a history of following the US first and asking questions… well, never, really. The war thing is covered for example. Australia really is not in a good position to cut ties with China because Pres Trump gets angry, let alone committing more war crimes in the middle east or anywhere else. I mean, if he manages to declare ware on “the muslims” we have 120M of them a short boat ride to the north.

  58. I see ‘President Hillary’ as inevitable at this point. I’ve been a charter member of the ABH Club since 2007. (Anybody But…) My only hope is the GOP takes a lesson this year and finds a – credible – candidate to run against her in 2020.

    Paul Ryan, gaining valuable experience as Speaker, might just come to look pretty good 4 years from now.

  59. @Aztraph: Seems a bit harsh. By your rule Abraham Lincoln was a totally non-viable candidate. (His experience was in the US House of Representatives, and previously the Illinois one.) Similarly JFK, RFK, McCain, and Obama would be excluded. Contrariwise, Carter and George W Bush are both ex-Governors, but shall we say they were not wildly successful as Presidents.

    All else being equal, yes, executive experience is nice; but history shows it’s not necessary or sufficient to be a successful President.

  60. I’d categorise most of the Republican candidates as “bad, but survivable”. I think Christie, Rubio, or Huckabee would be a lousy, horrible, destructive President. Whoever came after would have a lot of mess to clean up, but the USA would stagger on.

    Trump, and possibly Cruz, I would class as “dangerously insane”. Seriously, if either of these chumps gets hold of the nuclear button, all bets are off. Forget about leaving the country, you’d have to leave the planet to get some reasonable assurance of safety.

    Both Bernie and Hillary will send the Republican base into a volcanic rage. One is a self-described socialist, the other is Hillary Clinton. So they will face high motivation and turnout from the other side; we can only hope the eventual nominee is able to overcome this to win. By the same token, it seems naive to speculate which one can better work with Congress; either would face a united front of howling-at-the-moon opposition, the same as Obama has.

    O’Malley would not have this problem to the same degree; but as noted in the OP, the only way he gets the nomination is if the other two perish in a bizarre gardening accident.

  61. Agreed “howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field” is one of the best things you’ve ever written.

  62. “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election? I don’t.”

    Jefferson Davis? For certain rather technical definitions of “moved to another country”.

  63. I think Sanders/Clinton are significantly different relative to each other:

    But it seems that conversation is being overridden with the call for their sides to keep things civil because either one is far better than any republican and we cant afford burned bridges to push dems into third party protest voting.

    Third party voting in a “majority vote wins” race doesnt make any mathematical sense. And my experience ihas been that people who are most vocal about declaring their vote for a third party candidate generally try to say how smart they are, how they are not sheep like the rest of us, while simultaneously indicating that they dont actually understand the basic math of majority-vote-wins counting.

    So, yeah, dont be a dork and vote third party presidential candidate, and dont attack the other dem to the point that you poison the well and split the vote.

    That said, I think the differences between Hilary and Bernie are substantial and could be discussed without poisoning the well.

    I think in any other country, Hilary would be a left leaning republican. The politics in america are so screwed up that the right is courting a total fascist and anything to the left of that is considered liberal. But she’s a bit of a hawk. And she seems to defer to wall street. She shows bright liberal colors when it comes to matters of equality, but thats not the only indicator of politics.

    Bernie is an actual progressive candidate. In most other countries, he would be considered a stock standard, run of the mill, liberal. But again with the right courting mein fuhrer, Bernie has gotten cast as the commie pinko by the jackboots.

    Certainly, a left of center Hilary would be worlds better than any republican contender who all seem to be courting the fascist vote. But i think there are substantial differences between Hilary and Bernie.

  64. Well said, Greg. There’s a world of difference between Bernie & Hillary. My fear of Hillary as president is that the TPP will go through without a hitch, Wall Street will continue to run the government, and nothing will really be done about climate change. That actually scares me more than the Supreme Court.

  65. Thank you for the good capture of what I hope most folks are thinking this time around. I might vote in the Republican Primary for the lesser of how ever many weevils, since I’m also good with all 3 candidates on the Dem side.

  66. I think it could be a lot closer than people think between Hillary and probably Trump. We saw in the UK election that a lot of supposed moderates really like being given permission to be out and out crazy assholes and would lie about that to pollsters but would vote for the crazy in the privacy of the voting booth. I know the US has a different system and the level of crazy is different, but…

    I also worry about turn out. From what I have seen, I expect the Republican base to turn out in force against either Bernie or Hillary. The hate seems to be strong against both and has energised the base on its own, and attracts the lying about being moderate crazies. Hillary does not seem to energise the Democrat base though, and I suspect while there will be a lot who will hold their nose and vote for her on the anyone but a Republican, I suspect that a lot of others will simply stay home because even holding their nose will not compensate for the loss of Bernie and the distaste of Hilary. Make no mistake, when the character who has a lot of fizz in their support loses the selection battle, it really depresses the turnout on the day.

    Add those two factors together, the “shy” conservatives and the lack of inspirational moderate, and it could well add up to President Trump.

  67. The lesser of two evils, despite how you perceive which is the lesser or greater evil, is still evil.

    And the lesser of two evils is LESS EVIL

    Welcome to the real world.You have to make choices. Just make sure your choices get you towards where you want to go.

  68. I think we’re seeing an acceleration in the Republican party’s slide into irrelevance. Trump is likely to get the nomination, and has the highest national disapproval numbers of any candidate, so his nomination would be an easy democratic victory. Unfortunately I think that progressives are likely to be extremely disappointed with the Clinton general election campaign/presidency. She doesn’t have to promise a thing to the left, she just has to not be Donald Trump.

  69. The Bernie or Bust types are scaring me these days. I know most of them are young, but please remember that votes for Ralph Nader are exactly what gave us 8 years of George Bush.

  70. @crypticmirror – The “shy conservatives” theory seems to have been incorrect. According to the BBC, the polling companies have now had time to perform a proper analysis of what went wrong, and now reckon that people were actually being honest about who they were going to vote for, but they were just asking the wrong people. Basically, they got their statistical sampling wrong.

  71. Difference between the two Democratic frontrunners = difference between tangerines and oranges
    Difference between either of the Democrats versus ANY of the Republican candidates = difference between oranges and a big hit of mescaline.

  72. Someone said to me the other day that “Trump is a troll, but the best trolling of Trump would be if he actually got elected,” whereupon he would quickly figure out that he literally can’t do most of the things he’s promising he’ll do, because we have things like laws and bureaucracy. This would hold true for most of the Republican field as well.

    Not that I want this to happen, mind. I’m fully in agreement that this election will eventually boil down to a choice between “ok, fine” and “oh crap are you effing kidding”. Just saying that although there is certainly a bit of damage the President can do (e.g. Supreme Court appointments), there is also a fair amount the president *can’t* do, so don’t go grabbing your suitcases and passports just yet.

  73. “The lesser of two evils … is still evil”
    And silence equals consent.

    Discussing the candidates is good, but ensuring that you are registered to vote is better. For Americans in the US, do this through the DMV. For the approx. 7 million Americans overseas, go now to the websites of the Overseas Vote Foundation or the Federal Voting Assistance Program (both are nonpartisan), fill out the form and send it in; it’s a good idea to follow up with your local election official. It’s easy, but do it soon. You have to be registered well before the election – 6-10 weeks before it, in many states.

  74. With regard to the “Bernie or Bust” phenomenon, I’ll admit that in my weaker moments, and when listening to Clinton’s nastier attacks against Bernie I’ve said to myself something like “Fine, see how you like President Trump!.”

    I’m reasonably sure that if it comes down to it I’ll turn up and vote for Clinton…


  75. Here’s how it’s likely to go down.

    If things stay pretty much as they are from now till the election, we’re likely to get Hillary.

    If there’s a major financial crisis before then, and people realize that Hillary is in league with the very bankster fraudsters that are profiting off everyone’s misery, we’re likely to get Bernie.

    If there’s a major terrorist attack before the election, especially if it’s in the United States, we’re likely to get Trump.

    No slam against any of the candidates; this is just how it’ll probably happen. But I could be wrong.

  76. @Ben: so in all seriousness, what is the best way to reach out to someone like you with Bernie or Bust leanings? Gore lost to Bush in Florida by about 500 votes while nearly 100,000 threw their votes away on Ralph Nader, of which I take for granted that they had mostly democratic leanings since they voted Green Party. I assume insulting and making fun of you won’t work, which is the most fun choice, so what will?

  77. @Kilroy: To me that’s asking something similar to “How do I convince you that a slow descent into mediocrity is better than a quick descent into calamity”, which is a good question. Part of me wonders if we couldn’t use a little calamity. Progressives tend to go to sleep with a democrat in the white house, even as the problems they care about perpetuate. Maybe we could get some meaningful ground-swell with 4 years of Cruz.

    In seriousness though, the one thing that will probably scare me away from that line of thought is 3 words. Supreme Court Nominees.

  78. Oh, forgot one: the “wild card” scenario.

    Hillary gets indicted or is otherwise forced to drop out of the race, leaving the Democrats to either nominate Bernie (which will send a bunch of people into an uproar) or pull a fast one at their convention and bring in Joe Biden or somebody as the nominee (which will send even more people into an uproar). The Democratic Party starts shaking itself apart.

    Meanwhile, on the other side, Trump runs the table of the primaries, but is denied the nomination by the wheeler-dealers at the Republican Convention (most of whom would rather throw themselves on a punji stick than see Trump as the nominee). Which throws a whole bunch of people into an uproar, and it may take the courts to sort the whole mess out. The Republican Party starts shaking itself apart.

    Because of all the uncertainty, the Federal Election Commission is forced to delay the elections, which plays into the hands of the conspiracy theorists. Maybe Obama stays in office longer because of it, or maybe we get some Pentagon general on a white horse promising to “save the Republic”…

    Okay, this sounds more like the kind of scenario Tom Clancy or Eric L. Harry would write about. But the mere fact that any of this is even remotely plausible should tell you how nucking futs politics has gotten recently.

  79. Part of me wonders if we couldn’t use a little calamity.

    I sometimes wonder that, too. But, two things:

    a) the damage that calamity causes (the deaths, the cripplings, the permanent effects) is not trivial. Being able to weather that and dismiss it is kinda callous.

    b) The end result of that calamity is not necesarrily that good will triumph. In fact, a lot of times, it just ensures that an even worse regime will come to power.

  80. Because of all the uncertainty, the Federal Election Commission is forced to delay the elections,

    The FEC is not delaying the elections.

    But the mere fact that any of this is even remotely plausible

    It’s not.

    Part of me wonders if we couldn’t use a little calamity.

    How’d that work out with President George W. Bush? Calamity is pretty calamitous and there’s no guarantee that it will lead to a progressive revival.

  81. In seriousness though, the one thing that will probably scare me away from that line of thought is 3 words. Supreme Court Nominees.

    As well it should. Presidents are 4-8 years and most of what they do is pretty easy to undo if necessary.

    Supreme Court justices might as well be forever. Cement the Scalia wing of the current court and see how you like it.

  82. “but given that whomever the Democratic party nominates will win the general election in a landslide (presuming either of the current Republican frontrunners get the nomination) why would you take such a disinterested attitude in voting on who will be your next president in the primary election where that decision will actually be getting made?”

    @dreampodd – you appear to be assuming that either Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz as the GOP nominee would lose the election as a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

    With just a little bit of voter apathy on the liberal/independent side, four to eight years of President Trump becomes a very real possibility.

  83. These are pretty much my feelings as well.

    As for the general election, if Cruz or Trump gets it, I expect them to triangulate so fast towards the center they’ll get whiplash.

    The big variables are foreign policy and the economy. If things really start heating up in Mideast, that could swing the election to a hard-liner. If the economy goes south (but I don’t expect it to, not in next 11 months), that could push people towards the GOP. So I’m crossing my fingers for relatively steady waters, both foreign and domestic. I think that will help Clinton or Sanders.

  84. Good evaluation. I just wish people would pay more attention to the downstream races. Neither candidate is going to get any of the legislation they want with the Congress in its current configuration.

  85. eselle28 at 10:15
    “Most people can’t easily immigrate to countries they’d prefer to live in, and I think people who make pronouncements about elections haven’t necessarily thought about how logistically and emotionally difficult an international move can be.”

    We immigrated to the US from South Africa in part because of the elections of 1989, when the Conservative Party (Nazi-affiliated bigots, fascists and murderers) doubled their number of seats in Parliament. It took five years to plan the move and obtain the necessary qualifications and experience. It took ten years to get citizenship. The move felt rather like divorcing all our friends and family still in SA. We arrived with two suitcases and $1500 as our total worldly goods. I was younger and stronger then, and more optimistic. I could not make a similar move again.. and we are too old to be accepted in any country I’d want to live in.

    I plan to caucus for Bernie in the primaries, and vote for Hilary in the general election. One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed in order to persevere..

  86. @Mike “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election?”

    I think there are three, possibly four, just on the road where I live. And, whilst not US citizen, we left the US because of the Bush economic collapse and attempted theocracy. Of course, we ran straight into the Harper Insanity but that at least was temporary. Things are so broken down in the Excited States that a right-winger well to the right of Nixon is excoriated as a commie. You folk down there have some real problems needing fixing.

  87. Something a lot like Trumpism seems to be on the rise in many of the richer countries of the world, especially ones in Europe that are dealing with the Middle East refugee crisis. I wouldn’t count on escaping the stupidity by going anywhere else. Canada seems to be in a good place at the moment, but the question is how long it will last.

  88. My fear in Sanders getting the nomination, is that we would get the same result as when George McGovern ran against Nixon.

  89. @Mike “Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election?”

    I didn’t actually move to another country because of an election, but because I married a Canadian. However, I will tell you that the prospect of either Trump or Cruz as president has made me seriously consider applying for Canadian citizenship so it would be harder for them to kick me out.

  90. I have this persistent fantasy in which American voters turn out en masse (i.e. more than 80% participation) to choose the candidate who they genuinely think would do the best job for the entire country, including for people who they personally don’t care about, not the one whose public utterances give the voter, personally, the warmest fuzziest feelings.

    Look at the President’s Budget Request, and see the scope of what the federal government actually does, and then listen to what the candidates are saying about it – IF they are saying anything at all about it.

    The one who sounds like s/he is most cognizant of the role of government *based on our history and laws,* and the most capable of addressing it intelligently and capably and fairly, would be the one to vote for. IMO this time around that is Sanders. But like our host, I will vote in the general election for whoever is not GOP (as I have since Reagan) because the anti-civil-rights, God & Guns rhetoric makes me sick.

    Generally I avoid political discussions in any venue, because I can’t cope with the failure to recognize that the country these GOP front-runners say they want is functionally identical to Saudi Arabia, just Christian instead of Muslim.

  91. If you had told me that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz would become the Presidential candidate front runners for the GOP last January, I would have thought it hilarious and that it would be a very crazy alternate universe to live in. That would just be bat-shit-crazy!

    But after seeing what happened to my home town of Flint, Michigan this past year, I’ve come to the realization that I live in that alternate universe, a universe of nightmares. A universe where states controlled by Republican governors and state representatives have passed legislation harmful to the public good.

    You’ve all heard about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) who pulled out of Presidential race early on, and known for busting the Union in Wisconsin. Scott Walker signed a state budget last year that cut $250 million from the Univ. of Wisconsin budget only to hand it over to wealthy hedge fund managers to build a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Blatant crony capitalism. More info here:

    In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed open carry, and campus carry into law this past summer. Next August people will be allowed to carry a gun into all Texas public college campus buildings/classrooms/offices. Republican Texas State Legislators rammed this bill through leaving public colleges and universities to figure out how to regulate it. Private institutions are exempt. Baylor University is a private school that has opted out of campus carry, they will not allow guns on campus. It appears that all Texas private colleges are opting out. The University of Texas System will have to allow handguns. More info:

    Governor Abbott also wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws. Been there, done that. Before the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, the United States had the Articles of Confederation where states were more autonomous. Didn’t work, there were numerous rebellions that took place all over the country, Shay’s Rebellion being the longest lasting, highlighting federal weakness. Abbot’s amendments here:

    “Heads are spinning, heads are spinning, heads are spinning …” squawked Sarah Palin at a recent Trump rally.

  92. @Mike

    Does anyone actually know a US citizen who moved to another country because they were unhappy with the results of an election? I don’t.

    I am married to an Irish national and father to another. We will be relocating back to Ireland in the near future regardless of the outcome of the election. My reasoning is simply based on the outcome of all of the elections in the last 30 or so years. The only thing holding back the hoards of right wing theocrats are the deeply blue and heavily populated areas along the west coast and NE portions of the country. The states have been gerrymandered to death in order to keep things this way. The states can do that because on a local level, people still overwhelmingly elect right wing theocrats to state offices.

    The American experiment has failed and is broken beyond repair. We can look at the GOP Clown Car as an example of that outcome. One of those people is going to get anywhere between 45 and 50 percent of the vote in this cycle. At some point, someone like them is going to get elected.

    I don’t want to be here when that happens.

  93. “I think we’re seeing an acceleration in the Republican party’s slide into irrelevance.”

    I don’t think you can call a party that now controls both houses of Congress and the majority of statehouses “sliding into irrelevance” without a whole lot of wishful thinking. And while the Republican presidential race is definitely a clown-car this time around, the shallow bench indicated in the Democratic presidential race is worrisome too. (Who *would* be the backup if Clinton and Sanders really did perish in a bizarre gardening accident? And why did it take someone who until recently wasn’t even registered as a Democrat to make the race competitive at all?)

    Dale Allen has noted above some of the shenanigans going on at the state level, and Controuble noting the problem generally of presidents trying to move forward new initiatives with an adversarial Congress. So go ahead and vote for President, but also be sure to vote in your Congressional and state races as well. We can’t, and shouldn’t, depend on one person to straighten out our governance. There need to be a *lot* of good people representing local interests, and ready to move up to represent national interests as well.

  94. dana1119, don’t be fooled by Paul Ryan’s slick talk. The national economy simply DOES NOT work the way he would have you believe it does, and attempts to force it to do so will result in an unmitigated disaster. If he’d been President in 2008, and did what he speaks about doing, we would at this time be in a Depression which would make 1929 look like a Sunday School picnic.

    You cannot simply draw an analogy between the Federal budget and your household budget. The rules are different. Notice I did not say the laws are different, although they are. The rules I speak of are the real-world ones that control how it works. Attempts to change them by laws, or Presidential fiat, will have the same effect as trying to repeal the Law of Gravity.

  95. It’s worth pointing out that depending on the state in which you live, one vote in the Presidential election may not matter a damn thing. I live in a very blue state (WA). The odds of ‘the big one’ hitting us before the 2016 election are higher than the odds of our electoral votes going to the GOP candidate.

    Therefore, I have no qualms about saying I will write in Sanders if he doesn’t get the nomination. I won’t go into all my reasoning here, but basically for me–if I see *anything* to indicate that my state is up for grabs, I will vote for the Dem nominee whoever that is. If every indication is that we’ll be solidly blue, like we always are, I’m using my vote to write in the candidate I actually *want* to win.

    (Also, more than a blue state, I live in a blue district *within* a blue state. My vote isn’t going to change it. )

  96. @John Mark Ockerbloom

    Any candidate from Vermont would not have been “even registered as a Democrat” because Vermont doesn’t have registration by party.

    I hope you aren’t saying that it is bad for someone from Vermont to be running for President.

  97. As David Brin has been saying for several years, we need the return of the honorable candidate: one who wants to actually be a statesman and work for the good of the country, particularly in terms of the current Republican slate, who are collectively not just several sandwiches short of a picnic, but have thrown the picnic into a woodchipper. I am concerned that due to Congressional rubbish, we will get stuck with business as usual no matter who wins, and moreso if we go Republican. America deserves better.

  98. With “howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field” you win the trophy for _le mot juste_ of the 2016 presidential campaign. And it’s still ten months before the general election.

  99. My fear in Sanders getting the nomination, is that we would get the same result as when George McGovern ran against Nixon.

    That’s a fear, yeah, but there also isn’t any Nixon in this scenario.

    I don’t think you can call a party that now controls both houses of Congress and the majority of statehouses “sliding into irrelevance” without a whole lot of wishful thinking.

    A large part of /why/ the have that control is down to gerrymandering and voter suppression, both of which are under increasing scrutiny and attack.

  100. One of the best things about this thread (and the original post) is the cornucopia of political analogies! TheMadLibrarian’s “…who are collectively not just several sandwiches short of a picnic, but have thrown the picnic into a woodchipper” is particularly awesome.

    Okay, back to it…

  101. As a Dutch citizen I am no more than a concerned bystander but to those toys & pram Democrats who consider not voting if “their” candidate loses:

    Seriously, folks, do you really want to be in the position where you have to explain to your grandchildren how your idiotic self-entitlement issues helped open the door for president Trump/Cruz?

  102. In general, I feel much the same way – both Clinton or Sanders seem like generally acceptable candidates who are at least friendly acquaintances with reality. I’m not sure Clinton really embodies the level of plain dealing and transparency I expect out of a president; she is not above lying to get what she wants or needs.

    But in keeping with your point, the Republican dingbat claque is not only on bad terms with reality, they’re putting it in irons and throwing rotten rutabagas at it. I think Fiorina and Carson are functionally delusional, and while Cruz and Trump appear to be dimly cognizant that there is a reality outside their fantasies, they consider themselves to be the center of it.

  103. I am worried about this election because of the 2020 election, which is also a census year. At which point, whoever is holding the reins at state level will be deciding who gets to vote and what the districts look like.

  104. Mike – my dad up and moved to Mexico following GWB’s election.

    As far as additional knots in the piney wood, what about Sanders… with BILL Clinton on the Supreme Court (so the Notorious RBG might retire before she takes on Charybdis)?

  105. Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was a proud Republican. Then the party went bat crap crazy, and I stopped admitting to being a Republican. Which brings me to today. My wonderful father would spin in his grave at the thought of my voting for Hillary Clinton, yet I am more and more convinced that I may have no other choice. The thought of any of the Republicans getting into the White House scares me more than voting for Clinton (or Bernie) does.

    Which brings me to this thought: Electing the President of the United Stats should not require voting for the least objectionable candidate, should not be selecting the lesser of two evils. How do we as a country get back to having candidates worth choosing from?

  106. As I said in a comment on Frankly Curious:Why There Are So Many Lefties at the Academy (

    I think the democrats would be stronger if the republicans would offer intelligent arguments. Force the dems to rise to meet the gop.

    I do not believe the dems have the best possible solutions for everything, but the gop is so much worse.

    If you have a wound that requires stitches the dems offer a bandage. The gop wants to apply leeches

  107. Dear John Scalzi, Thanks for reminding me why Science Fiction writers/fans are fucking awesome, dead puppies aside. Sanity is important in the end, eh?

    Missy Pavlat Koslosky, Peggy Rae’s kid

  108. @Dave L.
    No, the Rebulicans wouldn’t even offer leeches. Instead they would demand that you strip nakes and find some leech infested waters to gather your own leeches.

    @The community at large: I’m sitting here musing about whether The Joker would be laughing, whimpering,* rolling his eyes at the Insane GOP Clown Posse. Damnit Arkham! That’s how you get LOONS!

    *Why yes John, I DID use an Oxford comma. Because. LOL

  109. Damn you WordPress, there was an “or” in there between the comma and “rolling his eyes”. Maybe it is the impending ice we are promised that messed things up…

  110. This is a surreal election for me. I am a west coast black man so the odds that I would vote for a republican approaches zero. Hilary Clinton definitely comes with heavy baggage and probably has a target on her back. Bernie Sanders has a bit of an “NPR liberal” for me and I worry that his people are zealots. I must chant to myself to do no harm…

  111. @Kilroy Perhaps Hillary supporters should take the significant number of Bernie-or-Bust people into account when determining who is more electable. I have not been one of the Bernie or Bust types, however, the level of dishonest discourse emanating from the Hillary campaign is really starting to sour me. Disagree with Bernie, fine–but don’t misrepresent his views and his votes. Hillary is smart enough to understand that what she is leaving out of her attacks on Bernie completely exonerates him from them. Let’s be real–she’s savvy and not stupid.

    1. Calling Bernie sexist for saying that everybody is shouting on both sides of the gun debate, claiming that Bernie was specifically calling out Hillary alone for the crime of being a passionate woman, undermines the feminist cause. Hillary damn well knew what Bernie was saying there, but she was a political opportunist and launched a false accusation against him. Plenty of women in power do have to deal with being called awful things for having and expressing strong opinions and Hillary insults all of them when she absolutely knowingly cries wolf here.

    2. Hillary defended her Wall Street ties by invoking 9/11. I thought I was watching Rudy Giuliani for a moment there. Ducking behind the shield of 9/11 is a Republican tactic, yet it’s been one of a long series of movies that Hillary has been making that she has stolen directly from their playbook.

    3. Hillary was nearly apoplectic in 2008 when she perceived that then candidate Obama was attacking her over universal healthcare. Watch the video yourself:
    Yet, she turns around and attacks Bernie in a very disingenuous manner over his plans for universal healthcare. She and her daughter, Chelsea, went out to town halls and attacked him simultaneously from the left and right using false scare tactics. From the left, she claimed Bernie wanted to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole host of other programs. That’s nonsense. She’s saying Bernie wants to take away your healtchare–but Bernie is actually trying to create a Medicare-For-All system. From the right, she attacked Bernie for raising middle class taxes. Since when are Democrats opposed to taxes, especially when they guarantee healthcare to everyone in the nation? Without middle class taxes, we wouldn’t have Social Security or Medicare at all. Again, completely disingenuous lines of attack.

    4. Now she’s calling Bernie part of the establishment? She said, “He’s been in the Congress for 25 [years]. And so I’ll let your viewers make their own judgment.” Again, more disingenuous nonsense. Bernie doesn’t have a Super PAC. Bernie isn’t soliciting huge sums of money from handfuls of ultra-rich donors. Bernie is as genuine an independent voice beholden only to his constituents as there is in elected office. He’s raised over 2.5 million donations at an average of under $30 each. A very small percentage of his supporters have maxed out at $2700. Compound this with everything going on with the DNC debate schedule, and Hillary has the gall to call *Bernie* the establishment?

    Look, I went into this election supporting Hillary, but when Bernie jumped into the race, it was a no-brainer for me to switch to support him. I’ve watched what he has done in congress for a number of years, and he is truly one of the few voices that are in it for the right reasons–to help Americans and tackle the root causes of the problems we face. He wants to get big money out of politics and he walks the walk, living off his millions of supporters alone. That’s something Hillary won’t do.

    It serves no one but herself to lie about Bernie’s actions, record, and plans because in doing so, she is alienating a huge chunk of the liberal base who were disappointed in Obama for a number of reasons and feel like the system is never going to change.

    These are voters who stayed home in 2010.

    These are voters who stayed home in 2014.

    These are the non-voters who never have been involved in our political discourse, but suddenly have an interest because there’s finally a genuine candidate who they feel represents them.

    These are the voters who will stay home in 2016 if Hillary continues to burn all the bridges with her dishonest attacks on Sanders. It’s time for Hillary supporters to reach out to her and tell her to cut it out, because her actions are sewing the seeds of a Trump presidency and red state legislatures from sea to shining sea.

  112. I can’t believe no one made the Rainbow Connection filk…

    Why are there so many posts about voters?
    And what’s on the other side
    voters have visions
    But only illusions
    And voters have nothing to hide

    So we’ve been told
    And some choose to believe it
    I know they’re wrong, wait and see
    Some day we’ll find it
    The Scalzi connection
    The Clinton, the Sanders, and John…

  113. What makes 2016 such an incredibly weird year is not the Republican clown car (we had a preview of that in 2012) or the Trump surge (ditto in 2012) but that HC is actually the moderate Republican candidate the Republican Establishment needs to win.

  114. Looking at her latest actions Hillary is making the same mistakes she made back in 2008 and going extremely negative against a fellow Democratic candidate. It turned a lot of voters against her then and it is starting to have the same effect now.

  115. “a populist racist or a preening, deservedly-disliked tub of self-regard”

    Does it speak ill of me that I cannot tell which of these is meant to refer to Mr. Trump and which Mr. Cruz?

  116. I’ve skimmed all the Bernie comments and am pleased, I guess, that nobody mentioned what to me is his biggest negative: his age. Well, if we are not being sexist toward Clinton, I guess it’s good we are not being ageist toward Sanders. But here’s the thing: born in 1942, I am just a year younger than Bernie, and look not unlike him. (OK, he’s kept more of his hair.) I’m healthy, I run 5K three times a week, ride a bike, eat right, etc. But I know I cannot do as much work, physical or mental, in a day as I did when I was 50. Being POTUS is a 24/7 job with serious amounts of study, thinking, and managing, dawn to dark, and lots of travel. I personally would not feel up to that job if it were magically offered to me. I like Bernie and will vote for him if he’s the nominee, but I have reservations about his physical ability to handle the job for four (never mind eight) years.

    Oh, and before you say, “he can delegate, he can surround himself with smart energetic advisors”? Remember, that’s what they said about DoubleYuh, too.

  117. For full disclosure i am a neighbor of John Kasich I use to run into him at the gym and hardware store. WTF is wrong with the Republican party.
    The man is a grown up who knows how government works and how to balance a budget and talk to the opposition to get things accomplished.

  118. The level of support for Bernie within the U.S. gives me a gold plated case of the heebie-jeebies. Dunning–Kruger, indeed!

    Hillary’s issues are many-fold. Corruption…abuses of power…the two issues that shall not be named are not unique in her history. They are par for the course.

    Like everyone else, I’d really like to have the option of voting FOR a presidential candidate this time around.


  119. I find the idea that Clinton and Sanders to be interchangeable as akin to the idea that there’s really no difference between the GOP and the Dems (“They’re all just politicians, man!”).

    I see the Democratic primary as the actual ‘Republican vs. Democrat’ election: Clinton is, by any sane historical standard, a moderate Republican warhawk. Sanders is an old-school Democrat, of the kind that barely exists any longer. They differ on some pretty fundamental levels.

    Sure, both of them differ markedly from the GOP, on the “they’re not insane and/or required to pander to the Dixiecrat/white supremacist/religious nutjob sectors” level, but that seems like an incredibly low bar.

    If we can’t get President Sanders, then I think President Trump would be the next-best thing that could happen to the country. He’d be a shitty blowhard of a president, but that’s a lot less scary than President Cruz. Clinton gives us four more years of obstruction in Congress, moderate Republican executive action, and a howling mob in 2020 (the year that determines who gets to gerrymander for the next decade, btw) in which the GOP will literally be crazier than this year and will have an even better chance to succeed.

    If we’re going to have a moderate Republican warhawk as president, I’d really rather it be someone with an (R) after their name, so that the GOP can take the blame and the Democrats can wholeheartedly oppose them. If it comes down to Clinton vs. Trump, I will have no problem holding my nose and pulling the R lever.

  120. This is well-said, especially given your political beliefs, John. You are, apparently, somewhat to my right. Were you not, I’d suggest you give in, register Dem, and participate in the primary.

    I’ll vote for Bernie in the primary and then for either him or Hillary in the general. There are differences between them and they matter – they should be hashed out in the primaries amongst those of us who will vote in them. They have different strengths and weaknesses, and thus it’s not clear to me which one is actually more electable or more likely to run an effective administration. So I am left with looking at their stances and I prefer Bernies, despite some concern about a certain whiff of magical thinking coming from his campaign. There’s a fine line, I think, between inspiring people and selling them fantasies.

    Heighten those contradictions, brgibbons! Yeah, that’ll work out great. I mean, except for unified GOP control of the federal government (in addition to their advantages at the state level) for a minimum of 2, and likely more, years. No biggie, that. They’ll be terrible and the sheeple will wake up, right? Even if they do, the damage done in the interim isn’t worth it. I would think, not so far removed from 2001-2009, we’d have all learnt that lesson. Apparently not.

  121. I know that only a handful of candidates get any attention, but there is still time for someone to jump out of the woodwork. As of today, there are 1505 people “running for President”, and both major parties have states where the caucus filing dates aren’t yet closed. It could be June before we know who the actual candidates for President will be.

  122. Decide: Which of the two elderly “white” politicians, who came of political age in the 1960s and 1970s, is best suited to lead the Democratic Party to victory in November? Say what you will about the Republican “clown car” presidential contest, at least they suffer from an embarrassment of riches. After Clinton and Sanders, the Democratic Party’s talent curve falls off pretty steeply. . .

  123. Say what you will about the Republican “clown car” presidential contest, at least they suffer from an embarrassment of riches.

    This sentence is two words too long.

  124. As an Otherplacian, I’d prefer Clinton, as she’s got significantly more experience and understanding of foreign policy. She might be hawkish, but it will be rational, considered, evidence-based hawkishness in pursuit of a clear goal. Sanders, to me, seems rather hazy in comparison. In fact, he seems to be promising a lot of nice things he can’t possibly deliver.

    I’m sure he’d make an entirely serviceable PotUS, and an infinitely better one than either Trump or Cruz (or any of the rest of the clown car crew), but I think Clinton would make a better one, especially in the long run.

  125. How bad have politics in the US gotten for me? You couldn’t hold a gun to my head and make me vote Republican, and that’s really not much of an exaggeration. I’m a queer, atheist woman. The very idea of a Republican win makes me feel like I have a target on my back.

    But everyone gets all focused on the presidential contests and forget about the state and local elections – they’re just as important.

  126. Loved the original article and the discussion.

    So, as a resident of a red district in a blue state (eastern Oregon), and, by origin, a semi-isolationist old school Republican currently registered as a Libertarian, I have some interesting choices.

    I could go with David Brin’s suggestion that everyone in a safe district should vote in the primaries of he dominant party, register Republican, and vote for Kasich in our May primary. His chances of being nominated are zero unless all of the other R’s tear each other to bits – not impossible, but very, very unlikely.

    I could vote for Bernie in the Democratic primary; if he keeps giving H as good a run for her money as he is now, the vote might actually mean something. Right now, that’s my likely course of action.

    What I will certainly do is vote for non-partisan primaries anytime they’re on the ballot.

    Later, it’s simpler. Unless Kasich steps out of the clown car in August, I’ll vote for the Democrat, even the Dynast. She is more or less reality-oriented at least – that matters more than honesty, sad as it is to have to admit that.

    And no, even if Bernie is like McGovern – a) The Soviet Union is gone, so McGovern’s worst weaknesses are now irrelevant. b) The Republicans have no one even remotely in Nixon’s league. I think Bernie or Hillary would clobber what the Rs have now.

    Now, all we need to is figure out how to stop the American Taliban in 2 modulo 4 years.

  127. I am grateful to most of the people here for generally posting reasonable comments grounded in at least some rationality (or at least to Mr. Scalzi for eliminating those that do not meet his criteria). I freely admit to having strong feelings about the sexism I see rampant in our society, and I believe that there are significant amounts of it at play in the campaign. I also believe that Hillary Clinton has accomplished a great deal in her career, despite that sexism (backwards and in high heels!).
    One concern I have about Bernie Sanders is that he seems to be a one-trick pony. Everything always comes back to economic inequality; any other issue is an afterthought. When questioned, he will make the right response, because his values are sound; but he just doesn’t think about those other issues. A president must be able to handle more than one task at a time, and to balance often-conflicting concerns. Sometimes, the president may have to compromise on one goal to make progress on another. I don’t believe Bernie has admitted this, even though he has done it himself (gun control?). People praise Bernie for his authenticity, but I fear that his focus will result in less getting accomplished on a number of fronts.

  128. @Rob in CT: … except the problem is that GOP control of the federal government is going to happen. It’s inevitable. No one party holds the presidency forever.

    Anyone who believes that the Democratic party can hold on the presidency forever is deluding themselves. Anyone who thinks that the GOP, after losing to Hillary in 2016 and having the final chance ever to take her down in 2020, is going to be saner than they are right now is flat-out lying to themselves.

    Nor, between the inherent structural bias toward small states and rural areas, and the benefits of gerrymandering caused by the GOP wave of 2010, will they be losing their lock on Congress any time soon.

    At some point in the relatively near future, there will be unified GOP control of the federal government. It’s just a question of when. Believing otherwise is wishful thinking.

    So, the question is simply whether four years of Hillary is worth the price of an even more insane GOP candidate in 2020, and a demoralized Democratic party and enraged GOP leading to a GOP wave in 2020 (and entrenching gerrymandering on a state level for another ten years).

    All else being equal, sure, I’d pull the lever for any Democratic candidate. It isn’t equal, however; winning now means a much higher chance of losing later, and I consider a Hillary win in 2016 to be barely worth the name, while a loss in 2020 would be devastating.

    Sanders would be worth the price. Clinton would be four more years of nothing getting done in Congress and a moderate Republican warhawk in charge; the benefits aren’t worth the cost.

  129. It isn’t equal, however; winning now means a much higher chance of losing later, and I consider a Hillary win in 2016 to be barely worth the name, while a loss in 2020 would be devastating.

    Trying to game the political system (we’ll lose now to win later) is almost always a mug’s game. Win the election in front of you. Figure out how to win the next one.

    (First off, a victory in 2016 would mean that Hillary got to appoint at least one and perhaps two Supreme Court justices. That’s “barely worth the name”? Hah.)

    Say what you will about the Republican “clown car” presidential contest, at least they suffer from an embarrassment of riches. After Clinton and Sanders, the Democratic Party’s talent curve falls off pretty steeply. . .

    Well, that’s a tired old meme. An “embarrassment of riches”? Chris Christie is an “embarrassment of riches”? Rand Paul is an “embarrassment of riches”? Please. On the Democratic side, I give you Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, and current HUD secretary, Ivy Taylor, current mayor of San Antonio, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and a host of others. Deep bench, of rational people; I’ll take those, thanks.

  130. @Dann665: I’m not sure how much of your Clinton’s “corruption & abuse of power” is any different from the sweetheart deals that many other Republicans and Democrats are getting and favors they are granting, except that the Republican anti-Hillary campaign has been repeating the big lie for the last 20 years, and hinting and waving the “you know about Hillary, right??” innuendoes and falsehoods around left and right. Kind of like the Emperor/Messiah Obama crap, making a big deal about his executive orders, as though the Bushes and Reagan never did any questionable executive orders (how quickly the Republicans forgot about the Great President Reagan’s illegal Iran-Contra deal, for example), calling Obama the Great Divider (I’m note sure he had even take the oath of office before Republicans in Congress announced that job one was making him a one-term president because he was so awful), etc.

    While I personally would prefer almost any other than Clinton, for no other reason than I’m tired of nearly 60 years of political family dynasties (Kennedy, Bush, Clinton), I more tired of the Republican “Hillary IS EEEVVVVIIIILLLL” mantra, especially all of the anti-Hillary emails forwarded by my FIL that were debunked long before he got them. It doesn’t matter that they’ve been debunked many times already because it fits with his world view (and my ex-boss, and just about every other Republican I talk to).

    I will say that I fully expect that if Clinton gets the nomination and wins the election, I fully expect the Republicans to double down and be even more adversarial than they are now.

  131. Jerome O’Neil@2.43:

    Friends of ours left the US and moved to Ireland in December (one a citizen, the other dual) for similar reasons. She’d spent 15 years fighting for progressive issues on a state level, and reached the conclusion that she could keep throwing herself against the walls until she broke, or get out.

    We’re a few miles from Seattle; Spouse’s employer has offered to move us to the Vancouver offices, but the banking and tax paperwork for US citizens living outside the US is a non-trivial problem. Still, having the option helps.

  132. As an aside, I’m baffled by the meme that Hillary Clinton represents some kind of a “dynasty”. No, she doesn’t. Bushes are a dynasty. So are Kennedys. Clintons are a husband and a wife; she didn’t inherit her political connections, wasn’t groomed into a political career, didn’t have her path smoothed out by older relatives with influence, and so on. It’s a lazy and inaccurate criticism, and smacks of the “both sides!” fallacy, especially in comparisons to the Bush family.

  133. Hillary calling Bernie ‘part of the establishment’ is like a high dollar call girl trying to slut-shame a street walker. Irony impairment in action.

  134. @Lurks-no-More your use of the technical definition makes you technically correct, which we all know is the best kind of correct according to Futurama, but fails the lay-definition test for every day use. So, yes technically they would not be a dynasty, practically it looks, walks, and quacks enough like a duck to cover it in orange sauce and call it a day. The Clintons work enough like a dynasty to ping people’s radar.

  135. DAVID said: “On the Democratic side, I give you Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, and current HUD secretary, Ivy Taylor, current mayor of San Antonio, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and a host of others. Deep bench, of rational people; I’ll take those, thanks.”

    Those folks aren’t technically “on the bench” this cycle, though Castro might be in the near future. As for Raimondo and Taylor? Let’s see if they can govern successfully first . . .

    Of the three, Castro is better known nationally, but apparently not enough for him to “get in the ring” this cycle. No doubt, he’s a talented, accomplished, and young politician. He endorsed Clinton early, and there’s now a growing push to get him on the ticket as VP.

    Raimondo has serious venture capital experience, which implies a better understanding of how the business world really works (unlike the incumbent). But that’s “too close to Wall Street” under current Democratic Party conditions . . . And Raimondo won her first term with just 41 percent of the vote. . . Not impressed.

    Taylor strikes me as a shrewd “insider type” politician, who as an outsider has adapted herself extremely well to political conditions in San Antonio. (She’s originally from Brooklyn, NY). However, her narrow victory in the 2015 mayoral race (her first) against a fellow Democrat tells me she’s still a rookie, though a battle-tested one. Call me next decade . . .

    In the meantime, it’s back to the “two ring circus” that is the Democratic Party presidential contest. Forget the “Clinton Coronation.” Sanders has made this a most competitive race. And the FBI just might make it his race to lose . . .

  136. I’ve yet to meet a Democrat or Republican that didn’t lie to me, or reverse his promises, or drop bombs somewhere, or favor the wealthy, or invade, or make me send monthly checks to an insurance corporation, or spy on me, etc. etc. etc.
    I’ll be voting third-party. If you participate in the two-party system, you are supporting the two-party system, and thereby validating the “OTHER PARTY” which you hate you much, kicking and screaming every time you hear voices on MSNBC or Fox about Those God Damned Others That Are Ruining Humanity.
    I’m not positive if I’ll go with the Libertarian Party, or the Reform Party, or maybe even the Green Party.
    But I know I won’t vote for Bernie:

  137. My current opinion is that I would vote for a possum left dead on the roadside for three days in mid-summer than vote for ANY of the GOP candidates… I tend towards Sanders, Clinton seems a bit to much like “GOP-lite”… When she comes out ahead of Sanders in a Time-Warner poll and Time-Warner is a major contributor to Clintons campaign…
    Lately, I cleve to the slightly silly notion that all political candidates should have to wear jumpsuits like NASCAR drivers wear, with their corporate sponsorship logos prominently displayed for the convenience of voters…

  138. @gwangung:

    Just make sure your choices get you towards where you want to go.

    Well, that’s the thing. Sometimes the choice appears to be getting farther away from where we want to go more slowly or more quickly. I’m not sure that’s right, but it sure looks like that sometimes. Maybe that’s the bane of liberal voters–we can’t distinguish between “not enough” and “even worse”.

  139. Those folks aren’t technically “on the bench” this cycle

    “On the bench” implies that they’re ready to come in when the starters are tired. So when Clinton/Sanders/O’Malley finish their term in 2024, all the folks I mentioned will be ready.

    Oh, and you didn’t answer me on the GOP: which candidate is an “embarrassment of riches”? Christie? Paul? Was Scott Walker?

    Do tell.

  140. As I read through the comments above, I believe many of you (except those threatening to leave the country) are massively underestimating HRC’s weaknesses as a candidate. There is a real chance of her getting indicted, she’s a more of a hawk than ANY of the Rs, and her support is primarily being driven by fear (of the Rs social policies I guess – otherwise she’s right there with them — except maybe she’s a little to the right of Trump on big business). I also think you are underestimating Sanders. His latest political ad “America” is brilliant. This country is different now–the Millennials are different, media works differently. And the amount of progress he has made in spite of the major network blackout is remarkable. I am not sure his lack of a “GQ” persona is a real liability. Finally, to those of you who are threatening to leave, I’d say: in this era of globalization and American dominance, moving to another country out of personal self interest is just retreating. Politics matter and US politics while massively impact the whole world, one way or another.

  141. The inexorable law of tv drama magical simularity that ruled out McCain in 2008, because Hawkeye from MASH never succeeds in becoming POTUS, must give us pause for concern that O’Malley might pull it off after contriving the destruction of his rivals, because Littlefinger 2016

  142. I’m not, for different reasons, a fan of Clinton or Sanders. There is a huge difference though: Clinton is capable of being President whereas Sanders is an idealist with fuzzy, incoherent, fantasies who has shown no evidence of being able to govern. A Clinton Presidency would not be dissimilar to an Obama one: a functioning but imperfect government which slowly improves some thing incrementally.

    Senator Clinton will probably be the Democratic nominee, which will leave me with an easy choice. On the other hand, it is no longer impossible that Sanders will win and I have huge doubts about his ability to govern. In that case, it would be nice if the Republicans would nominate someone into whose hands the country could be safely entrusted as they did in 2012. Unfortunately, I see almost no chance that the Republican nominee will be someone other than Cruz (who is actively harmful and dangerous to the safety of the country) or Trump (ditto). So, unless something changes on the Republican side, I’d then be forced to actively campaign for Sanders. (And, of the unlikely Republican alternatives…I’m not so keen on half of them either.)

  143. DAVID asked: “Oh, and you didn’t answer me on the GOP: which candidate is an “embarrassment of riches”? Christie? Paul? Was Scott Walker?”

    All of them. Minus Walker. He’s out. Has been for weeks.

    DAVID said, “So when Clinton/Sanders/O’Malley finish their term in 2024, all the folks I mentioned will be ready.”

    Woo. Hoo. One-party rule for as far as your political eye can see.

    KB: It’s hard to tell some whether Sanders is just a good politician or if Clinton is just a bad one. She’s losing strength faster than she did in 2008. She’s also taken on a lot of battle damage over the course of her rather long . . . career.

  144. Kilroy: “what is the best way to reach out to someone like you with Bernie or Bust leanings?”

    I’m not Bernie or Bust, but Clinton has regularly pissed me off (both with the way she votes over the years and more recently with the shitty behavior her campaign has been engaging in towards Bernie). I’ll vote for her if she gets the nomination, but only because I understand math.

    To anyone who prefers Clinton over Sanders, if you want to reach out to Sanders people, stop stepping over Clinton’s shitty behavior. If you can’t see shitty behavior, then you need to admit that you have nothing to offer a Bernie or Bust person that would actually reach out to them. Reaching out is something you have to *give* a little something to accomplish. If you’re not willing, then you’re just looking for something to *take*.

    As far as the “a little calamity” goes, this applies to any voter, Sander or Clinton: You are essentially arguing that the “lurkers support you in email” and it will just take a “calamity” for them to be vocal of their support.

    No. And more importantly, FUCK NO.

    There is no secret army of voters who all support your position but haven’t had the kick in the pants enough to vote. That’s you projecting a wish fulfillment fantasy where none exists. Voter Turnout for presidential elections has been shit since 1900 and has every indication of staying that way:

    The idea that all the lazy people who didn’t vote, or didn’t vote for your candidate, will suddenly see the error of their ways and admit their mistake, and vote the “right” way next time, is Mary-Sue-Level wish fulfillment nonsense spun into a narrative in spite of a century of history to the contrary. You are not going to inflict comeuppance on anyone by voting for a calamity. You are not teaching anyone a lesson by rage voting. You are throwing a tantrum in an adult conversation where we can’t afford tantrums. So grow the hell up.

    This applies to any voter, not just Bernie or Bust, or Clinton or Cuss, voters. It applies to republicans as well as democrats. American presidential elections are straight-majority-vote-wins contests. That means no condercet voting. No instant runoff. You are not “sending a signal” by voting third party. You are fucking your own best interests over by not voting for one of the TWO main candidates most likely to win. Most likely, you will try to vote third party to show how much smarter than everyone you are, how you aren’t “sheeple” like everyone else, how you’re some kind of hipster voter, special fucking snowflake, but you’re really just one of those asshole hipsters who thinks he’s better than everyone else because he hates what everyone else hates. You’re a fucking idiot, and I am sick of having to listen to your fucking stupidity every four fucking years.

    If you vote third party for a presidential election, or don’t vote because the candidate that was close to your position just wasn’t close enough, then the only way you can prove to pretty much the rest of America that you aren’t an asshole-hipster-voter who hates whatever anyone else likes, is to vote silently and don’t tell anyone. Because the hipster voter urge is to lord their vote over everyone like they’re some special snowflake, but all it does is tell everyone you’re an asshole who is bad at math and has unresolved emotional problems requiring wish fullfillment naratives to make you feel better about yourself. If you vote third party in a presidential election, keep it to yourself.

    I’d prefer Sanders over Clinton, but if Clinton gets the nomination, I’ll vote for her because I am an adult who can live with not getting everything exactly my way and won’t throw a tantrum to try to force everything my way or punish the world for not giving everything my way. If you can’t live without having eveyrthing exactly your way and are willing to throw a tantrum if you don’t get it, then you are being what is called a “brat”. Bragging about your third party tantrum vote doesn’t impress anyone except other brats, and the adults are tired of your screaming.

    And like I said, this goes for any voter. Clinton, Sanders, or someone voting republican.

  145. Eric wrote: ” And the Green party only got 500K in the whole country, I would like to see more. So I’ll be one of them and asking my friends to do the same. Because there really is a fat chance in hell the California is going to vote Republican in the general election, so I can use my vote to enlarge (by one) a truly leftist party here in the USA.”

    Voting Green in the presidential elections at this point is a waste of a vote. And it’s a waste of money for them to run in it.

    Greens should be running in state and local elections, everything from school boards to governor, and that is where you should be voting for them. They actually have a chance at that level. Eventually, if they win enough state and local seats, they’ll have a track record with the public, and they’ll have experienced people to run for higher office.

    Like Nader’s pointless vanity campaigns for the White House, ignoring every other level of government in favor of a quixotic presidential run every 4 years shows a basic misunderstanding of how politics works in the US. That is, unless the point of the campaign is just to raise money under false pretenses.

  146. “A Clinton Presidency would not be dissimilar to an Obama one: a functioning but imperfect government which slowly improves some thing incrementally.”

    My worry is that Clinton would, like her husband, be ready to give the GOP a lot of really terrible things in order to maybe get a few things enacted. And I’m pretty sure she’ll gut dodd-frank and kill the CFPB.

  147. Mr. Scalzi, like you I consider it critical to elect any of the Democrats over any of the Republicans. But because of this I question one thing you said: that you don’t intend to vote in the Chicago primary. If getting a Democrat elected is so crucial, then isn’t it really important to try to get the most-electable Democrat nominated? Presumably you have some thoughts on who’s more likely to beat the Republican nominee; why don’t you think it’s important to ensure that Democrat is nominated? In a similar vein, are you considering donating to that most-electable Democrat?

  148. David Karger:

    I’m not John, but a) He lives in Ohio and b) it is unlikely that the Democratic candidate will be decided by the Ohio primary, which is held later than many other states. (Then again, in 2008 Clinton didn’t concede the nomination until June 7, probably waiting for the California primary.)

    Since he lives in Ohio, it would probably be more useful for him to register as a Republican and vote in Republican primaries for state offices. Since Republicans are far more likely to win those offices, voting in the primary could help reduce the damage a bad state-level Republican candidate could do.

  149. Jon H:

    It is possible that Clinton would give the GOP some things; however, as long as Elizabeth Warren is in the Senate, I doubt killing the CFPB or substantially weakening Dodd-Frank would be among them.

  150. @Lurks-no-more: The point I was making about the Clinton dynasty is that Hillary Clinton’s political connections, etc. are her husband’s political connections, etc. Would she have ever become a Senator for New York if Bill hadn’t been actively campaigning for it? I think it’s unlikely. She had never even lived in NY before starting her campaign. You could argue that the Clinton’s political apparatus was jointly developed by the two of them, but it still means that if Hillary wins, one family controls the Presidency and the Democratic party for at least 12-16 years. I still think that would be better than 4 years of Ted Cruz, but I don’t have to like it.

  151. There is one major difference (to this far outsider) between Trump and Cruz that would make me wish for the former – Trump strikes me as in it for the ego-boo. He’s an egotistical blowhard with a massive sense of entitlement who is deliberately pushing every nativist pseudo-fascist button and saying anything to get elected – but, like a dog chasing a car, there’s always the question of what he’ll do if he CATCHES it. It strikes me that a Trump Presidency would be four years of constant babble about how great Trump is, along with policies driven this way and that by whatever venal corporate interests grab his attention.

    A President Cruz, on the other hand, would consider himself anointed and justified. And he actually has an agenda…

  152. All of them. Minus Walker. He’s out. Has been for weeks.

    Thus the past tense for Walker. As for the rest, I think you’re right about part of them being an “embarrassment of riches.” The first part, that is.

    Woo. Hoo. One-party rule for as far as your political eye can see.

    Given that the GOP controls the Senate, House, and most state governments at this point, it ain’t the Democrats who are closer to one party rule.

  153. I was not going to vote for McCain or for Romney in the last two elections, but in both cases I could see the valid argument for them

    McCain, maybe. I can’t conceive of any valid argument for Romney other than that there’s still a little bit of cash value left in this country which hasn’t been scooped out yet and that it’s best to make a thorough job of anything you’ve started, but then differences of opinion make for horse racin’.

  154. @Greg: I used to think that way. It doesn’t work, Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil, and if more people realized that, maybe we’d have some change around here instead of the parade of corporate, establishment placeholders. Hillary Clinton is not “Close, but not quite there.” She’s an 80s republican who found a time warp to 2016 and knows how to sound off on cultural issues well enough to sound like a democrat.

  155. I’ve lived in California for over 20 years, and it’s been solidly enough Democrat that it’s safe for me to vote third party. The last time I felt it was important enough to vote Democrat instead of Libertarian was 1984, because four more years of Reagan would be a disaster, and my vote for Walter Mondale was a waste; if it accomplished anything it was to encourage them to pick another loser next round.
    California recently replaced normal elections with a “top-two all-parties primary” for state offices, with only the top two vote getters going to the general election; when there haven’t been Libertarians running for an office I’ve voted for Greens, independents, and even Occupiers, since the real election would either get my vote for a Democrat against a Republican, or else get my choice of two Democrats.

    My main concern is voting against war; Bernie’s the only real choice, now that Rand Paul’s dropped out, but Hillary’s still better than any of the remaining Republicans. I don’t think the clown show is over yet, but once the primaries actually get going, I’m predicting it’ll wind down, and probably we’ll end up with a Rubio/Kasich ticket (fortunately, Scott Walker’s gone.)

    The outcome I’d like would be Bernie squeaking past Hillary, Cruz getting the Republican nomination, and Trump running as an independent out of spite. (I’d also like a pony, preferably a unicorn pony.) The one that scares me is Bloomberg running as an independent and siphoning enough Democratic votes that Rubio wins; Hillary-vs-Bloomie-vs-Cruz might well end up with Bloomberg winning, which would be fun.

  156. @Bill Stewart, I struggle to understand your thinking there. Everyone knows Pegasus ponies are the best ponies. Your reasoning on everything else is sound.

  157. Greg: Clinton/Sanders are not on my side; they are just less likely to burn the whole place down. The reason why I don’t vote third party is there aren’t any good ones, much less viable ones. Voting Democrat every year and being told it’s the best option I will EVER get is like voting for the slipper rather the boot on your face for all time. I am an “adult” by your standards, but seriously it’s not a hamburger instead of steak option here; it’s gruel versus starving.

  158. Ben: “I used to think that way. It doesn’t work, Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil, and if more people realized that, maybe we’d have some change around here”

    And maybe the lurkers support you in email.

    Sure. Its a nice fantasy to think that. But NOTHING in the last century supports the idea. The evidence right now suggests that Americans are just messed up. The fantasy is that Trump is the front runner republican because the “good” Americans have dozed off at the wheel. Thats the story folks tell themselves to sleep at night. But the truth seems more likely to be that Trump has massive support because there is massive bigotry and fascists in the world willing to resort to violence to grab political power.

    The fantasy is that people will see the error of their ways if just shown plainly enough. But history shows that the only way the world makes lasting progress is when a generation of old guard assholes finally die off and young voters effect change.

    Germany outlawed the nazi flag because Naziz refused to admit they did anything wrong. Germans as a whole initially resisted the idea of making reparations for ww2. The south is twisting history into pretzels to defend the confederate flag and the idea of america paying reparations to the heirs of slaves still, 1.5 centuries after the fact, stirs up too much guilt for people to do anything but absolutely reject it. Trump is encouraging *violence* at his political rallies. Are you so seriously deluded that you think if it just gets bad enough, that his supporters will admit a mistake? Or that the people who didnt vote will admit *their* mistake?

    The thing you can count on about humans as a race is that we as a people do not admit our mistakes. And we will hold on to those mistakes, holding back the progress of the human race until the mistakeful generation dies off and new folks take over.

    The core of the “lurkers support me in email” is an unfounded hope that people are better than what all of history demonstrates that they are not. Its not that if people suffer enough, the lurkers will wake and correct the problem. Its that a lot of people are actively embracing fascism and the presidency is determined by a simple majority-vote-wins equation. So you either vote for the best of the 2 most likely to win candidates and fight fascism, or you vote third party and continue the fantasy that you are doing something helpful when you are not, and continue the fantasy that people are better than they are, and help the fascists.

    Thats what it means to be adult. You can either acknowledge you have a very tiny voice and a very small effect on who wins the presidency. Or you fool yourself with wishfullfilment nonsense that your vote for third party will “start a revolution” or some delusional bullshit like that.

    Sometimes it is easier to see it when the “other” side is doing it. So. You know who else thought they were starting a revolution? Timothy McVeigh. He thought he was the hero of some operatic play, doing some big gesture that he felt would make him they important keystone that would bring about significant change, making him some big hero. But all he did was kill a bunch of children and innocent people. He didnt spark a war. He suffered delusions of grandeur. He wasnt important.

    You either vote for the better of the 2 most likely to win candidates, or you are indulging in fantasy.

  159. @ John Hedtke: “(And OMG, I had always that that George W. was a fool, but I’ve been following Jeb’s campaign and wincing at his gaffes, and I’m forced to say “Wow, George was the pick of the litter!”)”

    I know what you mean. Jeb! was supposed to be the Smart One?? He manages to George W look wise by comparison, which isn’t something I had previously thought possible.

  160. I am an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders, and there are numerous things I strongly dislike about Hillary Clinton. That said, if she wins the nomination, I will support her in the general election because, despite my objections to her, I think she will make a very capable president. Hillary isn’t my first choice, but neither is she a “anyone but Cruz/Trump” choice for me. She’s not my preferred candidate, but I nonetheless think she would do the job very well.

    That said, I would nonetheless genuinely vote for a potted plant rather than any of the candidates in the current GOP field. We live i times where we need a great president, or at least a capable one. But we’re voting in an election where all it -actually- takes to get my vote in the 2016 US Presidential race is clearing the tragically low bar of, “I do not in any way resemble a Nazi.”

  161. I shouldn’t be surprised that the man who wrote “Being Poor” back in 2005 can’t tell the enormous difference between Clinton and Sanders but I am. I think perhaps he was a little closer to being poor then, our memories fade and our attitudes change, I know mine did until suddenly I was poor again and that’s why I shouldn’t be surprised.

    It didn’t take much, my mind stopped working properly for about a decade and now I finally got my mind back and everything else is gone, family, home, career et pathetic cetera. If it wasn’t for Social Security I’d be dead, I’m just fabulously lucky I turned 62 when I did, not everyone is so fortunate.

    Social Security is the last Giant Golden Plum in America, Wall Street, the Vampire Squid, wants it in the worst way having already cleaned out everything else of significant value. Obama already put SS on the block but the Republicans turned down the deal. #jamiedimonsabuela will offer it again and sweeten it. Remember, this is the woman who was fooled by the vast intellect of George W Bush into voting for the worst foreign policy calamity in certainly modern history and arguably in all of American history and that’s the charitable interpretation of her support and vote for the meat grinder that Iraq predictably became. She is holding herself out as not only a but *the* foreign policy expert after that? Flabbered my gast is.

    If you search on Youtube for “cheney 1994 iraq” there is a video of him in an interview being astoundingly prescient about the sequence of events in the subsequent Iraq invasion that he describes as a “quagmire”. It was well known among the elites what the results of invading Iraq were going to be. Rumsfeld even went so far as to say he would fire anyone on his staff who so much as mentioned planning for the occupation, I can provide links for that too but I know how WordPress is and I don’t want to possibly blow my post up with links.

    After the FISA vote that retroactively immunized the telecoms for illegal Bush era spying I had no illusions about then Senator Obama being anything resembling the great liberal Messiah but even I was shocked at him appointing Clinton to SoS. Then I remembered that dictum about rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. Consider that maybe the reason the Dems are so light on talent at this particular moment is that Clinton has spent fifteen years clearing the decks for her runs. She thought she had it in 2008 and like SNL satirized her, she’s been running like the Terminator since then and she’s a consummate inside player although not a stellar campaigner.

    I had more stuff I wanted to post but I’m running out of time this morning, I may drop back, it’s an interesting discussion here, definitely one of the more adult ones I’ve run into.

    Carlin had it right, it’s a big club and you and me ain’t in it. Bernie is a serious Carlin, he knows what’s what and where the bodies are buried but amazingly although he seems to have no friends in DC he also has no enemies.

    Live long and prosper, y’all.

  162. “Whoever the Democratic candidate is, they will get my vote.”

    Me too. Republicans need to be punished for embracing bigots like Cruz and Trump and I hope they roundly lose in November. Would be nice if they also lost the Senate so that the new Democratic President could have some support in Congress.

  163. Thats what it means to be adult. You can either acknowledge you have a very tiny voice and a very small effect on who wins the presidency. Or you fool yourself with wishfullfilment nonsense that your vote for third party will “start a revolution” or some delusional bullshit like that.

    Or, you know, you vote according to what your conscience allows rather than letting someone else railroad you to supporting evil, even if it’s the lesser evil. Hillary Clinton still represents a continued slide towards corporatism.

    To give an analogy, let’s say the Blue Party is advocating the sacrifice of ten babies to the Blood God Khorne, but the Red Party is advocating the sacrifice of twenty babies. So “reasonable” people will vote for the Blue Party – it’s a two party system, what are you going to do, third parties are naive, not voting is voting for the Reds etc etc etc.

    And next year, having concluded that the sacrifice of babies is a reasonable position, the Blue Party is advocating the sacrifice of a dozen babies – and the Reds two dozen…

    Of course, at this point, you’re spluttering and saying that it’s a stupid analogy and American politics has nothing to do with the sacrifice of infants to appease the Gods.

  164. Either candidate would be fine. How much of their agenda is going to get through the house anyway? Maybe the blue team gets two years of a senate majority in 2020. Veto power and Supreme Court nominations are what I’m voting for.

  165. @Greg – You’re right: voting for a third-party candidate is useless or worse, at least until instant-runoff voting makes the scene. I’m not holding my breath.

  166. @Ben: Nazis to the left and Nazis to the right . . And We haven’t even heard from the Nazis in Iowa or New Hampshire yet. Gonna be a long cycle . . .

  167. To give an analogy, let’s say the Blue Party is advocating the sacrifice of ten babies to the Blood God Khorne, but the Red Party is advocating the sacrifice of twenty babies. So “reasonable” people will vote for the Blue Party – it’s a two party system, what are you going to do, third parties are naive, not voting is voting for the Reds etc etc etc.

    Let’s rewrite that analogy a bit, and see what we get. If we poured all our money and resources into convincing people to vaccinate their children, we could probably get the number of children who die of communicable diseases down to zero. Neither party, however, is advocating that — it’s too expensive and would require too much coercion are the basic reasons.

    Thus, the Democrats are advocating policies in which a certain number of babies will die, preventably, and the Republicans are advocating policies in which a certain number of babies will die, preventably. I happen to think that the Democrats have the better of those policies (given the GOP’s general anti-science bent), so I’m going to vote for them. I’m now doing exactly what you postulated: voting for the lesser of two evils, knowing that babies will die as a result.

    Welcome to the real world. I hope your conscience can join us at some point.

  168. OK, one more thing about third-party candidates. Months ago, Bernie Sanders was interviewed on KQED-FM, the San Francisco public radio station. This was back in the early days, when Sanders’ prospects were much dimmer than they are now. One caller said to him, “You’re wonderful! Why don’t you run as a third-party candidate?” Sanders said that he would not run as a third-party candidate if he didn’t get the nomination, because he didn’t want to be the person responsible for putting a Republican in the White House.

    Bernie gets it. Nader didn’t. And I don’t know what the hell Bloomberg is thinking. Why is it so hard for others to understand?

  169. David, there’s one critical part of the situation you’ve missed with your rewriting of the analogy – that the voting between the lesser and greater evils produces a sustained drift towards evil on both sides. As time goes on, both sides get worse and worse.

    Twenty years ago, we never would have believed that we’d be debating how much torture was legal for the US to inflict on prisoners of war, and whether the US could extra-judicially assassinate its own citizens with robots everywhere, or just when they’re overseas…

  170. Hey John, what are your thoughts about what happens if Bloomberg runs as a 3rd party centrist candidate? He could easily fill that moderate conservative gap in the political spectrum that seems to be so appealing to a plurality of Americans, and without the baggage of party affiliation might actually stand more than a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the election (if not just denying anyone else an outright win in the Electoral College and throwing the whole election into the House of Representatives for POTUS and the Senate for VPOTUS, which would be a whole different mess than we’ve ever seen). We’re just so used to 3rd party candidates being on the fringe of the political spectrum that it’s easy to discount the idea that maybe they grab the middle if the Democrats nominate a socialist and the Republicans nominate a fascist.

  171. that the voting between the lesser and greater evils produces a sustained drift towards evil on both sides

    Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn’t.

    Twenty years ago, I never would have believed that LGBT marriage would be legal in all fifty states. And that happened largely because of voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Twenty years ago, we never would have believed that we’d be debating how much torture was legal for the US to inflict on prisoners of war

    Those of us without any knowledge of history, perhaps. Those of us with that knowledge would have known that the US has always inflicted torture on its POWs, in every one of its conflicts. Waterboarding was invented, after all, in the Philippine-American War, which was more than a century ago, now. As to its own citizens, the US government has routinely killed them, exposed them to radiation, dosed them with hallucinogens, and done all sorts of horrendous things.

    The imagined golden era that you think we are declining from never actually existed.

  172. Those of us without any knowledge of history, perhaps. Those of us with that knowledge would have known that the US has always inflicted torture on its POWs, in every one of its conflicts.

    David, can you tell us where the US government was arguing that it was legal for it to do so?

  173. I live in Massachusetts. My vote for a Republican would never make a difference. My vote for a third party might. A small one, yes, but what is a storm but many small drops of water?

  174. David, can you tell us where the US government was arguing that it was legal for it to do so?

    Sure–in fact the debate in 1902 kind of eerily presages what we saw in the 2000s. When news of torture in the Philippines broke, there was a lot of public outrage. Many of the governmental defenses centered on 1) that the Filipinos weren’t really being hurt (shades of John Yoo’s arguments), and 2) that the Filipinos weren’t “civilized” and thus were not protected by the rules of “civilized warfare.”

    To be fair, there was a concurrent stream of denial — that the torture was carried out by loose cannons — lower ranking soldiers and officers without official sanction. But then that was very similar to the discussion around Abu Ghraib, wasn’t it?

    Roosevelt was publicly against torture (as was, I note, George W. Bush) but had fairly elastic definitions of what “torture” consisted of (again, as did George W. Bush).

    The Philippines is the canonical example of torture by American forces because it go such wide press, but World War II saw a lot of “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against Nazi prisoners (esp spies) with full knowledge of the US government. I don’t know that anyone made a public statement defending the practice, but largely because they saw no need to.

  175. Phoenecian: “Of course, at this point, you’re spluttering and saying that it’s a stupid analogy”

    No, its a GREAT analogy. Who ends up as president will determine how many people, men, women, and children, die in the world. Where you miss the point is exactly here:

    “Or, you know, you vote according to what your conscience allows”

    I now have “I Robot” going on a loop in my head, with Will Smith shouting “Sunny! Save the girl!” And Sunny replies “but I must vote my conscience!”.

    As respecfully as possible, I say *fuck* your conscience and save the children.

    Back to your analogy, you can vote Republican and 20 children die. Or you can vote Democrat and 10 chikdren die. Or you can vote your “conscience”…. and 20 children die, and, and this is where the childish fantasy thrives… YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT WHAT YOU DID.

    Fuck your conscience. It is making you feel good about doing something shitty because something, something, mumble, mumbel, future generations. It is fucking Bullshit.

    It is exactly the same slippery slope logic that NRA knuckleheads oppose even the slightest, most reasonable, gun restriction, because down the rode the gummint will take todays background check passing as incentive to confiscate all guns. So they oppose background checks, and as a result tens of thousands of Americans dies every year, AND THEY FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT, because they followed the “conscience”.

    When the choice is your conscience and real people actually dying, FUCK YOUR GODDAMN CONSCIENCE and save as many lives as you can.

    Thats what it means to be an adult. You do something that makes YOU feel shitty because it is better for everyone else. A child’s version of conscience tells them to do something that harms others and their conscience tells them to feel good about it, they feel it was the right thing to do.

    You want some perfect, third party candidate, for president. If elected, zero children would die. But he cant win because its a majority vote system so it will come down to, as an example, Trump versus Sanders. You vote third party, and Trump becomes president and 20 children die. You could have voted for Sanders and only 10 children would have died. But voting for Sanders made your conscience feel bad. It made you feel sooo bad that it was worth 20 children dying (10 more than Sanders) for you to be able to vote for some third party candidate who couldnt win, and let Trump take the presidency.

    Your conscience stinks.

    Fuck the nanites. Save the girl.

  176. I have an admission to make here. I was a Bush Voter. I was a Romney Voter, and I was a McCain voter. However, I cannot voto for anyone from the Theocratic clown show that is everyone but Trump. And I can’t vote for anyone as obviously self serving and two faced and manipulative as Trump. But then, I find myself in the odd position of not wanting to Vote for Hillary, because, well, Clintons, and I have a hard time seeing myself vote for a slef avowed socialist, even if some of his policies are in my self interest. So that leaves me Libertarian, which as a rather comservative minded atheist, is more where my allegiances lie anyway. But, that’s nothing more than a protest vote, but, of it handed the election to the Democrats, I might just be happy about that.

  177. The ma’yan who recently had clementine hair and cheeks who was TBTF b4 it was fashionable (not *HIM* personally, his corporate persona) will unfortunately not get the RAY-publican nomination president and not b/c of 2nd place in Iowa.
    Good to see that good writers, Scalzi, Stross, SKing have political views that somehow manage to match my own.

    I follow Scalzi on Twitter and I don’t have his particular problem with trolls but I knew they presented a very big problem long b4 I read this understatement by Eric Schmidt of Google Alphebet, “In Russia, farms of online trolls systematically harass democratic voices and spread false information on the Internet and on social media.”

    And Schmidt knows he plays host to them on thousands of You Tube channels.

    So many paranoid style right wing channels for so many years that in fact that their Psy-Ops paranoid style message can’t help but filter into what is called mainstream conservative populist culture reenforcing right wing paranoia that’s been courted and rewarded by Republicans for generations.

    Nothing in this crew of GOP nominees is anything new.

    Eric Schmidt knows the majority of English speaking NWO, Illuminati, chemtrail and mind control channels originate from Putin’s Russia. With Israeli hasbara brigades and fundamentalists from the US not far behind. Little wonder that conservatives Pat Buchanan, Giuliani, Peters and Trump send praises to Russia’s Putin over their own leader. Putin attends church regularly. Bush 43 never went. Obama goes more than Bush but his Christian and American bonafides are always questioned. Franklin Graham takes his word he’s a Christian. So generous of him.

    So what do Republicans and Putin have in common besides oil (Jeb Bush, Cruz are basically Texans by way of Canada and Fla) and Christianity and the declining price of said commodity? And what mischief will they come up with between now and Nov.? Is that too conspiratorial?

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