Friday, August 11, 2017

A Gangrene Analogy

Sigh. Centrists are still blaming Trump's election on third parties.

Since no amount of data will ever convince them, I have decided to appeal to their unreasoning prejudice with an ugly analogy they might like. Of course, this won't work. But this might at least help them grasp what I am talking about. Let's start with some uncontroversial facts that I have mentioned before:

1) Third parties exist, have always existed, and always will exist. Period. 

2) They take away from both major parties, both collectively and individually.

3) But they are never a serious factor unless one major party really fucks up. 

For example, there were third parties when Barack Obama ran in 2008 and 2012. They did not cease to exist during that time. But he didn't need to worry about them for some reason. Why?

Because he had charisma and inspired. Also, he didn't lose the Rust Belt because a) he saved Detroit with the auto bailout and b) he actually seriously campaigned in the region instead of blowing those voters off as Hillary Clinton did on top of defending NAFTA. Most Clintonista arguments hinge on forgetting that President Barack Obama ever existed, but I'll explore that in another post.

The point here is: If your excuse for losing is "We would have won too, if it weren't for you meddling kids," then maybe you should factor for the existence of third parties. Because a strategy that doesn't is, by definition, a spectacularly stupid strategy. Hinging voter turnout solely on guilt trips is also obviously ill-advised. Obama did not do that. He was more than just "not John McCain" or "not Mitt Romney."

So, what's my analogy? Germs. Third parties are like germs.

I expect centrists will love this analogy because germs are tiny and dangerous. And of course because the analogy is sufficiently insulting to third parties. I'm honestly surprised they haven't made it themselves.

Yeah, germs are tiny; but they are also always there. Germs get in everything. They are literally in the air we breathe everyday and wishing them away will not work. Nor will guilt trips. So, when you cut yourself, clean the wound, apply disinfectant, and a bandage. Do this immediately. Do NOT let it fester.

Politically, this means do not betray labor or patronize progressives if you are a Democrat. If you or your predecessors have in the past, make credible amends and tend to those wounds. Obama did that and thus won. He got that these constituencies are the foot soldiers in the ground game of any campaign. As I wrote before, they do the shit work of making cold calls and licking envelopes. Who shows up for Democratic Party phone banks? Mostly hard hats and hippies. Sapping their enthusiasm is self-sabotage.

Evangelicals perform the same function for Republicans. Any GOP candidate who didn't attend to their issues would be seriously weakened - to say nothing of the consequences openly mocking them. There is a reason why "shooting yourself in the foot" is a durable idiom. Don't bash your party's activists. Don't shoot your foot soldiers in their feet. They can't canvas neighborhoods as well after that.

Well, the Democrats' foot wounds have been festering for decades - ever since yuppie fuckwit Gary Hart declared the New Deal coalition dead in 1974. Centrists have been using salt instead of disinfectant.

So, if you do neglect to disinfect your wounds or bandage them up and find yourself getting your leg amputated because of gangrene, do not blame the fucking germs. Blame yourself.

Because third parties only have the power you give them.


  1. It's absolutely amazing to me how the left has refused to learn the lessons of the past couple elections & is instead trying to cling to wishfulfillment so as to not acknowledge the profound evil it caused in 2016. To the extend the American left has returned to existence it succeeded in becoming just powerful enough to be the straw that broke the camel's back that prevented the election of Hillary Clinton.

    Clinton campaigned vigorously in PA as did her top surrogates e.g. Joe Biden, and she still lost. Clinton & Kaine also campaigned in Arizona far more than Biden & Obama did in previous elections. Airzona & was indeed a hell of a lot closer than it was for Obama either time. Clinton didn't campaign in Texas but she also did A LOT better in Texas than Obama did in 2012.

    The problem with Hillary Clinton is that she was actually too far to the economic left & was way too much a candidate of anti-racism. Bill Clinton & Barack Obama ran campaigns significantly to the right of Hillary & they won election & reelection.

    Hillary did not talk about reducing the national debt or deficit (she at most said she wouldn't increase the debt) whereas Obama & Bill talked about it a lot in both of their campaigns. Hillary campaigned on reducing the age of when people can qualify for Medicare to 55 whereas Obama campaigned on raising the age to 67.

    Barack Obama in his two elections & Bill in '96 pretended that racism was essentially over & they won. Bill Clinton in his 1992 campaign did minor racist dog whistling--nothing close to the dog whistling Reagan or Bush Sr. did but still dog whistling-- & he was rewarded with being the only Democrat since LBJ to win white working class voters.

    Hillary began her primary campaign by embracing black lives matter's call for criminal justice reform & united we dream's calls for immigration reform to a degree well beyond anything Obama ever did & in the general she became the first Democratic candidate to ever say "systematic racism" & her "deplorable" comment was the exact opposite of the Sister Souljah/Recky Ray Rector/damning Jeremy Wright strategy that Obama (and even more Bill) used to win.

    Face facts: Hillary lost because she was too economically left for America & too concerned with facing white racism head on.

    Centrists are made at Jill Stein because despite the fact that Hillary was too economically & socially leftwing for America, she could have won if Steiner votes had sided with her. Hillary alienated lots & lots of moderate & center-right white voters that traditionally vote Democratic by being so much of an economic & social radical (unlike Obama & Bill), but if the far left hadn't been present this loss wouldn't have proven fatal.

    Tell me something. If being a strong progressive is a great way to get elected as a Democrat then why did Shenna Bellow & Rick Weiland lose in 2014 & why did Russ Feingold lose his seat in 2010 & then lose again in 2016--he did worse than Hillary--despite his campaigning on a solid pro-labor agenda?

    1. It's absolutely amazing to me how closet conservatives have refused to learn the lessons of the past *several* elections. We have been running fuck-our-base centrists since Jimmy Carter and usually lose as a result. The two exceptions were exceptionally charismatic candidates - Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Otherwise, we ran a string of soggy sponges like Michael Dukakis and Al Gore who could not compensate for that self-inflicted handicap.

      You are making the same easily-debunked, self-contradictory arguments you made on Twitter. Your entire debate style is based on the logical fallacy of argument by assertion and said unsupported assertions are silly. You think Hillary Clinton campaigned hard in the Rust Belt? You think "Annie Oakley" ran to the *left* of Obama? Obama expressed mock shock that Clinton was talking like a Republican.

      She was (and still is) the hawk while he was seen as the dove. That's a huge part of why she lost to him. Turns out the voters didn't like Bush's wars anymore and did not want more of the same. Voters care about life and death issues like war. Who knew?

      Yes, sexism was undoubtedly a factor for some, but she thought being a hawk would counter that and it did the opposite. And it’s not sexist for Democrats to not want an American Margaret Thatcher. Being in the other party doesn’t make that okay. Witness how deeply unpopular Tony Blair is in England today.

      Kudos for finally acknowledging the Clinton family brand’s routine use of dog whistles, but you draw the wrong conclusion from them. You credit Bill Clinton’s usage for making him “the only Democrat since LBJ to win white working class voters.” But this ignores two crucial historical facts: First, LBJ was the last Democratic president to do anything *FOR* the working class – black or white – at least until Obama saved Detroit. Second, LBJ crushed Goldwater after passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, we lost the South as a result (which is why not losing the Rust Belt on top of that is so crucial), but your takeaway presumes LBJ did not directly confront racism, which is absurd on its face. Neglecting your base hurts you? Again, who knew?

    2. And speaking of perceptions, who was called as the Islamic socialist sleeper agent from Kenya? Yes, conservatives slandered Hillary as well, but such rhetoric didn't slow Obama any. Why? This is where you have talked yourself into a corner because you either have to admit that Obama had more pluses and fewer minuses as a candidate or you have to reverse your position on the potency of racism. Oh, wait. I forgot you are arguing that Hillary is blacker than Barack.

      Both Obama and Clinton faced bigotry and slander from the other side of the aisle. Both wasted time trying to reach out to hopelessly unreachable voters. But in addition Obama energized the base by a) having charisma and b) not contemptuously holding that base at arms length. Obama embraced the base, which is why he was perceived as far more progressive than he actually governed. Bill Clinton did the same. Voters want progressive presidents. When Bill campaigned on welfare reform, people naively believed he meant making it work better – not adopting some conservative version of “reform” which is always sabotage in disguise.

      Why? Because he seemed nice. It was the same reason voters could not connect genial grandpa Ronnie Reagan with his draconian policies. And many Clinton fans are laboring under the same deception even today. But in both cases, Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s, the corporate media urged them to back off campaign promises. The fact that Democrats campaign more liberally then they subsequently govern proves that voters are more liberal than the establishment and that progressive promises are vote-getters, not vote losers.

      Finally, the fantasy that Hillary Clinton was to economically left-wing for the general public is nonsense. Most Americans – including most Republicans – want a more equitable distribution of wealth. In other words, “I love Denmar-“ oh, wait, I mean Sweden:

      “According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden’s model over that of the US. What’s more, the study’s authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.”

      But I suppose you will tell me that Harvard Business School is infamous for its socialist, anti-establishment bias.

      Recent history contradicts you. Obama was called a socialist, but it didn’t hurt him. Sanders called himself a socialist and it didn’t hurt him either. You constantly called yourself a progressive optimist on Twitter, but all your arguments have been cynical and conservative. You say Hillary Clinton was too liberal and for good measure you add that she was too liberal for YOU. I might say that was the only non-contradictory claim you have made – except that you claimed to be such a big liberal and touted your supposed progressive bona fides on Twitter, so no cigar there either. But of course this is nothing new. You touted your union ties while bashing unions. Just like conservatives praise Rosa Parks before saying something racist.

  2. Bill Clinton & Barack Obama & Joe Biden & John Kasich were all throughout 2016 & even today more popular than Hillary & (in the case of Obama & Biden more popular than Sanders too).

    What do all of these MEN have income besides they fact that they are MEN? All of them ranged from minorly to significantly to Hillary Clinton's right on policy.

    If you don't want to say that Hillary lost because she was a woman, you're going to have to acknowledge that she lost because she was too economically & socially liberal.

  3. Full disclosure: I think it is possible to read the data of 2016 such that Hillary lost because sexism is still prevalent among Americans. I prefer to, however, to interpret her defeat as due to her being way too much of economic & socialist leftist rather than her being a woman.

    I did not want someone as leftwing as Hillary to be the 2016 Dem nominee--I wanted Biden or Webb or Chafee & I even toyed with the idea of Martin O'Malley--but I think sexism is evil so I honestly hope that the reason for her defeat is her far left policy positions rather than her being a woman.