Republic Youngkin wins governorship of Virginia; country is doomed

November 3, 2021 • 5:45 am

This race was neck and neck to the bitter end—and the end is bitter. Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Youngkin is a businessman with no political experience, but that didn’t matter: he leveraged Trump’s (lukewarm) support as well as issues around school “wokeness” to unify the G.O.P. Although the votes haven’t all been counted yet—that would be on Friday—the AP was confident enough of Youngkin’s margin that it called the election for him only a few hours after the polls closed yesterday.

Here are the figures from CBS News as of 5:30 a.m.

In case you can’t do subtraction, Youngkin won by 2.2%.  This is especially disheartening because Virginia has been a reliably blue state for a decade, and was getting more so. Now we’re back to square one.

More bad news (at least temporarily) from New Jersey: the incumbent governor, Democrat Gov. Philip D. Murphy, who was predicted to win handily, is in a too-close-to-call race against his Republican opponent Republican Jack Ciattarelli. And there are a million more Democrats than Republicans registered in that state! But there’s still hope. Here are the NJ votes, also from CBS:

The good news:  Democrat Michelle Wu became mayor of Boston, the first Asian-American and first woman to hold that post, and in New York City Democrat Eric Adams became the mayor, heavily supported by the black and Hispanic community.

But all this shows not only the polarization of America, but the slipping hold that out-of-touch Democrats have on the populace, something that many people have warned about in recent weeks. What is going on? Biden isn’t doing that poorly, despite his low approval ratings, and I’m confident that his two big bills, which will benefit working people, will pass.

I’m not a pundit, but there’s a clue in these two excerpts from the CBS report:

Exit polls indicated that just over half of voters said parents should have “a lot” of say in what is taught in their child’s school. In the final weeks of the campaign, Youngkin capitalized on McAuliffe’s response during a debate on whether parents should be able to opt their children out of reading certain books if they disapprove of the content. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said. Youngkin quoted McAuliffe repeatedly on the campaign trail and in ads. It resonated with Youngkin’s supporters  — 8 in 10 think they should have “a lot” of say in their children’s schooling. Only a quarter of McAuliffe voters agreed. Pre-election polls found this issue energized many Republicans. Slightly more Youngkin voters selected education as their top issue, compared to McAuliffe backers.

. . . In Minneapolis, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have dismantled the police department and created a new Department of Public Safety. In the city’s mayoral race, embattled incumbent Jacob Frey led in the first round of ranked-choice voting, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.

. . . In Buffalo, incumbent Mayor Byron Brown, who lost the Democratic primary to Democratic Socialist India Walton, ran a write-in campaign against Walton. A poll last week by CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB had Brown leading by 17 points, and he appeared to be leading by 10,000 votes as of Tuesday night, according to WIVB.

A writ- in Democratic is beating the official Democratic candidate! Crikey!

The conclusions, as James Carville and Andrew Sullivan (and many others) have been telling us: the Democrats are out of touch with mainstream Americans, and the party’s movement toward the “progressive” Left—with its attendant crazy wokeness—has turned off the average Joe and Jane. This is just my guess, and of course it plays into my own prognostications, which is why I favor this explanation. But there are certainly many reasons the Republicans did so well.

But one thing is for sure: this should make us plenty worried about the return of Trump in 2024, as well as the midterm elections next year.If Democrats don’t learn a lesson from this, if they don’t stop the progressive craziness, if they don’t do something about immigration, then we liberals will be screwed, with all three branches of government in Republican hands.

My solution: make James Carville the chief strategist of the Democratic Party. He knows how to deal with the wokeness that’s causing our downfall.

To cheer yourself up, listen to Michelle Wu’s victory speech in Boston (13 minutes):

68 thoughts on “Republic Youngkin wins governorship of Virginia; country is doomed

  1. What is going on? Biden isn’t doing that poorly, despite his low approval ratings, and I’m confident that his two big bills, which will benefit working people, will pass.

    But clearly not enough people agree. The pro Republican press is as critical of Biden as the pro Democratic press were critical of Trump.

    1. I am not sure that people have thought that much about how the bills would or wouldn’t help them because no one really believes that the Democrats will be able to get them passed. What a disaster that has been!

  2. Statement of the bleeding obvious: in any two-party system, elections are won by the party that best appeals to the moderate center ground, not the party that best appeals to their own activist radicals.

    1. Corollary: the tactic of wanting the “center ground” to be somewhere different from where it actually is, and then acting in accord with such hopes, does not work. (Especially not if one confuses the “center ground” with the center of one’s Twitter bubble.)

    2. McAuliffe hardly increased his appeal to moderate voters by claiming, on the eve of the election, that Virginia had too many white teachers. On the unquestionably important issue of “wokeness”, it is noteworthy that Asra Nomani (born in India of Muslim parents, and a liberal feminist who has long supported the Democrats) voted differently for that very reason.

  3. This seems to underline how much of the 2020 presidential vote was anti-Trump rather than pro-Biden (republicans did much better than expected in the house races in that election), and as everyone is saying, how much better moderates do in general elections than in primaries (corroborated by the Buffalo result).

    Perhaps this will break the woke fever – or perhaps not

  4. I underscore your penultimate paragraph, Jerry. To quote the Ragin’ Cajun again: “These Democrats, they all want to be in policy. Nobody wants to be in sales. We need more people in sales.”

  5. I agree with you about Carville. I listen to anything that man says.

    Youngkin ran a great race. He was able to thread the needle of retaining Trump’s support while still coming across as (mostly) reasonable. The Democrats tried and tried to dare Trump to make a visit to the state, but, fortunately for the Republicans, he stayed out of the state. A key problem was that McAuliffe lost support of suburban parents with his remark about parents not telling schools what to teach. In a matter of two weeks he went from +10 with parents to -10. The Democrats had better get their shit together pretty quickly or we’re going to have a country run totally by Republicans. Charlie Sykes said it well in Politico this morning:

    1. I’m really hoping this shows the GOP how toxic Trump really is. If he’d campaigned with Youngkin, Youngkin would have lost.

      As a libertarian, it’s unlikely I’ll be voting for either major party candidate in 2024. That being said, I’d much rather Trump weren’t one of them. His narcissistic nationalistic populism needs to be soundly drubbed.

  6. “Democrats are out of touch with mainstream Americans, and the party’s movement toward the “progressive” Left—with its attendant crazy wokeness—has turned off the average Joe and Jane. This is just my guess…”

    That looks more like a certainty than a guess to me! I’m afraid Trump is going to win in 2024 and it will be entirely because the Democrats have enabled it to happen.

  7. I see your analysis as correct here on the ground in southeastern VIrginia. McAulliffe ran a terrible campaign from my observations: his TV ads focussed on African American and woke progressive white vote. He totally ignored moderate white dems and independents. But even doing this, he wasn’t far from winning. Youngkin also seemed to have much more energy than McAuliffe as he campaigned. The dems basically talked to themselves…much as the Tea Party Republicans had done in previous years leading to the dem blue takeover of VA statewide offices….until yesterday. I think putting the ragin’ cagin Carvil in charge would be useful. BTW, republicans ran the table, also winning lt. Governor and attorney general it appears.

  8. Here’s an idea, and I’m coming up with this as an Illinoisan. The Dems should woo Adam Kinsinger to jump parties and become a Democrat. I know the members of the Squad would have conniption fits, but too bad for them. If the Dems truly believe that they are the “big tent” party, then they need more conservatives in the tent, and I’m saying this as an old-school liberal.

  9. I think the democrats had a lousy candidate in Virginia, a retread, and the voters did not turn out. It is a very off year election and in Virginia it always goes this way. Just go back and check. I would not loose any sleep over it. As far as how things go in 2024, nobody knows. However if they do not do something about voter laws currently going in it does not matter. So that means if congress continues to do nothing about it, Trump will be president again.

    1. Yes, history was against a Democrat winning, but the Dems need to quit making excuses and figure out to talk to the American people.

  10. LOL, I could not be happier about Youngkin! Let’s go, Brandon! But I am curious as to how this happens. Is this democrats turning over? Dems are so evil, why would they even consider voting for an R? Is this independents? or is it people just finally seeing their common sense and when they hear a candidate tell them to shut the hell up when it comes to their kids education, they know who to give a big FU to? And why didn’t these people have the same common sense last November when the country was doing pretty well?

  11. Here are my preliminary conclusions from the elections.

    1. The traditional pattern of mid-term elections has re-asserted itself: the party not controlling the White House makes big gains.

    2. For the critical mass of the electorate that can decide close elections, the Trump threat to democracy enabled by the Republican Party has been forgotten. For them, democracy is not important and will little be concerned if it disappears.

    3. Cultural issues, rather than economic ones, played a decisive role. When these issues predominate, demagogic parties have the advantage because they appeal to the deepest fears of those that feel threatened by change. Hence, Republicans played to the hilt the supposed tyranny of vaccine mandates, and, of course, the charge that Democrats are trying to impose CRT in schools.

    4. As seems to be the case, more often or not, the Democrats proved themselves to be lousy politicians in comparison to the Republicans. The major mistake is that they failed to convince voters that they were not the captives of the far left. In the United States, the crucial segment of voters that decide elections fear the far left more than the far right.

    5. Biden and the Democrats think that the passage of his “Build Back Agenda” will be a major plus in coming elections. In other words, they think that the crucial voters will be grateful for the passage of this important social and economic legislation. I think they are wrong. The gratitude of the electorate lasts about ten seconds. Republicans will condemn some of the legislation as socialism and for the rest, they will attempt to take credit for. It may be too late for Democrats to pivot away from a perceived image as a party of the far left. They must try, but success seems unlikely.

    6. The disarray in the Democratic Party hurt it badly. Manchin and Sinema managed to create an image that the Party is disunited, which is the case.

    7. All this adds up to is a pending Democratic catastrophe in 2022 and 2024, with a strong likelihood of Trump winning in 2024, the Republicans controlling all branches of government – the House, the Senate, the presidency, and the Supreme Court. Democracy will be gone, and half the population will not notice or care. Democrats fail to understand that the Republican/Trump appeal is that half the electorate has no understanding or concern for abstract concepts such as democracy. Personal grievances and the psychological need for self-esteem and self-worth, often manifested by feeling superior to others, are more important than anything else.

    We’ll see how much my instant punditry holds up as more refined analyses of the election emerges. I will be surprised if my basic conclusion doesn’t hold up: the Democratic Party is in deep trouble, and may be incapable of taking the necessary actions to turn things around.

    1. Your points 2, 3, & 4 are right on target for the Virginia race…and it was so so obvious. The Republicans really hit McAulliffe, particularly taking some McAulliffe remarks on parental involvement out of context, on education in statewide tv ads for over months and McAulliffe, for some reason never fought back in his ads. Regarding both governor and attorney general races, the statewide tv ads played the old Willy Horton card very successfully, apparently beating two-term dem attorney general Mark Herring who played a great leadership role nationally leading opposition to a number of tRUMP wet dream directives. Both he and McAulliffe were played up as weak on crime and encouraging parole of dangerous criminals…and there was no push back from the dems.

    2. What you describe in 7. is pretty much what we had in 2004 (with the addition of 9/11 crisis) and what happened in 2016. Even if you want to quibble about one justice on the Supreme Court, that is hardly what democracy rests upon.

    3. Democrats fail to understand that the Republican/Trump appeal is that half the electorate has no understanding or concern for abstract concepts such as democracy. Personal grievances and the psychological need for self-esteem and self-worth, often manifested by feeling superior to others, are more important than anything else.

      I think you’ve nailed it.

      1. Except the “Democracy Is Under Fire” is coming from the Right as well. They are doing a mirror-image of the Left in that regard – it’s the rallying cry of The Big Lie that massive numbers of Right voters have swallowed or feel sympathy with.

    4. In the United States, the crucial segment of voters that decide elections fear the far left more than the far right.

      There are many causes and effects in elections but I suspect you are correct to identify this particular cause. The Democrats will identify all sorts of ‘reasons’ for the results but ignore or choose to ignore the ‘far left fear’ you mention.

      Meanwhile the usual suspects are proposing that the Democratic party wasn’t progressive enough and what they need is even more left wing progressiveness.

      1. “Meanwhile the usual suspects are proposing that the Democratic party wasn’t progressive enough and what they need is even more left wing progressiveness.”

        Well, both the (D) governors were not progressive and the one that lost actually criticized “progressives” in Congress. Many progressives won in mayoral races, so I wouldn’t paint it in those stark terms. It’s always a balancing act, and from where I’m sitting, it’s so-called moderates like Manchin and Sinema that are blowing up Biden’s agenda; the progressives are with him.

        1. I think you are agreeing with me, about the Democratic internal views at least. But how does it play with the rest of the American voters?

          1. “But how does it play with the rest of the American voters?”

            That’s the million-dollar question. I tend to agree with Carville on the way forward. We’ll see…

            1. Carville for President! Except for perhaps wild stuff he said in his past, he’d actually be a good candidate. Even with his past, his character would perhaps allow him to pull it off anyway. He’s the Dem that would fight for what he believes and explain it all with his Southern charm.

    5. The disrespect and downright revulsion you express in #7 for “half of the electorate” comes through loud and clear. Why would any of these people vote for someone who thinks they are ignorant and emotionally infantile? I want Democrats to win elections. This won’t happen if half the electorate thinks Dems look down on them as stooges and racists. This kind of talk leads us towards a Republican take over.

      1. I think Historian is correct here. GOP voters only seem to think about winning the next election or owning the libs. The fact that Trump and the GOP are trying to jimmy the system so they “win” even when they lose, just doesn’t matter to them. I have no respect for people that are that selfish. That said, it is quite likely that many of them do not realize that the GOP are lying to them with their “stop the steal” and voter suppression efforts. The Dems need to do more so that the voters learn this. Perhaps some of them will listen and a few will care but I’m not holding my breath.

  12. “Biden isn’t doing that poorly?” Hoo boy, nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that. Runaway inflation, massive spending and money printing, paying people not to work, moribund economy, the complete debacle in Afghanistan (ceded an entire country to our enemy, 13 American soldiers and hundreds of Afghanis killed in the process), gifted it billions of dollars of military equipment, left our own people there in the premature retreat, launched a drone strike at an extremist that turned out to be an aid worker and his family), unprecedented chaos on the southern border, inept and nonsensical Covid policy, authoritarian mandates and attacks on the Constitution, killed an American pipeline only to support a Russian one, racist policies in school and government, calls white supremacy “the most lethal threat facing the homeland” (an absurd statement), boys in girls sports and locker rooms, jetting across the ocean and then a 24-vehicle caravan just to fall asleep at a “climate conference” with other climate hypocrites that could have all been held in a Zoom meeting, the FBI investigating concerned parents at school board meetings as DOMESTIC TERRORISTS, the entire Democratic party now in thrall to the most illiberal leftist elements in the base. I could go on and on and on. To say nothing of the clear evidence of Biden’s mental decline. Only the most partisan ideologue could fail to see the problems here. I was a lifelong Democrat until a few years ago, so it doesn’t give me a lot of pleasure to see such an awful collapse here, but it’s time for the party to WAKE UP (not WOKE UP), or it is going to find itself more and more out of touch and irrelevant.

    1. ” . . . (ceded an entire country to our enemy, 13 American soldiers and hundreds of Afghanis killed in the process) . . . .”

      Do you mean 1,300? Is the enemy China? (Surely not Russia, what with its own debacle in Afghanistan.) How much longer beyond 18 years would you require the U.S. military to remain in Afghanistan? Whom do you require to enter the military to do that? Someone ELSE?

  13. This makes me sad. But we could all see it coming. Like a mud slide. It’s times like this that my pessimism takes hold like a python on a goat. Woke me when it’s over.

    1. Would that in that situation the goat were a honey badger, per Gad Saad’s recent report of a honey badger turning the tables and killing the python, and running off two jackals to boot.

  14. I have a suggestion for the Democrats, why not take an issue like getting Medicare to negotiate with pharma for better prices on drugs, which polls extremely high in Democrats as well as across the entire political spectrum, and running on promising to do it if elected, and then actually do it. . .

    then maybe people would turn out for you.

    The reality is people are deathly sick of politics (“Donald Trump is a fascist”, “Obama is Mugabe”), and they just want someone to responsibly govern the country for a change. The first party that comes to power and does that is going to own things for 30 years.

  15. I’m a non American: a write in campaign is a campaign where the candidate is not officially standing but encourages voters to literally write his or her name on the ballot. Is that correct?

    If so, I think it demonstrates the cause of the problem. The primary turned up a radical left candidate (not sure how: maybe a low turnout allowed a concerted campaign by the Democratic Socialists to skew the results). Then when the choice is put to the state, it turns out that the state does not want a radical Democratic socialist.

    I predict that the Left will draw the lesson that the Dems are not being left enough and redouble their efforts and blame the mysterious elite for sabotaging them. I predict that the Dems will lose Congress at the mid terms. I predict that Stephen Breyer will die after the mid terms and his successor will be selected by the next Republican president.

    In short, I think your statement in the title about the country being doomed is very likely true.

  16. A part of me can’t believe what is happening, but another part feels this was pretty likely. The Democrats are gonna lose bad next year. I bet they lose the next presidential election too. Anyone seen the ad for Colin Kaepernick’s Netflix show? It really isn’t a parody. He’s serious. And cosmically narcissistic. Republicans can have dangerous morons on their side and the blows to their party aren’t fatal. A large part of their party even rallies behind them. Democrats don’t have this luxury.
    When a far left social media icon asks white people to constantly acknowledge themselves as shameful, it hurts the party. Can’t some Democrats just say Ibram Kendi is an imbecile. Could they at least ask Obama to do it?

  17. James Carville also says that the Democrats do a lousy job of “selling” their policies to voters. I think this is a long-term problem. They have let the GOP win the argument that “government is bad” and that the way to measure bills is by what they cost, not what they deliver for that cost. They have also let the GOP be the party of rural America even though many of these voters are poor and would benefit from Dem priorities. I guess they thought that being the urban and suburban party was enough.

    I would also put James Carville in charge but even he couldn’t easily make up for the party’s poor messaging and selling.

  18. It seems and irrational concern about Trump running in 2024. After all, this hate filled balloon sub-humans was impeached twice! Oh, yeah of little faith in the American judicial system…Buck up and let justice be done. A life sentence is to be hoped for. GROG

    1. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. But seriously, I will believe that Trump will be convicted only if it actually happens. He will drag it out, make everything seem fuzzy and political, and dodge everything thrown at him.

  19. All of the caterwauling is about one low turnout off year election result in one state. The voters who cared the most showed up to vote. The majority of them voted for the out party. Sounds like business as usual to me.

    1. You are correct, of course, but pundits have been belaboring the point that these elections are a referendum on Biden, even though it was predictable. And it didn’t help that Senators Manchin and Sinema helped reinforce the notion that Democrats are in disarray and can’t get anything done (even though 96% of Dems are on board with Biden’s agenda). I doubt Youngkin would have won had the Dems passed the build-back-better bill, or either of the voting rights bills, or even the infrastructure bill. Who knows, maybe this will be a wake-up call to the reluctant Senators, but I have a feeling they are so narcissistic they won’t take any of the blame.

      1. My views echo those in the Jeff Greenfield article referenced by Suzi in comment #23. Except when people are extremely concerned about their economic and financial welfare (such as during the Great Depression), their cultural needs are more important than their financial ones. This is because it is the culture they belong to that gives them a sense of meaning and self-worth in their lives. When the culture is being attacked, or so they perceive, by outsiders, people will take extreme actions to protect it. In our present moment, white Christian nationalists view their cultural dominance under attack by Blacks and immigrants. This is why they are so energized to vote and so panicked at what they fear is being taught in the schools. Thus, in my view, the passage of the Biden agenda, as worthy as it is, will have little impact on voting behavior. As Greenfield points out, the Democrats have failed to realize this and it is why the Republican Party is on the verge of taking complete power in this country. If economic issues were predominant, it would be nothing more than a small coterie of right-wing cranks.

        1. I think this is right. I’ve always wondered why the Dems don’t ever seem to tell voters why “diversity” is a good thing. This has been a problem for way longer than the Wokeness issue. We often hear words to the effect that the country’s strength is in its diversity. Ok but how does that work exactly? Is it taco trucks on every corner? Sometimes we hear that immigrants bring good ideas to the workplace but I imagine that’s not really the experience of most voters. That guy in the next cubicle who speaks poor English hasn’t come up with any new ideas since he’s been working here. Even if he did, how does that help me? Instead, he’s just another competitor for a raise. I understand how moving to the US helps him but how does it help ME?

          I think I know the answers to these questions but I suspect that most Dem voters do not have a clue, really. I certainly don’t hear politicians answer them with anything more than Wokeish platitudes. I suspect there are many more issues like this.

        2. The Virginia voters just elected a black female Jamaican immigrant as Lieutenant Governor. She received almost exactly the same vote total as Youngkin. They also elected an Hispanic attorney general with the same vote totals.

  20. Telling parents that they should have no say in what their children are taught at public schools is a dumb response and not a democratic one at that. Of course parents should have input on their children’s education. That’s why we elect the school boards, go to speak to them at public meetings, tell the mayors what we expect from schools when we elect them, go to parent / teacher conferences, organize with other parents. If my children were being taught Creationism as an equal option to Evolution, you bet I would get engaged. What’s wrong with an experienced politician that he couldn’t handle that question, and answer it in a manner that reflects democracy in action in the public school system? It makes me angry. What do Democrats stand for if not democracy?

      1. Interesting link. Dems seem to always be on the defensive on these issues. On the other hand, where did Republicans get the idea to attack Dems with “defund the police” and “CRT.” It was handed to them on a silver platter.

    1. “What’s wrong with an experienced politician that he couldn’t handle that question [about parents’ say in their children’s education], and answer it in a manner that reflects democracy in action in the public school system?”

      And what’s wrong with Obama, another experienced politician, that he backed up McAuliffe’s idiocy by referring to parents’ concerns as “phony trumped-up culture wars” and “fake outrage”? We need tougher gun laws if only to keep Dems from shooting themselves in the foot.

  21. I feel that some of these Guardian commentators are off the mark, but Geoff Kabaservice puts some of the issues quite well (I’ve no idea of his political leaning. Apologies in advance to our host for the long quote):

    These are socially tolerant, fiscally conservative people who in the past had often voted for moderate Republicans but were horrified by Trump’s racism and authoritarianism. Swing voters in this category were such a crucial bloc that their defection from the Republicans gave Joe Biden a 10 percentage-point win in Virginia and flipped both houses of the state legislature to Democrats in 2020.

    But these same people have been filling my inbox with agonized stories about school administrators and teachers pushing a contentious racialized ideology on their children – which in many cases they were able to witness in person as classes moved online during the pandemic.

    This ideology wasn’t critical race theory per se, in the sense that students weren’t reading original CRT texts. But after the George Floyd protests of last year, the curriculum undeniably became infused not only with a greater emphasis on America’s troubled racial history – which most of my suburban friends agreed was overdue – but also with CRT-influenced anti-racism pedagogy.

    Democrats should have addressed parental concerns over these educational issues openly and honestly. Instead they pretended that nothing resembling CRT was being taught in the schools while also claiming that anyone objecting to the new progressive pedagogy was a white supremacist.

  22. It has been my perhaps limited experience that people who do not break bread, drink beers, or sip coffee on a somewhat regular basis with people from both sides of the political aisle often struggle when trying to understand politics in a diverse society. Not that such social occasions necessarily grant insight, but it may help. And, of course, some through empathy, imagination, and study can light upon significant insights without direct social interaction. Nevertheless, imagine the armchair anthropologist studying the indigenous tribe solely from the confines of Cambridge; much of our political discourse about the opposing “Other” sounds similarly off key to me.

    For what it’s worth, my friends and colleagues of strong-yet-opposing political persuasion generally alternate between finding the other side either bewildering or all-too-easy to understand, denigrating the talents, intelligence, and motives of the opposing crowd. Some within each group wonder what I could possibly see of value in the other group. They are people, with all of the standard-yet-varying flaws and delights of people everywhere. We used to know that about ourselves. I suspect that most of us still do outside of the abstractions and manipulations of media-driven politics.

    1. I get the conciliatory tone you are trying to offer but it’s a classic “both sides” argument. One side is falsely claiming an election was stolen and plans to steal future elections in response. The other might teach a few kids about the truth of how this country treated certain people badly in the past and that might make them, and their parents, uncomfortable. These aren’t comparable.

      1. I recall neither defending nor denouncing–or even mentioning let alone comparing–the particular political positions of either side. In any case, the mutual antagonism of the American Left and Right far predates Trump’s 2020 post-election folly.

        If, however, by my supposed “both sides” argument you mean that I find “people” on both sides of the American political spectrum, individuals who contain within themselves a mix of truth and error, virtue and vice, that I see within each person the potential for us to both disappoint and delight each other, that I believe that trying to understand each of them on their own terms is important, and that when I have lunch or chat over the proverbial backyard fence with a man or woman, it is principally with Anne or Bobby or Charlie or Dee that I meet and not a Republican or Democrat, then, by all means, I plead guilty.

        1. Doug, very well said. People are complex and incredibly interesting if given a chance to talk about themselves. I like to strike up conversations with strangers. I tend to come away from them loving humankind and my own life.

        2. So you are able to get along with your close friends and family by ignoring their politics. Bully for you. I think we all do this. But then you seem to take this further by saying that both sides, beyond your family and friends, have their positives and negatives and are, in some sense, equal. If so, this is failure to recognize that there are good ideas and bad and it’s a failure to take a stand. Sure, life might be simpler and easier if you disengage from politics and political discourse but then you take your chances with those who seek to take your idyllic lifestyle away from you.

          1. If you wish to equate people with their ideas and suggest that only those with the proper ideas are “equal”, then you are welcome to do so. If you believe it essential to know and agree with a person’s perspective on political A, B, and C in order to have a cordial relationship, then you are welcome to so proceed. If you believe that all differences demand that one take a stand in each case, then you are welcome to so stand. If you believe that life reduces to politics, then you are welcome to believe so and act accordingly.

            I wouldn’t find it much of a life worth pursuing for myself, but I would still be willing to discuss over a good cup of coffee–because it is quite possible in this short interchange that I have misunderstood your points, that in a longer I may change my mind, and that on balance I might find our agreements outweigh our disputes. And even if they don’t I am still game to continue.

            I think that I understand your larger point about the societal hazards of political disengagement, but if by “disengage” you mean that I don’t believe that all things political need to be discussed with all people at all times, then again I plead guilty.

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