From Gloucester to London: Misery Loves Company

(We managed to be in both Britain and France during each country’s parliamentary elections. There hasn’t been much time to write, but here are some observations from our time in England.)

Gloucester Quays

Gloucester is a pretty little English town near the Welsh border. A riverside redevelopment draws new business while an ancient cathedral anchors its tourist appeal. Unemployment in Britain is below 5%, approaching the lowest levels seen since the early 70’s. Unemployment is even lower in Gloucester. Business is good. People have work. On paper, all is well.

Last summer, Gloucester voted to the leave the EU by a 17-point margin.

Insights into rural unease emerge from a trip down the road to London. A city besieged by construction cranes, London is booming. Like New York, Singapore and many other urban behemoths, London belongs less to its country than to a globalized urban fraternity. Gloucester may be doing well, but it isn’t doing nearly as well as London.

While the British economy surges, the country’s politics has descended into a carnival side-show. Brexit was a monumental political miscalculation, a monster no one knows how to tame. A spate of resignations in the wake of the Brexit vote left the political class hollowed out. Both of the leading major parties are now led by bizarre, erratic, cartoon characters. There is no discernible center in British politics.

Power that was once divided between Labor and Tories is now split among a growing collection of regional sub-parties. An election called by Tory Prime Minister Theresa May to consolidate her power descended into farce as her party lost their majority. Now the future of her leadership hinges on building a coalition with a bizarre, notoriously corrupt party of Northern Irish Loyalists, with links to paramilitary groups. Bringing the loyalists into government threatens to wreck the tenuous peace accord that quieted the IRA terror campaign. It’s a danger that the bungling Prime Minister has declined to even acknowledge, much less work to avoid.

In short, damage from Britain’s increasingly loony politics now threatens to cut into the country’s prosperity. Does any of this sound familiar?

There is a lot of talk in Britain about inequality, but as in the US that theme tends to be misleading. Britain, like the US and the rest of the prosperous western democracies (including places like Sweden and Germany), has experienced a disturbing concentration of wealth. However, it isn’t the British poor who voted for Brexit or placed Theresa May in power. London, which creates the overwhelming bulk of the nation’s wealth, votes for Labor by prohibitive margins. Inequality doesn’t bother the British voters who are dismantling their own political and economic system. They aren’t any more concerned about wealth concentration now than they were fifty or a hundred years ago. The problem in England, as in the US, isn’t that a few people are getting wealthy, it’s which people are getting wealthy that has inspired tensions.

A City of Cranes

In countryside towns like Gloucester, voters see the growing prosperity and power of London with dismay. London, as a dynamic, multi-cultural model is more than just different. Its power and success threatens to render their lifestyle choices untenable. They see a force emerging that could undermine their future. Nice country homes get bought up by outsiders who made their money in the city. Main street businesses in small towns struggle to remain viable as fewer people earn a living locally. Rural residents find themselves slowly elbowed out (and priced out) of the life they chose for themselves.

Britain is being transformed by immigration, expanding higher education, the growth of a newly enlarged and unprecedented professional class (a group that doesn’t have a place in the traditional class hierarchy), and globalization. London is both the epicenter of that trend, and its chief symbol. The average Londoner contributes twice as much to Britain’s GDP as a citizen in the rest of the country. Thanks in large part to the advantages of EU membership, London in recent years eclipsed New York as the world’s top financial center.

A BBC article places London’s surging economic fortunes in a regional context:

In 2013 it was estimated that in property terms London’s top 10 boroughs were worth more than all of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined. London’s housing stock is worth as much as Brazil’s annual GDP, estate agents Savills reported in January 2015.

As the wealth has poured in, access to London means access to a global economy. But getting the chance to work in London isn’t easy. Competition is difficult and access to// a place to live is expensive. Climbing from the countryside into a life in London means often means living in cramped conditions, coping with a difficult pace, and competing with a global talent pool.

Many Britons are willing to experience a slower, less dynamic economy for everyone in exchange for protection of their unique identity and way of life. They are threatening to derail progress toward globalization and potentially even lose Scotland and Northern Ireland in pursuit of some time-travel fantasy, the restoration of a “real England.”

Election results this month suggest the country may already be sobering up. Conservatives called this election to reinforce their Brexit victory, only to be handed a rebuke. With a more flexible, Parliamentary system, there’s a chance that Britain may resolve its political mess before we do. In the meantime, it’s nice to know we are not the only western democracy being torn to shreds by the declining quality of our political talent, suspicion of immigrants, and the frustrations of a rural population who feel culturally abandoned. It might not make anything better, but misery loves company.

89 Comments

      1. I am not condoning what he said. I am attacking the other idiot who was taping a private conversation with a fellow democrat. While she may have valid reasons for taping the conversation, releasing it does damage to the party, and resistance against the current regime.

        Repubs, under no circumstances, would release the recording.

  1. Chris-
    While I don’t disagree with your analysis, I think you underestimate the enormous rage built up due to the world’s governments not punishing the financial industry for nearly breaking the world in 2007/08.

    Those rural and blue collar workers never begrudged Bill Gates becoming the world’s richest man, or the near-daily news in the 90s of yet another 20 year old becoming a multimillionare by creating some website. Even though plenty of those 20 year olds were Asians. This was because it seemed these guys truly earned their money: they were smart, worked hard, and were creating brand new technologies & products that were going to change the world.

    I don’t remember rural whites in the Midwest calling for Seattle and San Francisco to be forced out of the Union back then.

    OTOH, those “brilliant” titans of finance in London and NYC were crooks. They were frauds, they were idiots, they admitted in sworn testimony that they don’t even know what their own employees are doing (e.g. Jamie Dimon professing to not knowing about the extent of the London Whale’s trades in his own bank, despite this being a criminal violation according to Sarbanes-Oxley regulations). Their criminal actions led to millions of normal people losing their homes, their pensions, their jobs, and much more. They should be rotting in prison right now if any politician had the decency to do the right thing. But somehow, they managed to get record bonuses while the rest of us were figuring out how to feed our families without a job and a house. That is a *huge* source of the rage common people feel against NYC and London. And this is compounded whenever the Fed publicly frets every time the S&P dips even 5%, but actually seems to take grotesque comfort when “wage inflation” for the rest of us stays low or — preferably — negative.

    Even now, midwestern’ers direct more of their ire to all-American bankers in NYC than the immigrant founders of Google.

    There is a way to overcome this. George W. Bush faced a financial crimes crisis in 2001. The difference is that every person involved in those scandals went to jail, with his net worth confiscated to pay back the victims of their crimes. Even Ken Lay, CEO of Enron and one of Bush’s closest political fundraisers, wasn’t spared. As a result, people felt justice was done, and we were able to move on (of course, we had a new pre-occupation after 9/11 of that year…)

    At least part of the Brexit movement was due to the public realizing what the ECB did to Greece, forcing people to scavenge for food, while re-constituting banks in London and Frankfurt without a penny lost. That “angry white male” in Gloucester correctly perceives that London stole his pension, job, and land without any penalty. That was the primary “innovation” that London created. Is it any wonder that they want to bring The City to heel? And that they choose something draconian like Brexit when politicians have refused for years to do something more appropriate?

    While race and general jealousy may have some part, don’t underestimate how corrosive the financial crisis has been to the average American’s cynicism about politics, justice, equality, and fairness.

    1. Is it any wonder that those angry white American males gave us Donald J. Trump? A man who literally told everyone in the establishment to go **ck themselves? A man who didn’t give a hoot what anybody thought? From “little Marco” to “lying Ted”? What did they have to lose?

      And, then, as soon as he was crowned king of the United States of America, he made all of them lords of their own castles and gave them the keys to the land.

      And they loved him for it. And the world was never the same.

    2. If Democrats want to make a clean break from a brand they believe is toxic and stand as more than simple opposition to Trump, they they should come out and say, loud and clear, that they want those people responsible to be put in jail and dare Trump not to do it. Present legislation or do whatever else to show that they’re not just talk on the issue either.

      1. I like that idea, but I’m afraid it’s too little too late. The time to do that was 2009. It may be my biggest gripe with the Obama Administration- that the heads that deserved to roll didn’t.

        Very glad I paid the house off early.

      2. This won’t work now for 2 reasons:

        1) the statute of limitations on many of those crimes is now passed (although there are plenty of ongoing crimes that the SEC could take up if they wish).

        2) The Dems lost all credibility on this since they had 8 years to jail people and didn’t. If now, in the minority, they crow about Wall St., it would correctly be perceived as a cynical ploy. The only reason Bernie had credibility on this was because even in 2008/09, he was calling for changes. That’s why only a few people like Sanders, Warren, or perhaps new people from outside DC would have any credibility to adopt this platform.

        2.5) Corollary to that: The Dems face a humiliating defeat in 2016, with the most energetic crowds going to two outsiders who campaign against Wall St (setting aside what Trump’s policies actually are) and for their Senate minority leader they elect… Chuck Schumer?!! The guy so slavish to Wall St. that even New Yorkers think it a bit unseemly? And it wasn’t just a matter of seniority. By seniority, Dick Durbin (IL) should have been minority leader, but the Dems actually *voted* to skip him and install Schumer as the highest elected democrat in all the land and their public face for the next 2 years (and probably 4 if they keep running guys like Ossoff and don’t win the House in 2018).

      3. VX’s second point is certainly valid, but another point is that many of the things that banks did to cause the system to blow up were perfectly legal. Not too surprising when you consider that bank lobbyists wrote the laws.

  2. Several comments – I was going to post as a reply, but decided to make a new Reply to Chris’ original post.

    First Mary, I want to congratulate you on doing the outreach regarding the health care acts. Despite your unfortunate experience maybe there were some people who actually listened. Of course they did not say anything and no doubt the conversation was dominated by a few loud mouths who dominated the discussion. Your group may have planted some seeds that will grow over time.
    Being exposed to other thoughts is how I moved beyond my own prejudices from my small town upbringing as is mentioned below. However, there was no excuse for the treatment you received and it has no place in civil discourse.

    On a larger scale many comments on this blog have focused on the difficulties that the D’s have and in particular in the rural areas, for example OBJV’s description of the typical Washington Post Article. There is one characteristic that is infrequently discussed. That is that in the rural areas, as the factories have closed, the younger more dynamic people have left and the Edna’s are the one’s who are left. Meanwhile, immigrants have arrived and make a life for themselves. They work hard and get ahead. Some of them settle in smaller communities because the cost of living is much lower. Their children excel in school and will eventually settle in and make a good life for themselves. Many will move to the Metropolitan areas, though some will stay in the small towns to be near family. They are following the typical path of immigrants to America. I do not mean to be condescending but that is the way things are and have been for generations, and this is typical throughout America’s rural areas. Chris has described it well in several of his blogs.

    Why have the factories closed in the rural areas? That is a good question and no doubt has several answers. Part of it is because they have become inefficient. Part of it is the tax codes. Part of it is automation. I have previously related the differences in the small town in Eastern Washington where I lived from approximately age 10-14. At that time it had potato packing plants, other agricultural processing plants, and a diatomaceous earth processing plant all requiring significant numbers of low skilled workers. Many farmers would work in those jobs during slow periods. Now all those plants have closed and the only significant industry is computer server farms. the only low skilled jobs for those plants are janitorial and maintenance. Much of the higher end programming work is done remotely from the major metropolitan areas. The farming industry has consolidated and automated, requiring far fewer workers. Many of the children of the farmers’ have left to the major metropolitan areas. Many hispanics and other immigrants have of course moved in. The population has remained stable and slightly increased. This pattern is typical throughout rural America.

    To observe that there is a huge contrast between the Edna’s and the Martinez’s of the world is not condescension. The contrast is there and is easy to see. Creigh mentions this when he states that our system is tough on those left behind. The MSM publishes these accounts in an effort to increase understanding. On the other hand, FAUX News takes these as an opportunity to foster their anti-elite message and to increase the polarization of America. The reason for this is that it facilitates the ability of the extreme reactionaries in the Republican party the opportunity to maintain control and enable the further enrichment of the wealthy. FAUX never shows the other side.

    Finally, I have to concur with Chris that the D’s are going to have to fight back. I don’t think that they have need to use the scorched earth tactics of the R’s, but they definitely need to use plain language, i.e. call a spade-a-spade. They also have to develop a realistic economic message and broadcast it in plain language. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and some others such as Kamala Harris are doing exactly that. We can not wait and engage in polite mealy-mouthed civil discourse while waiting for the demographics to ride to their rescue.

    1. The left could start with hammering the right for proposing taking healthcare from millions to cut the deficit, while cutting taxes which will erase any savings the former action might create.

      They can’t stop there though. Purpose a real solution for the health care issue. Not just buzz words, but an actual plan that would work. It ain’t that hard, the rest of the world already does it.

      It would be easy to use the deficit against the right. When was the last time a Republican administration lowered the deficit? A piece on the myth of tax cuts that Chris wrote for the Chronicle was my introduction to his writing.

      We could get our debt issues in order if we could stand up to the 1%. That and get our priorities straight. No foreign force has ever fared well in an Afghan adventure. We did not need to spend 15 years there, read some history, don’t just repeat it. Having our troops fighting ISIS over half the world ain’t working and it costs massive amounts of money. If we need to train their troops, have them come to Guam and train them there. Getting our flag off Arab soil would hurt ISIS more than our military ever will.

      I could go on, the right has vilified the center which covers about 1/3 of voters. Not a bad place to start. Mostly though, it has to be about vision. The right owned the “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. That won’t change.

      1. I am picking up on your comment regarding health care. Assuming that the Republicans pass their health care plan, it will be a total disaster and the situation will be worse than before the ACA. There will be a huge counter-reaction. After considerable study and review (though not as much as Mary), I have definitely decided that for the U.S., a national health insurance plan (Canada) is the proper approach. This is known as single-payer or medicare-for-all. A Bismarckian system similar to France or Germany could work, but we already have Medicare and it could be expanded fairly easily. Also by the time we finally bite the bullet, the insurance companies are going to be so despised that they will be happy to leave the health insurance market. Unfortunately there will be a lot of suffering, a lot of people will die and there will be a national crisis.

        So I think that the Democrats need to develop an health care plan and campaign on it. They did a lot of pre-planning for the ACA effort in 2009 and 2010. The Great Recession (or as I prefer the 2008 Depression) and politics got in the way. They need to pick up from that and incorporate lessons learned from the ACA effort, then campaign on it nationally for the next several election cycles.

        I have seen nothing from the Republican party regarding health care the will remotely approach a goal of providing basic health care for all. Avik Roy is the Republican health care guru but his plans will not accomplish that goal. Even the good ideas the R’s have just nibble at the edges. Most of their ideas deny and restrict health care to transfer wealth to the high income people, i.e. “afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable”.

      2. The impacts on the mature adult population (50+ – 65 )is particularly horrendous. Prior to the ACA this was a particularly vulnerable segment in that health issues are beginning to be fairly common and in many cases this segment of the population is finding that finding employment is difficult. If they do not have sufficient resources they could easily end up without health insurance. Yet at the same time many members of this segment still have significant family responsibilities, either for older children or in some cases for grandchildren. The BHCRA will actually even impact the children’s health insurance through the cutbacks to Medicaid. This is personal to me in that when my Dad died our grandparents had to step in and provide care for my younger siblings. Then the 2008 Depression resulted in my younger siblings losing their jobs. They have never recovered; one is now on Medicare and the other is on VA. Even though I was in the Army at the time, my grandparents assisted me with room and board, after I was discharged and through my first year of college.

        I think that the AHCA and the BHRCA are both unconscionable. The Republican party knows this, which is the reason they were developed in secret and then rushed through outside normal order and without significant debate.

        The only acceptable alternative is universal health care; either through national health insurance or a Bismarckian solution, preferably national health insurance or Medicare for all, as I mentioned above.

      3. Health care again – I just read a column by Jon Talton, who is a business journalist for the Seattle Times. He refers the Republican plans (AHCA & BHCRA) and basically concludes that their effects on the economy will be worse than prior to the ACA. Partly because there are so far fewer people who have health care through employment and more temporary employment. He mentions 49% and compares it to the situation prior to the 2008 Depression. I think the column is worth a read and it summarizes much of what is discussed here including the philosophical difference between the D’s and the R’s. The link is:

        http://www.seattletimes.com/business/no-wonder-senate-kept-health-bill-under-wraps/

  3. Have y’all read this story:

    “Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    The White House debated various options to punish Russia, but facing obstacles and potential risks, it ultimately failed to exact a heavy toll on the Kremlin for its election interference.

    Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

    But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

    At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. ”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/obama-putin-election-hacking/

    1. I was struck with the timidity of the response by Obama although I know he was trying to look apolitical. This issue was bigger than the presidential race and it should have been given priority.

      I was also really disgusted that the Republicans offered no help on this issue. That hasn’t changed going forward either. Amazing that the party of military might refused to support a president on an issue of such importance to national security…all because…???

      1. Yes, I wish the administration’s reaction was bigger. But I also think a bigger reaction could have been a losing position for Obama. The right screeches so much louder — and frequently more effectively — than the left. With appropriate (yet dishonest) framing, the right could have convinced more people to vote for their candidate.

        I was struck by the state electoral officials who turned down federal assistance, claiming overreach. Jerks.

  4. I was in England and Scotland during the terrorist attack, the election, and the fire. I came away with several observations:

    1) The Brits give a huge middle finger to terrorists, and by and large do not react with the vapors like we do. In fact, British friends told me they were pissed off at American coverage of the latest attack, specifically headlines claiming Britain was “reeling.” Reeling is not what British people do.

    2) The tax system there favors immigrants for lesser paying jobs. Restaurant servers are heavily taxed, unless one is an immigrant, in which case you can claim the tax back. This makes native born people pretty mad, and Scotland at least is working to change it. We had fewer than 5 English/Scottish servers during our entire two week trip.

    3) The horrible Grenfell fire is rightly exposing Conservatives for being penny wise and pound foolish.

    4) British TV is every bit as horrible as I remember it. It’s so bad it’s good.

    1. Agree. We may as well consider that the GOP had their game plan in hand. Let the House be present the initial “bad cop”, flush out the opposition, then on to the Senate where the most egregious elements were “enhanced” and reluctant members of their party identified for whatever bribe necessary to appease their constituents in order to get to 50 and stay within reconciliation parameters. Because there simply isn’t much room for negotiation without risking going to regular order. Republicans lose if they do that. These four Freedom Caucus holdouts are playing coy. They are red to their core and if they agree on nothing else, it is repeal of Obamacare at all costs….even if they have to do damage control with their base.

      Here’s another point that hasn’t been talked about that I’ve seen. GOP leadership could make backroom promises that they would deliver on after the vote is taken. In other words, through regular order, they could deliver amendments to their law later in the session which would provide cover for those hold outs in return for their reconciliation vote cooperation.

  5. I recently had a conversation with the “crazy uncle”. I use that term just to identify the conversation we had. It would also fall under the umbrella of “Lies they told my father” and other articles.

    So, I overhear uncle say to my son, “You know he really is a brilliant man”. Speaking of trump.

    I interrupted, “No, he’s an idiot.” My son took this as a signal to move away and did.

    Uncle, obviously not used to defend trump, sez : “I really think Obama was trying to bring the country down.”

    Me: “That doesn’t make sense in any way. How would that make sense?”

    Uncle: “That Comey leaked, he should be in jail.”

    Me: “He gave his own thoughts that he wrote down to a friend to release to the news, he did nothing illegal.” This got a puzzled look.

    Uncle: “I don’t listen to the main news shows any more.”

    Me: “You just watch fox news, right?”

    Uncle: “Yes, I don’t think you get the truth from the main channels.”

    Me: “Do you know that the first major bill that was passed and signed, allowed energy companies to hide payments to foreign governments?”

    Uncle: “No.”

    Me: “Did you know that people who watch fox news actually know less about government and the world around them than people who watch other news sources? Actual facts that can be checked?”

    Uncle: “No.”

    Uncle: “This impeachment talk, I think it should stop.”

    Me:” That I agree with. We should give him a chance to give the people who voted for him what they deserve. And give it to them good and hard.”

    Really, this is close to the conversation although I didn’t write it down quickly like Comey did. There were a couple more exchanges, but we had to go get the chicken and the conversation went another direction.

    Uncle is not crazy, this engineer that worked on early computers and nuclear plants. He is racist lite, with a streak of misogyny. And a bit self centered. But I generally like to talk to him.

    In my opinion, Fox News drives all national politics. It occurred to me that I could probably cause Uncle to doubt the propaganda if I had the time to essentially deprogram him. I went to objv’s link and read the article. It did not convince me of why Georgia voters did not vote for Ossoff. But while I was there, video after video ran of anti-Democratic and anti-Obama and the world is going to hell in a handbasket propaganda.

    Until we can figure out how to get a balanced picture of the world in front of citizens, we are screwed.

    1. Until we can get people to think about what they are viewing so that they can differentiate fact from opinion, we’re sunk. At what point do we stop blaming FOX and start holding responsible those who refuse to think for themselves?

      FOX is a propaganda machine. It is pretty obvious that some changes are being made to eliminate the worst of the abusers there, but really, why do people refuse to see the naked truth for what it is? Frankly – let it mow them down…people who have relatives who are on medicaid and still diss the ACA need to take their family members in…that’s only fair, right? You deal with it. You live with it just like this new Republican health care bill will require the poor, the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women (even as Republicans cut contraception coverage access), and our children. Maybe we will have to let the privileged classes learn first-hand how to deal with real life….the life that lives in the shadows of poverty and abuse and sheer bad luck.

  6. If I may, let’s say the worst-case scenario occurs and we fail. And when I say that, I don’t mean it purely in the sense that we don’t stop Trump, but that we lose the much more important fight for this country’s soul, and that the forces of intolerance, anti-intellectualism, and self-interest at the expense of everyone else triumph.

    Say such a dark time does occur. Would you ever consider abandoning the country and moving elsewhere?

    Honestly, considering it myself, the first thing that comes to mind is that there have been very few times in my life where I’ve felt any genuine sense of pride in my country or in my identity as an American. Too often, it feels as if we’re taking one step forward and two steps back, our overwhelming potential held at a comparative standstill by intractable divisions, ignorance, and political incompetence, all of which only seem to be growing worse with no relief in sight.

    I can’t honestly give myself to a clear yes or no yet, but I do take a stand in that things are going to have to start changing. I don’t want to be associated with a country that seems intent on dragging itself through the mud.

    1. I’ve lived outside of the United States. Ended up becoming more patriotic than I previously thought possible, as it’s only from a distance that I really grokked some of the benefits to our culture, the sorts of things we don’t notice when we’re in it, taken for granted as assumed norms. It’s very hard to put culture to words, which is why Americans often struggle to defend or define it. But for instance, nobody takes initiative like an American.

      If my cosmopolitan multi-skintoned group of friends with an assortment of sexualities some of which I think were invented by social media campaigns are in one way or another no longer part of the ‘American landscape’ I know and love, then I’m going to go to wherever they are. But as long as they’re around, I’m going to keep fighting the fight to keep America a rad melting pot of interesting and talented people who do professional shit.

      And finally, if their disappearance isn’t due to them moving away, but due to a repressive regime attempting some sort of Final Solution, well, that’s why I believe in the 2nd Amendment.

      1. “If my cosmopolitan multi-skintoned group of friends with an assortment of sexualities some of which I think were invented by social media campaigns are in one way or another no longer part of the ‘American landscape’ I know and love, then I’m going to go to wherever they are. But as long as they’re around, I’m going to keep fighting the fight to keep America a rad melting pot of interesting and talented people who do professional shit.”

        One of the best internet comments I’ve ever seen. Thank you.

    2. Not trying to sound metaphysical or pretentious, but to me, “America” is more of an idea or ideal then a solid physical object, or even of political philosophy backed by laws.

      In essence, the “America” that people believe in is an ideal, and nothing ever meets the standard of an ideal, because ideals can always be improved in one way or another, to be “more perfect”, as one relatively important but often ignored US document describes the United States.

      In other words, being frustrated by the actual “America” we have is just a sense that all of us need to work harder in whatever ways we can, to make things better.

      In contrast, the “America” ideal conservatives have is one which is based on a mythological past that has never actually existed. And the closest period in which their ideal “America” has ever existed, was absolutely terrible for the vast majority of the population, but very lucrative for people who only ever worked for themselves regardless of what they had to do to achieve their wealth and power.

  7. Here’s a good piece from the Atlantic about the democrats problems.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/whats-wrong-with-the-democrats/528696/

    It seems we have two problems going on. One is trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century ideas. The other is that too many people think of assistance as taking from whites to give to blacks or other “outsiders”.

    Until we figure out how to get around those issues we may be stuck for awhile.

    1. Surprisingly gave me a bit more hope.

      One of the biggest things I noticed in there is that ‘economic inequality’ isn’t resonating … but ‘fairness’ is. That’s an easy change to make. And it’s more effective if you understand the reason why. ‘Economic inequality’ sounds like ‘whites give to blacks’ because ‘inequality’ has the context of being a racial argument, so affixing ‘economic’ to it adds money to the racial argument, rather than inequality qualifying the conflict in economic argument.

      “Fairness” however is a malleable term that every person can believe what they want it to believe. It can be custom applied to different demographics. Talk to ‘working class white voters’, and ‘fairness’ is their chance at the gains of production. Talk to Black Lives Matters, and ‘fairness’ is equal treatment under criminal justice law.

      Of course you can’t just switch two terms and the argument is over. But similar research should be done right now to get to what people HEAR when the politician says something.

  8. Here’s a different take:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/06/22/why-do-keep-losing-democrats-mean.html

    The left has become toxic and intolerant of any worldview besides their own. Thier attitude turns people off.

    Republican wins can’t entirely be attributed to rural voters, white male voters, Christian voters, Rust Belt voters or uneducated voters. There are plenty of people like me who are bored with the never ending, condescending blather put out by news organizations that seem to think that the way to get people to vote for Democrats is to insult and denigrate them.

    The left continues to bash them.

      1. Pardon me for being a stickler, but I almost wish you wouldn’t call them the “right” anymore. They’re at odds with any genuine conservative and/or right-leaning party in any 21st century economy in the world now. They’re extremists and anti-intellectuals who prioritize their own self-interest above those of their supposed constituents.

        Of course, if people want to vote for them, whether because they simply wish to antagonize liberals or because of some farcical cultural crisis that they just can’t get over, that’s perfectly fine. I’ve honestly no sympathy nor interest in people who make themselves out to be proverbial punching bags.

    1. Everyone else: “How do we solve some of the problems facing America right now? Real dangers exist with the current administration that we have to face up to. Here are links to data, information, and discussion of things to deal with.”

      Objv: “Oh hi guys, by the way, [condescending post about how liberals are condescending.]”

    2. In the meantime, OBJV, you’ve posted god knows how many times about how you’re looking for solutions to healthcare for your family.

      The Senate bill and its AHCA counterpart will make it worse for you and your family, by every available analysis. You COULD help us advocate for a better system. But instead you’ll just find another ‘libruls, amirite?’ article from a rightwing news site.

      1. Perhaps this is one of those tribal cases of finding more satisfaction in antagonizing liberals rather than having any concrete vision of her own?

        To be sure, I can’t say for certain whether that’s the case and I’d be happy to be proven wrong (if Objv would be so kind as to present said vision), but I must say that she makes it quite hard at times to consider otherwise.

      2. I’ve asked Objv at several points what health care reforms she would like to see. I haven’t gotten an answer in any case, but to be fair normally I don’t respond too quickly to her.

        Now there isn’t such a delay, so it’s time to raise the question again:

        OBJV, what health care reforms would you like to see, and how do you think we could achieve them? I say this not just to strike up an argument — I’m literally working on it, with other activist groups, and we’re always looking for more ideas in addition to some of our own.

      3. Thanks Ob. I’d say the issue of transparency in pricing is important, but the underlying theme of the article is far more important: money in politics, and bills being written for the benefit of business and not for the benefit of people.

      4. While it is true that health care has become more technologically advanced, many tests and procedures should be moving down in price not up.

        If a company like 23andMe can provide accurate, massive amounts of data on genetics for under $200, why do doctors’ offices charge so much for simple bloodwork?

        Personally, I think that we’ve got it backwards when it comes to paying for healthcare. We should pay for simple tests, medications and office visits ourselves. Catastrophic care should be handled by mandatory health insurance.

        Lower income folks would have to pay on a sliding scale for routine care and catastrophic insurance.

        No doubt paying for health care is a complicated subject. I don’t know if I’m on the right track, but I am appalled with the current situation many people find themselves in when getting a medical bill.

        (My dear sister finally has insurance. My BIL found a new job which covers spouses.)

      5. With respect to the transparent pricing article, there is still the problem that health care is nothing like a rational marketplace. When blood is pumping from an artery or you have a child with a 107 degree fever is not the time to be shopping around for a best price.

      6. Thanks OBJV for responding. Here’s an article that offers ten ways to cut healthcare costs I found interesting: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2009-11-12/10-ways-to-cut-health-care-costs-right-now

        I’d both be curious to know what you think of it and what other ideas you have.

        In the meantime, would like to draw your attention to the fact that 20-33% of healthcare costs are sunk into administration:

        http://www.politifact.com/oregon/statements/2012/may/11/jennifer-williamson/do-we-really-spend-nearly-third-health-care-dollar/

        Which a single payer health plan would reduce to a fraction of a fraction.

      7. Both of these articles are somewhat dated. The first one is from 2009 and the second from 2012. Obamacare attempted to resolve some of these issues with some success, but nevertheless much is still the same in the healthcare industry. Due to the struggle to even get Obamacare enacted numerous compromises were made that limited the effectiveness in some areas. Additionally there has been the scorched earth opposition of the Republican Party, the disinformation and the refusal of some red states to implement changes. All this has resulted in some but limited change.

        Now Trump and the Republican Party are actively attempting to sabotage Obamacare while they are trying to dismantle it. Their primary objectives are firstly to transfer money to the wealthy and secondly to terminate healthcare as an entitlement.

        Take this as you will but the basic problem is that much of the Republican Party does not believe medical care is a human right. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares medical care to be a human right. This dates from 1948 and the U.S. signed it. I quote below:

        “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
        well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing
        and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security
        in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or
        other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

        Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in developing this document and it was developed under the auspices of the UN. These two items would immediately negate the document with much of the Republican Party.

    3. With all respect, you would seem to be denigrating Democrats, fairly or not, while avoiding the obvious double standard were you to try and hold Republicans to the same. Are Republicans a party tolerant of world views outside of their own comfort zone? Do they embrace change and speak, openly and honestly, with others on issues that they may fervently disagree on?

      I would think the answer obvious, to which I humbly submit that this idea of tolerance with people doesn’t hold nearly as much sway with people as you would seem to infer. Of course not, because after all, people admire strength and power more so than anything else. Save those platitudes and noble ideas for when you have the capacity to see them through.

    4. Sheesh, Ob, everybody thinks their arguments are right and people who don’t think the way they do are wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t make the argument, would they? That in itself doesn’t make for condescension. And sure, you can drag up examples of college sophomores taking ridiculous postitions, but you’re tarring a lot of people with a pretty small brush there.

      Are there examples of people on both the left and right being uncivil (to say the least)? Of course. Is resentment of that really what you want to be the basis of your vote?

    5. EJ

      I think objv raises an interesting point, but perhaps not in the way she intends. Her link basically boils down to “the Democrats are meanypants.”

      It surprises me that the article’s writer ever expected anything else. It’s the nature of political parties to be meanypants to their non-supporters, especially where culture wars are occurring. In Germany our political parties say horrible things about one another even when they’re in coalition. Saying “this party is being meanypants and therefore I will not support them” is going to leave you bereft of a party to support.

      What’s interesting is that people seem to sincerely expect the Democrats to not be meanypants, even though no similar expectation is placed upon the Republicans (or indeed any third party.) This expectation doesn’t just come from the Right: I’ve seen centrists and even dyed-in-the-wool Leftists slam the Democrat party for being meanypants.

      I wonder why that is?

    6. Democrats lose because they are trapped in an old, outdated mentality of transactional, patronage-driven politics. That mindset leads them to imagine that they can win by offering people a better deal. As a consequence, they are always too nice, too tolerant, too concerned about upsetting people.

      If Democrats are going to turn things around, they are going to have to take a few pages from the Republican playbook. Republicans are playing a scorched-earth game. Everything they can’t seize they destroy. Democrats are far too nice. There is absolutely no reason on any level, strategic or moral, for Democrats to be offering anyone any olive-branches.

      Call a racist a racist until Republicans are forced to start openly embracing that identity. Delegitimize every Republican institution all the way down to personal interactions. Take that “deplorables” comment and make it policy. Stop apologizing for telling the truth (and stopping being afraid to call something a truth). Stop apologizing for your policy platform. Stop apologizing for anything.

      One of the reasons Trump won as much support as he did is that America loves a winner. For all the noise about the underdog, Americans loathe anyone and anything that appears weak or indecisive. People disliked Hillary Clinton not because she’s “corrupt” or elitist, but because she is evasive and perpetually insincere. Democrats always appear weak, even when they win. They are always hedging and equivocating. They come across as apologetic and neurotic. They never look like they believe in their own values.

      If Democrats want to win under the current paradigm instead of waiting for the environment to change, they need to get a lot angrier, a lot meaner, and start acting like they believe in their own agenda.

      Look closely at failures like John Kerry, John Ossoff, and Hillary Clinton and get rid of them. Look for candidates who can combine the bombastic, polemical style of Allan Grayson with the relative sanity of Joe Biden. If you can produce that in a non-white woman (Kamala Harris?), you’ve got a monumental gamechanger.

      1. To put that in perspective, think about what Clinton did when the Access Hollywood tape came out and Reince Priebus and everyone else were tearing their hair out thinking Trump was headed towards a Mondale-esque wipeout.

        Can’t remember? Neither do I, which is exactly the point, because Clinton, despite having been handed one of the single greatest political gifts in the entire campaign on a silver platter, did precisely nothing with it. At the 2nd debate, she more or less just just said: “Well, I’m going to let the American people decide what to think about that.”

        That moment honestly sticks in my mind a lot, because I remember before the debate, people were coming up to me, entirely unprovoked, and telling me how they were expecting Clinton to mop the floor with Trump. They didn’t want her to play nice or “going high when he went low”, they wanted her to kick some arrogant, misogynistic ass and show them what a fighter she was. She did precisely none of that.

        I stared at the TV in that instant thinking, my god, she’s the first woman nominated by a major party to be president, Trump was just unveiled as the single biggest misogynist nominated in modern political history, and THAT’S her response? And she wants to be leader of the free world? What a f’ing joke.

        That mindset is emblematic of the Democratic Party’s problem. They’re reactionary without the reaction. They don’t know how to fight, and if there’s one thing people hate more than a liar, it’s a weakling.

      2. I have to agree with Chris. People generally do not like mealy mouthed people. Hillary was the best prepared candidate we have seen in our lifetimes but she came off as guarded and seemed to not what to offend anyone. Bernie spoke passionate and called out those that he saw as threatening the livelihood of American workers.

        I remember listening to a speech by FDR and we called out the Wall Street Fat Cats and those in industry that fought against American workers. That is the Democrat Party we need.

      3. “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

        They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

        Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”

      4. This is the kind of comment that leads me to believe that not only have you given up the “because leaving isn’t exactly an option” caption behind, but you finally realize that as much of an orphan as you may be, your only alternative is to carpetbag the Democratic party until the Republican party stops being insane.

        The “older” you seemed to believe that Both Sides were headed to a “politics of crazy”, whereas you now seem to admit that while the Democratic party is chock full of problems, it isn’t batshit insane. Otherwise, this “use the Republican playbook” strategy would be counter to keeping politics sane.

        I can agree that the Democratic party has to start fighting. One fighter, who has only once ran as a Democrat, was Sanders. While you may disagree on whether his 20th century solutions can help in the 21st century, one thing is for sure: Sanders believed what he said, and legitimately wanted to make a difference for the vast majority of Americans who are either struggling to stay afloat, or feel as if they’re being dragged under by a rip current.

        Both Sides don’t. One side stands for tax cuts and governmental interference in your private life whenever you give them a chance. The other side is severely disjointed in many ways on the solutions, but not actively attempting to increase the problems.

      5. While I agree 100% with your tactics, I disagree that that’s the only thing that needs to change. Dems also have a policy problem.

        The problem isn’t necessarily in the areas they disagree with Republicans (environment, racial / gender equality, education, immigration, etc.), it’s in the massive amount of stuff in which they *agree*, and therefore, never gets addressed. It’s like the massive iceberg floating under the surface.

        Leaving aside Trump, the Republican establishment and the Dem establishment agree 90% with each other on the massive surveillance state being built, our middle east policy of perpetual war (it’s not a peace plan), free trade, Wall St. strip mining of Main St., asset inflation (which is good for those with assets, i.e. rich people), wage deflation (bad for the rest of us), etc. Even in health care, the ACA is essentially a Republican plan, and the only thing that Republicans are pissed off about is that they didn’t get to implement it first.

        When someone like Trump or Sanders comes along and questions these areas, they unsurprisingly get a massive response.

        While the tactics you recommend sound good, without a good message, they won’t work. And conversely, with a good message, you don’t necessarily need them (although there’s no reason no to do it :-). For example I believe that a guy like Ted Cruz would have lost to Hillary, no matter what scorched earth tactics he implements. Because people perceived him as another Wall St. / free trade guy with a particularly nasty streak.

        On the flip side, Sanders had a good shot at winning despite not being a scorched earth guy because his policy ideas were popular and easy to understand.

        You always say that if you think someone is voting against their interests, it probably means you don’t understand their interests. That’s very true. But there’s a corollary: if you think someone rejected you because they didn’t understand your message, they actually probably understand your message better than yourself, and just don’t like what you’re saying.

    7. There are plenty of people like me who are bored with the never ending, condescending blather put out by news organizations that seem to think that the way to get people to vote for Democrats is to insult and denigrate them.

      I seem to remember after the election you described how you did not approve of Trump’s outlandish statements but you could not support Hillary because she called racists and bigots “deplorables”. That was way too much for you.

      Democrats have put out the economic message and policies that would help rural voters but they do not put up the fight that Bernie did. If people like you think that stating that racist comments and actions are wrong, that all Americans are protected by the Constitution including the gheys, that your areas of the country are in economic blight because you chose to not invest in education, infrastructure, accept a diverse workforce, and stop saying stupid shaite to people. At the end of the day we will still get the jobs and high standards of living and you guys can have fun STIGGINIT and cow tipping.

      1. If people like you think that stating that racist comments and actions are wrong, that all Americans are protected by the Constitution including the gheys, that your areas of the country are in economic blight because you chose to not invest in education, infrastructure, accept a diverse workforce, and stop saying stupid shaite to people.

        Should say

        If people like you think think it is wrong to call out racist comments and actions, to say that all Americans are protected by the Constitution including the gheys, that your areas of the country are in economic blight because you chose to not invest in education, infrastructure then fark it take it as an insult.

        really gotta not post at work.

      2. Keeping on barking up the “everything is racist” tree and liberal voters will continue to lose elections. Liberal outlets have gone berserk when it comes to Trump. Even when they try to hide it behind a quest to discover the motives of rural voters, they manage to drip, drip, drip condescension.

        A typical Washington Post article about middle American voters goes as follows …

        Their intrepid WPo reporter is sent to rural Ohio in search of subjects that fit their narrative – in this case one about immigration.

        With the fervor of an anthropologist on the hunt for aboriginal people, the reporter finally finds the perfect characters for her story.

        We meet 62-year-old Edna Flutterbottom as she works in her kitchen baking a cake for the funeral of the latest friend who died of a drug overdose and alcoholism.

        Occasionally she takes a drag on her cigarette and her painful story takes shape. The small town where she lives once had numerous manufacturing jobs but the factory closed down ten years ago. Currently she drives a school bus and raises Dobermans for extra income.

        Life is hard and she barely makes ends meet. She is bitter and voted for Trump even though she claims she used to be a Democrat. When asked if illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans, Edna says yes. (Clearly, she is a racist.)

        Meanwhile next door, the household is abuzz with activity. The reporter admires how neat and clean everything is. Despite working three jobs each, both the husband and wife are home, painting their house. Their two sons are washing their car and mowing the lawn.

        Meet the Martinez family who are in the country illegally.

        As the WP reporter interviews the first son, she is pleasantly surprised to learn that he is already valedictorian in the tenth grade. The second son is the star quarterback of the football team and class president.

        There you have it. It goes without saying that Edna is an economic and sore racist loser and the Martinez family is superior in every way.

        The problem is that Edna votes. Edna reads articles like the ones reporters wrote about her. Edna can sense condescension and when people like her are despised.

        The Washington Post is only one liberal outlet where people like Edna are always losers, illegal immigrants are always portrayed in a positive light, black people are always the victims and women care primary about the birth control abortion.

        “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Yeah, whatever.

      3. The GOP strategy since Rove has been simple: Denigrate your political opponents, poisoning civil discourse to the point that only hardened partisans remain engaged. Everyone else will peel away in disgust. Nothing remains at that point but base-driven politics.

        His assumption was that in an environment of low-turnout, disgusting political rhetoric, and civic malaise, Republicans would hold the advantage because of their motivated base of religious fanatics. It actually worked for a while, especially at the state level where overall interest tends to run low anyway.

        While this was going on, Democrats kept trying to appeal to the Edna’s of the world, moderating their tone and tempering their language. Trying to remain civil in the face of increasingly nasty right-wing politics, Democrats basically fed the overall sense of disinterest that kept good, responsible people apathetic and disengaged. It’s time for Democrats to catch up to reality.

        Burn down the safe spaces where people go to hide from politics. Force people to take sides. If Edna wants to persist in believing that immigrants took her jobs, you can’t stop her, but you can fight that idea and keep it from spreading. You can prevent it from being trafficked, from being spread through channels carrying a cloak of legitimacy. You can make it a marginalized concept, like Communism.

        Call a racist a racist. Make Republicans own their racism, make them embrace it in the open. Make them wrap that banner around themselves like a poison blanket. Destroy their ability to hedge, to evade. Create a climate in which no one feels that they can openly express support for stupid ideas in public without being confronted and alienated economically, culturally and politically. Attach a cost to irresponsible bigoted politics. In other words, recognize the tactics that have already been successfully deployed against you and respond using the superior capabilities you possessed all along, but declined to deploy.

        Frankly, there is no other strategy available. Since you’re fifteen years behind in a campaign already unleashed on you, you have little choice but to respond. You may or may not take back Congress, but you can take back the parts of the country that matter – the marketplace, the culture, the economic infrastructure. All of this country’s cultural force and economic power is concentrated in Democratic-controlled areas. Congress will eventually follow, and until it does you can keep it as crippled as it is today. Keep up the pressure and in a few years the only Republicans out there will either be retired, unemployed, of off the grid. Hell, we’re actually not far from that already. Go try to find a Republican under 30.

      4. @Objv:

        >] “The Washington Post is only one liberal outlet where people like Edna are always losers, illegal immigrants are always portrayed in a positive light, black people are always the victims and women care primary about the birth control abortion.

        Consider this if you would. Let’s say a drug addict picks up an abandoned dog on the street and takes it to the nearest shelter where it can have a place to sleep, food to eat, and a chance at a new life. Admirable as that action is, does that change the overarching reality that the drug addict is still a drug addict and, by all rights, someone we would consider a sorry excuse of a human being, one that we would never want to be an example to our children?

        Of course, and Edna’s no different. An addict’s an addict and a loser’s a loser. That their situations are lamentable and they have some admirable aspects about them doesn’t change reality, and your inference that we should try to be more understanding and show them the proper respect rings naught but hollow. If Edna’s going to use innocent people as a proverbial punching bag just to make herself feel better, that is not excusable. That’s something a weak person does.

        One’s true character isn’t measured when they’re in the best of times. It’s when they’re up against the wall and in desperate times that you know who they really are. Ironically, your example only serves to prove just how much of a loser Edna really is.

    8. Projection and cognitive dissonance.

      The “right” isn’t winning anything.

      Politicians get elected and pass more tax cuts for the people paying for their campaigns.

      Those politicians then get nice 6-7 figure jobs once they leave the political office.

      So, congrats on winning, I guess.

      Sure, you have much less now than you had 35 years ago, but at least you get to make libruuls cry!

      Keep on keepin’ on.

  9. The Gloucesterites will probably get their wish that London not do so well, because Brexit is going to take a lot of business from London and quite possibly produce a depression there. It probably will have some painful consequences for them too, though, because London is so large and wealthy it will drag the whole country down with it.

    The property price comparison is kind of misleading because Scotland+Wales+Northern Ireland have only slightly more people than London (about 11 million vs. 8.6) . Since London is much more urbanized, you’d expect it to be worth more without anything special going on. London property is extraordinarily expensive, so there’s probably a fair comparison to make the same point, but that’s not it.

    1. Why is that though? The EITC was a good idea for its time (and arguably, in the face of intractable political stagnation, still is), but it only applies to working people. If one’s going to support it and yet oppose a UBI, then that begs the question as to where their motivation is. Is it really sound economic policy or is just their bias towards those who are doing more in the way of conventional work?

      If I may, pray I ask you that if you had to come up with an argument as to why the EITC would be superior to a UBI, what would it be?

      1. (continued)

        Now “work is good for you”, is not as bad an argument as it sounds. My biggest concern is that “protestant work ethic” won’t get replaced by something nicer but with honor culture. Think of Cavaliers (precursors to southern slavers) in the american south. They are one of few groups that figured out that they didn’t have to work.

      2. One of the most consistent assertions I hear in opposition to a UBI is that it’ll make people lazy and they won’t have to work as much, hence they won’t. Essentially, it’s a POV grounded in the presumption that people are inherently lazy and don’t want to work unless they absolutely have to.

        To take that to its more extreme, but logical end, there will certainly be no small number of racists and bigots who will clamor that minorities, particularly African-Americans, will just abuse the UBI, sitting on their supposedly lazy asses all day long, doing drugs and splurging the money on all manner of self-centered stuff.

        It’s nonsense through and through, and it never ceases to be tiring having to hear it.

        Why, one would reasonably ask? Because a UBI would only roughly be around $10,000/yr, not nearly enough to live a cushy lifestyle or anything of the sort. Anyone who thinks a basic income is just going to let someone throw money around willy-nilly is either ignorant of the proposal or being that way intentionally to hide their prejudices or racism.

        The whole point of the basic income is to set a minimum floor of security for people so they won’t have to worry about putting food on the table or paying the bills. That’s all, nothing more and nothing less. In fact, it’s more an incentive for people than anything else because they won’t be worrying about surviving from day to day and can focus on actually getting ahead in life.

        Of course, if one believes people inherently don’t want to work and actually do things, then you (not referencing you specifically, but people in general) then nothing I say will get through and you’ll just wallow in pessimism, shooting down any meaningful proposal to try and help people.

  10. Honestly, I care as much about rural voters as Socrates did about his life when he drank hemlock, but I am the slightest bit inclined to consider what the outcome of this farcical little fit of theirs will be.

    Progress is, of course, unstoppable and globalization will continue apace. As this trend continues though, do you think there’s a tipping point at which they simply throw their hands up in the air and give up, or perhaps simply becoming marginalized while modest efforts are made (depending on how optimistic you are about efforts like a basic income and others) to see that they can at least live relatively comfortable lives.

    1. The second thing – marginalization. That’s the happiest potential outcome here. Remember, Trump lost the election. He’s our president only because we don’t award the office to the winner.

      Two forces are cutting in the right direction here – 1) bigoted old rural voters are dying off much faster than they are replacing themselves, and 2) income and wealth concentration in cities is accelerating at such a pace that rural areas are losing their ability to influence politics. So, both their numbers and their power are in decline.

      Deny them any form of political, social or cultural legitimacy. Marginalize them in every possible way. They may be able to win some elections, but under these conditions they will be unable to do anything with their wins. They will be crippled. It’s ugly, but it’s better than a war.

      1. Chris- But are the rural areas of the nation declining enough or more accurately can they decline enough in political power. For example, each state gets two senators, whether that state has 20MM people or two. With the coasts and large urban areas becoming largely concentrated these rural areas of the nation become more powerful in respect to their population size. So the American people could live in mainly 15 to 20 states but the less populous states would have the majority of the power effectively derailing any progress in the nation simply for the sake of STIGGINIT.

      2. Turtles, hits on the basic problem that we have. That is the Constitution is biased towards the rural areas. To that add the deliberate efforts of the Republican party to aggravate the bias by means of gerrymandering. Additionally, the Republicans are using voter suppression to eliminate voting by Democratic groups to the maximum possible extent. That includes students, new Americans or other constituencies that are the ‘wrong type’. Even though a particular technique may be overruled by the judicial system, the Democratic constituencies are discouraged from voting.

        I for one feel that waiting for the natural processes that Chris mentions will take far too long. The techniques of voter suppression and gerrymandering may end up being self perpetuating. I think that a serious effort to enact common standards for all federal elections and redistricting is long overdue. That would eliminate gerrymandering and voter suppression. Furthermore, the Constitution should be amended so that Senatorial representation is partially based on population. Each state would have a minimum of one senator with the remaining distributed on the basis of population. Senators would continue to be elected at large in each state, thus maintaining the state representation of the Senate.

      3. Uh hum, or, we could simply go with popular vote…..

        This urban/rural thing – just experienced it myself. Attended a town hall in a country town (population 894!) and there is a definite difference in approach. Let me simply say that our merry little band of progressive (but polite) trouble-makers were followed out of town by a sheriff’s deputy….One of the locals told a member of our group he hoped her twins would die because they have a pre-exisiting health condition. (She was trying to explain the importance of the exchanges for people employed in small businesses who have pre-existing health conditions and no employer insurance.) He and others there did not want to hear about these problems…No attempt to learn, listen, understand. It was enlightening, to say the least. How do you reach people like this?

      4. That is why I support expanding the Progressive base anew, not trying to cajole embarassed conservatives to our movement. I simply will not waste my time on people who are highly unlikely to change their positions regardless its logic.

      5. “One of the locals told a member of our group he hoped her twins would die because they have a pre-exisiting health condition…”

        There you have a textbook example of a “deplorable”, but even he is far more honest than the likes of Ryan and McConnell.

    2. tmerrit, I don’t see how we will see any changes to the Constitution. I no scholar in that area, but I am betting you would need a 2/3 majority to make any changes. And gerrymandering will continue, especially after the current regime fills all the judicial vacancies. And forget about the Supreme Court being reasonable for the next 20-30 years. This regime has made one pick, and will almost certainly get another in the next 3 years, and 2 or 3 more in the next 7 years.

      Frankly, I believe “the people have spoken” after Tuesday’s elections. I don’t see the Democrats taking the House in 2 years, or even 4 years. Not unless the puppet tyrant and his cabal start a depression, that can be simply and directly attributable to them.

      1. Dinsdale, you are correct that Constitutional change is exceedingly unlikely in the near or medium term.

        However, I believe that gerrymandering has been so abused that many of the states will slowly eliminate it of their own accord. CA was able to do so, FL and AZ have followed and movements are building in other states to do the same. Gerrymandering is so universally despised that passing measures to eliminate it are feasible, if groups organize to get an anti-gerrymandering measure on the ballot. SCOTUS will be hearing a case to set a standard for gerrymandering this coming term. Kennedy could well decide to go with the four liberals on this case. The biggest hurdle remaining is doing the required organization in the various states. Even former CA Republican Governor Schwarzenegger has launched a campaign to eliminate gerrymandering. You can see his Facebook post at:

        https://www.facebook.com/notes/arnold-schwarzenegger/lets-make-washington-work-for-us/10155298492734658/

        Remember change does and can happen. Twenty years ago no one would have dreamed that SCOTUS would rule that gay marriage was legal.

      2. My fear is that changing the process for designing voting districts will take too long given the extreme changes that are being rushed through in this administration and Congress. As risky as it may be to have SCOTUS weigh in, the drip drip process of states voluntarily changing will simply take too long.

      3. Likely, I have misunderstood Chris’s point but I think he is hinting that at the crux of “the people have spoken” is 3 million more of them didn’t vote for Trump. The demographics aren’t inching away from the current political paradigm its stampeding. The process of disassociation of urban from rural could accelerate even faster as the economically viable states tackle health care and education costs on their own ala California and New York and others that can will follow.

        Forget about “how you’re gonna keep them down on the farm” if they have no economy outside of crystal meth and hillbilly heroin and their key voting bloc is dying at the rate of 5.1 million every year. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm) they have no future. They literally rule today by a mathematical fluke. Hope they enjoy the next 1,277 days.

      4. Trevor Noah had an insightful analogy for the Georgia election. Trevor says because we are in our own bubble, time goes by at at different rate.

        He said we anti-trumpers are like the designated driver when you and your friends go to a bar for a drunken night out. A couple of hours seems like weeks to the sober guy and these past months seems like years to democrats. But to the pro-trumpers, they are still dancing, singing, chatting up the opposite sex, and having a great time.

        http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah?xrs=sem_google_tds&gclid=CjwKEAjw1a3KBRCY9cfsmdmWgQ0SJAATUZ8bUeD_7QxHf74LdOFvFZr5V-xO-803jCd7qh2SUtxqWRoC6AXw_wcB

        Here’s hoping that the lights go on and last call is before the mid-terms.

        I would like to add, that no matter how much you say ‘I tried to tell you”, your best friend will blame you forever for his waking up in the arms of an orangutan.

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