What are the core differences between Republicans and Democrats?

by on March 2, 2016 at 1:04 am in Current Affairs, Education, Political Science, Religion, Uncategorized | Permalink

Paul Krugman has a long post on this question, here is part of his bottom line:

…the Democratic Party…[is] a coalition of teachers’ unions, trial lawyers, birth control advocates, wonkish (not, not “monkish” — down, spell check, down!) economists, etc., often finding common ground but by no means guaranteed to fall in line. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has generally been monolithic, with an orthodoxy nobody dares question. Or at least nobody until you-know-who…

My view is not so far from that, but I would put it a little differently and then push harder on some other dimensions of the distinction (btw Brad DeLong comments).  The Republican Party is held together by the core premise that the status of some traditionally important groups be supported and indeed extended.  That would include “white male producers,” but not only.  You could add soldiers, Christians (many but not all kinds), married mothers, gun owners, and other groups to that list.

(The success of Trump by the way is that he appeals to that revaluation of values directly, and bypasses or revises or ignores a lot of the associated policy positions.  That is why the Republican Party finds it so hard to counter him and also fears it will lose its privileged position, were Trump to win.  The older Republican policy positions haven’t delivered much to people for quite some time.)

Democrats are a looser coalition of interest groups.  They agree less on exactly which groups should rise in status, or why, but they share a skepticism about the Republican program for status allocation, leading many Democrats to dislike the Republicans themselves and to feel superior to them.  In any case, that underlying diversity does mean fewer litmus tests and potentially a much broader political base, as we observe in higher turnout Presidential elections, which Democrats are more likely to win these days.  That also means more room for intellectual flexibility, although in some historical eras this operates as a negative.

Right off the bat, this distinction between the two parties puts most blacks, single women, and most but not all Hispanics in the Democratic camp.  Not-yet-assimilated immigrants have a hard time going Republican, even though a lot of high-achieving Asians might seem like natural conservatives.  No matter how much Republicans talk about broadening their message, the core point is still “we want to raise the status of groups which you don’t belong to!”  That’s a tough sell, and furthermore the Republicans can fall all too readily into the roles of being oppressors, or at least talking like oppressors.

Republicans, who are focused on the status of some core groups at the exclusion of others, are more likely to lack empathy.  Democrats, who oppose some of the previously existing status relations, and who deeply oppose the Republican ideology, are more likely to exhibit neuroticism.

It is easy for Republicans to see the higher neuroticism of Democrats, and easier for Democrats to see the lesser empathy of Republicans.  It is harder for each side to see its own flaws, or to see how the other side recognizes its flaws so accurately.

Academics are one of the interest groups courted by Democrats.  Academics want to appear high status and reasonable, and Democrats offer academics some of those features in the affiliation, including the option to feel they are better than Republicans.  So on issues such as evolution vs. creationism (but not only), Democrats truly are more reasonable and more scientific.  Academics consume those status goods, plus the academics already had some natural tendencies toward neuroticism.

Academics shouldn’t feel too good about this bargain.  They are being “used” as all party interest groups are, and how much reasonableness they can consume in the Democratic coalition will ebb and flow with objective conditions.  In the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, it was common for Democrats to be more delusional than Republicans, and those days may someday return, though not this year.

Next, we must move beyond the federal level to understand the two parties, and that is also a good litmus test for whether a discussion of the two parties is probing as opposed to self-comforting.

At the state and local level, the governments controlled by Republicans tend to be better run, sometimes much better run, than those controlled by the Democrats (oops).  And a big piece of how American people actually experience government comes at the state and local level.

This superior performance stems from at least two factors.  First, Republican delusions often matter less at the state and local level, and furthermore what the core Republican status groups want from state and local government is actually pretty conducive to decent outcomes.  The Democrats in contrast keep on doling out favors and goodies to their multitude of interest groups, and that often harms outcomes.  The Democrats find it harder to “get tough,” even when that is what is called for, and they have less of a values program to cohere around, for better or worse.

Second, the states with a lot of Democrats are probably on average harder to govern well (with some notable Southern exceptions).  That may excuse the quality of Democratic leadership to some degree, but it is not an entirely favorable truth for the broader Democratic ethos.  Republicans, of course, recognize this reality.  Even a lot of independent voters realize they might prefer local Republican governance, and so in the current equilibrium a strong majority of governors, state legislatures, and the like are Republican.

Think on those facts — or on the state of Illinois — the next time you hear the Democrats described as the reality-oriented community.  That self-description is “the opium of the Democrats.”

If you wish to try to understand Republicans, think of them as seeing a bunch of states, full of Republicans, and ruled by Republicans, and functioning pretty well.  (Go visit Utah!)  They think the rest of America should be much more like those places.  They also find that core intuition stronger than the potential list of views where Democrats are more reasonable or more correct, and that is why they are not much budged by the intellectual Democratic commentary.  Too often the Democrats cannot readily fathom this.

At some level the Republicans might know the Democrats have valid substantive points, but they sooner think “Let’s first put status relations in line, then our debates might get somewhere.  In the meantime, I’m not going to cotton well to a debate designed to lower the status of the really important groups and their values.”  And so the dialogue doesn’t get very far.

Again, both the Democrats and the Republicans have their ready made, mostly true, and repeatedly self-confirming stories about the defects of the other.  They need only read the news to feel better about themselves, and the academic contingent of the Democrats is better at this than are most ordinary citizens.  There is thus a rather large cottage industry of intellectuals interpreting and channeling these stories to Democratic voters and sympathizers.  On the right, you will find an equally large cottage industry, sometimes reeking of intolerance or at least imperfect tolerance, peddling mostly true stories about the failures of Democratic governance, absurd political correctness, tribal loyalties, and so on.  That industry has a smaller role for the intellectuals and a larger role for preachers and talk radio.

It is easier for intelligent foreigners to buy more heavily into the Democratic stories.  They feel more comfortable with the associated status relations, and furthermore foreigners are less likely to be connected to American state and local government, so they don’t have much sense of how the Republicans actually are more sensible in many circumstances.

It would be wrong to conclude that the two parties both ought to be despised.  This is human life, and it is also politics, and politics cannot be avoided.  These are what motivations look like.  Overall these motivations have helped create and support a lot of wonderful lives and a lot of what is noble in the human spirit. We should honor that side of American life, while being truly and yet critically patriotic.

That said, I see no reason to fall for any of these narratives.  The goal is to stand above these biases as much as possible, and communicate some kind of higher synthesis, in the hope of making it all a bit better.

This year, I’m just hoping it doesn’t get too much worse.  In the last few years I have seen some nascent signs that Democrats are becoming less reasonable at the national level, for instance their embrace of the $15 national minimum wage.  I also am seeing signs that the Republicans are becoming less fit to govern at the local level, probably because national-level ideology is shaping too many smaller scale, ostensibly pragmatic decisions.  The Trump fixation also could end up hurting the quality of Republican state and local government.  So this portrait could end up changing fairly rapidly and maybe not for the better.

1 Lorenzo from Oz March 2, 2016 at 1:19 am

Thank you for this, an excellent and enlightening post that I can point people to.

2 Jeff R. March 2, 2016 at 9:06 am

I concur.

3 Joël March 2, 2016 at 9:11 am

Me too. An excellent post.

4 Nate March 2, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Not bad… but not great. I certainly would not share or forward this. If this was a HS freshman paper I’d give it a C. Mainly for labeling democrats as prone to neuroticism. What were you trying to do here? Neuroticism is a personality trait that is not based on political prefference. Not sure of the intent but misusing psychology terminology to paint broad strokes on a socio-political subset was a poor decision IMHO…

5 FredAGunter March 3, 2016 at 7:47 am

Democrat neuroticism stems from their unceasing quest to determine the hierarchy of grievance.

Is the correct order: Black man > White woman > Queer Man > Islamic Female , or is it White woman > Black Man > Islamic Female > Queer Man.

…and then what if one of them is paraplegic???

6 Richie Rich March 3, 2016 at 10:03 am

Nate – I pray to God you are NOT an educator. And by the way, it is pref·er·ence. Excellent article and if this was a HS freshman paper, I would give them an A+.

7 Jonathan Graehl March 3, 2016 at 3:17 pm

“I’d give it a C” is not fooling anyone. That’s a drama queen move.

There are *tons* of studies demonstrating statistically significant population differences in personality traits between voters of the two parties, or more generally, liberal vs conservative (same pattern in the EU states as the US). Here’s one google hit (you can look for more if you still doubt): http://jspp.psychopen.eu/article/view/117/html#d2e1483 – search for “emotional [in]stability” instead of “neuroticism” – the psych research nomenclature has changed. I think “openness” and “agreeableness” matter more in predicting political affiliation, though.

8 Dan March 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

You all must not get the joke….. :/

9 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Thank you @FredAGunter for demonstrating Repub lack of emphaty so forcefully and aptly

10 Make Donald Drumpf Again March 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

He benefits from a divided competition. #makedonalddrumpfagain

11 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

You realize his family might have changed their name from Drumpf in the 1600’s (due to linguistic drift in Germany) but there is actually not even any direct evidence of that?

12 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 10:31 am

No real opinion about the ‘d,’ but ‘Trumpf’ is at least recognizable as a German name, whereas Trump isn’t really. For example, Trumpf is a well known manufacturer of chocolates. However, Trumpf comes from a certain Germanization of ‘triumph’ and is not what one would exactly consider a family name. However, the ‘f’ at the end of a ‘p’ is typical enough – ‘Dampf’ is steam, whereas ‘damp’ is essentially an English word. Then there is ‘dumpf’ which can mean several things, including ‘dull,’ but again, ‘dump’ is an English word (used by Germans for something like a memory dump, though).

That a German immigrant to the U.S. would lose the ‘f’ at the end of their name seems pretty hard to dispute, to be honest. But welcome to the modern U.S., it seems.

13 Brad March 2, 2016 at 9:23 am

The key question is how each party answers the question — why are people poor and why do they suffer? For Republicans, people are poor because they are weak or lazy or lacking in ambition. It is an interior event. For Democrats, people are poor because the playing field isn’t level. It needs to be leveled out and made to play fair. It is an event exteriot to the individual. Both views are correct in my view, and in their own way.

14 static March 2, 2016 at 9:38 am

That Democrat view is missing something. Even if they playing field is fair, some people will be poor. The current Democrat obsessions are which people are poorer, and shrinking the playing field so no one can win much. Equal opportunity is more of the Republican view.

15 kevin March 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

Poor is relative. You are correct people will always be “poorer”, but it’s not true that “some people will always be poor” if you give poor an objective measure, which the government does by the way. See https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/measure.html

16 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

Post-tax U.S. poverty is down to about 5%.

In Europe poverty is commonly defined as 2/3 of the median income which I find comical, although to be fair their median income is lower

17 Doug March 2, 2016 at 4:29 pm

The worst thing about being poor in America is having to live around other poor Americans. What is it most that middle-class Americans fear about falling into poverty? Living in a crime-infested neighborhood and sending their kids to schools filled with violent and disruptive pupils.

18 AS March 3, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I would argue the Democrat view is equal opportunity. The difference is the Republicans say equal opportunity is “anyone who wants to can work hard and go to college” and the Democrats say “Someone who was raised in a poor, inner-city neighborhood with poorly-funded schools, and who is going to class hungry every day does NOT have equal opportunity with the upper-middle class kid in suburbia. The playing field is not fair.”

19 Nebfocus March 4, 2016 at 12:44 am

“poorly-funded schools” LOL

“States and state-equivalents spending the most per pupil in 2013 were New York ($19,818), Alaska ($18,175), the District of Columbia ($17,953), New Jersey ($17,572) and Connecticut ($16,631).”

20 asdf March 2, 2016 at 9:48 am

While these views are actually both correct to some degree, the main reason for poor people is genetics.

21 Bob March 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Yep, if your born to poor parents society crushes you and your likely to be poor.

22 asdf March 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm

No, I mean things like IQ and genetic disposition to conscientiousness.

23 Ryan March 2, 2016 at 10:24 am

I hope to think Republicans don’t consider the reason poor people are poor is because “they are weak or lazy or lacking ambition,” but rather because the incentive structure laid out predominantly by government policy is skewed in a way whereby (using financial terms) the initial capital expenditure they would need to rise in economic class is too high on a risk weighted basis compared to their baseline assumption of future earnings. This investment includes time, money, effort, etc., but also is not inherently riskless. Republicans can’t change the up front investment costs or the risk, perhaps other than extending easier financing to poorer people (in which case if that person defaults we get labelled as vulture creditors), but can try to enact policy where the “baseline assumptions” aren’t as cushy and the returns on initial investment would be higher.

24 Thomas March 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

This is the intelligent Republican viewpoint and it is why sophisticated Democrats strive to put in place or increase the size of welfare cliffs – like ACA’s infinite instantaneous marginal tax rate at “medicaid eligibility limit + i”.

25 Helmholtz March 2, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Sidebar, but ACA isn’t intended to have that cliff: it is supposed to allow people to slide reasonably continuously upwards, between the Basic Health Plan option (intended to take over from the 138% Medicaid eligibility limit – 200%) and the exchange subsidies (which phase out gradually).

This design is needlessly complicated and not that good in the first place, for sure. But the proximate reason it has resulted in cliffs in some places is that many not-so-pragmatic state-level Republicans have declined Medicaid expansion, certainly declined BHP, and view the exchanges with hostility–not some clever plan to build in dependent voting blocs.

26 firingline March 2, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Yeah, poor people have it too good. That’s much better than saying they’re lazy and weak.

27 mikea March 2, 2016 at 1:01 pm

It’s not that they have it good. It’s that they’re put in a position where its very difficult to have it better by structural governmental failings. We can point to terrible public school systems and the war on drugs.

28 Effem March 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm

I know plenty of people who are lazy, just don’t care, or are even downright destructive. I even have some of them in my family. And frankly they are proud of it. Where did you grow up? There are tons of them.

Left says “unlucky,” right says “unproductive” and the conversation stops there. Yes, both are true at times. Get over it.

29 Jeff Y. March 4, 2016 at 8:39 am

Ryan, well said and you’ve given me “food for thought.” –JY

30 mikea March 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Let me guess, you’re a Democrat?

31 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 2, 2016 at 2:15 pm

You seem to be ignoring a common Republican explanation for poverty, which is that government programs land a 1-2 punch of conditioning dependency among client classes such as the urban poor, while shutting down alternative avenues for self-advancement through protectionism regulations like occupational licensing.

32 cowboydroid March 2, 2016 at 9:04 pm

That’s not a Republican explanation. That’s a libertarian explanation. Republicans do argue conditioning dependency sometimes, but they don’t oppose occupational licensing. They’re some of the most ardent supporters of it.

33 Heedless March 2, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Republicans generally point to excrable public schools,a corrupt, stifling regulatory apparatus, and the collapse of the two parent family as denying people born in poverty the education, opportunity, and role models necessary to join the middle class.

They also point to the lawlessness engendered by the above and encouraged by De Blasio style policing as the the last, ugliest piece of the poverty trap.

As a libertarian, I would agree with most of that, with the caveat that the drug war has done more to contribute to lawlessness in poor communities than any three other factors you could name. I also tend to think that the Republicans proposed solutions are often more destructive than helpful, but as a general rule I find their explanations for the causes of poverty considerably more convincing than those of liberals

34 Dan Lavatan March 2, 2016 at 5:55 pm

* I don’t think poor people are necessary lazy. However, there is a more basic question – should the responsibility for ending poverty rest with the government? The answer is unequivocally no, so I need not reach or consider the issue of why someone might be poor when considering political questions.

* I also not that on an international scale almost everyone in the US is quite wealthy, including most people the Democrats claim as poor. If they really wanted to help people, they would end Medicaid overnight and send all the money to Africa where people are more in need, the money would provide a better value, and indeed people are generally more deserving in their other opportunities are limited. The fact that Democrats consistently prove they aren’t really serious about charity means I need not seriously consider their arguments.

35 j r March 2, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Here’s a crazy idea: maybe there is no one answer to that question.

How should that affect our politics?

36 Jeff Y. March 3, 2016 at 11:53 am

Poverty is the natural state of mankind. Ten-thousand-odd years ago essentially everyone was a (poor) hunter-gatherer and could own no more property than they could individually carry & protect. Mankind became, on average, steadily wealthier due in large part to the every-increasing specialization of labor. Yes, there were other factors such as mass-literacy, the codification of the various freedoms and property-rights, etc.

For all intents-and-purposes there are no poor people in the developed world. The so-called poor in the developed world are rich beyond the wildest dreams of 99.999% of all people who have ever lived. Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of relative-poverty and I don’t buy it.

My parents and their twelve siblings grew up in truly horrific poverty during the 1920s & ’30s in east Texas. They lived in wooden shacks without electricity, plumbing or insulation. They hauled water from a stream. Sometimes the water was muddy. When that happened they would poor the water into a barrel and dump wood-ash on top. As the ash settled to the bottom it would pull down the worst of the particulate matter.

My father’s family were sharecroppers and his parents never owned a piece of property in their lives. One Winter things were so bad that they lived a man’s barn.

The first two children that my mother’s parents had died from diseases that no one dies from any more. One died from diphtheria and the other one, a girl age two or three, just got sick one day and promptly died. They never knew from what.

For all intents-and-purposes there was no government assistance. Then, in the early 1940s a “free lunch” program was started at their one-room schoolhouse. My mother: “Do you think that my father would allow us to accept a ‘free’ lunch? Heck no, we made do and brought something from home.” Today the number of state & federal poverty-relief programs probably numbers in the hundreds and my grandparents wouldn’t have touched any of them. My how times have changed. “People who govern themselves require less government.” –Mike Huckabee. “No one has right to anything that involves taking it from one individual (or group) and giving it to another.” –Ron Paul.

Eighty-plus years a Henry Ford or a John D. Rockefeller couldn’t have obtained a Polio-vaccination, a dose of antibiotics or undergone chemotherapy if their lives had depended on it. They would’ve looked at the things that today’s poor pretty much take for granted–cellphones that can show video of events on the other side of the world in real-time, HDTVs, microwave ovens, almost all of them living in homes with electricity & plumbing–in absolute wonder and a certain amount of envy. Can you imagine taking a wealthy person from the 1930s on a tour of a Walmart or the average grocery store of today and telling them that virtually all of the thousands of products that he was seeing were readily available to the “poor?”

Growing up my wife & I weren’t poor but we were working-class and low-income. Said in all seriousness: I give thanks to Almighty God for the United States Army and the GI Bill without which I would not have gone to college. (Please note that I first had to *earn* those education benefits). Today, in terms of income, we are in the top 4% (the forth percentile) and our net-worth is ~$900K thanks to a combination of education, hard work, thrift, deferred-gratification and, yes, a dose of luck.

(Mom, I hope that you are resting in peace. Thank you for raising me on the traditional American values that the Left despises & ridicules today, to their detriment, and for teaching me what *real* poverty is).

Again, for all intents & purposes there are no poor people in the developed world. –Jeff York writing from Houston, Texas

37 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

@Jeffy flawed. we are poor compared to billionaires and THAT is the essence of the problem: the wealth and income gap has widened beyond all what is reasonable.
This will not hold.

38 Jeff77450 March 31, 2016 at 2:30 pm

I am not poor compared to Bill Gates because I’m not poor, period. I have adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, education, opportunities to work, etc., therefore I am not poor regardless of how much Bill & Warren have.

There was less income-inequality in the 1950s, would you like to go back to that standard of living? There is, for all intents-and-purposes, no income-inequality in a hunter-gatherer society, would you like to go back to that standard of living? The answer, of course, is no.

39 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

@brad Both views are NOT equally correct. Take George W. Bush. Here is an incompetent who got propped up by an unlevel playing field. To the detriment of 8,000 Americans. We see this a lot. Krugman calls this “wingnut welfare”, which is the array of positions at right-wing media organizations, think tanks and so on that are always there for loyal spear carriers.

Repubs view blacks as lazy, since slavery, because that was the basest reaction to someone who doesn’t wanna work but whom YOU want to work. Before that period, the African wasn’t smeared with adjective lazy
Repubs view blacks as lazy NOW because that absolves them from doing anything about it. It’s in essence a …LAZY way of looking at things. Or greedy. Or racist. Probably all three.

40 Patricia Fulda March 2, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I have some questions about GOP being better at state and local governments. I don’t know enough to comment on the state level. But have you looked at Kansas, for example, the majority of whose citizens are hurting badly financially? Or Tennessee, where school in at least one county has come to an end due to lack of funds? Or Wisconsin, which has devastated an outstanding educational system? Or Arizona, cutting off welfare benefits permanently after one year? Or the Republican run states that are starving adults without children by cutting off SNAP benefits due to its work requirements (when there isn’t any work or qualifying job training to be had) by refusing to apply for a federal waiver?

41 Tom C. March 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Do you have evidence for these assertions? Brownback has received lots of criticism in KS, and they have had large budget cutbacks, but how can you say the majority of Kansas’ citizens are “hurting badly” with an unemployment rate of 4.3%? Wisconsin has saved hundreds of millions by taking on the teachers’ unions, but where is the evidence that they have “devastated” their educational system? Has there been any change in test scores? Is anyone actually starving due to the requirement that able-bodied adults meet work requirements? Seriously, such evidence would be important to me.

42 Helmholtz March 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Patricia Fulda’s rhetoric is overblown, but it is pretty inarguable that Brownback’s policies have not met up to the expectations he himself set. They certainly have not successfully stimulated growth:


43 MyName March 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm

As a lifelong resident whose family still lives there, I can say that the jobs that have came in are much lower quality and lower paying. Also the unemployment rate is propped up by a larger number of people who are discouraged or on disability (before they started cracking down on *that* as well).
To put it in very blunt terms: if the unemployment rate is so low, then WTH are Brownback’s approval ratings as bad as they are? Answer: the economy overall isn’t great even if the jobs *are* there for some.
Also, the State government was shaking through its couch cushions after the first two years of these policies. Now it’s shaking down municipalities for a larger share of their traffic ticket fines (among other things). Short term growth at the expense of a long term stability is bad policy no matter which party you are in.

44 tinduck March 2, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Where are you getting your information on Tennessee? Shelby County, which is by far the most disadvantage county in the state, needs to shut down schools because our enrollment is down. (well, its a bit more complicated than that)..

On the other hand, Nashville is a boom town. We have the local democratic city government and the republican control state government are doing a fantastic job working together to build infrastructure and recruit businesses like UBS to the city. (well, also Obamacare might have something to do with the boom in the healthcare industry.)

Tennessee is doing great, maybe not as good as North Carolina,Texas or California, but come on. Our only major issue is that our republican governor couldn’t get the medicare expansion passed, which he supported by the way.

Now Tyler did state the some Republicans are becoming less fit to govern at the local level. I can see that in parts of the party that voted against the medicare expansion, but it’s not Haslam. I don’t see how your anecdotes in anyway reflect the reality of the situation.

45 Sieben March 2, 2016 at 6:04 pm

>Or Tennessee, where school in at least one county has come to an end due to lack of funds?

That would never happen in a democrat-run state. They’d raid taxes to 99%, inflate, and borrow to keep the schools open. Seems like a good idea.

46 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

That would never happen in a repub-run state. They’d raid taxes on the POOR to keep the schools open. Extorting the poor seems like a good idea to repubs, always

47 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm

I fully agree with mrs. Fulda. Its beyond comprehension that only Repub governors refuse the Medicaid expansion which indeed HURTS people really bad and sometimes kills them. They refuse this for purely ideological reasons and if you dig deeper it because they are afraid that eventually their white voters will have to pay something extra to assure the minorities access to health care. It is group egotism in extremis and Snyder case provers that Repubs don’t really care if that kills people. Rick Snyder is without exaggeration a mass poisoner, perhaps a mass murderer as well. And blaming the EPA is like blaming the cops for not stopping every murder.

48 Jeff Y. March 3, 2016 at 11:14 am

I second that emotion.

49 Dzhaughn March 2, 2016 at 1:22 am

Interesting, yet sober.

50 Doug March 2, 2016 at 2:36 pm

> Republicans, who are focused on the status of some core groups at the exclusion of others, are more likely to lack empathy.

Not quite, Democrats display more empathy to *politically sympathetic* groups. But altruism because you’re hoping to look good doing it, isn’t really altruism. The real litmus test of empathy are heroin addicts. They live wretched lives and are near universally reviled. If Jesus walked the Earth in this day and age, he’d be spending a lot of time with junkies. Much of our political policy towards heroin addicts comes down focusing on making them die. E.g. no safe injection sites, no clean needles, purity testing illegal, ban medicine to treat overdoses. Because the very fact that you even try heroin means that you should be at substantial risk of poisoning or fatal disease.

For Democrats, heroin addict compassionate policies are just as off the radar as for Republicans. (Where the bar for “compassionate”, is simply slowing down decades-long quasi-genocide). It may be the case that the majority of junkie-compassionates are Democrats (though I’m not sure if you count the libertarian wing of the Republican party), but the vast majority of Democrats couldn’t give two licks.

51 bob March 2, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Interestingly, now we are seeing different attitudes with heroin addicts in middle america, for one major reason: It’s high school kids doing heroin. They start with pills, overprescribed to death, and then they figure out they get the same feelings they wanted, only better, for cheap. When a white blond cheerleader dies from a heroin overdose, suddenly people are far more compassionate.

Not anywhere near as compassionate as they should be though: Another part of suburbia, where you either you don’t see the addicts, or the addicts are well adapted enough that you don’t know they are using. Harder to do that in a place like San Francisco, where the homeless, the drug addicts and the people with mental health problems spend time in the very same streets as the financial workers and the kids from the tech industry.

52 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Big Fat Lie. Only Clinton and Sanders have talked repeatedly about the heroin epidemic in New England, the repubs barely mentioned it, if at all.

53 Nigel Lawson March 2, 2016 at 1:27 am

It doesn’t seem to say exactly how “best run” is calculated, but a lot of the factors seem to involve “being wealthy”.

“To determine how well the states are run, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed hundreds of data sets from dozens of sources. We looked at each state’s debt, revenue, expenditure and deficit to determine how well it is managed fiscally. We reviewed taxes, exports, and GDP growth, including a breakdown by sector, to identify how each state is managing its resources. We looked at poverty, income, unemployment, high school graduation, violent crime and foreclosure rates to measure if residents are prospering.”

That wealthy people vote Republican doesn’t necessarily prove that Republicans “run things better” in the form of making people wealthy.

54 So Much For Subtlety March 2, 2016 at 3:08 am

Well there is a chicken and egg problem here. Except the Republicans do run places that were or are poor. It is not that only rich people vote Republican.

Also it is a question of history. Basically American economic growth takes place wherever there are large concentrations of White people and few Blacks. The North was the power house of American growth. Then the Great Migration took place. Now they are not. Industry moved to California and the Sun Belt – often poor states which had started to vote Republican. Those places became wealthy. Industry also started to move back to the South once the White southerners abandoned the Democratic Party. The South isn’t doing too badly these days.

Now people are fleeing California. The growth sectors have been the liberal North-West. Seattle for instance. Portland can combine liberal policies with strong economic growth. But also the Dakotas.

It is hard to separate out cause and effect but I would think that voting Republican comes before being rich.

55 Ray Lopez March 2, 2016 at 4:47 am

Your post is rambling…it did not follow through on the theme (which statistically is correct) of black people = poverty. You should perhaps delete that sentence.

56 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 8:35 am

Basically American economic growth takes place wherever there are large concentrations of White people and few Blacks.

So, West Virginia and the Dakotas have been the most economically dynamic parts of the country for decades, no?

57 kevin March 2, 2016 at 10:03 am

Well the dakotas actually have been recently, although for an entirely different region. As to WV, a lone example does not refute a trend.

58 Yrro March 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm

For most of this sort of analysis you shouldn’t count Scots-Irish as “white.” Their outcomes in general track much closer to modern minority groups than they do German or English immigrants.

59 TMC March 2, 2016 at 11:01 pm

WV and other rural parts are chock full of German and English descendants, who track just the same.

60 MyName March 2, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Your narrative is facetious at best and borderline ignorant flamebait.
“Basically American economic growth takes place wherever there
are large concentrations of White people and few Blacks.”
Other than, you know, Detroit in the 20th century, Chicago in the 19th and 20th century, San Francisco in the 19th century (or are Chinese immigrants “white” now?), Atlanta right now, Los Angeles, Dallas, and most everywhere else that used to be part of Mexico, etc.
And you seem to leave out the part where places like Detroit are gutted because of all the jobs moving down to Mexico followed by the people on Wall Street (mostly whites, BTW) screwing up the global economy. Also, TBH the growth in the South has almost nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with Air Conditioning making that part of the country livable plus advances in tech removing the dependance of factories on Hydro power in the North.
But go ahead, pretend that White Republicans are the only ones who build anything in the USA. If it makes you feel better.

61 Josh March 2, 2016 at 6:21 am

I thought the wealthy had leaned democrat for the past decade.

62 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 9:32 am

In the 2012 New York Times exit poll, Romney beat Obama among those earning $100,000 or more 54% to 44%. NYTimes has this cross-tabulated by state for 18 states and Romney won among this income group within each state the Times covered with the exception of deep blue New York, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey and Connecticut.

63 Jaskologist March 2, 2016 at 10:19 am

“with the exception of deep blue New York, Massachusetts, *California*, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

Those are some pretty big exceptions, wouldn’t you say?

64 John March 2, 2016 at 11:02 am

Didn’t you read the post above? Apparently the economic engines of the U.S. aren’t NYC, LA, & SF but the Sun Belt and the Dakotas. TIL!

65 josh March 2, 2016 at 10:32 am

100K isn’t wealthy. What about 300K or 250K?

66 bob March 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

It depends. In Detroit, you are doing great with $100K. In San Francisco, you are sharing an one bedroom apartment.

67 Willitts March 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

Republicans have a slight majority of the rich. They have a wide majority of the $1 to $10 million club. These are the “we are successful, but a stroke of bad luck kicks us out of the club, so we want to self-insure.”

Democrats dominate the $10 million plus club. These are the “we are so filthy rich we never have to risk being broke, hence our crowning achievement is convincing people how swell we are.”

68 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm

“wealthy had leaned democrat for the past decade.”
That is just more Repub delusions about themselves

69 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 1:35 am

The 2000-2012 elections were Core vs. Fringe.


For example, married white Protestants voted for Romney 74-26 over Obama.

70 Spotted Toad March 2, 2016 at 6:52 am

Maybe, though the 47 percent speech was definitely conservative ideology eating itself whole. The 47 percent included a lot of Core.

I’m less sure about Tyler’s idea that academics are drawn to left wing parties because of neuroticism or affection for status relations. It seems to me that academic institutions have been good at enforcing orthodoxy because that’s what intellectual institutions mostly do:

71 The Original D March 2, 2016 at 2:29 pm

A grand theory of why things are the way they are is more interesting and ripe for study than “poor people are lazy.”

72 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm

but going against “poor people are lazy.” is heresy

73 mulp March 2, 2016 at 1:36 am

“…Democrats are becoming less reasonable at the national level, for instance their embrace of the $15 national minimum wage.”

Yep, Democrats are totally insane to take money by higher prices from the people making $50,000 to $50,000,000 to pay $10,000 to $5000 more to workers formerly earning $15,000 to $25,000 who will drive gdp higher by $9,500 to $4000 each, and cut the inflation of overpriced intangible assets.

Better to keep wages going lower for the bottom half of consumers to force gdp per capita to fall because profits go higher driving stock price inflation which further increases wealth inequality.

But hey, I’m a two handed economist, not a supply side economist waving only one hand, because I would not let my demand side arm get chopped off in the 80s – like seemed to have happened with even Krugman.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s when economies were closed cycles of wages paying for output produced by labor paid wages by the revenue from prices paid by workers.

In other words, cut the pay of workers and you cut the revenue from selling what workers produce.

I’m also a scientist who learned that I had to balance everything whether forces in physics, currents in electronics, atoms in chemical reactions, mass and energy in nuclear reactions, elements in biology reactions,… economies are zero sum just like physics and chemistry.

But you would never believe that listening to conservatives and progressives. Liberals can be detected by their devotion to costs and benefits: TANSTAAFL

74 MikeP March 2, 2016 at 2:21 am

Of course economies aren’t zero sum. The pie grows, it’s not fixed. Innovate, start a business, hire people, and generate new demand. If you’re not willing to do that, then support policies that help others to do that.

75 John L. March 2, 2016 at 6:22 am

You mean, like the 50’s and 60’s?

76 tjamesjones March 2, 2016 at 4:05 am

I don’t know about the science, or two handed economics, but you could take a look at “globalisation”, where it’s possible for many services to hire someone outside the US, which creates downward pressure on wages within the US. It is perfectly possible for a higher minimum wage to simply create more unemployment in people who would otherwise be employed for less than $15.

77 chuck martel March 2, 2016 at 6:15 am

The real issue isn’t an economic one, it’s all about freedom. What business does the state have in determining the dimensions of voluntary contracts between free individuals? Sure, to some extent the state even determines the price of some other things as well but regulating the financial relationships between employer and employee is price fixing, pure and simple.

78 Heorogar March 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

The Dems and Reps are two wings of the same bird: a bloated, insatiable buzzard. It’s why they have the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

79 JK Brown March 2, 2016 at 10:23 am

It all comes down to the eternal fight to maintain control of ones private property. The labor laws seek to deny control of the most intimate private property, ones time, knowledge and effort.

” But freedom of contract in this connection results generally from personal liberty itself; although it results also from the right to property; that is to say, a man’s wages (or his trade, for matter of that) is his property, and the right of property is of no practical use if you cannot have the right to make contracts concerning it. ”

–Popular Law-making: A Study of the Origin, History, and Present Tendencies of Law-making by Statute, Frederic Jesup Stimson (1910)

80 kevin March 2, 2016 at 10:09 am

Its completely misleading to mention “$10,000 to $5000 more to workers formerly earning $15,000 to $25,000 who will drive gdp higher by $9,500 to $4000 each” without mentioning the group of people who were making 15k-25k who no longer have a job and don’t add to the GDP at all. Wages are not inelastic from a businesses standpoint. Raise the price of wages and businesses will hire less.

81 derek March 2, 2016 at 10:34 am

It actually is kind of crazy to take money from people earning $50k in order to give it to people earning $25k…

82 Peter March 2, 2016 at 1:03 pm


83 kevin March 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I’m not sure why thats “crazy”. Further this has nothing to do with taxes and taking money directly to give out as handouts. It placing an artificial floor on a market rate good. Some people earning 25k will benefit, some will lose there jobs.

84 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 12:56 pm

They are neurotic because they embrace the $15 national minimum wage instead of a BIG because they are paranoid enough to think a BOG would be a subsidy to McDonlad’s and Walmart who they irrationally fear and hate!

85 Dave T March 4, 2016 at 3:18 am

Mulp, you clearly don’t understand how GDP is measured. It’s based in output. Just paying some set of workers more due to a higher minimum wage doesn’t change that.

86 meets March 2, 2016 at 1:57 am


87 Derek March 2, 2016 at 2:05 am

Democrats are self righteous thieves, Republicans are slimy used car salesmen.

88 tjamesjones March 2, 2016 at 4:06 am


89 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 10:34 am

Working hand in hand.

90 Dee Bush March 2, 2016 at 2:07 am

Jerry Brown leading California out of fiscal crisis vs. Chris Christie leading New Jersey into repeated credit downgrades
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin on any significant metric
Red states willing to deny health care access to their own citizens. Not priceless; criminal.
Show me a wise, compassionate Republican governor and I’ll show you my unicorn.

91 tjamesjones March 2, 2016 at 4:07 am

dee blocks ears, closes eyes, repeats “i know i’m right”

92 foosion March 2, 2016 at 6:29 am

That’s because Dee is right. If you disagree with the factual claims, provide evidence.

Dee should have mentioned Kansas and Brownback.

93 The Engineer March 2, 2016 at 7:50 am

Illinois vs. Indiana. And Illinois has a Republican governor who can’t seem to get past a supermajority of Democrats in the legislature that defend the bankrupt status quo.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence isn’t great, I would say that there is a lot of Trump style cronyism among Republicans. However, the trends are in the right direction, and his health care plan, HIP 2.0, is exactly where the entire health care system needs to go (high deductible health insurance where patients have skin in the game, the exact opposite of Medicaid/ Medicare).

94 Willitts March 2, 2016 at 9:50 am

No, he is not right. Governors are not captains of a ship, getting credit for everything that is good.

California’s finances are a mess, and Brown improved them marginally. As soon as the immediate crisis was over, they began giving back to public sector unions what they took away. Look at California’s revenues and expenditures. It is a model we’ve seen in every socialist failed state. The state is endowed with enormous resources and is riding on that.

Christie has had to deal with divided government. His achievements are more remarkable thereby. The lessons of Christie, Koch, Giuliani and others is that when leftist monoliths near the brink of destruction, even leftists know who and how to rescue the situation. It would be easier if they never had the problems in the first place.

95 ConfirmationBiasIsAFemaleDog March 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm

“Achievements” in Christie’s case including the lowest ever approval rating for a governor.

96 Heorogar March 2, 2016 at 7:39 am

If I were the governor of a red state, I’d compassionately give poor people one way bus tickets to NY or CA.

97 The Engineer March 2, 2016 at 7:53 am

It’s the other way around. Here just over the Illinois border in Indiana, we actually have public housing authorities advertising in Illinois to get them to apply to live here (can’t let the authority go out of business for lack of “clients”, can we?). Go to the drop off lines at local schools, and the lines are thick with cars with Illinois plates, usually temporary ones (a good sign that someone is poor!).

98 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:08 am

Moderate here, who voted for Schwarzenegger and for Brown.

I agree with Tyler’s overarching narrative, but think personalities matter. Both those Governors tried to solve problems. Brown was better in the end at bending arms.

99 AlanW March 2, 2016 at 10:02 pm

I think Brown simply understood what he was doing better. It’s interesting that both of them were, in different ways, politicians with nothing to prove. Given the depths of California’s problems, I do wonder if Brown’s accomplishments (which I find impressive) will prove to be short-lived. Still, I can’t imagine anyone else doing as much.

All this talk about what conservative or liberal governing philosophies can accomplish in Kansas or Wisconsin is sort of ridiculous. Those states’ economies are rounding errors to the big states’ GDPs. In other circumstances, conservatives in particular recognize that comparing something like the U.S. health care system to Switzerland’s – just for instance – misses the forest for a tree.

100 Dave T March 4, 2016 at 3:27 am

Alan, I’d wager that Brown’s accomplishmeets almost certainly will be short-lived.

California’s state tax generation is extremely dependent on income taxes generated from the highest income taxpayers, including a state income tax that taxes capital gains at the same rates as ordinary income. As a result, state tax revenue gets pumped up during good times – especially if tech company equity prices are robust – but then falters during a downturn. That could work in theory, but it would require the discipline to run large budget surpluses in good times. California hasn’t shown the ability to do that.

101 Mm March 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

You mean the crisis that Brown created with the changes he initiated in his earlier terms?

102 MOFO March 2, 2016 at 9:14 am

Im pretty sure NJ was in a fiscal crisis state long before Christy got there.

103 Tom C. March 2, 2016 at 4:31 pm

When Walker took office in January 2011, the WI unemployment rate was 8.0%; Minnesota was 6.8%. Now, Wisconsin is 4.4% and Minnesota is 3.7%. How exactly does the Minnesota-Wisconsin comparison help?

104 Jason March 2, 2016 at 2:08 am

Is there any empirical evidence to support Tyler’s claim that Republicans govern better locally? I spent 10 minutes looking and found this paper:


which finds few systematic differences in local governance between Republicans and Democrats (and also this interesting literature investigating the validity of this research design: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2265625). Are there other papers which look at outcomes after close elections and ask if there are systematic differences between Republicans and Democrats or is Tyler just basing that inference on the bullshit link he provided which makes no attempt to establish causality?

105 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 2:28 am

Black-run cities are usually run poorly, and Republicans love to blame that on the Democrats, but that’s not really fair to the Democrats.

It would be interesting to match up cities that differ mostly in politics/ideology rather than demography. For example, in L.A. County, Santa Monica vs. Manhattan Beach would be a good matchup of expensive beach cities, with one famously liberal (lots of movie stars) and the other more conservative (lots of athletes), although trending liberal the last few years. I don’t know enough about them to compare them objectively, but it seems like a fair fight.

106 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 5:23 am

Agreed. Compare like and like. Find profiles of cities and states which are broadly similar in terms of many demographic and economic indicators, and then check the D vs. R management.

107 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

Black-run cities are usually run poorly, and Republicans love to blame that on the Democrats, but that’s not really fair to the Democrats.

Sorry, Steve, the white mayors in my home town were uniformly failures. The suburban Democrat who ran for county executive this year came up with a big idea for her campaign: that we implement a long forgotton publicity feint composed in 1992 (produced, natch, by an ‘anti-violence commission’ appointed by Mayor Ryan after some sort of embarrassment, complete with a visit from Deborah Protherow-Stith). Their learning curve is absolutely flat, as is that of the Southern-fried dingbat who’s run the ‘alternative press’ in town since 1970.

108 Noumenon72 March 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm

This doesn’t even rise to the level of anecdote, as it substitutes name-calling for any specifics. Even as an anecdote, it sure doesn’t seem strong enough to contradict Steve’s general point.

109 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Black-run cities are usually run poorly, and Republicans love to blame that on the Democrats, but that’s not really fair to the Democrats.
Blacks seem to do better in the Southern and Western states. Compare black homicide rates in Atlanta GA and Boston Ma.

110 Sieben March 2, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Isn’t it racist to control for demography?

111 tjamesjones March 2, 2016 at 4:10 am

ah let’s let the academics get to work. I’d be pretty surprised if there was anybody who didn’t apply their political worldview to explain how the world actually is, and tyler’s bullshit link makes it pretty easy for the typical republican to draw the conclusion Tyler infers. But if you don’t like the implication, you can find salvation in some academic report no doubt, work that data baby.

112 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:13 am

I realize this is only mid-page, but I think the local focus is odd. Maybe that’s because I live in Newport Beach, Orange County, and do have competent local government. But I certainly look at national politics as my main .. risk exposure.

113 George March 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

Thank you for this. Tyler speaks reasonably and has a lot of great points, but the one about Republican governors really jumped off the page for me. For every Illinois, there is a Louisanna, there is a Kansas. It is true that state and local governments are mostly run by Republicans. But to say that there are more of them because they run the state apparatus better is just…. not truthful and not factual. In the famous words of the dude, “that’s like your opinion man”.

114 Tom C. March 2, 2016 at 4:30 pm

The unemployment rate in Kansas is 4.3%. Illinois is north of 6%.

115 MyName March 2, 2016 at 7:28 pm

And the jobs that have came in sucks, the state is broke and everyone *hates* the governor in Kansas. Maybe the listed unemployment rate isn’t the only metric for how well the economy is running?

116 AlanW March 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm

And Colorado is 4.2 and Virginia is 4.8 and Florida is 5.6. What’s it prove? Even less than you’d think given Illinois has a Republican governor.

117 mkbarch March 3, 2016 at 10:53 am

Commodity boom in KS, as through that whole column of state from TX to ND.

118 JC March 2, 2016 at 2:15 am

“This superior performance stems from at least two factors. First, Republican delusions often matter less at the state and local level, and furthermore what the core Republican status groups want from state and local government is actually pretty conducive to decent outcomes. The Democrats in contrast keep on doling out favors and goodies to their multitude of interest groups, and that often harms outcomes. The Democrats find it harder to “get tough,” even when that is what is called for, and they have less of a values program to cohere around, for better or worse.”


119 Alain March 2, 2016 at 3:27 am

From the text I have no idea which ‘delusions’ the author is referring to. My guess is that it is fluff to either (a) distract or (b) denigrate.

I actually had a hard time with a number of parts of the post.

120 Horhe March 2, 2016 at 6:45 am

The gentle insult of using the verb to cotton in the mouth of a fictional Republican highlights maybe an unconscious contempt for them. I doubt Tyler would put ghetto or gay slang in the mouth of the faithful Democratic voter. Selective bigotry, like the use of the acceptable redneck ethnic slur.

I would also take issue with this: “In the last few years I have seen some nascent signs that Democrats are becoming less reasonable at the national level, for instance their embrace of the $15 national minimum wage.”

That’s Tyler’s problem. Not BlackLivesMatter, not official support for rioters and criminals instead of police, not mau-mauing at America’s elites and not so elite Universities, not the witch hunts and the mass hysteria and the developing soft totalitarianism. To which Republicans are also succumbing. A $15 minimum wage is the sign of Democratic unreasonableness. Can you get more autistic than that?

121 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:18 am

I am not sure why BLM should scare anyone. Just say “absolutely!” and done.

122 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:09 am

If only

123 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

Can you get more autistic than that?

It makes perfect sense when you realize the moderators are at pains not to contradict anything which is non-negotiable in a faculty subculture, and are probably not inclined to do so in any case. Bryan Caplan might, be he’s indubitably on the autism spectrum in actuality.

124 derek March 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

I’m a white liberal voter. I use the verb “cotton” a lot! I live in Virginia now, but am not from here. To me, the verb “cotton” is very useful and specific.

Do I use it in formal writing? No, of course not, but I do use it colloquially and in public. Is everyone judging me really hard? Am I being insensitive.

125 Quantitative Geneticist March 2, 2016 at 2:36 am

“So on issues such as evolution vs. creationism (but not only), Democrats truly are more reasonable and more scientific.”

Perhaps on non-human evolution and fields unrelated to humans.

Some fringes of Republicans may push for Christian Creationism to be taught in public schools, but Democrats have already succeeded in having their brand of creationism implemented in classrooms–Liberal Creationism.

126 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 5:26 am

I once heard it put this way, and I think it can hardly be better stated.

“Teach science in science class and religion in religion class.”

127 Quantitative Geneticist March 2, 2016 at 6:22 am


The Christian Creationists and Liberal Creationists could join forces and work-out a fusion religion class.

The CCs can cover 8000 BC up until 3000 BC (Genesis Flood, Cambrian Explosion, Permian Extinction, K-T Boundary, etc.) or so, and the LCs can take over from there (blank slatism, Psychic Unity of Mankind, different individuals and different populations must be equally and identically distributed for mean and variance in all cognitive traits, etc.).

128 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:20 am

You are not a real scientist, I can tell.

129 Thomas March 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

Uh-oh! Anon can tell that you don’t work in science research because true science researchers would never mock the liberal idea that evolution stopped at the human neck!

130 anon March 2, 2016 at 11:04 am

A scientist would know that “populations” don’t mean what the lay reader thinks they mean, and so would not form that sentence.

The modern French and Icelandic are quite different populations. They are only treated as one in the US because that builds an identity to defend against some Other. Say, for instance against a genetic Spaniard who identifies Hispanic.

131 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:13 am


What you say is perfectly consistent with what he said. Of course “quite different” is relative

132 anon March 2, 2016 at 11:31 am

The racists read the science and say “let me take this back to shore up the 3 or 4 types I have defined based on how people look.” You know, people stop being white and start being asian somewhere around Ulan Bator.

Guess what? This is a new century, we have cheap DNA analysis, and scientists skip that reduction to “type.” Populations are defined by the genes, and there are thousands of groups, some sharing from many migrations.

Did you hear that Icelanders have some maternal DNA from native Americans? Sail down, meet girls.

133 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I see we’re having a repeat on the “plausible therefore true” sort of reasoning.

There is a strong smoking gun for relatively rapid changes in skin colour. Vitamin D. In northern climes, dark skinned people don’t get enough vitamin D, leading to early death (fewer children) due to a number of diseases related to vitamin D deficiency. Hence, there is a strong and causal mechanism for rapid evolution towards white skin colour in northern climes. Conversely, darker skin protects against skin cancer in tropical climes, offering strong and causal reasons for lighter tones to be deleterious in those climates.

The theory that other, and I emphasize INCREDIBLY MORE COMPLEX THINGS, such as those above the neck, were never subject to such strong and causal mechanisms in any particularly differential manner. Of course there would be variation in genes related to what happens above the neck, and some of these variations will differ systematically among different genetically identifiable population groups.

But we can always revert to the “plausible therefore true” hypothesis and assert our racial superiority, and pretend that history, for example transmission and more rapid accumulation of ideas and more complex political systems across Eurasia but not on the other side of the Saharan death trap, have no bearing on anything.

134 anon March 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I think your heart is in the right place Nathan, but that’s old thinking too.

“Of the 0.1% of DNA that varies among individuals, what proportion varies among main populations? Consider an apportionment of Old World populations into three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe), a grouping that corresponds to a common view of three of the ‘major races’. Approximately 85−90% of genetic variation is found within these continental groups, and only an additional 10−15% of variation is found between them.”

This is what Tyler alluded to in his old essay:

“I very much expect that we will instead learn more about the importance of the individual genome and that variations within “groups” (whether defined in terms of race or not) are where the traction lies.”

People hung up on the visual still think that most of the difference must break along those lines, but it does not.

135 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 2:13 pm


Junk science at its best. Who cares what % of genes vary between different populations? Most genes as you already know are junk and do nothing. Humans share what, 99% of genes with chimpanzees? So obviously a small % difference can have an enormous impact on phenotype.

Everyone knows races are a poor shorthand but yet they are scientifically meaningful. Different medical advice is given on the basis of racial categorization. Are you calling the AMA racist for that? You think they don’t understand genetics?

I guess according to Nathan it’s some kind of miracle that people of African descent could have genes that code for a different likelihood of prostate cancer. But in fact such medical differences are very common. What accounts for African-American dominance of football and basketball? Random chance? Grit? Affirmative action?

136 Quantitative Geneticist March 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Population is the standard term… it retains generality and flexibility, and to sidestep more baggage’d terms like genus, species, or sub-species (for organisms in general), or “race”, “ethnicity,” or “nationality” (for humans).

Hence, for example, the sub-field of “population genetics.”

Perhaps you should re-direct your windmill-fighting efforts to cracking open a textbook or a quick Google search there, anon Quixote.

Look up Lewontin’s Fallacy and clinal variation while you’re at it.

Some notes:

“Small” genetic differences can have vast effects on phenotype. Off the top of my head, if reports are to be taken at face value, humans share about half of our DNA with banana, over 90% with mice, and over 98% with chimpanzees.

Population boundaries need not be discrete for there to be significant differences, both genotypic and phenotypic, between the populations under consideration. Lions and tigers; modern Eurasian humans and Neanderthals; modern Oceanic humans and Denisovans; dogs, coyotes, and wolves in the Americas; etc.

As you consider more loci together, the probability of successfully discriminating (trigger warning for you, anon: laymen may be unfamiliar with the statistical deployment of the term) between human population groups, especially “continental races” (too easy for even the most basic clustering functions out of the box in software packages!), approaches 100%, even if individual loci are relatively noisy.

Population groupings are flexible and arbitrary in the mathematical sense, in dividing into k populations (and grouping schemas at given values of k are not unique). Europeans can be considered a population; they can be divided into Northern and Southern populations; Western and Eastern; Mediterrnean, Central, Scandinavian; …; or at the nation level (straightforward for algorithms to do with high accuracy, even at the national level in Europe); and so on.

Arbitrary in the mathematical sense hardly implies arbitrary in common parlance. In fact, quite the opposite: For example, on Europeans still: we do see material variation in a litany of traits within Europe, from blondism, to lactose persistence, to skin color, to eye color, etc… and yes, cognitive ability, too–with Eastern and Southern consistently coming in lower than Northwest/Central Europe..

Nathan, biological complexity does not entail statistical/genetic complexity. Steve Hsu written on this, reminding us that “boring”, additive linear models work just fine, from both pedigree-focused analyses to genomic-level ones. And in fact, they often flat out outperform more complex models.

No selection pressures “above the neck” is merely your assertion/assumption. “Pressures,” also sounds unnecessarily dramatic… all you need is non-independence between genotypes at t-zero and their relative number of descendants in subsequent generations… “slackening” of “pressures” can and does drive selection, just as well as increasing “pressures.” Even in the absence of selection, genetic drift can and does create differences between populations in allele frequencies–and humans (and their population groups) have/had relatively small effective population sizes (compared to other animals) which means more drift.

We know that different population groups in Western nations have different average scores on IQ and IQ-like tests. We know from SAT data that relatively low-SES-household students from the relatively high scoring populations outscore relatively high-SES-household students (at least among blacks, whites, Asians, latinos), with some combinations being quite drastic (e.g. low-SES Asian vs. high-SES black). We know that cognitively ability is highly heritable. etc… etc…

Parsimonious explanation: In Western nations, heritability accounts for the great majority of variation of cognitive ability between population groups/clusters for tractable values of k. Note that this is non-specific and pertains to multiple pairwise combination of population groups. Jews and gentiles, East and Southeast Asians, etc… and the more obvious ones, of course.

137 anon March 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Here is what’s odd, QC recapitulates what I say about “populations” not mapping neatly into “races,” and then he blames me, Quixote, rather than the racists.

Here’s what QC says about differences between what the racists would consider whites: “yes, cognitive ability, too–with Eastern and Southern consistently coming in lower than Northwest/Central Europe”

Think about that a little, both the legitimacy of white-centered racism, and QC’s choice of who to hang with.

138 anon March 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Sorry, my fingers go QC by reflex. QG.

139 Quantitative Geneticist March 2, 2016 at 6:26 pm

anon Quixote–I was mocking you for tripping over your own feet over my usage of “population,” despite it being a very neutral (and the standard) term.

I was gentle–I didn’t even make fun of you for regurgitating Lewontin’s Fallacy.

As I explained (or, as you should know from doing just a minimal amount of Googling on human population genetics and (sub)-structure), that population sub-structure(s)–even layman’s imperfect formulations of “race”–has/have robust biological/genetic underpinnings with predictable implications for phenotypic and genotypic variation.

Discrete boundaries between (sub)-populations are not even close to being a pre-requisite for (sub)-structure to be identified. Sometimes not even populations from different Linnean (cue Feynman on “passcodes”) species, occasionally genus, and even families, have discrete boundaries–but there are substantial phenotypic and genotypic differences between them.

As another illustration, even in the pre-genomic era (2005!), Tang et al. (“Genetic Structure… Association Studies”) noted that genetic clustering matched with (laymen’s!) self-identification at a 99.9% concordance rate:

“From an evolutionary point of view, population stratification (genetically distinct subgrouping) and admixture (intermating between genetically distinct groups) are created by human mating patterns. Geographical, social, and cultural barriers have given rise to reproductively isolated human populations, within which random drift has produced genetic differentiation. Numerous recent studies using a variety of genetic markers have shown that, for example, individuals sampled worldwide fall into clusters that roughly correspond to continental lines, as well as to the commonly used self-identifying racial groups: Africans, European/West Asians, East Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans…

…Subjects identified themselves as belonging to one of four major racial/ethnic groups (white, African American, East Asian, and Hispanic)… Genetic cluster analysis of the microsatellite markers produced four major clusters, which showed near-perfect correspondence with the four self-reported race/ethnicity categories. Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity… Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population. ”

No need to address your caricatures of “racists,” nor your attempts at poisoning the well via ad hominem.

I will share knowledge on population genetics and structure since I find people to be generally under-educated on this topic (with you putting on a clinic in illustrating so)–not as interested in helping you figure out the views of the cartoon racists in your mind.

140 anon March 2, 2016 at 6:50 pm

I am not sure which I should respond to. It is interesting that at one moment Europeans are a thing, another it is Jews and gentiles. Asians are also a thing, but at other time it is East and Southeast Asians.

I guess one could make that into a sort of nested, modern, racism. “Sure, you are white, but I am Swiss. I win.”

Also too I spot the logical error here: “Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity.” That is, it is about “membership” not proportion. Someone who says they are Hispanic and is 100% native American or 100% Spanish is correct by definition. And of course there are all those shades of brown.

Now you are worried that your presentation, taken at face value, becomes an “ad hominem.” No. You chose this when you chose your framing.

141 anon March 2, 2016 at 7:01 pm

I think I’ll sign off.

Probably the fact that you use the words “cartoon racist” seals the whole deal. Anyone who uses those words within 9 months of Dylann Roof trying to start a race war isn’t too well connected to realty.

There are no real racists, just cartoons.

142 Quantitative Geneticist March 2, 2016 at 7:39 pm

“It is interesting that at one moment Europeans are a thing, another it is Jews and gentiles. Asians are also a thing, but at other time it is East and Southeast Asians.”

Yeah… it’s almost like it’s… cladistics… or something…

At one moment Panthera is a thing, another it’s leo and tigris… archosaurs are also a thing, but other times it’s crocociles and birds. So confusing! Must be white racism.

“Also too I spot the logical error here: “Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity.” That is, it is about “membership” not proportion. Someone who says they are Hispanic and is 100% native American or 100% Spanish is correct by definition. And of course there are all those shades of brown. ”

Sigh… anon still doesn’t understand population structure nor statistical clustering, but persists onward with a clinic on the Dunning Kruger effect. Don’t worry, I’m sure the hybrid Christian + Liberal Creationist remedial classes will give you gold star stickers anyway for effort. It will be a Safe Zone.

“I think I’ll sign off.
Probably the fact that you use the words “cartoon racist” seals the whole deal. Anyone who uses those words within 9 months of Dylann Roof trying to start a race war isn’t too well connected to realty.
There are no real racists, just cartoons.”

Probably for the better. Hopefully you can set aside your obsession with perceived white racism for a moment and do some cursory Googling on genetics and population structure, so you don’t accidentally deep-throat things like Lewontin’s Fallacy again.

143 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Cliff is correct in pointing out that % difference in DNA is not necessarily a good predictor of phenotypic differences. Read up on Cox genes, for example, which are basically “controller genes”, which affect a whole series of downstream genetic expression. However, I an unaware of any discovery of any such “controller gene” relating to cognitive function. Given the enormous complexity of cognitive function, and in an absence of such genes relating to cognitive ability (unproven), the magnitude of genetically determined differences in average inherent abilities of different identifiable population groups is borderline impossible in the space of 60,000 years.

I urge restraint from the “possible therefore true” line of thinking, however. Much like, on the other side of the argument “plausibly untrue therefore untrue” is not well grounded.

QG – I’m right with you up to the last line of your first post, where you fall right back into the “possible therefore true” line of thinking.

In evaluating the literature, I think it is well worth being sensible to the fact that, due to pressures NOT to dig too deep, the field is dominated by people with a predisposition to interpret their findings in a way supportive of white supremacist interpretations. I do not mean this as to generally discredit the research, as it should be evaluated on the basis of its own merits and not the predispositions of the authors. However, this implies a great need for independent critical thinking in evaluating the literature.

QG – Also, seriously? I mean seriously? An African knows he’s African and an Asian knows he’s Asian therefore … therefore what? A monkey can tell the difference between black, “yellow” and white. If this has convinced you of anything, you are suffering from strong predisposition to believe what you want. I applaud that in general you are bringing good awareness of the nature of population genetics to the table, but this is a real stretch.

QG – Also, as the person with knowledge in the area of study, I suggest that it is better to highlight a few links for debate and awareness of the field, because people with no exposure to the area of study will be unable to do the right searches or evaluate the quality of the source.

144 Roy LC March 2, 2016 at 2:45 am

If you believe this is what Republicans what does it say about you that you surround yourself with more than say DeLong or Krugman?

What if Republicans are people who know Democratic policies don’t work, for a variety of reasons, and choose to vote for the party that does less damage. What if as my grandfather once explained to me, being a Republican meant you went out to vote in a hurricane or blizzard for somebody you really didn’t like because they weren’t as bad as the other guy. But then he didn’t even like Ike, he used to say that the last Republican he genuinely liked was Alf Landon, and he was not yet 21 in 1936 so he had never sullied himself by voting for somebody he liked. Though he admitted to liking Goldwater, who he had met on a business trip, personally in ’64 he voted for LBJ, who he did not like.

As to elevating some groups over others I am a mass attending Roman Catholic who grew up in the South and vote GOP like many of my coreligionists, and am fully aware that core constituencies in my party do not particularly like me or my religion. I now live among mormons who clearly recognize that the GOP as a whole does not like them either.

We look at results and see that the GOP is less against us then the other party so we loyally troop out and vote and sometimes serve on committees and sometimes more.

This is what political parties are, as a professional I don’t need patronage, so I oppose parties who take from me to give it to others, though I had ancestors who did take patronage, and they loyally served those party, just as I have ancestors who supported their king or prince bishop or Emperor, and others who fled them when the price was higher than any available reward would justify.

The GOP is such, that they are better than the others at this moment. Like most Americans I gain little to no status from my political orientation. What I gain is the tangible satisfaction that I am doing what I can to prevent things getting worse.

145 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

A GOP that believed in governing would still be that. A party ruled by a fringe that will choose default for a social issue, very much less so.

(Trump says he’ll shut down government to defund Planned Parenthood.)

146 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:15 am

Didn’t he say Planned Parenthood offers a lot of valuable services?

147 libert March 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

He said both.

148 Roy LC March 2, 2016 at 2:48 am

Speaking of politics as tribe, Tyler, you should look at Ben & Jerry’s new Bernie Sanders ice cream, it is by far the most Straussian ice cream variety I have ever seen.

149 Gafiated March 2, 2016 at 4:17 am

“Bernie’s Yearning,” featuring a milk chocolate disk covering the top of plain mint ice cream. The disc is meant to represent “the huge majority of economic gains that have gone to the top 1% since the end of the recession. Beneath it, the rest of us,”*

That sounds disgusting. Bring back Cool Britannia. Put Jeremy Corbyn’s face on it if need a political justication.


150 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

Nobody seems to mention that the vast majority of economic losses went to the 1% during the recession

151 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Hell, if you bought the S&P 500 at the end of 1999, you have earned a paltry 3.8% annual return over the past 16.2 years. That’s a lot of risk to barely stay ahead of inflation.

I shed no tears for the rich, but people are really clueless.

152 Dave T March 4, 2016 at 3:35 am

Unless Ben and Jerry lost (or gave away) all the money that they got from selling to Unilever, what’s this “us” reference? They’re 1%’ers.

153 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 2:52 am

What’s it called: White Flight Vanilla Delight?

154 Tom Maguire March 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm

With chocolate sprinkles for the guy behind you so you can feel inclusive.

Oh, Trump may have misread the memo – other Republicans talk of defunding the Planned Parenthood but he is defending it.

155 Anton March 2, 2016 at 3:00 am

Speaking as a Democrat, I’ll admit this post is actually pretty close to right, though I’d be curious to see what a more systematic survey of state performance would say. E.g., in the list you cited, most of the top states were right in the middle of the fracking boom, which presumably threw off the rankings. I can’t really speak to the situation in every state, but I know at least in Illinois the main problem is that we want blue state-level expenditures with low tax rates set when Illinois was more of a red state, and it turns out that doesn’t really work.

156 Alain March 2, 2016 at 3:29 am

No kidding you take exception to that portion of the post. The rest of the post slams republicans, that is the only portion which takes democrats to task.


157 Jan March 2, 2016 at 10:23 am

What did I tell you about “yeppers”?

158 Anton March 2, 2016 at 11:37 am

I’m not saying the proposition that “Republicans tend to govern better” is incorrect. I’m just pointing out that a one-year survey isn’t necessarily the best evidence.

More to the point, on the state level at least, I’d be happy to consider (maybe support) politicians that fit the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative model” — and I think that’s basically what Tyler is speaking in support of here. At the state level at least, I really do think that expenditures need to be in line with revenues, or else you end up with the Illinois mess. Maybe there’s some states that can get away with sustainable higher taxes without driving away residents and business, but I’d generally say that’s the exception rather than the rule.

159 Stephen March 2, 2016 at 11:57 am

There are some states, like NY, that excluded themselves from the fracking boom, and I imagine that some of the states that have benefited from the fracking boom would not have if they had had been governed by Democrats.

160 Anton March 2, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Fair enough… I would be very hesitant to vote for a Democrat that wants to ban fracking. So… HILLARY 2016 😉 http://www.hillheat.com/articles/2016/01/28/clinton-goes-to-pennsylvania-to-reap-windfall-from-pennsylvania-frackers

I’m not exactly sure where environmental issues go on the social/fiscal dichotomy. I think the basic standard is just internalizing externalizes (particularly the kind that are susceptible to cost-benefit analysis). Pigovian taxes (or market-ey equivalents) are the preferable means of doing that.

161 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Are companies allowed to frack in Democratic states?

162 prognostication March 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Pennsylvania, Colorado, to begin with? Yes, PA’s fracking started under Corbett but Wolf certainly hasn’t been talking about anything resembling a ban, just something more than the effectively zero regulations or taxes enacted/enforced under Corbett.

163 Anton March 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm
164 Asher March 2, 2016 at 3:02 am

I think the spell checker is cleverer than Krugman gives it credit for. Brilliant metamorphosis and profound commentary on Democratic policy wonks.

165 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 3:03 am

“As to elevating some groups over others I am a mass attending Roman Catholic who grew up in the South and vote GOP like many of my coreligionists, and am fully aware that core constituencies in my party do not particularly like me or my religion.”

The point is more about public rhetoric and policies than the private preferences of individual voters. The public rhetoric of the GOP and pro-GOP pundits and public figures is that Christianity is under attack and consistently denigrated by various elite and pop culture institutions and this decline in the status of Christianity is reflected in certain Supreme Court decisions and public policies.

I would say the status theory of political alignment holds up very well. Republicans have been very careful over the past few decades to not alienate non-Protestants who broadly share their outlook on social issues and concern over the future of Christianity’s status in America.

166 jdd6y March 2, 2016 at 3:04 am

And here I thought Democrats were a bunch of irrational, insecure, whiny pussies. Some have a lot of money and feel guilty about it – usually from a business that does not rely on leadership and management. Others want a free lunch. Largely boring and tremendously lame. Like someone who has to wear a helmet wearing a wet blanket. Not that the republicans are much better. Where did I leave that joint?

167 Ryan March 2, 2016 at 3:19 am

some of the comments on here are hilarious. Did y’all read the final paragraph?

KEEP TEARING YOURSELF APART AMERICA. (Seriously, please don’t. Just man up and stop complaining about the other team.)

168 Gafiated March 2, 2016 at 4:19 am
169 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 4:31 am


170 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:28 am

As a moderate I think I can say that only works when both parties aspire to govern. As it stands now, certainly as it stands now, one of them is not like the other.

171 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 3:19 am

In general, liberals tend to be better at ruling whites, conservatives at ruling blacks.

Liberal Madison, Wisconsin, for example, has some of the biggest racial gaps in the country because Wisconsin’s traditional social democratic policies attracted the laziest blacks in Mississippi and didn’t do much to motivate them once they got to Wisconsin. In contrast, blacks tend to do a little better than average in states runs by business-oriented conservatives like Georgia and Texas.

172 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 3:21 am

Aptly-entitled Dane County, home of Madison, WI, is an exemplar of Northern European-style social democracy and black dysfunction:


173 So Much For Subtlety March 2, 2016 at 3:28 am

Somewhere floating about on the internet, there is a comparison of education results in Texas and in Wisconsin. The Black students in Wisconsin do better. But actually the improvement is less in Texas. That is, Texas takes students who are far behind and improves them. Wisconsin takes students who are merely behind and doesn’t improve them much.

It seems the Republicans are better at educating Blacks too.

174 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 3:39 am

“The Black students in Wisconsin do better.”

No, the last time I checked Wisconsin had the lowest scoring blacks on the NAEP tests in the country.

One of the basic rules of American demographics of the last 40 years is:

“Blacks do very badly in Wisconsin.”

That’s why so many prominent books on black social problems were researched in Milwaukee, such as this hot new book “Evicted” or Jason DeParle’s “American Dream” on 1990s welfare reform.

As far as I can tell, the chief reason is because Wisconsin used to be very liberal in terms of welfare in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The AFDC maximum for a family of three is a good proxy for the question of how overall cynical a state was toward welfare queens. In 1970, the AFDC maximum for a family of three in Wisconsin was still a modest $184 per month. Granted, that was more than triple what it was in Mississippi straight down the Illinois Central railroad line, but it was less generous than in Illinois or in Minnesota.

By 1980, however, AFDC was $444 in Wisconsin versus only $288 in more expensive Illinois. Illinois’ heavily Irish political class had grown cynical about new arrivals from Mississippi, but Wisconsin’s fairly German electorate had longer maintained its faith in humanity. Minnesota, with its similarly naive Scandinavian electorate, offered almost as much as Wisconsin, but Minnesota is colder and more remote, so Wisconsin was the preferred destination.


175 Alain March 2, 2016 at 3:37 am

I don’t know about liberals being better at ruling any population. I take it as an article of faith that incentives matter. Liberals at their core disagree. I think that prices are our best invention so far at matching demand. Liberals disagree and believe that they can set prices to override others preferences and somehow maximize social welfare.

I actually don’t see how anyone who disagrees with these two tenants of economics can be better at ruling over any extended time period.

176 Jan March 2, 2016 at 6:07 am

Steve, come off it. Please.

177 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:29 am


178 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 10:42 am

Do tell us about that whole New Orleans motto thing again – it has been about a decade, right? Besides, it isn’t like anywhere paying you money for your writing at this point is likely to stop paying you for what you say.

For those whose memories may not go back that far – ‘Sailer’s article on Hurricane Katrina was followed by accusations of racism from left-wing organizations Media Matters for America and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[41][42] In reference to the New Orleans slogan “let the good times roll”, Sailer commented:

What you won’t hear, except from me, is that “Let the good times roll” is an especially risky message for African-Americans. The plain fact is that they tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society.[40]

Conservative columnist John Podhoretz, responded in the National Review Online blog by calling Sailer’s statement “shockingly racist and paternalistic” as well as “disgusting”.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Sailer#Views_and_criticism

Do note that John Podhoretz and NRO are likely to represent the sort of extreme leftist views so regularly decried here, merely by writing such mean things.

179 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

Many people don’t like to think about there being differences between the races, I think we all knew that. I don’t know if Sailer’s statement is true or not, but given his style I am sure he has evidence he can provide for why he thinks so.

180 Steve Sailer March 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Read what I wrote in context:

I was explaining why New Orleans blacks, long before Hurricane Katrina, were notorious, like Milwaukee blacks, for performing in a manner below average for blacks in general:

“Judging from their economic and educational statistics, New Orleans’ blacks are not even an above-average group of African-Americans, such as you find in Atlanta or Seattle, but more like Miami’s or Milwaukee’s.” …

I attributed that to the famous culture of Louisiana and, especially, New Orleans that makes it a fun place to visit but you wouldn’t want to raise your kids there.

“The unofficial state motto is “Laissez les bons temps rouler” or “Let the good times roll.” Compare that to New Hampshire’s official motto of “Live free or die,” which display a rather different understanding of freedom. Louisiana`s reigning philosophy is freedom from responsibility. …

“All this is now common parlance, more or less. What you won’t hear, except from me, is that “Let the good times roll” is an especially risky message for African-Americans. The plain fact is that they tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society.”


Former first lady Barbara Bush made a similar point while visiting refugees in the Houston Astrodome a few days later: they’d probably be better off permanently relocating to Houston — which is more honest, business-like, and culturally and politically conservative — than in going back to New Orleans.

Interestingly, New Orleans voters have now elected a white mayor for the first time since the 1970s.

181 kimock March 2, 2016 at 4:43 am

I mostly found the post to be level-headed, accurate, and informative. But I am perplexed by the purported neuroticism of Democrats. Can someone help me with this?

182 Ray Lopez March 2, 2016 at 4:50 am

TC has carved out a niche in economics as the “Great Arbiter”. BTW, in chess FIDE grants the title of “Arbiter”, which allows retired masters (like Cowen) to make a little money referring chess tournaments. You’d be surprised how often an arbiter is needed.

183 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:31 am

I am not sure, but I will put universal free college education out there as a neurotic policy.

184 Mike C. March 2, 2016 at 4:58 am

Might the difference be that Republicans/conservatives are more concerned with meeting physical needs (national security/reducing crime/increasing business profits) and Democrats/liberals are more concerned with the challenges that remain after immediate physical needs are met (national image/discrimination/environmental damage)?

185 Alain March 2, 2016 at 10:28 am

There might be something to your theory.


186 Laura S. March 2, 2016 at 5:09 am

“The Republican Party is held together by the core premise that the status of some traditionally important groups be supported and indeed extended.”

Republicans also want everyone to become part of their status group on equal footing. Acceptance is measured by sameness. They perceive that Democrats want formerly high-status people to become Allies and hold fast to a narrow ledge slightly below new high-status group.

Democrats want everyone to embrace their new-status group. Acceptance is measured by conformity to the new status orthodoxy. They perceive that Republicans want to maintain the old status group and are suspicion anyone can join that group on an equal basis.

187 8 March 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

Republicans believe status is earned. Anyone should be able to earn status based on hard work. Republicans are blank slatists who believe personal choices, more than anything, determine success or failure.

Democrats believe status is socially controlled. That some groups have lower status is because of racism, sexism, etc. Democrats are blank slatists who believe decisions by others, more than anything, determine results.

Trump and the rising alternative-right are not blank slatists.

188 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm

-Republicans believe status is earned. Anyone should be able to earn status based on hard work. Republicans are blank slatists who believe personal choices, more than anything, determine success or failure.
Democrats believe status is socially controlled. That some groups have lower status is because of racism, sexism, etc. Democrats are blank slatists who believe decisions by others, more than anything, determine results.

I think this is the most interesting slate of text in this whole page. I include the original post.

189 Zeitgeisty March 2, 2016 at 5:11 am

The Republican Party is held together by the core premise that the status of some traditionally important groups be supported and indeed extended.

When you can’t fathom the notion of having higher ideals (whether these are societal ideals like democracy, communal ideals like neighborliness, or individual ideals like piety), then someone who has higher ideals looks to you like someone out to elevate his own status …

190 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 5:40 am

Kinda seems that way to me, although I think it is incorrect to generalize Republicans as not having higher ideals.

The idea that people who argue in favour of ideals are just “virtue signalling”, for example, suggests to me that some people are just unable to comprehend that other actually really and truly hold “higher” ideals, whether that be a matter of religious, humanist or other statements of the ideal.

191 Jeff R. March 2, 2016 at 9:19 am

Apparently, you’ve never been asked by a college student what your preferred pronouns are.

192 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:37 am

Admittedly, I haven’t spent a lot of time on college campuses for a while. I understand things are getting pretty ridiculous in some places. But then again, I’ve always been a pretty staunch advocate of calling people how they want to be called. When people insist on calling people things that they don’t want to be called (with important exceptions along the lines of calling a liar a liar), things can only go downhill from there.

193 zz March 3, 2016 at 11:50 pm

“calling people how they want to be called”

If that’s not neuroticism, I don’t know what the word means.

194 Peldrigal March 8, 2016 at 1:43 pm

ZZ, a dictionary might help you. The encyclopedia might be too much: don’t overextend yourself.

195 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 5:53 am

I believe the idea that politics is mostly a fight over who deserves to be raised or lowered in status comes from Robin Hanson and one of the strongest pieces of evidence that he is right comes from simply examining lowbrow or middlebrow political rhetoric in speeches or op-ed columns. Conservative rhetoric celebrates things like economic success, masculinity, patriotism, Christianity and, more generally, life’s winners. It is a rhetoric that is designed to speak to the majority or to traditionally respected groups about why they deserve to be proud. Liberal rhetoric focuses more on minorities or people who are seen as disadvantaged, excluded, or are victims of injustice by virtue of their disadvantaged status. It tends to tear down people who are seen as powerful (in relative terms, at least) and elevates people who are seen as powerless or low status.

Higher ideals do exist (well, maybe, but you should have a rebuttal to Nietzsche ready) but they just don’t feature nearly as prominently in rhetoric that is designed to get votes. Politics is vicious precisely because so much political rhetoric can be easily interpreted as attacks on one’s identity or the virtue of the group one belongs to.

196 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 5:44 am

Since much of the world’s relations with America relate to federal politics, their views of American politics, namely Democrats and Republicans, is largely shaped by the sorts of foreign policy proposed/supported by these parties. State and municipal governance are essentially irrelevant to how the outside world interprets American politics. Among other things, first strike doctrine (which should perhaps be attributed more to Bush than Republicans in general) is something that the world rightly perceives as scary. While I understand how this can be defended as legitimate defensive strategy, it can come across to others as something like “if you so much as dare to lift your head too high, I will slit your throat”. I honestly think it does more to promote radicalization than to deter it, because we naturally oppose those who try to tell us we cannot stand up straight and strong for ourselves.

The obsession with guns and opposition to universal health care are other things that a vast majority of Europeans and Canadians often have great troubles understanding (not so sure of what other cultures/nations think about it). On health care, it seems entirely correct to us that all people should have roughly equal access to health care regardless of their means – it also seems to be cheaper on average for a number of reasons I don’t want to get in to. While differences in social contributions are easily acknowledged, I think this is based in the view that each and every life is inherently valuable, and no more so for a rich man than a poor man. And guns … most of us just don’t get it. Gun culture in the USA is very much a cultural oddity, and seems to be increasingly woven into the fabric of American identity for quite a lot of people. There is no logic that can explain this, it’s just … different. The culture is just really different about those things, in particular from the Republican side.

197 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm

On healthcare a couple of places to start to understand why the USA does not have universal Gov. provided health insurance:

198 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Gun culture in the USA is very much a cultural oddity, and seems to be increasingly woven into the fabric of American identity for quite a lot of people. There is no logic that can explain this, it’s just … different. The culture is just really different about those things, in particular from the Republican side.

At that time, the organization reported registered civilian-owned firearms in France as numbering 2.8 million. But unregistered guns owned in defiance of the law were estimated at 15 to 17 million, vastly outnumbering official figures.

Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe. The vast majority of men between the ages of 20 and 34 are conscripted into the militia and undergo military training, including weapons training. The personal weapons of the militia are kept at home as part of the military obligations. However, it is generally not permitted to keep army-issued ammunition, but compatible ammunition purchased for privately owned guns is permitted

Also note that rate of homicide deaths among Canada’s first peoples is even higher than among USA blacks and if they were as high a percent of the population as are blacks in the USA Canada’s homicide rate would be very close to that in the USA.

199 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Thank you. (“first nations” is how they want to be called these days …)

200 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 5:46 am

The real minimum wage is lower than it’s been since 1956: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774473.html

All that free entertainment is nice and stuff, but free streaming doesn’t keep the house warm, children fed or college educated, and does not contribute to one’s holiday or pension fund.

$15 an hour might be too much (debatable, but probably so, especially if implemented quickly), but it is hard to credibly believe that it would be destructive for the economy to pay low-end workers the same rate as they were paid half a century ago, given that they are now often paired with much more efficient capital that is long beyond the development and mass market stage.

If global competition is so hard on the working poor that they cannot be paid the same wage as they earned in 1956, then I think the debate of whether globalization is working for the lower end of the working class or whether trickle down economics is working is basically open and shut. I believe in free trade, but highlight the different between the theoretical ability to pay off the losers in free trade and the reality that such payoffs generally do not occur, in particular for the working poor (many of whom formerly the middle class).

201 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 6:11 am

The best explanation I have seen for gun culture comes from David Frum and focuses on how guns are an outlet for white male identity politics. Gun owners are disproportionately likely to be older, white, Republican, Southern, and male. Most Americans don’t own any guns at all but, for those who do and especially those who own many guns, they can point to gun ownership as a marker of identity that is under threat from Others. It also ties to anxieties about crimes (especially those committed disproportionately by non-whites) and serves as an assertion of masculinity.

202 TJB March 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

Ricardo, why do you think white males need an “outlet” for their identity politics? Do other groups need “outlets” as well?

203 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

“Do other groups need “outlets” as well?”

I wouldn’t describe them as “outlets” because it is generally socially acceptable to say “I am proud to be a XYZ” if that XYZ group does not contain “straight,” “white,” or “male.” I am not a fan of identity politics so I’m not sure where you were going with the question but it is clear that it plays a role in overall voting patterns, policy positions and political affinities.

204 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:45 am

It makes more sense to be proud of your German, Irish, Greek or Scandinavian ancestry than to be proud of your skin colour. If you can take the step from eschewing your cultural heritage and focusing on skin colour, I don’t see why it should be so hard to take the next step and just agree that we’re all human and leave it at that.

Pan Africanism also seems somewhat odd to me for a similar reason, but I think the fact that Africa would still be a smallish player even as a unified political and economic negotiating entity makes this make more sense – solidarity in the face of a world that has little respect for Africa also makes it make more sense.

205 TJB March 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

I was just wondering why white males, with all their hypothesized privilege, would need an “outlet.” It almost sounds like the white males in question might actually be the downtrodden in today’s society.

206 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 12:20 pm

“I was just wondering why white males, with all their hypothesized privilege, would need an “outlet.” It almost sounds like the white males in question might actually be the downtrodden in today’s society.”

Who denies there are downtrodden whites in society? Indeed, that was the implicit premise of Obama’s infamous “bitter clingers” statement. One can be privileged in some aspects of life but not others. For instance, Sidney Weinberg, a former Jewish managing partner of Goldman Sachs, became fabulously wealthy but had the experience of being asked to leave one of New York’s social clubs by the staff simply for being Jewish despite having an invitation from a member to discuss business there.

207 TJB March 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm

“Who denies there are downtrodden whites in society?”

I think lots of people deny this. In fact, relatively few are capable of the nuanced view you gave in your answer.

208 JK Brown March 2, 2016 at 11:08 am

“gun ownership as a marker of identity ”

Well, in a manner that is true. Historically, the right to keep and bear arms was a mark of a free person. The keeping and bearing of arms was also the sign of an individual who stood for his community and sovereign, the latter in America being the Constitution.

Recreationally, guns are fun to shoot, engaging to pursue as a skill and geekily interesting as functional machines and as art.

Utilitarian, guns are tools. Tools with which to stop the imminent threats of death and serious bodily injury posed by others to oneself and community.

209 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm

“Historically, the right to keep and bear arms was a mark of a free person. The keeping and bearing of arms was also the sign of an individual who stood for his community and sovereign, the latter in America being the Constitution.”

Historically, yes. How many pro-gun people would like it if their state passed a law saying that every gun owner needs to sign up as a reservist in the local national guard and attend training one weekend every month? This relationship between gun-ownership and the concept of the citizen militia — and not some anarchic group but an actual disciplined body under state or local government control — has faded.

And you are quite right that guns can be a hobby and can have legitimate self-defense uses although most people wildly over-estimate both how much violent crime there is and their own ability to stop it with a firearm. They remain a powerful symbol for people who don’t trust the government or many of their fellow citizens and feel they are losing influence and respect in society.

210 Mm March 2, 2016 at 8:26 am

US wages where probably artificially inflated in the 50s since much of the world was still recovering from WW2-therefore probably a bad baseline. An imposed $15 per her minimum is probably a worse policy than some form of subsidy to the low paid. High minimum will mean more unemployed who require full, rather than partial subsidy. Long term unemployment has severe effects on skills & future employability-even if you overlook many psychic effects of unemployment.

211 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:02 am

Long term unemployment is one of the main reasons that I was supportive of worker-targeted stimulus at the time that the billions and trillions were being bandied about during the Great Recession. A lot of human capital has been lost in the last 10 years which will never be fully redeployed.

212 Andy March 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

@Nathan W — Your own link contradicts you. Today’s real minimum wage is higher than the minimum wages during the periods 1987-1990, 1992-1996, and 2000-2008. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774473.html)

213 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Why would quick implementation effect the desirability? Better a BIG.

214 Tarrou March 2, 2016 at 5:47 am

And Tyler comes within sniffing distance of the truth before wandering back into Krugman-land.

Yes, Tyler, the primary difference between dems and reps is the the status of one key group. The US, and her citizens. Republicans would like to raise that status, Democrats would like to lower it. Everything else is window dressing.

Oh, and when you hear an ostensibly intelligent person assert that their political opposition is “monolithic”, you know they’ve drunk their own kool-aid and are pissing in the partisan wind.

215 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:08 am

Too bad that Republicans tend to lower the status of Americans on the world stage, whether intended or not. People don’t generally like people who need to feel/look/act tough to feel respected.

216 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:35 am

I think you are confusing status with whether people like you

217 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:45 pm

My biased sample is among people who travel. I don’t know what Germans in Germany think, or what Norwegians in Norway think, but among those who travel, Republican America has had a very bad rep for some time now, in particular relating to guns, healthcare and foreign policy. Rather than me painting my views on them, in fact the opposite applies to some extent. Canadian media is loathe to take an anti-American stance, since relations are too important. It wasn’t until I met loads and loads of Europeans around the world that I became more aware of such perspectives.

218 Andrew P March 3, 2016 at 12:54 am

Speaking as a Brit living in Africa and working at an international school, what I see of people’s attitude towards the USA is one of confusion. The topics mentioned by Nathan are some of the examples. A lot of money is spent by the US government on healthcare yet it was still allowed to become prohibitively expensive for a large section of the population. How is that ok?

Also we see a lot of Republicans as the bad guys in things like the crisis in Flint – your citizens are being avoidably poisoned by the local government and the Republicans nationally are not sure whether to spend any money to help the victims. What is wrong with these people?

You may disagree with the opinions, that is fine, but please don’t think the US is well respected by ordinary people in the rest of the world. You are becoming a laughing stock by even entertaining the idea of Donald Trump as a viable president.

219 Cooper March 2, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Did Reagan and Bush Sr. lower the status of Americans on the world stage?

They were tough, pro-military guys and America was more respected than ever during their presidencies.

There’s a difference between leading through strength and mindless imperialism. Bush Jr. confused the latter for the former.

220 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 9:42 pm

This is a recent phenomenon, as far as I can tell. GWB bears the lion’s share of the blame.

221 Thor March 3, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Foolish interventionism is not the same as imperialism.

222 Tarrou March 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Lower? Or raise?

You do realize that they like it when we roll over, make ourselves look foolish, and hand out cash like lollypops, right? They just don’t respect it.

223 Moreno Klaus March 2, 2016 at 5:56 am

Say what you want: the difference between republicans and democrats is the parfum nothing more. They are both captured by Wall Street, and at the service of the military industrial complex. While before election they try hard to seem “different”, they are really not that different while in Government.

224 chuck martel March 2, 2016 at 6:39 am

That’s correct. Politicians are similar to professional baseball players in that they want to be in the game. It doesn’t really matter for which team they play, as long as they’re in the big leagues. Free agent ball players happily go to the team with the most money to offer and the other players that can contribute to personal success. The pursuit of power over others, disguised as altruism, is a pathology that is often taken for “leadership”.

225 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:37 am

Have you been watching Congress for the last 8 years? The refusal to consider right of center Supreme Court Justices now? They could at least pretend. But no, too tired to look up quotes, but one party aspired to break government in order to win it.

I know I went on too long about gridlock yesterday, but it matters very much in terms of who these parties are.

226 TJB March 2, 2016 at 6:05 am

Democrats claim to worry about 1) wages for lower income workers, and 2) social inequality.

Can anyone explain how Democrats believe that flooding the nation with unskilled immigrants will improve either 1) or 2) above? To me, it seems that the Dems are selling out poor people, but I’m curious how they rationalize this to themselves. Does anybody know?

227 Jan March 2, 2016 at 7:08 am

I’d encourage you to explore the research on this issue. It’s not at all clear immigration had the impact on jobs you think it does. Also, do Dems have some proposal to implement a massive immigration increase. As far as I have heard they just want to fix the broken system we have. Also, Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors, while the share of migrants without documentation is at its lowest since Bush took office.

228 TJB March 2, 2016 at 8:47 am

Jan, a couple of points.

1) The Obama administration counts people stopped at the border as being deported, while previous administrations did not. So your statistic is a fake one. Explained here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/21/lies-damned-lies-and-obamas-deportation-statistics/

2) I was talking about wages and not jobs. Do you really believe that undocumented immigrants do not exert a downward pressure on wages? I am perfectly willing to believe that undocumented immigrants may have a net positive effect on our economic growth, but that is a separate question. I am talking about their effect on unskilled American workers. It seems to me that the best way to give them more dignity and increase their wages is to have a tight labor market.

3) You did not address social inequality at all. It seems fairly obvious that importing large numbers of unskilled and uneducated workers can only increase social inequality. Do you dispute this?

229 Jan March 2, 2016 at 9:36 am

1) that may be true, though immigration has declined significantly. Dems are not exactly making it easy for immigrants. Here is the latest on Obama’s family deportation raid program: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/obama-family-deportation-raids-217329

2) Legal immigration and legal status for existing immigrants–which is the only kind reform Dems support–actually helps wages fpr Americans: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2013/08/29/73203/immigration-helps-american-workers-wages-and-job-opportunities/

3) Against, your premise that Dems want to “flood the country with unskilled immigrants” is simply wrong. So you’re not making much of a point. But of course immigration in general does not harm social equality. Generations of immigrants to the US has probably done more for long-run social equality in this country than anything.

230 TJB March 2, 2016 at 10:26 am

Jan, just look at what has happened:

“Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies released its latest jobs study. CIS, a research organization that tends to favor tight immigration policies, found that even now, almost seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans are working than in November 2007, the peak of the prior economic cycle. Balancing the 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans at work, there are 2 million more immigrants—legal and illegal—working in the United States today than in November 2007. All the net new jobs created since November 2007 have gone to immigrants. Meanwhile, millions of native-born Americans, especially men, have abandoned the job market altogether. The percentage of men aged 25 to 54 who are working or looking for work has dropped to the lowest point in recorded history.”


The only question is whether one regards this as a bug or a feature.

231 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 11:41 am


2) Maybe explicitly, but it is very clear that their policy is meant to encourage illegal immigration. The benefit is of course that the children of illegal immigrants vote Democrat

I find myself in the absurd position of being considered a radical right-winger because I advocate high levels of skilled immigration, the end of family reunification as the primary basis for immigration, and the securing of our borders (i.e. the immigration policy of those fascist hellholes Canada and Australia).

3) High levels of immigration from third world Latin countries greatly increases inequality, whether you like it or not

232 TJB March 2, 2016 at 1:33 pm

“I find myself in the absurd position of being considered a radical right-winger because I advocate high levels of skilled immigration, the end of family reunification as the primary basis for immigration, and the securing of our borders (i.e. the immigration policy of those fascist hellholes Canada and Australia).”

Cliff, this is my position exactly. Apparently, any position on immigration other than open borders marks one as a member of the “far right.” I especially think that the international students that do their doctoral work here in the U.S. should be encouraged to stay. In many cases, several hundred thousand dollars of U.S. taxpayer money has gone to support the education of a foreign scientist or engineer, and then we force that person to leave. It’s crazy.

233 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:13 am

Indeed, much of the likely economic benefit is precisely through the fact of lowering wages, which lowers prices of American goods on both domestic and international markets. I think this is a “refer to econ 101” sort of point.

While I don’t think Democrat voters really think this through, I think it is likely to be acceptable at higher policy levels to accept the contradiction, because on the one hand there is the benefit of a larger and more flexible labour poor (or, disposable cogs if you’re inclined to take the negative view), and on the other a higher minimum wage (assuming the disemployment effects are negligible, or even positive due to a positive labour supply response) may achieve certain gains for certain constituencies in addition to achieving distributive goals to ensure that workers’ share of income more closely reflects their contribution to the production process.

234 glasnost March 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

As a liberal democrat, several ways.

First, I have no interest in flooding the nation with unskilled immigrants. I just don’t want to evict people that are here. My interest in lifting the status of poor people makes me sympathetic to immigrants, who are also poor people. From my perspective – poor white Republicans who hate immigrants look like Romans in a gladitorial arena blaming their fate on different-looking gladiators, instead of the system in charge (large corporations). And then you think I’m the system, but I’m not bringing immigrants here, just trying not to punish them.

Second, and most importantly, helped by economics, I don’t think immigration matters much to crappy working class wages. See, you live in a global market. Immigrants don’t have to be inside America to compete for your job. When immigrants compete for jobs, they spend money inside America that should make a need for more jobs and it should all balance out. That’s why, if we had no immigration but a real high birth rate, your wages wouldn’t be falling. More labor isn’t the problem – the problem is you’re competing with people who live in other countries and are vastly poorer. The labor market is global. More or less immigration won’t fix you losing your job to a Chinese guy, in China. Trump is literally the first Republican I’ve ever heard even willing to admit this. The others pretend that you can wave the magic immigration wand and America will start getting jobs back. Illegal immigration has been falling since 2008 – go look it up – have things gotten better?

Put two things together, and – I, like other democrats, have more than one thing I want. I want to raise wages for immigrants and citizens alike, at the same time – want to help the working class without stepping on another group else equally in need of help – reform the businesses and the markets driving all of this behavior.

235 glasnost March 2, 2016 at 9:08 am

When I say that “more labor isn’t the problem” I mean that “more labor inside america isn’t the problem”. The problem is vastly *cheaper* labor pulling wages down. But it’s not cheaper because there’s more of it, it’s cheaper because it lives in other countries where it costs a lot less to live (and where workers get much poorer).

If more labor was the problem, period, then workers would get steadily poorer as the total population and labor force of america got larger and larger from between 1776 and 1945. But that didn’t happen. The reason is, like I said, more workers should equal more spending should equal more jobs and the net supply/demand of jobs to workers should stay in balance.

If immigrants are putting American citizens out of work, it’s either because a) they’re getting paid under minimum wage, thus recreating the China effect inside our borders, which can be fixed by legalizing them, not deporting them or b) too much of their money is leaving the country, which can be fixed without deporting them as well.

In the big picture, production and jobs are leaving the US and flowing out to cheaper countries, where it’s being either spent over there or dumped back into US financial assets that only rich people in the US have access to. The entire capitalist system depends on a good supply/demand balance among jobs to workers, and globalization is destroying that in america. Migration is not a large or important part of that. And of all the parts, it’s the part that you have to do the meanest stuff to fix. Instead of simply cracking down in a serious, severe, sustained way – destroying businesses, throwing CEOs in jail, setting an example – against offshore production.

236 TJB March 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

Let’s think about roofers, for example. Roofing is dangerous, backbreaking work and is probably worth at least $50/hr. Yet there are plenty of undocumented immigrants who will do it for maybe $20/hr. This is great for the economy because people like you and me can get a great deal on a new roof and so the roofing industry flourishes.

Meanwhile, the American worker who is a roofer says to himself there is no way he will risk his life for $20/hr in order to compete against the undocumented immigrants. So maybe he says his back hurts and goes on disability. Or sponges off his girlfriend.

I frankly do not see any sympathy on the Dem side for the discouraged roofer.

237 glasnost March 2, 2016 at 10:33 am

Why not force the company to pay $50 an hour to everyone? This only gets easier if you offer the migrant citizenship.

Bonus question – if you kick the immigrant out, will the company really raise wages back to $50 an hour? Or will it just sit back and wait until some American is desperate enough to take the job for $20? All the reports I hear in the news are that the response of companies when they can’t find labor cheap enough is “the hell with it, let’s just sit back and hoard assets until labor gets cheaper”. Maybe they’ll hire prisoners. Maybe they’ll offer complex, deceptive schemes where it looks like you’re making $50 an hour but a series of hidden penalties take most of the money away again.

Maybe we’re trapped in a chicken and egg problem where they don’t think they can sell the product at a high enough price to make money off it if they pay $50 an hour, and they can’t because demand sucks. The answer – no kidding – is to tax rich people very heavily and redistribute the money to people who will actually spend it – poor people, thus sparking demand again.

I’m sympathetic to the discouraged roofer. We’re in an argument about methods. It’s like, why do I have to kick a baby in the face in order to help the discouraged roofer? Why can’t I just force the smirking guy holding a ladder – the roofing company – to help the roofer instead?

238 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

I have never seen an estimate of the impact of illegal immigration on wages that suggests a 60% decline. Suppose you deport all illegal immigrants and the wage does not rise to $50 per hour. Would you then agree that roofers should be allowed to unionize and collectively bargain for a wage that you think their work “is probably worth”? And would you extend the same right to collectively bargain to obtain a decent standard of living to, say, the people who stock the shelves at Walmart?

239 TJB March 2, 2016 at 11:25 am

“I have never seen an estimate of the impact of illegal immigration on wages that suggests a 60% decline.”

Really? I would guess just the difference between paying and not paying taxes is alone is worth about 30%

240 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Ricardo – since roofers work for a large number of small companies, the strategy would be to get into credentialization, not unionization. Required training to be a roofer, for example, and lobbying municipalities to protect worker safety and roofing quality by having strict local bylaws against “illegal roofing contractors”. This would also exclude illegal immigrants. I doubt this would be of broader economic benefit though.

241 J1 March 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm

“Why not force the company to pay $50 an hour to everyone? This only gets easier if you offer the migrant citizenship”

Roofers are already violating the law against hiring illegals; there’s no reason to believe they’d obey a mandatory wage law.

“Would you then agree that roofers should be allowed to unionize and collectively bargain for a wage that you think their work “is probably worth”?”

Absolutely. This country could use a lot more unionization, and might still have it if union leadership put the emphasis on collective bargaining rather than politics.

242 TJB March 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

“My interest in lifting the status of poor people makes me sympathetic to immigrants, who are also poor people.”

Fair answer. You don’t see the need to favor poor Americans over poor immigrants.

“I don’t think immigration matters much to crappy working class wages.”

Poor answer. Wages rise in tight labor markets.

“See, you live in a global market. Immigrants don’t have to be inside America to compete for your job.”

Definitely true for manufacturing jobs, but not much consolation to roofers and gardeners.

“When immigrants compete for jobs, they spend money inside America that should make a need for more jobs and it should all balance out.”

Agree that illegal immigration contributes to economic growth. That is why Wall Street Republicans like it so much.

“Illegal immigration has been falling since 2008 – go look it up – have things gotten better?”

The weak recovery has indeed slowed illegal immigration. Poor economic growth disproportionately hurts poor people.

“I want to raise wages for immigrants and citizens alike, at the same time – want to help the working class without stepping on another group else equally in need of help – reform the businesses and the markets driving all of this behavior.”

To me this sounds like you want to repeal the laws of economics and create your own reality. Do you have a fiscally sustainable plan to do this?

243 glasnost March 2, 2016 at 10:39 am

Fair answer. You don’t see the need to favor poor Americans over poor immigrants.

I’m not a pure globalist. But I don’t want to stomp on a kitten’s face to help poor Americans, so to speak, in other words, commit acts I perceive as cruel to achieve the goal when there appear to be alternative, non-cruel methods available. If you hated me, I guess you could characterize that as that my preference for Americans over immigrants isn’t strong enough to overcome my dislike of forced relocation. I’m open to less drastic methods of preferencing Americans. But I still don’t see why “instead of getting rid of the immigrants, force the companies to stop paying them at wage-driving-down rates, and force them to pay higher wages universally” isn’t a better solution.

244 glasnost March 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

Let me put it this way – I want tight labor markets. Tight labor markets are a really important and widespread liberal goal. We had a lot of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s, and we had tight labor markets. Now we don’t have tight labor markets anymore. Immigration is what appears to be an obvious way to create tight labor markets again, but I don’t think that it will work, it’s ugly and will have bad contractionary side effects, and it’s definitely not the only way. A better way is to expand demand for labor rather than shrinking supply – what we’re doing to do this right now is vastly inadequate – instead we should be massively boosting consumer spending by taxing rich people heavily and giving the money to poor people who will spend it, creating enough jobs that shrinking the labor supply is not necessary.

Behind this, we have a much larger problem – rather, a pair of problems – globalization and automation. These forces are working together to shrink demand for American labor, and they’re not going away, and they’re only going to get larger. Immigration is the shiny, obvious, but limited tip of the iceberg. As a democrat, I want to solve those problems – and it’s going to require the hand of the state. The market sure as shit isn’t going to do it. The market is driving it.

245 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:20 am

The gladiator-corporation analogy is very interesting.

The point that the American working class is now competing with the whole world can hardly be underemphasized either. But I think it is unpopular to talk about this a lot because it could promote protectionist sentiment among the lower working class, with virtually certain negative impacts on longer term prospects of any economy as large and diversified as the USA. However, since immigrants compete in many non-tradeable areas, or areas of production such as meats, fruit and vegetables, or construction, or other services, all of which are primarily for domestic consumption, I disagree that the net effect on lower wages is irrelevant. Merely, it is overstated, and the working class must understand that they are now competing with the world and the era of guaranteed easy (but perhaps strenuous) jobs out of high school is very much behind us.

246 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm


I would like the USA to return to the free immigration policies of the past (like when my grandparents immigrated). Then incoming immigrants where checked for communicable diseases and if clean they were granted entry.

BUT seeing that:

There is a large percent of voters who are anti-immigration and a larger percent who are against illegal immigration.
It seems absurd to have a law that you have no intention of enforcing.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off than those who would have wanted to come but did not come because they did not want to come illegally.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off because they have had a chance to earn more money than those in Mexico.
The illegal immigrants who have been here the longest are better off because they have had a chance to learn some English which might help them get a better job in Mexico.

So suppose we deport illegal immigrants starting with those who have been here the longest and for each one deported we let in a person from the queue. Or maybe we let in two people from the queue for each illegal deported.

This seems to be a reasonable compromise between pro and anti immigration voters.

247 Jan March 2, 2016 at 9:41 am

Republicans claim to worry about 1) the deficit, 2) reducing taxes, and 3) preserving the high-cost structures of Medicare and the military (in the case of the latter, actually increasing spending).

That is all.

248 Jan March 2, 2016 at 6:06 am

Interesting post. Some massive generalizations and most points don’t necessarily have data to back them up, but I feel it is largely correct.

249 rayward March 2, 2016 at 6:09 am

Read this guest op/ed in the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/opinion/campaign-stops/trump-or-anyone-but-trump.html?ref=opinion), in which students at GMU discuss the election, and tell me it doesn’t read exactly like an Andy Borowitz piece in The New Yorker. I don’t know if it’s because the author did so intentionally or because it is unavoidable. Or is it because discussing politics, like discussing religion, makes people seem stupid.

250 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 11:24 am

Considering how hard it is take certain faculty seriously at GMU, the idea of taking basically any random GMU student seriously is already satire gold.

251 David C March 2, 2016 at 6:30 am

I think that the examples of Flint and the fiscal mess in Kansas demonstrate pretty well that Republican State Governments aren’t always better at governing.

252 Tarrou March 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

Oh, Flint is a fiasco, no doubt. Problem is, the Republicans could poison the entire city of Flint, legalize hunting humans for sport and still be governing the state of Michigan better than the Dems have done. And in the case of Flint, the emergency manager who made the call to switch the water was a Democrat, and no Republican has been elected to city office in Flint in almost fifty years. Hence the stampede to pin it on the governor, he’s the only Republican in the chain of command there. The city is dem, the council is dem, the manager was dem, the DEQ is dem, the federal EPA is sure as hell dem. But there is one Republican in the mix, so let’s call this one Snyder’s Folly!

253 Slocum March 2, 2016 at 9:09 am

Flint was a disaster, but it was a one off with no real ‘larger lessons’. Had the water treatment folks been competent and used the necessary anti-corrosion processes, there would have been no crisis even with the temporary use of the Flint River. Flint’s real problems (endemic poverty, 50% loss of population, the nation’s highest murder rate) have nothing to do with water.

254 Brian March 2, 2016 at 1:19 pm

That’s true- but Dems would think that is an example of Republicans not seeing what causes systemic poverty and the ways to fix it at a national level. The approach of just leaving it to the states has never worked and economic mobility in the US is actually quite low. State and local taxes are very regressive and if cities are largely funded via property taxes and it is a poor area then services in those areas to help those citizens are going to be bad. States also can’t run deficits so it limits what they can do. The school resources at Detroit Public Schools compared to Troy Public Schools, as an example, is night and day.

If equitable school funding could be ensured, as well as minimum standards in each community (ensure there is no food deserts, access to quality hospitals, etc) through a national infrastructure law then that would be getting closer from the Dems perspective to helping ensure an equality of opportunity for each citizen. The assumption is Republicans have no plan at a national level and, thus, no plan at all b/c just leaving it to states doesn’t work.

255 Slocum March 2, 2016 at 2:03 pm

“The school resources at Detroit Public Schools compared to Troy Public Schools, as an example, is night and day.”

Actually, that’s not true-Michigan went to equalized, state-level school funding about 20 years ago.

256 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The Dems have no such plan either. It’s almost like they don’t actually care

257 Agra Brum March 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Just that states who had enjoyed small populations and natural resource windfalls did well. Let’s check back in with Dakota and Wyoming after gas remains cheap for a few years and see how well they are doing (although Wyoming actually has a decnet amount of wind farms).

Kansas and Wisconsin – especially with Wisconsin easily compared to adjacent Minnesota as the control, seem to be better examples.

258 Rich Berger March 2, 2016 at 7:22 am

When you try, as Tyler has done, to give a simple explanation of a very complicated phenomenon, you reveal your prejudices.

259 Vivian Darkbloom March 2, 2016 at 7:26 am

I believe one of the fundamental differences is this:

Democrats tend to believe that an individual’s success is a matter of luck (and lack of success, a matter of being unlucky).

Republicans tend to believe that an individual’s success is a matter of effort (and Iack of success, a matter of the lack of effort).

Of course, the answer is somewhere in between; however, this fundamental disagreement over the extent to which an individual has control over his or her own own destiny, and therefore responsibility for it, has major implications for a variety of public policy issues.

260 Zeitgeisty March 2, 2016 at 7:46 am

Democrats tend to believe that an individual’s success is a matter of luck (and lack of success, a matter of being unlucky).

Republicans tend to believe that an individual’s success is a matter of effort (and Iack of success, a matter of the lack of effort).

Many conservatives believe that “individual success” may involve luck, effort, talent, or a combination thereof, but think that “individual success” is none of the government’s business and is anyway not all that important (compared to stability of society, individual freedoms etc.)

261 Vivian Darkbloom March 2, 2016 at 10:02 am

I disagree. Of course, Republicans and Democrats, respectively, don’t usually think it is completely luck or effort. But, where you stand on that continuum between the two, I think, pretty much determines which party you belong to. If, e.g., a Republican were to think that it is “none of government’s business”, the reason for that is more likely that they believe they should be in control of their own destiny. I doubt they would view government intervention as any more fickle than “luck”, which is an abstraction which many people think is just superstition.

An example: If a person thinks that his success is due to hard work rather than “luck”, that person is less likely to approve high levels of taxation. If a person thinks success is due to “luck”, high levels of taxation that take away the fruits of that luck would be less objectionable. Ditto for one’s views on welfare benefits, etc., etc.

262 Dan Lavatan March 2, 2016 at 6:17 pm

I don’t think this is much of a factor. Much of what the government does is destructive like getting people killed in war or enforcing stupid laws. I also don’t think it is good for government to be controlling charity. So even if there was a tax on casino winnings or something, I would oppose it beyond whatever effect it would have on the industry.

263 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 8:54 am

+1. If you’re trying to explain it in 50 words or less, this is it.

264 San Franciscan March 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Used to think this, but millennials working in tech in SF seem to be a potent counter-example. They view their success (and lack of success of their peers) almost entirely in terms of personal effort, but nevertheless strongly favor democratic/progressive policies.

265 dearieme March 2, 2016 at 7:33 am

Or: Hellary’s Democratic Party is a coalition of teachers’ unions, trial lawyers, Goldman Sachs, warmongers, censors, and shakedown artists. How could any civilised soul resist voting against it if offered a choice who appeals to none of those groups.

266 Pensans March 2, 2016 at 7:41 am

Tyler just convinced me to volunteer for the Trump phone bank.

267 Make Donald Drumpf Again March 2, 2016 at 10:25 am


268 Anon. March 2, 2016 at 7:42 am

>The success of Trump by the way is that he appeals to that revaluation of values directly

The Straussian reading of this is that Tyler views Trump as a contemporary Nietzsche. Anti-Christian certainly. Dionysian, yes! But what new values does Trump create, and where does he take inspiration from?

269 Zeitgeisty March 2, 2016 at 7:49 am

Obama and the left already revaluated all values by smiling at Iran, Hamas etc. Trump is taking the logical next step and extending the same consideration to Putin etc.

270 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:27 am

Failing to see the world in black and white is not the same as smiling at them. The Iran sanctions were falling apart as it was, and Hamas … not a clue where you get that from. Did Obama fail to reassure Israel sufficient times that the USA veto in the UN is Israel`s to use any old time it wants to?

271 The Engineer March 2, 2016 at 7:56 am

Even in “Republican” areas, Democrats are somewhat competitive. My town is famously Republican, but Democrats routinely poll over 45% of the vote, and Obama won the town in ’08.

Contrast that with Democratic cities, where Democrats get literally all the votes.

Which system is better able to self regulate?

272 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

Perhaps there is less pressure to deliver when victory is assured? (Not sure if the characterization is accurate though …)

273 Agra Brum March 2, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Los Angeles and New York – America’s two largest cities – both have had recent Republican mayors. However, those mayors were not in step with the national party. Currently, the Republican party is very hostile to urban areas. Until the national party stops being hostile to cities, at most levels cities will not support Republicans.

274 BenK March 2, 2016 at 7:58 am

It’s an interesting analysis and a good start. Maybe if I try to refine it:
Democrats generally focus on raising the status of low-status people and Republicans on reinforcing the systems that offer stable status rewards.

The Democrats have in their favor that some people are honestly oppressed and it seems liberal and charitable to help them. The problem is that the Democrats choose coercive government measures as the way to provide this help; and much of this comes from the fact that the Democratic voting base is supposed to be the oppressed people fighting for themselves, but to a large extent it is actually people who profit from the struggle to change status systems.

The Republicans have in their favor that many of the status systems reward truly valuable things like competency and honor. However, sometimes they don’t; and the mechanisms of social status have been gamed from time immemorial.

The biggest disconnects come from the fact that America overall is high status compared to many countries and that maintaining that requires a stable status system; the Democrats keep trying to sell the idea that only by completely upsetting the apple cart can the apple cart be maintained… but of course, to people who feel like they aren’t getting any apples, or to the people who see themselves as the arbiter of who gets any apples, the upset seems like a good thing – they don’t regularly see how far they will fall if the whole cart goes.

275 Kevin Miller March 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

As a Michigan resident, I’ll just have to take on faith your claim that Republican state governments are better run than Democratic ones. (And it’s far from just the way the current administration handled the Flint water situation).

276 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 8:30 am

Some really good stuff in there, Tyler.

As an aside, I note that the invincible Trump is currently 0 for 2 in midwestern states.

277 Rick Jones March 2, 2016 at 8:42 am

I tend to look at the differences between Republicans and Democrats this way: each is willing to accept a different form of system failure.

Any system will fail at some point, but it can fail in different ways. Consider capital punishment, and how it can fail.

If a society has capital punishment, one major way it can fail is that innocent people can be unfairly convicted and executed. If capital punishment is abolished in favor of, say, life in prison without parole, one way it can fail is that heinous criminals might not get appropriately punished — i.e., executed — for their crimes.

Republicans seem to be willing to accept the occasional execution of innocent people in return for a higher guarantee that those who deserve it get it. Democrats seem to be willing to accept that truly heinous criminals do not get the ultimate punishment in return for the guarantee that innocent people do not get executed.

Or consider voting. How can it fail? One way is that people who are ineligible to vote actually vote, i.e., commit voter fraud. Another way is that people who are eligible to vote are denied a vote.

Republicans seem willing to deny the vote to eligible voters in return for a higher guarantee that ineligible voters do not commit voter fraud, while Democrats seem willing to put up with a little bit of voter fraud in return for the guarantee that all eligible voters get to vote.

Or consider public assistance (in the form of welfare, food stamps, etc.). How can it fail? People who do not deserve it actually get it, or people who really need it do not get it.

Again, Republicans seem willing to deny public assistance to those who truly in need in return for a higher guarantee that others do not commit fraud, while Democrats seem willing to put up with a little bit of fraud and waste in return for the guarantee that all those who are truly in need are helped.

278 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 10:51 am

I think the characterization that the right wing is more willing to deny benefits/rights to those who need them to ensure that people who don’t deserve benefits/rights don’t get it. And, that left wingers are willing to tolerate that ensuring that everyone who deserves help/frights gets them means that some people who don’t deserve help/rights will get more than they deserve. They are both legitimate perspectives. However, I have more sympathy with the people who might never get a chance if help is not available than the wealthier taxpayers who face the risk of subsidizing delinquency.

279 anon March 2, 2016 at 8:47 am

I believe that there are many more kinds of people than “Republicans and Democrats,” but the Presidental elections do catch us in one big bucket sort. Hop in one bucket, or the other.

Tyler’s analysis might fit stalwarts, those who like the platform, but he’s silent on how many choose least-bad each time an election rolls around.

Most political scientists get it wrong. They think if you hold your nose and votevone way, you lean that way. It might really mean you are not given better options

280 kb March 2, 2016 at 9:06 am

I have voted in every election for 50 years and my candidate has never won (of course i have voted write-ins and third parties as well as so called mainstreamers), so I have to conclude anon gets the political science award of the year.

281 anon March 2, 2016 at 9:17 am

Thank you, man. Credits should be on the ticker at the bottom of your screen.

282 anon March 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

Related, Josh Brown talking from a moderate-pragmatic standpoint about the election, available choices, and the stock market.


283 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

That was pretty good.

284 anon March 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

Is interesting to me how Brown and I have different reactions to McCain and Romney. I couldn’t voted for McCain as McCain, or Romney as Romney – but the primary process robbed me of all trust in them.

I didn’t believe maverick McCain or good guy Romney could come back from that.

But as you know I have huge trust problems with Republicans.

285 anon March 2, 2016 at 10:06 am

Oops voice input took could’ve and made it couldn’t vote for McCain and Romney, as more moderate candidates

286 Mark March 2, 2016 at 9:09 am

“At the state and local level, the governments controlled by Republicans tend to be better run….” Would that include Kansas? Alaska?

287 collin March 2, 2016 at 9:17 am

I would suggest that your analysis underestimates the importance of religion with the conservative Republican message. The conservatives want to use religion versus the government (local, state or Federal) to control the citizens behavior. Also, in the past fulfilling religious requirements was a way for young people to strive to become the preferred citizens of married male producers and married women mothers. In reality not necessarily white anymore. If you reviewed the 17 candidates the most conservative Republican lifestyle candidate was Ben Carson who owed his success to God.

I do believe the one of the basic problems of Republican Party nationally (not locally) is very contradictory goals of a competitive global economy and strong religious institutions. (Read Rod Dreher laments here and the basic Pat Buchanan argument that large corporations are breaking the social contracts of old.) If the best producers of the world (say Apple, Koch, Wal-mart, etc.) don’t prefer Christianity in economic decisions then it is much harder to grow religious institutions. Just think Hobby Lobby is the definition of a Christian values company in which sells 80% of stuff made in China who prefers families limit their size and recommends abortion to many citizens.

288 Quite Likely March 2, 2016 at 9:23 am

“At the state and local level, the governments controlled by Republicans tend to be better run, sometimes much better run, than those controlled by the Democrats (oops).”

If you want this statement to be taken as anything other than laughable you need a bit more evidence than the infographic from the blaze that it links to.

289 Dan in Euroland March 2, 2016 at 9:36 am

The fundamental issue outside of the group affliation and signaling is that libs can credibly commit to redistributive policy. Hence they can expand their power base through the immiseration of the masses.

E.g. they support rigid labor market rules that will increase unemployment and accentuate insider-outsider conflict, while also supporting large scale low skilled immigration. The labor rules will force the immigrants right on to the dole, and amnesty will legalize their voting block.

290 anon March 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

Drive through rich and generous California and you see homeless camps every 10 miles.

To treat them would be “immiseration of the masses.”

291 Carroll Quigely March 2, 2016 at 9:41 am

The argument of two parties should represent opposed ideas and policies, one perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinate and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in details of procedure, priority, or method.”

Carroll Quigely – “Tragedy and Hope” pp. 1247-1248

292 Dave Tufte March 2, 2016 at 9:47 am

Wow Tyler. This was amazing. I’m kind of stunned.

293 Todd Kreider March 2, 2016 at 4:14 pm

I was surprised as well as I kept reading. Sort of a Super Tuesday present to MR readers!

But then I thought in order to write this up he must have been also using the microwave oven. As long as only a few times a year…

294 LR March 2, 2016 at 10:12 am

This year, the split is between those who want a well defined concept of the United States and what it means to be an American, and those who think ideas like that are laughable. I think these types of issues are more fundamental and visceral for many people than other policy issues. Hence the Trump effect. You can also overlay the fact that identity politics has made it admirable to identify as anything other than a white straight male, and there are a lot of white straight males out there not well served by this economy who have gotten tired of that particular game.

295 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 11:07 am

I never really saw myself as white or male, although I am both. Just me. Except on public sector applications, where I always checked “prefer not to answer”, assuming that this would be equally as damning as “not a visible minority” and “male”. It bothered me a little bit, but I also know that at most conferences where there are lots of public sector people, white males remain very dominant both in numbers and the power of their portfolios.

296 Srini March 2, 2016 at 10:20 am


When you write as lucidly as this, it reminds me why I keep coming to your site.


297 Tim March 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

This is really good, in my opinion.

I live in Maine, which, despite Paul LePage, has always struck me as a live-and-let live state, with a slight majority of voters in the moderate-liberal spectrum. But I don’t think a Democrat can be elected governor any time soon.

When I talk with friends who aren’t into politics, I have been struck by their antipathy toward Democrats as a governing party (these are people in my tribe – light if any religion, not gun owners, socially extremely liberal). The Democrats are just the people who take a big pile of money and completely screw up the managing of it. (We have interest groups here, but we are one of the most homogenous places in the country. We do see ads about “welfare for Somalis”, but I don’t think the “independents” I live and work with are responding to that.

This has created an opening for Independent technocrats like former Governor and current Senator Angus King and the two-time gubernatorial loser Eliot Cutler. The Democrats seem to be aware of this, but can’t withdraw from the governor’s race (by temperament, and I suspect, because it could affect future ballot access). Someone like Cutler can’t call himself a Democrat without absorbing the loss of “good government” voters.

This has fractured the moderate-liberal majority here, and we Paul LePage. LePage has done some really good things to manage the debt and spending hangover he inherited – he is not paralyzed by sentiment as he looks at things – but aside from the same authoritarian types (a large sub group to be sure), he is not loved. Even Republicans in the state legislature have all but abandoned him, and if you want a preview of Trumpland, read the archives of the Bangor Daily News.

There doesn’t seem to be a way out for Democrats just yet, but my sense is that this piece identifies the governing challenge for Democrats.

298 JasonL March 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

I appreciate the tone and thoughtfulness of the post, but I kind of find myself returning to the idea that it is always a mistake to talk about the two national parties in the US in terms of ideologies or even ideas. They are coalitions of preferred policies such as guns or abortion rights that are held together with very thin narratives that are somehow supposed to make it natural that christian people and gun people are in the same coalition. To try to understand what a party “really is” is to pretend that their narratives are what drive the bus. The republicans “really are” a party with a strong anti immigration nativist faction who want policies like kicking people out and building walls. The democrats “really are” a party with a faction who wants a very large redistributive state and who cares about incentives or costs. The traditional group of policies that form the centers of these coalitions have reached stalemate on all material issues. You aren’t going to ban guns. You aren’t going to get rid of abortions. Taxes will be lower than international norms. We will have a large military. Banks will be bailed out. Everyone gets to keep their favorite tax breaks.

We are at equilibrium on traditionally core issues, so the action shifts to the fringes who want ‘a new democracy’, which kind of means they are mad that the equilibrium didn’t go far enough or care enough about their views of living wages or keep out the furriners.

299 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

Not a single person made a connection between open carry laws and this, did they? ‘….furthermore foreigners are less likely to be connected to American state and local government, so they don’t have much sense of how the Republicans actually are more sensible in many circumstances.’

Open carry laws, along with continued expansion of concealed carry, is the sort of thing that foreigners find incomprehensible about the U.S. Or maybe have people walk around openly armed is one of the sensible circumstances not covered by ‘many.’

Much like creationism is simply not understood, as education tends to be a function of local government.

300 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 10:50 am

Strange – that wasn’t posted as a reply.

301 anon March 2, 2016 at 10:48 am

Just read DeLong. As you might guess, I like it.

302 Bob from Ohio March 2, 2016 at 10:51 am

“a coalition of teachers’ unions, trial lawyers, birth control advocates, wonkish (not, not “monkish” — down, spell check, down!) economists, etc., often finding common ground but by no means guaranteed to fall in line.”

LOL. ” birth control advocates”? Abortion zealots he must mean.

“no means guaranteed to fall in line”

How many Dems are pro-life. One senator says he is but never votes that way.

How many Dems favor tax cuts? How many Dem politicians oppose gay marriage? How many Dems oppose affirmative action? How many Dems favor gun rights?

Democrats are monolithic in their beliefs on nearly every issue. Far more than the GOP which has liberals [or moderates if you prefer] like Susan Collins and Paul Kirk in office.

303 Jeff March 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

Democrats don’t attribute as much to free will as Republicans. Socialists attribute even less to free will, and almost everything to circumstances.

i.e. – any safety net is an acknowledgment that bad circumstances don’t attribute fault to a person.

304 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

It is possible to attribute fault to a person and still help them to stand up, even when you know that some others will use it as a permanent crutch.

305 Joseph Hertzlinger March 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

Republicans, from the start and continuing to the present, have been based on the following two principles:

1) Big business is America’s persecuted minority and deserves an affirmative action program. (The first makes some sense, but I think the second part is going too far.)

2) Single-issue voters should always be taken seriously if they don’t interfere too much with big business. This applied to anti-slavery voters, anti-alcohol voters, anti-abortion voters, etc. Sometimes this makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t.

Ever few decades, the Republicans decide that there are more voters on one side of a single issue than the other and swing from one extreme to the other. For example, A few years ago, John McCain bet that there were more open-borders single-issue voters than closed-borders voters. This year, Donald Trump is making the opposite bet.

On the other side, the Democrats have always been about identity politics. They started out as the rural white identity-politics party and have gone through several changes in their list of favored ethnic groups since then. To complicate matters, the losing side in recent Democratic squabbles have joined the Republicans voting for Trump.

306 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 11:42 am

I don’t think that’s right. The bedrock of the Republican Party, as far as I can tell, is small business. Democrats like big business as much as Republicans- it’s a channel through which they can drive their preferred social policy.

Plenty of big businessman are Democrats. Drumpf used to be one.

307 TJB March 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Brian is right. Small business owners form the core of the GOP. These people never get bailed out by the government, and government red tape kills them.

308 JLV March 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

Go visit Utah on a really bad inversion day and tell me about the wonders of Republican governance.

309 Maurice de Sully March 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Are you really blaming Republicans for atmospheric inversion?

Are they also responsible for the same phenomena in the LA Basin?

310 Aaron March 2, 2016 at 11:19 am

I think there is a lot of insight in this column, but I’m puzzled at the assumption that the purpose of the federal government is to allocate status among competing groups. Judged on that basis, Democrats certainly have the edge, as their constituent groups have more legitimate claim for redress than Republican groups that want status by act of Congress.

But there is the orthogonal debate about how much status-fixing the government should attempt. The small government position, more prevalent among Republicans, is that the government usually acts to exacerbate unfairness rather than cure it, and in any case, fixing social problems by compensating victims with cash and special rules is not very effective, and leads to corruption and dependence. Better to ensure justice, rule of law, efficient delivery of services, only minimal and necessary takings and restrictions on freedom; and let people sort status out for themselves.

Fix public schools for all and address remaining disparities with moderate affirmative action and targeted subsidies for college; versus deliver public schools to the unions and address the resulting massive disparities in college success with quotas and unaffordable student loans. Personally, I think the latter idea is terrible, whether you are operating it nominally in favor of genuine victims of repression or using it to hinder Asians or Jews in favor of WASPs.

While neither party has a good record on small government, the GOP (at times anyway) seems a more comfortable home for the libertarianish moderates who fear that all government gets inefficient and corrupt so it should attempt only essential goals, than the Democrats provide for the civil libertarians who want protection from evil government but don’t want to throw out the good government baby with the bad government bathwater.

311 prior_test1 March 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

‘the federal government is to allocate status among competing groups’

The Straussian (and honest) reading replaces ‘status’ with ‘money.’ Two generations ago, Americans were much more honest and aware of how government works in that sense.

These days, such realities are too much for the delicate sensibilities of the rich donor class.

312 swedenborg March 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm

“Small government” is a policy which allocates status to the most powerful non-government actors.

313 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm

I’ve never seen it stated so succinctly. I’m totally ripping off that line. (But we don’t need 100% taxation or anything – that’s just crazy talk.)

314 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 2:23 pm

It is a policy that does not allocate status at all

315 Dan Lavatan March 2, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Power is an illusion. Try and define it and correlate it with people and you’ll see how it breaks down. Everyone – workers, citizens, whatever basically ignore policies and laws they don’t like.

316 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 11:02 pm

The ability to get people to do what you want.

For example, if I have $50, maybe I can find someone to man a phone to poll people on some political question. By the end of day day, I might have some polling data on a couple dozen people.

However, if I have $5 billion, maybe I can hire 1000 lobbyists and “researchers” to promote my ideological agenda, which just so happens to fit perfectly in line with what’s in the best interests of my business. And I’ll still have most of my money left.

Both of which are entirely different from supply meeting demand in the matter of producing primary, intermediate or final goods in the production process.

Which person is more able to influence the political process in their favour? That is real power.

317 efp March 2, 2016 at 11:36 am

I think we can answer the titular question with two words: moral tribes (e.g. http://mappalicious.com/2013/11/25/the-edge-of-moral-reasons-why-liberals-and-conservatives-cant-get-along/)

318 sam March 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Each party is seen by itself as fractured, and by the other as monolithic. It’s outgroup homogeneity

From the Republican point of view, the Democrats are the monolithic party. They are the party of rule by educated white women. The ruling class is the educated white women in government, media, and the academy, and those who this ruling class favors (other women, blacks) or are willing to buy off (unions, government workers, Hispanic Catholics)

From the Republican point of view the Republicans are a fractured party of nationalists (Trump), religious conservatives (Cruz), libertarians (Paul), businessmen (Romney), none of which particularly like each other but are willing to stand together to oppose Big Sister.

The view is mirror-imaged on the other side.

From the Democratic point of view, the Republicans are a monolithic party. The ruling class is Christian capitalist white men, those they favor (nationalists), and those they are willing to buy off (libertarians)

From the Democratic point of view, the Democrats are a fractured party of Christian blacks, educated seculars, public sector employees, non-profit employees, feminists, and union members who do not particularly like each other but are willing to stand together to oppose the patriarchy/capitalism.

Each side sees itself as the insurgency because each side mentally fuses all the competing groups of the other side into a monolithic power structure.

319 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 12:19 pm

America loves the underdog?

320 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Creationism right or wrong probably has a positive net effect on life outcomes (see http://www.theemotionmachine.com/why-you-should-believe-in-hard-work-over-genes). Blank slate-ism though closely related to creationism probably has a negative net affect along with too much environmentalism, NIMBYism, anti-gmoism, anti-vacciationism, slow growth policies that constrain building to keep local population down (see NY and San Fransico).

How can environmentalists call people deniers after what the left environmentalists pushed in the 1970’s and 1980’s? It is quite reasonable to be sceptically of environmentalists when you lived through prediction of doom everywhere even on the tonight show! Environmentalists have work to do and shouting denier does not help.

321 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Probably has more to do with belonging to a mutual help group (congregation) than the fact of believing in creation.

322 mkbarch March 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Good post, thoughtful. One thing though: “On the right, you will find an equally large cottage industry . . . ”
The right-wing think tank & fake journo/shill complex outsizes the left’s by 4 to 1. Even considering for example the fact that the Koch-funded AFP staff actually outnumbers the RNC staff, the Koch network is actually only a small part of the overall picture; it’s that big. Let’s be honest.

323 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm

But if those on the more numerous side of the 4:1 ratio (I’m doubtful it is quite this high) receive a greater number of investigations as a group, this is evidence of abuse of power and conspiracy against the right.

324 Cliff March 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Let’s see your evidence

325 mkbarch March 3, 2016 at 3:46 am

Since you say “if”, it’s hard to disagree; of course it would be evidence. But since you mention it, I’d also object to the employment of the phrase “cottage industry”; it’s huge, influential and extremely well-funded. It is about 4:1 in the “think tank” category; Heartland Institute, bogus, bad-faith groups like that. There are few or no actual statutory violations involved though; their conduct is generally legal, but execrable nonetheless.
They don’t receive nearly the scrutiny warranted on the part of the general public. Partly due to the flood-the-zone strategy they employ, and also the “news” media are largely owned, controlled and cowed by the same networks of powerful folks. Admittedly the general public as a whole have fairly low ethical standards and capacity to follow these things themselves, so there’s the opportunity. Motive & means are obvious. And the assertions about abusive and illegitimate official investigations that I can think of have been very low quality & not generally worthy of discussion, unless I’ve missed something. It’s not difficult to spot the real motivations at work on the ‘4’ side, and it’s perfectly legitimate to push for more exposure & recognition of the nature & effect of the work of these people. Do you really believe there are sufficient incentives for the significant level of official abuses you insinuate? That doesn’t seem plausible to me.

326 Floccina March 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm

About the neuroticism of Democrats, I think it is normal and natural for Black USAer to be paranoid about white people, but white democrats, who are privy to whatever racism still exists should tend to push against black’s fear of whites but they push the other way.

On the other hand Republican support for the war on drugs and for Middle east wars after all we seen is ridiculous and perhaps a little blank slate also! We learn slow.

327 jorod March 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Nonsense. Both parties use taxpayers’ money to buy votes. But when their socialist policies disrupt the economy too much, disrupters like Reagan and Trump come along to re-balance things. What we are seeing now is a reaction to high taxes and devaluation of hard working people that has laid the groundwork for revolution or change if you prefer. It is another reaction against the ever mounting presence of government in lives of people. Rules beget rule breakers. The rules are so numerous that even legal activity can me made criminal. The rules are so vague no one knows what the rules mean. We are raping the middle class, the people who get stuck paying the bills when the rich are gone. This game is over. The average American is tired of being a slave to well-intentioned nitwits not to mention the lying and corruption of our present Federal and local governments.

328 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 1:47 pm

“revolution or change if you prefer”

Most people do not take kindly to threats.

329 Brian Donohue March 2, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Bernie’s calling for a political revolution.

330 Nathan W March 2, 2016 at 11:05 pm

“political” is a rather important qualifier here. But yes, perhaps I misinterpret.

331 Brian March 2, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I think how you categorized how Democrats and Republicans view each other is correct. Most liberals or progressives will view conservatives as heartless and bigots, for example, and also less intelligent due to previous oppositions to women’s suffrage, civil rights, LGBT rights, social security, Medicare, etc. The assumption is they value corporate profits over human lives. In years past, conservatives were spread across both political parties but are now just in one political party and that highly concerns people on the left given their past positions that thwarted progress.

However, I don’t think one Blaze article actually means that Republican states are better governed. Control of states and state legislatures go in cycles and a Republican in the north east is likely more liberal than a Democrat in parts of the south. So, there are a lot of variables there. Michigan is a recent example of a horribly governed state by a Republican and, so, increasingly is Kansas. Louisiana was a disaster under Jindal. Michigan is a good example of the fears Dems have of Republican governing- laws were signed that disenfranchised half the black population in the state and then a predominantly black community in Flint is poisoned with lead due to decisions made by an unelected city manager and then covered up by state government. Republicans in Congress are also currently holding up funding to help those individuals in what seems like should be an automatic bi partisan agreement. So, that was sort of the perfect storm and an example of the heartlessness and detest of black and poor people that Dems fear even if it is unwarranted.

332 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 1:52 pm

and also less intelligent due to previous oppositions to women’s suffrage, civil rights, LGBT rights, social security, Medicare, etc

And the idea that one is ‘less intelligent’ if one declines to endorse these nostrums originates where?

Control of states and state legislatures go in cycles and a Republican in the north east is likely more liberal than a Democrat in parts of the south.

Your understanding of Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans is about 35 years out of date.

333 P A March 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Democrats are a coalition of various grievance groups (based on race, gender, etc.), movement leftists (environmentalists, socialists, militant atheists, etc.), and rent seekers whose interests naturally align them with the left (e.g. public employee unions). Republicans are the anti-Democrats. Now add to the Democrats people who don’t fit in either coalition but whose status concerns don’t allow them to align themselves with the latter.

334 Mark Kleiman March 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm

What is the factual basis for the claim that Democrats are higher on Neuroticism? It’s certainly an empirically determinable question.

And how well does it stand up to the observation that Barack Obama is a Democrat admired by Democrats while Donald Trump is winning Republican primaries?

Historically, the advantage of Republicans among married people and churchgoers suggests that Republicans tend to be more Conscientious (and more socially connected) than Democrats. That’s where Hillary Clinton needs to flip the script, attracting the highly conscientious churchgoers away from perhaps the least conscientious national candidate since Richard Nixon.

335 Art Deco March 2, 2016 at 1:54 pm

from perhaps the least conscientious national candidate since Richard Nixon.

Prof. Kleiman’s amnesia excludes the entire period running from 1990 to 2000.

336 msgkings March 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Trump’s worse than Bill. Sorry bro.

337 gregor March 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The more practical distinction is that most of the leaders come from the classes whose privileges the Republicans want to emphasize, focus on, and retain, and so it is hard for the Dem leaders to be as strident in their positions as the Republicans, for even if Dems lose the leaders status is enhanced.

This is the simple proposition that explains a lot of the politics.

338 Urso March 2, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Democrats, they drive like this: “deep dee dee dee, deep dee dee dee dee.” But Republicans, they drive like this! :”doop doo doo doo doo.”

339 David T March 2, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Tyler Cowen makes a sweeping claim:

“At the state and local level, the governments controlled by Republicans tend to be better run, sometimes much better run, than those controlled by the Democrats (oops). And a big piece of how American people actually experience government comes at the state and local level.”

“Interesting if true! However, if you clink you’ll note that the “evidence” consists of a post at Glenn Beck’s site, which summarizes one of those tendentious collections of arbitrary statistics collected by business groups to “prove” the pre-determined conclusion that Republican states are better-run. Three of the stats used — unemployment, per capita income, and percentage of people below the poverty line — make the assumption that if states have larger numbers of poor people they must have worse government, which of course makes no sense. Not surprisingly, the “best governed” list is dominated by tiny, resource-rich rural states like Wyoming and North Dakota, while states that people actually want to emigrate to like California and Arizona bring up the rear. (To be Scrupulously Fair, it’s hard to argue with Rhode Island!) What this stuff proves is…absolutely nothing about how states are governed. But it’s good enough for Cowen’s Very Serious Analysis.” http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/03/always-click-the-links

340 Urso March 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

So there’s no meaningful correllation between government policies and unemployment/income? I tend to agree, but that’s not exactly toeing the Democratic party line.

341 David T March 2, 2016 at 8:24 pm

There may be a *correlation* but that is not the same thing as saying Republican policies *cause* economic success. Maybe Democratic-governed states and cities are worse-off because worse-off people tend to vote Democratic, not because Democratic policies make people worse off.

342 GeeVee March 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Its simpler than that.

Republicans represent Big Business interests. Their claim to religion is that their Prophet is Profit. And nothing should get in the way of profit. So they’re against govn’t regulations, environmental policies and social assistance. They’re for lower wages, and less taxes on the rich.

Republicans do indeed attract a large majority of common people to this Profit at all costs religion of theirs, commoners who think that the crumbs of the rich in their high towers will sprinkle down to them.

Democrats are indeed less focused with various empathetic causes which tend to drain the coffers and raise the taxes. This is the religious left who actually want to help their fellow man. Trouble is that it can be costly, and cause higher taxes and fees.

The creation of a 3rd party between these 2 might be the best choice. One that takes the best ideas from the Democrats and Republicans and creates an empathetic, but cost conscious alternative.

Just a thought.

343 Anoni March 2, 2016 at 4:40 pm

The Rotherham Child-rape scandal keeps getting worse. What we now know is that Leftist-SJWs hid the Muslim police collaboration withe the Pakistani muslim community to rape working class kids. The leftist-SJWs prosecuted the parents complaining of child rape. This is what the Democrats are, so entirely marinated in anti-white racism and blank-slate culture that they make the Roman Catholic church look like novices at the child rape thing. This whole preserve traditional status stuff is BS- none of the working class whites voting for Trump have any status or were ever welcome into the bicoastal elite club. They just know that the Democrats hate them so much that they will side with child-rapists over them.

344 prairie economist March 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Observations from the Deep South…

Republicans have deep belief in the choirs-of-angels-singing good of the individual. Democrats are quicker to consider that individuals acting without regard for other individuals represents humanity’s greatest problem. (Played out in gun control.)

Republicans either don’t believe in externalities, or say virtually any effort to internalize them will only make things worse. Democrats have less aversion to group thinking. (Climate change.)

Republicans say the government should be small and laws sparse. Democrats view government as more enabled to do good, and should thus be larger. (Social projects.)

The government aspect is—ironically—precisely reversed in contemplations about morality, where Republicans want a government more richly defining right and wrong…and active in its enforcement. But Democrats are quicker to leave morality to the individual, and wants less in the way of enforcement. (Recreational drug legalization.)

345 Ricardo March 2, 2016 at 9:25 pm

“Republicans have deep belief in the choirs-of-angels-singing good of the individual.”

I’m not a Southerner or a Republican but this seems sharply at odds with a Calvinist worldview. I think when conservatives or Republicans talk about the wisdom and good spirit of common people, it is really tribalism in disguise. Implicitly, there is another group out there that is not so good and not so wise and is destroying the country from the inside.

346 MyName March 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Most of this post seems more ex post facto reasoning than anything too insightful. I agree that the perception at the state level of more compentance could be a factor in the Republicans, but in many ways it’s a case where one party having control for so long tends to lead to that party having more experienced candidates to run rather than anything inherent in their approach to governance.

347 cowboydroid March 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm

There are none.

348 Matt March 3, 2016 at 7:38 am

The rise of modern liberalism exerts a force on both Democrats (primarily) and Republicans (secondarily). Republicans are also heavily affected by conservatism. Therefore, the Republican party is at war with itself over which core ideas will become dominate.

The core ideas of modern liberalism:

1. People are basically good.
2. Economic outcome should be equal.
3. Religions are equal.
4. Cultures are equal.

The core ideas of conservatism:

1. People are not basically good.
2. Economic outcome will not be equal.
3. Religions are not equal.
4. Cultures are not equal.

Equal means no better or worse than something.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t apply the rules directly. You don’t apply English grammar rules but can still speak properly. Whether liberal or conservative you know the rules instinctively.

Barrack Obama knows the first rule:
“People are basically good” – President Barrack Obama – YouTube – http://bit.ly/1loFcSe

Well, if people are basically good then why do we see bad? They were provoked. They’re victims. So bad is really good.

If economic outcome should be equal, then why isn’t it? Because the successful cheated. Success must be punished (taxes) and failure rewarded (free stuff) to remedy the injustice.

If religions are equal, then is god incompetent? This really just implies that there is no god and religion is just a bunch of nonsense.

If cultures are equal, then why do some societies do better than others? Generally, the West and Israel have caused these kinds of problems. The better off (economically) countries are the bad ones. So good is bad.

Where is modern liberalism and the Democratic party taking us?

Imagine (UNICEF: World Version) – YouTube – http://bit.ly/1RbAL9Z

Sounds a lot like communism to me. Freedom is currently being shut down across America on college campuses. This is certainly appropriate for communist rule.

I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me – Vox – http://bit.ly/1OT8hLK

The core ideas of conservatism say that conservatives are against everything a modern liberal stands for. At least in terms of core ideas. But Republicans are only partially influenced by conservatism. Modern liberalism also influences part of the party. So the Republican party is going to be hard to pin down exactly.

349 JWY March 3, 2016 at 8:51 am

So one side is racist and oppressive and lacking empathy (to put it nicely), and the other side is not, but this post makes it sound as if both sides are equally problematic. Paul Krugman would have a field day with this kind of dubious analysis.

350 stan March 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

This is some of the most insane crap I have ever read. I’ve completely lost any respect I have for Tyler.

Apparently he doesn’t actually know any Republicans.

351 JEH March 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm

The assessment here could only be persuasive for that tiny cohort of the political universe that is part of what Maureen Dowd calls the “protected” class. The “looseness” of Democrat interest groups is very hard to defend in this particular election cycle which has seen a near coronation of a long-time Democrat party power broker by those groups. And the supposed rigidity of Republicans is undercut every day, even by right-leaning commentators, by the party’s civil war now underway. Furthermore, the unifying theme of Republicanism is not at all about protecting the status of certain groups. This view exhibits a severe confusion of correlation with causation: Republican voters are white, married, and wealthy; ipso facto; Republicans discriminate against anyone who is not white, married or wealthy. And to say that there is something wrong with Kansas means that there is also something wrong with Detroit. The main interests of Democratic voters are protecting labor and worker rights; the main interests of Republican voters are security and fiscal responsibility. Guess which candidate is addressing all these at the same time? And I say this even though I am totally opposed to DT!

352 Craig March 3, 2016 at 2:55 pm

I think of Democrats as the “climb on my back” party, and Republicans as the “don’t tread on me” party. Democrats believe in democratic government; Republicans fear it (at the same time they claim to want to export it).

353 Rachael March 3, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Interesting. Seems to discuss some of the less important traits of both “sides,” but really like the dialogue. What i would be veery interested in reading is a post on where we are similar. I would think both sides could agree on some critical issues: 1) career politicians are bad. Lets eliminate that; term limits for congress. 2) wall street bail outs that allowed key players to avoid jail and then provide bonuses is very bad (can we then agree on some very limited regulation. 3) we need to support jobs infrastructure. Currently most well paying middle class jobs remain in oil and gas. We should work together to bring other jobs back to the middle class so we can deal with climate change (which i don’t think most republicans would deny if it didn’t mean poverty). Thoughts? Anywhere else we might agree? Lets start there.

354 JohnV March 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Seriously, Tyler? I thought you were a little better than to base so much off of such superficial caricatures.

So Dems vs. GOP is Uppity educated types and academics vs. soc-cons and angry white guys? Come on.

I think you spend too much time in Fairfax County’s culturally liberal circles where this smug view is self-servingly popular….and I’m no Republican either so it’s not like I’m “sticking up for myself” or something.

You actually commit the same error of Krugman but in a different way. The pretentious and presumptuous PK always pits his elitist little self and his views against the worst, most backward and most under-qualified conservatives around…you know, some yahoo from some backwater who thinks the earth is 5000 years old or something. Republicans of equally elite educational stature seem non existent to him. That takes him down a notch to me. Go after Mankiw or something. Leave the hicks alone.

You seem to have internalized this dichotomy or something. I see it in how you view the lay of the land. I don’t buy it. Dem ELITES may be what you say but there’s so much more. GOP ELITES don’t seem to make your description but rather the low end of the rank and file.

So it’s Dem Elites vs. GOP rank and file grunts? Nope.

355 Larry Siegel March 4, 2016 at 3:22 am

Republicans want a republic and Democrats want a democracy. (yes serious)

356 Ben Harder March 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I think this is a thoughtful post, but I’m disturbed by the evidence put forth that Republican-governed states are run better than those governed by Democrats. The link to a 2012 article that bases the rankings on economic metrics alone is disingenuous, at least.

The “worst” state on that list, California, was indeed struggling then. It was in the midst of its housing crisis. However, as of December, 2015, the state unemployment rate is now 5.8%, admittedly still worse than the national average, but nevertheless half of what it was just four years earlier. Note as well that the high-unemployment counties are inland, in heavily agricultural counties, where the drought is still affecting employment. Source: labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov

The “best” state on that list is North Dakota, which in 2012 was undergoing a wonderful boom thanks to innovations in oil drilling. Now that oil prices have plummeted, North Dakota is facing budget problems of its own. Various news agencies are reporting a $1bn budget problem in the next two-year budget.

Old data that relies on chance economic factors are not good enough. Find some current ten-year analyses, account for divided and changing governance (Brown had been in office for only one year at the time), and contemplate other metrics for effective governance.

357 Kent Guida March 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Are we reducing all of politics to an exercise in mood affiliation?

358 thesteelgeneral March 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Democrats are more neurotic? Suuuuuuuure and the paranoia of Republicans gets unmentioned??

” Democrats are a looser coalition of interest groups”
He means to suggest that progressives have less or no core values and are whimsical children

” leading many Democrats to dislike the Republicans themselves and to feel superior to them.”
Ah, the traditional whining about repub inferiority. Often they ARE inferior when it comes to morals (we don’t care about anybody but our group) and science.

” even though a lot of high-achieving Asians might seem like natural conservatives”
And yet, they vote 70% plus for Obama. Just like Jews. Wonder why that is?

” Democrats, who oppose some of the previously existing status relations, and who deeply oppose the Republican ideology, are more likely to exhibit neuroticism

The ONLY reason given for their neuroticism is opposition to Republican ideology?!?!!! Yaaah …. Right.

“Academics want to appear high status”
Wow. A fully neurotic and core characterisitic of Repub ideology, expressed so aptly by Bill Orielly rants against pinheads! Billo is a Harvard graduate, but he don’t talk about that much. Or at all.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, it was common for Democrats to be more delusional than “
Baseless accusation and not even ONE reason is given why this should be.

” At the state and local level, the governments controlled by Republicans tend to be better run, sometimes much better run, than those controlled by the Democrats (oops)”
Utterly delusional cherrypicking example which ignores the many, many reasons why there are differences.
Illinois has experienced the collapse of Detroit and manufacturing has extremely automated,
Blue states are more diverse with a bigger wealth and income gap.
Red states are CULTURALLY monolithic, (HELLO UTAH!) and they are culturally like a Soviet state, very hard on those who oppose. There are far less compromises
Blue states compromise far more between groups so that leads to less clear cut policy.

Finally, if you define as well run as taking good care of the poor, then blue states do a far superior job.

359 Spotted Toad March 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm

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