Does demonizing Trump supporters help the Left?

February 19, 2017 • 12:30 pm

As you will know from reading this site, I have no love for Donald Trump. I fear he’s going to destroy America, and that this comes from his narcissism—his caring more about being loved and admired than about the welfare of America (or anyone but himself).  But what I see now among the Left is playing right into his hands. While the “Nazi” trope should be used sparingly, it’s often applied willy-nilly by bloggers or people on Facebook to smear not only Trump, but his supporters.

Well, Trump is not a Nazi, nor are all his supporters racists, xenophobes, or misogynists.  The worst comment that Hillary Clinton made during the election, I think, was this:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

Watch this and tell me you don’t this is insufferably smug:

Now Clinton apologized for this comment the next day, but the damage was done.

You don’t win elections by characterizing half of your opponent’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” nor by the kind of name-calling you see the third sentence of her quote. Now I didn’t know for sure in the days before the election, but I felt that this kind of demonization, and the moral superiority and certitude of the Left, was driving people into the arms of Trump. (Conservatives, of course, have their own moral certitude, often based on religion, but my audience here is my own readers, who are largely on the non-authoritarian Left.) And I feel uncomfortable, too. For instance, though I put up post after post detailing Trump’s follies, I also cringe when movie stars stand up at award ceremonies and give political speeches, because it’s a form of virtue signaling and arrogance that I see as unreflective and divisive. That would be like me, getting some kind of prize for doing science, giving a gratuitous political speech and calling for resistance to Trumpism (which of course I approve of).  But others may disagree.

Nevertheless, Sabrine Tavernese, a national correspondent for the New York Times, agrees with me in a new op-ed called “Are liberals helping Trump?” Her answer, by and large, is “yes.” Her argument, which finds support in interviews with several people, including Jon Haidt, is twofold. First, liberals’ name-calling of Trump supporters—even ones who voted for him reluctantly—has driven them more firmly into the Trump camp, for they see no compromise with the Left and are deeply hurt when they’re slandered. Second violent protesst by the Left reduces their support.

Here are a few quotes from the piece:

Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina, voted reluctantly for Donald Trump. As a conservative, he felt the need to choose the Republican. But some things are making him feel uncomfortable — parts of Mr. Trump’s travel ban, for example, and the recurring theme of his apparent affinity for Russia.

Mr. Medford [a small business owner in South Carolina) should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice. But it is not working out that way. Every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate — either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles — he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.

“We’re backed into a corner,” said Mr. Medford, 46, whose business teaches people to be filmmakers. “There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You’re an idiot if you support any part of Trump.’ ”

He added: “I didn’t choose a side. They put me on one.”


Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.

“The name calling from the left is crazy,” said Bryce Youngquist, 34, who works in sales for a tech start-up in Mountain View, Calif., a liberal enclave where admitting you voted for Mr. Trump is a little like saying in the 1950s that you were gay. “They are complaining that Trump calls people names, but they turned into some mean people.”

He came out a few days before the election. On election night, a friend posted on Facebook, “You are a disgusting human being.”

“They were making me want to support him more with how irrational they were being,” Mr. Youngquist said.

There is absolutely no need to call someone like Youngquist a “disgusting human being”. You may feel more virtuous, but you’ve just hurt your cause. And there’s this:

Conservatives have gotten vicious, too, sometimes with Mr. Trump’s encouragement. But if political action is meant to persuade people that Mr. Trump is bad for the country, then people on the fence would seem a logical place to start. Yet many seemingly persuadable conservatives say that liberals are burning bridges rather than building them.

“We are in a trust spiral,” said Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University. “My fear is that we have reached escape velocity where the actions of each side can produce such strong reactions on the other that things will continue to escalate.”


I don’t have a problem with protesting as long as it’s peaceful, but this is destroying the country,” said Ann O’Connell, 72, a retired administrative assistant in Syracuse who voted for Mr. Trump. “I feel like we are in some kind of civil war right now. I know people don’t like to use those terms. But I think it’s scary.”

Mrs. O’Connell is a registered Democrat. She voted for Bill Clinton twice. But she has drifted away from the party over what she said was a move from its middle-class economic roots toward identity politics. She remembers Mr. Clinton giving a speech about the dangers of illegal immigration. Mr. Trump was lambasted for offering some of the same ideas, she said.

“The Democratic Party has changed so much that I don’t even recognize it anymore,” she said. “These people are destroying our democracy. They are scarier to me than these Islamic terrorists. I feel absolutely disgusted with them and their antics. It strengthens people’s resolve in wanting to support President Trump. It really does.”

and, finally, this:

Late last year, [Medford] hit it off with a woman in New York he met online. They spent hours on the phone. They made plans for him to visit. But when he mentioned he had voted for Mr. Trump, she said she was embarrassed and didn’t know if she wanted him to come. (He eventually did, but she lied to her friends about his visiting.)

“It invalidated anything that’s good about me, just because of how I voted. Poof, it’s gone.”

Well, I can sort of understand not wanting a romantic relationship with a Trump voter, just as I don’t think I could be involved with someone who is deeply religious. But the name-calling I see everywhere, and the virtue signaling exemplified by sites like The Huffington Post, turn me off. And I’m a Democrat who voted for Clinton!

It’s time that angry liberals stop calling every Republican a misogynist, a Nazi, or a white supremacist. On left-wing websites everywhere, these terms are being dispensed like gumballs from a machine. If we really want to take back the country, we have to deal with issues. Name-calling may make us feel good, but it’s not going to change the country. Buckling down and working for your ideas may not succeed, either, for the three branches of government are all moving rightward. But political action has a better chance of succeeding than does slander.

270 thoughts on “Does demonizing Trump supporters help the Left?

  1. I’m British so perhaps I shouldn’t comment but this is similar to how I felt after the referendum on Europe. When people vote the way racists want them to vote it’s hard not to see them as racists. It may not help but otherwise it’s accomodationism.

    I don’t see anyway someone can call themselves a democrat (with large or small d) and vote for trump.

    It can also be useful go turn an argument round. If Clinton had won would we expect trump voters to love democrats?

    1. Not everybody who voted for Brexit is a xenophobe, and not everybody who voted for Trump is a racist/sexist/whatever. Take the case of Asra Nomani. Whatever you want to say about her choice, you cannot call a female feminist non-white Muslim immigrant a racist or sexist.

      For the record, I’m neither British nor American, and I would have voted Remain and Clinton if I had been either. But I think that name-calling only serves to alienate people who could be talked round to another point of view – especially in the case of Trump.

      1. I mentioned Asra Nomani once on this site, and was informed that she was ignorant, hence her inability to vote correctly!


        I think that we should talk to people, and attempt to persuade them, rather than going the you’re ignorant/dumb/moron/racist/sexist route.

        1. As a general rule, I think that you’re correct. But only as a general rule if you strive to live a rational, civilized life. But when you’re actually face to face w/ someone who fabricates (and perpetuates) debunked and patently false narratives, constantly denies, distorts, and obfuscates even patently crazy conspiracy theories, appears on shows (e.g. “InfoWars”)hosted by a certified lunatic to thank the host and his audience for everything they’ve done for him and how much he appreciates their efforts, it’s extremely difficult to not conclude that you’re dealing with – at the very least – with a dangerous moron.

          I believe the sooner more of the electorate begins to understand that Trump and most of his minions are batshit nuts, the better. There’s only one thing a country could do after coming to such conclusion – remove the lunatic(s) from office as quickly as possible.

          This is why I’m reluctant to minimize the power of the “batshit nuts” view. For certain, it shouldn’t be at the forefront of our thoughts as we carefully examine anything this simpleton might regurgitate from Faux News, but it should not be removed from serious consideration either. When your certain that you’re simply dealing with a low/no information nutbag of a human being, one changes their entire interactive strategy.

      2. “… you cannot call a female feminist non-white Muslim immigrant a racist or sexist.:

        Oh, that’s what you would think, but this is what regressives call “internalized sexism/racism.” Any time someone from one of the groups they believe should be in lockstep with them says something of which they disapprove, they brand them as traitors. They claim empathy for people like the woman you mentioned, but they have none, and only care about such people as long as they are useful to the cause. The second they step out of line, they are destroyed like anyone else.

      3. I think that name-calling only serves to alienate people who could be talked round to another point of view – especially in the case of Trump.

        I think that sentence nails it. Ultimately we (I count myself as a liberal in most of my views) want fewer people to vote for Trump, we wanted fewer people to vote Brexit and we want fewer people to be sexist / racist / homophobic / anti transgender etc. Just ranting about how evil they are isn’t going to get the job done.

        1. How are you going to convince people not to be racist or homophobic if you don’t show them that being racist or homophobic is bad, harmful behavior?

          The whole reason not to be homophobic us because it’s evil, if that’s the word you want to use.

          1. Nothing you say requires you to call people names. Calling racist or homophobic people names might make you feel better but it won’t stop them from voting Trump.

            1. That’s not what this argument is about. It’s not about avoiding using truly empty insults. We all agree that’s a poor way to argue.

              You simply can’t point out to someone that they’re being racist without them taking it as demonization. But how can you point out their racism without pointing out their racism?

            2. Recognizing and pointing out racism, homophobia, and bigotry where they exist is not “calling names.” One who exhibits bigotry is a bigot, and might as well get used to hearing that.

              It seems that some here are doing their own virtue-signalling.

              1. If you want them to stop being a bigot, don’t keep saying “you’re a bigot”. It. Will. Not. Work.

              2. Perhaps the intended audience isn’t always the bigots themselves. Perhaps calling a spade a spade is designed to wake up some of the inactive left who should be outraged but are too busy with…what?…shopping? gaming? catering to wealthy donors?…to give a damn.

                But personally, I see no reason to try political correctness with the bigots; they hate that, too.

              3. If your intention is to stop the bigotry, it’s the bigots you have to persuade, not the people who already agree the bigotry is wrong.

  2. If we really want to take back the country, we have to deal with issues. Name-calling may make us feel good, but it’s not going to change the country.

    I could not agree more.

    I see a lot of people consoling themselves by constantly repeating the mantra that Trump, Milo and all of their supporters are racist, sexist morons who are incapable of tying their own shoes. “Yes we lost”, you tell yourself, “but at least I am not a worthless loser like the 50 million idiots who voted for Trump”

    This isn’t constructive. This won’t get the DNC back in the white house. What the DNC needs to do is ditch identity politics and actually listen to people instead of accusing them of being deplorable morons. Identity politics is *lazy*. It doesn’t require any thought, or any deep examination of what drives people to vote the way they day – no, those people are just sexist racist Nazi morons ergo they can be dismissed! We want to persuade people, not demonize and dehumanize them!

    Also, as an aside, I keep hearing that Generation Z is on the conservative side of things. These are the people – ages 12-16, who tune into Pewdiepie. They see their hero being accused of being a literal Nazi because he dressed up as a Nazi to mock anti-free speech advocates. They already distrust the media. Being accused of being a “Nazi” or any other sort of identity based insult doesn’t work on them. And they will be of voting age in 2020. So, is it really a good policy to alienate them?

    1. I agree.

      The way to get rid of Trump is to expose how bad his policy positions are, not to abuse his supporters. It requires thinking instead of just reacting, but his policies really are mostly bad and there’s plenty of stuff to expose.

      Betsy DeVos is a sad excuse for an education secretary and she’s already proposed some ghastly stuff. But it gets hidden because the idiots that are preventing her from doing her job and threatening her are making her a martyr. So instead of hearing about what a bad job she’s doing, we hear about her protection detail.

      However, I must admit I’ve crossed my own line in the past and said or spread something I shouldn’t have. I’ll probably do it again. I always regret it. It’s wrong. Blame physics. 🙁

      1. Yeah, I’ve struggled mightily to temper my anger and disillusion with the election. So much so I now simply avoid talking to my family or others I know who supported Trump. Jonathan Haidt’s comment about being in “a trust spiral” captures it pretty well, I think. Before the election, I felt certain that enough people would see Trump and the GOP for what they are. But my trust was misplaced.

        Yet, I know silence is not the answer, either. We need to be able to talk about political issues in a productive way and with the Trump administration’s commitment to “alternative facts” I’m not sure how we proceed if there’s no agreement on basic aspects of reality.

  3. We are all xenophobes under pressure, but just have different definitions of xenoi there are few sites more unlovely than that of a self-styled liberal berating those who disagree with him or, notoriously in the case you cite, her.

  4. Of course it’s true that calling names isn’t going to convince anyone to change. But it’s not something that was invented by liberals. And it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to retaliate in kind. I think a lot of it now is a result of the frustration we feel when we see this administration doing things that are so obviously not in the best interest of our country and average Americans, and STILL Trump’s supporters cheer him on. But we have to reign it in because as you point out, there are a lot of people who voted for Trump but are not happy now, and we don’t need to be rubbing their faces in it.

      1. I think we have to be careful of putting labels on everything. The racists don’t care, and it’s easy to slide into labeling everything you oppose. Even as those who want a third party are labeling those who want to reform the Democratic party as being “sell-outs”. Once you start that habit, where does it stop?

        1. My point is that naming something is necessary in order to talk about it. One person’s label is another person’s label I guess, but any name for an ugly thing is going to sound ugly.

  5. I have found, as of late, that people tend to place people into one extreme bucket or another with nothing in between. If you don’t agree with someone on the Left, you’re a white supremacist, Nazi and if you don’t agree with someone on the Right, you’re a whiny, politically correct terrorist.

    1. Yup, and if we can pull together the centrists/those who are willing to compromise out of recognition that a country can’t always agree all the time from both side (and that may be starting to happen), maybe we can push one of these two parties back to sanity or get a real third party in this country. Because I think a lot of people are sick of this crap on both sides of the aisle.

    2. Exactly. It’s terrible. If a person believes that God is great, that he deserves praise, that he takes interest in the daily lives of humans, that laws should be crafted with regard to his laws….

      If you believe that, look at all the names you get called on this blog alone. If you don’t agree you’re a whiny, god-bothering, nincompoop.

      Why can’t the name-calling just stop!?


      1. Sorry, but I don’t think you’re right. This site (not a “blog”) is known for civility. If you can’t give me some instances of people being called a “whiny god-bothering nincompoop” for being religious, then please go away.

        I’m waiting.

        1. I stand corrected. No nincompoops, just “moron”s, some “lamebrain”s and a few “idiot”s. Here are some examples of the words in articles (only because I was asked):

          I read it, you lamebrain. — Oct 20, 2016
          At least 80% of Republicans are morons — Nov 14, 2010
          Her reaction was much stronger than mine (which was simply “Nye is an moron”) — Feb 22, 2015
          This just in: Glenn Beck a moron — Nov 14, 2010
          What a pity that the New York Times has so many of these UIs (Tanya Luhrmann is another)! — Mar 17, 2015 [UI meaning useful idiot]
          IDiots once again justify their name. — May 29, 2012
          In fact, it’s Williams who is the whiny one here, — Jun 16, 2013

          There are lots of “god-botherers” and “whiny”, but I admit those are in the comments, not in the main articles. Ex:

          And, bad for to sarcastically call out the web site you’re commenting on, especially one with great science info and great nature and cat pictures and produced by an author whose work you admire. So I apologize for that, Professor Ceiling Cat (PBUH) 😉

          1. You do understand that the rules are against calling other readers names, not calling other people names, which is usually permitted. There’s a difference between being in a living room with someone and saying, “you’re a moron” compared to saying “Donald Trump is a moron.”

      2. what right do you have to demand laws be crafted to effectively shut up anyone who doesnt believe in your god by compelling them to act as if they believed in that god??

        1. Indeed. “If a person believes that God is great, that he deserves praise, that he takes interest in the daily lives of humans, that laws should be crafted with regard to his laws….”

          Like Sharia law, you mean?

  6. I completely agree. Trump has made my skin crawl since he became a name decades ago, but nothing positive is coming from what I’ve been seeing. And Hillary shouldn’t have gone down that road since her past had been less than sterling. We’re in a no win situation right now. It’s like trying to prepare for a hurricane…prepare for the worst and hope you make it through with minimal damage.

    1. Funny you should mention your initial reaction to Trump when he first became a name: that was my reaction back then as well, and it never changed!I agree about Hillary, and I think she and the other establishment Dems STILL don’t get that they are never going to win over enough voters by advancing progressive policies on social issues while keeping their big-money donors and pro-Wall Street policies.

  7. There is some demonization from the left, but a more distrurbing and more widespread trend is the accusation by the right of smugness for simply pointing out facts.

    The right feels put down by the left because the left points out that they are wrong in many issues like evolution and climate change. The right knows at some level they are wrong but instead of admitting it, and accept the facts they double down and vote for Trump who validates their belief.

    This is not the behavior of an adult. This is the behavior of a toddler throwing a tantrum. The problem is that these toddlers vote.

    I don’t know what is the solution because the normal civilized methods to correct misinformation have been subverted through ideology to entrench and solidify it.

    1. You make the point I wanted to make. I think a lot of plainly stated criticism gets characterized as “demonization”. I am not in the mood for, nor do I think this is the time for, kid glove diplomacy. I will use the words “bigot” and “ignorant” wherever and whenever I think they legitimately apply. Which, I’m sorry, is not infrequently.

        1. Thank you, Diane.

          I’m having kind of a Twilight Zone experience reading this thread, with so many people seemingly advocating giving a pass to people who want to enshrine their selfishness and other base instincts in law.

          It’s already happening: the normalization that many of us promised we wouldn’t grant to the ideologies and attitudes of the Trump administration.

          1. Oooo, All — musical beef, Diane G, Somite — thank YOU !

            .that. — “advocating giving a pass” and “already happening: the normalization that many of us promised we wouldn’t grant” — states exactly .that. which I am loathe to see occurring all over my liberties far, far too swiftly.


            1. from Ms Atwood’s professional facebook page today + one commenter’s poignancy:

              “Margaret Atwood shared Vintage Books & Anchor Books’s photo. 3 hrs ·

              ‘That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary.

              There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t an enemy you could put your finger on.’

              ―from THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood”

              Commenter Jessica Cardenas:

              “This has always been my favorite book. Since high school I have read it at least once or twice a year.

              Last night I just finished it for the 20th time. This is the first time that I read it without the thought that this is utter and complete fiction and realizing just how easy a society like Gilead could happen.”

              26 April 2017, Hulu, its next visual … …


          2. I think most are actually agreeing on this thread but it seems like we are arguing anyway.

            The argument is that one shouldn’t paint all Trump voters with a broad racist brush so that every time you meet one, you immediately assume that person is racist and worse, tell him/her so. Words like “racist” should be reserved for the racists we see demonstrating racist views and behaviour. What I see is an overuse of terms like “racist”, “fascist”, “white supremacist”, “terrorist” to the point that those terms have no meaning. This doesn’t mean that we give in and just not name the things that need to be named; it means we name the things that need to be named accurately.

            One example that bothered me was the Toronto leader of BLM who, at a rally, said that Justin Trudeau was a white supremecist and terrorist. Why was he? Simply because he is white and the PM of Canada which has white people in it. Before making her comment, she actually quoted a tweet he had sent welcoming all to Canada (in response to Trump’s travel bans). When people started clapping, she told them to stop because Justin Trudeau was a liar and a white supremecist terrorist. Where the hell do you go from there if Justin Trudeau is a white supremecist and terrorist? If he is, we all are!

            1. Diana nailed it.


              I also believe that the woman, Yusra Khogali, also believes that white people suffer from a genetic defect that makes them subhuman.

              Khogali proceeded to go on an extended pseudoscientific rant about the benefits of dark skin. The post said: “melanin enables black skin to capture light and hold it in its memory mode which reveals that blackness converts light into knowledge,” she claims at one point. “melanin directly communicates with cosmic energy.”


              Which reminds me of another argument made by a BLM-er, which is that white people invented slavery and will always be slavers because of ‘epigenetics’. White people pass down the genes for enslaving others, you see. It’s in the DNA!

              1. Ironically, Khogali is arguing that white people are oppressed by their genetics so they are an oppressed race. 😀

            2. One thing I try to do is label positions as racist, sexist, whatever, and not the people. (And give reasons, of course.) I don’t always succeed, but …

              Does that work? I’m not sure, to be fair.

            3. That example should bother any decent person.

              But I don’t think the proper reaction to a few jerk nutballs should be “gosh, we all need to rein in our criticism of Trump and/or his supporters”. I’m inconsolably dismayed to be witnessing the Overton Window moving swiftly to the right.

              1. At least some of the commenters here are saying words like “bigot” or “racist” are only empty insults and should simply be shelved. I disagree. I think they are San integral part of criticizing Trump and his supporters. Even swing supporters. They climbed aboard the Trump Wall-Building Refugee-Denying Express with presumably full knowledge.

          3. Thank you (& Somite, Blue, et al) for carrying on this argument here.

            (I just couldn’t summon the energy, due not to laziness but depression about this nearly unbelievable situation we awake to everyday.)

    2. Forget about evolution and climate change. What about some of the most simple, verifiable facts out there? For example, the previous president’s religious affiliation (Christian) and place of birth (Hawaii).

      Everyone knows this already, but we should keep reminding ourselves: Republicans in general, and Trump supporters in particular, are wrong by a sizable majority on these facts.

      Why? Are they simply confused about reality (27% apparently also think that vaccines cause autism)? Are they so deranged by fear that they’ll believe just about any conspiracy theory (24% think Anton Scalia was murdered)? Or—and a realize these three possibilities are not mutually exclusive—is their “Othering software” so integral to their thinking that they’re willing, with just a wink and a nudge, to believe that the Democratic president was a foreign-born Muslim.

      I’m not sure I’d call it racism, but it needs to be called something.

    3. The right knows at some level they are wrong but instead of admitting it, and accept the facts they double down and vote for Trump who validates their belief.

      This is not the behavior of an adult. This is the behavior of a toddler throwing a tantrum. The problem is that these toddlers vote.

      This is IMO exactly what JAC is talking about: they don’t know ‘at some level’ that they are wrong, they are sincere in their beliefs. And instead of acknowledging that and dealing with it, you call them toddlers throwing a tantrum, which is not helpful and only drives people away.

  8. Agree totally, and I’ve seen a lot of commenters on this site fall into the same habit, such as throwing around the term “bigot”. Their defense is that it’s accurate.

    Well, so what? If you were trying to explain something to someone, would it be helpful to tell them that they were stupid, even if it were true? Of course not.

    This requires self-discipline. Throwing out an insult is satisfying in the short-term, but it impedes the long-term objective. Push aside the candy bar and eat the carrot.

        1. Not really. Should Jerry push aside the candy bar of calling creationism an ignorant and false ideology in favor of the carrot of evolution-can-be-compatible-with-religion accomodationism?

          1. He should not do this, because he does not think so. But if one – like me – thinks so, why not? My copy of “Why Evolution is True” is a present from a relative who is a theistic evolutionist.

          2. Do you want to change these peoples’ minds? If you do, calling them ignorant almost certainly won’t help.

            1. If you e participated in discussions about religious accomodationism here at WEIT, you already know the rebuttal: no, you don’t simply call someone ignorant, or bigoted, or etc, if you’re actually having a conversation with them. But there’s nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade in articles or comments intended for general readership.

      1. Do you really want to be in a winner-take-all war with your fellow citizens in a democracy?

        And does it really help to call people bigots, even when accurate in your opinion?

        Decades ago, as a teacher, I worked out that it was extremely unproductive to tell some immature, ignorant hoon at the back of the classroom that he was an immature, ignorant hoon, however correct that label might be. Name-calling can change some people’s behaviour, but only if they think it is justified and their behaviour is shameful. When negative labels are bestowed repeatedly and mostly inaccurately by antagonists with whose assumptions you disagree, they lose all impact.

        Jerry’s analysis is spot on.

        1. + 1. I keep wondering what makes opponents in recent years repeatedly call me names. Some of them seem to think that they are so much above me that I must at some point realize this and correct my opinion, or at least leave the discussion with my tail between my legs. I sometimes do the latter, but only when the discussion has degenerated so much that there is nothing to keep me there.

          1. Agreed. I stopped reading another American professor’s blog when I realized that his supporters’ response to anyone with whom they disagreed was on the level of “F*** you and the horse you rode in on”.

        2. I agree that name-calling is an unproductive way to argue, not to mention a facile way to argue.

          But I see a lot of Trump supporters trying to dismiss legitimate criticism as bitter, petty name-calling.

          What else shall we say about the man who wants to grab your pussy without permission? Or who says of a disabled person “you gotta see this guy”, then proceeds to perform a mocking imitation? I will use the words “deplorable”, “disgusting”, “reprehensible”, etc, unapologetically. They are eminently called for when discussing that man’s character. Avoiding them would be avoiding the truth. And avoiding discussing the president’s character is not something we should have to do in a democracy. Indeed, we should feel obliged to.

          Similarly, when discussing, say, immigration and the wall, how can you not bring up racism and xenophobia? You’d be ignoring a huge part of the issue.

          1. You say you agree name calling is pointless. Elsewhere on this thread you insist on calling people you disagree with bigots.
            Because you dislike Trump you say you will call Trump voters disgusting.
            You are the answer to Steve Bannon’s prayers.

            1. ???

              Where did I say that I insist on indiscriminately calling *anyone* I disagree with “bigot” or “disgusting”? I will use those words *if they apply*. “Bigot” and “disgusting” are real words with real definitions. If the definition is met, what’s the problem? Is Trump’s proclivity for grabbing pussies uninvited not disgusting? Are people who hold an animus against all Middle Eastern Muslims and re not interested in finding out if any of them are decent people not bigots?

              Your argument seems to be “we shouldn’t ever use the words ‘bigot’ or ‘disgusting'”.

              We criticize theists for the tactic you’re employing: criticism is off limits because feelings.

              1. I agree. I do agree that gratuitous name calling and denigration is pointless and bad tactics. But a significant percentage of Republican and Trump supporters consider any criticism of themselves or Trump or Republican positions to being called names and being insulted.

                To borrow a Trumpism, I think it is just sad to see so many self proclaimed liberals claiming that “both sides are just as bad.” It is typically not crystal clear whether they mean Republican vs Democratic party politicians or supporters, or both. But it is a completely ludicrous claim. Particularly with respect to the political parties. They are not even remotely close to equivalently bad.

              2. Indeed. That was the main point I wanted to make on this thread. The “demonization” is largely in Trump’s and his supporters’ heads. Any criticism is demonization. I would bet my entire bank account that if we compared all published criticism of Trump/supporters and all published criticism of Hillary/supporters, you’ll find more thoughtful criticism on our side and more ad hom insult on theirs.

      2. I agree that in principle if you do not tolerate accommodationism in religion then you shouldn’t in politics. But politics involves winning elections. A dispassionate analysis is required to determine the political effect of attacking Trump’s supporters as opposed to attacking Trump and his policies. If it turns out that name calling Trump supporters reduces your chances of winning elections then you shouldn’t do it.

      3. IMO in both cases gratuitous insults gain you nothing and simply harden the resolve of the people you’d like to sway.

        There’s IMO a big difference between making the point that we don’t intend to compromise on science education, and calling a creationist an ignorant rube. You can say the first without saying the second. Likewise, you can say you plan on fighting uncompromisingly for a woman’s right to choose or for Muslims to immigrate without special restriction, without calling your political opponents bigots and sexists.

        If you can’t do one without the other, it shows that *you* are incapable of understanding how another normal human adult could disagree with you on these issues – what you’re basically implying is that the only possible explanation for disagreement is their bigotry and ignorance. And what that implication tells others is that there is no sense in trying to have a conversation with you on politics or religion, there is no sense in them trying to explain why they take the positions they take, because you’ve already made up your mind about their reasons and won’t believe anything they say that runs contrary to your preconceptions about their motives.

        1. Who said anything about “rube”? Don’t put words in my mouth.

          Some words are indeed gratuitous insults. “Bigot”, “racist”, and the like are not. As I asked another commenter, why shouldn’t I say “disgusting” when discussing Trump’s comments about sexual assault? Or how can we have a complete discussion about immigration with acknowledging the fact that many people allow racist instincts to inform their view on the matter?

          1. The problem I think, MB, is that swing voters are getting conflated with the hard-core nutcases who really are racist, sexist, ignorant asshats and so on.

            I think that swing voters *can* be reasoned with. These are also the folks who react very strongly to being accused of being in the same camp as the actual bigots.

            Every party is going to have it’s share of extremists who believe in the God-like infallibility of their chosen leader. For them, Hillary could bomb an entire city, and they’d find a reason to support it. Likewise, Trump could start literally acting like Hitler and his hardcore supporters would find a reason to justify it.

            Insult the nutjobs and the extremists, and work on persuading the ordinary swing voter.

          2. Trump’s comments on women are not a US policy nor anyone’s stated opinion but Trump’s, so IMO you should feel free to call them disgusting and nobody else should take insult to that.

            But you can have a discussion about immigration without calling someone a racist or bigot by, for example, pointing out that no terrorist attacks on the US have been perpetrated by anyone from the countries Trump identifies. By pointing out that US immigrants, statistically, don’t commit crimes at rates higher than the native population (and in fact may commit them at a lower rate). By pointing out that asylum seekers and refugees are already “extremely vetted” by the State department. By pointing out that a wall will cost $hundreds of millions per linear mile and oh by the way, is not just a ‘one and done’ sort of cost because it does nothing to prevent human immigration unless you’re willing to monitor it constantly across it’s entire length, day in and day out. And so on. You know, argue the substance rather than attacking your conversational opponent’s character.

  9. A fine post and one that all should think about. The democrats use to have the issues and they still should. But they got suckered into the me against them mentality of the republicans. I do it sometimes myself. As soon as someone identifies himself as a Trump voter, I am ready to walk away. I don’t call them names and tell them what I think of their opinion but come close to it. That is exactly what Hilary did, attacking the people instead of the ideas and the candidate. Hell, Romney did the same thing.

    Go after their ridiculous call to kill health care and yet they have no plan to fix or replace it. Go after the entire idea of a wall across the southern boarder or rounding up people and sending them back if they have done nothing wrong. And really go after Trump and his dogma and lies about the media. Some on CNN today, compared his attacks on the media with what Nixon was doing. And some said what Trump is doing is worse. Yes, the people who believe his crap on this subject are disgusting and stupid but that does get anything done. You must attack the man who says the things he does about the media and the press.

    Remember a guy named McCarthy. They got him by going after him and what he was doing and saying. Not by attacking the many who believed the guy. They will go away when you bring down the guy causing it.

    1. That’s a great question actually.

      And what if Hillary had won, after demonizing half the country as racist, xenophobic, misogynist, sexist, Islamophobic, idiot moronic deplorables?

      Oh, right. That would have been different, because

      *Its ok when we do it*

      1. I don’t like Hillary any better, but I do believe that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. I agree with “Listen, Liberal” by Thomas Frank…the Democratic Party has abandoned the average American. I think ‘money’ controls everything in this country and, at the age of 70, I don’t expect any improvement in my lifetime. I have lost friends and family to religious fundamentalism and political insanity. It makes me dread the future.

        1. I agree with you on both counts. I don’t view the DNC or the RNC as being all that different. Both parties are essentially owned by corporations and run by neocons/neolibs who use social issues as political footbals to keep the plebs distracted while they rob the bank.

          As for history repeating itself, I always keep *this* in mind:

          The Third Wave was an experimental social movement created by California high school history teacher Ron Jones to explain how the German population could accept the actions of the Nazi regime during the Second World War.[1][2] While he taught his students about Nazi Germany during his “Contemporary World History” class, Jones found it difficult to explain how the German people could accept the actions of the Nazis, and decided to create a social movement as a demonstration of the appeal of fascism.

          Over the course of five days, Jones conducted a series of exercises in his classroom emphasizing discipline and community, intended to model certain characteristics of the Nazi movement. As the movement grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones began to feel that the movement had spiraled out of control. He convinced the students to attend a rally where he claimed the announcement of a Third Wave presidential candidate would be televised. Upon their arrival, the students were presented with a blank channel.

          Jones told his students of the true nature of the movement as an experiment in fascism, and presented to them a short film discussing the actions of Nazi Germany

      2. She didn’t say half of the country, half of Republicans, or even half of Trump’s future voters. She said half of Trump’s supporters.

          1. No, only half of them (according to HRC), which reduces the number to about 25 m if voters = ‘supporters. But many -how many?- that voted for Trump cannot really be described as ‘supporters’ either, see e.g. Asra or Mr Medford.
            In my estimate there would only be between 10 and 20 million actual ‘deplorables’ 😆.

            1. My point being is that Trump voters are being perceived as a monolith – that if you voted for Trump, full stop, you are an ignorant Nazi scumbag, period. Trump voter = Trump supporter = Nazi scum.

              This is a really simplistic way of looking at things.

              1. I know right! And many of these people voted for Obama in previous elections!

                I guess they want from being smart people to utter morons! Morons and yea, probably racists too! And sexists!

              2. You used those words.

                I said ignorant which describes perfectly engaging into actions without knowing or accepting the facts.

          2. I don’t know how many of Trump’s supporters are racists and xenophobes but his language and message during the election campaign were aimed at stoking and igniting deplorable attitudes in the electorate. Clinton’s choice of words was clumsy and unfortunate but if she had simply stated that Trump was actively encouraging and courting deplorable attitudes it would have been hard to disagree.

          3. She didn’t say voters, she said supporters — as in, half of the the guys showing up at Trump rallies. The election hadn’t happened yet so no, she wasn’t talking about his future voters.

            Trump was offending whole swaths of people on a daily basis and never apologizing for it, so clearly it’s not an issue.

      3. Clinton didn’t demonise half the country, she demonised half of Trump supporters which is less than half the voters. I happen to think that what she said was accurate but foolish because her opponents were bound to do what you did which alienated a whole lot more people, some of whom might have been persuaded to vote for her.

        1. were bound to do what you did

          Bound to do what *I* did. Why, you give me far too much credit regarding my influence on US Politics, I am but a humble Canadian, card carrying member of Canada’s most leftwing party, but ty for the thought! 🙂

          In all seriousness, however, Trump supporters *are* being portrayed as either sexist racist idiots or garden variety ignorant morons. (Trump supporter = person who voted for Trump). Many of these people voted for Obama in past elections and were also Bernie supporters. I think it’s far too simple to pretend that they turned into racist/sexist/morons overnight because they made a choice that we disagree with.

          And as I will keep reminding people, the Clinton campaign accused Bernie supporters of being racist sexist ‘Bernie Bros’ and so on. Identity politics does *not* work. This is take home lesson at the end of the day. You can’t shame people into voting the way you want. You can’t insult them into it either.

        1. Are you kidding? Speeches, rallies, attacking the courts, decrying “fat cats”.
          The point, which should be obvious, is that *every* rise to power involves *some* similarities to every other, including Hitler’s. It doesn’t mean that everyone who gains power becomes Hitler.

          As for FDR, it was 75 years ago this week he set up internment camps. Has Trump done that?

          1. No, but, comedian Jim Jeffries pointed out that Trump = Hitler because Hitler didn’t *immediately* send people off to death camps and guess what…Trump hasn’t sent anyone off to a death camp yet!! This is all the proof I need that Trump is literahhhllly Hitler!

          2. “The point, which should be obvious, is that *every* rise to power involves *some* similarities to every other, including Hitler’s. It doesn’t mean that everyone who gains power becomes Hitler”.

            Whilst I agree that, so far, it is going too far to liken Trump’s Presidency to the rise of Hitler, your argument here is surely facile. Of course every rise to power involves ‘some’ similarities with every other, including Hitler’s, but the point here is that in some people’s view, at least, there are sufficient parallels – demonisation of foreigners in general and specific minorities in particular, aggressive bullying of the press, shouting down opponents… – in the present case to justify the comparison. You seem to be ruling out any comparison between regimes unless they follow pretty much exactly the same course which precludes learning anything from history.

            The suggestion by Nicky, that a comparison with Hitler would only be valid if and when Trump burned down the Capitol, suggests to me a dangerous complacency. I stress that I am not arguing that Trump is like Hitler or will become like him, but it seems to me that we should always be alert to whoever is at the head of government taking us in a direction that reduces our democratic rights and freedoms. Who can argue that it would not have been better for the World if people had spotted the danger posed by Hitler before he got into a position to do the really bad stuff, and nipped him in the bud at that point?

      1. So were baby Bush and JFK, IIRC. Not until the Capitol is burned down -and a subsequent clamp down- can we speak of a real similarity.

    2. Yes, I see a big difference. The Nazis were using actual violence to intimidate people and remove political opponents very early on. Hitler himself was imprisoned for a failed local coup in 1923. They got into literal gang-style street fights with other political groups.

      Neither the GOP writ large nor Trump nor Trump’s faction has done anything remotely like that. Yes during the campaign he not-so-subtly implied that he would legally defend any followers who threw punches at democrats or reporters. But the GOP didn’t physically “skirmish” with anyone, nor did Trump supporters seek to violently intimidate other GOP primary voters.

      Trump is an authoritarian nationalist. That’s similar. But his non-use of physical strongarm tactics is vastly different and makes him vastly less of a threat to the structure of our democracy. Here’s an example: Trump’s executive order on immigration has been found unconstitutional. His response? He’s writing a revised version. In contrast, the Nazi response would have been to break into the judges’ houses in the middle of the night, cart them all off to jail, and order State Department and DHS civil servants to enforce the order as written or be carted off to jail as traitors in the middle of the night too.

  10. I’m a Brit and over here the division is between Brexit and Remain. I voted Remain but I’m sick of the demonisation of Brexiteers.

    The day after the the vote the Left started contesting the results and comedians were gloating about Brexiteers freezing to death in winter – the orthodoxy being that everyone over 60 betrayed the young and deserved to die.

    If the referendum was run again I don’t know which way I’d vote this time.

    1. I voted Remain as well ,the English were bombarded with lies from ,well you know who ,about £350million for the NHS ,and dave ,i wont make fun of him cameron made a crap job of putting the case for Remaining in the EU .
      I think if it was run again the Remain vote would go up .

      1. I am not so sure the Remain vote would go up. The Leave side relentlessly continue to mislead, almost like theologians. This is worse than being insulting.

        But David Cameron was in on the biggest lie. His party had promised a binding referendum in its 2015 manifesto. His Government asked Parliament to approve an advisory referendum (hence no supermajority requirement), but repeatedly and consistently lied that it was binding (most devastatingly on the day after the Referendum). Parliament have still not been allowed to debate whether the UK should leave the EU, taking into account the (roughly neutral) Referendum advice. Instead, Parliament are being asked to give the Prime Minister the power to trigger a (probably irreversible) exit from the EU. Most MPs have proved too cowardly to appear undemocratic to the constituents they represent (who widely thought the Referendum was binding). It seems they would rather risk the ruin of the UK!

          1. A binding referendum was promised by the Conservative party as part of their election manifesto. The Conservatives won the election and formed a Government, but that did not give them direct power to implement that election promise; it had to be approved by Parliament. Before Parliament debated it, the Government made clear in House of Commons Briefing Paper 07212 that the Referendum would be advisory. Parliament allowed that advisory referendum by a majority of about 6 to 1. The Government lied that the Referendum that Parliament had approved was binding.

            This is not the only promise that the Government have not honoured. Their 2015 manifesto also stated that the Conservatives say “yes” to the Single Market (which they are now saying “no” to).

          2. If the people were sold a binding referendum – and I’m not sure they were – then it was a lie because the referendum was factually non binding. There was no legal requirement for the government to follow through on the result.

          1. Nobody ‘won’ the Referendum because it was advisory. Parliament, who have a duty to the whole population, not just to the 26% of the population who voted Leave, would have the luxury of considering how non-voters would have voted…

            Based on polls of those who were franchised but did not use their vote, a study showed that, had the Referendum turnout been 100% instead of 72%, the most probable result would have been a 50.35% majority in favour of Remain. Whether 50.35% in favour of Remain or 51.89% in favour of Leave, the collective advice was roughly neutral, and therefore should not have much weight when Parliament discuss whether the UK should leave the EU.

            (Note that, had the Referendum been binding, a supermajority would have been appropriate, with a threshold for a 72% turnout being much greater than 51.89%.)

            1. As I was told once before on this site, with reference to the Scottish portion of the vote, you only count the people who actually turned out to vote. How the ones who did not vote might have voted is irrelevant.

              1. So, for example, the views of disenfranchised Brits who have lived in other EU countries for more than 15 years don’t count, even though they stand to loose their EU citizenship and maybe a lot more? The views of disenfranchised 16..17-year-olds don’t count, even though they will be subject to the consequences longer than older adults? The views of those were franchised but were unable to vote for reasons out of their control don’t count? And so on. Whoever told you about your ‘you only count…’ rule was wrong.

  11. Trump is not a Nazi, but he is an authoritarian with fascistic tendencies. His assault on the media is an assault on freedom of the press, which is the same as an attack on freedom of speech. His supporters think he has respect for democratic institutions, Democrats don’t. I am in the latter category. As Pew puts it:

    “Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 77% say Trump has either a great deal (42%) or a fair amount (34%) of respect for the nation’s democratic institutions. By contrast, 85% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say Trump has little respect for democratic institutions and traditions in the U.S, including a majority (54%) of Democrats who say he has no respect at all for these institutions and traditions.”

    In my view, Trump supporters have little concern for democracy, if they think about the topic at all. Only events will reduce the number of Trump supporters. Such an event may be a downturn in their own personal welfare, which is all they think about. They view life as a zero sum game in which they are losing. So, they will blame people who are different from them for stealing what is rightfully theirs. Demagogues are very effective at stoking this attitude.

    I would agree that name calling probably hurts in winning these people away from Trump. But, trying to win them over by rational dialogue will be equally ineffective. This is because Trump is their savior – exactly the role he wants to play. Tactically speaking, Democrats should not waste their time trying to win these people over. What they need to do is make a concerted effort to convince the roughly 50% of the people who do not vote that it would be in their interest to do so. This would be a difficult task, but not an impossible one. With demographics on their side (the white percentage of the electorate decreases with each election) and them becoming much more politically astute, Democrats have a chance to make the Trump phenomena an anomaly. Of course, the country may already be destroyed by the next election.

    1. I just don’t think winning people away from Trump is reasonable. When did one group or party of people ever talk or debate the other party to change it’s convictions? What must be done is to attack the policies, actions and speech of the guy, Trump. When his actions and results go down, it will take him with them. The followers simply melt away when their leader blows up.

      One of the final causes of civil war was that reason had failed. There was no more compromise, no more discussion and reason was lost. We don’t go to war today to settle the matter but somebody must fail. That is the only way one side or the other loses. Trump already has low approval ratings and at a time when the new guy usually is at his highest. So we just keep going after him, see him fail and the follower will go away.

      1. I believe you are echoing what I said. In any case I agree. Rational discourse rarely changes minds. Minds are changed when people feel emotionally that their current views are no longer tenable. As for the failure of compromise in the coming of the Civil War, I’ll leave that discussion for another day.

        1. Minds are changed when people feel emotionally that their current views are no longer tenable

          I would say that this is partly true.

          People do not respond well to rational arguments. However, they respond to emotional arguments. But saying ‘DIAF NAZI’ is not the right emotional argument to make. You gotta hit ’em right in the feelz without alienating them. Persuade them by manipulating their emotions so that they can eventually see the rationality of your side, however, none of this will be possible if we stifle free speech.

          *DIAF = Die In A Fire

    2. I think what should be done in the first place is to reduce voter disenfranchisement, aka. voter suppression, and ‘counting fraud’. Without it Trump would have lost hands down.
      With the presidency, both houses and soon SCOTUS in the ‘teabaggers’ hands, it looks like an uphill struggle (but not nescessarily impossible).
      I fully agree with our host -and you- that name calling, identity politics and violent protests are counterproductive.

  12. Fair enough — mere demonizing a contrary view often (but not always) accomplishes little or backfires. But Ms. Tavernese spends her time demonizing demonizing without providing much counter ethical or political logic.

    I much prefer the approach taken by “Booman” here to the complaints of the same Mr. Medford:

    Booman lays out the logic for supporting progressive policies, and for objecting to many (but not all) of President Trump’s proposals, his alternative facts, his attacks on the MSM, etc., and then challenges Mr. Medford to express the logical and ethical basis for his own views and to explain how Mr. Trump has lived up to those so far.

    Yes, treat Mr. Medford with courtesy, but I wouldn’t let him off the hook to provide support for his views that are grounded in our history, Constitution, and real facts.

  13. I remember the day after Hillary’s basket of deplorable comment, I was talking to coworkers at lunch (none of whom supported Trump), but I was in the minority in saying that this comment was a mistake. Everyone else was of the opinion that the comment was true and Hillary wasn’t going to lose someone already supporting her with this rhetoric. The latter might be true, but I don’t think giving Team Trump a hashtag to rally around was a good idea. It may have driven some third party supporters to his side, as the final results largely reflected an uptick in Trump support rather than a downtick in Hillary support. The aggregate polls at FiveThirtyEight had Hillary winning the popular vote 48.5-44.9 and the final result ended at 48.2-46.1. 80% of the polling error ended up favoring Trump, which gives some credence to the theory that Hillary drove some independents into his arms.

    1. I trust you are not aware that Clinton beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes. I also trust that you are unaware of how the Electoral College works.

        1. Virtually all Clinton supporters would consider themselves to some degree on the left of the political spectrum.

          If you are referring to what is sometimes called the “illiberal left” then you are talking about a tiny sliver of those on the left, a bunch of people with no political power. So, your comparison to Trump supporters, while true, is meaningless. It’s like saying Trump has more supporters than the Scientologists.

          1. Not all the people that voted for Clinton are leftist, many (maybe most) are closer to the center than to Bernie Sanders.

          2. “Virtually all Clinton supporters would consider themselves to some degree on the left of the political spectrum.”

            This is completely untrue. Just among the people I know, most of those who supported Hillary did it because they thought Trump was awful, and would consider themselves either cetrist or marginally conservative. Only a handful of those I know who voted for her would call themselves “left.”

            1. I doubt that the people you know are a representative sample. That goes for me and just about anybody else. Also, much depends on how you define left, center, and right. The last thing an objective interpreter of an election should do is to take into consideration the views of one’s personal circle of associates.

              You can view the political spectrum as simply left or right or you can view it has having a center. It’s a matter of definition. Nevertheless, if you concentrate on the word spectrum then undoubtedly if you cut the spectrum in half most Hillary supporters would be on the left side to a degree (again, emphasize the word degree).

              1. Well, at least I have some anecdotal data. You just made a claim. And you said that they themselves would consider them to be on the left.

              2. To BJ, comment at 5:42 pm

                Here’s some hard data to prove the meaninglessness of your anecdotes. The Barna Group conducted a poll and found this:

                Segments Supporting Hillary Clinton

                The research by Barna discovered 14 voter segments that prefer Hillary Clinton for President. Compared to the segments supporting Trump, those who back Clinton clearly take a more left-leaning point-of-view about the future of the U.S.

                So, yes, most Clinton supporters were on the left of the political spectrum. You can look at the rest of the poll for details.


              3. These results are not a reflection of what you said. This study considers them to be on the left by the study’s own metrics, while you said the supporters themselves would consider them to be on the left of the spectrum, for which you don’t really have evidence.

      1. Actually, it’s Clinton who was apparently unaware of how the Electoral College works. Trump, obviously, was. Moreover, had there been no Electoral College, he no doubt would have changed his strategy and may well have made up the 3 million votes and then some. We’ll never know. But it’s hardly to Clinton’s credit that she opted for an irrelevant majority in lieu of winning the election.

        1. If there were no Electoral College, Clinton’s strategy would have been different as well. She might well have picked up many votes in red states that under the current system she didn’t campaign in. It’s idle speculation to muse over what would have happened without an Electoral College and, thus, I view Trump’s argument as but another effort on his part to assuage his fragile ego.

          Moreover, it is incorrect to say that Clinton opted for an irrelevant majority. You can’t be seriously suggesting that her team did not understand that an Electoral College majority is required to win the presidency. To be sure, they made blunders that cost Clinton the election, but they certainly believed (incorrectly) that they had a strategy to win the Electoral College.

          1. “It’s idle speculation to muse over what would have happened without an Electoral College.”

            Agreed. But what is this broken record about Hillary winning the popular vote if not idle speculation that she would have won the election except for the Electoral College? The reality is that the Electoral College is not speculative and that Trump did a better job than Hillary of turning that reality to his advantage. I don’t see how one can argue with this.

            1. Everyone agrees that Trump won the Electoral College. But, he is the one obsessed with the popular vote. He can’t accept that the majority of voters didn’t want him.

              1. Not quite. He cannot deal with the fact a plurality preferred Hillary Clinton. That’s even more obsessive IMO. Minority presidents are common enough, but sub-plurality ones rather uncommon.
                But to get back to the thread topic, I think — due to Democrat and Left reactions since the election– he would win a plurality now.

              2. Even his ridiculous claims that 5 million people illegally voted don’t solve the problem for him. When you look at total votes cast, 11 million more people voted against Trump than for him. He has nothing resembling a mandate, nor do the Republicans. Despite, controlling all three chambers, they lost seats in the House and Senate and were pummeled in the popular vote. This won’t stop Paul Ryan and his ilk from declaring America has spoken and liberalism is dead though.

      2. I trust you are not aware that Clinton beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes

        And lost the election. If Clinton didn’t understand how the system works someone should have told her.

        Can you link to comments you made prior to the election where you argued for a change in the way elections are run?

        1. I refer you to my comment at 2:44 P.M. on this thread, which apparently you missed.

          By the way, calls to abolish the Electoral College have been going on for decades. They are hardly new to the last election. In any case, this debate is purely academic since the abolition of the Electoral College will not happen anytime soon. If you wonder why this is the case, I’m sure you can do the research to find out. Hint:it has to do with the procedure to amend the Constitution:

  14. “It’s time that angry liberals stop calling every Republican a misogynist, a Nazi, or a white supremacist. On left wing websites everywhere, these terms are being dispensed like gumballs from a machine.:

    The problem is that they won’t stop. They can’t even stop calling each other these words. If you’re a liberal who agrees with regressives on 98% of issues, the second you say something about the other 2% you will be called all these names, ostracized, forced to apologize, and then find out that your apology means nothing to them. If you have any social media presence, you’ll probably have articles written about you on Buzzfeed, Huffpo, and the other sites that perpetuate this crap.

    They eat their own; they’re certainly not going to stop berating those they see as an army of Darth Vaders.

    1. And even if you agree on 100% of the issues, the right term for a certain type of person will suddenly change, or the right stance on an issue will suddenly be the wrong one. From one day to the next, new things are decided to be “offensive.” You never know where you stand until you’re called out, not even knowing that it was a possibility that you would be in the first place because you thought you were among “allies.”

  15. What Clinton said about the deplorables is true, but you don’t get elected that way. She should have told the discontented “I feel your pain” like her husband did or “I will be your voice” before Trump did.

    How could Clinton have spent her life in politics and yet run such an inept campaign?

    1. You’re right that the campaign was inept. From what I’ve read, her campaign team relied on computer models, which seemed to assure that she was safe in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. “On the ground” reports that she was in trouble in these states were ignored. So, Clinton relied on a team that turned out to be bunglers. There is a lesson to be learned here.

    2. Because identity politics, on the surface, looks infallible. Who wants to be thought of as a racist, sexist etc? So, the strategy was to shame people into voting the way the DNC wanted. Just as SJWs try to shame us into ideological lockstep with them. Only, this strategy didn’t work, because most people are not cartoon racist/sexist/-phobic villains with nothing but hate in their hearts. There are many complex reasons as to why people chose Trump, the economy being one of them, and it’s rather simplistic to boil it all down to ‘oh they are just all Nazis”.

      And how do people react when they are told that their concerns are invalid and that they are just deplorable Nazis? What happens is, you don’t persuade them to come over to your side, no, instead, they stop talking, out of fear of being socially shamed, and they support Trump in private. This is one reason why it came as a such a shock when Trump won and not Hillary – all of those stealth Trump voters.

      And this is precisely why shaming people, calling them names, and trying to stifle free speech will ultimately be counter-productive. If we want to change hearts and minds, we need to actually *talk* to people, not attempt to shame them into submission and have them go underground with their ideas. It is only through open dialogue that we can win this.

      1. “This is one reason why it came as a such a shock when Trump won and not Hillary -– all of those stealth Trump voters.”

        It was not the surprise nearly everybody says it was. The polls showed an increasingly tightening race in the last few days of the election. You know who loves it when folks imagine these fanciful rationalizations for why the election result was contrary to that last few weeks of the race (but not the last few days)? The traitorous James Comey.

        “And this is precisely why shaming people, calling them names, and trying to stifle free speech will ultimately be counter-productive. If we want to change hearts and minds, we need to actually *talk* to people, not attempt to shame them into submission and have them go underground with their ideas. It is only through open dialogue that we can win this.”

        You do realize you are suggesting that the way to win is to act in the exact opposite manner of the folks who have been winning, right?

        1. “You do realize you are suggesting that the way to win is to act in the exact opposite manner of the folks who have been winning, right?”

          True, but I think the niche to win by being mean is already occupied by these folks, so you should find another niche.

    3. Her speech and body language reminds me of “politicians” of the communist era who did not win their positions at an election but were installed at them by the party.

  16. I don’t think I’d call Clinton’s comments “smug”. I think they betrayed an extraordinary level of frustrated disbelief at the shit her opponents were able to get away with, and the dispiriting number of people who were happy to support them in doing it. Dismay and anger, yes — smugness, no.

  17. One issue that is a particular danger for liberals: a strident opposition to “religious freedom” laws, especially calling religious conservatives bigots for wanting the right to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. Religious conservatives have always portrayed LGBT people and rights as a threat to religious rights, and opposing religious freedom laws plays into that narrative, along with a narrative that liberals and gay people are now the intolerant ones.

    While the legal case against religious freedom in regards to discrimination against LGBT is clear-cut, it might be wise for liberals to back off of this issue. Many conservatives now claim they’re willing to accept basic LGBT rights and same-sex marriage (outside of narrowly defined situations such as services for same-sex weddings). Liberals should take their word on this, and defuse an issue that may be a serious political liability for them.

    1. I disagree. If you allow the faithful to discriminate against LGBT people then you give them the right to discriminate against anybody else that violates their “religious freedom.” This concept is a ruse to sanctify bigotry and should not be allowed in the United State to deny LGBT people the same benefits that all other Americans enjoy. If liberals do not stand up for this group of people then they can’t be trusted to stand up for any other group whose basic rights are threatened.

      1. You are absolutely correct–I think liberals and LGBT people have the morally and legally correct position in opposing religious freedom laws that sanction discrimination against LGBT people on any grounds.

        But I still think it might be advantageous to cede this. What I dread more than anything is for conservatives to gain control over the Supreme Court and then force a test case that pulls down same-sex marriage. If calling a truce on this issue forestalls that, I would be grateful.

        I might mention that I’m not necessarily speaking from a position of privilege here: I happen to be gay.

    2. I agree. Not so far ago, no self-respecting US politician – at least, no one I knew – even considered same-sex marriage. Then, the country changed overnight, and we are now seeing the full force of government and judiciary lashed out against some baker in the middle of nowhere who refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding.

      (Of course, no one ever harasses a Muslim baker with such a demand. I once watched at some far-right site a staged video with bakers in Dearborn, Michigan – guess whether they agreed to make the cake.)

      1. Trump is the only president to support gay marriage before his election. He opposed the “bathroom laws” before his election. He reissued Obama’s gay rights EO. Trump has the cleanest and best record on gay rights of any of the recent candidates for president, except the third party ones.

        1. Check out the Republican Party Platform on LGBT rights; it’s the most anti-gay party platform in history.

          Trump used none of his clout at the convention to meliorate this plank (since it’s not a matter he cares about). Instead, he saved all his clout to gut the GOP plank opposing Russia’s incursions into the Ukraine.

          It’s become painfully clear Trump is compromised on Russia — although the extent and source of that compromise is not yet clear. It may be what eventually brings Trump’s presidency crashing down.

          1. Indeed. Do people think Trump will actually be a champion for the LGBTQ community? Look at who he’s surrounded himself with. Look at his constituents. If he does anything proactive for them, as opposed to simply letting things as they are stand, I’ll be surprised.

  18. I don’t think the far left should be described as liberal. They are intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share their views and seemingly unwilling to entertain any ideas that conflict with their own beliefs. I’m convinced that, given the opportunity, many would be on board if they could somehow force compliance with their beliefs. That seems to violate one of the most important liberal values there is, the freedom to disagree.

  19. I don’t think tackling the issues is going to make any difference. Those who are truly deplorable didn’t make up a big enough voting bloc to get Trump elected. So who are these people who voted for him? Why was ‘Making America Great Again” such an effective slogan amongst those who aren’t out-and-out nazis? Maybe it was because many of the people who voted him in don’t perceive that they suffer the sort of first world problems that make up a lot of the Democratic platform. A lot of Trump voters felt (often with good reason) that the American dream passed them by. Many are just trying to get by. They care about what they need to tend to themselves and their families. Frustrated people look to find others to blame. Trump’s the poster child for that. He promised jobs and someone to blame. It worked.

    1. You are correct. The people you describe are exactly the ones most like to fall under the sway of an authoritarian demagogue. Although they are not aware of it, they are the fuel that powers Trump’s threat to democracy.

      1. They’re the ones most likely to fall under the sway of the politician willing to talk to them and take their issues seriously. If only one politician is doing that, than that’s the one likely to get their votes.

        Hillary went around telling everyone the economy was doing amazingly well, while the people we’re talking about weren’t living in that world.

        1. Yep the economy improved in the cities, on the coasts, specificially, but not in the rust belt. People were *genuinely* concerned about the economy. And what were they told? That those concerns, just like with Brexit, were invalid and that what they really were was racist/sexist/etc. And remember, these are people who had voted for Obama previously. It is absolutely asinine to then accuse them of racism. “Oh, you voted for Obama, well, youre’ still a racist, cuz, cuz like, you only voted for him out of white racist guilt!”

          1. No Cindy, they’re misogynists now. Come on, you should know these things! In PuffHo’s article on the reasons why Clinton lost, reasons 1 – 199 were misogyny.

    2. There’s a view (cf Jonathan Haidt) that Liberals major on the Care/Harm and Fairness/Reciprocity values and hold other values in rather less regard. On the other hand Conservatives put Care/Harm and Fairness/Reciprocity on a *slightly* lower level, but alongside values of Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation.

      Clinton had a pair of values to play to but Trump had five pairs of values – which he used to his advantage.

      But this is echoed in the Liberal angry responses – if someone appears to not place the same weight on Care/Harm and Fairness/Reciprocity values then there are no other values worth having, therefore they must be sexist/racist/NAZI bigots. But the Conservatives can dismiss Liberal attacks because they only threaten 40% of their values – they have other equally valued values to maintain their world view.

      It’s a bit of a worry when the two tribes are incapable of understanding to emotional drivers of the ‘other’ side.

  20. I think I disagree, but I’m not exactly sure. Here’s why I have reservations. The right wing in the United States has been ignoring the issues and demonizing their opponents for the last thirty years. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Beck, and many others haven’t been offering nuanced arguments and pushing well-thought-through policy positions. They have been calling their opponents names and telling their followers scary fantasy stories about what their opponents secretly want to do and what they imagine their opponents will do if given any power.

    And they have been pretty consistently winning with this strategy. I mean, just look at how lopsided representation is in state and local governments. Look at how the right managed to completely obstruct the Garland nomination while suffering no diminution of its political power as a consequence. Look at how the right wing is now so blatantly demonizing the media. (I mean, their own media representatives have been doing this for years, but demonization of the media by politicians themselves? That seems to be an ugly new development. And the overall tone seems both darker and bolder than in the past, with outright claims that stories are FAKE or LIES as opposed to “lamestream” or “distortions.”) And it’s not just high-level politics. My own mother recently screamed at me that I was part of the “intolerant left” because I said that her (completely upside-down false) claims about immigration and crime in the United States were fact-free and because I maintained that political discussion should be based on actual evidence of some kind.

    So, I’d very much like to have representatives and media figures who talk about policy. Who take measured stances based on evidence and who do not resort to name-calling and abuse. But it doesn’t look like taking the high road is very effective politically. And at the end of the day, I’m not sure what to do with that. If it’s a choice (and maybe this is a false dilemma — I’d like to be convinced that it is) between political victories that cost us some intellectual virtue and political losses that leave our virtues unsullied, I’m not sure what choice to make. Would I be sacrificing the truth on the altar of political expediency or merely sacrificing my ego — my self-image as a person who follows the argument wherever it leads — in exchange for a lot of good for a lot of people? I just don’t know.

    1. You summed up my views very well. If attack dog politics didn’t work, Trump would not be President. Republicans would have suffered consequences for their 8 years of obstruction under Obama. Instead they were rewarded with the Presidency, both houses of Congress, more judicial nominations than any administration in history, the power to replace at least one new Supreme Court Justice and possibly — depending on how the next 4 years go — two of the liberal ones, and the ability to undo nearly everything Obama ever accomplished.

      What does it matter if most Trump supporters don’t see themselves as racist or misogynist? That they felt so many reservations? My heart bleeds for the reservations they felt as they voted for the guy who said Obama’s a secret Kenyan Muslim and illegitimate President. For the guy who openly called for banning all Muslims from entering the United States. For the guy who led chants of “Lock Her Up” about his political opponent.

      If we are to judge actions by their results, Clinton’s mistake was not to call out half of Trump’s supporters for racism and misogyny. It was in backing down and apologizing for it.

      1. Clearly there are a few of us here who believe that Jerry’s argument is counter-intuitive. I read one other comment I thin was relevant – we are not going to win this by convincing Trump supporters to change sides. That’s true if we call them racist scum, or if we try the carrot. The result will be the same. However, by being forceful, definitive and absolute in our denunciations of Trump and Trump’s supporters, at the same time we hammer home the mistakes in his policies, I think we can win over a large number of non-voters who can easily overwhelm Trump supporters in numbers, if we only can mobilize them. So, how do this? Play nice, or make the pitch that our country has been taken over by rabid nazis and evil racists? I don’t think playing nice is going to work. But that’s just me. BTW, I’d be pleased to take the other road if I were convinced that it would work.

        1. “I’d be pleased to take the other road if I were convinced that it would work.”

          Spoken like a true Hillary Democrat. All you need now is a focus group.

    2. It may be that there is a natural conservative majority in American politics, at least when it comes to likely voters, and especially in light of gerrymandering and disproportionate representation in the Senate. Therefore, perhaps the Right can indeed more easily win with attack politics, while the Left faces the harder task of actually having to win over hearts and minds. Constantly calling anyone to the right of ones self racist, sexist, fascist, nazi, etc is not a way to win over hearts and minds.

      1. I’m not convinced that there is a “natural” conservative majority in the U.S. (I’m not even sure what that claim means, really.) But suppose there is one. How do you get from there to the claim that attack politics work better for conservatives?

        1. If there is a natural conservative majority, then the liberals actually have to change minds in order to win, whereas conservatives can win by just reinforcing existing attitudes.

          1. The idea that there is a natural conservative majority is just not true. What there is out there is a democratic party that lost their way and lots of people did not vote. Trump got his people out and the other side did not. We should stop putting all the standard labels on every human we see and creating a system for all people. I have never seen so much labeling of people and that somehow by doing that you have the problem solved. It means nothing.

          2. I don’t understand how “attack politics” is related to “reinforcing existing attitudes.” This is where I would like you to fill the gap for me. I thought that attack politics were supposed to be counterproductive — to make people move away from the attacker. But if so, then we should expect that 30+ years of demonization by the right would serve to seriously undermine a natural conservative majority (if that is understood as meaning that most people are prima facie sympathetic with conservative policies). But that is not what we see, right?

            So … why do you think that having a natural conservative majority would make attack politics work better for conservatives?

            1. Let me try a straightforward example. Let’s say that you are a smoker, really like smoking, and are currently being asked to choose between continuing to smoke and quitting.

              The person charged with the task of trying to persuade you to quit smoking will probably have to make a compelling case based on the health issues, and should recognize that it might take a while for you to change your mind. If that person just said “Only idiotic bad people smoke, you dumb ass” it would probably not help you to change your mind.

              On the other hand, the person charged with the task of trying to get you to keep smoking could probably be successful by saying “Don’t you hate those meddlesome busybodies always trying to get you to quit smoking?” since you are already inclined to keep smoking anyway.

              Attack persuasion works better if the target is already inclined to agree with you.

      1. Why? What makes it the case that there is this kind of asymmetry between the political left and the political right? (It might be true that there is an asymmetry. I think there is an asymmetry, for example, in legislative approach: the right can much more easily advance its cause by way of obstruction. But I’d like to see some reason to think that name-calling and so on will work for the right but not for the left.)

        1. I also do not see any reason or mechanism to explain the phenomenon, but to me, observed facts show that it exists. How do others think? (Particularly Americans.)

          1. I think you are on to something here. I don’t know either, but I have some hunches.

            One is from Jonathan Haidt’s research, that depending on political position (left/conservative), you place different weight on different characteristics.

            Second, one’s political stance, is partially heritable, i.e. people are not free to choose, and can in many instances not help that they for example are a conservative.

            They are (to a degree) republican or liberals because they were born that way.

            Third, our outlook are not stable, but depends on the situation and what happens around us.

            In a more uncertain world, with more chaos, uncertainty and fear, we become more conservative.

            The more variable, uncertain, chaotic the world becomes, the more people will find themselves in the conservative half.

            This catches (I think) on to the research and ideas of Peter Turchin and his ideas of Cliodynamics.


    1. “But you can’t argue it isn’t accurate.”

      Except that sometimes you can. Some of the evidence presented in your link strongly supports Bouie’s case of bigotry amongst Trump supporters, but some of the evidence clearly shows Bouie is rather more ignorant of American social realities than the people he criticises.

      Tossing into the debate poorly defined, highly emotive, pejorative terms as Ms Clinton did, turns up the heat rather than the light.

  21. It gets even worse when the left demonizes Johnson and Stein supporters as well as non-voters. They literally make enemies out of the majority of the country just so they can stay in their virtue bubble and shake their fists at the sky. Meanwhile, these are the people we need to convince that Rome is burning and that they should speak up even if they may have voted for King D in the first place. Otherwise the left becomes merely a vocal but easily ignored minority.

    1. I have to keep reminding people that the Clinton campaign repeatedly accused “Bernie Bros’ of being racist, sexist, misogynist, -phobic ‘brocialists’

      Oh, and both Bernie and Stein were accused of being puppets of Putin!

      No wonder Bernie supporters didn’t roll over and vote for Clinton after Bernie lost the nomination, which should have rightly been his.

      1. In contrast to that, Trump constantly and flagrantly belittled and insulted his fellow Republican rivals with blatant lies and distortions.

        And every single one of them wound up voting for him.

        America is two completely different universes right now. Whatever prospects remained for bridging that divide are rapidly vanishing into complete polarization. There is no capable uniting voice anywhere to be found. The only thing left is the mutual break-up of the union, or civil war.

        1. Trump belittled his Republican opponents, but neither he nor the media outlets backing him constantly belittled the voters who supported those candidates. That’s an enormous difference.

          1. I understand the point you’re making, but let’s remember:

            Donald Trump speaking during his campaign on 11-13-15 when referring to the fact that Ben Carson was second in the Iowa polls:

            “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”

            Said to a crowd of Iowans. In Iowa. They laughed and cheered him calling them stupid.

            Meanwhile, Sarah Silverman says “You’re being ridiculous” to a crowd of unruly Bernie supporters at the Dem convention and it’s an unforgivable sin.

            1. “Meanwhile, Sarah Silverman says ‘You’re being ridiculous’ to a crowd of unruly Bernie supporters at the Dem convention and it’s an unforgivable sin.”

              I’m pretty sure what people are referring to with the “BernieBros” thing is the endless tweets, messages, and articles coming from online leftist outlets and media about how all the people who thought Bernie was so much better were misogynists attacking poor Hillary and her supporters simply because the other candidate was a woman. It was a months-long campaign of lying and hatred about people who should have been their allies, but since Bernie supporters weren’t 100% ideologically pure in their eyes, they turned on them and did everything they could to drive Bernie voters away.

  22. How do you spend “hours on the phone” getting to know each other before making plans to meet in person, and not cover politics in the first 20 mins?
    That would be like meeting someone and not mentioning religion in the first 20 mins! What are your priorities?!

    1. For some people (see my comment up thread) politics are everything, for others politics are merely one thing among many.

      1. I have, Somite, never thought that: her one deplorables’ comment came anywhere to nearly as despicable as a bagazillion of his.

        I happen to have watched a brother’s fb page throughout the campaign, a brother with whom I have not exchanged one word … … since I was 21, and he dropped napalm upon Vietnamese. His rhetoric there on his fb (+ with, there as well, that of his ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ re this last presidential campaign have convinced me that he and they are one neuron shy of the David Duke – types of that tribe.

        And convinced me — further — just cuz he is ‘blood’ that: if he dies afore me ? I shall not defile myself by attending any services for him.


  23. I think we have to seriously consider the possibility that it does in fact help the left in the short term. If Clinton would have campaigned on the issues she would probably have lost more, because Trump’s policies are simply more appealing to the majority, particularly on trade and foreign policy. There was hardly any discussion about what Hillary did in countries like Libya. If there had been that would have been a disaster for her.

    Of course this demonising destroys the democrats in the long term, but in the short term…no.

  24. Looking from the outside, this double standard in American politics is amazing, and as a fan of this site, I’m disappointed to see Jerry Coyne succumb to it. I can’t fathom how you find it fair to criticize Clinton for things that wouldn’t even be noticed amidst the garbage an average Republican says before breakfast. And as the ultimate ugly Republican, Trump is of course in a class of his own.

    Sure, Clinton’s remark about half of Trump supporters being “deplorable” was a political mistake, for her. Had Trump said the same statement, it wouldn’t have even made the news. And in fact, it was excessively benevolent of her to imply that half of those people were something else than deplorable. I find it horrible to claim that a person who voted for a monster like Trump is a decent person. Not only did these people find his arrogance, racism, xenophobia and criminal history acceptable, but they also decided that the possible end of humanity through climate change or a nuclear holocaust is just fine. And now you want to join forces with them?

    I don’t know what’s wrong with the Americans. Maybe it’s too large a nation to encourage all its citizens feel the general responsibility for the less fortunate. Maybe it’s the fact that the USA was on the right side of the WW2 and the Cold War, so now Americans believe they are automatically a democracy, however authoritarian their society gets. Or maybe the centerline of American politics has drifted so far right from common decency, that in order to consider themselves moderate, many Americans are willing to excuse even racism, misogynism and authoritarianism. Or maybe it’s just ok in American culture to hate foreigners and threaten the world with destruction, so for them it’s not an inhuman act to vote a guy like this their president.

    Accepting the Trump supporters world view creates a dangerous new middle line. It’s of course nice to not demonize humans. But today, America is much closer to humanizing demons.

    1. Well past humanizing demons actually. It is estimated that 100,000 bombs were dropped during Obama’s presidency. Clinton was part of that administration too. Perhaps Trump just needs better PR or a more compliant media?

    2. “Or maybe it’s just ok in American culture to hate foreigners and threaten the world with destruction…”

      I think you are too emotional here. In my world, the facts are that the USA was accepting immigrants from my country when prosperous European countries were slamming the door in our face, and the USA stopped the wars and genocides in former Yugoslavia while the same European countries were busy doing nothing. I do not understand these European politicians who throw tantrums about the Trump election – with such a record of their own countries.

      (Disclaimer: Of course the European countries in question are entitled to their sovereign policies.)

      1. I think that that ‘busy doing nothing’ had more to do with military weakness (e.g. Dutchbat in Srebenice) than with an actual lack of will. Only massive NATO bombing could reign the Serb expansion and genocide in, as it turned out.

  25. The two main factions of USA (the U should be dropped) are at sword’s points with each other, raging and shrieking and apparently impervious once and for all to any possible means of reconciliation.

    Within these factions, the same is true of factions assaulting other factions within each of these factions instead of finding ways to form helpful alliances among themselves.

    Politics and life in general seem to be poisoned for the foreseeable future, which in a worst-case scenario could mean forever.

    Not even during its Civil War, I am dismayed to conclude, has what remains of this nation been in such a perilous condition, with its very future at stake no matter how many times its military might is capable of wiping out the entire human race.

    I’ve never wanted more ardently to be proven wrong, to find that, contrary to my present state of mind about politics and more, the cesspool in which we are currently sloshing around will be drained and destroyed once and for all someday.

    But I probably don’t have enough time remaining to experience this someday if it ever dawns, thereby rendering present conditions a mere interlude in the long-term victory march of “the better angels of our nature.”

  26. Naive of me I know but shouldn’t anyone who wants to get rid of Trump start focusing on how to win control of at least one of the Houses of Congress? Isn’t there a mid-term election in about 20 months and counting down?

    1. Part of the political problems across the developed world is that people (for a variety of reasons) want their wishes implemented *right now*, and a new set of wishes arising from the *next* outrage implemented next week.

      People seem to have lost their patience with the cycle of elections, government investigations and reports, drafting of bills, projects and budgetary issues.

      You could argue that one of the benefits of politics and various forms of democracy used to be the ability to slow things down until cooler reasoned appraisal could be made.

  27. I’m a Brit, so maybe shouldn’t butt in, but here goes …
    To avoid a Trump second term, Trump voters have to be persuaded not to vote for him next time. In a democracy, this is the ONLY option, so talk of a ‘fight-back’ or ‘stopping Trump’ is puerile and/or undemocratic (although protesting against his actions is not per se undemocratic).
    Being pragmatic about the importance of winning people over and changing opinions is not ‘accommodationism’, unless that term simply means engaging with people you don’t agree with.
    People are attracted to anti-establishment candidates when they feel the existing system does not benefit them. Being shouted at by people who are obviously doing better out of the status quo than they are is never going to win them over, particularly when accompanied by a complete lack of insight into their situation.

    1. “To avoid a Trump second term, Trump voters have to be persuaded not to vote for him next time. In a democracy, this is the ONLY option …”

      This would be true if voting were compulsory or if we had very high turnout without compulsory voting. But only about 55% of eligible voters actually voted in 2016 (less than in 2008; roughly the same as in 2012), and Clinton lost by very small margins in key swing states. As a result, the Democrats have easier alternative routes to unseating Trump — easier than convincing Trump voters to vote for someone else or to not vote at all. For example, Democrats can do a better job reaching out to people who didn’t vote in 2016 and encouraging them to go to the polls.

      1. Yes, you’re correct in a mathematical sense that Trump could lose without any current supporters switching sides, but you’re assuming that an increased turn-out would work against him and I’m not sure there’s much evidence for that. In fact, it would be more logical to assume that plenty of non-voters are disenchanted with the current system and might prefer an anti-establishment candidate, if pushed. Of course, some Trump supporters would never vote Democrat but those who wavered before backing him could go the other way with the right candidate and approach. Writing them off is unwise politically and also, I think, socially divisive.

        1. I assumed no such thing. I said that the Democrats would have an easier time reaching out to non-voters than they would converting Trump voters. I didn’t say anything at all about how turnout affected the 2016 results. Nor did I say anything even about whether turnout itself favors Democrats. Nor did I suggest that the Democrats should “write off” Trump voters. Nor did I say anything about why non-voters did not vote. Nor did I say anything about *how* Democrats might try to attract non-voters.

          My point is very minimal: It is not true that in order to win, Democrats have to convince Trump voters to stay home or to vote for a Democrat, and it is probably easier to get non-voters to vote for a Democrat than it is to get Trump-voters to vote for a Democrat.

          1. I do understand your point but I don’t really agree with it, and I think it’s worth noting that non-voters from 2012 who voted in 2016 overwhelmingly voted for Trump. If Trump loses in 2020 it will be because he’s lost support not because a rich seam of untapped Democrat voters has been discovered. Anyway, I guess we just disagree about this and, as it’s speculation, can’t prove it either way.

            1. Isn’t the idea to have some clear and coherent policies that might attract the support of new voters and show that Democrats are a people’s party – not a Wall street party. However I don’t even pretend to understand US politics that seem to take place over an horizon far to the right of the rest of the democratic world.

              1. Now that’s the first good point I have seen so far on this thread. Come up with some good policies that might attract voters. And they can be new voters or old voters but the plan needs to be about them and it needs to be honest. Stop all this labeling crap and create a foundation of ideas that are good for all the people. Soon they will be seeing that Trump is just a bag of wind and he has no jobs for anyone. Have something to replace Trump.

      2. But that was a big part of Hillary’s problem: not just that quite a few people who voted for Obama voted for Trump, but even more people who voted for Obama were so turned off by both candidates that they didn’t bother voting at all.

        1. “Turned off by both candidates”

          Translation – fell for the misinformation campaign carried out by the GOP and conservative hate media.

          1. That’s your translation. I hated Hillary and voted third party. I’ve never voted for anyone but Democrats before this election. Stop making assumptions that conveniently fit your worldview. Democrats didn’t stay home because of conservative misinformation.

            1. Care to articulate why you didn’t vote for Hillary even though you were a dem? I’d put good money on a GOP meme that resonated with you.

              1. Since you’ve clearly already made up your mind and have shown a propensity in the past for never budging even an inch from your preconceived notions, I have absolutely no desire to explain my thinking to you.

            2. Personally, I do hold all the lib/progressive/leftist-leaning people who voted third party (or abstained from voting) responsible in large part for the debacle that resulted. It’s as if in some alternate universe there were some calculus in which Trump & Hillary were “equally bad.” The polls were too close for comfort, the insanity on the right was all too obvious, the stakes were as great as it is possible for them to be. Like it or not there were only two candidates who stood any chance to win, and one of them was Trump. Thanks, all you on your moral high horses. You were wrong about the dangers of voting for alternate candidates, you played your part in bad-mouthing Hillary during a very close race, and now you want to tell us how we are going at it all wrong…

              1. I live in New York. There was no chance my vote would count against Hillary or for Trump, so please save your anger for someone else.

              2. “I live in New York. There was no chance my vote would count against Hillary or for Trump, so please save your anger for someone else.”

                You didn’t know that until it was too late, any more than Pennsylvania voters knew it after months of polling showed Clinton in the lead there. Had enough voters in New York followed your lead and also voted as you did, Trump would have won your state just as he did in Pennsylvania. That is an undeniable mathematical fact.

                Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you gambled on there being enough reasonable voters in New York for you to vote differently in protest. It sounds like you really wanted to see Clinton win more than Trump, you just didn’t want to put in the vote yourself.

                You played Russian Roulette with your vote and won, in your state. Roughly 50,000 voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin did the same as you and lost in their states, and it flipped the election. How was your vote more responsible than theirs?

          2. I saw a study today that trust in the media is at an all time low. It dropped from the mid-forties to low thirties since 2015. Now, given that we have Stephen Bannon in Trump’s Whitehouse, the rise of Breitbart and fake news, it’s not hard to put 2 and 2 together. There’s an intentional attempt happening to incorporate a postmodern stance on everything. Facts don’t matter. Everyone just has an opinion and Trump’s opinion is most important. This is exactly what demagogues do; I’m tired of hearing some people say that the media is fueling hysterical overreactions to Trump. No, they aren’t. If anything, they’re not paying enough attention to the aspects of Trump that are truly dangerous, instead getting distracted by the shit show he runs to distract everyone on a daily basis.

              1. That’s actually a perfect example of the problem. “The media” is not a monolith. We should stop treating it as such. A cultural rag in Ireland puts a cover out with Trump in the cross hairs of a rifle, therefore CNN and WaPo can’t fact check Trump’s blatant falsehoods correctly? That’s the all or nothing game the right is playing these days and it’s absurd.

              2. I’ve noticed you aren’t consistent in your criticism. Your main point is that people on the left “paint with too broad a brush” when criticizing Trump supporters and voters. But you regularly do precisely the same thing. Like in your comment here.

                In general I value many of your comments both for your insights and your knowledge. But many, most in my experience, of your comments on this subject are hyperbolic with respect to how uniform views on the left are. You pick extreme examples and present them as if they are the norm among the left. I don’t know if you do this as a rhetorical tactic or what. But it is inaccurate and it is precisely what you accuse your opponents of.

              3. Actually, I usually qualify my statements to point out that it is the *illiberal* left that is responsible for a lot of this hysteria. The regressives, the SJWs, they are a minority, but as the saying goes ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’. I do not believe that SJWs are a monolith (and I have pointed this out before on this very site) any more than I believe that feminists, MRAs and Muslims are.

                However, and this is key, there is definitely a general trend wherein Trump supporters…heck, f’ing FREE SPEECH supporters such as PCC and many of the readers on this site are demonized as Nazis for not marching in ideological lockstep with the illiberal left. PCC publishes at least two articles a week criticizing the belief that it’s ok to punch Nazis (defined as ‘anyone who holds a different opinion’)…

                The media is not a monolith, however, and there is plenty of legitimate criticism of Trump, however it is drowned out by the hysteria that is coming from many sources. For example, just before the inauguration,
                CNN fantasized about Trump’s assassination. . CNN is a mainstream news source, and yes, I found this to be somewhat disturbing.

                I am a leftist myself, and I see a hysteria regarding Trump that I have not seen with previous Presidents. Yes, it comes across as rather unhinged and dangerous. I also predict that there will be violence in the future, as certain media sources double down with the ‘Trump is Hitler’ narrative.

                I also believe that we need to call people out for inconsistencies in what they say and do regardless of their political affiliation. A person can identify as a liberal and yet behave like a righwinger, and vice versa. Look beyond labels – look at actions! No one is beyond reproach, least of all because they share one’s political ideology.

                As for my comments on media, a bit more background. I made this comment a few days ago and I think that it is relevant in regards to the subject at hand:

                Market share. Clickbait. Echo chambers.

                First, it’s really really easy to create an echo chamber on social media. Especially now with how easy it is to censor those with opposing views – FB, twitter and even Disqus all offer the option to mute and to block those who offer a different opinion. So you sit in your echo chamber, and you feel good as your biases are continually reaffirmed.

                Second, the reason that Trump and Milo are so successful on social media is because the market is so saturated. It’s no longer the big three networks (in the USA anyway) and everyone is fighting for a piece of the pie. Milo knows that if he says something outrageous, that if Network A doesn’t report on it, Network B will, or Joe Blow with a YT channel will…so it’s basically a race to the bottom, with corporate media in competition with every asshat who has a YT channel or twitter account. This is one reason why Trump was able to run his campaign relatively inexpensively – he kept coming up with outrageous quips, and media fell over itself reporting on it.

                As PCC said, ideally, we should be ignoring Milo, but in a world where market share = money, corporate media especially cannot afford to ignore the Milo’s of this world.

                The clickbait phenomenon is an interesting one. I admit to being suspicious of bloggers who say outrageous things. Take Dan Arel and his ‘punching Nazis’ diatribes – he was just a nobody, and now people such as PCC and Dave Rubin have noticed that he exists. I bet that he has gained more subscribes to his blog. And a few years ago, The Friendly Atheist let a secular pro lifer write a god-awful essay on the ‘secular reasons to ban abortion’ or somesuch. Many of TFA’s regulars were quite angry with him and they unsubbed, as they believed that pro-lifers should *never* be given a platform (I disagreed, and I welcomed the chance to engage in some robust debate). However, the entire exercise worked out well for TFA. The article was widely disseminated, with people offering rebuttals, and rebuttals to the rebuttals and so on. In the end, it brought more traffic to his blog.

                I do try my best to be consistent, so thanks for your criticisms!

  28. Agree completely. Not only is constantly calling everyone to one’s right on any given issue a fascist, nazi, misogynist, and racist annoying, childish, and in most cases inaccurate, it is also most certainly not going to persuade enough people to change their votes for next time.

  29. Well, I am in the UK and usually vote Conservative. I tend towards the right fiscally and on the economy and left on social issues. I have on occasion voted Liberal, (now Lib Dem. I think I fall into the category of “One Nation Tory”. However, this type of standpoint (where one can say one is a left of centre Conservative) just does not seem to any longer apply in the States. Any blog or social media one looks at seems 95% comprised of rants about “Libtards” and Fascists. Unfortunately, I can see the UK heading in the same direction. The degree of polarisation is sickening. This is even the case at the level of the House of Commons. The days of friendships amongst members from across the political divide are long past and probably will never return.

    1. Given how close the political parties policies have become is the old adage about academic debates being so vicious because there is so little at stake starting to apply to politics as well?

  30. Serious remark: yes, Clinton’s remark was ham fisted. But my goodness, compare it to the remarks that Trump continues to make on a daily basis. And yet he still won.

    Yes, I agree, politicians should be skilled at dealing with the public and not offending potential voters.

    But as far as the rest of us: do WE have to be held to some standard where we should be political 100 percent of the time while we are getting called every name in the book?

    And as far as it “hurting us”: the right wing does it all the time, and they are in power, aren’t they?

    For what it is worth, I do have Republican friends and were I singe, there are Republicans I’d be interesting in dating. What most distresses me about Trump is his incompetence and I find myself agreeing with David Frum (!) much of the time. No, I don’t think that all (or even most) Republicans are stupid, evil people.

  31. Well, I shared this on Twitter and got eaten alive by my illiberal but well-meaning tweeps.

    It seems people can’t distinguish what they need to do action-wise from where others are at mentally. It appears to be a classic theory of mind issue. Pneople forget that because they know Tr-mp voters elected a theofascist, that those doing the electing may not have had a a fascist impulse or even know what fascism is. Telling them they must take responsibility for their “evil” choice is an futile. What’s really happening is that those who know we are under a theofascist regime don’t have a clue what to do about it. We feel helpless because we’d like to act responsibly but don’t know what will be the effective. So, it’s much easier to blame the Tr-mp voters. But really, I suspect the problem is that we don’t know how to intervene.

  32. From the NY Times op-ed:
    “The name calling from the left is crazy,” said Bryce Youngquist, 34, who works in sales for a tech start-up in Mountain View, Calif., a liberal enclave where admitting you voted for Mr. Trump is a little like saying in the 1950s that you were gay.

    If voting for Trump is like saying in the 1950s you were gay…

    Does that mean we can beat up Trump voters coming out of Trump bars? Are cops raiding Trump bars, arresting their patrons and publishing their names in the newspaper? Are elementary school teachers being fired for being Trump voters? Are Trump voters declared mentally ill by the DSM. Are Trump voters being sent to be “reprogrammed” so they stop being Trump voters?

    I doubt it. But sure, keep quoting ridiculous comparisons like the one in NY Times op-ed.

  33. There are two very different things being lumped together in these discussions.

    Imagine you are faced with somebody who rants about sharia having been introduced in New York / Sydney / Berlin / whatever their country and then follows up with “I don’t want to be punched in the face, so I am now going to vote for the candidate who has promised to have people like me punched in the face”.

    Yes, if you are the other candidate you should probably not call this person stupid, because you want their vote*.

    But can we expect their left-leaning brother in law to refrain from calling them stupid? Their colleague at work? A comedian on TV? A journalist? I don’t really see how that would work. Perhaps some people are a bit too thin-skinned.

    (* That being said, will you EVER get the vote of somebody like that, even if you are ever so polite? What if the only thing that will ever make them vote for you is if you promise to deport all immigrants? I think the argument that people can be won over to support the exact opposite of what they want merely by being polite towards them requires a bit more work to become plausible.)

    1. Also, there are two types of discussion lumped together in these discussions.

      First, there is a bunch of like-minded people having to figure out what is going on. In that discussion honestly is paramount. Crucially, “he voted X because he is an idiot” may actually be the correct answer, depending on the scenario. Not accepting this correct answer because it would be uncharitable, or constantly butting in from the side with “you can’t say that”, merely means that one will not arrive at the correct analysis of the situation.

      Second, there is trying to convince people who have a different opinion from oneself. In that discussion one should be tactical about honesty. Crucially, even if “you voted X because you are an idiot” is not a good way of talking to somebody even if it is true. Not being polite, or constantly butting in from the side with “but he’s and idiot”, merely means that you alienate the person you are trying to convince.

  34. Hillary’s “deplorables” remark was a political gaffe. It’s always a mistake to alienate potential voters. But she wasn’t far off the mark on Trump voters; about half of them are irredeemable — the half that voted for him not in spite of his amply displayed bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia, but because of them, the half that still claims Barack was born in Kenya. The other half is persuadable, and probably won’t vote for Trump again, once they’ve seen what a disaster he is in office (a slipping of his support already reflected in his historically low approval ratings).

    Let us not forget that Trump got only 46% of the vote; 54% of the American electorate (11 million more voters) voted for other candidates. Trump’s victory was a fluke of the archaic electoral college and Hillary’s poor politicking.

    1. Trouble with that electoral college thing is, it may continue to work for the republicans unless the democrats get it together. Lots of rural and very republican states out there and all the votes, electoral that is, goes to the winner in each state. The two Senators per state thing is way overdue for change and a huge push is needed to change that. While doing so they should simply remove the electoral BS as well. Lets say, each state gets one senator up to 5 million population. Then 2 senators from 5 to 10 million. And so on until you get to the top – California. My math says they would get 7 and soon 8. This would help considerably and James Madison would have something closer to what he wanted all the time. And as long as we are fixing all that with an Amendment, we just as well fix another problem with limits on the House and Senate. Say no more than 4 terms in the House and 2 in the Senate. This should not be a lifetime membership club. It gets old and rotten.

      1. A huge push will be required to eliminate the electoral college. The senate will never change. Article V of the Constitution provides that “no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”

        The electoral college is an embarrassing throwback to our slave-holding past. And like the Constitution’s other embarrassing throwback to that past — the “three-fifths” clause — it should be tossed on history’s scrapheap.

    2. Perhaps half of the Trump voters are persuadable as you believe. Even if this should be the case, it will not happen overnight. Let’s just hope it happens by the 2020 election. Just today, the Washington Post published an article about Trump’s recent rally in Florida. If the reporter has fairly reported the attitude of the Trump supporters at this rally, they are still wallowing in profound ignorance. They seem to be oblivious to the nature of the Trump presidency and how it will royally screw them if Republican legislation makes it to Trump’s desk.–and-are-frustrated-with-critics-who-dont/2017/02/19/496cb4b4-f6ca-11e6-9845-576c69081518_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_trumpsupporters-0711pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.f1b11deeff5e

  35. Concern understood, but the Tr*mp brand seems to be losing market share rapidly, in just one short month (really! It’s just been one damn month – not even quite yet). Note John McCain’s recent statement about a free press.

    So keep this resistance coming.

  36. What HRC said was unwise, but true. Just like Obama’s “… they cling to their guns and religion.” Both are held to a ridiculous double standard both in regards to what they say and how they say it. Be mad at HRC for being politically imperfect, but not for being wrong. What a lost opportunity.

  37. I think these remarks are already covered more or less, but to say it right out might be handy :

    I agree that H. C. should not have *said* that Trump supporters are deplorable. I also agree that this principle generalizes.

    However, what is the evidence that people were voting for Trump *because* “H.C. calls people deplorable”? Sure, some did, no doubt. Is it *significant*?

  38. So it seems that some regressive right snowflakes have gotten their feelings hurt because we mean liberals said some bad things about the guy they voted for (he whose name shall not be spoken.) Should we have trigger warnings for these people?

    WARNING! Facts are about to be presented!

    Safe spaces: Fox News, alt-right.

  39. Re: “If we really want to take back the country, we have to deal with issues”: There are two issues I think the Democrats – or Somebody – have to take positions on, and be ready to do something about, that I’ve not heard a word about all season: (1) How to address the demise of many industries and communities wiped out by foreign competition and/or automation; and (2) How to limit, in some fashion and above some point, cultural change in communities due to large influxes of immigrants. It may be that addressing the first makes the second less urgent.

    I was surprised to learn that, according to MIT economist David Autor, the trade treaties following Nixon’s opening to China, which unleashed China’s great leap forward as the manufacturer of least cost anywhere, really did play a major role in the demise of much of American manufacturing over the last several decades,
    The Orange One had that much right. I doubt very much that anything China does now, by contrast, would adversely impact jobs here; future competition would more likely come from automation, which the republicans have not addressed but which Democrats must address in order to attract any significant part of the republican base. And useful ideas are likely to be radical, not readily acceptable politically.

    1. Right on point Canoe. The great turning point in the downfall of our empire was opening up international trade, even with our enemies. Free trade may be great for capitalism, but without equal protection for labor it opens the door for rampant exploitation and wage inequality, which has been the driver for the current situation in our country. When have we ever negotiated free trade agreements that included labor rights with teeth? If international labor could negotiate wages on an equal basis with capital, all parties would be on a level playing field. Of course this was what the IWW has been proposing, peacefully, for nearly a century. It’s still a great idea.

  40. Demonizing people can be the source of great satisfaction, especially if you are bored, and it works sometimes very well.

    But what is the optimal approach for manipulating other humans to do what you want?

    In general we cannot know what path we must take because we don’t know what the future will bring.

    That’s why I prefer to do nothing, if I’m not sure.

  41. Ok, before reading this, i’ll give my opinion; Yes.

    If a child continues to act in a way that hinders or endangers its parents or itself, it needs to be set right. Most Trump supporters are childlike in that they don’t apply reason or careful deliberation to their political convictions. I don’t think any clear-thinking individual will deny this.

    So, we begin by advising them of their shortcoming. The response is usually something akin to “Benghazi!!!!!” followed by a string of accusations, expletives , delusional beliefs and personal attacks. What is left but to become the stern grownup in the room and hold up their little tantrums for all to see? You can’t use reason, they’ll sidestep it. You can’t use truth, they have their own “alternative facts”. You can’t even use common sense, because their sense is distorted by myths and dogmas!

    So, yeah, when reason fails, as is so often the case, i resort to ridicule.

  42. Okay, now having read it:

    “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

    This statement is not untrue. If you don’t want to be labelled as a deplorable, the solution is simple; Don’t be one. If you’re considering a person who ran a campaign as Trump did, you had to be aware of the misanthropy, misogyny, greed, veiled racism and general stupidity of the candidate. Shit, be didn’t even try to hide it!…Then you voted for him!

    So what are you? A concerned person who wanted an alternative to Hillary? A person concerned about political correctness and the perception of over zealous Liberalism?

    The “basket of deplorables” (and the other 50%) were never going to vote for Hillary….ever….no matter what. We didn’t lose them, they became lost all on their own. They wouldn’t have voted for Hillary if the other candidate had been the devil!

    The logical alternative could possibly have been to vote 3rd party…..Not to put the devil in charge because the angels have fallen.

    So yes…i still ridicule them. Most remain unrepentant for putting an evil imbecile in the oval office…they would do it again.

    1. So, you are in a country where half the population is intelligent and thoughtful while the other half are deplorables, idiots, unreachable. What to do? You can’t rely on the idiots to fix anything – they are idiots. Yet they have the same voting rights as we, so their idiocy presents a serious problem. I don’t have the answer – I’ve tried – but I think that not trying, not seeking ways to reach out in hopes that maybe a few of the deplorables might be persuadable, is not a useful strategy. I think we have to keep trying. And we have to address some of the problems that made these voters vote as they did: we must come up with some sense of the real reasons that communities and industries have been decimated, and what to do about it. That might actually get them to listen.

  43. It is funny, the games people play to remain “pure” and unsullied by the real world. “I know it’s bad if Trump becomes president, but Hillary make me fell icky because reasons! So I’ll vote for the Stein or whatever. I’ll count on other people who are less pure and sensitive than me to save the country from Trump.”

    It worked out in NY, congratulations. It didn’t work out in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. Oh well, we got Trump, but at least those voters got to preserve their delicate sensibilities and didn’t vote for the neoliberal corporate whore. 🙂

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