A challenge to the conventional wisdom

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Here are the real fucking political truths these “progressives” don’t want to admit:

  1. From civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, health care reform, immigration issues… the Democratic Party has been at the forefront moving the discussion and policy forward.
  2. They’ve done this without the luxury of veto-proof majorities in Congress and without a lot of help from state legislatures.
  3. In fact, some of this progress was made IN SPITE OF Republican control and obstruction.
  4. If you fucking want FDR-like progress, you better do everything you can for FDR-like majorities in Congress.
  5. If you don’t give a Democratic president massive Democratic majorities in Congress and in the states, then you can eternally SHUT THE FUCK UP about how Democrats are “letting you down.”
  6. Democrats in 2017 are more progressive than Democrats of FDR’s time.
  7. The problem isn’t Democrats have moved to the right (they haven’t) but Republicans have moved significantly farther to the right.  This movement along with the media’s incessant “both sides are the same” gives the perception Democrats have moved to the right as well.
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Another approach to discussing issues across the divide

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Much normative (or value-based) reasoning by liberals (and mainstream economists) is about the consequences of political actions for the welfare of individuals. Statements about the desirability of policies are based on trading off the consequences for different individuals….

…Meanwhile, much conservative normative reasoning is about procedures rather than consequences. For example, as long as property rights and free exchange are guaranteed, the outcome is deemed just by definition, regardless of the consequences. People are “deserving” of whatever the market provides them with.

pub. 08/2017

In turning the ship around, a challenge to progressives

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For Rorty, a Left that neglects victims of economic selfishness will not only fail; its neglect of class will trigger a terrible backlash that ultimately ill-serve the very groups that Leftist identity politics are intended to help. “The gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will very likely be wiped out,” he worried. “Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words ‘nigger’ and ‘kike’ will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”

pub. 07/2017

You’ll read this as either solidarity or as a five-minute challenge in empathy building

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I started begging people to say something, anything. When people responded at all it was to say something like, “I don’t think it’s my place,” or “I’m not really comfortable.” I was falling apart and my community was afraid of being uncomfortable….time and time again I ran into the wall of apathy that said, “this is where we stop. This is the limit of how much we can invest in your humanity.”

pub. 06/2017

The politics behind right-wing climate change denial

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“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics.”

“In some ways,” he added, “it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”

pub. 06/2017

On the confluence of political and economic division in America

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The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.

pub. 02/2017

Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.

Opinion: “Free speech” isn’t that simple

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Lyotard shifted attention away from the content of free speech to the way certain topics restrict speech as a public good. Some things are unmentionable and undebatable, but not because they offend the sensibilities of the sheltered young. Some topics, such as claims that some human beings are by definition inferior to others, or illegal or unworthy of legal standing, are not open to debate because such people cannot debate them on the same terms.

When one person’s “free speech” is a dismissal of others’ humanity or a demand that others justify their humanity, the latter are either treated as non-participants in the debate or have their participation limited to defending their right to be there–which means they don’t truly have free speech themselves. Thus:

It has been regrettably easy for commentators to create a simple dichotomy between a younger generation’s oversensitivity and free speech as an absolute good that leads to the truth. We would do better to focus on a more sophisticated understanding, such as the one provided by Lyotard, of the necessary conditions for speech to be a common, public good. This requires the realization that in politics, the parameters of public speech must be continually redrawn to accommodate those who previously had no standing.

pub. 04/2017