Pragmatic Government in an Age of White Nationalism

Late last week I was interviewed about Trump and his incoming administration, and one of the things that came up was the practical issues involving government, as in, to what extent should the Democrats (or anyone) work with Trump and the GOP to make deals, pass laws and so on. My answer to this was that I was pragmatic about it and that if the Democrats could get something out of Trump and the GOP that they liked, then they should go ahead and take it. Not that they shouldn’t fight (oh, they should), but to take what they can get through the normal processes of government.

Note this interview was on Friday, and over the weekend, among other things, Trump moved noted white nationalist and anti-Semite Steve Bannon into a formal White House adviser role, a move hailed by both the KKK and the American Nazi Party. In retrospect this isn’t entirely surprising — Bannon was already on Trump’s team and honestly it’s not like Trump appears to know many people outside of his family and a small circle of either sycophants or ambitious leeches (Bannon’s in the latter category) — but it is reminder that Trump’s embrace of bigots during his candidacy was not just a cynical move to get into power, to be abandoned once in power. The Trump presidency is going to be dancing to the tune of white nationalism, and so for anyone actually doing business with them, there is a genuine question of moral hazard.

So the question is: How to address pragmatic governmental action an age of moral hazard? If Trump and the GOP, for example, introduce a well-funded infrastructure bill that will create jobs that will benefit Americans (as they certainly will, since the federal government only doesn’t spend when a Democrat is in the White House), how do Democrats approach that? Do you oppose it because you don’t want to be seen working with a white nationalist administration and its supporters? Do you press for things that you feel will make a difference (someone elsewhere suggested that Democrats should engage with an infrastructure bill only if they got things in it like Trump selling off his business interests and/or making it clear that no business of his could profit from the bill)? Do you go, “I’d support this bill from a Democrat,” and then vote for it?

Each comes with risks: Oppose it, you get pilloried in the Trump-friendly propaganda machine. Embrace it, you get accused of normalizing white nationalism. Try to modify, and you get a bit of both. Pick your poison. On the flip side, it’s entirely possible the GOP will just larder their bills with so much nonsense that the Democrats can just oppose them and not have to worry about the consequences. Remember: Clinton won the popular vote and Trump is coming in with low approval ratings. Despite the screaming of the Trump propaganda machine, and the fact of GOP majorities, he’s not invulnerable. He’s not even close.

And that’s something else to think about with with regard to pragmatic action: Trump and many of his fellow travelers are still viewed with suspicion by other parts of the GOP. If Democrats want to be able to hold the line against some of Trump (or his fellow travelers’) policies, then that might mean reaching across the aisle toward Republicans who, if they’re not exactly moderate, at least understand that they have moral hazards of their own. These next four years will not be normal, folks. Alliances of opportunity will spring up with the enemies of one’s enemies, and so on.

I’m having a hard time with the right answer here — or at least, I recognize that what I usually see as the right answer (take half a loaf when the whole loaf is out of reach) is going to be much more problematic over the next four years than it usually is. I want to believe pragmatic governmental action is still possible, because I think it will be needed. But I also know that that Trump, already a bigot, will spend the next four years with a white nationalist whispering in his ear. And that’s not nothing.

141 Comments on “Pragmatic Government in an Age of White Nationalism”

  1. Notes:

    1. Political thread. Mallet it out. Be polite to others. You know the drill.

    2. Specifically, this will be a thread where some of you will be tempted to call out others for not seeing this issue exactly as you do. Be better than stooping to ad hominem, please, or at the very least contain it to me (you’ll know when I think you’ve crossed a line).

    3. Please do not let the comment thread here devolve into a general angry spew thread about Trump; you really do have the whole rest of the Internet for that. On the flip side, posts that are largely comprised of gloating that Trump won and/or “get over it” will find themselves mysteriously missing.

    4. On a personal note, I will say that this post is definitely one where you should should take into account that I am a well-off straight white man, and that my stance right now, with its unhappy inconclusivity, is rooted in the idea that I am one of those who will be affected least, and last. The mileage of others will vary wildly from mine. Maybe you should listen to them, too, as well as me.

  2. Any infrastructure spending will almost certainly be in the form of block grants. That’s hardly the problem. The problems are:

    Promised support for nationwide initiatives like stop-and-frisk and other forms of police tactics that target minorities

    Repealing Roe V. Wade (takes 2 SCOTUS votes)

    Overturning Obergefell V. Hodges

    Deregulating the finance industry and creating another bubble/crash cycle that could wreck the world economy

    Abandoning NATO and Europe to Russia while at the same time not caring if nuclear proliferation happens in Japan and South Korea

    Literally selling off Medicare so my generation (and yours) has to pay for health care instead of getting state provided, which has kept millions of elderly people from poverty or early death

    That’s a short list. There are more It’s a list of things that either Trump promised, or his party is working on making happen.

  3. From Gene Sharp’s classic From Dictatorship to Democracy (free in many languages):

    One characteristic of a democratic society is that there exist independent of the state a multitude of nongovernmental groups and institutions. These include, for example, families, religious organizations, cultural associations, sports clubs, economic institutions, trade unions, student associations, political parties, villages, neighborhood associations, gardening clubs, human rights organizations, musical groups, literary societies, and others. These bodies are important in serving their own objectives and also in helping to meet social needs.

    Additionally, these bodies have great political significance. They provide group and institutional bases by which people can exert influence over the direction of their society and resist other groups or the government when they are seen to impinge unjustly on their interests, activities, or purposes. Isolated individuals, not members of such groups, usually are unable to make a significant impact on the rest of the society, much less a government, and certainly not a dictatorship.

    My note: whatever group you belong to, work to make it a bit more political and radical!

  4. It’s been suggested within my hearing that Democrats in Congress should attach riders to every morally terrible bill, riders that the GOP will never vote for and are things the Left wants. It gives the Rs an out to vote “no”.

  5. I admit to having very little faith that the NeverTrump contingent of the GOP have enough collective spine to walk upright, let alone brave the Trump propaganda machine. I fear that the Dems are on their own on this one, and that one of the first casualties will be the filibuster, though I hope that proves to be a short-sighted nose-cutting on their part.

    Getting the message out will be the hardest part. The GOP is sure to lade any bills heavily with riders that are pure poison, and lambaste any Dems for refusing to pass legislation that, on the surface, appears to be a net win. Pair that with the allure of sweet, sweet pork as those infrastructure projects are rolled out, and I’m not sure it’ll even talk half a loaf to get some Dems on board – they’ll happily take crusts.

  6. Also from Atul Gawande’s New Yorker piece:

    To a large extent, though, institutions closer to home are what secure and sustain our values. This is the time to strengthen those institutions, to better include the seventy per cent who have been forsaken. Our institutions of fair-minded journalism, of science and scholarship, and of the arts matter more now than ever. In municipalities and state governments, people are eager to work on the hard problems—whether it’s making sure that people don’t lose their home if they get sick, or that wages are lifted, or that the reality of climate change is addressed. Years before Obamacare, Massachusetts passed a health-reform law that covers ninety-seven per cent of its residents, and leaders of both parties have affirmed that they will work to maintain those policies regardless of what a Trump Administration does. Other states will follow this kind of example.

    Then, there are the institutions even closer to our daily lives. Our hospitals and schools didn’t suddenly have Reaganite values in the eighties, or Clintonian ones in the nineties. They have evolved their own ethics, in keeping with American ideals. That’s why we physicians have resisted suggestions that we refuse to treat undocumented immigrants who come into the E.R., say, or that we not talk to parents about the safety of guns in the home. The helping professions will stand by their norms. The same goes for the typical workplace. Lord knows, there are disastrous, exploitative employers, but Trump, with his behavior toward women and others, would be an H.R. nightmare; in most offices, he wouldn’t last a month as an employee. For many Americans, the workplace has helped narrow the gap between our professed values and our everyday actions. “Stronger together” could probably have been the slogan of your last work retreat. It’s how we succeed.

    My take: In other words: keep doing the good things you are already doing, maybe with a bit more emphasis. Keep reaching out for help and support, maybe a bit earlier and more often than you do now. And speak up and speak out, maybe a bit more than you’re currently comfortable doing. It only takes a bit from all of us to create an enormous amount of social good.

    None of this obviates the need for social justice activism to reduce systemic and institutional oppression, poverty, etc., but it’s something we can all do right now within our existing social networks.

  7. “…take half a loaf when the whole loaf is out of reach…” – but, as you point out, that half may be poisoned. It will be hard going for the legislature, I fear.

  8. A related issue I’ve seen is whether foreign policy specialists, who are almost uniformly #nevertrump, should serve in a Trump administration. Eliot Cohen published a thoughtful piece last Thursday on the matter arguing that people should do so because the nation needs competent people to keep things running.

    Today he tweeted “After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.”

  9. Obviously, what lies ahead for Democrats is a tough battlefield. And on top of that they should not miss the opportunity for some reflection, on things like how did they manage to let go to Trump a partir of the electorate that used to be theirs.

  10. Any infrastructure spending will almost certainly be in the form of block grants

    I’m not sure that’s true: apparently the Apricot Demagogue has floated the idea of privatizing a lot of infrastructure work, so private firms raise the money to do the work (probably with some publicly-guaranteed loans), then get to own the resource as a constant revenue-stream. Which means the public pays for it twice: once as guarantor of the loan, then again, indefinitely, as a toll-payer or rider.

    In response to the general question, I’m pretty concerned that there are going to be a lot of poison pills in almost anything proposed by the new administration regime. Healthcare funding will include provisions to defund Planned Parenthood, cut HIV care, allow all religiously-affiliated health care companies to discriminate against LGBTQ employees. Energy bills will open the entire public domain to unrestricted oil and gas development. And so forth. It will be very very difficult for Democrats to find anything that they can support without enabling the new regime.

  11. As weak as the Dems’ hand is at this point, we’re going to have to use whatever resource we can grab. And that includes dissatisfied Republicans. Imagine (well, fantasize) if Nancy Pelosi could convince a few dozen Republicans to support her as Speaker of the House. If there’s any coalition of Republicans at all that are more interested in functioning government than supporting the current inaction, they might well find common ground with us.

  12. It is worth noting that Congress and the Trump administration are two separate entities with different agendas. While they overlap,and a Ryan-led House may propose some bills at the instigation of Trump, they will still be working on their own thing, and will also block some efforts of Trump’s on their own (like his proposal for congressional term limits).

    I would argue that, each proposal should be judged on its own merits, rather than by who brought it up. You can mitigate the worry of ‘normalization’ of white supremacy by (as a Democrat, or non-Trump Republican) adding in language requiring (for example) that a certain number of contracts go to minority and/or women-owned businesses (in the case of infrastructure spending).

  13. Partisanism is one of the things that has gotten us into the current mess. If there is something that the other party wants and is a good thing, then don’t knee jerk oppose it. I’ve seen far too much of this recently. Just because Trump is for it doesn’t immediately make it a bad thing.

    On the other hand, if it’s repugnantly unamerican then do what you can to resist.

    I have to say that the idea of holding mass protests against Trump just after the election is the stupidest thing ever. Especially in a state (CA) that voted 60/40 against. WTF are you protesting? What do you want changed? I’d kind of get it if people were upset at the Electoral College system and were protesting that. (Kind of, but that’s a whole nother topic). But protesting election results!?!

  14. On the idea of infrastructure spending, that’s not necessarily complicated for Democrats. They can support policies they supported. They can make it difficult for Republicans in Congress by supporting government investment. It’s not obvious to me that Republicans will do this, though. John is absolutely right that Republicans have opened the government wallet wide and spent freely in the past, but Trump has a new crowd of epistemically-challenged supporters and advisers and they may not agree on how to move forward.

    Democrats will have no shortage of policies to oppose. From the tax cut giveaways to the rich to draconian social policies and attacks on civil rights. The trade wars Trump promises are going to kill jobs and get a lot of I-told-you-so-ing from Democrats. Democrats will also have a chance to find new unity and fresh ways of articulating progressive priorities. The party that has no leader is always popular because people imagine the leader they like instead of a real one with real strengths and flaws; each faction within a party imagines the leader to come will support their particular priorities, not acknowledging the realities of the coalition. The “establishment” knows that politicians need to find ways to work together, but nobody cares what the establishment thinks.

    Democrats are smart enough not to oppose good ideas even if Trump wants credit; there will be few enough of those. There are still countless real things for people to worry about. Rare moments of bipartisanship will not be our biggest problem. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are cynical opportunists who will make deals where they can, that’s exactly what politicians are supposed to do.

  15. It really does not seem like much of a choice to me. You have to negotiate or you cede total control to the bigots and incompetents. Better to have some rather than no control.

    That does not mean not to fight. And it does not mean the dems should weakly fight like they have in the past. You loudly and constantly push your view. You ask for everything every time. If for no other reason than to remind every one what they are fighting for.

    If you let the other side control everything by either being the party of no of the party of yes you only give all power to Trump. Only by being involved can you have a chance of keeping the moral high ground and serving your people.

  16. It is an interesting dilemma and I do not have a good answer. Promoting Steve Bannon to a senior position is extremely troubling and make me want to just not have anything to do with the Trump Administration. On the other hand we do need competent people running the security and military apparatus. Trump having his finger on the nuclear arsenal is terrifying. It is going to be a rough ride.

  17. The more we learn about the people Trump will have around him, and the more we hear about what passes for their “governing philosophy,” the clearer it is that the moral hazard outweighs any possible benefits.

    To work with Trump is to aid in legitimizing and normalizing him.

    Just say no. His Administration is going to rape, pillage, and loot; anyone who assists in that will be an accessory, if not an enthusiastic participant.

  18. My feeling (and it’s just that) is that Bannon is temporary. There’s a mindset that’s amenable to working in a government role, and I don’t believe he has it. No political experience.

    At least, that’s my hope.

  19. If you want to be more depressed skip over to Charlie Stross’ site and read his thoughts about the fascist international that seems to be coalescing out of a globalist “end of history” that has gone rancid; I picked a bad day to give up sniffing glue.

    Also, Eliot Cohen’s comments pretty much correlates with my perspective on these folks.

  20. I’d agree on the idea of reaching across the aisle to “normal” Republicans … except that some of Paul Ryan’s policy ideas seem to be as bad or worse. It’s still worth doing, I guess, wherever they can find someone to agree with on what is best for the American people, even if it’s just on a single issue.

  21. Yes the Dems should be willing to make deals. The Repub party is an ugly fractal picture that will end in a brawl of some sort or another. There are a great many fractions who voted Trump for very small reasons. I think the one that broke it open was the women afraid because it seemed the tide was pushing to allow “men” in the ladies room.

    Many of those small factions will end up back together when they need support in a failing administration. As the promises he made morph into the cheap and easy way out it is going to piss off all sides. The biggest problem will be the more militant factions opening with insurrection. That will allow Trump an out on many fronts.

    So, yes the Dems should make deals and do it from a position of power. The Repubs who hope to make it past the midterms will be coming in on bended knee soon. This is a grab all you can and use it to consolidate for the future moment.

  22. I think on things like infrastructure, you INSIST on female/minority representation/awards. “Privatization” is just another word for “helping my friends get richer” IF Trump really does put in some of his tariffs and trade deals, then a lot of people who currently raise grain for export may just find that they have voted themselves into poverty. IF Trump really, really wants that, he should wait until 2018 to put the bill forward. That way, if it passes, the effect won’t be felt until AFTER the mid-terms.

  23. @Miles Archer: “I have to say that the idea of holding mass protests against Trump just after the election is the stupidest thing ever. Especially in a state (CA) that voted 60/40 against. WTF are you protesting? What do you want changed? I’d kind of get it if people were upset at the Electoral College system and were protesting that. (Kind of, but that’s a whole nother topic). But protesting election results!?!”

    Largely, I agree. I think we could have gotten away with peaceful candlelight vigils (though we’d probably be dismissed as “hippy-dippy New Age wusses” or such by the right), but property destruction and chants of “Not my president!” are not helping us. They serve to normalize denial and political violence as a reaction to a legitimate election, which is exactly what we *didn’t* want to happen following an HRC defeat. They also give the right an excellent opportunity to dismiss the rash of individual instances of intimidation and violence happening across the country by shrieking and pointing at white protesters in Portland.

  24. @my comment above: “following an HRC defeat”

    Sorry, that should have been “after an HRC victory.”

  25. Miles Archer:

    I have to say that the idea of holding mass protests against Trump just after the election is the stupidest thing ever.

    I disagree. The day after the election, Paul Ryan claimed that the election results gave Trump a mandate. These protests are one way of highlighting the fact that such mandate is false. As Scalzi notes, Trump is starting off at a disadvantage, both in that he lost the popular vote, and also that most voters don’t have a lot of faith in him.

    Sure, protests are not the end-all, be-all of opposing Trump, but they definitely serve a purpose.


  26. I wish I knew where we’re headed. I’m afraid of the tea party radical wing of the Republican party. They want to gut most of the social contract that holds our country together. I think Ryan is going to try to flush Medicare, Social Security, Medicaide along with gutting the EPA, OSHA and other regulatory agencies. The inertia of the bureaucracy may be the only thing that holds together in the next two years. Assuming that midterms might, just might, change the Senate over to Democratic control is a fantasy.
    My bet is that in 2018 the Republican argument will be that we just weren’t draconian enough in the cuts and we’ll need to do more.
    The Democratic minority must work to keep government working, but hold the line on the social safety net.

  27. Absolutely we should make deals. The goal is to make things better. Tea party republicans’ goal was to break government, not to make things better, so they didn’t have to compromise.

    BUT we need to be immovable and active about things that are beyond the pale. If we had made a huge deal about Merrick Garland months ago, it is unlikely that they would be trying to get away with so much other outside-the-norm stuff now. I know I was complacent because I figured he’d be a lame duck confirmation or HRC would nominate someone more liberal. I shouldn’t have been.

    This morning I called my congressman to ask him to condemn the appointment of Steve Bannon. I called my senators to ask them to take leadership in preventing Steve Bannon’s appointment. If enough people do this, we can send the message that there is no (longer) room for white nationalists in the White House. If you only have democratic representatives, then call Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to let them know that the American public does not want a white nationalist representing them. Paul Ryan, at least, seems to understand what racism is and does not want to be a racist. He should be supported/encouraged in that stance and should know that we see when he deviates from it.

    But more people need to make those calls. We need to be as active as the forces of bigotry who have Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and a dozen worse “media” outlets directing their political activism.

  28. Hah, I just started a thing called Pragmatic Progress

    My current thing is looking at getting the rust belt states* to go more blue. Not in the presidential election, but across the board. I did a long numbers analysis of how Pa (my home) voted as compared to 2012

    There are a LOT of (mostly white) rural voters who have voted for a Democrat. There’s potential there.

    *I need to find something that’s less irritating than this but still faster than saying Wisconsin, Michigan Ohio and Pa.

  29. Shrike58 – I did read that. If Stross is right, then resistance is futile. Whatever’s driving the global putsch toward fascism is going to run smack up against the lovely effects of rapid GCC (soon to be accelerating in an ecosphere near you!). This appears to be one of humanity’s cyclic attempts to kill itself off (c.f, global wars and epidemics, esp. before the modern medical age). It might even be some kind of very deeply unconscious natural cycle playing out.

    I’ve often been glad that I don’t have kids; now I’m pitifully grateful that I don’t have kids.

  30. @Miles Archer

    I disagree. The protests were a way of saying “we refuse to normalize the bigotry of Trump’s campaign and likely administration”. It’s a way of putting pressure on the powers that be so they don’t forget that most of the country doesn’t agree with them. It’s a way of standing up and saying to our friends and family who’ll be negatively harmed by a Trump administration (gah, those words) that “we stand with you, we care about you, we won’t stop fighting for you”.

    The protests are not about preventing a Trump presidency. There’s really no way to do that right now. They’re about sending a message (or many to different people) and I think they’re doing that very well.

  31. John said, “How to address pragmatic governmental action an age of moral hazard?”

    That question is one that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi (or her replacement) will answer through action soon enough.

    John also said, “If Democrats want to be able to hold the line against some of Trump (or his fellow travelers’) policies, then that might mean reaching across the aisle toward Republicans who, if they’re not exactly moderate, at least understand that they have moral hazards of their own.”

    This is where party cohesion matters big time: The supreme challenge for President Trump will be to hold the Republican Party together and divide the Democrats. (The converse would be true if Hillary had won.)

    The supreme challenge for Democrats will be to maintain unity while playing on divisions with the Democratic Party.

    This is an old game in Washington. Presidents who play it well get reelected. Presidents who don’t get fired.

    Holding the Republican Party together will not be easy. One obvious indicator to watch is the ultimate effectiveness of the Bannon-Preibus tandem.

    Other obvious indicators: Trump vs. Ryan. Trump vs. McConnell.

    Of course, the Democrats have their own divisions to deal with, starting with the brewing contest over who will lead the DNC in an “Age of White Nationalism.”

    From today’s The Hill about Keith Ellison’s bid to lead the DNC: “Some Democrats warn that the rush to anoint a successor is exactly what got the party into trouble during the 2016 cycle.

    “I love Keith Ellison, but we need a robust debate about the future of the party,” said Chuck Rocha, whose group, Solidarity Strategies, advised the Sanders campaign.

    There is also a strong desire to see a Hispanic DNC chairperson. Some liberals are frustrated by what they view as party leaders taking the Hispanic vote for granted, assuming that Latinos would turn out to reject Trump.

    “The future of the Democratic Party is the Latino vote,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. “I’m hearing from all over, from congressmen and party leaders, that want to see a Hispanic jump in to see what he or she brings to the table.”

    John, you are right: “These next four years will not be normal.”

  32. “The supreme challenge for Democrats will be to maintain unity while playing on divisions with the Democratic Party.”

    That should read: “while playing on divisions within the Republican Party.”

  33. Part of the problem is that you are trying to decide how to hit a pitch before it is thrown. We have two months to see what will be coming.

    One of the reasons that Trump was able to win the Rust Belt is his promise to leave or renegotiate NAFTA and other trade deals. It looks like enough voters were able to look past the terribleness of Trump and his supporters in the hope of getting a better job. Those people didn’t want to admit to voting for Trump, and that is why he polled worse in those states than the results show. I think the Clinton campaign could have reached those voters if they had tried, but they were focused too much on disqualifying Trump.

    (My alternative to the Cinemax analogy is: If you think you are drowning and David Duke throws you a life preserver, are you going to drown just to spite him?)

    Going forward, the Democrats should not be seen as opposing job creation. In fact, they should be happy to point out when Trump recommends a proposal that was originally a Democratic idea and opposed by the recent Republican Congress. Make the Congressional Republicans squirm. Show the voters that the Democrats are able to have more than one priority. Any proposals that are discriminatory, and I expect several will come, should be fought against tooth and claw.

  34. To a large extent, it is situationally based, right? If, for example, a solid infrastructure bill (like the stuff the dems and Obama have been trying to do for, say, 8 years) comes by, from the repubs, then take it. Why? B/c rejecting it because of who it helps. The poor infrastructure will without a doubt hurt those in poverty MORE than those not in poverty. Bad roads/bridges/dams etc. in poor states or poor areas are likely the most in need of help, the most likely to have serious dangerous conditions, etc. If rejecting the bill means keeping these people in dire straights, I don’t think it is worth it.

    That said, if there are terrible, terrible riders (fix all bridges! electrocute all gays in mandated conversion therapy!) then NO. it is a matter of least harm. If they can’t do good, those in congress need to strive at least for the least amount of bad. Obvs. do good first is the big priority, but sometimes the best that you can do is stop the bad from becoming worse.

  35. This seems weirdly like the sort of thing we’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years about whether to vote for Puppy-nominated works at the Hugos.

  36. This seems weirdly like the sort of thing we’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years about whether to vote for Puppy-nominated works at the Hugos.

  37. I think that the Dems can and should work with the administration on issues where there is some alignment, ie an infrastructure bill. I think the dems need to make it as easy as possible for Republicans to oppose the president without losing face or joining the opposing team. This is not a partisan issue. Our tax plan, our spending plan, whether we think planned parenthood should get federal funding, those are partisan issues. Whether it is ok to have a clueless vindictive narcissist in the white house being advised by a white supremacist is not a partisan issue. The answer is no. We have to encourage and make it easy for republicans to oppose the president when he and his administration cross the line. We have to make it easy for them to call president trump and his cronies on their shit. This isn’t about the democrats taking back congress in two years – this is about not letting the presidency be debased, and not allowing our country to become a fascist kleptocracy. Most republicans are not racist. Most republicans love their country. Let’s help them show do so.

  38. This seems like a very one sided and misguided question. I don’t see any moral dilemma. If the bill is a good bill you support it. If it’s bad, you oppose it. What possible moral dilemma is there as long as there is no racists, or other bigoted provisions?

    This seems like more of making a mountain out of a molehill… Any suggestion that a D should oppose a bill just because it’s from Trump is just as stupid as years of R resisting Obama’s proposed legislation.

    Our representatives should be looking at each bill at face value, not at who proposed it.

  39. We are not going to get any cool SFF related posts on here for the next 4 years are we? I am Jewish. They hate me too. I recently bought some more ammunition. If someone shoots a racist shot ag, remember you can jury nullify. You can vote not guilty for any reason and not be charged. Do not tell anyone you are jury nullifying or you will be removed from the jury.

    If you guys met conservatives halfway and just voted for Gary Johnson we would not be in this mess.

  40. @Guess: “If you guys met conservatives halfway and just voted for Gary Johnson we would not be in this mess.”

    Without getting into any arguments about the Libertarian Party platform, this is now officially a useless discussion. We can argue counterfactuals until our heads explode, without making an iota of progress on the question of (as John Oliver so aptly put it) What the Fuck Do We Do Now?

  41. I heard Giuliani might be Sec. of State. Pretty awful, right? But then they named an even worse possibility: John Bolton. I’d forgotten that human skidmark even existed.

  42. We need to remember that Trump is not a Republican or a conservative or a Fascist (sorry, John, but I totally disagreed with that post of yours from a few months ago). Trump is – first, foremost and always – a CELEBRITY. He needs approving attention and positive reinforcement. When he said he wanted to continue holding rallies, we know it’s because that’s what he decides to emphasize, to double down on. Also, he’s a liar who can reassemble reality in his own mind as needed and on an hourly basis.

    So there’s an opening for Democrats if they want to put in the time sucking up to him, telling him how wonderful his infrastructure ideas are, how great for the country, promising to support him against those terrible guys McConnell and Ryan who are pouring cold water on spending. Remind Trump of what he could get away with before he got the nomination: there was always the threat to Republicans that he’d identify THEM as part of the problem in Washington. So if Trump is feeling like the Republicans want him leashed, he’ll strike out at them.

    The man craves applause – give it to him, give him chances to wallow in cheers and flowers – hell, stack the damn rallies with Democrats – and he’ll back whatever it takes to get that fix again.

    If the Democrats are crafty enough, that is. Obama is, definitely; I think we saw some signs of that last week.

  43. Just to make things a bit clearer than above: if Ryan’s attack on Medicare generates boos at his rallies, Trump will jettison those plans in a – you should pardon the expression – NY minute. He’s a Republican only as long as it’s convenient for him.

  44. We can only hope that Senate Republicans will give Trump as much trouble as Senate Democrats gave Obama in his fist two years.

  45. Agreed that “if only you had done [x]” discussions are pointless and wearying, so let’s not have them here, please. They’re a luxury. Focusing on the now is a necessity.

  46. Someone recently described the half-a-loaf/pragmatic approach to governing as the “Cinemax Theory of Racism”.
    I see where you’re coming from–with both posts. But it seems like the Cinemax post doesn’t allow for the possibility that maybe some Trump voters had this same conversation with themselves a few months ago, and decided on pragmatism.
    Me, I like pragmatism. I just can’t see why anyone would feel any differently about a pragmatic Democrat than a pragmatic Republican.

    (I am neither, because pragmatism)

  47. @Miles Archer. I’ve been in the demonstrations you refer to. The point is not (for most of us) to dispute the results of the election–clearly Trump won–but rather these demonstrations are meant to send a message that people will not allow bigotry to become normalized—and that if Trump governs from that place that he will have a huge number of voters who will resist him. It is also meant to send a message of solidarity to the targeted groups that are frightened right now, saying that we are with you. It sends a message that we will not be docile and passive in the face of bigotry (or in the face of a symbolic appointment like Bannons, who is a white nationalist).

    I hope you can see that is a rather different thing. I myself am particularly troubled by the now many documented instances of harassment of minorities (particularly in middle schools and colleges). We all need to speak up against such things, and the demonstration I was in, anyway, focused on that.

  48. @John A: “Any suggestion that a D should oppose a bill just because it’s from Trump is just as stupid as years of R resisting Obama’s proposed legislation.”


    The “years of R resisting Obama’s proposed legislation” came about because *they claimed* Obama was a terrorist-fist-bumpin’ Kenyan-born madrassa-trained socialist Muslim who pal’d around with terrorists.

    On the other hand, Trump did just win the presidency while clutching the endorsement of the KKK in his tiny little hands, and followed that up by giving the leader of virulent racist alt-right movement a prominent role in the White House.

    In other words, not the same thing.

  49. @Spywholoved: “I see where you’re coming from–with both posts. But it seems like the Cinemax post doesn’t allow for the possibility that maybe some Trump voters had this same conversation with themselves a few months ago, and decided on pragmatism.
    Me, I like pragmatism. I just can’t see why anyone would feel any differently about a pragmatic Democrat than a pragmatic Republican.”

    I see an important distinction between the two situations. The Cinemax post deals with the decisions made by someone who was choosing whether to put Trump in office. This post asks the question “Now that he’s there, how far do our consciences allow us to assist specific items of his agenda?” The former question is predicated on what Trump *might do* or *has promised to do* in office. The latter is predicated on *what he’s doing right now* which we might assist or hinder. The latter, I think, is easier to evaluate, because it’s much more limited in scope.

  50. @opiejeanne, I absolutely love the rider idea, for exactly the reason that it gives scared Republicans an out to join us in fighting the worst things. OK, maybe also a little because they’ve been doing it to Democrats for years.

    I have been falling back on a couple of things I usually tell people considering taking a job in a questionable company:

    1. Consult your moral compass before you start. Know your “bright red lines” and commit to not crossing them. It is easier to avoid rationalizing things if you have thought about it ahead of time.

    2. Imagine that the worst has happened. What will you wish you had done? Do that.

    These are not perfect guides, but they are helping me gear up for a fight.

    I’m also embracing the idea that since no one knows what WILL work, in most cases it is OK for people to try a lot of different things. This is less comforting as I think of the decisions my representatives will have to make, but it is helping me not care about some of the other arguments I’ve seen raging out there in terms of how to respond.

  51. Caveat: I am not a citizen of the USA, and I live in Europe, so this doesn’t concern me directly, and I’m not completely aware of all the relevant laws and political structures.
    Still, this election has worried me, and many other Europeans; both for the effect Trump and his rule will have on national, global and European issues, as well as because his rise strengthens worrying tendencies already present in a lot of European countries towards rising nationalism and strong-man rule.
    Now, leaving aside the external problems I expect to arise, I’ve been very surprised by some of the ways that voting is organised in your country; and it seems to me that these are things that would need to be solved in order to give the presently disenfranchised voters a sense that they can influence the direction the country will take.

    1. Legalized bribery, allowing rich people and companies to give as much money as they want to any politicials, through superPACs or whatever. No wonder all the politicians who get money for TV-adds are corporatists and crony-capitalists who will not really do anything to impede the wishes of the banks, the big (monopolist) corporations, or the richest people; and no wonder that the divide between rich and poor has been growing worse for as long as the regulations have been manipulated in favour of those that have. It’s also no wonder that the rich people vote to continue that system, and that the poor get fed-up with politics-as-usual and vote for anyone who promises to do things differently.
    Now, I’ve read about a way in which the people of the USA, acting at the state level, can make Congress consider an Amendment to the Constitution. There is a site, which is advocating this as a way to get the money out of politics.
    It seems to me this might be one of the few ways in which ordinary USA citizens can force the political machine of the two big parties to listen to the people, and get democracy back on track to represent the people instead of the crony-capitalists and powerful banks and companies.

    2. The Electoral College: I watched CP Grey’s youtube videos of explanation, and it seems to be a very unfair way of deciding things! Things are set up so that theoretically, if a little more than half the people in the right (small) states vote for a person, someone with only 25% of the votes can win the electoral college, over his opponent who gets 75% of the votes; and in practise the majority of votes have gone to the loser in three out of the last ten (or six?) elections. That is not right!
    It means that the votes of people in small states weigh as much as 10x more than that of people in large states like California – how does that square with the one person, one vote rule?
    It also means that for anyone who doesn’t live in a swing state, like mr.Scalzi, voting for the opposite party doesn’t do anything to influence the outcome.
    Wouldn’t it be a good idea to run a parallel campaign with the abovementioned wolf-pac one, to get rid of the Electoral College?

    I think, if those two things could be realised, you’d be well on your way to getting a fairer representation. That could then tackle some of the other issues which are unfairly disenfranchising voters, like gerrymandering – whoever thought it was a good idea to let the party in power decide how voting districts should be apportioned?
    And getting a neutral third party to organise the debates – the present system of the two big parties agreeing on who, how, when & where means that the organisers are strongly motivated to keep out any encroaching third parties, thus limiting their exposure and chance to convince voters.

    Another aspect that I think plays a big part is the consolidation of big media empires, which are strongly aligned with political ideologies (Fox news looks a lot more like Republican propaganda than a true news organisation), and whose owners are part of the corporatist oligarchy. The repeal of the regulation saying news had to be fact-checked, and untrue allegations could not be presented as facts, replacing it with the idea of “fairness” (always present both sides of an issue as if they have equal weight, even if one side is obviously lying), has done a lot of harm to the ideal of an informed populace of voters. Maybe if you ever get a Congress that sees is duty as improving the lives and circumstances for all the people living in the USA, instead of for their donors, some of these weird laws may get updated as well.

    As long as American laws allow and even protect and support long-term monopolies and monopsonies, as well as powerful oligarchies, you will let corporations take away people’s choices, and you will get big-business media consolidations that limit the public’s means of informing themselves, and makes it easier to influence large swathes of people, or keep them ignorant. Like North Dakota, which got away with reporting zero pipeline spills when there have been over 200, with the excuse that they didn’t want to over-report them(!), when they gave permission to put a pipeline through the only water source for more than a million people…
    Only when independent journalists kept on digging and asking freedom-of-information requests did that little fact get out, and still it’s not being given much attention on any corporate media I’ve seen. The information-bubble most people live in is rather frightening, when you think about it.

  52. Miles Archer: I agree with you that it seems silly to protest that the sky is blue.

    But the people protesting don’t say that they are protesting the color of the sky.

  53. @hanneke28, there are quite a lot of people who oppose Citizens United (the ruling that allows unlimited political spending via superPAC), but there are some hurdles to overturning that ruling, which in part hinged on getting a sympathetic (read: left-leaning) judge appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the current vacancy. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now.

    There have also been over 700 proposals in Congress throughout history to set in motion the process of amending the constitution & changing the Electoral College, none of which have gotten as far as the step where they’re ratified by the states.

    There’s an alternative, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would provide a de-facto fix without actually amending the constitution, which has been passed into law by several states. But it needs more before it will go into effect. It was proposed shortly after the last time this happened (George W Bush in 2000), and has been gaining a new state every 1-2 years since then, so if it continues at that pace, it might go into effect 20-30 years down the line. We’ll see.

    (Also, just as a point of fact – the Electoral College has only elected the loser of the popular vote 5 times in 200+ years, and until 2000 and now 2016, the last time was in the 1800’s. It never happened during the 20th century, which is part of why many of those proposals to change it never gained a lot of steam; the voting populace behaved in such a way that it has never been relevant in living memory before GWB’s election.)

  54. John A.: “What possible moral dilemma is there as long as there is no racists, or other bigoted provisions?”

    Just the fact that allowing Trump to finally implement a bipartisan stimulus package that the Republicans spent the last 6 years blocking Obama from enacting stands a good chance of boosting Trump’s popularity and enabling him to use the resulting political capital to enact a racist bigoted agenda in other areas.

    As an aside, Mitch McConnell made it the Republican strategy to oppose everything Obama wanted to do and then blame Obama for the failure of bipartisanship and gridlock. He openly bragged that the public would hold the president responsible for how things were going in politics, and that most people’s assessment of that is based upon the level of bipartisan agreement in enacting laws. The results of the past couple of elections suggest that the cynical strategy worked.

    If the rest of the Trump agenda weren’t so problematic, we could (and should) take the position that the Democrats shouldn’t engage in the same type of cynicism. But when giving a bipartisan victory bolsters the political strength of an authoritarian bigot, giving any type of victory to Trump needs to involve careful moral consideration. So, let’s assume there is nothing racist and bigoted in the infrastructure bill. If giving Trump a big bipartisan victory there gives him political cover to ram through some racist law (e.g., national stop and frisk) on a party-line basis, is there no moral consideration for the infrastructure bill?

    There might be some areas where cooperation is merited (e.g., a deal that prevents 22 million people from being thrown off health insurance), but it is going to be a careful consideration each time.

  55. The Italians have a lot of experience with this kind of thing, under Berlusconi. Maybe we should ask them for advice.

  56. @CaseyL: “resistance is futile” is a justification for doing nothing. After all, if it’s futile to resist, then I don’t have to feel bad about choosing to spend my time on yet another playthrough of Mass Effect 3 over calling my Representative. I don’t need to consider whether maybe I should be supporting groups that push back against white nationalism. I can just keep on keepin’ on, because it’s a lot more comfortable to persuade myself that doing nothing at all is the correct and inevitable choice.

    It’s also, bluntly, an easy out for people who will be least affected by having white nationalists in power, because it treats resistance as an unpleasant but pointless option rather than a matter of survival.

  57. Pragmatic considerations about whom to vote for are very different in scope and purpose from pragmatic considerations about how to vote on a bill when the country needs governed now.

  58. Pick your battles, roll with the punches, keep silent on some stuff so that the Republicans own absolutely the worst disasters and cannot claim democrat interference in the grand old plan, if you must nail your colours to any mast then make sure it is worth it, and work like the dickens to build up a grassroots outreach organisation that coddles and soothes the hurt weak egos of the middle class so they don’t feel the need to throw the toys out the pram again next time. All those insults followed by the “and I suppose you’ll be fine if Trump wins” stuff from some of the online activists neither helped retain votes nor made their side look good. That “Call Out” stuff might have worked on tumblr, but not on the election campaign.

    Seriously though, build a local base that is warm and friendly and in the lives of every republican in some way even in places that Democrats never win, because that is what the right has been doing for years in every country.

  59. Ben Carson just turned down Heath & Human Services, citing government inexperience. It’s interesting that Carson only acquired this inexperience after Trump picked a white nationalist/racist/anti-Semite for chief of staff. The same inexperience didn’t prevent Carson from running for the top job, though…

  60. The Republicans spent eight years going for total obstruction, and using every offer of half a loaf as a reason to make a claim for a whole loaf (debt ceiling for instance). It amazes me how that turned out for them. It would almost be worth saying that the Democrats should not support anything the Republicans have to offer unless there is some concessions to Democratic causes. If it is truly a good idea, by itself, maybe now is the time to let the Republicans pass it by themselves, unless there is something tangible offered for Democratic support.

  61. I think that it is worth bearing in mind the fact that Trump is trying to find some way of reneging on the climate change undertakings given by the U.S. under the Paris accords agreed last year. We know that Trump thinks that man-made climate change doesn’t exist, and that it’s a Chinese hoax; we also know that India (ranked third in emissions after China and the US) has made it clear that it will only comply if the countries above it also comply.

    The most recent data shows that change is accelerating; at the moment people are worried about Trump deciding to nuke Iran, but they may be overlooking the catastrophic consequences of Trump derailing the Paris agreement. I can only hope that both Democrats and Republicans will stick with the science on this one…

  62. Remember the good old days when we could joke about that white genocide? Remember how poor you were at planning it? Consider the fledgling administration a wee hint at where to start? No, let’s not genocide anybody. Just saying.

  63. You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want. The army I want would drop spikes in front of donald, poison his well, salt his land, plant sharks in his swimint pool, and put a few rakes pointy bit up on his lawn. And then they’d invite the republicans to take a high speed ride in a poorly maintained taxi to a garden party at Trumps place where the appetizers are actually chum. And then Dems would stand back and watch the carnage. Thats the army I want.

    But the army I HAVE has already gone out of its way to announce they will work with Trump.

    If Dems got the senate in 2018, and Trump nominated the KKK Grand Wizard for SCOTUS, the dems would cave. They wouldnt have the stones to obstruct that nomination for 2 years. They would have a moral obligation to do so, but they dont have the stones.

    So, any discussion of what democrat politicians should do in a trump administration needs to account for the type of dem politicians we actually have. Not the politicians we want.

    I upped my donation to the ACLU and I will be sending money to the SPLC. I hope people keep marching in protest of Trump. But I’m not putting any faith in Dem politicians showing any spine.

  64. Hanneke28: Republicans control the legislatures in 32 states. In 25 of those, they also own the Governorship, and in two where they don’t, they have veto-proof majorities in the legislature. It takes 34 states to request a Constitutional Convention, so Republicans only need 7 more, if that’s what they want. There are enough foolish Democrats out there to make that a real possibility.

    Why do I say “foolish”? Because there’s no way to limit what a Constitutional Convention might consider. You might like it to override Citizens United, which basically allows a candidate to be supported by unlimited funds, or to declare that corporations don’t have all the same legal rights as natural persons. But given what the political realities are, it’s far more likely that a convention would revoke many rights we treasure: Freedom of speech (Trump wants to make it easy to punish criticism); freedom of and from religion (many want to reinstitute sectarian school prayer); freedom from unreasonable searches (think universal “stop-and-frisk”). And there are calls from the Right to abolish birthright citizenship, popular election of Senators, and even the income tax (all the result of amendments after the Bill of Rights, the first ten).

    I didn’t have any objection to the Second Amendment as long as the courts construed it as they always had until very recently. But I’d rather have a universal Right to Bear Arms, with all its resultant violent death, than risk getting rid of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and the Thirteenth through Seventeenth Amendments.

  65. We missed our chance. We should have done a $*%##ing hunger strike at all the offices of our representatives to get them to give Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing. Now it seems we have no power.

    It’s not the time to lay down and let them run roughshod over the country but sometimes it’s tempting.

    PS. There’s a surge of people trying to oppose Steven Bannon’s appointment. See also

  66. The only place I would like to see Democrats really do a full refusal is in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. I don’t believe it will happen.

  67. Will infrastructure spending have to be passed and Trump get credit? Yup. Our current Republican legislators were never entirely against it and there is nothing to be gained by resisting it by Democrats and a lot to be lost if they grandstand on it.

    Abortion rights/restrictions will be the largest continued partisan wedge, although not a substantial wedge since many Democratic representatives still use moderated language on the issue in all but the bluest of areas. So pragmatism on such a devisive issue …

    The language coming out this week on our President-Elect’s plans/policies/strategies/Cabinet picks seems to be blowing this olld dog whistle the loudest. It is, after all, the last rallying cry for so many voters who have seen their DOMA dreams crushed. Many one-issue voters I know would be Democrats (not that they are self-aware to know that) but for the past 30 years of “only Republicans are defending the unborn” rhetoric.

    I do agree with cofax’s comments (November 15, 2016 at 11:51 am) that there will be a lot of attempts at additional religious-exemption-because-corporations-are-people-too nonsense aimed at LGBTQ rights. Thankfully, I think our social momentum will carry the day, even as individual states keep trying.

    But abortion/family planning rights? So vulnerable. Just as government programs like SNAP are dismantled. And, pragmatically, provisions that previously produced stalemates in legislation might just have to be swallowed.

  68. Without mincing words too finely I think what’s happening is a response to the shifting demographics of race. This is also what’s going on in the UK and in Europe. Studies show that the world is getting ‘browner.’ By 2050 the USA will no longer have a white majority and this, I feel, is what carried Trump to the presidency. Such things matter to some people (possibly half the US population), but in about a generation or two it won’t have quite the effect it had a few weeks ago. The key is to make sure our form of government remains in place long enough for that demographic shift to come into effect.

    Genetically, I’m 58% ‘white’ so maybe I don’t count, but why people would be freaking out about a ‘brown’ USA boggles the mind. I lived in Hawaii and Guam for a total of 18 years and everybody seemed to get along fine. After all, we were all Americans, right?

    I’m pretty certain that when that day comes and the USA no longer has a white majority, it’ll be just like any other day. No surprises aside from some whoopla about the fact, then everybody will get back to doing what Americans do. Same as it ever was.

  69. @drazishu: thank you for explaining. It sounds like one of the better things to do for the future is for everyone who is unhappy with the Electoral College system to put pressure on their State goverment to sign this: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would provide a de-facto fix without actually amending the constitution, which has been passed into law by several states. But it needs more before it will go into effect.
    If everybode contacts their representatives and tells them to go for it, the rate of adoption might speed up a lot.
    I’d think at least all those states with Democrat majorities would want to get this signed as quickly as they can!

  70. I’d like to think that any program that is actually good would be supported by Dems and others but I just can’t help but fore-see that:
    1). Any jobs program or infra-structure bill or the like will have vicious riders that will result in the questions of “Do I support this because it re-builds the bridges in my state but it repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
    2). The professional progressives and Bernie acolytes will use any deviation from a purist straight-and-narrow to create discord and siphon off energy.
    The big problem is going to be the power struggle inside the Dem Party over this. They need to sit down and try to figure out how to win the public back. But I don’t think doubling down on progressive goals is the answer. I don’t think berating and calling names is helpful. I do think that there needs to be some honest soul-searching and not automatically assigning blame to ‘those people”. I’m already seeing that here in San Francisco where one of the progressive columnists is calling for people to abandon the Democratic party because it’s their fault. They should have let Bernie have the nomination. And the fact that he and others like him pounded away at Hilary like they were being paid by the Republicans is ignored.
    We’ll probably see that here. Something horrible that one person will insist needs to be fought will have another person deciding to reserve their energy for a different battle. I guess the answer is to pick your battles and try to remember that just because someone doesn’t have the level of outrage or concern that you do, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.
    Sorry if this is a bit scattered. I’m suffering from low-Coca-Cola syndrome.

  71. A thoughtful post, John, but I suspect it may be moot.

    I have reason to believe that things have not yet gotten as bad as they will get. Which will happen when the GOP engineers Trump’s impeachment and installs President Pence.

    To all those who think a fascist/Tea Party/pseudo-Libertarian/capitalism-fest is the Worst Possible Evil, that may come as a ray of hope.

    To all of us who are terrified at the notion of a theocratic dictatorship, it’s time to develop contingency plans.

    Personally, if I were a sincere, well-intentioned (for Trump) Trump adviser, I’d be running scenarios for getting rid of Pence somehow, FAST, before the Inauguration, and replacing him with someone the GOP solons will hate even worse than they hate Trump. But I doubt there’s anyone that smart in the Trump camp– they’re all in their little bubble of “Nyah-nyah, now everyone has to BOW DOWN TO THE GOD EMPEROR” mode.

    The upside of President Trump is that the man is stupid, has no attention span, and (so far as I can tell) no one currently aligned with him who knows one single damn’ thing about how to get anything done in as complicated and massive a bureaucracy as the Federal Government. The bureaucracy itself can potentially apply its own forces of inertia to resist them for two years until the mid-term elections, which is the next opportunity to salvage anything.

    The downsides of President Trump are obvious, of course. He CAN do considerable damage in that two years.

    The upside of President Pence would be that at least some of the day-to-day business of government could and would get done, and there’d be some serious dickering between the Millenialist nutjob faction and the plutocrat faction of the GOP to split the take, which might limit the amount of damage either could do unrestrained. And which would put the Tea Party faction (which hates both of the other factions) at their throats. But that’s not much of an upside at all, which is why I find the words “President Pence” much, MUCH scarier than “President Trump.”

  72. I suspect there won’t be nearly as much unity as people think. Remember, the Republican-dominated House has been basically useless as a legislative entity for the past 6 years. They’ve needed Democratic support to pass basically everything, as the far-right loonies are so far out that they can’t find common ground with anyone. Remember, this is the group that had to let the Bush tax cuts expire because they couldn’t even manage a show vote (guarenteed to be vetoed) to limit the tax increase to only millionaires. It took Boehner falling on his sword to get the last budget – Paul Ryan failed miserably with his attempt. Hell, the Republican House is so broken they had to beg Paul Ryan to take the job, as no one else with stature was even willing to try.

  73. The problem with protests isn’t protesting in the abstract.
    The problem is the protests we got, with activity that’s easy for Republicans to paint as violent rioting and denying the election results. Congratulations, you’ve just handed them a great talking point. Particularly with all the pre-election anger about Trump refusing to say he’d concede, and Trump supporters threatening armed action – now they can AND ARE claiming that Democrats are no different.
    The kind of protests we need are ones that demonstrate we’re better than they are, to the people who voted for Trump out of economic desperation. Disciplined, sober, and respectful. Highlight the people who have already gotten hurt, and the people who will get hurt. Instead of screaming ‘Not My President!’, protest the issues that will make them uncomfortable – ‘Say No to Racism’, ‘Say No to Sexism’. ‘We are ALL Americans.’ ‘We are not the 1%.’ ‘The Wealthy have Enough Tax Breaks.’

  74. Pragmatically speaking, would anyone have statistical data that would show how gerrymandered a state is versus how close the republican governor won the last election? And are there any outliers? Heavily gerrmandered but a close election?

    Pragmatically, dems need to get their power back and the gerrymandered house means the only way Dems win the house is to strategically attack republican governors, win, and redistrict.

    Also, pragmatically speaking, do Dems have ANYONE AT ALL on the bench for a presidential run in 2020? Dems have to make sure Trumps presidency goes down in flames, but its no good if Dems dont have someone ready to run.

    Whats the senate races look like for 2018? Solid red seats up for vote? Or red seats in purple states that could be flipped? Or blue sets in purple states dems could lose?

    Can we at least get some democratic party leadership that have the strategic level thinking and pragmatism to improe this in two years and boot trump in 4?

    Also, pragmatically speaking, Hillary got swiftboated. But that means two recent big presidential candidates were defeated by swiftboat tactics, which pragmatically speaking indicates that there is no counter tactic for swiftboating, which means until further notice avoid candidates who have a history of already being swiftboated. If they have been investgated, even if found innocent, avoid them if at all possible. Until someone has a successful strategy to counter swiftboating, dems have to avoid candidates with lots of baggage.

    Anyone know a multi-multi-billionaire who leans left and who could buy Fox News? Hell, even cnn? Not sure what happened but cnn seems to have taken a decided swing to the right. As long as there is a massive right wing propaganda machine like Fox, I dont see much hope. Facebook said they would try to stop the forwarding of false news. Might help a bit. But Fox lies is just horrible.

  75. @Travis Butler

    The Trump supporters are going to say that crap, no matter what the protesters do. All things being equal, the protests have been extremely peaceful and orderly. Only a couple incidents of property damage–some of which protesters put up a collection to pay for. Also, the “Not My President” signs *are* accompanied by “No to Sexism” and “No to Racism” signs–if you’re not seeing them, then you’re not looking hard enough. There’s certainly been a lot less damage than when the Red Sox won the World Series or JoePa got fired at Penn State. Why is it only bad if political protesters cause damage and not sports fans?

    Ultimately, criticizing the protesters by saying *the way you’re doing things won’t help because you’re not being nice enough* just derails the conversation that the protesters are trying to spark. Tone policing by supposed allies isn’t helpful, especially if they’re not actually getting involved and trying to help.

  76. If there are bills that are genuinely going to be good for the country and don’t have racism or other prejudices built into their implementation, then I’m inclined to think that Democrats should vote for them. Sure, it could give a President Trump more credibility among those who aren’t paying attention, but on the other hand, it would mean that when Republicans try to do something truly terrible, Democrats would be able to say “Look, no, we’re not just opposing this for political reasons in order to weaken Republicans. We’d be willing to work with you on not-terrible things, but this? This is terrible.”

    It’s also probably going to give Democrats a bunch of opportunities to point out how hypocritical Republicans are for opposing things that they knew all along would be good for the country. Right now there are a bunch of Republican partisans trying to say that what Republicans have been doing for the past eight years is just business as usual, you’ll see! Already, Democrats are proving them wrong. I would love to see Democrats, if the situation arises, voting for a bill with the comment “Yep, this is what we’ve been saying all along, funny how you’re suddenly all for it now that you no longer want the president (and, by extension, the country) to fail.”

  77. “Also, pragmatically speaking, do Dems have ANYONE AT ALL on the bench for a presidential run in 2020? Dems have to make sure Trumps presidency goes down in flames, but its no good if Dems dont have someone ready to run.”

    I like Julian Castro, and was hoping that HRC would pick him as her running make.

    Cory Booker
    Al Franken (among other things, he has an excellent record of bipartisanship)

    Our governor here in Oregon, Kate Brown, would be very good.

  78. Regarding the idea of a perfect protest, thats as unrealistic as a perfect war. Good on paper. Goes to shit as soon as real people hit the streets. Not to mention, even if you did somehow manage to raise an army of perfect protesters, you still have the problem of republican and police acting as agent provacateurs. And if you dont think thats a real problem, you shouldnt be telling people how to protest.

    Also, republicans love to deify MLK as the perfect, the ideal, the way REAL protestors should behave that current day protestors fail, but back MLK was arrested 30 times, and various politicians at the time called him a hoodlum and troublemaker, and they blamed him for every bad thing any black person did.

    Anyone ever see the website f r e e d o m da il y dom com? Holy crap. Any news they can find about black people breaking the law, they headline with the caption “BLM thugs do blah”. A black person robs a bank, they report it as “blm robs bank”. Even if todays protesters did manage to be perfect and keep agent provacateurs out, they would still get blamed by association with someone who broke thr law.

    R’s love MLK not because he didnt cause trouble for the racist status quo. R’s love of MLK isnt because he peacefully protested without breaking laws. Repubs love MLK because he exhibits one of the R’s favorite kind of black person: dead.

    You’re not going to win the hearts and minds of R’s who believe BLM is a criminal organization. You’re not going to flip the Republican base to blue. So, trying to strategize a way to move forward that has the R base NOT demonize your every move is a lost cause. They have demonized the pope, for fcks sake. You think you can stand a chance? Accept that the R base will hate you no matter what you do, find a way to move forward, to make progress, and WIN.

  79. Democrats’ potential bench for 2020:

    Tim Kaine
    Elizabeth Warren
    Kirsten Gillibrand
    Kamala Harris
    Gavin Newsom
    Julian Castro
    Terry McAuliffe
    Maggie Hassan
    Cory Booker
    Sherrod Brown
    John Bel Edwards

    Gillibrand, Newsom, Castro, and Booker are currently under age 50 and might be better for 2024 or 2028.

    On this list, only Kaine, Edwards, and Brown are white guys. Kaine, Castro, McAuliffe, Brown, and Edwards are all from either GOP or swing states.

    I’m actually feeling pretty good about the next slate of Democratic candidates.

  80. *I need to find something that’s less irritating than this but still faster than saying Wisconsin, Michigan Ohio and Pa.


  81. I think it depends on what kind of poison pills are buried in the bill. Because they WILL be there.

    And then we get to deal with DT’s signing statements. Won’t THAT be interesting.

  82. Anyone know a multi-multi-billionaire who leans left and who could buy Fox News?

    Marc Cuban?

    And he’s already published his tax records. :)

  83. Katherine V – Warren is too old, she’s 67 now – Trump’s health deteriorating over the next 4 years will also play against her.

    Probably Kamala Harris is the likeliest candidate, I am not a fan though, she’s a traditional politician.

    Given the Democrats inability to learn, it’ll probably be Clinton again.

  84. @Katherine V:
    Sherrod Brown/Cory Booker looks good as a ticket from this side of the pond. Brown reassures the working class white vote that got all scared and went to Trump. He’s a man reasonably like them, and one that they feel will probably speak their language. Booker is young and enthusiastic, he would be good for whipping up the millennials and social activists and keeping them in the loop so they don’t feel like Sherrod was leaving them behind. Importantly, with a name like Sherrod, comedians and sketch writers would have a great deal of inoffensive detail to work with.

  85. @hanneke28,
    The electoral college was created to even out the highs and lows of voting blocks with very special wants that would exclude competing voting blocks. In all but a handful of elections, the popular vote is the same as the electoral vote because the electoral college reps have to vote the will of the majority they represent. The US is more at risk from voter registration laws that make it harder for the poor/disadvantaged/colored/etc. to vote.

    The more effective way to fix this issue is to make voting mandatory and to make election day a federal holiday.

  86. Talking about who’ll run in 2020 will make things worse, IMHO. I think election fatigue played a part in this last election. Some people got fed up and opted out.

  87. Regarding which bills Dems should vote for, I feel like there are maybe two that are worth considering: jobs/infrastructure and the budget. The house is going to be passing bills to repeal the entire Obama administrations agenda for the next 6 months, plus whatever else Trump tries to pass, plus the spending bills that they’re supposed to pass anyway. And as someone pointed out up thread, the GOP House is completely ungovernable right now.

    So there’s plenty to vote against in Congress, and also strategic filibusters in the Senate against the worst of Trumps nominees for the courts and cabinet positions. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether the Democrats want to work together or not, the Republicans, especially in the House, have forgotten how to do this and they’re still more afraid of their right flank than of failing to do their jobs. There may be a few cases where you have something that is a priority for your district that you can try to pass, but there’s very little else to do but hold the line.

    The Senate map in two years is against them barring some major economic fallout which would change the fortunes of both houses. The best thing to do right now is hold the line in the Senate as best they can and work to try and take over one or more state governments in the next elections.

    Regarding the protests on election night, I might feel bad about them if Trump had actually won the popular vote. Or if he had not chosen to run such a divisive campaign that alienated so many Americans. Or if he had not also had an eight year history of trying to delegitimize the President. You can’t control what the right wingers will say about your actions, but going out there and protesting the
    the message that electing Trump means racism and bigotry is back in fashion in America is absolutely the right thing to do.

  88. @Not the Reddit Chris S.

    I doubt Warren will run in 2020 as she’s basically said she has no interest in ever running for President. That said, she’s worth keeping on there because sometimes people change their minds. She’s a little on the older side, but she’s got such a rock star following, I don’t think that’d be a problem.

    I’m not sure what you mean about Kamala Harris “being a traditional politician”? You’re right, if by that you mean she’s a bi-racial woman who’s served in many levels of government (local, state, national), is well-liked in her home state, is supported by her party and by independents, and just won in a landslide for an open Senate seat. Not sure how you’d spin any of that negatively, though. She’s rock-solid and has star power reminiscent of Barack Obama in 2004. The only thing I’d like her in better than the White House is the US Supreme Court, as she’s been a very good Attorney General for California.

  89. I’m loathe to correct a better (and professional) wordsmith than I on a matter of vocabulary, and I’ve been wrong before, but I don’t think “moral hazard” is the term you’re looking for here. Moral hazard is how we do things differently when we have a safety net, versus when we don’t. The issue here seems to be one of a moral pitfall.

  90. I’m interested in seeing how #NeverTrump senators like Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, and even Mike Lee will act as Trump’s proposals come up. Given the Republicans narrow majority in the senate if even a few GOP senators break party ranks it would make it difficult for Trump to push through his agenda. I’m not particularly optimistic that these senators will break from the party, but for some of the more egregious proposals I think there is a possibility they will vote against them.

    As for Democrats voting for good policy put forward by the Republicans, in as much as that policy exists I would hope that Democrats vote for it. I am less concerned with their yes-votes normalizing white nationalism, which I’m not convinced it does, as I am concerned that no-votes continue to normalize partisanship and non-functional government, which seems to be a much more likely scenario.

  91. Victoria: “The electoral college was created to even out the highs and lows of voting blocks”

    When it was originally created, the electoral college gave more voting weight to white male land owners.

    Whatever its intention may have been, thats what it did. Honestly, not much has changed.

    If there was a push for national popular vote, now would the time to push. While we’re at it, add a tweak to do instant runoff ballots, and we solve several of the biggest sources of voter disenfranchisement.

    “The US is more at risk from voter registration laws that make it harder for the poor/disadvantaged/colored/etc. to vote.”

    People ignore the masive disenfranchisement of the EC and the rules of the system because its been around so long we assume its just the natural state of things. But winner take all per state disenfranchiese half the population of every state that isnt battleground, and then in battleground states the weight per vote is huge. The +2 EC per state weights smaller states more heavily than big states, preferencing land owners.

    The constitutional requirement for 270 electoral votes to win (failing that, congress decides who is president) means an inevitable two party system, which creates massive dis3nfranchisement by removing viable candidates early in the races. Instant runoff combined with national popular vote could allow and enable a multi party system.

    Voter ID and similar laws do disenfranchise people, but the way the system inherently works, we are looking at nearly half the country having a vote that doesnt matter.

    No wonder voter turn out is crap. People get the system sucks.

  92. At Katherine V – our mileage is varying on Kamala Harris. I voted against here, she is too slick and polished, used the AG post to grandstand to put out press releases rather than do something meaningful. I wish she is Obama 2.0 but I don’t think she is.

  93. The dilemma that’s hard to hash out is how to we empower ourselves without empowering the dangerous ideology of a Trump administration and “fandom” (I would venture to call it at this point), particularly Steve Bannon with backing from white supremacist groups. I have no answer and am anxious to see the teeter-tottering play out for the next four years (God willing, only four).

  94. @Not the Reddit Chris S.

    I’m not really seeing where “slick and polished” should be considered a negative? That said, it might be wise to be specific about your criticisms, rather than just writing her off as a “traditional politician” or “too polished”. It’s reminiscent of the sexist crap used against Hillary Clinton where male politicians tend to get a pass for similar (or even the exact same) issues. When women aren’t polished, they’re a mess and wouldn’t get elected, but when they are polished, they get criticized for that too. Try to see past the perception issue and actually look at her positions–she might surprise you.

    Some valid and specific criticisms I’ve seen of her usually involve her not being as progressive as people would wish on things like higher education or the prison-industrial complex–she’s liberal, but not as liberal as many on the far left would like (myself included). She’s not come out in favor of free college for all, she’s not for total prison abolition, and she’s a former prosecutor, which are marks against her in my circle.

  95. @Miles Archer

    The point of having protests is to tell Trump, Paul Ryan, and the Supreme Court that we’re here, we care, and we’re willing to come out to the streets. All are invited to the Women’s March on Washington Jan. 21, day after inauguration. Point of the march for me: (a) Tell Trump hands off our pussies, (b) Tell the Supreme Court women still care about Roe v. Wade, (c) Tell Paul Ryan we need contraception, and (d) Tell Steve Bannon we’re not a bunch of dykes he can dismiss. I’m sure there will be much more to add before Jan. 21.

  96. Let me partially disagree with our host. Demand something for any help the Dems give Trump. However, stopping Trump’s personal enrichment should be very low on the Dems list of priorities. The country would be better off if Trump stole a billion dollars and made his business independent of loans from anybody.

  97. If you look at the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the best response for you is changed greatly by whether it is a single iteration or multi iterated game.Single iteration, you betray. Multi-iteration, you start out with cooperate and then respond tit-for-tat.

    Dealing with the Grand Dragon in teh white house is kind of similar. If it were a single iteration, you might cooperate with a bill proposed by the bigot in chief. But if you look at it from an iterated perspective, cooperating with Trump could “normalize” an insane level of bigotry that hasnt been considered normal for decades.

    The problem then becomes the fact that the iterated cost, the “normalization” cost, is hard to define in any objective manner.

    On the one hand, Trump has proposed an infrastructure bill that will create 5 million jobs. On the other hand, if you support it, you might end up watching a cross burning on the white house lawn, and how do you put a concrete, objective cost on that? Will America react with abject horror and demand an immediate impeachment and correct its path? If so, cooperating would be worth bringing down Trump. On the other hand, supporting said infrastructure bill might have no immediate costs associated with it, only a vaguely defined cost that is not entirely knowable.

    The infrastructure vote game is also non-cooperative, asymmetric, non-zero-sum, simultaneous, imperfect information, multiplicity, infinitely long, continuous, That’s eight different categories to describe a game, and “Trump infrastructure bill” picks the hardest option eight out of eight times.

    Congratulations, Scalzi, you just invented one of the hardest game theory games imagined.

  98. Exciting times, indeed. I recently started a position in a small Executive-branch agency that was created under the Obama administration but has surprisingly good support from both sides of the aisle. We improve how the US government delivers services.
    Most of us in the agency didn’t expect this election result, and each of us is wary of a “do it or quit” moment. So we constantly remind each other to do our best work. Its corny, but many of us came from a world where if XXX service doesn’t work, 1M people get poorly-targeted ads. Here, if XXX service doesn’t work, 1M people don’t get health insurance.
    So yeah, do as much good for as long as you can, donate to the ACLU and keep your powder dry.

  99. Not to be grumpy, but why is it that the Dems are always the ones who have to compromise? The GOP has pretty much shut down doing anything for Obama’s presidency, but now we’re supposed to help out the great orange menace with his agenda? I’m so sick of having to take the high road.

    But we can’t change who we are, I guess, so we’re always going to be the group who’d actually rather work on something than just obstructing. But is any of this going to matter after the 35% tariffs he’s going to have to put into effect (to help give all those rust belt folks who need high paying manufacturing jobs some work) send us into a crippling recession? We won’t have any money for infrastructure improvements.

  100. I am not American, but from a country whose fate is connected to America. We now got a Trump’s best buddy taking over our neighboar, after he already invaded and took a chunk from the country I was born in.
    We have our own elected rightist bigots controlled government, slowly drifting towards “the dark side” and US elections and projected HRC win was some consolation . Well. Look how it turned out
    It looks like Trump grabbed America by the @#$% and she let him do it because he is a star .

    On the topic I think that there is much more on the scales then partisan politics. It think democracts have no choice but to try reach out accross partisan lines with republicans who still have some decency, respect for basic democratic values and a SPINE to stand against the black tide.

    In my opinion – working with Trump should be out of the question – that is the way to hell. Working with decent republicans is the only options.

  101. “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”—Bernard Sanders, 11/9/2016

    Sanders seems to be emerging as a leader of the opposition.

    Worth remembering, though, there’s a lot “kick the board over” on the radical right. Nothing’s going to help if Trump lets the banks crash the economy again. And then there’s what I’m starting to call Case Nightmare Orange Tweed, where neo-fascist governments come to power across Europe and in the USA, and the global web of trade and peacekeeping is unraveled, leaving the world very much poorer, and unable to cope with global threats.

  102. In Europe Trump’s election has produced the biggest squawk that I’ve heard
    since I trod on the cat’s tail. Germany, especially, isn’t so much against
    racism as extremely allergic to it, and their reaction was violent. Less
    reasonably, various senior EU politicians distinguished themselves by their
    imbecility, pretty much matching Trump’s level of discourse on the
    opposing side.

    Trump’s campaign seems to have benefited from the odd syllogism “He is not a
    politician, therefore he can sort out difficult political problems, because
    he’s rich and can do whatever he wants”. Now he’s rich and powerful, and
    everyone else can do whatever he wants. I’m not sure that’s an improvement. **

    A project of Trump’s to build a golf course in Balmedie, eastern Scotland makes
    an instructive case study concerning Trump and politics. The case has the
    advantage that it’s small and well-documented in the press, with relatively
    few players, and it gives some idea of how a Trump presidency might work.

    Trump went into the deal holding five aces; Balmedie is (to put it politely)
    the back end of nowhere, and investment would be much more than welcome.
    When the dust from the negotiations had settled Trump was loathed by the local
    farmers, the local scientists (part of the site was an SSI, a site of Special
    Scientific Interest) and the local council, who refused his planning application.
    The Scottish Parliament then overruled the local council, on the grounds that
    Trump was going to pay them a lot of money, and then Trump got himself loathed by
    the head of every Scottish political party in a subsequent squabble over a wind
    farm that he disliked. An absolutely clean sweep of the board, loathed everywhere.

    And all this, mark you, was in dealing with an 12-person council in Lower Sporran,
    The Reeks; how in fortune’s name is he going to cope with real politicians?
    Clearly he’ll be rolled by Putin and Xi, which is bad news for Europe and Asia,
    with the world becoming noticeably less safe, but what about America and the
    heavy hitters in Congress? They’ve been in the game for a long time, and
    intend to stay at the table for a good while yet. Are they even going to
    listen to him – because Twitter tantrums just won’t cut it. America really
    doesn’t need more dysfunction at the moment, it already has the Western
    Hemisphere Dysfunction Strategic Reserve (which is full, btw).

    As far as Clinton’s campaign is concerned, there are two main theories of
    history, conspiracy and cock up. I go with the latter, since I don’t think
    humans are smart enough to run an effective conspiracy, but perhaps the
    last word should go to D C Ross in the Monastery:
    “You don’t think the government lets you buy _real_ tinfoil do you?”

    C W Rose

    ** Obligatory Brexit reference: there was similar meme in the Brexit
    arguments, that time from an actual politician, who said in all
    seriousness “Experts, what do they know?”. And I don’t think he
    was channelling Ian M Banks.

  103. Would it be possible to change the DNC rules (guidelines, suggestions) that the party does not count or report superdelagate votes until after all the primaries are over? And that superdelagates do not say “I am voting for (name)” until after the primaries are over? Superdelegates can still stump for their favorite candidate if they want to go on the trail, but they dont use the mention of their superdelegate vote to try and sway primary voters.

    Even if the last prinary wasnt rigged for Hillary (though I think it was), the DNC should do its best to try and maintain at least the appearance of letting democrat voters actually vote, actually have a say, actually be heard. All the bernie voters were screaming bernie, and the dnc came across as doing its best marie antoinette impression.

    You want to motivate people to vote for your team? Fucking LISTEN to them. Or at least go through the fucking motions. The arrogance and indifference of the DNC during the primary season was horrifying, and the party needs to apologize to all the Bernie people they shat on, and the DNC needs to change its culture so it doesnt fucking act like arrogant royalty towards its own party members again next election.

    Simple rule change: superdelagate votes arent cast or reported or publicized until after all primaries are over.

    But it would make the dnc democratic again.

  104. First, Victoria and Greg, a lot of people tend to conflate the original discussion of the electoral college by the framers with our current electoral college system. And that’s something of a mistake, since the current system is actually the process established in the 12th amendment. However, in both cases, as with so much else in the founding of our country, the controlling interest was the North/South divide and specifically the issue of slavery. At the original Philadelphia convention, James Wilson proposed direct national election of the president. James Madison responded that such a system would be unacceptable to the South. The electoral college allowed each southern state to count each slave, who could not vote, as 3/5 of a person for purposes of determining how many electoral college votes they would control and ensured (until the Civil War anyway) that the North, where the right of suffrage was, in Madison’s own words, ‘much more diffusive’ could not dominate in a national election. Trump used the system pretty much exactly as it was intended, to amplify the power of white voters. We ignore the actual history of our country to our peril.

    The moral hazard is real and I have few suggestions. After all, what could be the harm in a bill if the only thing it included were funds and regulations to help the trains run on time?

    I also find it unlikely that Democrats will be able to maintain any sort of sustained or organized resistance to GOP bigotry and nationalism. They don’t have a particularly good history of that outside extraordinary circumstances. They may start to respond if we approach such a point, but such response will likely be too late. Will Rogers’ quotes still apply today.

    “I’m not a member of any organized political party… I’m a Democrat.”

    “Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.”

    Protests in the streets are a reaction fueled by fear, something foreign to safe, secure white Americans, and not a typical reaction to a Presidential election. The protesters believe Trump is the person he has shown himself to be over the course of decades and that he will attempt to do the things he has said he intends to do. Their fear is legitimate. And it also sends a clear signal to others and the world that the majority does not accept our highly undemocratic current regime. And regime is a fitting word. Not only did Trump lose the popular vote, once again more people in the US voted (collectively) for Democratic House candidates than Republican. And while the former conforms to our framers’ intent, the latter very clearly contravenes it. The House is supposed to represent the people, which is why they intended that no member represent more than a fairly small number of constituents. Unfortunately, their effort to enshrine that as our first amendment ran afoul of some glitches (intentional or accidental), but it wasn’t a major concern at the time. And our country conformed to that principle until the early 20th century. That’s a major flaw in our system today. And one actively abused by our minority party to maintain power.

  105. Thinking about it, it’s pretty strange that the Senate, which our founders intended to be the least democratic institution and represent the interests of states instead, is currently the closest thing we have to any actual democratic element of our federal government. It isn’t actually democratic even though senators are directly elected now since it still gives more power to (predominantly) white voters in smaller states. One person’s vote is not equal to another person’s vote at a national level anywhere in our country today. That makes a mockery of our pretense to represent “freedom and democracy” to the world.

  106. I suppose that in a group setting, or blog forum, people will talk to fill the available air time, even if they are talking abstractions, in order for folks to feel productive. A functional chairman will give the group something they can all see, even if it’s debaters or actors putting on a skit, in order for the group to talk from the same page.

    Needless to say, talking, as on this blog today, can serve the Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared.

    At this point I guess we have nothing concrete to talk together about, to be pragmatic about, because there has been no action/legislation proposed. When we do have something, I’m sure our talk will kick up a notch to a more productive level.

  107. @Greg: Not to mention, there’s a determined group of violent anarchists out West who basically travel around to every sufficiently major left-wing street demonstration on the West Coast and start smashing up the place and provoking the cops. I think most of the time it’s the same bunch of fools.

  108. @Sean Crawford: There’s already been some mobilization aimed at pushing legislators to oppose Trump’s appointments (particularly Steve Bannon) and Ryan’s plan to phase out/voucherize Medicare.

  109. Re: Democratic bench – I would vote for Amy Klobuchar if she would run for President of the U.S.

  110. I’ve been reading about the issues with filling posts right now. I know my Senators have stood up and said “We don’t want Bannon” and I hope to God that they both continue. That being said, I have also discovered that there is a Klan in CT, just this last week. I suppose that is the only good thing about this, is that it has brought these people out of the woodwork. I suspect that they are going to have a very hard time filling posts with the less-than-competent-people whom they have already appointed. I know that I am going to be encouraging my senators to stand up for minorities and women. And hopefully the party will continue to fracture, making the passing of hateful bills an impossibility. I’m not sure Pence would be able to reunite the party, even if/when he becomes President.. Boehner might have. Ryan might have. I don’t think there is an easy answer, and as someone with an Arab last name, I am scared. I really am. I do think there is value in calling and petitioning as much as possible. I would encourage everyone to write to the electoral college and say that Trump will destroy our country, just based on the ‘transition’. I also think we have some very, very smart Democrats out there, including our current President. I am hoping that with the loss of services, that more and more people, including people who voted based on the ‘abortion issue’, will see what a mistake they made. Yes, I do think the Democratic party needs to regroup, but we can’t ignore that Hillary did get more votes. And she would have gotten more if not for voter suppression. And that means that all those people are out there fighting hate. I do think we need to draw moderate Republicans into maybe switching sides. And the more that the party becomes White Supremacist, I suspect the faster that will happen.

  111. I’m concerned by the degree of polarization. A fair amount of – we should not work with the other side because they (all of them) are wrong about everything. Personally I hated voting for HRC but couldn’t stand Trump’s association with the alt-right. So as a mostly Republican I got to hear and read what was behind some of the anger in the Trump group but I also see lots of critical posts about both candidates. And I understand some of the fury about lobbying, bias in MSM coverage (target demo is under 45 or east coast so they play to that). And picking HRC means I did not buy into the reasons to pick Trump. But finding common ground is the only way our society works. I worry about a lack of that understanding in the Democratic side that matches the same type of behavior I put up with from Republican associates for years now. I recommend this article about bias and contact in the social media age before you decide we (meaning your group) should never work with the other side (apologies to others on this feed also urging moderation or to John if this seems too off topic)

  112. Scott: “once again more people in the US voted (collectively) for Democratic House candidates than Republican”

    Where could I find how many people voted for each candidate for representative on a state by basis? My google foo is weak and I havent found anything that drills into the low level data.

  113. I’ve just seen estimates of 2016, so the final actual results may turn out different than anticipated, but they look on track to mirror 2012, where 57.7 million votes were cast for Republican House members and 59.2 million votes were cast for Democratic House candidates, but the GOP walked away with a large majority. That’s a structural problem in our Congressional body that’s supposed to reflect the populace. It doesn’t. In 2014, 22.6 million voted Republican and 19.3 million voted Democratic, but the GOP walked away with one of their largest majorities ever instead of a near 50/50 split.

    The data is here, though again the official 2016 data aren’t posted yet. It includes a state by state breakdown as well so you can identify the worst offenders.

  114. DagnyT: regarding the Dems and their reluctance to cater to an obstructionist agenda, this may be coming to an end. In fact, given what’s in store with the Trump administration obstructionism may be the patriotic thing to do for the next four years. Not to mention protests and committees questioning every aspect of activity from Trump and his ilk.

  115. If Madison’s intended first amendment had passed, the House would have been constitutionally required to have enough members after each census so that each one represented no more than 50,000 people. However, whether due to objections, sabotage, or a scribal error (you’ll find all those versions of history) it was sent to the states with language that meant each representative had to represent at least 50,000 people (once a certain threshold of house members was met). In that form, it was not ratified by the states and, since the founders were assuring the House remained representative by custom rather than the constitution, it became a non-issue. Conformance to that intent became sketchy in the latter half of the 19th century and was abandoned entirely in 1911. It’s hardly a far-fetched idea to have many representative for the people. Even Great Britain’s House of Commons has considerably more members than our House of Representatives with a much smaller total population base. Other large countries have bodies with thousands of members. The House is supposed to be populist and it isn’t. There are likely any number of places where our system is broken, but that’s one where we see one of the framers’ explicit concerns realized.

  116. The first fight will be in the Senate over cabinet nominations. If the Democrats don’t come out fighting, I think the Republicans will just roll over them. So in one corner we have…

    Senate Minority Leader Schumer. The whip will be Durbin, and third-ranking is Patricia Murray from Washington State. Sanders and Manchin will have roles.

    Schumer opposed Obama’s Iran deal.

    Manchin (D-Coal): “If President-elect Trump comes with good policies, I’m going to be 1,000 percent behind him. Okay? Maybe the rest of my caucus will not, but I’m going to find a pathway forward,”

    Murray is the Senator who made the budget deal with Paul Ryan which cut off unemployment insurance to families which direly needed it. One person I know lost theirs on their birthday and is still bitter about it.

    Can someone find me some positives here, please?

  117. Republicans have spent the last several years obstructing legislation. On numerous occasions they have saddled perfectly good legislation with horrible amendments. The Senate refused to allow hearings on Merrick Garland. I think it’s time the Republicans had a dose of their own medicine. The Senate Rs don’t have the 60 votes necessary to confirm a SC justice. The other week Scalzi’s favorite piece of walking phlegm Ted Cruz was suggesting Rs refuse to confirm any justice during HRC’s term(s). I say the Ds should spoon that poison right back to them and refuse to confirm justices for what (I hope) will be the RMB’s only term (that’s Racist Misogynist Bigot). Democrats should add ‘liberal’ amendments to those must-pass R bills. If the Rs want their slash-and-burn climate killing energy bills, then they can pony up for contraceptive coverage, funding Planned Parenthood, and maybe even federal funding of abortion for poor women, too. When the Rs pass their cut-taxes-for-the-rich and spend spend spend on infrastructure bills, then the Dems can take the mantle of the party of fiscal responsibility. The Rs have demonstrated that they like to play dirty. I say the Ds should put rocks in those mudballs.

  118. Scott, thats exactly the kind of data I was looking for. Thanks. Will try to make a parser and do some maths.

    Doug: I hate the framing in your linked article. It comes off as saying there are 2 root problems: everyone is uninformed and no one has empathy.

    I think both are bullshit, because the author completely abuses the royal “we”. I was not uninformed. I didnt know everything about every issue, but I knew off the top of my head that there was 7 congressional investigations into Benghazi, and they all pretty much exonerated Clinton. On the other hand, I personally know a Trump voter who would post a dozen things on their fb page and maybe 8 of them were verbatim on snopes. com as false. I know another Trump voter who has never HEARD of the “grab them by the pussy” video. Didnt know what it was, didnt know about it, didnt know it even existed or was an issue.

    So, the problem is not that “we” are all low information voters.

    As far as empathy goes, I had another Trump voter dismiss all my concerns about the harm Trump could do towards minorities. They said the thing that terrifies them the most is Black Lives Matter. So, I *understand* their point of view, I can even imagine myself in their shoes, see their concern forrom their point of view. Its just that I find it horrifyingly bigotted. The “poor pitiful ignored and misunderstood” rural voter meme has to die. There have been literally thousands of articles about the plight of poor rural voters. People understand their troubles. But they weren voting to solve their problems, they were voting for thr right to say n*gger in public again, like the good ol days.

    I am sick to death of this “if you disagree with someone, you must not be empathizing with them enough” bullshit. I understand them just fine. I know them. And they’re wrong.

  119. I would be sort-of OK with Democrats working with Republicans on bills such as appropriations, infrastructure, and veterans’ issues, as long as they do not contain provisions harmful to marginalized groups (or even just average citizens). I am just afraid there won’t be that many that pass that bar. If Republican-controlled state legislatures are any indication (please NO), I fear that a huge number of bills will be aimed at *limiting* our rights, rather than improving our lives. Just look at all the voter suppression laws, abortion restrictions, laws to limit LGBTQ rights, or the wonderful Emergency Manager law here in my own beautiful state of Michigan, which we all know worked out so well for the citizens of Flint.

    And since the Republicans and Fox News have convinced their base that it is possible to run the government with *no* taxes whatsoever, it’s safer for them to pass bills on social issues, rather than risk the ire of the voters with spending provisions.

    Also, Trump doesn’t need Congress to do a lot of damage. Those regulations he hates so much? They are protections – they protect the water we drink and the air we breathe, they keep us safe in our cars and at work, they keep planes from falling out of the sky. They (hopefully) keep the banks from ruining our economy – AGAIN. Are some unnecessary or too restrictive? Maybe. But again, the Republican base has been convinced that they’re all evil, so he can eliminate whichever ones he (and his corporate buddies) wants. (I don’t think it’s as easy as signing an executive order, at least in some situations. Some regulation changes have to go through a period of public comment, and there are probably other steps that I’m not aware of.)

    So while there may be some attempt at actual governance, I think it much more likely we’ll see a concerted attack on our civil rights and liberties. And that, the Democrats should fight tooth and nail.

  120. @Katherine V: wait, Newsom’s a white guy, unless I missed something. (I mean, it’s a bit academic in that he is unelectable; he’s a San Francisco liberal who got some major local political capital by throwing open the doors to same-sex marriage licenses, and then proceeded to blow almost all of it by reverting to his douchecanoe ground state.)

  121. Haven’t seen much on foreign trade so far and find that a bit unsettling since so much of the US economy – not to mention, prestige – depends on it.

    TD’s election to POTUS is scaring the hell out of countries that the US does a lot of business with, not to mention gov’ts re: international treaties. Private (for-profit) business deals can go south a lot faster (and with less explaining required) than international treaties – and often have much more impact on the economy.

  122. I understand them just fine. I know them. And they’re wrong.

    Greg, I don’t always agree with you but I’m with you here. My parents are evangelical, racist, homophobic, and believe that the woman’s job is to obey her husband (of course she has a husband, right?) I understand them. I grew up with them indoctrinating me. We do currently have a relationship because we don’t talk about any of those things, but I stayed far away from them for years.

    There’s a difference between understanding a point of view and saying that all perspectives are equally valid. To be blunt, they are not. Racism, homophobia and misogyny do not deserve “a fair chance” to prove their worth. I’d say they’ve already had more than a fair shake.

    We are at the top of a slippery slope here. Unthinkable things may begin to appear not that far off of normal because of everybody’s desire for peace and harmony. Allowing small things to pass in the interests of “being nice”, “being fair”, “giving Trump a fair chance” will only set precedent. Small things will become big things, and one day we’ll have no idea how things got so far.

    I grew up after the 60’s and have really no idea how to effectively work against such bigotry when it’s entrenched in the system. I don’t know how scared to be. I don’t know how fast rights could be taken away, except by looking at history. But when I do that I find myself trying to comfort myself by saying “that could never happen here”. I can see that I’m already trying to remain comfortable. I’m already ready to minimize.

    I fear our elected representatives may do the same. I want them to fight. I want them to give no ground, because any ground lost will be bitter to regain. I want the low-information voters to blame the easiest person to blame instead of looking at the whole picture- the way they’ve been blaming the easiest person to blame instead of looking at the whole picture for the last eight years. This is not the time to be nice or conciliatory.

    Someone mentioned game theory. I think the simple resolution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma is to cooperate until the other party betrays, then betray all the way. Is that right? If so, that’s what needs to happen.

  123. @mythago

    No, you’re right. He was a late addition to my list and forgot to add him to the list of white guys below. That said, I do like him a lot. He’s been a very vocal supporter of gay rights (back before it was fashionable even) and has done a lot of work in California on gun control (he wrote Prop 63, which just passed here banning large capacity magazines and requiring background checks for ammo purchases).

  124. Sterling: “Someone mentioned game theory.”

    That was me.

    “I think the simple resolution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma is to cooperate until the other party betrays, then betray all the way. Is that right?”

    Close. For an iterated PD, you start out cooperating, and then follow with a strategy called tit-for-tat. Whatever they do, thats what you do to them next turn. Mathematically, if everyone is being rational selfish actors, you still end up with the best solution for everyone.

    The problem is that the ‘trump infrastructure bill’ is several dimensions more complex than the prisoners dilemma, making it hard to determine the best course of action. I listed several game theory characteristics that it differs from the simple prisoners dilemma. The biggest one is probably that it is a limited information problem, i.e. we have no idea what the effects of certain actions will be, what the cost or benefit will be.

    So, imagine the prisoners dilemma, something that people to this day still get wrong and misunderstand. And then take thst complexity and add a few orders of magnitude to it. Thats the “trump presidency” game. There is no easy answer, and limited information means no answer can be proven with certainty (though history’s love of rebooting itself and doing sequels shouod inform some of the missing predictive information).

    But yeah. At the strategic level, there is no certain-right answer on the best way to deal with Trump. We dont have enough info to be certain. And that same missing info means we could also be wrong. Meanwhile, the potential for disasterous outcomes has skyrocketed. Trump could literally blow up the planet because he thought Agrabah was mocking him. We are looking at the potential for the worst possible outcomes and no clear answers to stop it.

  125. Re’: ‘…really no idea how to effectively work against such bigotry when it’s entrenched in the system

    How about taking a page out of Ghandi by letting the whole ”civilized” world see how badly you (i.e., a society with TD as POTUS) is misbehaving. However, since many USians are in the habit of considering only their own turf/opinions (vs. what others/other countries think), this may not work.

    The other popular strategy is to find a widely admired/respected person who is visibly a success and just as visibly the exact opposite of what TPTB/TD considers the ‘right type of person’. This might at least put a chink into the autopilot thinking of all X’s are bad. No idea who this might be just now although some dotcom/high-tech billionaires are possibilities.

  126. Hm. Game theory sort of covers obstructionism, now that I’m thinking GT again. (I cant remember the name for this concept, so I ll just call it obstructionism.) Mathematically, what is the porpose of obstruction?

    math doesnt care about right and wrong. Its all just numbers. If you oppose everything Trump does because he is the kkk grand dragon, then thats not a mathematical decision. Its not a strategy. And we need morality AND smart strategy.

    The mathematical purpose of an “adamant no” is to change the game. If two choices are before you and you adamantly refuse one of them, then you effectively remove that option from the game theory table.

    Repubs did this when they refused to confirm merrick garland. It only works if you are willing to follow through to the bitter end. And it only works if you can communicate your adamant decision to the other party so they can take it into account for their decision making. You cant use this to change a single iteration prisoners dilemma because no communication is allowed.

    The thing is, it doesnt have to be an adamant no, it could be an adamant yes. Or an adamant “blue cheese dressing”. It just has to be adamant that you will follow through, even if it means taking damage for that choice, to the very end. If you can pull it off and make clear to your opponent that you will adamantly choose one path, you *may* remove one of their possible paths, and change the overall strategy of the game.

    There is no point, mathematically speaking, to obstruct or be adamant for obstructions sake. An adamant choice only means something mathematically if it can remove a choice from your opponents table. If the other players choices dont change, it is a useless gesture from the game theory side of things. I.e. the “adamant choice” campaign has to be effective in being adamant. If you signal that you will eventually collapse its a waste of time mathematically speaking.

    So, if Trump names a KKK member to scotus, the choice is confirm or reject. If you reject, and there arent enough votes, trump might pick someone else, like an Aryan Race member. And you confirm or reject again. If you make clear that you will always adamantly oppose any bigot to the supreme court, you *might* change Trumps cost/benefit table. Zero benefit to appoint a bigot extremist. So he names someone slightly more moderate. Still right wing, but not a flaming fascist. And maybe you confirm that judge to scotus, so you win because the KKK is not in scotus, and trump wins because scotus is still to the right.

    But to pull that off, though, the dems would have to make clear they will adamantly refuse to confirm a bad judge to scotus, and take any heat for any length of time, to achieve that and make sure you have enough votes to block confirmation. Repubs did it with merrick garland. My experience with dem politicians is they talk a good fight, make their move, and then as soon as anyone accuses them of being “mean” they break, they collapse, and its a waste of time.

    The idea isnt to obstruct for obstructions sake. The idea is to obstruct to the point that it changes the cost/benefit table of both players to your favor. It

    So, if we are talking about prgmatic responses to a white nationalist presidency, obstructionism can be a valid response if it changes the cost benefit table of your opponent to your favor

  127. I really think the best thing the Democrats can do is get out of the way. Let the Republicans do what they want. One thing this country has not learned is that elections have consequences. If I had been Harry Reed the last two years I would not have filibustered anything. Let them pass it all, party line vote, and let Obama veto it all. It would certainly have made it clear what the consequences of a Republican president would be. Instead both sides just come off as obstructionist.

    Let them pass some really horrific policies. They are going to anyway. They’ll figure out ways around the filibuster eventually, and then it comes off as a failure by the Democrats in this upside down world we live in. Maybe we need four years of Kansas-style leadership to finally learn what that means. When Obama agreed to the grand bargain, all it got for him was a lot of finger pointing at him as the one willing to agree to entitlement cuts. The Republicans get away with that all of the time. Let them make a real mess and maybe for once people will learn what those policies really mean for them.

  128. Republicans have spent the last several years obstructing legislation. On numerous occasions they have saddled perfectly good legislation with horrible amendments. The Senate refused to allow hearings on Merrick Garland. I think it’s time the Republicans had a dose of their own medicine. The Senate Rs don’t have the 60 votes necessary to confirm a SC justice.

    The first second there is an attempt to block a cloture vote, the filibuster will go away.

  129. I’m having a hard time with the right answer here — or at least, I recognize that what I usually see as the right answer (take half a loaf when the whole loaf is out of reach) is going to be much more problematic over the next four years than it usually is.

    Zombie bread — the whole loaf is way out of reach and you can accept half a loaf, but that half a loaf is going to start to turn you into a monster. It’s a predicament.

  130. Greg: Can’t argue that to make a point the author of the article was abusing the royal we (although he did state that 62% get their news through social media meaning it isn’t 100%). But I didn’t see him trying to say empathy would solve everything or make minorities and non-racists understand that racists are correct or have valid points. Just that social media is leading more and more people into their corners. And that means no contact which eventually means little or no empathy about anything felt by anyone out of your circle. My perhaps poorly worded attempt at a point was that I still think we need to find common ground, what the author called agreed upon facts. I want to emphasize I’m extremely upset about Trump’s election. I’m offended he was nominated much less elected. But I’m also offended that the 44 and under voters showed up about 20% (18-29 was 15% I believe). And thus by not voting I believe they agreed with whomever was elected (effectively a non vote is a vote for the winner). I’m still trying to understand and empathize with that behavior, maybe because of social media filters they didn’t believe their vote was required. However I do not believe that nothing 59 million Trump voters think has any merit (and I empathize with someone strongly pro-life who feels them have no where to go but Trump, even if I don’t agree with them, and in fact believe the actions of the alt-right should outweigh that). But if you agree on nothing and work on nothing you get shut out like the Republicans did the 1st 2 years of Obama. I feel your point about thinking if we just empathize with racists they’ll get better (but perhaps more contact would move more people in that 59 million to develop more empathy for minorities, etc.) Oh well, we’ll probably continue to have fewer and fewer folks like the 2 of us that read articles reflecting multiple points of view even if we don’t totally agree about the content.

  131. I really think the best thing the Democrats can do is get out of the way. Let the Republicans do what they want. One thing this country has not learned is that elections have consequences.

    This is probably going to get me a mallet right between the eyes, Charles Owen, but that’s downright evil. Because you can’t have failed to notice who those “consequences” will land on first and hardest — and I’m more than cynical enough to suspect it won’t be you. And it sure as hell won’t be the people Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan & Mitch McConnell actually give a shit about.

    What you’re proposing isn’t “pragmatism” or a political strategy. It’s spite-fucking the most vulnerable, and if anyone in the Democratic Party gives that notion serious consideration, then it deserves to rot in the same unmarked grave as the Party of Bannon.

  132. Doug: ” My perhaps poorly worded attempt at a point was that I still think we need to find common ground, what the author called agreed upon facts”

    Which is a fine idea, I just hate that idea is being shrinkwrapped in that article in a “both sides are equally bad” framing via the royal “we”.

    Yes, we need to find common ground in facts. But the reason we dont isnt because people were spreading masive mountains of lies about Trump. My experience was that anti-trump positions most commonly relied on Trumps own words, often captured on video, with the comment being mostly “look at this dumpster fire of a man”, whereas anti-hillary positions were defended with stuff listed on snopes as false, or with racist nonsense, or emotive pleas about abortion lasting until 3 months after birth.

    The problem isnt that WE are living in our own little bubbles with no regard for the truth. The problem is clearly THEY do that, Trump supporters do that.

    If someone forwarded me something critical of Trump, I always googled it for fact checking before forwarding it. Trump supporters would forward conspiracy theories about how people aroujd the clintons keep mysteriously dying or committing “suicide”, which is just idiotic. I didnt like Hillary’s international policies and could discuss that citing history, but I saw a trump supporter who forwarded in all seriousness a story about how wikileaks emails revealed that Hillary had refused to support a Nigerian prince who had asked her for help. All she needed to do was provide her SSN and bank account number.

    So, any article that wants to approach this with the attitude that “WE” are all uninformed voters who live in our fact free bubbles? They can fuck off. The problem isnt that all voters refuse to understand the opposition, the problem isnt that all voters refuse to empathize with the opposition. The problem is the right wing spreads lies and trump voters forward it without concern for truth.

    Politifact rated hillary statements something like 70% true, and Trump statements as something like 20% true and trump voters embraced and forwarded those lies. It is extremely obvious where the problem is.

  133. Talking about who’ll run in 2020 will make things worse, IMHO. I think election fatigue played a part in this last election. Some people got fed up and opted out.

    “Fed up” may be one reason; it did rather seem to go on forever, even from this side of the pond. But I suspect it’s the (on one side) hideous set of choices and (on the other side) rather lacklustre choice that made people want to sit this one out.

    There were no tolerable choices in the Republican clown car until you got down to Kasich, and he was just the best of a bad lot.

    And Clinton, while experienced etc, does not inspire a lot of people. She’s had a lot of adverse publicity over the years, little of it deserved, but mud sticks. She’s suffered guilt by association from being married to Bill. And she’s workmanlike rather than inspirational.

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