“Our principles”

There is another reason why the Republican Party could not contain Trump, a perhaps deeper reason. Michael Oakeshott, an under-read political thinker in the mid-20th century, remarked in his exquisite essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” that one of the more pathological notions of our age is that political life can be understood in terms of “principles” that must be applied to circumstances. Politics-as-engineering, if you will. Republicans themselves succumbed to this notion, and members of the rank and file have noticed. Republicans stood for “the principles of the constitution,” for “the principles of the free market,” etc. The problem with standing for principles is that it allows you to remain unsullied by the political fray, to stand back and wait until yet another presidential election cycle when “our principles” can perhaps be applied. And if we lose, it’s OK, because we still have “our principles.” What Trump has been able to seize upon is growing dissatisfaction with this endless deferral, the sociological arrangement for which looks like comfortable Inside-the-Beltway Republicans defending “principles” and rank-and-file Republicans far from Washington-Babylon watching in horror and disgust.

That is from a very interesting Politico piece by Joshua Mitchell of Georgetown.  As for me, let’s just say I am a big fan of what Mitchell calls “book club”!


Less eloquently stated, politics is not about morality. Many people think politics is supposed to be applied morality, an attempt to reach agreement among people about what is acceptable behaviour and how we treat each other. But this is wrong as moral claims cannot be weighed against each other in any kind of logical way that can not be disputed. For instance the claim we should look after refugees versus the real risk that they might increase crime is not resolvable by logical discussion. Really then politics is about personalities, and selecting people to represent us that we believe have similar views to ourselves.

'an attempt to reach agreement among people about what is acceptable behaviour and how we treat each other.'

Sure, and these words are just a farce revealing how hollow such a viewpoint really is - 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'

What does "similar views to ourselves" mean, and why does it exclude views with a moral basis? I'm not sure this makes sense.

Dan - more simply then - politics is not about deciding between alternative moral systems being presented it is about how the personalities of the politicians appeal to the voters. So arguing that say, we should implement more social security, or have a stronger military because of x or y, doesn't work or at least not very much in terms of persuading people to vote for you. What works is having an appealing personality (I don't mean a nice personality necessarily). Political nerds however don't go into politics for this, they go into politics because they have a moral calling, they want to fix something they see wrong. One great example is Nigel Farage in the UK. His party, UKIP, are a complete mess without him. But he leaving that party surely didn't change the moral basis of his party. So going back to Trump, for political nerds, this is really a slap in the face, it's not that their moral positions were rejected by the electorate, it's that they are irrelevant.

Leftists are more prone to this than rightists, hence they keep electing unappealing people as their standard bearers - like Clinton or Corbyn. They should take a look at their Canadian brethren if they want to elect someone and no worry about their political purity.

Justin Trudeau is prime minister of Canada because a critical mass of Canadian voters are frivolous and a critical mass of Canadian pols and party hacks thought they could turn that frivoloity to their advantage. So far not bad if your object is merely holding office.

If your incessant attacks on the Canadian prime minister were ever connected to any factoids of relevance, perhaps some people would think your position had some relevance.

As it is, the main piece of information is that there is some guy down in the USA with a strong dedication to smearing the current prime minister of Canada, and who not only refuses to substantiate his claims, but generally responds with personalized insults against the person who points this out.

I will not defend the reasons for which he was elected or the rationale behind is policy. But if you wish to substantiate your offensive attitude, then perhaps it would be worth doing so in a corrective manner.

(P.S. - Any guesses on how many positions you flipped on, to take it up the whatever from your ol' man Trump?)

No, Art Deco is right. You almost imposed upon yourselves a hereditary/family passing of the power. Trudeau is the son of a Liberal politician with no, absolutely no accomplishments to his name. Except that all the women journalists get all wet when he takes his shirt off.

I always considered Obama's vaunted intelligence to be highly overrated, but this guy doesn't even come with that reputation.

Do you know what his selling point was? That he beat a Conservative in a boxing match. And that he can fall down stairs.

He is cute and mouths liberal platitudes. He won't be able to spend excessively because his primary focus in the coming year is to prevent a collapse of the Canadian banking sector and the accompanying flight of ready deficit borrowing power.

(P.S. – Any guesses on how many positions you flipped on, to take it up the whatever from your ol’ man Trump?)

I've changed my opinion on nothing. Like everyone else, I have the choice of candidates I have. I do not have optimal choices.

As it is, the main piece of information is that there is some guy down in the USA with a strong dedication to smearing the current prime minister of Canada,

Smearing? He spent seven years as a high school drama teacher. He spent five years as a serial grad school dropout. His most salient issue was lawful traffick in Mary Jane (no doubt thinking of his mother's pot busts). That's just who he is, Nathan.

There was nothing hereditary about Trudeau and the Liberals winning the election, aside from the fact that name recognition made a lot of people like him already. (And the opposite too, which is generally more present in this forum.)

He did not have a billion dollar pot or any sort of empire of connections at his disposal. He was far more recruited into politics than waltzing in as though the crown was always his to take.

But go on now, inform us of some terrible things about Trudeau, ideally involving more facts than mud.

Perhaps half the people, the losers, think politics are about morality. Or even worse, they still think life is about morality and that government should reflect that.

We know better, those who dug in, those that got stuck. For us politics has one purpose, to express resentment. Trump should do more rallies, and let us rage.

The logical conclusion is the next shoe to drop is the break-up of the EU, likely starting with Frexit. Nothing to be afraid of -- the break-up of the Soviet Union seems to have been mostly a benefit to its people. Yugoslavia was much more problematic, but probably for reasons unique to Yugoslavia. They're won't be any wars resulting from deEUization.

There doesn't have to be any wars for deEUization to be more problematic than Yugoslavia, which involved war among small irrelevant countries.

In the context of a Trump administration backing off NATO commitments, US rapprochement with Russia, and Frexit, Germany is not going to just sit around and do nothing. It's going to do what it always does when it feels itself being surrounded. It's going to remilitarize, and Europe will be further destabilized. This destabilization alone, and the concomitant rise in probability of further conflict and destabilization, is far more problematic than the Yugoslav breakup even without any shots actually being fired.

Germany's not going to have much luck 'remilitarizing'. It's in a demographic death spiral and has a notable deficit of young men. They could, I suppose, import foederati from Syria and other dumps. That has a way of biting you on the ass, though. France and Britain are in much better shape demographically.

I think the desire not to have a European arms race and buildup towards war would be an awful lot more relevant than demographics in Germany's decisions relating to the size of their military expenditures.

'Germany’s not going to have much luck ‘remilitarizing’.'

I'm curious - what was Germany's demographic advantage when it took on pretty much all of continental Europe plus the Soviet Union, the British Empire, and of course, decided to declare war on the U.S.?

Particularly when one looks at the demographic death spiral facing Germany after WWI, not to mention treaties forbidding rearmament.

That Germany loses wars in truly spectacular fashion is probably the largest reason that Germans are uninterested in returning to those days when its 80 million people could take on 800 million, and still almost win.

Germany was not facing a demographic death spiral after World War I. Chronic below replacement fertility dates from 1970 in Germany and 1972 in Austria. Germany had no resistance from any European power prior to 1939 bar Italy's warning shot in 1934 over Austria. Treaties are just treaties. They're inconsequential if they're not enforced. Germany was allied with Soviet Russia from 1939 to 1941 and the two collaborated in the rape of Poland. Soviet Russia sat on its hands while Germany attacked France and Yugoslavia. Germany and Italy were much more conveniently situated to conquer territory along the Adriatic in 1941 than was Britain.

That Germany was addled by revanchism after 1928 has little to do with our current situation.

'Germany was not facing a demographic death spiral after World War I.'

A matter of definition, one supposes - but you do know that around 2.1 military age men, out of a total population of 65 million, died during that war, right? And then there is that whole Lebensraum argument, since if a Volk cannot grow unimpeded, that is just a slower form of a death spiral. Or have we forgotten all of the geographic based arguments concerning a population's fate?

'Germany had no resistance from any European power prior to 1939 bar Italy’s warning shot in 1934 over Austria.'

Yeah, Churchill was just a windbag, wasn't he?

A matter of definition, one supposes – but you do know that around 2.1 military age men, out of a total population of 65 million, died during that war, right?

That's a discrete event, not a social process unfolding over a generation (and an event of a sort which you could find among Germany's enemies as well).

Yeah, Churchill was just a windbag, wasn’t he?

The Prime Ministers at the time were Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, and Neville Chamberlain. Winston Churchill was during those years a backbench member of Parliament making a living as a journalist. He'd departed the cabinet in 1929.

The Soviet Union did not sit on its hands. Its hands were very busy preparing for the coming war. The Nonagression Pact bought the Soviets an extra year to prepare, which they desperately needed. Hitler got the freedom to attack in the west without worrying about a second front in the east. The conquest of western Europe also ensured Britain and the U.S. would side with the Soviets when war did come -- which was not at all ensured had the war started in the east. A brilliant move on the part of Stalin.

Nation/states in the developed world no longer need massive armies of conscripts offered up as sacrifices to the lust for power. Technological "progress" in industrial murder means that conflicts aren't even waged between militaries, who are more concerned with self-preservation and the extermination of the opposing civilian population than defeating an enemy like themselves. Smaller, specialized forces with an immense capacity for destruction to the citizenry through the use of atomic, chemical and biological has created a nightmarish change in international conflict.

" war among small irrelevant countries."

The individual residents of those small countries don't consider themselves irrelevant.

'the break-up of the Soviet Union seems to have been mostly a benefit to its people'

Nope, the break up of the Soviet Union was actually a net loss for most (not all) of its citizens. The break-up of the Eastern Bloc was definitely a benefit for the Eastern Europeans who joined the EU, however.

Of course: the ex Soviet Union depended on Harvard for its economic advice.

Actually, mostly, the ex SU in agregate is doing extremely well both compared to the rest of the world http://i.imgur.com/cMDcP2F.png well ahead of most African, South East Asian and South American countries. Russian PPP is currently about $25,000 per head for instance and they still have most of the "Harvard" political policies in place, like an extremely low flat rate tax (13%). What seems to be the issue or concern for Westerners with the FSU move to capitalism is that some small section of the population got very very rich. But this is true of the US as well, I am not sure why Rockefeller or Carnegie should be consider a success of US capitalism and such people as Mikhail Fridman should be considered as a failure of Russian capitalism. I suspect this is a remnant of the anti-Kulak mentality that was such fertile ground for communism. The more Eastern areas of Europe never went properly through a bourgeois phase. So the idea of mutually beneficial trade never developed, any person who did become rich did it through exploitation or corruption. You can see this concept in the US as lot nowadays, probably due to the large amount of emigration from those parts of the world to the US.

We can only hope that the EU is replaced with a set of arrangements which respect sovereignty and community control. A customs union, a joint frontier patrol supplementing national border controls, and a military alliance would do just fine. You can clear away the Brussels hydrocephalus as well as flotsam and jetsam like the Council of Europe and its affiliates.

The trouble is, Marine Le Pen is at this time almost no one's second choice. FN would do somewhat better in legislative races if France made use of the alternate vote in lieu of its first-past-the-post-in-a-runoff system, as that would redistribute discretion from party sachems to ordinary voters. FN has been gradually improving their floor for over 3 decades, but their floor regrettably doubles as their ceiling. I doubt you're going to see Frexit anytime soon. Re Germany, the Alternative for Germany is looking like it will make large gains, but it's still going to be a 15% minority in the parliament.

When someone speaks of more need for less centralized decision making, the question should always be WHY.

Which policies do you believe would be done differently if decisions were made the way you want them to be made? Which economic and security risks are associated with those policies in the 1, 5, 20 and 50 year time frame?

And after you while about refugees from a massive conflict which swamped European culture entirely with the 0.2% (temporary?) addition to the population of the continent, perhaps you'd like to broaden your eyes, or rather, return to more traditional concerns and motivations for degrees of political integration in Europe.

The refugees are there because of witless political signaling. They can certainly be cared for in Turkey, and that is where they belong.

So ... accepting refugees equivalent to 0.2% of the total population, from the largest and most severe war zone on the planet right now, is "witless"?

Art, please let us in on some of this wisdom whereby such very basic humanitarian efforts are "witless political signalling".

Recall, at the time where the first signals were transmitted, this also affirmed a desire on the part of those in power to have good relations with the countries of origin of the refugees, as compared to the sorts of "gun down the women and children at the border" sort of rhetoric that was going on in some circles.

Heh. We wouldn't want to dust off some history. 30-40 years ago is just ancient, so long ago to be irrelevant.

You make the mistake of thinking that government is about good decisions. Central planning doesn't work because it imposes disastrous decisions upon large numbers of people and cause irreparable damage. If California decides to do something stupid, the rest of the country doesn't have to suffer. That same stupid decision country wide may put a country in a position from which they may never recover. That is why the Soviet Union collapsed, and that is why the EU will continue to shrink in influence, as it already has over the events of the last few years.

By the way, the Democrats are blithering fools when they passed Obamacare. Just to the North, yes there is life outside the US, there isn't a single payer system. The Canadians by constitutional convention and wisdom didn't put the Federal government as payer. There are lots of single payer systems in Canada, and it is the only thing that keeps it working. No shirtless twit can ruin a working system across the country with effects that harm everyone.

When someone speaks of more need for less centralized decision making, the question should always be WHY.

No. The bias should always be in favor of local control.

New Zealand has a population of just north of 4 million and a core city with a population of 1.2 million. That's sufficient scale (not optimal, but sufficient) for an affluent and orderly society It isn't a member of an intrusive super-national body. It has some voluntary treaty commitments and has a history of patron-client relations with larger states. You can see other examples with somewhat different properties: Norway and Singapore to name two.

As for provincial government, look at the strata of urban settlements and what sort of services reliably appear at given population levels. In the United States, a dense settlement of 550,000 will commonly support a university hospital. That's about the most sophisticated sort of service which has a commuter clientele. Research universities are also reliably present at that size and density. (You can see both sorts of institutions at lower populations, but it's spotty). If you have an urban settlement that size and a hinterland that isn't demographically dominated by the core urban center, you have what you need. You can correct for variations in per capita income across the landscape with a no-strings attached subvention which is calculated according to a formula which takes into account per capita income and population.

The problem with standing for principles is that it allows you to remain unsullied by the political fray, to stand back and wait until yet another presidential election cycle when “our principles” can perhaps be applied.

The problem with the Republicans is that they never had the slightest intention of applying their "principles". Which looked more and more like an attempt to hoodwink the Base. They talked about abortion but never did a damn thing to limit it. They talked about balancing the budget but were totally silent as Obama ran up enormous deficits. They talked about smaller government while funding ever larger bureaucratic over-reach.

When the Base objected, they joined with the Democrats and their allies in the media to smear, bully and limit the Tea Party movement. They should have welcomed them.

What principles do the Republican leadership stand for apart from shoveling pork to their corporate cronies?

1, Regardless of what happens next, Donald Trump has my respect and gratitude.
2, One of the first big tests of whether he is the real thing or just an updated Ronald Reagan is whether Trump understands the need to purge Paul Ryan and succeeds in doing so. People like him should be given no quarter.

'Donald Trump has my respect and gratitude.'

As an honest question, why?

Tell you what. You want to be honest and all, you take an honest stab at answering your own question, and I'll respond appropriately.

Actually, I have no idea what your answers would be. I've known about Trump since the mid-80s, and he has always seemed to the sort of person that provides large amounts of entertainment, generally through an ego that seems to have no limits (or self-awareness, to be honest). His only true talent seems to be self-promotion at a level that even P. T. Barnum, a fellow Republican politician, would likely have seen as awe-inspiring.

A large part of my problem is that I just cannot change those 3 decade old impressions of Trump, and even though he managed to get himself elected President, I cannot see it as anything other than truly masterful self-promotion. Though one can respect a self-promoter's success at some abstract level, it is beyond me to fathom why anyone else would care about or support a self-promoter.

Here is where it is necessary to add a few necessary caveats - I have never voted, and never will vote, for a Democrat or a Republican, I do not live in the U.S., so all of the apparent non-stop Trump coverage within the U.S. plays no part in any of my opinions about him, and to be honest, many of the transcripts I have read from his speeches seem to incoherent, as even the term stream of consciousness breaks under Trump's syntax. And I am really not kidding on that last point - I never understood why people thought Reagan charismatic, but he could at least deliver his speeches in a coherent fashion.

Prior clearly does not respect Trump.

The fact that people like you, who ask questions like that, when someone merely asks for your opinion, is presumably part of the reason he doesn't like Trump.

So ... why DO you like Trump?

(P.S. I don't like Trump, and I could explain why at great length despite my best of hopes. But the subject is why you like Trump, a question which leads you to attack people. It is troubling to think that Trump's supporters cannot defend their preference but can only attack those who ask them to do so)

'Prior clearly does not respect Trump.'

Careful there - he is a self-promoter of truly supreme skill, and while I do not respect self-promoters, there is certainly a certain amount of respect due to anyone that so clearly has mastered their art.

Keep in mind I am not talking about President Trump, I am talking about the man who has dedicated his life to a single overriding goal - promoting Trump. For example, this 1992 cameo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXE3Ku-mGrk

Nothing surprises me about Trump, since I would have thought that it would be blatantly obvious to everyone what motivates him - which is his own self-interest, defined by the only person that will ever matter to Trump.

But why people care about supporting him mystifies me, to be honest. Oddly enough, I would not be surprised, if only in the smallest of moments, in the most oblique way imaginable, that Trump himself is a bit mystified by why anyone supports him. After all, there is nobody that Trump supports but himself.

"that Trump himself is a bit mystified by why anyone supports him." Because Hellary Criminal.

Thank you prior, for perhaps the best critique of Trump I have read. I might add his petty, vindictive streak into the mix. This is plenty for anyone to be nervous about the direction a Trump presidency may take, and avoids the usual litany of BS on the subject of Trump (racist, anti-semite, misogynist etc.)

Well done sir.

No president has the stature to 'purge' the Speaker of the House, and the antagonism of the Republican congressional caucus to Trump robs him of some leverage he might have. His ideological attachment to open borders notwithstanding, the more troublesome figure is and always has been AM McConnell (and the Senate Republican caucus generally).

"His" meaning "Ryan's"

So what? "Deficits don't matter". They didn't under Reagan-Bush, who invented exploding the debt/GDP ratio, and they didn't under Bush II. In fact, predictions of disaster-provoking debts look as good almost forty years after Reagan was inagurated as the "Jesus is coming" ones with known date do.

Well, I find it ironic that Republicans are going get government out of controlling your life by government dictating sexual matters on every individual. It rather seems "liberty" to Republicans has evolved to Republicans forcing their beliefs on everyone not a Republican or objecting to party dogma.

Circa five years ago, Obama was called highly offensive when said "when I took office in 2009, things were bad..." because he was making a vicious attack on Bush without mentioning his name.

The same people have defended Trump for attacking Obama for not being a citizen, hating America, implementing a plan to destroy America,...

But I look forward to President Trump delivering on his campaign promises: replacing Obamacare with a plan that requires buying no insurance, but does not require paying much out of pocket, let's you see any doctor you want, let's doctors prescribe and order tests without regard to cost controls of insurance overlords, does not limit drug company profits, and is never going to cost more.

And he is certainly restating president Reagan's promise in 1983 Social Security will always be there protecting workers forever. I grew up being indoctrinated in Social Security not being there when I got old, but it was Reagan who removed it from the constant battles in Congress on funding it for another couple of years.

And it was Reagan that hiked the gas tax by 125% to create jobs fixing transportation infrastructure. Trump is going Reagan much better by spending more to create jobs without hiking taxes to pay for it.

If president Trump does not deliver the promised trillion in infrastructure spending by summer recess, he will be just like all Republicans who say one thing to get elected and then do the opposite once in DC.

"The problem with the Republicans is that they never had the slightest intention of applying their “principles”. Which looked more and more like an attempt to hoodwink the Base."

More like an attempt to hoodwink rich donors and score book deals and contracts with Fox News. The nomination and election of Donald Trump provides real empirical evidence that relatively few rank-and-file Republican voters care very much about ideology. Of course, we saw this in 2012, too, when plenty of people who claimed to be active Tea Party supporters wound up backing Rick Santorum.

The problem is not quite 'Republicans have no principles'. It's that the ones with the principles have never had enough momentum to blow the hacks out of the gatekeeper positions. There was a brief moment ca. 1995 when they had a shot, but that ran aground on Dr. Gingrich's character defects (quite ironically, as his skills were what got them that chance to begin with). Another problem has been that the Republicans have never had the cojones (at the federal level) to discipline the judiciary, nor have they at the state level had the stomach to beat up on higher education and the legal profession.

Yes, and the rank and file Republicans always have the tendency to revert to simple career politicians, happy to be in DC. Such as Bob Dole, who Newt referred to as the "Tax Collector for the Welfare State".

I think the line was Ronald Reagan's. What I think is that about 1/3 of the Republican electorate in recent decades votes reflexively for 'the guy whose turn it is'. About 1/4 of the Republican electorate favor the Capitol Hill / K Street nexus. These are distinct sets but overlap a great deal, and they create a high floor for ambitious pols for whom issues are fungible (to a greater or lesser degree). Another problem is that the nominating process is so taxing that it tends to screen out people who do not have a threshhold of ambition and energy. William Scranton was the runner-up at the 1964 Republican convention. No one remotely like him would ever be nominated under the current regime. His campaign lasted all of six weeks. Since 1964, you've had about six candidates who (1) were working politicians and (2) were playing to win and (3) were bearers of a viewpoint which could survive the revelation that a critical mass of voters and donors had the opposite view The six were Nelson Rockefeller, John Anderson, Ronald Reagan, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz. You could make a case for Marco Rubio and Dr. Gingrich, I suppose, and perhaps John McCain ca. 2000. The strand of thought manifest in Rockefeller and Anderson has departed the Republican Party, of course.

" the Republicans have never had the cojones (at the federal level) to discipline the judiciary"

Why not just abolish the judiciary and hand over the keys to justice to some dictator? I cannot imagine what could ever possibly go wrong ...

I assume you have little or no understanding of the reason for the separation between democratic will of the majority and upholding broader principles whereby a judiciary can unset the temporary demands of some majority in order to uphold greater principles which can only be changed, with difficulty, over long periods of time.

Talk of "disciplining the judiciary", unless referring to corruption or other unethical acts, and not matters of disagreement with outcomes in the courts, is very unsettling, especially at a time where some highly vocal subset of Americans seem to be speaking openly about maybe preferring dictatorship to democracy.

I don't have to assume you have no understanding of the problems judicial review poses in this country because you've demonstrated repeatedly you have no understanding. Go away, callow know-it-all.

Why don't you stick with the local stuff, where you have something constructive to say?

Americans' parts are called "cojones"? I thought only Mexican immigrants had those and that it were part of their apparatus to rape American women. I am not sure what to call what American Marines use to rape Japanese schoolgirls? "Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan" maybe?

+1000 to so much for subtlety.

I loved the article but ultimately the central claim is really flimsy. Republicans have got stuck on rarionalistic principles that don't adapt to circumstances and this allows them to sit back and not care about losing elections? Nope, so much for subtlety demolishes that in a few worlds. The "principles" are courses of action intended to cure many of the social ills pissing people off, and they blew everything up this election because those principles have never been applied but instead only repeated to get votes so friends can get rich. I need only point to W as sufficient evidence of this.

Regardless of what the Trump administration gives us, Joshua is right, we are in for some serious political realignment.

That said, I am far more optimistic about the chances of The Book Club. There's going to be a renewal of a broken democratic party too. The Democratic coalition has a set of sound social principles, but has economic underpinnings that don't serve many parts of their coalition. At the same time, the left has quite the economic engine that agrees with their ideals: Tyler, I hear you are visiting in January. It would not surprise me if the next few years didn't leave us with a party that keeps it social agenda, but looks for economic solutions that are not all that far from the conservative book club.

Tech is well aware of this too: Companies developing automated financial advice know they are going to put a lot of people out of business. We won't have many cab drivers or truckers in 10-15 years either. They need to look for ways for them to not be seen as the bad guys by their own very liberal employees.

Politicians will have to look west too, if just for their own self interest. A fun pastime in tech companies has been to look at proprietary data and see if it could have predicted the polling errors in detail. Polls are not necessarily honest signals, and sampling involves making a lot of assumptions. People's behavior when in front of their computer is harder to fake, and there's little risk of systematic errors when you have so much more data. What would have been the value to either of the campaigns to have data far more predictive than the polls?

Democratic coalition has a set of sound social principles,

Mollycoddling male headcases who fancy they are female and female headcases who fancy they are male? Extending to sexual deviants the privilege to legally harass landlords and merchants? Providing a conduit for parasitoid wasps (of the homosexual, feminist, La Raza, or black nationalist subspecies) to ruin institutions? Running school systems for the benefit of their employees? Making no-social-worker-left-behind the lodestar of social policy? Witless harassment of police forces? Neglect of law enforcement in slum neighborhoods? Trying to stick the bill for slum crime with rural gun owners?

Is it more sound for an elderly man to tell people he doesn't know, how they feel and what they think?

Your obsessions with other people's sexual orientations and preferences is beyond weird. MYOGDB. IMO.

Nathan, you're born male or you're born female. That's just a fact. As for devotees of sodomy, they could certainly practice their craft without making a godawful nuisance of themselves. They only have a cause of action against landlords and merchants exercising ordinary discretion over whom they associate with because the Democratic Party extends to them a franchise to sue.

My 'obsessions'? People like me never raised these issues. We were compelled to react when others raised them.

'Nathan, you’re born male or you’re born female.'

We've had this discussion before - it just isn't that binary, and never has been - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelter_syndrome

it just isn’t that binary,

Put the bong down.

You really like holding on to your framework, don't you?

So, to simplify - XX is female, XY is male. How do you classify people who are XXY? After all, they are just born that way.

Men with Kleinfelter syndrome are rare. They are also sterile.

Automated financial advice? Heh. That should be fun when everyone loses all their money at the same time when they all did the exact same thing.

No truck drivers? Are you kidding? We already have trucks with no drivers, they are called trains. Have you ever seen what truck drivers do? Is some computer going to load and unload the truck? The ones I know, and I know a few do far more than sit in a seat and point the rig.

An interesting data point about taxis. Uber and similar endeavors talk about lots of things but their value that gave them market share was availability of service. The hidebound regulated taxi industry didn't invest in vehicles, didn't serve their customers, and didn't have to because competitors were locked out. I talked to a fellow I have known for years who owns the local taxi service. He is smart and hard working, and doing well. The reason is that he has lots of vehicles available and can offer timely service. He gets calls from other neighboring communities for service because the local taxi company has a licence but doesn't have cars.

Honestly, this is a super obvious point and many people have said this exact thing. The DemsRRealRacist twitter was largely based on this concept.

Mitchell's explanation of new idea dust doesn't explain, or even attempt to explain, why old Republican idea dust has managed to dominate all levels of government --- from state legislatures to governorships to both houses of Congress --- except for the two elections won by Obama, who was considered, at the time of his first election, to be a "once in a lifetime" politician. Maybe Obama, not Trump, is the actual anomaly. Setting Obama aside for a moment, maybe the story since 2000 is that the Republicans have dominated so much that they can even get a candidate like Trump elected. After all, most people believe that other Republicans would have had an *easier* time defeating Clinton. The Obama anomaly can be explained as a uniquely charismatic and historic figure that was able to draw unusually high turnout among young and minority voters. Once he left the stage and turnout went back to "normal", his successor couldn't even beat Trump. On the other hand, had Obama been eligible for a third term, would Trump idea dust really have been able to beat him?

Why have Republicans dominated? Maybe, they have some good idea dust but, alternatively, perhaps the Democratic idea dust is just really weak or, at least, blown towards the wrong target. If the Republican three-legged stool is (1) strong defense, (2) free markets, and (3) traditional values, then the corresponding Democratic legs might be (1) elevation of the status of minorities and women, (2) environmentalism, and (3) multicultural values a.k.a. political correctness. Democrats like to think of themselves as the party of the working class, but none of these three legs are actually identifying values of the working class. Instead, they are the values of cosmopolitan urbanites and intellectuals. Indeed, those are where all the blue counties are concentrated: urban centers and college towns. If Democrats were truly the party of workers, then their core would be lower middle to middle class suburban counties, but those areas are at best swing areas. Democrats try selling this Williams-Sonoma stool at Walmart and wonder why Republicans beat them all over the country. The natural way to expand their base would seem to be to target *white* collar middle and *upper* middle income suburban areas. As strange as it may seem, they might do better by abandoning their fetish for high taxes, the welfare state and unions to target upper-middle income soccer moms and expand down the income ladder until they get to 51%. Strangely, though, they seem convinced that their salvation lies in the other direction --- trying to stack the DNC so that they will nominate a Sanders or Warren next time around. Why follow a blue collar strategy if you are, at heart, a white collar party?

That's the problem with an electoral system that leads to a two party stasis.

No one has an interest to say what they want, and instead are always calculating how to get 51%.

Presumably that's better than the arbitrary powers of a king, which cannot be sustained without at least some sizeable minority. But democracy was not intended to function as eternal clamouring for the 51% coalition, after which periods of years go by without listening to anything the electorate has to "say" except through the lens of whether those votes can be won again in the following election.

The system is practically asking for stupid. A system that enabled a degree of representation for third parties would be far better by virtue of the fact that you can vote ALL the clowns out next time due to the ongoing existence of multiple parties with existing policy and grassroots infrastructure.

Duh. The clowns at the helm won't like that idea. Do they work for their country or their party? The answer is all-to-often all-too-obvious.

Are you honestly arguing that PR systems end up with better politics than FPTP or binary systems? Please show your work.

"why old Republican idea dust has managed to dominate all levels of government — from state legislatures to governorships to both houses of Congress"

People who affiliate with the Republican Party have dominated all levels of government. It doesn't follow that "old Republican idea dust" has dominated. There is a much greater diversity of opinions at the state level than in Congress and even among recent Presidential candidates when it comes to the Republican Party. Many states that haven't voted for a Republican president in the past two or three decades have elected Republican governors precisely because those candidates have the flexibility to adapt to local political preferences. RomneyCare is one of the most famous consequences of this tendency but by no means the only one.


Fantastic post.

One extra point that hurts the Democratic Party is that when they face opposition they to not try to incorporate those ideas into their platform, they double down and smear their opponents. This has the effect of strengthening the resolve of both sides, tremendously. Not a winning play if they are behind. Likely many voters are so disgusted with the democratic smear tactics that it will be years, perhaps decades, until the change their minds thus the need to change the demographics of turnouts.

Further, they have so poisoned the waters with this doubling down strategy that there can be no compromise in congress. Further, that neighbors and/or co-workers, heck family members and friends absolutely can not speak of politics, unless they are sure that they are on the same side.

Liberals, the worst people in the world.

Gosh, how can liberals not be kind and understanding to someone like you who labels liberals as the worst people in the world? Glad to see that you don't smear your opponents, LOL.

Like everyone else in the world, liberals are literally Hitler

We always had group identity politics, it is just that there use to be more groups, There is a reason that Kennedy was the first Catholic president and we have never had one of Italian or Eastern European ancestry. Without PC people had one or more derogatory word for every group words last heard in public on the Nixon tapes.

There is a reason that Kennedy was the first Catholic president and we have never had one of Italian or Eastern European ancestry.

The reason we've never had an Italian or Slav president is that hardly anyone of that description has ever put together a campaign. That's not surprising. The median year of birth for the grandchildren of the immigrant generation is likely around about 1937. You would not have expected many highly prominent supralocal politicians from those immigration streams until about 1980. You've had 10 presidential elections in those years and you typically have about 6 candidates in a typical year who manage to do passably in early primaries or win some delegates outside a constituency they haven't run in before. You have 60 candidacies. Ethnic Italians are shy of 6% of the population and Slavs are a population of similar size. If the propensities of the subpopulations are about average, you might expect seven consequential candidacies from one or the other stream. You've had two (John Kasich and Rick Santorum). You could make the case that John Kerry and Wesley Clark make it in under the envelope, but they were never raised in an ethnic milieu. OTOH, you've had two ethnic Greeks (Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas), one Arab (Ralph Nader), one Cuban (Macro Rubio), and one Cuban / Italian / Irish (Ted Cruz), even though these are much smaller groups than the Italians or the Slavs. What's your explanation for this pattern? That Democratic voters have it in for everyone but Greeks and Jews-in-the-woodpile?

The reasons Kennedy was the 1st Catholic president are as follows: (1) The Catholic population was inconsequential prior to 1840, and it was only around 1916 that the grandchildren of the potato famine migration were reaching middle age, (2) the Irish population tended to collect in the Democratic Party at a time (1860-76, 1896-1928) when the Republican Party was dominant in presidential politics, (3) Al Smith lost, (4) you had non-Catholic incumbent Democrats bogarting the Presidency for 20 years.

In the years since 1960, nominal Catholics who have been a significant force in presidential primaries have been Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, Edmund Muskie, Jerry Brown, Ted Kennedy, Paul Simon, Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, John Kerry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Marco Rubio. The last Democrat with a valid baptism who wasn't seriously at odds with the Magisterium on a non-negotiable issue was Edmund Muskie, who ran 44 years ago.

'The last Democrat with a valid baptism who wasn’t seriously at odds with the Magisterium on a non-negotiable issue was Edmund Muskie, who ran 44 years ago.'

Any American president that swears to uphold the Consitution is already at odds with the Magisterium on a non-negotiable issue.

Any American president that swears to uphold the Consitution is already at odds with the Magisterium on a non-negotiable issue.

You don't know what you're talking about.

aint that the truth.

"somewhere in America (outside the Beltway), there are self-congratulatory men, probably white, huddled together in some smoky man-cave, with “Make America Great Again” placards on their John-Deere-tractor-mowed lawns": I suspect these hicks make better citizens than BLM rioters do. Is one now allowed to speculate along such lines?

Funny isn't how those who run the current education system that is probably one of the drivers of this alienation and two class country are complaining that things are working as designed.

Democrats will never be ascendant politically until the pieces of administration that they run actually do the job they are paid to do. Primary and secondary schools. Colleges and universities producing something other than indebted overeducated fools. The cities. Maybe, just maybe those uneducated hicks with bad attitudes didn't want their town/state/country to resemble Detroit and Chicago.

I grew up in a place where political Catholicism was seeing it's last years before being swept into the rubble pile of history. It was characterized by a terrible education system who's purpose was to select the few who would do well, ignore the rest, and produce an pompous and detached administrative class to maintain power. Economic decisions were always to their benefit and the rest were given crumbs and Hope'nChange. They even had purgatory for the sinners.

The US Democrat regimes resemble that system in all it's awfulness and rot. At one time the Left dismantled such things, but now they purposely build them and perpetrate them. I think that is why there is an affinity to Islam and it's dysfunctional but familiar cultural construction.

Every year that another group of kids get into school and are doomed to irrelevancy and hopelessness should cause Democrats to be ashamed. But they aren't because it is working as designed. Keep them poor and stupid, easier to control.

Poppycock. The Republican Party hasn't been about "principles", it's been about contributors and the policies that benefit the contributors. The problem is that the policies that benefit the contributors don't necessarily benefit the demographic group on which the Party depends to win elections. I've stated many times that the populists on the right and the populists on the left aren't that different in the policies they would prefer if they were able to articulate the policies. A demagogue like Trump was able to tap into the angry populism on the right with an essentially policy-free campaign - which explains why Trump's support hardly varied even as Trump made widely divergent promises (tax cuts for the wealthy and a balanced budget). And Trump was able to tap into the amorphous populism of the left with promises of a new order, which the populists heard as an attack on the bankers and the globalists - I suspect a few more surprises as the political scientists more clearly identify Trump's supporters. I know little of Michael Oakeshott other than he is the guiding light for Andrew Sullivan (who wrote a book about him and often refers to him in his writings and talks). I assume Oakeshott's "principles" are similar to Strauss's "philosophy", both arguing that government and governing must be based on higher ideals rather than some utilitarian social science. The irony of the election of Trump is that the man has no ideals, he has no "principles", he has no philosophy, he only has his own ego and insatiable appetite for his own aggrandizement. I suspect Peter Thiel's support for Trump is because Trump has no ideals, no "principles", no philosophy, and once Trump makes a mash of things, government can be rebuilt from the ground up in Thiel's (and Cowen's) image of the best "principles" and philosophy.

His point is inane. I'm beginning to think there is nothing left of intellectual life except status games.

The low tax, less regulation, destruction of union bargaining power has been done in two states with adverse results: Wisconsin and Kansas. We saw Dodge City Kansas increase local taxes because the schools were in bad shape and the revolt against Gov. Brownback's policies has been well documented. Menzie Chinn has been blogging on the lack of Wisconsin progress under the Scott Walker administration for some time now (see: http://econbrowser.com/archives/2016/11/wisconsin-growth-prospects for the latest post). AS a previous poster noted, President Reagan did a lot of stuff that ran counter to traditional Republican orthodoxy. Of course maybe all this data is just fake and everything is just really good.

It will be interesting to see the 2020 census results and whether the rust belt states continue to lose population. this will have congressional and electoral vote ramifications.

I think the econ101-justified standard right wing line leaves a lot to be wanted, in particular because the world is more complicated than in an introductory course which leads so many people who think have all the answers because some introductory course told them so in a 2-variable 1-period framework.

BUT BUT BUT, the fact that poor outcomes followed those policies in two states does not mean they are wrong. Often they are applied in overly simplistic and inappropriate manners, A followed by B does not mean A caused B. Where are your smoking guns to arrive at this conclusion?

" We saw Dodge City Kansas increase local taxes because the schools were in bad shape "

That's proof positive of something, I guess. Tax and regulation reduction coupled with antagonism toward unions makes the roofs of public buildings leak in small towns on the Great Plains, forcing the parents of the children in attendance to pay some of the actual cost of their instruction. Can't get much worse than that.

Since at least the Great Society Democrats have been telling their constituents, "Here's what liberalism can do for you." Republicans seem to endlessly ask their constituents what can they do for conservatism ("Donate to my think tank!" "Buy my magazine!" "Vote for me!" "Sign up for this war!"). Their (overwhelmingly white) base duly votes for the Republican's limited government-fiscal prudence-meritocracy platform, then watches as government, budget deficits, and political correctness all increase. Nothing the base voted for is actually accomplished, and the perception is these platitudes are being mouthed solely to get comfortable sinecures.

Immigration exposed this cozy scam. Immigration is extremely problematic for proletarian and petit bourgeois communities. But the same people who left the Democratic party to vote for Reagan listen as people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham call them bigots for not wanting their voting power and economic clout diluted and their children made strangers in their own country. When the battle lines started getting drawn, the Republican leadership proudly linked arms with the Democrats and did the bidding of their donor class. Donald Trump spotted that disconnect--an electoral $100 bill lying on the floor--and like the ruthless Scots-Irish businessman he is, grabbed it in both fists. He made his campaign all about, "Here's what I'm going to do for you," and rode it to ultimate victory.

Any of the other candidates could have done that, but they didn't. This was vindication of the Sailer Strategy: if you want conservative electoral victory, you need to support conservatively-inclined people. Affordable Family Formation: keep the land cheap and the wages high, because that's what gets families started and married people with children tend to incline conservative. This may require abandonment on occasion of precious, precious principle but like the Democrats realize, this isn't about principle, it's about winning. That's how they captured the institutions. In a diverse society, it's not what your candidate supports; it's whether they support you.

Incidentally, Joshua Mitchell is about thirteen months behind me on this. (I'd hyperlink, but that gets my comment eaten.)

Any of the other candidates could have done that, but they didn’t.

Rick Santorum's an immigration hawk. No one was paying attention. The big fails were Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson, who were making some appearances near or at the top of the polls. Walker especially. He dithered and listened to the billionaire giving him dough.

Agreed. Consolation is several of those names are probably headed into the Trump administration.

A good article that went off the rails at the suggestion of the "Book Club". Donald Trump has saved the Republican Party. The Democrat party is in a world of trouble. If they weren't afraid of being called racists, they would point the blame squarely at David Axelrod's puppet, Barrack Obama.

BTW Donald Trump solved a very difficult problem: how to get elected President with the entire MSM arrayed against him.

The Democrat party is in a world of trouble.

Indeed. It's under-remarked point that now that the nice old lady in the pantsuit is gone, black and Latino activists--who like their socialism nationalist, like everybody else--are beginning to wonder why their leadership looks so ... white. The circular firing squad is loading their rifles and starting to take aim.

Another under-remarked point: the down-ticket slaughter predicted by the Never-Trumpers didn't happen.

the down-ticket slaughter predicted by the Never-Trumpers didn’t happen.

My impression was that it was more business Republican twits than ideological never-trumpers making that complaint. They weren't bothering to check Rothenberg, which is simple enough to do.

I thought every Republican had the MSM (or so goes the whinning, this is why the alt-Right guys are so big heroes and Republicans hate so much the real press: not enough flattering their giant egos).

That Trump was able to win given how the MSM was so aligned against him would be the main topic of talk shows, of the 'print' media, and of many books if the MSM wasn't so clearly aligned against him!

I really do hope we have him for 8 years and that he can affect change on the MSM. It is abhorrent.

It's already been asked and answered ad nauseum, for anyone who has been paying attention. Trump successfully trolled the media.

He learned more than 30 years ago that media coverage equals free advertising and he is an expert at generating media interest. While ideological conservatives whine about media bias, Trump has always been smart enough to know that media outlets are run by businessmen and he knows how to give them content that will drive up ratings. As Les Moonves famously said of the Trump campaign, "It May Not Be Good for America, but It's Damn Good for CBS." It turns out the second part of that sentence is what really mattered.

There is another reason why the Republican Party could not contain Trump,..

I don't know what comes before this, but I think they didn't contain Trump because they spent years cultivating the attitudes and beliefs that produced his victory.

Republicans stood for “the principles of the constitution,” for “the principles of the free market,”

Some did. But they were mostly "ivory tower Republicans," who seldom bothered going out into the world to find out what their allies on the street thought. Rush Limbaugh is not James Madison. Sean Hannity is not Adam Smith. Larry Kudlow is not Milton Friedman. Yet it is the first of each of these pairs, along with a lot of other clown and grifters, who influence Republican voters.These individuals, whatever #neverTrump credibility they may claim, bear a lot of the responsibility for his rise.

The principles of the GOP appear to be to try to get as much as possible for their donor class while remaining in office. We're already seeing reports that Trump is abandoning his campaign populism for the Paul Ryan platform.

Analysts appear to forget that Clinton got more votes than Trump and that Senate Democrats got more votes than Senate Republicans.

I object to calling this Politics-as-engineering. Engineering is not the application of abstract principles to circumstances. It is the application of science and mathematics in the service of solving problems. Engineering is breaking large problems into a series of smaller problems and systematically solving them by applying known techniques. We could use some politics as engineering, I think.

"His [Trump's] ideas do not yet fully cohere."

What a great starting point! It goes on from there to argue how Trump's ideas could cohere if Trump agreed with his arguments.


He goes on to talk about the "The Very White Progressives." Now that phrase is very interesting. Particularly because he has made no mention of The Very White Republicans or the Very Public outcries about Trump's and his supporter's racism. Yet it is OK to suggest that the Democratic Party is racist.

What bull.

If Trump can, as he says, "Drain the swamp" then I'm OK with it. If his election means that the existing entrenched corporate interests that power both parties get crushed, I'm all for it.

I will be surprised if Trump gets anything passed beyond tax cuts for his rich kids.

Am I the only one who is absolutely astonished at how broadly this post-nationalist philosophy has infected the academic and ruling classes? I keep on getting surprised by how serenely this or that chest-less professor thinks that countries should be reduced to nothing more than different stops on a global subway.

This article is garbage. Trump is pure Nietszche. The untermenschen are condemned by nature to slavery. Logic and facts don't matter for the ubermenschen. Morality doesn't matter in the achieving of greatness.

Clinton in comparison is pure reason. And Sanders, although calling himself socialist, is much closer to typical European left. They mostly focus on basic needs and equality of opportunity. Things that are fairly reasonable since they are not calling for a pure equality.

Just horrible garbage.

I had a cousin who lived in the Valley long ago and commuted to downtown to work in IT at a bank. He loved it and was a big booster of LA mass transit. Three bank mergers later he was out of a job and out of LA for good. The thing about a certain part of the LA population is that they have a tremendous New York envy- this includeds Jews from New York, Jews who wish they were from New York, and gentiles in both caeoregits. New York has a subway, so LA should have a subway. The subway is for the colorful serving classes, of course.

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