Reader Request Week 2018 #4: Far-Left(?) Scalzi

Calven13 asks:

This question would invite all sorts of dumbshittery, I get that, but: how do you suppose a cottage industry in attacking you for being ‘far left’ became a thing? There are actual far left authors they could go after, it’s not like Steven Brust or China Mieville aren’t outspoken.

Yeah, but China (wisely) avoids most social media, so he’s no fun, and while Steve is on social media, he’s an actual Trotskyist, and these dimwits would literally have no idea what to do with him once he got on his particular political hobby horse. There are other authors far to left of me who they do try to tangle with, but that doesn’t usually work out for them either — I note a few of them will make sallies at Nick Mamatas from time to time, which is always delightful since Nick is happy to leave them at the bottom of a smoking crater as often as they like, being that Nick is both smarter and meaner than all of them, possibly combined, and also enjoys sticking stupid people in the eye if they willingly come to him for a poke, which apparently they do.

But I was never really being attacked for being “far left” because I am actually far left in my political or social opinions. Honestly over the last double decade the only thing I was really substantially left of the political mainstream about was same-sex marriage, and I’m pleased to say the political mainstream came and found me on that one. On just about everything else, if you check the national polling on political and social issues, I’m pretty much either dead center or only a bit to the left rather than extremely so. I’m a liberal of the petit bourgeois sort, in other words, and this should not be in the least bit surprising for who and what I am, a comfortably well-off straight white dude. As I’ve said before, if you think I represent the vanguard of the far left, that’s a tragedy, both for your understanding of politics, and for the far left itself. I mean, shit. Ask Nick Mamatas how far left he thinks I am. He will accurately, snarkily and possibly profanely peg me on the political spectrum. I rather strongly suspect it will not be to the far left.

The reason there’s a cottage industry in attacking me as “far left” is rather more simple and rather a bit more sad than that, which is that there was a small(ish) clutch of writers and fans whose politics ranged from stock conservative to reactionary to white nationalist and who, for various reasons, disliked me and the fact I have a successful writing career. So they went out of their way to try to insult and diminish me in ways that carry weight to others of their sort. So along with questioning my masculinity and/or my sexuality and/or my sales and/or the validity of my awards and/or my writing talents and/or blog visits and/or [insert whatever here], they called me “far left” because in their universe being far left is one of the worst things you can possibly be. Me just being moderately left wouldn’t do, mind you. Everything has to be extreme for these boys. So far left I am. It’s me and Stalin, bear hugging.

And, well. Okay. From the perspective of sales and personal and professional reputation, this sort of nonsense has been literally harmless to me; any sales that I may have lost from their silliness (and to be clear I don’t think I really have) have been recouped and then some elsewhere. My anecdotal observation over a dozen years is that most of my readers don’t really care about my personal politics, or just accept that as I’m creative person I’m vaguely liberal because that’s kind of what we mostly all do, isn’t it.

Likewise, my loudest detractors tend to be performatively terrible people who mostly yell inward, toward a putative fanbase of people who are aspirationally performatively terrible. So that bubble of feculence tends to be self-limiting, and I’m content to not have that sort read me. Occasionally some their effluvia escapes and a normal, non-terrible person sees it, and the result of that, again anecdotally, is “These people are horrible and they hate you? I’m guessing I’m going to like you more.” So again, very little downside.

(This is where I note, strictly for the avoidance of doubt, that not everyone whose politics are to the right of mine is a terrible person, either performatively or otherwise. And not everyone who dislikes me is terrible either. I’m sure some absolutely delightful people dislike me. However, I can say that if you’ve been going out of your way to call me, say, a far-left beta soyboy or something similarly dude-panic-Mad-Lib, you’re probably not exactly nice.)

With all that said, and reinforcing a comment I made on a similar subject last year: the large majority of this nonsense appears to be over. Most of the characters who went out of their way to attempt to belittle me seem to have moved on to other enthusiasms, and other targets who they feel will offer better returns on their sport. I can’t say I’m exactly broken up about that. I’ve noted a couple of come-lately jerks trying to rerun the playbook that others have tried, but they seem to be having less success with it, to an even smaller audience of fellow jerks. As a result they come across as even more sad and pathetic than the previous bunch. I would suggest they leave it alone, but they wouldn’t listen.

So, you know. If they want to call me “far left” or anything else, whatever. The only people they’ve managed to convince of any of that is themselves. And they’re not exactly the best judges of the subject, I have to say.

(There is still time to ask a question for Reader Request Week! Go here for all the details, and to ask your question.)

47 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2018 #4: Far-Left(?) Scalzi”

  1. I suspect a significant part of the reason these types of people refer to relatively mainstream /
    “center left” people as “far left” is that they don’t understand that they themselves are far right. They rather mistakenly think they are the center / mainstream. You are in fact “far left” in that relative scenario.

  2. Well said, John. Nick Mamatas said that he never uses mute or block on Twitter, so there’s people looking for a fight every day. And they do find a fight. Is sooooo good to see them being trashed by Mr. Mamatas…

  3. Anyone who is either far-right or far-left is either in the process of, or is about to…fall over. Simple gravity.

    All joking aside, I find such pigeon-holing pretty ridiculous. People are much more nuanced than that. Some of my views would be considered far-right, while others are distinctly far-left. The key is to be reasonable and willing to listen.

    Which I think you are.

  4. I’m chuckling as I read this. Spend some time in Berkeley if you want to know what far left looks like. Scalzi is a reactionary by local standards.

  5. I’m left wing, and left wing even in a relatively left wing region of a moderately left wing country, so I’m probably to the Left of Lenin in many people’s eyes. I would characterise you, John, as being a moderately left wing for an American. That is damning with faint praise I’m afraid, and also based solely on your blog and few opinion pieces I’ve seen of you. Obviously that is a curated and polished public persona and not the real you, but there we are. You come across as a left wing-ish American.

  6. Maybe it’s the book train that gets them to you? If you start with Pournelle, Heinlein, Asimov the “people who liked [x] also bought” might recommend Old Man’s war. The immediate antecedents to Brust or Mieville are going to be different? It’s still a bit blinkered, obviously.

  7. @Miles Archer has it right. Driving through Berkeley yesterday, I was listening to Jeremy Scahill on the radio. I’m sure that to most Americans, he’s a screaming radical leftie. What was he saying? Really dangerous stuff such as: “The press should never have a policy of ‘trust, then verify’. They should be grilling the government really hard about Syria. And by the way, Congress is supposed to be overseeing the CIA and they don’t seem to be doing that.” Made sense to me, but then, I must be a leftie too because I’m still angry that while America seems to agree that Viet Nam was a mistake, we don’t seem to have meaningfully changed any of the things that allowed it to happen.

  8. Incels. Soy boys. Hell, feculence. It’s not just reader questions week, it’s expand your readers’ vocabulary week! As you’ve noted, being insulted by the right-off-the-cliff folks probably makes some people like you more (myself included). As long as those folks loathe you, you must be doing something right. Keep up the good work.

  9. As a person right of center (You are correct about the center moving left, slippery slopes and all), I enjoy your reads and the stories of many other “leftist authors” like GRRM. I think you all leave room in your writing for the possible validity of other reasonable views.

  10. I realize you avoid commenting about the SFWA, so feel free to tell me to go away, but just curious: Do you feel like any of this comes out of SFWA politics? Especially given you-know-who’s history with said organization?

  11. I’m a moderate, but being a moderate in ALL cases is somewhat, well, extreme.

  12. On the “majority of this nonsense is over” front, I suspect there’s still some ebbs to be had before it lulls out. After all, one of “those nonsensers” (specifically, incel Alek) got so outraged that he drove down a bunch of people with a van about 10 blocks north of where I’m sitting the other week.

  13. Whomever:

    Very little. Beale was like that independent of his SFWA shenanigans, and I strongly suspect he engaged in his SFWA shenanigans in an attempt to cause trouble for me (which it mostly didn’t, since there was a process in place for shenanigans, and when he indulged in them, we plugged his case into it).

  14. Related to what Jeremey said, there is usefulness in labeling you as far left, because to the degree that they succeed, they move the center to the right. That’s the rationale behind labeling /anything/ they don’t like as far left, radical, socialist etc. Anything they can do to nudge the apparent center further to the right. Sadly, in the US, they seem to have gotten away with it.

  15. If I recall correctly, wasn’t it that your manliness was being attacked? I was under the impression that the liberal thing was just a tack-on. And then you wore a dress and smashed them with a mallet. The irony was lost on them. It was the literary equivalent of that scene in the Jack Reacher movie where Tom Cruise beats up the whole crows of toughs who gang up on him in the parking lot.

  16. Depends on where you stand. I was considered somewhat right wing in the UK, in California that puts me out towards the left wing of the Democrats (certainly to the left of Hilary). I always viewed you as a centrist, TBH.

    Portraying you as far left – lol, not so much. Unless trying to treat people with dignity and respect is far left (checks contents of White House) OK, may be a point there.

  17. Left and right are rather meaningless terms in American politics as both of our major parties do not reach the extremes of either side when compared to those sides in the politics of the balance of the first world nations. For example, both parties claim to be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Then both parties spend our tax dollars and other dollars to the tune of borrowing ungodly amounts of money from the Social Security Trust Fund. Neither party will do reasonable things like subject their elected representatives to the same pension laws as the rest of us or to the same medical plan as the rest of us. And term limits for anyone but the President (see constitutional amendments) are anathema to the elected party members. Frankly, both parties seem to me to be moderate in the politics only slightly left or right of the center line. For most Americans, including you John, there is simply no way to be far-left or far-right, at least in the United States. And why? I wonder can neither party fix Social Security by lifting the cap on taxed earnings, or fix medical care by making Medicare universal cradle to grave. Would those too actions be far-right and far-left here? I hardly think so. I have always admired your ability to pay your critics no mind, John. Keep it up.

  18. You must look outside the United States to find political views that are truly far-left or far-right. All our politics are centrist ( slightly left or right of center) because that is how we historically vote in all our elections. I have always admired your ability, John, to pay little mind to those who attack you for your views. Keep it up. Oh, short test. Left or Right? Fix Social Security by eliminating the cap on taxed earnings. Left or Right? Fix the health care system by making Medical Care universal by making Medicare cradle to grave. Left or Right? Fix Americans’ distaste for Congress by making all Representatives and Senators subject to the same laws as rank-and-file Americans. No special pensions or medical plans for them that we do not also enjoy. Yeah, seems to me that left and right are pretty meaningless terms in our political system.

  19. @Brian Ledford: If all I knew of John Scalzi was Old Man’s War, I’d probably have pegged him as a right-of-center author–it’s a subgenre that is prone to that, and some elements in the book even read like right-militarist political signaling. (But the later books in the same series gray that out considerably.)

    I suspect many people reasoned the same, went to his website and eventually learned otherwise. And were somewhat taken aback.

  20. >they called me “far left” because in their universe being far left is one of the
    > worst things you can possibly be.

    I grew up rural, and had a couple of yahoos in high school regularly call me gay. I strongly suspect this was not because they particularly thought I was, but because it was the worst thing they could think of.

    And I recall when I found the Internet and a C.S. Lewis e-mail list, someone asked if Lewis was a right-winger, and his son immediately replied “No- he always played center forward.” (Maybe that’s funnier in a country where everyone plays soccer.)

  21. So sorry. I thought the first of the above two posts had been lost by the system when I had not logged in to my wordpress account, so wrote the second one.

  22. @ Matthew McIrvin: I was about to say pretty much the same thing. I’ve always had the impression that a number of people read and loved Old Man’s War, mentally slotted Scalzi into the “mil-fic author” group — which does trend right-wing, although there are exceptions — and then felt not just disappointed but betrayed when he proved not to be the kind of author, or the kind of person, that they’d thought he was. That’s your audience for the “Scalzi is a left-wing girly-man” bullshit. It’s a few second-rate performance artists playing to an extremely niche market.

    Also, Libertarians and other Freeze Peach… individuals… get bent out of shape because he doesn’t think that hate speech deserves a place at the table, or to be respected and taken seriously.

  23. People in america label you as far left because in america “liberal” has become an curse word for those who arent.

    But then again, the new normal for the conservative/right is Trump.

  24. Nick Mamatas? Never heard of him, (adds name to the “to be read” list)

  25. @Gary Randall Willis “You must look outside the United States to find political views that are truly far-left or far-right. All our politics are centrist…”

    I have no idea how you can even think that. From an European expat point of view I’d say that most positions held by what little remains of mainstream Republicans are hard right, and that mainstream Democrats range from definitely right of center to at the most very-slightly to the left.

    Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren would be smack in the center of the political spectrum in most European countries.

  26. @Riccardo Schiaffino I see your point, but if our views here run from slightly left of center to the hard right, my underlying point that there is not that much separation in American political views still makes some sense. So our centrist point actually is somewhere between slightly right and hard right from your point of view. Ooooo, you say you are a European expat. I plan this summer to become a Texan Expat in Victoria, BC, Canada. How do you find being an expat compares to home? [Off topic that query. The mallet might delete us.]

  27. I’ve always enjoyed your posts, even when they challenge my beliefs. Heck, often BECAUSE they challenge them, in reality. I stubbornly hold to my views, clinging firmly to the slippery slope between liberal and conservative, letting other’s labels flutter around me like confetti as the tide and politics swing back and forth like a pendulum. I have no party. I have no platform. I simply believe what I believe and leave others to shrug and look bewildered. Welcome to the slope. I’ll share a dirt clod to toss at the confetti. It’s fun. Try it! 🎊

  28. Back in reality, Mr. J Scalzi is affectionately known as “one of the only decent humans writing for the center right”.

    Snopes Fact Check: True.

  29. Gary: “All our politics are centrist ( slightly left or right of center) because that is how we historically vote in all our elections. ”
    Wow. No. Not even close. The us with W embraced torture as official policy and unwarrated widespread wiretapping. Obama continued the wars in iraq afghanistan, and got us moderately regulated health insurance. Trump embraces full on nazis, klanners, sexists, islamophobia, homophobia, us attacking the press, is perverting rule of law, likely colluded with russians to get elected, and probably sexually assaulted more than a dozen women in his lifetime. We are so far to the right that they had to extend the map.
    “there is not that much separation in American political views still makes some sense”
    Was all this nonsense just a package for the Tweedledee Tweedledum larger nonsense?

  30. “Far-left beta soyboy”.
    The Coke Zero sure tingles when it exits your nose that way.

  31. Be warned, those trotting of to follow Nick Mamatas. When Scalzi says, “Nick is both smarter and meaner than all of them”, know that the latter descriptor has had occasion to cause me to suspect the former, insofar as I’ve seen Nick go so mean, so fast that he had to circle back around to actually make a smart statement.

  32. When I read good writing (and I think Scalzi’s work is firmly in that category), I tend to make no assumptions about the author’s attitudes or politics unless they are offered explicitly. After all, a good writer will write good characters that are true to their creation and may say nothing about the author’s life or person.

    Now, ***bad*** writing often displays, usually in the most unflattering way, far more than is intended by the author. This is true of attitudes I love or those I loath; bad writers just have no control.

  33. @ jhd3: Something interesting that I didn’t become consciously aware of until about a decade ago is that I seem to make a distinction between things the author’s characters say in dialogue, and things that the narrative voice says. And it’s the latter that will make me side-eye, because I interpret it as much more “this is what the author thinks” than what the characters say. (Rita Mae Brown and Sharyn McCrumb, I’m looking at you.)

  34. @Gary R. Willis: OK, this is the TL;DNR version of this, and even this is too long.

    Personally, I think you’ve been drinking too much of the right wing Kool Aid. It’s a common talking point amongst the ignorant branch of the right wing that our elected officials have a different pension plan or medical plan. This is totally untrue. Since 2003, newly elected officials have exactly the same retirement system that every federal employee gets. It might be a better system than what your employer, assuming you’re working for a large for-profit company, gives you, or what you generally don’t get at all from a small company. Since Obamacare was passed (this was a Republican amendment, I believe), Congress and their employees must go through the gold-level ACA plans, and they pay for 28% of the premium, which I think is about comparable to the subsidy I get from my employer.

    Furthermore, if you think the Republicans are basically in the center on health care, think again. There are basically no Republicans willing to provide cradle to grave health care via government programs. When they had the chance to eliminate Obamacare last year, I never heard a single proposal from the Republicans for universal health insurance or a national medical system. There are plenty of Democrats in Congress who have cosponsored bills for single payer health care, ala Medicare for all. See the difference?

    Personally, in the US political environment, I consider universal health care slightly left of center, and there is no way that I would consider the Republican stance on it anywhere close to center, as the typical response from a Republican is that “death panels, health care rationing, we’re all going to die”, despite 50 years of seniors mostly loving their Medicare. Even though my father-in-law is dead-set against me getting single payer health care, he’d never give his up.

    Even though John is clearly for universal health care, I don’t think that ever comes up with the people who attack him for being a far-left SJW. It’s usually things like his position on how white males basically have an “EASY” button when it comes to getting into school, getting a job, getting a mortgage, interacting with the police, etc (not that it’s easy for anyone), or that people who support gamergate or are internet trolls are basically misogynists, or his views on feminism and gun control that set these people off.

  35. You’re a decent human being. You believe that lots of things about America are unfair, and that it is right and proper to make them fairer.

    In America, that puts you firmly on the left. The center thinks making things fairer is too hard, and the right is against it on principle.

  36. ‘The far X’ – either side – is all too willing to label anyone in the middle as part of the ‘far X’ on the other end. “If you ain’t fer us, yer agin us,” is the sum of their sorting process.

    The funniest part, imo, is that the far leftists think they’re not as big a bunch of dumb hicks as the far rightists. They just dress preppier.

  37. I’ve seen this actually backfire on them. One of my mother’s friends who is a moderate conservative who reads your books stumbled upon an essay by one of them that lamented how science fiction had been taken over by the far left. He sent it to me with a concerned note: was this true? was I worried about this apparent new narrow echo chamber? would I or any of my assorted diverse friends have difficulty in this new world order, if things were that rigid?

    I wrote back a very simple note: “When this group says ‘far left,’ they mean John Scalzi.” Signed my name. OH, he wrote back. THAT’S RIDICULOUS.

    Problem solved.

  38. But I was never really being attacked for being “far left” because I am actually far left in my political or social opinions.

    It has been my experience that folks tend to get the most upset about the people who almost but not quite agree with them. A person who is center-right will scream obscenities at a person who is center-left but will completely ignore someone who is far-left (and vice versa).

    Why does this happen? If I had to guess, it would be because the person thinks that the folks who almost agree with him fail to completely agree simply because they want to play “Devil’s advocate” and are thus disrespecting his position.

  39. I’m Dutch and in Holland I’m mostly slightly to the Left of the Middle and occasionally slightly to the Right of it.
    Of course, my finger-in-dykes ‘slightly to the Left of the Middle’ would translate as ‘raving Marxist’ in many parts of the US.

  40. Another reason not to tangle with Nick is that he is strong like bull…I’ve seen him heft a 100-pound traveling bag like it was nothing!

  41. @Gary R Willis
    “How do you find being an expat compares to home?”
    I like it here (Colorado), though I miss the sea and my country of origin (Italy)… Politics is almost as messed up in Italy at it is here — though Trump achieved what I would never expected: in comparison to him even Berlusconi starts to look better.
    To keep this answer somewhat on topic: what I found astounding was that the mere fact of taking a plane and landing in the States transformed me from a centrist – even center-right kind of person (in Italy) to a lefty, without my political opinions needing to change even a little bit (not that they haven’t change in the quarter century I have been here).

  42. In US politics, I’m actually wondering if left and right are even important now in the outcomes of elections and policies passed by politicians, compared to other factors like charisma, tribalism, lobbying, and who can yell “change” the loudest.

    If I examine things through a left/right lens, I find it really hard to reconcile Bernie Sanders’ success with Trump’s election. Trump’s all over the place, but is far more right than left. To me, Sanders looks like the most left-wing guy who made a serious run at the presidency in decades. A nation that historically is right-leaning seriously considering a socialist for president and then electing a Trump is very strange.

    It could be that there’s such left/right polarization that the winner is whoever gets out the vote, but that theory doesn’t fit well with Sanders being so far left of previous politicians–he’s a socialist and proud of it. If America was eager for the left wing–eager enough to consider a socialist for President–wouldn’t they have elected more socialists in the past?

    So, I’m now leaning toward the idea that whether the actual policies are left or right doesn’t actually matter much to anyone, politicians or electorate, and that left/right lens might just be a big stick used to smack opponents rather than anything around which policies are based. That hypothesis is consistent with the right ignoring the evidence in order to brand our host a “far leftist”.

    The whole situation perplexes me, so I’m curious what others think.

  43. Dear rbgibbons,

    Wow, that is a really interesting question! Or, maybe, two questions:

    1) Is polarization (or partisanship or radicalization, choose your verbiage) a bad thing?

    2) Is it especially pronounced, now?

    First question, answer probably depends on where you’re coming from. Inverting your observation, the same radicalization that gave us a Trump gave us a Sanders run that wasn’t a joke. Both parties are being wracked, internally, by ideological civil wars, at the same time that they put up a (false) front to the outside world that they are unified.

    So, is it worth the possibility of Trump’s in return for the possibility of Sanders’s? I have no doubt that there are strong opinions on that, but I doubt there’s any clean answer.

    Second question. This is a hard thing to measure directly. Looking at rhetoric doesn’t tell you much, because acceptable rhetoric and style change over time (you think it’s bad now, check out late 1800s and the 1930s). One plausible indirect metric is the coattail effect — how much do people vote straight party tickets, vote for the same candidates down the line as they do for the top candidate on the ticket (mayor/governor/ Senator/president).

    By that measure (if it’s an acceptable measure), today’s polarization appears to be normal. What was abnormal was a kind of “Golden Age” (if you think moderation is the way to go) that existed for 2-3 decades in the second half of the 20th century. That’s the era that most people mentally reference, so in their minds things have simply gotten worse. But looking at the pattern over the last century-plus, back well into the 1800s, that Golden Age turns out to be anomalous. Things were a whole lot less partisan for a few decades, but it wasn’t the historical norm.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  44. Dear John,

    This question made me really think, and think hard. Because the first impression of you that pops into my mind is that you ARE far left. I fall at the far left, myself, and my immediate feeling is that you’re more radical than I am.

    Yet, I know that’s not true! Aside from knowing you (a little bit) personally, I’ve been reading your columns for (too) many years. I know that so far as economic policy goes, you’d consider yourself moderate with a fiscally conservative tint, and that fits with what you’ve written (note to readers: being in favor of universal healthcare is a fiscally conservative position, although it is not a socially conservative one). The only thing that makes you stand out in that area is that you have a certain growing-up-poor-and-making-it class perspective, but that’s not a partisan thing, just uncommon.

    You’ve made it clear that you don’t think there’s anything wrong with people owning guns, even though you think the NRA is bugfuck fanatical on the subject (but then so do most Americans, including most gun owners, or so the polls say). I don’t recall any deep discourses from you on foreign or environmental policy, usual far-left favorites.

    So why do I imagine you, despite knowing better, as a radical lefty? Thinking about your writings that have left the biggest impressions…

    You have been vehement in going after the ALT-right and the Trumpstorm. Okay, being fervently opposed to those things hardly makes one far left in the mind of anyone who isn’t in those crosshairs, but you write about it with an intensity and a fervor that moderates rarely exhibit because they’re trying to be, well… Moderate! You let loose, pedal to the metal, amplifier turned up to 11. You SOUND radical, and it leaves an emotional impression.

    The other big reason are your discourses on socio-sexual politics. And in that one arena, you are in fact way hard left. You are arguably further left than I am — I don’t think of some things, like refusing to go to conventions that don’t have CoC’s, until you bring up the idea. Dude, you are WAY out there.

    Yes, that is a compliment.

    Now sure, that is only one area of so many that constitute the political arena, where you mostly fail to make the far-left grade. But for reasons I cannot fathom (trying to look innocent) anything having to do with human sexuality/socio-sexuality makes a disproportionately large impression on me.

    I could even imagine that is a very common human trait. Though I am likely going out on a limb, there. (Still trying for that innocent thing. Is it working?)

    Okay, I think I understand. Your intensity doesn’t come across as moderate (a good thing), and the one area where you are decidedly not moderate is one where I —and I suspect a lot of others — passionately [ahem] care.

    In my head, I know you to be a moderate… But in my heart…

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  45. Ctein:
    Interesting insight. On whether polarization is good or bad, I wonder if it partly it depends on the degree to which one believes in libertarian views, because this polarization seems to frequently results in deadlocks resulting in government doing nothing (a good thing if you think government should do nothing, a bad thing if you think the opposite.)

    The other impression I get now, which I certainly didn’t have when I was younger, is that politicians will cheer for bad things to happen to Americans as long as the other party is blamed for it. What’s more, politicians will do things that are pretty clearly against the country’s interest, and are wildly unpopular, just for lobbyists. (Take, for example, net neutrality.)

    So, I feel like politics is more cynical and self-interested today. At the same time, I’m not sure if that’s actually true or just my perspective on the situation has changed.

    On partisanship, I find your answer fascinating. I had no clue that that was the case (I’m pretty ignorant of American history.) I need to think about how that should change my mental model of US politics.

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