The Voice of the People

I mocked this a bit on Twitter already, but I want to mock it some more here, and also, make a somewhat more serious point. This, found on Facebook, is in reference to my post yesterday about voting for Kasich in the Ohio primary (poster anonymized to avoid the appearance of me maliciously pointing people toward some random schmuck):

So, a few points here.

1. Democrat: Nope.

2. Socialist: Bwa ha ha ha hah ha! No.

3. Disdain for uneducated and “unwashed” whites: Folks, we all know I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from high school (not to mention college), yes? And that I’m white? When you describe the uneducated and “unwashed,” you’re describing my family and where I come from. I can be called many things, but “self-hating” isn’t one of them. It’s certainly true that I am neither uneducated nor “unwashed” now, but you never do forget your past. At least I don’t.

4. Self-designated elite: You know, generally speaking, the “self-designated elite” is better described as Republicans than Democrats (or independents), especially if one is speaking economically. Demographically speaking (white, bachelor’s degree, heterosexually married, well-off), it’s certainly true that someone like me is more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat. I don’t know that I would call folks in my general demographic “elite”; they’re just white, college-educated, heterosexually married and well-off.

Be that as it may, given that someone like me is generally more likely to be an “establishment Republican” than not, and Kasich is pretty well what passes for an establishment Republican these days, then someone like me voting for Kasich is actually fairly unexceptional.

5. Ohio law allows me (or anyone else) to ask for a ballot from either party when I vote in the primary, so I’m confused as to how my asking for the GOP ballot would “take away the voice of the people.” When I asked for the Democratic ballot in the primary eight years ago, was I taking away from the voice of the people then as well? Or is it different when it’s the GOP ballot? If so, how so? And if in both cases the State of Ohio allowed me to ask for either, and the State of Ohio’s government is elected by the people, then is not the ability to ask for either ballot also the will of the people?

6. Who the fuck died and put this petty little ignorant shitbird in charge of determining who “the people” are? Even if I were a Democrat and a socialist who self-designated myself as the elite and hated uneducated and unwashed white people, I would still be “the people.” This petty little ignorant shitbird is also “the people,” as personally depressing as I may find that fact. On election day, if he wanted to vote and had a flat tire, I would drive this asshole to the polling station myself so that he could pull the proverbial lever and possibly cancel out my vote.

Why? Because this petty little ignorant shitbird should vote, and so should I, and so should you, provided you are legally able to. We are all “the people” and the people — as many as possible — should decide who leads them, and who should not.

Now, this petty little ignorant shitbird may stamp his feet and whine that I didn’t vote the way he wanted, waaaaaaaaaaaaah, but one, fuck this dude, I’ll vote how I want, and two, sometimes we don’t get our way and that’s life. I’ve voted in seven presidential elections to date; I didn’t get what I wanted in three of them. In the entire time I’ve lived in the OH-8 congressional district I’ve never voted for a winner for the House of Representatives; it’s unlikely I ever will, in point of fact. Should I mewl like a petulant child about that fact, querulously complaining that the “voice of the people” has somehow been blocked because I didn’t get what I want? No, I should probably suck it up and move on.

Why did John Kasich win in Ohio? Because the voice of the people spoke, and what it said was “We want John Kasich (oh, and also Hillary Clinton, kthxbye).” What comprised the voice of the people? In the case of the Ohio GOP primary, lots of folks, including me, presumably him and 1,952,683 others. That’s a lot of voices in “the voice of the people.”

I get this dude is sad that the voice of the people didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. No one likes to hear the word “no.” But it doesn’t mean the voice of the people was wrong in what it said, or not actually the voice of the people. How wonderful for us.

90 Comments on “The Voice of the People”

  1. As someone who considered switching party affiliation to participate in the (very late, probably unimportant) Connecticut Republican Primary, I think this guy has it entirely backwards. The reason many states choose to let voters whoa re independents or even the opposing party vote is because that input is useful.

    If scores of Dems are willing to switch parties and forgo choosing the candidate they are more likely to support, in order to support a Republican or vote against one, that says a lot about how the general election will play out.

    All those Dems switching sides so that they can try to steer the Republicans towards a non-Trump candidate are the same ones that, during the general, will aggressive get every friend, family member, and ex girlfriend to vote Dem and give as much as they possibly can financially. I know I will, if Trump is selected.

    Why shouldn’t the Republicans take that into account when selecting a candidate?

  2. Scalzi for president, supreme dictator, whatever the hell he wants. We would all be better off.

  3. The other question is how much people doing the Scalzi move to vote Kasich instead of Trump impacted Sanders’ votes, as late-deciding democrat voters were leaning his way in Ohio.

  4. John, pardon me, this is very tangentially connected to your subject here, though I think still relevant. Why is it that in the US “socialism” is such a bad word? I simply don’t understand it. Is it a misunderstanding of the concept? or is it some deep rooted mistrust of the term, associated as it was with the USSR and the Cold War? Even in that case, it would be a little problematic – the Cold War was largely a political conflict, or rather, geopolitical. Whereas the idea and ideology of socialism or of capitalism is essentially a socio-economic aspect. Why is it patriotic to sneer at socialism, even when it sounds like a more humane alternative to ruthless capitalism?
    I am sorry to intervene here, but I just wanted to ask this question that non-US citizens wish to ask its people and have always wanted to ask. Why do you abuse anyone even slightly veering towards the welfare-state or social reform or egalitarianism as “pinko” or “commie” or “Stalinist”… ? Is it probably asking too much to ask the people to know a little more about any subject before railing against it staunchly? And is it possibly time for a society to be aware of the options before it, to know what could possibly embody ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite’ as one of its fundamental principles?

  5. I also requested a Republican ballot and voted for Kasich. Why? Because he’s been a pretty good Governor and I think he might make a pretty good President. I think Trump would be a disaster and Cruz is just a self centered ass hole who has wasted his time in the Senate. Bernie and Hillary will fight it out with Hillary probably prevailing. I think Hillary will probably win the election but if she doesn’t I would like to see someone competent as the Republican candidate just to hedge my bet. Trump will probably get the Republican nomination but as a voter I would like to register my vote for a sane candidate.

  6. “Who the fuck died and put this petty little ignorant shitbird in charge of determining who “the people” are?”

    Hahahaaa! I was enjoying the calm and reasoned takedown, but busting out the rant made my day.

  7. Tejaswi: During the Cold War, the US government went to substantial effort to paint the conflict between itself and the USSR as a moral one, rather than a political one. It wasn’t framed as a quarrel between two nations with competing interests, but as a war for survival between the forces of good and the Evil Empire. This was partly for internal reasons, since it made it easier to get Americans to support the military buildup and petty wars that made up the process; but it was also because the propaganda battle in countries that were emerging from under colonialism or rebelling against their own government at the time was a major part of the rivalry. Both the USA and USSR wanted the new countries to choose their form of government, so both denounced the other as evil; described horrific human rights violations, etc. (It didn’t hurt the effort that the USSR *was* committing some pretty major human rights violations in there… so were we, of course.) They systematically turned “communist” into a dirty word throughout as much of the world as possible, because people who thought communism was evil wouldn’t become voluntary satellite countries of that other big country over there – they’d become ours instead.

    At that point the American captains of industry, who had been fighting their own battles against the labor unions for some decades already, saw an opportunity. They did everything they could to link the word “socialism” to the word “communism.” They used the two interchangeably; they got their pet politicians to describe socialism as “communism lite,” or — later, when the concept existed — a “gateway drug” to communism. They routinely referred to every socialist they were dealing with as a communist, and insisted it just didn’t make a difference when the socialist objected. Within a few decades, they had made it absolute political poison to call oneself a socialist in the United States, whereas in the 1800s and early part of the 1900s, it was accepted and often admired (Eugene Debs, anyone?).

  8. Hilarious, and true. Just one nitpick:

    2. Socialist: Bwa ha ha ha hah ha! No. [Link to NYT article about Scalzi’s Big Fat Book Deal.]

    A socialist believes in high taxes, and a correspondingly high level of state intervention and public services. That’s not the same as believing it’s wrong to personally be comfortably off or even wealthy.

    If you say you’re not a socialist, that’s good enough for me. I’m just pointing out that being a wealthy socialist is not a contradiction in terms.

  9. Iain Roberts:


    Mind you, for some folks, any amount of public services smacks of socialism. My own personal comfort level for public services, I suspect, may be higher than this fellow’s. Be that as it may, if you asked an actual socialist (avowed or otherwise) if I was one, I imagine you’d get an eyeroll and a lecture.


    I don’t read him, so I wouldn’t know. I do assume in general my continued existence is an affront to him.

  10. That’s perfectly reasonable. Lessee, looking at the NYT stats, it took 229,178 Democrats, or about 16% of the Dems who voted, to make it work. You folks in Ohio are very well organized!

  11. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, won the Ohio primary? MUST HAVE BEEN THE DEMOCRATS.

  12. Thank you for this; it is exceedingly difficult to find anything cheering about politics in the US at present, but at least your piece brought a smile…

  13. There a reasonable argument to be made that most public services really are socialist ideas. The ones that people like somehow aren’t considered that way.

    A reasonable description of the line between communitarian and socialist approaches would be that if a service (a) improves the lot of all or the great majority of citizens, and (b) can not be effectively provided by the private sector, it is communitarian but not socialist. There’s vast room for disagreement on what private businesses can do better than the government, but not infinite room. There are still people who think that public fire departments are a waste of resources, and people who think that food could best be provided by governments, but they’re as wacky as modern flat-earthers.

  14. John, Thank you as always for your candid writing. You give voice to many things I think and even more things that I haven’t adequately thought about. The writer you are addressing is an example of the divisive outbursts that have brought our country to this challenging period. You and I would not agree on all of the same ideas when it comes to the direction of our country (though much would be similar); however, we would agree on the necessity for respectful dialogue and an understanding that our potential political differences or leanings do not preclude friendly relationships. This is what seems to be missing in today’s political arena: the capability to separate positions from people. It’s black and white, all encompassing, all or nothing. And frankly it makes me sad…and disappointed…and angry that we are representing our nation in this way on the world stage.

    Granted, there have been historical situations as bad or worse, but we are living this one and see the emotions further amplified by social media and the high speed of information flow in today’s internet age.

    Thanks again for taking the time to express your opinions and to share your reflections and perspective with the rest of us.



    Joe McAlarnen Móvil: [Phone number deleted because I’m not comfortable with it being posted here, as it might be part of an automatic email sig – JS]


  15. Even if we define socialist in such a way that John is one, wouldn’t he have to say that he is a socialist to be become an avowed one?

    I see no problem with people voting cross part in the primary to pick a candidate who they think is the best of those options. If you live in a place where one part always wins local elections, it’s the only way to influence the outcome.

    If, on the other hand, you vote for a bad candidate from one party’s primary in hopes that a candidate from another party will have an easy time defeating him in the general election, you will totally deserve it if the bad candidate wins the primary and the general. Not that John did this, I’m just noting that I see a fundamental difference between the two strategies.

  16. In my opinion, there are quite a few self-designated elite who are democrats, but that doesn’t mean that every democrat is a self-designated elite.

    Sorry about the consecutive posts.

  17. Just heard on NPR that some Republicans are talking of running the hoops to set up a third party run for a genuine Republican. They figure Trump vs Hillary vs Real Republican will deny an electoral college victory to all three candidates throwing the decision on who is the next President to the Republican House of Representatives. Naturally, the House would go with the Real Republican over the other two. Whether Trumps wins the nomination outright or in a brokered convention, seems to me this is the best hope for the Republicans to win the White House. 270 electoral votes are needed and split three ways, likely the House would decide. You heard on NPR first. Still voting for Hillary come what may.

  18. John, sorry, I know this comment isn’t very substantive, but I LOVE reading your political posts. Thank you for providing a nuanced voice in an Internet full of black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us nonsense.

  19. A socialist believes in high taxes, and a correspondingly high level of state intervention and public services. That’s not the same as believing it’s wrong to personally be comfortably off or even wealthy.

    A socialist believes in community ownership over the means of production. If you think that some layer of government is the best organization to be running your roads, or your water system, or your sewage system, then to one degree or another, you are a socialist. There’s no need to adopt a maximalist position on either capitalism or socialism – I think it’s great to have people competing in the market to sell me a variety of different and interesting foods, but I also think it’s great that the organization that certifies their hygiene isn’t run by market principles.

    A social democrat believes in higher taxes in exchange for public services, promoting income redistribution and social justice. Essentially, this moderates the natural tendencies of capitalism to inequality and the good of the few for the benefit of society as a whole.

  20. As an American who’s lived in three different states over time, to my recollection this is the first time I’ve heard of a state not requiring a party affiliation in order to cast a ballot for that party’s primary. [A primary being clearly distinct from a general election, of course.]
    Is there a sense of which path is the more common one?

    And separately @scalzi: Was there any indication that PLIS is or is not an Ohioan? My interpretation of your sixth point is that they are.

  21. Socialism can be narrowly defined as Government owning the means of production, it’s broadly how it is seen in Europe, and if you look at how many industries the UK owned in the seventies, you can see why
    I am not argue what the word socialist means in Ohio, that’s for Ohions to decide
    And it’s worth noting that Bernie Sanders would be on the hard right wing of the ruling Conservative party in the UK

  22. Gary Willis:

    Are they under the impression that the pool of voters for a “Genuine Republican” will come equally from Clinton and Trump’s camps? That’s… optimistic of them. Or maybe they think Clinton’s only going to win a third of the states. Which is also… optimistic of them.

  23. @Confused Wikipedia lists 20 states as having open primaries, though the exact rules vary, and there are sorta-open primaries not on the list. So, very common, actually!

  24. When I lived in Texas we didn’t have to register to vote as a democrat or republican like we do here in Maryland. I faithfully voted for many years for democrats who lost the elections to their republican opponents. Back in 2008 after I moved to Maryland, I considered changing my registration to republican to vote in the primary for my congressional representative who was a moderate republican who was concerned about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but I wanted to vote in the democratic presidential primary and didn’t. And our moderate republican was defeated by a Tea Party whacko (who lost the general to a Democrat in 2008, but came back in 2010 to win. sigh)

    I think voter registration by party & closed primaries contribute to the polarization we are seeing in our politics today since “true believers” on both sides are the ones most likely to vote in the primary. And Kasich’s win in Ohio yesterday is more evidence that closed primaries will see us sending the most liberal democrats and the most conservative republicans to the general elections. Sigh.

  25. I never get tired of your writing style Mr. Scalzi. It makes your novels and posts like these a joy to read.

  26. California voter here – I’m not registered with a party, and can choose which ballot I want, out of Democratic, I think the Libertarians and some other outfit I never heard of but which is to the right of Trump (according to Wikipedia, they ran with Curtis LeMay as VP in 1968, so are clearly and rationally in favor of nuking everyone. Twice. Just to make sure)

    Republicans primaries are closed to Republican registered voters, I think.

    Coming from the UK,the whole idea of party affiliation seems a bit strange.

  27. @Confusd: When I lived in Michigan and Wisconsin, candidates for both sets of primaries were on the ballot. You could vote in either primary as long as you didn’t vote in both. Voting in both primaries would invalidate your ballot.

  28. I am both Canadian and a Social Democrat; we have a party for that. Having been either a social democrat or a democratic socialist all of my adult life, I know that there are about as many definitions for both Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism as there are socialists and social democrats. A guy not name Bernie Sanders who did not self-identify as a Democratic Socialist but held all of his political ideas in Canada might be labelled as a Shill for the evil Liberal Party amongst the more left leaning folks. Socialists range from folks who see a need for more robust and better funded social programs funded by fair taxes to those who still talk about government ownership about the means of production.

    I once had a working definition for what a social democrat was; it was how I saw social democracy working, and it made to sense to me. One weekend I was reading an opinion columnist at the Globe and Mail who gave his working definition of progressive conservatism; it was almost identical to my definition of social democracy. We couldn’t both be right.

    As for the difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist, I used to get worked up about the differences in my youth. Now, I just see it as a label. The more conservative socialists call themselves social democrats, while the more liberal socialists call themselves democratic socialists.


  29. Ohio has an open primary. Every political and news organization knew that Democrats and independents were going to cross over to the Republican primary in Ohio to vote against Trump. You’re kind of late to the party (so to speak). Which is fine, you’re not a partisan, but your comment looks more like an effect than a cause. You spotted a trend and confirmed it, you didn’t start it.u It’s easy to quantify; if you got thousands of retweets, that would have shown you were setting a trend. (Keeping in mind that people who share are generally people who already agree, so even a thousand retweets would not translate into a huge number of votes.)

    I would not vote in any organization or community I didn’t feel I had a stake in. I’m not that worried about Trump; I think he will scare a lot more non-crazy voters than he attracts. The media are sharpening their knives now for the feast of error and tragedy they will enjoy and profit from in the fall with Trump. But he is scary and I empathize with the desire to use any tactic to stop him.

  30. 1. I deeply enjoyed this piece, particularly as we got into the ranty bits :) 2. With not much futzing, this piece could also have been written re: the Republicans being the “petty ignorant little shitbird(s)” whining about the “voice of the people”. In fact, when I read the title, that was my original assumption.

  31. Benjamin, I expect we will all be breathing through paper bags by the end of this election season!

    I have no doubt our gracious host will supply us with cute kitten pics as needed.

  32. I demand more demagoguery.

    Demogorgon, Prince of Demons
    Size/Type: Huge Outsider (Chaotic, Evil, Extraplanar, Obyrith, Tanar’ri)
    Hit Dice: 24d8+360 (552 hp)
    Initiative: +14
    Speed: 80 ft., fly 120ft (perfect)
    Armor Class: 50, touch 34, flat-footed 39 (-2 size, +11 Dexterity, +25 natural, +6 deflection)
    Base Attack/Grapple: +24/+49
    Attack: Two bites (12d6+25 plus Aameul’s glare or Hethrediah’s gaze) OR four tentacles (4d8+17 plus Aameul’s glare or Hethrediah’s gaze)
    Full Attack: Two bites (12d6+25 plus Aameul’s glare or Hethrediah’s gaze) and four tentacles (4d8+17 plus Aameul’s glare or Hethrediah’s gaze)
    Space/Reach: 15 ft./20 ft.
    Special Attacks: Aameul’s glare, Alter reality, flesheater, Hethrediah’s Gaze, ravage form, spell-like abilities, tentacle beast
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60ft, cloak of chaos (see spell description), duality, godlike, immune to acid, cold, electricity, petrification and poison, lord of the Abyss, low-light vision, resistance to fire 25, spell resistance 36, telepathy 1000ft, tongues, unholy aura (see spell description)
    Saves: Fort +36, Ref +32, Will +33
    Abilities: Str 44, Dex 32, Con 40, Int 36, Wis 34, Cha 36
    Skills: Appraise +37, Bluff +38, Concentration +36, Decipher Script +37, Gather Information +38, Intimidate +38, Knowledge (arcana) +37, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +37, Knowledge (geography) +37, Knowledge (history) +37, Knowledge (nature) +37, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +37, Knowledge (religion) +37, Knowledge (the planes) +37, Listen +38, Sense Motive +38, Spellcraft +37, Spot +38, Use Magic Device +38
    Feats: Combat ExpertiseVB, Combat Reflexes, Craft Magic Arms and Armour, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring, Great Cleave B, Improved Initiative, Power AttackVB, Whirlwind Attack B
    Environment: The Abyss
    Organization: Solitary
    Challenge Rating: 24
    Treasure: Any treasure the GM deems acceptable
    Alignment: Chaotic evil
    Advancement: –
    Level Adjustment: –


  33. > Who the fuck died and put this petty little ignorant shitbird in charge of determining who “the people” are?

    I imagine that what he means is “only Republicans should pick the Republican nominee”, and he’s not mad that you’re Kasich supporter, he’s mad that you’re not a Republican.

    The fact is that Ohio allows non-Republicans to (help) pick the Republican nominee; it seems dumb for him to argue that you did something wrong by doing what Ohio allows — arguably, encourages — you to do. Maybe he intended to cite you as an example of why open primaries are a bad idea. But “a bunch of non-Republicans voted in the Republican primary” isn’t a complaint against non-Republicans, or at least not a legitimate one anyway; it’s a complaint against the rules of the primary. And if what he meant to do was complain about the rules of the party, and argue that open primaries are a bad idea. he did a pretty shitty job of it.

  34. John, you’re a socialist if you want the label, and you’re NOT if you don’t want it.

    Either way, I do wish there were more of you.

  35. @Scalzi: I agree, the idea of you meeting any reasonable definition of “socialist” seems laughable.


    Socialism can be narrowly defined as Government owning the means of production, it’s broadly how it is seen in Europe, and if you look at how many industries the UK owned in the seventies, you can see why

    Not really. The current President of France belongs to the Socialist Party; he doesn’t control the means of production or have any particular ambition to do so. Even in the 1970s UK, government didn’t own all the means of production.

    Bernie Sanders would be on the hard right wing of the ruling Conservative party in the UK

    Nonsense. Bernie supports things like free university education and public healthcare. He’d fit comfortably within the mainstream of UK Labour members of Parliament.

    @Andrew: Yes, well said.

  36. The Twitter dude reminds me of some of the arguments a local columnist made in 2000 as to why George W. Bush actually won the popular vote. Sure, most of the voters went for Gore, but the real Americans, in small towns and rural areas, they went for Bush! Gore only won because of people in decadent cities like New York that teem with immigrants and liberals! Bush becoming president was the will of the people!
    And I’ve known other Republicans who think any election that doesn’t go their way indicates some disastrous failure of American democracy (“Never forget that Bill Clinton was not elected by a majority of American voters!”). So bozo isn’t surprising.

  37. Well written and fucking amusing as usual! As someone said already, thanks for making this terrible election cycle fun (Scalzi: Making American Elections Fun Again).

    But more seriously perhaps, for fascists “the people” is not a collection of individuals, it is an organic entity. That’s (one) reason why they are frightening.

  38. Populists seem to think they represent the voice of the people; if polls or actual voting results show otherwise, the seem to think they represent the voice of the *actual* people (whatever that means). Case in point: when we were finally able to decide on an actual gender neutral marriage law, the head of the local populist party weighed that this was not the will of the *real* people. Even with all the polls showing something of a 69% support for the law and the parliament deciding in its favour. So “the (real, actual) people” in populist parlance seems to have the specific meaning of “the people that agree with us”.

  39. Gary Willis, John: Not to mention that the thought of the House of Representatives reliably picking the “Real Republican” candidate is laughable. Paul Ryan can’t even get a budget bill past the House Freedom Caucus. The fragmentation and chaos in the house that led to John Boehner’s resignation was a clear foreshadowing of this primary season.

    PS: BTW John, did anyone win the primary for Boehner’s seat on the first pass, or is it going to a runoff?

  40. Just want to add my YUUUUUUGE thank you for providing gut busting humor in the midst of the strangest political season I have witnessed since I registered to vote 42 years ago. The ranty part was priceless!!!!

  41. Hello, John! I also live in OH-8, and followed similar logic with casting my vote.

    If you don’t mind my asking, is there a Congressman you voted for on the Republican ballot?

    I really wanted to pick the “least bad” one since they’ll likely be the victor in November, but it was extraordinarily challenging.

    Of the 16 candidates, 14 were immediately eliminated based on crazy things they’d said in responding to the Dayton Daily News, on Facebook, or on their websites. I didn’t like either of the last two, but felt obligated to try.

  42. PS- Bruce C.

    “Warren Davidson, a businessman from Troy in Miami County, won the Republican primary for Ohio’s 8th District.”–all-race-replace-boehner-underway/81633994/

    Unfortunately, he was one of the 14 crazies. To me, wanting to “End birthright citizenship” disqualifies you from public office.

    “We need to end birthright citizenship, cut federal funds to sanctuary cities and states, and limit access to the rights of citizenship to citizens and legal guests.”

  43. It’s in the field of consumer products where, when what’s available doesn’t suit my preferences, that I’m told, “People like it this way.” Not “many people” or even “most people” but “people.” So I am not a person?

    Iain Roberts: Although in the 1970s UK, the Labour government did not own all the means of production, it was still actively working to continue to acquire them towards that goal, and that goal was stated, clearly and flatly, in the party’s constitution.

    When the constitution was revised in the 1990s, that’s when it became common to say that the Labour Party was no longer socialist.

  44. Not the Reddit Chris S.:

    Coming from the UK,the whole idea of party affiliation seems a bit strange.

    Things may be different since you left. Party membership is how Jeremy Corbyn got to be chosen as the leader of Labour.; anybody who signed up to be a member got to vote.

  45. I am tearing up. I was worried liberals would cross over and vote for Trump because they see him as the weaker candidate. Trump is an idiot. He isn’t a conservative. He is basically a marketing and sales expert. He knows how to bullshit people and tell them what they want to hear. What conservative wants protectionist trade policies with China? China does devalue their currency, but there are more effective ways of handling it, than tariffs. You can change the law about letting our currency ‘float’ to ‘let our currency float against currencies that let their currencies float’ and then simply not accept China’s government mandated exchange policy. It would be best to have a gradual change in China’s exchange policy.

    I don’t like the idea of Kasich getting selected at the convention. A guy finishing that far back getting selected is just BS. Its like what the democrats due with that garbage Super Delegate. HIllary was likely going to beat Sanders, but the Super Delegates are their to make sure someone always gets a majority and they pick the person they want to win so early. I am surprised more democrats aren’t going this is BS.

    I don’t want Trump. Not a fan of Cruz. But if Cruz is a close enough second, its not a good idea to go with Kasich or someone else. You can’t throw out all those votes. Its just ignorant.

    Really surprised more democrats are not crossing over to vote for Trump due to how weak of a candidate he is.

  46. So, the crux of the “ignorant little shit bird’s” argument is that you’re powerful enough to influence the outcome of elections, at least on the state level?

    John. JOHN. This is a fabulous super power. Forget about using it for good or evil; choose shenanigans all day, every day.

  47. Cruz a weaker candidate. Trump might conceivably get some crossover from “populist” Democrats mad about Sanders losing the nomination. Can’t see any crossover for Cruz.

  48. Tejaswi–there are facts, opinions, & statements of tribal identity. Fact: Many people like chocolate ice cream. Opinion: Chocolate ice cream is best! Tribal shibboleth: If you don’t like chocolate ice cream, there must be something wrong with you. Choose your own examples.

  49. Once there was The People–Terror gave it birth;
    Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
    Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, 0 ye slain!
    Once there was The People–it shall never be again!

    Macdonough’s Song, Rudyard Kipling

  50. @DB: Yes, I know. OTOH, the new version of Labour’s Clause IV says in so many words, “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party.” Whether or not that is true depends who you ask.

    I suppose there’s a useful distinction between social democrats (private enterprise alongside high taxes and an active state) and socialists (collective ownership of industry). But in practice the boundary is a bit fuzzy. The pre-1990s UK Labour Party might have been theoretically committed to collective ownership of all means of production, but it wasn’t actively planning to bring it about.

    Debating who is or is not a “real” socialist is a common pastime on the British left, but it’s not one I find very interesting. As far as I’m concerned, if you say you’re a socialist, and are located on the left of the prevailing political spectrum, then you probably are a socialist.

    @Theophylact: Yes, Labour knew about US primaries, and thought opening up the leadership election would get more people interested in the party. (IIRC the leader at the time of the rule change, Ed Miliband, had spent some time in the USA as a younger man.) As it turned out, transplanting party primaries into UK political culture didn’t work so well. Turnout was derisory compared to US primary elections. At the time, I crunched some relevant numbers on my blog:

  51. @Theophylact: Nothing makes me go from zero to “set things on fire” faster than Real True Americans™ reading everyone else (black and brown people, city dwellers, non-Christians, liberals, whoever) out of America. Like this stunt the Republicans are pulling with the empty SCOTUS seat. “We have to let the American people have a voice.” We did, when we elected Obama in 2012. But that doesn’t count.

    (I especially enjoy it when people who fly the flag of the states who chose slavery over America position themselves as Real True Americans™.)

  52. Theophylact: Point. But it is at least as reasonable to declare that, so long as they insist on claiming a flag of rebellion against the United States as their own (and they are — that thing they fly with the crossbars isn’t even the national flag of the Confederacy; it was specifically the Confederate Battle Flag), they should not be allowed to vote in United States elections as it is to declare that people whose views align closer to the Democratic Party shouldn’t be allowed to vote in Republican primaries. After all, if one group is being rejected for having opinions that are merely different from the one they’re voting in, why shouldn’t the other be rejected for explicitly demonstrating an allegiance with those who would overthrow and destroy the one they’re voting in?

  53. Any time I see the phrase “voice of the people” or “will of the people” I know it only means one thing: people who think like ME, and screw everyone else. Only people who think like ME are true ‘Muricans. WE are the only ones who understand.

    This type of jackass is all about us vs them, and they confuse “us” with U.S. They almost always think that far more people agree with them than actually do. They are elitists, and their “elite” is generally composed of piddling, ignorant dumbasses and hidebound ideologues who consider fact and reason to be inferior to belief. [/rant]

  54. Theophlyact – the Corbin thing is a bit different, you actually had to be a member of the party (though that was only £3 or so to join), rather than an actual formal election amongst people who only had to tick a box to be able to vote – to my mind that’s a big difference.

    Having seen the results, it will probably be the last time for a long time that direct democracy is used in a political party.

  55. Considering how many Sad/Rabid Puppies paid a lot more than that to vote on something that was, sub specie aeternitatis, a lot less important, I don’t see that as an obstacle. A cab ride to the polls will set you back more.

  56. @Theophylact: The practical obstacles weren’t that great, but the Labour contest really didn’t capture the public imagination.

    If it was a film, it would have been the 61st most popular in the UK last year, alongside “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” And going to the cinema took considerably more time and money than voting for Labour leader.

    The UK used to have a culture of mass participation in political parties (through local meetings and social clubs), but that is long gone. If Labour expected it to return overnight, just because the opportunity was available, they were naive in the extreme.

  57. John–
    As I understand it, they think the genuine Republican would win just enough electoral votes to deny 270 to Trump and Clinton. Then the House decides. I think it is one vote per State delegation, if I remember my HS government class correctly. I cannot recall if you need 26 state votes to win, or just a plurality if three or more candidates are considered by the House. Were this to happen, my guess is that the bipartisan (or tripartisan) public outcry to amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College would become deafening and ultimately successful.

  58. Gary-
    Agreed, and the problem with that strategy is that they’d need to be confident enough that the votes they’d get would actually deny electoral votes to the Democratic candidate, because the Republican third party candidate and Trump would basically be feeding from the same pool of voters. Take a look at the election of 1912, where Teddy Roosevelt ran as a third party against William Taft, and ended up denying both of them the election and gave it to Woodrow Wilson: if only one of them were running, then they would have had at least a majority in popular votes, but instead Wilson won by a landslide through the electoral college.

  59. Quoth Jeff Bloom: “Scalzi for president, supreme dictator, whatever the hell he wants. We would all be better off.”

    Change “he” to “she” and I’m right with you. From what I’ve read, Krissy would do a bang-up job.

  60. Tejaswi’s question, Why is it that in the US “socialism” is such a bad word? (or equivalently: why hasn’t the US ever had a leftist party of any importance?) is an interesting one. Leftists, both in the US and elsewhere, have wondered about that question for decades, and in fact it’s where the phrase “American exceptionalism” comes from: Marxists wondering why US politics has been so unlike politics in seemingly similar countries like Britain and France and Germany. The Cold War isn’t sufficient explanation, because this phenomenon long predates the Cold War. It predates World War I, for that matter.

    I don’t think there is a simple answer to that question, and there certainly isn’t a consensus answer. Whole books have been written about it, and they don’t agree with each other.

  61. @Ed
    “But more seriously perhaps, for fascists “the people” is not a collection of individuals, it is an organic entity. That’s (one) reason why they are frightening.”

    Fascists (as per a dictionary definition, not as a label for ‘people I don’t like’) are frightening for many reasons. To me ‘organic entity’ is not one of them, as I have no clue what you are trying to express. A *parakeet* is an organic entity, but I have no fear of them. It’s not even clear to me that we that an inorganic entity has ever, or even can, exist. Supernatural being, strong AI, or what?

  62. @Theophylact: The practical obstacles weren’t really significant, but the Labour leadership contest really failed to capture the public imagination.

    Part of the problem was holding it immediately after a general election, when the public were fed up with politics. More generally, the UK just doesn’t have a culture of mass participation in political parties. It did 30 or 40 years ago (through local meetings and social clubs), but those days are gone. If Labour expected that to change overnight, they were naive in the extreme.

    Given more time, there may be a place for primaries in the UK. The contest for a Labour candidate for London Mayor felt more immediate (because the election was only a year away), and it arguably attracted a higher quality pool of applicants.

    @Greg: If I’ve understood Ed correctly, the idea is that fascists believe “the people” are a single, indivisible entity. If you chop a parakeet in half, you no longer have a live parakeet. Being expected to subsume your individual identity into the greater People, and do whatever the Leader says is best for the People, is rather scary.

    Obviously, a nation is not a parakeet, which is one of many ways in which fascism is stupid.

  63. Tejaswi: Why is it that in the US “socialism” is such a bad word? I simply don’t understand it.

    In America, democratic socialism, the idea that by working together we can make ours and everyone else’s lives better, directly violates the “puritan work ethic”, the idea that hard work, discipline and frugality will lead to your personal, individual salvation.

    The puritan work ethic is embedded in American culture, and shows up in different forms from the libertarian “I’ve got mine, so fuck off!” to the mopey “My value is defined by how much I suffer”. It is an intrinsic part of America’s cultural identity, therefore anything that suggests the idea that we could improve our lot if we worked together, whether it is true or not, is a direct attack on that identity. And people hate having an identity crisis, so rather than question that who they are and how they define themselves might be inaccurate, they simply attack the thing that made them question themselves in the first place.

  64. More and more (and even more) I find myself becoming so disenchanted by the progressive “Social Justice Warriors.” Don’t get me wrong. I have believed in equality for everyone since I was a wee tot. Gay/Trans/Person of Colour, doesn’t matter. EVERYONE is worthy of respect.

    But many of the people who share those values also seem just as ignorant and dogmatic as those on the extreme Right. And it scares the hell out of me. Particularly now that Herr Trump is likely to be the GOP’s nominee we need a left that can articulate moderate ideas. And people that will allow discussion and debate rather than shut anyone down who disagrees with them or may have a variant opinion.

    Bill Maher has this as his “New Rule” last week and I think it’s very apt.

    So my question is, what do you think about all of it? Do you view the dogmatism on the Left as a problem? Do you fear progressives are becoming a hard-lined and intransigent as conservatives?

  65. Dogmatism is always a problem. But I don’t think the US has much of a Left.

  66. This quotation seems appropriate of late;
    “If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for … but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong.”

  67. Teh Gerg: I have the same reaction anytime I see/hear someone use the phrase “we the people”.

  68. Jonas : “Do you view the dogmatism on the Left as a problem?”

    Dogmatism on the Left? What dogmatism? The left has moved so far right that Obama is a center left president and Hillary is center-right. The willingness to give up all principles is entirely the opposite of dogmatic.

    I cant even think of any principle that the Left would hold fast to and refuse to surrender in the face of a harsh wind. Wide spread spying on Americans as a whole? Holding prisoners indefintely without trial? These have all become part of Obama’s presidency. Obama’s negotiation style could be described as “preemptive capitulation” to anyone who thought he was a Democrat. Hillary will likely take things further right.

    How can the Left be “dogmatic” about anything when it has all the spine of a jelly donut?

  69. Bill Maher is also kind of an asshat. I suspect he – as many outspoken “moderates” – has a very personal definition of “dogmatism” and “moderation”.

    You know the one. It goes something like: “Why are other liberals always making such a big deal about {issue that strongly affects women, minorities, LGBT people, scientists, disabled people, poor people, or other constituency to which Bill Maher does not personally belong}. I know you’re concerned about it, but let’s not be so dogmatic. That issue is just not that important. We should be talking about {issue that Bill Maher cares about} instead. That would be much more sensible and less contentious.”

  70. There’s too many who confuse “socialist” with “Not wanting the wealthy to get whatever the fuck they want and screw everyone else”

  71. Here’s an AU scenario for you: The scene is the Republican National Convention. The free world teeters on the edge of a precipice as votes predict a narror Trump victory (his support having waned towards the end of the primary season as delegates begin feeling a cold wind from the abyss blowing up their backsides). Mitt Romney is selected to give the opening speech (partly on Trump’s urging, to humiliate the former presidential candidate for his loss). A silence falls over the hall as Romney takes the mike. “My fellow Americans,” he begins. “We have reached a position where the narrow majority of the people in this hall have come to the edge of a precipice, and are asking themselves whether this jumped up naked ape in an Armani suit is about to be elected as our candidate for president.” Dramatic pause. “This will both humiliate us as a nation on the world stage, and be disastrous for everything this great nation has accomplished in the last two and a bit centuries.” Murmurs from the crowd; a few catcalls. Romney continues. “Reluctantly, and against the advice of my advisors, I therefore offer my own candidacy as Republican nominee for the position of president of the United States of America. God bless you all, and many you vote with both your heads and your hearts.” He withdraws from the stage; pandemonium ensues. Large numbers of tied delegates, sweating and white in the face, leave the room so that they are inconveniently absent when the vote is called, and the many unwashed non-tied delegates, sniffing brimstone on that cold wind that is chapping their backsides, hurriedly reconsider whether the ex-governor is really such a bad option given the alternatives…

  72. Apparently “ignorant shitbird” skipped U.S History class in high school. Anyone else every heard of the time honored tradition called “Favorite Son”?

  73. The twit who tweeted that particular bit of twittery really has an odd view of reality, to say the least. Even if OurGraciousHost went on SocialMediaOfChoice and tasked all his minions to do his bidding in the Ohio Primary, this would likely change the votes of what, 100 or 200 people total within the State of Ohio? PeopleWhoSalivateOverSocialMedia ~= PeopleWhoVoteInPrimaries necessarily by definition, and the majority of the former probably have never even heard of John Scalzi (eevil overloard of Social Justice Warrior-Folk).

    It is a time-honored electioneering trick in open primaries to vote the other party for the candidate most likely to embarrass the opposition in the general election, but only when the real candidate you want to see nominated has a lock on the nomination. To employ such trickery large-scale seems a premature tactic for either of the two current front-runners, or their staunch followers. And I doubt very much that sort of chicanery is ‘to blame’ for the result in Ohio.

    I had told myself before this presidential candidate nomination cycle began that there was no way on Earth I would vote for Hillary in the general. I tend to skew heavy toward Republican candidates, but I have an especial distaste for the Clintons. But if the GOP nominates The Hairdo, I will be voting for Hillary or Bernie, depending upon which secures the nomination. Even though I think very little of Hillary re the whole Husband-Chasing-Skirts thing, I will swallow my distaste for her and vote for her for President. Heck, I’ll vote for a pinko-commie-purple-painted-Orangutan before I’ll vote for The Hairdo. The man is a baffoon and an idiot and always has been. What’s more, he’s an arrogant and [u]dangerous[/u] baffoon and idiot.

    I’m not real excited about the possibilty of voting for Cruz either. Rubio has always reminded me of the kid that turned left and went into the Adult Bar instead of turning right and heading into the teen-dance, and Jeb just seemed a lackluster younger-brother ghost-shadow of both his father and older brother.

    err…sorry about some of the odd constructions in the 1st paragraph — I’ve been coding a lot of lua lately.

  74. I have lived for about 35 years in Sweden. They have a lot of socialist politicians, both democratic and otherwise. In my humble opinion, this is exactly why the U.S. is a better country than Sweden. (It is also one major reason why I left the country.)

  75. And it’s worth noting that Bernie Sanders would be on the hard right wing of the ruling Conservative party in the UK

    Disagree. He’d probably be a Social Democrat. The hard right in the UK are getting as crazed as they are anywhere, floating ideas like making pensioners do “voluntary” work to keep their pensions (which many have contributed to for up to 50 years) and abandoning the Human Rights Act.

  76. Tejaswi’s question, Why is it that in the US “socialism” is such a bad word? (or equivalently: why hasn’t the US ever had a leftist party of any importance?) is an interesting one. Leftists, both in the US and elsewhere, have wondered about that question for decades, and in fact it’s where the phrase “American exceptionalism” comes from: Marxists wondering why US politics has been so unlike politics in seemingly similar countries like Britain and France and Germany. The Cold War isn’t sufficient explanation, because this phenomenon long predates the Cold War. It predates World War I, for that matter.

    I don’t think there is a simple answer to that question, and there certainly isn’t a consensus answer. Whole books have been written about it, and they don’t agree with each other.

    “Socialism never took off in America because the poor view themselves not as an
    exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires” – John Steinbeck

    It’s as good an explanation as any I’ve seen.

  77. There were radical Left politics in the US. American “exceptionalism” is that FDR turned the establishment left rather than right during the age of fascism and the post-war boom floated all boats for a few decades. If your impression of American history is that these movements and thinkers did not exist or were not significant, well, ask yourself whence your information comes. You might also ask why FDR’s presidency existed and why he made his particular choices.

    If there is any merit to the idea that it was harder for American workers to organize and gain purchase on the political imagination, I would guess it has something to do with the fact that for a few centuries America was importing, voluntarily and involuntarily, a working class from many different ethnic backgrounds, speaking various languages, most of them in a precarious state, rather than dealing with a native settled block*. If you are a nut, like me, you might consider the domestic effects of the First World War’s anti-German, anti-foreigner policies. We’ve had this “English only” debate before on an even larger scale than today’s minor kerfuffle over Latinos. The 1916 German language press leaned socialist and pacifist; they also represented a larger share of the population than Spanish speakers do now. Two years later, poof, all gone. (Similar less drastic coat tails on this phenomenon for Poles, Hungarians, Italians, you name it, anything un-American.) A few decades later, albeit with more reason, the Left is figured as a cats paw for Russian interests. Anyone with a socialist past is either burying it or buried.

    But the reason these campaigns worked ultimately was because the country had enough resources to give a bare minimum to enough people and to give more to anybody who might rock the boat too hard. Those conditions are starting to change. On the other hand American capital is no longer as dependent on American labor. So it’s up in the air who wins, if anybody, in the long run.

    *In fact, we started importing slaves because Native Americans would just run away rather than “reliably” serve the English.

  78. I’d just like to remind everybody that the modern welfare state seems to have been invented by the German conservatives (specifically, Bismarck), to serve as a modern version of “bread and circuses”, and for a long time the left actually opposed those ideas. I *think* that changed approximately with WW II, at least over here.